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Posted By: Chuck Lee on: 06/17/2002 14:57:32 CDT
Subject: RE: Reproducing Telegraph Sets

Message Detail:
>>>To further clarify what you and I had previously discussed, I suggested that you not only offer complete reproduction telegraph sets, but also make individual reproduction camelback key anvils so that one's existing, more modern key might be retrofit'd. The anvil, incidentally, is the metal shaft portion of the sending key (with trunnions protruding out on either side of it to allow for the seesaw movement). You tap on the flat disk-like button on one end of the anvil to make and break the electrical current connection of the electromagnet in a relay or sounder.<<<

Camelback key anvils.... Doggone it, I KNEW my ignorance was gonna show again. You can tell me everything you know, Walt, but I'm still the only one responsible for the retention of that information - and that's a Just be patient with me - I'll start to remember some of these things eventually. If you didn't know before, you surely know now that my claims of ignorance weren't false modesty. I really don't know anything.

Now when you start talking about knurled knobs, you're talking about a modest area of knowledge that I do have. Highly limited, but I do have SOME small amount of knowledge. Listen, knurled knobs - bolts with knurled knob heads - are pretty readily available from companies that wholesale fasteners to companies. If you can tell me what is needed - bolt diameter, thread, bolt length under the head - I can either locate them or fabricate some by bastardizing stock pieces. I realize that some of the bolts with knurled knobs may have two knobs - we can figure out how to do that. I don't wanna make anybody else self-conscious, but I AM a high school Really, though, I don't think that will be such a daunting task. Of course, as I read on a men's room wall recently, ANYTHING is possible when you don't know what you're talking about.

I'm no genius when it comes to these sorts of things, but I know some fellows who are - can make anything they can see (including one friend who eyeballed a mountain howitzer pretty closely, gathered up scrap steel and wood, and built one that measures within 1/8" on EVERY dimension - and most dimensions are dead on; then went on to make some Sibley stoves and a Hope's stove, just because he COULD) - and if I beg and whine enough, I can get these things done, I believe. But I do need dimensions, and preferably drawings or photos. This sort of thing can be done.

Also, I'm cultivating two fellows from a machine shop in Baton Rouge for the Washington Artillery, and one is interested in the Signal Corps, so I may have indirect access to a truly state-of-the-art machine shop that does only custom work, and has both man-operated machines and CNC milling machines, lathes, etc. If I can recruit those two fellows - both of whom want to work with me to make a cannon, and one of them a co-owner of the machine shop - then I think we can do some serious damage. I won't know if they're going to jump in with me until some time in August, but I think we're already VERY close.

Let's talk a little about making the telegraph sets, too. It's my intention to adhere as closely as a man can to the plans that I got from Prof. Perera's website, and I expect to use the most authentic materials I can. I do a fair amount of metal casting from time to time, and I don't mind substituting a superior material WHEN YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. For instance, I cast some hardware that's unique to the Washington Artillery of New Orleans - crossed cannons, letters "W" and "A", a two-piece badge with an irate tiger's head suspended below the badge, three sizes of buttons, three types of belt and sabre plates - you get the idea. The originals were brass, except for the badges, which were gold. The originals all look like gold because of the high tin content in the brass used by the jewelers (except for the gold, of course, which looks like gold because...). I don't use brass, though. I use silicone bronze with a high yellow caste because it looks exactly like the gold and brass of the original Washington Artillery, but it will last longer (harder material) and be less prone to tarnish than the brass. No one will be able to tell the difference in materials between the originals and my copies just by looking.

So I have no problem improving things in ways that are immediately undetectable. So long as you need a metallurgist to distinguish between "mine" and "theirs", then I'm satisfied.

Let's also talk about pricing. It's my intention to get the attention of a world that goes far beyond Signal Corps reenacting. Telegraph sets and camelback key anvils will be priced at one level for SCARD members, and another, slightly higher price level for folks who are outside the bounds of SCARD membership. I don't anticipate huge sales of telegraph sets or retrofit "kits"; but I don't want price to be the objection, either.

My approach with Signal pistols is different, though. As soon as the Signal pistols are available, there will be several different price levels. One price level will be for SCARD members only, and it will include a very modest profit to be given to the widow of the fellow whose originals make it possible for me to cast them at all. He died in a tragic accident in his home while working with explosives, which resulted in his family losing their home and all its contents and having their insurance nullified, as well as losing him.

For folks outside SCARD, the price they'll pay will include more items as part of the package than just the signal pistol - and it will include more than a modest profit. There'll be at least two levels of pricing, based on two different "packages" of the Signal pistol - including the most expensive being a "signature" series in a limited edition.

I tell you all that so that you'll know that my intentions are not entirely altruistic, but I'm also not solely a money-monger.

I see SCARD as being in a position that is somewhat unique - able to truly shape Signal Corps reenacting for decades to come, even more than SCARD already has, and to put the best possible reproduction goods in the hands of the most folks. I'm developing sources for good quality, solid, period-accurate telescopes and binoculars to offer to our hobby, and to go beyond that limited range. With access to better quality goods for a more authentic appearance and presentation of the period, and with the development of more and better training aids, and then to be able to more effectively take the case for the extensive use of the Signal Corps to the events we attend and the events we don't yet attend, we're poised to affect the reenacting community in a very positive way.

Introducing the Mayor and Town Council Concept to that same community is another way in which some of us can benefit, and even change the face of, reenacting.

In the reenacting group to which I belong, we have a custom that we follow at the close of our business meetings: we offer the floor to anyone who has something to offer "For The Good Of The Unit". In many ways, that's how I view this forum: for the good of the unit. I appreciate y'all, and look forward to seeing how we as a group can improve reenacting and reenactors within our small spheres of influence.

Chuck Lee

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