It wasn't until the research of Pvt. Ternan about a year ago that I learned these were actually a thing. I was under the mistaken assumption that pull-through cleaners were a 20th century item, much like you would see issued with a 1917 Enfield or 1903 Springfield. However, not only were two styles of these brushes available for the Sharps rifle, but they also existed for other calibers. I'm guessing their relative scarcity today has more to do with the fragility of their natural construction rather than lack of use. Having one of these in your implement pouch would be immensely useful because, as you all know, Sharps rifles don't have a cleaning rod. Though rods were likely issued in the crates maybe 1 for every 10 rifles.
Now, you can sometimes find originals on Ebay for around $100-150. The carbine models tend to be a bit cheaper but I've resisted buying one because originals are .52 caliber and our reproduction Sharps are .54. So, after studying many pictures and the book, "Gun Tools Their History and Identification," I thought I'd begin my experimentation. My design ideas will look the part, though as of now, won't be 100% authentic. I wanted my design to be accessible to everyone to try to experiment with. If you have some brass round stock and a machinist lathe, this wouldn't take long to build, however, not many people are set up for machinist work. Also, original brushes were made of natural materials and the one's I've seen weren't brass bristle. So, clearly, I'm only at the proof of concept stage.
As with many Civil War items there is a great deal of variance in surviving examples. These include differences in brush material, brush length, thong length, and even if the ferrule was female threaded or fixed to the brush as a solid item.
I started with making the late/post war single thong Sharps pull through, though single pulls existed and in many other calibers. I chose to recreate the models with a threaded female ferrule to increase its usefulness and it appears these were more common. This way you can replace the brushes as they wear out or even use a mop if you like. Though, those weren't used then. I'm just saying this is more adaptable to modern cleaning practices. I found an original example online that had a thong that measured 39 1/2" and checking that length to my Sharps; it appeared a good length. I chose a 3/4" long ferrule with a 10-32 thread, easily found at a good hardware store like Ace, because that is a very common modern industry standard for black powder cleaning implements. Finding leather thong online is very simple to do. I found that 4 mm thong fits beautifully into the ferrule. I simply find how much of the thong needs to go in before it hits the top of the brush threads. I mark that distance, remove the thong, apply a light coat of two part epoxy, and reinsert the thong to dry in place.
The part I'm struggling with and could really use your help with is that I can't seem to find a brass "spacer" or "standoff" as they're sometimes called. I can only find them in aluminum. I think I've seen steel, but you don't want a hard metal involved in your rifle cleaning setup. While aluminum was known of and did exist during the Civil War, it was more expensive than gold and really only existed in science laboratories. Commercial availability of aluminum didn't come about until many years later. I can machine them in brass but that eliminates the "common man" nature of the build. If it comes down to it, I might just end up machining these and selling them. So, if you know a place to buy 10-32 or even 8-32 1" long brass standoffs, please post a comment on our Facebook page so we can bring this part of Sharpshooter history back to life.
In the meantime, I'm going to try out my aluminum ferrule and see how it works.