As the supply of original complete SAN0 15 Transit Chests dries up and the prices / values keeps escalating, I thought it was time to source materials and tool-up to provide modern equivalent replacements. I have the features and details of the SANo15 chest versions in a separate blog, so here we will focus on just the materials and techniques observed in the originals and available now.
One of the urgent demands that came to me, was the need to replace missing partitions and their associated components. These provide several functions within the chest - cradles for the rife to rest in, top clamps to securely hold in this in place, a retaining system for the top clamps and in early chests the hold down clamp for a Scout Regiment Telescope in its carrier. Per the drawings available there are hard wood specifications and direction of wood grain for important pieces - the challenge here is getting the lumber sources in the right material, thickness and width. As I am developing a more complete woodshop, I have and plan to add more table saws, planers, routers and drill presses - each one can be dedicated to certain roles as demand and volumes grow.
So to start the partition and batten project, I had to source 3 sizes of Maple - one from local hardware stores - a narrow 3/4 plank. The others were mail order from lumber outlets out West - 2x2 squares to rip down and a wide 3/4" plank. The lumber alone ran to several hundred dollars to make the first run of a dozen kits or so.
I have two examples of complete chest for study and testing - one made in 1944 and the other a Canadian reproduction form the early 2000's
Each piece was studied in each and as each new item cut and assembled they were tried in these two chests for fit and function - this became especially important to correct drawing errors (it is marked up as a 1943 release) - several tweaks were made to match the features and functions of the original - of note are the cradle diameters and depth of overlap, the thickness of the Scout Scope clamp block and on..
This resulted in a several pages of notes, annotated original drawing sections and sketches and notes to develop jigs that aided this small lot production and can be improved for subsequent runs. More advanced saw techniques were needed on this project to produce edge chamfers and vee features - these were achieved by sawing groups of blocks that were taped together with the use of spacers and shims.
The final details and materials needed were the felt pads and whipping chord cap retainers. These seem simple, but finding the right thickness, consistency and working sizes of commercial stock was a task, Then the cut down process needed sharp precision. I went for self stick / sticky back felt. Production methods for these include cutting the pieces to length after being installed to remove handling damage and material settling. The whipping chord had a finished length specified. I elected to use a "perfection loop knot" to finish its ends. All screws and washers are steel and finished to the original supply / spec wit slot drives. Wood working techniques and craftsmanship techniques apply here to pre-drill, sink and orient screws for good looks and long service.
Finishing touches include adding the location to the battens for their fastener holes - or these can be drilled and countersunk ready to use (risking a misalignment on an original war effort chest). Some of the sticky back felt wants to peel up due to roll memory - I can press these on a form jig to re-enforce the bind or apply the tacks per the original specification and build. Some of these choices would be part of the kit configuration step for potential buyers. Ill leave to the new owners to apply linseed oil - which will undoubtedly color age the pieces to look more vintage / blend with originals and to apply iodine coloring tot he felt (suspected to be original vermin proofing).
First batch components and kits now available through my and my brother stores.
Next Up - Parts Groups:
Rifle Butt insert group.
Scout Scope block and felt pad group.
Scope tin retention block group.
Replacement chest ends (dovetailed).
Lid with end caps and inletted, riveted hasps.
Sides and Base
All of these together will then allow complete Transit Chest assemblies.