Author Topic: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?  (Read 12630 times)

Offline Knecht

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Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« on: January 11, 2014, 08:01:48 PM »
Anyone knows where to get some real oilcloth? I mean a fabric that actualy had oil pressed into it, none of the current acrylic-coated stuff. There are cowboy coats still made of it, yet nobody seems to sell the raw fabric.
Looking for some to make a tarp. While I like various modern materials for my gear, I tend to like the old ways for camping equipment, such as wool blankets and cloth tarp, rather than sleeping bag and nylon tarp or tent. I have a tarp I mainly use for my reenactment, but want to make a bit different one for modern outdoor and thought I'll get real oilcloth this time.
Thanks for any tips and links.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2014, 08:11:51 PM »
Not sure about real oilcloth... Look into paste wax. I use it to seal and waterproof my woodwork and old guns. The container claims it works on leather, vinyl, plastic, cork, metal... It's got to be a remnant of days of yore and smells like cancer is guaranteed but it really seals and brings out the beauty. I heard that when applied with a moist rag it's the true "spit polish". Might help with waterproofing.

Sorry if I went off topic.

Offline Knecht

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2014, 06:00:34 AM »
Could be a way to go, but I'd still like to find a ready fabric.
I once made a 9th century tent, hand-sewn (about 80 meters of stitches) and waterproofed it with a mixture of wax, melted in pork lard. While it worked fine, it smelled like slaughter yard for two seasons of reenacting before the smell all escaped and it made the fabric really heavy. I want the tarp reasonably light for backpack carry.

Offline LittleOwl

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2014, 11:12:42 AM »
Could be a way to go, but I'd still like to find a ready fabric.
I once made a 9th century tent, hand-sewn (about 80 meters of stitches) and waterproofed it with a mixture of wax, melted in pork lard. While it worked fine, it smelled like slaughter yard for two seasons of reenacting before the smell all escaped and it made the fabric really heavy. I want the tarp reasonably light for backpack carry.

Use the same idea but with wax instead of lard. That's what the slickers and outback hats have. Doesn't smell like that lol. Then u can use anything from denim to bedsheets. As long as its non synthetic, and a tight weave.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2014, 11:33:25 AM »
Oilcloth was woven natural fiber cloth, usually cotton duck/canvas or linen, that had been treated with a coating based on linseed oil. The fabric could be dyed or printed before treatment, or sometimes the color and design were added in the treatment process. It was a smelly process, but linseed is a natural byproduct of flax processing, not petroleum based, and thus it was not toxic in the way that modern plastics processing can be. Oilcloth also biodegraded in a landfill when its usefulness was over.

You can get REAL oilcloth here:
http://www.hamiltondrygoods.com/
http://periodfabric.com/oil-cloth/

If you want to make your own, get canvas, and linseed oil. Tack the canvas tight and keep painting it with the linseed oil. Let dry. Paint. Let dry. Paint. Let dry. Until you build up a coat of the linseed oil. Let dry for a few days, take out of the frame and trim the edges.

Cedar

Offline Cedar

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2014, 11:35:26 AM »
melted in pork lard. While it worked fine, it smelled like slaughter yard for two seasons of reenacting before the smell all escaped


 :rofl:

Sorry for laughing. I do reenactment stuff too.. and so can relate with some of the projects I have gotten myself into.

Cedar

Offline flippydidit

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2014, 04:30:53 PM »

 :rofl:

Sorry for laughing. I do reenactment stuff too.. and so can relate with some of the projects I have gotten myself into.

Cedar

You're not thinking about brain-tanning are you?  .....GAG.......  That was the worst idea I've had in a LONG time.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2014, 06:33:18 PM »
You're not thinking about brain-tanning are you?  .....GAG.......  That was the worst idea I've had in a LONG time.

I was always smart enough not to do that. I knew I did not want to attract predators within a 50 mile range. This is probably the most UN-organic thing I do, but I use sulfuric acid to tan with. Professional guys have been impressed with my hides.

I used to dump the remains on those blackberry bushes no one wanted.. but it didn't effect them in the slightest. I now send it in to the chemical drop-off days.

But wait until you see what I am planning on one of these days... hehehehehe. No worries, I will post pics. And yes, it involves dead animal hides. Tar and a few other fun things.

Cedar

Offline Knecht

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2014, 06:43:07 PM »
Thanks for the link Cedar, looks like what I was looking for. Too bad they have most of the stuff sold out, they have only couple colors left and none of them is what I'd like... any hope they would restock?
And yes, reenactors all get crazy ideas. I was just curious how to make waterproof fabric. I may not agree with you about making the oilcloth by just painting canvas with oil though. Linseed oil tends to polymerize itself, making the fabric very hard and nearly cracking. I've read that the old oilcloth had the oil added hot and it was somehow pressed-in by heavy steel cone rolling over it...something like that.
Painting the fabric with pure wax brought much similar results. Very sturdy and super heavy fabric, lots of wax needed. I did some experiments with that and it made me use the wax-lard mixture (and I had plenty of free wax back then, my uncle was a beekeeper). Using the mix resulted in reasonably soft fabric, not really light but still much lighter than with just wax (my friend made a small tent with pure wax and it was very heavy, despite being like 1/3 size of mine...also used about the same amount of wax as I used for much more fabric). And the waterproof effect has lasted well so far. I made that tent in 2006 and last time I got it out was 2012 I think, it still protected us really well. 
I started using quite minimalistic gear by that time and only brought tarp usually, so the tent has seen little use since then. But it became sort of legendary among the reenacting community here :)

endurance

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2014, 07:12:38 PM »
When I first started with the Forest Service we used linseed oil to stain a bunch of sign posts one day and on the way back to the shop discovered the rags we cleaned up with were smoking. Later research revealed that cotton can spontaneously combust if they get linseed oil on it and the right conditions. Beware of windy hot days!

Offline David in MN

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 05:53:28 AM »
Are we sure we're talking about linseed oil and not boiled linseed oil? The "boiled" variant has a drying agent added that lets it cure in wood and not stay liquid. Might do the same on cloth. I've never worked with pure linseed.

As to the flammability: Most woodworkers keep a bucket of water for the rags with various oils. While wet they can combust but once dried it's not a problem. Every woodworker has an "oily rags in the summer" story. We all get lazy. Be careful!

Offline Mortblanc

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2014, 11:10:31 AM »
Knecht, one day you will learn that when you have one of these off the wall questions you should simply PM me first!

I have probably made several miles of oil cloth in my day.  I ruined a bit of fabric before getting the recipe perfected too!  I learned it as part of my reenacting efforts too.

What is sold as "oil cloth" today has no resemblance to real oilcloth

This is something every prepper should know how to make, since real oilcloth is much more durable than anything on today's market.  It allows one to produce waterproof clothing, rain suits, collapsible buckets and all manner of watertight containers that are completely flexible and make no sound as one moves.

It does anything a 'blue tarp" will do only more quietly, and with dignity.

It is really quite simple and does not require melting and pouring and scraping wax or any other foolishness. 

First wash the fabric on high temp with no soap.  Then dry on high heat until completely dry.  This shrinks the weave in the fabric.  The best fabric shows no daylight through the weave, but a little bit of light is OK.  You use what you have.

Hang the fabric in an open but sheltered area like under and eave or in an open shed.  It must hand free so you can get to both sides.  Paint the fabric with a mix of 50% boiled linseed oil and 50% pain thinner (mineral spirits [NO NOT MINERAL OIL]).  put two coast on the tarp saturating it thoroughly from both sides.

Allow the tarp to hang for at least two days before use and 2 weeks is better to dissipate the odder.

The linseed oil seals the fabric and the paint thinner evaporates the sticky parts of the linseed allowing it to dry.  If you do not use the paint thinner the linseed oil will remain sticky forever and the tarp will be useless.

When the linseed oil is no longer sticky and only a slightly oily feel remains the tarp is safe to store and will not spontaneously catch fire.  Lost of people worry about that and it is o worry if you used the paint thinner. 

If you sew the oilcloth or use it to make a water carrier rub some bees wax on the seams to waterproof them.

This mix also works on lightweight cloth as well as canvas or heavy cloth.   I spent a 3 month backpacking run using a tarp made from a 400 count cotton bed sheet treated with this formula as my only shelter.


Wash/dry at hot setting, coat with 50% boiled linseed oil=50% paint thinner/mineral spirits, let hang for two weeks   

Offline Knecht

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2014, 04:20:55 PM »
Sorry, I completely forgot about this thread after it had no replies for couple days.
Thanks a lot for the recipe, I'll try that  :)

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2014, 05:15:33 PM »
I've never made a tarp but have experienced the joy of using quality product.  For what it's worth. . .

My wall tent is made from a 10.10 oz. army duck, marine boatshrunk, long fiber, double fill, and Sunforger treated.  It is water repellant, mildew resistant, breathable, long life, and durable without adding too much weight.  It's never leaked in snow or rain yet.

I would be wary about using fabric other than 100% cotton and treating that fabric with something that won't allow it to breathe (not suggesting that the linseed oil and mineral spirits doesn't, because I don't know).  The reason breathability is so important is to minimize and eliminate condensation.  Just 4 people in a tent produce 2 liters of condensation from their breath in one night!  Add to that other elements that put moisture into the air such as boiling water, heating with propane, drying your clothing, etc. and you create a wet interior.  Properly treated cotton allows this moisture to escape through the tent, keeping you warm and dry.



Offline Hurricane

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2014, 05:37:13 PM »
 :popcorn:


Offline Knecht

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2014, 05:59:23 PM »
I don't like enclosed tents, prefer open tarp designs, mainly the diamond shelter. Needs very little stuff,other than the tarp. If you tie it to a tree, doesn't even need a single stick. Only 3 stakes will do, though 5 are better. No ropes, other than a piece of cord to tie the upper corner to something (if it's a free standing stick, then it needs to be tied to a stake or other anchor).

I'll make a sample piece with the recipe Mortblanc suggested and see how it works with my fabric. I couldn't use paint thinner for the reenactment, but for modern camping it's ok.

Thanks for the links as well.

nelson96

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2014, 06:06:05 PM »
I don't like enclosed tents

Wasn't suggesting one, but no problem, hope it works out.

Offline Mortblanc

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Re: Any real oilcloth for a tarp available?
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2014, 09:10:01 AM »
I'll make a sample piece with the recipe Mortblanc suggested and see how it works with my fabric. I couldn't use paint thinner for the reenactment, but for modern camping it's ok.

Thanks for the links as well.

paint thinner/mineral spirits of today was known a Japan Dryers back in the old days.  they used it extensively.

They also added a lead monoxide based thinner to dry the linseed oil, which is no longer on the market due to cancer research.  that had been the best concentration available but is now illegal in the US, I do not know if it is still used in your area.

The absence of the lead monoxide is the only difference between the formula I have given and what was used for 2000 years prior to modern medical research making the lead monoxide formula illegal.

Back in the olden days most paint was simply linseed oil, a rapid dryer and a pigment mixed together.  Oilcloth was just fabric that had been coated with a paint containing no pigment, or the pigment you wanted on your tent.  Painting tents was an accepted method of decoration and restoring the waterproofing.  many times the seams would need an extra coat of paint and that would be in a contrasting color, giving stripes to the tent.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 09:16:42 AM by Mortblanc »