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 Post subject: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 17th, 2014, 11:33 pm 
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Before Europeans landed, before Justin Bieber... what did First Nations guys (and of course women are included in guys) treat the gut on snowshoes with? I don't think they had shellac? Kid asked me and I haven't a clue.


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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 8:15 am 
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Just a guess, but maybe some kind of pine resin?

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 10:20 am 
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It may have been spruce resin, the same material used to waterproof birchbark canoes... collected by cutting the tree bark and keeping the resin that oozed out and then heating it to make pitch that flowed easily.

Reading through historical accounts, a pot of pitch was carried in birchbark canoes and the seams had to be gummed by heating the pitch pot every so often to prevent leaks.

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 11:01 am 
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I have to wonder how the pitch would fare with flexing in the cold?


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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 11:45 am 
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it's at the right temperature and easily applied

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 12:46 pm 
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It probably varied from one area to the next. Maybe they used fat or grease. I have just read that whitefish eggs were blended to waterproof the babiche bindings on a spear.

Maybe they didn't bother. Canoes were treated as disposable so maybe snowshoes were. Just make a new pair next year. Wasn't that why folk had kids?

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 3:34 pm 
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Quote:
Maybe they used fat or grease.


You're right, google shows that fat was added to the resin to make pitch more flexible.

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 3:47 pm 
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Called gum rather than pitch here...


Quote:
Preparing Gum

There are three ingredients in the gumming compound : spruce resin, tallow, and charcoal. To collect spruce resin, you must take a hatchet and make many cuts on the surfaces of several dozen spruce trees during the warm seasons. Return two to three weeks later with a bag, and collect up all the thumbnail sized blobs of sap that have oozed from the wounds. Place the spruce sap into a canvas bag and tie the bag securely at the top. Drop the bag into a kettle of vigorously boiling water and work the bag with a stick in order to squeeze the hot resin out through the weave of the bag. Make sure the water is boiling vigorously. The purified resin will float to the surface, and the rolling action of the boiling water will form it naturally into balls. This will remove all the bits of bark and bugs that have stuck to the sap. The finished product, once cooled, is a yellowish crystalline-like substance with a white frosting.

By itself, this resin is far too brittle to be used for gumming a canoe. To make the gum, place the resin in a frying pan and add tallow (suet) and pulverized charcoal. Stir and melt until the gum is a black, easily worked mass. Determining the proper mix is a matter of trial and error. The finished product, when warmed by the fingers, is plastic and slightly sticky. When cooled, it becomes hard and even slightly brittle. The warm gum is liberally applied to all the birchbark seams on the outer canoe surface. It works, but it's miserable stuff and it's easy to see how in rough water the canoe would bend and flex enough to make large chunks fall off. There's no doubt in my mind that re-gumming a canoe would have been a daily, if not hourly, endeavor.


http://www.northwestjournal.ca/VIII4.htm

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 6:40 pm 
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So... nobody knows? Maybe they just wore snowshoes that sagged when it was wet....? The Innu had to zip about in 6+ feet of snow...I wonder how feasible it was? No northern FN history guys to ask? The kid wants answers :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 19th, 2014, 1:00 pm 
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Alex1 wrote:
Before Europeans landed, before Justin Bieber... what did First Nations guys (and of course women are included in guys) treat the gut on snowshoes with? I don't think they had shellac? Kid asked me and I haven't a clue.


Shellac? No that was never available in North America but varnish could have been made from local raw materials as mentioned on this wiki page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varnish#History

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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 19th, 2014, 3:27 pm 
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But was it?


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 Post subject: Re: Old tymes
PostPosted: December 19th, 2014, 3:34 pm 
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The first two posts in this thread might help... old snowshoes that had been coated with black tarry material.


Quote:
The substance you describe may be pitch, either pine or spruce, that has been 'tempered' with a bit of charcoal. This was a sort of universal back-country waterproofing and 'glue' used for many centuries by Native American / First Nations people, and quickly adopted by white frontiersmen.

...

Heat the pitch in your double boiler to make is very runny, then mix in ground up charcoal (Kingsford will be fine for this)until it's a deep, black color. Then just paint the mixture on with a disposable paint brush and you should be good to go, in proper 18th or early 19th century fashion.


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