Those of you who have been following this particular Class 3 hot mess know that I acquired a West Hurley 1928 Thompson nearly a year ago, only to have nothing but problems with it from day 1.
The gun is a West Hurley-produced Auto Ordnance. These guns were rushed out in the mid-1980's before the law took effect banning the addition of any new or old unregistered machine guns to the registry. AO was making these guns but didn't have access to enough GI surplus Thompson parts so they farmed production out to several local manufacturers, many of which just did a craptastic job.
The comprehensive article on this can be found here.
THOSE WEST HURLEY THOMPSON PARTS
This article tells which parts specifically were farmed out and what problems they were known to have.
I expected teething problems, as my gun had been a safe queen and allegedly never fired. And I've been in the gun game long enough to know that when a seller says that he's never fired a used gun, it's often because he wants to plausibly deny the problems that he knows or suspects that it has. So I expected a bit, and factored that into my decision to buy this one at the listed price.
Of course I also took the seller--a dealer with a good reputation--at his word when he told me that all of the internal parts had been replaced with USGI parts. I found this not to be the case, and he wound up replacing most of them with real USGI parts when the gun went back for warranty repair twice. Or was it three times? After a while, I lost count. But he was paying shipping both ways each time and paying for a lot of new parts and finish work.
After the last time it came back, I took it out and again it was malfunctioning. Rounds would be stripped off of the magazine and rammed into the chamber but not fired. The primer would have a light dent, but wasn't being hit hard enough to set the round off. Again I contacted the seller--he did warrant that all guns that he sold would work reliably--and all I got back was a rude e-mail that he had forwarded from the alleged "gunsmith" that had been working on the gun. That jerk basically accused me of causing the problems by limp-wristing the gun...as if that's even possible with a ten pound firearm. He also told the seller that, in his opinion, they'd done enough work on this gun and given me more than enough USGI parts already. The seller seemed to agree, so I just gave up dealing with them and bought a new used USGI trigger frame for it. I then stripped down the West Hurley commercial frame and rebuilt the new frame using the few confirmed USGI parts that were in the old frame along with replacement parts that I bought to swap out every non-USGI part in there, down to the tiniest spring. I dura-coated the new frame and almost got it to match the receiver, and then put it all back together. I noticed right off that the magazines fit snugly on the new frame, whereas in the old one, they rattled like a maraca. Cause of the problems? Bet.
Yesterday I took it out to the range for a quick test.
FINALLY! It WORKS!
I did have one magazine out of the bunch I was using that would not stay locked in the gun. That mag is getting tossed. Aside from that, it was a great runner in both semi and full auto, and finally I was able to walk off the range with this gun without having to cover my face in shame. Yeah...I'm happy. A few hundred more rounds without any hiccups and I'll pronounce this one my new "Go to" tool for emergencies.
As for the seller, supposedly a reputable Thompson dealer...I'll be charitable and not name him, but you can bet for damned sure that he won't be getting repeat business or any referrals from me.