So this morning, I loaded Murphy and a broken machine gun up into my SUV and we headed off for the wilds of Pennsylvania, taking the gun back to it's creator, gunsmith extraordinaire Charlie Erb.
Murphy just came along because so far he's a horrible passenger and I want him to get used to riding and settle down.
We got out to Frederickstown, PA a bit after noon, following a drive complicated by lousy Bing Maps directions and a minor incident as a gas station where I'd stopped to get a real map. My leg was troubling me more than a bit, so I stepped into the rest room to take it off and re-adjust it. No sooner was I in there though when the door began to rattle. I told the impatient person that I'd be out in a minute, and I could hear a child outside announcing to someone that he had to go poop.
Well darn, kid. I need to get my leg put back on. and at that moment, it was completely off and I was trying to clean the residue of a large burst blister out of the liner and disinfect the area around said blister. Needless to say, I was in a foul mood, both from the pain and from being somewhat lost, so I didn't respond terribly well when someone else began knocking on the door and a woman's voice yelled: "Hurry up in there! My son's going to poop his pants!"
I'm sorry...how is this pending event that affects you and your son exclusively in any way MY problem? Do you think that I just came in here to read the graffiti, or enjoy the smell? I again announced that I'd be out in a minute and returned to re-assembling my leg, trying to get it to fit just differently enough to take the pressure off of the damaged area.
Another banging on the door. "My child needs to use the bathroom!" the woman yelled, confirming that she really believes that I'm supposed to vacate the rest room instantly in response to her kid's demand.
Whatever. I ignored her and focused on putting my leg back together. I finished in short order and it felt good enough to get by, so I opened the door and walked out to find a fattish woman glaring at me as a boy next to her who was probably five or six was dancing around like some sort of Special Olympian on crack. Shame on me, but when I walked out and pulled the door shut behind me, I seem to have inadvertently re-locked it. Oops. My bad. Hopefully the teenager behind the cash register had a key somewhere.
Back on the road, I reached the Erb estate about half an hour later and met the legend himself. Charlie Erb was 31 years in the machine gun business, during which time he built and serviced countless machine guns, and even though he's retired now he's still willing and able to help out people who own the guns that he brought to life decades ago. Charlie took my sick gun into his machine shop and tried what Mike and I had already done: Banging on the operating rod end with a steel rod and large hammer to no avail and saying "Wow..." a lot. That sucker was still locked up tight. Finally, after considerable effort was expended on it, I agreed to write the bolt off, and he put the gun on his vertical mill and ground the bolt out by cutting it through the ejection port and top of the receiver then busting the remains with a hammer, allowing the barrel to be removed. (The bolt, when in battery, locks the barrel in place.) He was able to determine that the gun's ejector had been blown up into one of the slots on the bolt collar by the explosion of the steel-cased cartridge, and with the ejector forced up into that slot, the bolt and barrel were effectively locked together and the destruction of the bolt was the only way to separate them again. This happens rarely to M60's but it does happen. My luck, it happened to mine the first time out. A contributing factor was likely an excessively worn operating rod and/or bolt. These parts had seemed ok to me when I inspected the gun prior to firing it, but I am admittedly no expert on this weapon system yet.
Anyway, the gun was cleaned, lubricated and reassembled with a new bolt and operating rod, and a few other minor kinks were ironed out of it as well, since it was open and on the table. Then we took it out to his test range and I put nearly 400 rounds of assorted BRASS-CASED ammunition through it--everything from surplus to my own reloads--and the gun ran without a hiccup. This thing is great, and after an inspection and rebuild by it's actual creator, the man who built it originally in the early 1990's, it's in better shape than it was before the catastrophic stoppage turned it temporarily into a 23lb. paperweight. An added benefit was that I got to learn all about this gun from the master himself, and my ability to diagnose it and keep it running has greatly increased.
Here's the man himself with the gun. He originally built 50 of these M60's, and numerous other great guns, including Stens, Sterlings, MP-40s, 1919s, Vickers and Maxim guns.
And here's Dave, Charlie's "watch rooster", who tormented Murphy incessantly by walking around and around my SUV and utterly ignoring him no matter how much Murphy barked. Dave knows that dog ain't getting out of that truck.
Finally we headed for home. Since I'd forgotten to bring food for Murphy, I slid through a drive-thru and got him a couple of burgers. I'd meant to give him the burgers once we were on the highway so I hid them from him by putting them under a jacket that was laying on the front seat, but when we got on the highway and I looked for them, they were gone. I looked in the back where Murphy was and I found the wrappers for those burgers, torn and empty and covered with dog spit. He'd helped himself, and done so in such a stealthy fashion that I didn't even see it go down. So the question is, if the dog steals food that's basically his food, is it still theft?
I'm thinking yes, just on principle.
But now we're home. The M60 is back in the gun safe, Murphy is in his dog bed, and I'm fixing to retire and read a few chapters of T.E. Lawrence before calling it a night.