Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Some new tooling and a couple new projects

Well, I finally got another new-to-me mill. It is the same model as the one I had when I lived in west Texas, so it should be fairly intuitive. I got a great deal on it thanks to Craigslist, and only had to drive to Denton (north of Dallas about an hour) to pick it up. The mill came with a few end mills and some other random tooling, so it seems that the irony continues. When I moved out of west Texas, I had an identical mill and identical lathe to what I do now, and when I sold both of them I included all the tooling I had for them as well. I had amassed quite a bit of stuff for them, and wish I had kept some of it, but that's the way it goes, I suppose.

 Here it sits next to my lathe, waiting for me to do some wiring and get it all working.
 Now that I have a milling machine again, I can get some other stuff done I've been waiting to finish.

Since I have a mill and since I saved some money on the purchase of the mill, I picked up a couple parts kits that I have been wanting. First off is a 1942-dated Bren MK1 machine gun that has been demilled according to current ATF specs. If you zoom in on the pic you can see the torch cuts in the receiver. I spent part of the afternoon today grinding down the slag on the torch cuts and seeing if the receiver could be salvaged in order to build a legal semi auto out of it. So far, it appears the magazine well area took a hard hit with the gas axe, but that is really the worst area and can be rebuilt. Everything else looked really bad at first, but upon aligning it on the lower receiver, it looks like I can make a few filler sections and weld it up with relative ease. I have a gas regulator and magazine on order from Apex and a barrel on order from Centerfire. It does look a little incomplete without those parts at the moment.

The other parts kit I picked up is a Polish RPD machinegun. This came complete with everything I need to build a semi auto rifle out of except a receiver. I am going to try and pick up a demilled receiver and attempt a re-weld on it. There are prefabricated semi auto receivers on the market, but most of them cost almost what I paid for the parts kit itself. If I can, I'd prefer to machine a new receiver out of a block of 4130 or 4140 so I can have it heat treated. Thankfully, this rifle is chambered in the 7.62x39 cartridge, and the receiver really doesn't have to be all that tough to withstand that round.

It may be a bit before I can start working on these projects, but they are here waiting on me. I'm still waiting on word back from a couple sheet metal fab shops about the magazines for the Hi Point drum assembly. The first shop I spoke with said they could replicate the mags somewhat, but instead of bending a radius in the mags, they would only be able to bend 45 degree angles in the nose of the mag. This would work but it's not really what I want.(For the record, I had them bend me up one and I tried it. It fit the magazine well fine, it just doesn't look as nice as the radius-ed nose magazines)
The other shops I spoke with had to do a cost analysis of tooling and work up a price on each part in small lots or in bulk. I only need a couple for now so I can get back to work on it and perfect it. Once I know I have a working product I'll be more inclined to buy several mags at a time.

For those still following this drum project, my advice would be to go ahead and buy a drum or three now while you still can relatively cheaply. This election coming up looks to be a repeat of the last one, so start amassing ammo and high cap mags while they are still on the market. The worst case scenario is that you wind up with a couple drums you can either sell down the road to a Suomi owner or to someone who wants to experiment with building a drum for another 9mm firearm.
IF, and only IF I get a working product out of this project, and IF I do decide to make/sell any of the completed drums, the drums would be done on an exchange program. I don't have the capital necessary to buy and stock a whole bunch of factory Suomi drums, so I would require each person to send me a drum for modification. That keeps the price of modifying them at a constant rate, and no one would have to worry about the price going up due to a shortage of drums or the price of drums going up. Again folks, if you can, buy drums now. You won't regret it either way.

That's about all I have for now. I do have some more updates on the drums coming, but I don't want to let too much out of the bag yet, not until I know that I have a steady supply of magazine towers.


  1. Wow. Is this machineguns will be full-auto after refurbishing? Whatever, it looks like a lot of work ahead.

  2. I thought BATFEIEIO was of the philosophy that "Once a machine gun, always a machine gun." In other words, I'm not sure you can remil it into a legal semi-auto (well not that you CAN, but that I don't think they'll let you).

    And yeah, it's going to be a LOT of work.

    Cheers, Medium Sized Jake

    1. Medium Sized Jake:
      Thanks for dropping by!
      In response to your comment,
      These are deactivated according to ATF specs, thus removing them from their initial machine gun status, (meaning they are only lumps of scrap metal to the jackboots) and welding them back together is considered making a new receiver in the BATFOOLS eyes. You have to weld in a block that prevents an unmodified full-auto bolt from being inserted, and thus when you do the initial build, your bolt and other parts are modified accordingly.
      Rewelding demilled receivers is common practice, and is perfectly legal IF you follow established guidelines.

  3. Hyperprapor:
    No, this will not be made into a machine gun. The Hughes Amendment (spit) of 1986 will not allow me to make a machine gun out of these.

    1. Well, semiauto not that bad too. :)
      Plenty of work still a matter of respect.

    2. I can live with them being semiauto. :)
      Thanks for the kind words Hyperprapor. :)

  4. Have I mentioned how awesome you are? I am so looking forward to these builds. I've been perusing Grizzly for mills and lathes (I promise to buy nothing until we've talked about it). I also want to make a small forge, probably a brake drum forge but that's still up in the air. I'm even looking at some machinist schools but they're a bit far away and pricey. Youch! This may be a makee learnee kind of thing.
    Please keep up the updates, they're great!

    1. LOL!
      Awesome? I've never been called that before :)
      I appreciate your kind words, Six.

      As far as machine tools, there are plenty of guides online that can help you figure out how to use a lathe or mill. I am far from a pro, and the only exposure to either one I had before starting to build guns was the shop classes I had in high school, and that has been several years.
      Find some metal scrap and practice, practice, practice. If you want a relatively easy project, pick up a Sterling or Sten parts kit from militarygunsupply.com and commence to building. You will find that a lot of building things like round tube subguns is just taking good measurements and taking your time in cutting and machining.

      You can get some good deals on craigslist as well, evidenced by the mill I just picked up. Also look at wttool.com, or check out the lathes and mills at http://www.machinetoolonline.com/PM-1127-VF.html and http://www.machinetoolonline.com/PM-MV-BenchMills.html
      For the price of a couple of rifles, you can have a good mill and good lathe, and start building your own!
      I'll be more than happy to assist you when the time comes for you to pick up some cool tools.

  5. I, too, love what you're doing, and -- as per your advice -- am ordering some drums in the hopes that this project comes to fruition. But could you please clarify your use of the terms 'exchange' and 'modify'?

    'Exchange' in the auto parts sense, means that I turn in my old part and get a rebuilt unit, whereas 'modify' means that I supply a part, and then receive the same part that I sent, modified as requested.

    Since drums may be in different conditions (and I've found one site that offers hand-select), I don't want to send a really nice drum and receive something less in return.

    I suspect strongly that you really mean 'modify', and that future customers will receive the same drums they send, but I just wanted to verify.

    (Farmkid on BJJF)

    1. Farmkid,

      In the situation that someone asked that their specific drum be used, I'd be glad to accommodate their request. If they want a drum unit built from the drum they sent me, I'd tell them to expect a one-week turn around, give or take.

      So, in that sense I would either exchange or modify, depending on what was requested. I plan to initially build at least 10 units that I know are functional and tested, and if the buyer agrees, I will send them a functional unit in exchange for their drum. The caveat would be that the drum sent to me for exchange can't be seriously damaged.