Sheeley Built USN Jacket

Discussion in 'Reproduction manufacturers' started by Maverickson, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. Maverickson

    Maverickson Active Member

    Messages:
    358
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Hi All,

    I thought some of you might like to see an example of my latest work. In this case a size 40 USN Monarch AN-J-3A from their mid War 20570 contract. This particular contract, other than the pre War M-422, is probably the only true War era contract where those issued this model jacket might have directly participated in the War effort. Thus making it all the more interesting.

    Truly a favorite of jacket maker of mine & after 10 long years of collecting I have accumulated War era USN Monarch originals ranging from size 36 through 46. So there is very little guess work for me to figure out the sizing and it's idiosyncrasies for this particular model jacket.

    Any and all true Large size USN War era Monarch jackets are beyond rare. In fact, I've only come across two Large size AN-J-3A model jackets and I own them both. Prior to finding those two I was of the opinion that only size 40 and smaller were in fact made for any and all of their USN Mil-Spec contracts.

    Those large size jackets were taken down to their individual pieces, patterned and complete restored. They are seen here,


    In the case of this latest build, the size 40 AN-J-3A Monarch jacket I used to pattern this latest build came from an IDed individual by the name of John Z. Colt. I've done quite a bit of research on the original owner and have spoken at great length with both Colt's son and the son of one of the air crew. In doing so acquired the complete run down on the original owner's War record.

    This pattern jacket that once belonged to a John Z. Colt https://obittree.com/obituary/us/ne...ach---tuyn-funeral-home-inc/john-colt/566120/ in short was a USN aviator that participated in The Battle Of Okinawa. Colt flew off of the USS Langley (CVL-27) while flying the TBM Avenger with VT-23. It would be my best guess that Colt wore his AN-J-3A Monarch for at least half of his 18 strikes against Okinawa and it's surrounding Islands. Most interesting, during the battle, Colt and his crew crash landed twice aboard the Langley. Also did a forced landing at what is now Kadena AF base while the air strip was still contested. But there is so much more information to come.

    Ultimately, the original size 40 Monarch AN-J-3A jacket will be going back to Colt's son. As once I began corresponding with John Colt Jr., he had a change of heart. He has now decided he wants to repurchase the jacket. But not before having me do a complete restoration on that jacket and currently an on going project. Something for a future thread once Colt's jacket's restoration is complete. At that time & besides the restoration, that future thread will include copies of both flight logs and excerpts from a 170 page personal diary with information that will put you there. Also related associated items and original pix from the Battle Of Okinawa.

    Through me, Colt's jacket has spawned a new generation of size 40 model 20570 Monarch AN-J-3A reproduction jackets. That reproduction can be seen below.


    Please note that in the above image that the jacket has a closed zipper. However, to cut down on hide abrasion at the zipper's connection points and leather extension seam I made allowances. Exactly how I set up my my own. If not originally done that way like seen here http://www.vintageleatherjackets.org/media/caglecos-leather-zip-extension.359/ I correct those originals with what I refer to as having crowded zips http://www.vintageleatherjackets.org/media/sheeley-cagleco-zip-track-jpg.360/










    Like many of the original War era USN Monarch's I have either handled or own, this reproduction jacket of mine seen above was done using vegetable tanned goat hide with a russet colored base. To achieve the seal brown I applied a brown pigment which will ultimately wear and give way to reveal the russet base.

    Done utilizing all Monarch colored matching 100% cotton thread and comparable stitch counts as seen used originally for this model USN jackets. The hardware includes correct original blackened brass M-43 Talon. Dull purple knits, a high end thick rayon sourced out of the UK. Included are three labels I had custom made like originally used for the 20570 contract.

    This 20570 contract is a hybrid of the just earlier M-422 model jacket. With idiosyncrasy only found with this particular contract. Much less boxy, with relatively narrow sleeve ends than the earlier model. Still originally done the old way using cotton thread. Overall, a much more modern twist than the M-422. Form fitting but still not quite the the modern G-1. In my opinion I believe that this Monarch contract is arguably the best looking USN model WW-2 jacket made and one of the reasons I decided to duplicate it.

    First & foremost, I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am one of the few makers that utilizes a Keyhole Buttonhole machine (and spent many a weary hour learning to understand exactly how to keep it running correctly) like used back in the day to recreate the correct pockets and throat latches on these jackets. Likewise, I'm also set up for button up jackets complete. Not withstanding, on any given jacket build I can bring to bare as many as five different machines to create a build. Two of which were specifically used by Monarch to build their jackets originally. So I am well equipped for both new builds and restorations.

    I've spent untold time and effort with these vintage jackets, especially those jackets orginally built by Monarch MFG. & pay much attention to detail to bring forth a first rate quality product.

    Please feel free go through my album Maverickson's Jackets to see some additional images of this same reproduced AN-J-3A jacket. If you have any questions please ask. After all vintage jackets are my favorite subject!


    Cheers, Dave
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
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  2. nkang

    nkang Active Member

    Messages:
    201
    Thanks a lot for sharing this detailed post with great photos of these beautiful jackets, Dave! Such dedication, attention to detail, and craftsmanship!

    Have always been a fan and still hope to work with you on a nice Monarch sometime in the near future :) I think it's amazing that we have jacket artists like you and Steve S. working on USN repro jackets!
     
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  3. Dr H

    Dr H Well-Known Member

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    3,607
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    Looking forward to receiving one of Dave’s jackets in the future. I can wholeheartedly endorse his attention to detail and customer service.
     
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  4. Skyhawk

    Skyhawk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    713
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Fantastic work Dave! A great story as well about Mr. Colt. I am glad the family will get the jacket.
     
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  5. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Well-Known Member

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    2,476
    attention to detail is an under statement, if ever there was. outstanding!
     
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  6. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,324
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Awesome! Can't wait to see the natural wear through to the russet!
    Dave
     
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  7. Skip

    Skip Well-Known Member

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    1,249
    Location:
    Great Southern Land
    Dave, outstanding work as always not to mention your attention to detail in the history, sourcing of materials, and creation of a work of art. A tribute to one of the outstanding clothing manufactures of that time.

    Certainly looking forward to mine in the not to distant future
     
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  8. Brent

    Brent Active Member

    Messages:
    168
    Location:
    Olathe, KS
    The talented people on this forum never cease to amaze me. To say beautiful jacket would be an understatement. Oh, love the zipper detail, done right.

    Regards,
     
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  9. Brettafett

    Brettafett Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    794
    Location:
    LONDON
    Very, very nice. May have to try of of these in the near future! Top class...
     
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  10. Grant

    Grant Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,311
    Really beautiful work Dave! How difficult was it to master the button hole machine?
    Looking forward to learning more about John Z. Colt.
     
  11. Maverickson

    Maverickson Active Member

    Messages:
    358
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Hi All,

    The original pattern jacket for this size 40 AN-J-3A Monarch build is currently under reconstruction. That same original Monarch flight jacket is seen directly below.



    When initially sourced I had no idea of the history behind it. But as it turned out this particular jacket that belonged to John Z. Colt has a rich history that I have only just begun to unfold.

    Prior to completing the Colt's Monarch restoration I thought it appropriate to share some of that history with the members. Below is a picture of Colt with his VT-23 squadron mates (seen front row third in from the left ). Taken while aboard the USS Langley (CVL-27) off of Okinawa. Note the air wing's (two squadrons) score board.


    What I've found that is most interesting about the Battle of Okinawa is that unlike what went on during the majority of the Pacific War Theater, the air war over Okinawa was fought during the late Winter and early Spring. Furthermore & since Okinawa is fairly high up in the latitudes it was cool enough to warrant wearing heavier flight gear. All much unlike the major battles fought early on in the war. That difference being USN aviators wore their leather flight jackets at Okinawa. There will be more to come with regards to these facts.

    Immediately below is the documented results of one of the two John Z. Colt's crash landings aboard the USS Langley. In this case, the air craft came in damaged. Immediately upon landing the A/C bounced to the one side of the deck and rolled off on to the cat walk. Eventually cartwheeling and stopping before completely exiting the ship. Luckily, Colt's Avenger A/C became wedged between an antenna & a gun mount. Held fast by the barrels from the twin 40mm gun mount which had pieced the fuselage of the Avenger. No one was seriously injured. As explained by Colt in a letter I have with regards to the accident, while hanging upside down while still strapped into his seat he was passed a rope" ONCE RELEASED I DID A TARZAN SWING INTO THE HANGER DECK". That same accident is seen below.


    Again, once restored and prior to me reuniting this same combat worn Monarch jacket back to the son I will be doing a full detailed history on this particular jacket.


    Cheers, Dave
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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  12. nkang

    nkang Active Member

    Messages:
    201
    That is a really interesting piece of story! It's very rare and precious that people like you are sharing pictures of these authentic jackets and also the unknown stories behind. I think this is the type of post that I am most eager for on VLJF :)

    Thanks a lot for sharing, Dave!
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
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  13. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Dave
    In that photo of the plane, if you look closely I think you can actually see what looks to be the rope he was talking about leading to the cockpit of the aircraft.
     
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  14. Maverickson

    Maverickson Active Member

    Messages:
    358
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yes B-Man2 that is the same image of John Colt's upside down Avenger hanging off of the side of the USS Langley upon returning from a combat mission over Okinawa. Furthermore you are correct in your assumption and that crew member is seen passing the same rope that John Colt used to swinging back aboard the Langley. That is once he let himself fall free from the cockpit.

    According to Lyman Fix's (Colt's radioman/gunner) flight logs That accident was in fact their second crash landing aboard the USS Langley. This second crash which he referenced to as THE CAT WALK CRASH occurred May 1, 1945 and immediately following their 14th strike over Okinawa.

    The Fix diary indicated that they had just returned from a mission that had entailed the bombing of a mountain side with a single 2,000 lbs. bomb in an effort to destroy gun emplacements. Ultimately, that particular mission was to create land slides to bury Japanese cannon emplacements that were situated within a mountain range in such a way that the Japanese guns were impervious to naval gun fire.

    Cheers, Dave
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
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  15. Grant

    Grant Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,311
    Hey Dave,
    The Colt/Fix history you were able to research makes this jacket all the more remarkable. Looking at the photo of the inverted TBF/TBM with that sailor passing a line to Colt while trapeze walking on those cables makes you wonder, how big are the balls on that sailor!
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  16. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,126
     
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  17. Maverickson

    Maverickson Active Member

    Messages:
    358
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Hi All,

    Once I sourced my machine it did not take me long before I found that there were no longer any qualified mechanics in my immediate area that were capable of working on a Reece 101 keyhole buttonhole machine. That technology died here in the 1990s with NAFTA which caused many USA based clothing manufactures to close. Local to me was a clothing manufacturer LONDON FOG which also closed shop and those mechanics that supported them are now long gone.

    Moving forward, after being advised by the local industrial sewing machine shop whom charges $75.00 an hour for service & repair that in fact my Reece 101 was broken and beyond repair, I knew better & took it upon my self to learn it.

    To begin I found that I had to have my parts custom made and all matching to get a consistent keyhole button hole. Which was all learned though the school of hard knocks. As little if any information is readily available with regards to how to work on that machine

    In the end, I know that I have no less than 120 or more real man hours in the machine. All accumulated by tinkering, trial & error, replacing parts and finally fine tuning. Almost unbearable but that is what it took to come up with the wining combination. Thus making my machine do the the keyhole work like was done back in the day.

    Truth be told even that referenced machine Ken attached to this thread is seen doing it's keyholes incorrectly! Like most, it is missing it's third thread called gimp. That gimp thread should be seen feeding up through the bottom of the throat plate. However, that gimp thread is not seen being used. Had a gimp thread been used on that example the operator then would have clipped two threads at the bottom instead of one.

    To be able to use gimp thread a Reece 101 machine is not small feat. I say this because it has to be super fine tuned. If not, the machine will malfunction. The exact reason why your provided example does not have the more bold looking keyhole buttonhole stitch bundle that a Reece machine should have. Basically, a machine that is not tuned correctly has a tendency to periodically kick the gimp thread out of it's stitched bundle. Once it kicks out the gimp thread it immediately begins missing it's stitches. Thereby ruining the process. Exactly why most reduce down & utilize two threads like seen on that referenced example. As a result, what has come to be the norm or otherwise inadvertently now accepted by the unknowing public as a correct keyhole button hole.

    Sounds mundane but that is what it takes to make a correct product.


    Cheers, Dave
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  18. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,126
    Well done to get it running yourself. I just picked upthe first short clip I found on youtube
    We are lucky here in that there are a couple local mechanics, also one operator at the factory has picked up a lot of tuition from one of the experts.
    Only our two most trusted machinists are allowed near ours! I've never gone near it myself
    Yes we do use a gimp thread
     
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  19. Maverickson

    Maverickson Active Member

    Messages:
    358
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Hi All,

    By chance this week I am doing a retrofit. In this case, a late 1930s grommet zip horsehide civilian jacket. Apparently, once purchased found needing the sleeves extended slightly. This same customer asked that I create a period looking buttoned set of cuffs to facilitate his needs. In the end, full filling the needs for the extend sleeve length and upgrading the simple original cuffs . Likewise, this same work gave me a ready example to follow up with on the look of a gimped verses non gimped keyhole buttonhole.

    To begin it is most difficult to get a perfect stitch bundle with a Reece 101 using leather verses fabric to create keyhole buttonhole. I say this because of the differences in density between hides while fabric remains a constant. Once a machine is set up for fabric the pull up does not change & much unlike leather. Not to mention, the most difficult leather to keyhole is worn vintage hide and exactly what you all are about to see.

    Directly below are cuffs prior to doing the keyhole work. That pattern seen was taken from an original 1930s's 1st generation zip jacket to match the existing. Bare in mind, this is a retrofit and beat up horse hide donor material is order of the day.


    This next pic is the same cuffs seen above but with fresh gimped (utilizing a third thread and more difficult proceedure) keyhole buttonholes. Close to what I have seen done with high end vintage work & to what the Japanese jacket builders are currently putting out. Exactly what I have set out to duplicate !


    Next a close up of one of one of the same gimped keyhole buttonholes seen above.


    Since I was set up, it was easy enough to remove the gimp thread to create a non gimped keyhole buttonhole example. Note, once a change is made the machine wants to be immediately readjusted. You can see that this example of the non gimped keyhole buttonhole is slightly less bold. Very close to the same weak example Ken pulled up from youtube.


    Bare in mind, I have modified my machine to allow my Reece machine to use a larger size thread. Thus create the most bold keyhole buttonhole possible . Otherwise, my provided example of that non gimped keyhole button would have looked even more diminished.


    Cheers, Dave
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
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  20. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61 Well-Known Member

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    2,587
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA USA
    This is incredible work, @Maverickson! Where can we see these - online store?
     
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