TWEAKING WEST HURLEY'S
As the purchase prices of original Colt TSMGs and the WW II military guns continue to go up, many folks are buying the more recently manufactured West Hurley, N.Y., guns for their recreational shooters. According to rumor, the West Hurley (W/H) guns below serial number 800 are supposed to be the "better" guns (primarily because they were built originally with a higher percentage of GI parts). Some of the W/H guns will run fine the way you receive them, but most that I've encountered could use some "tweaking" to perform better.
Before I get into the details, I'd better cover some basics. Rule number one of gunsmithing: Always modify the cheaper part (it will be the least expensive part to replace if you screw up!). Rule number two of gunsmithing: Do not get in over your head (seek advice and thoroughly understand what job you're getting into). Rule number three of gunsmithing: Do NOT get into a hurry NOR take any shortcuts (this is for the safety of the operator and any innocent bystanders). Understand that if you damage your registered receiver beyond repair- according to NFA law - you'll have to purchase another licensed receiver (it is a felony to manufacture a new receiver with the same serial number even if the original, registered receiver is destroyed). Since I have no control over what you do to your gun, the following information is presented for educational purposes and neither the author nor the publisher assume any responsibility or liability for your actions (if YOU screw up, I'm not responsible).
Folks, if you do not have all of the back issues of the Thompson Collectors News (TCN) for use as a reference library, please get them - while they are still available! Contact Tracie Hill at B/H Distribution, P0 Box 8710, Newark, Ohio, 43055. Now that Clinton's latest import ban affects both parts and parts sets availability, I suggest that you acquire a complete parts set for your gun, while they are still available at a reasonable cost. Please re-read Lelan Whitmire's article on the value of parts sets in TCN vol. #82.
Generally speaking the W/H receivers are pretty much okay. These receivers were made from 12L14 (leaded alloy) steel and were NOT heat treated. This often leads to the rear of the receiver cracking under heavy use. Glen Whittenberger refers to this problem in his article in TCN vol.#22. At the last Show & Shoot, Glen was showing what he hoped would be the final weld job on his W/H gun after firing some 150,000 rounds through it. The most frequently encountered problem on the W/H receivers is that the feed ramps were not machined correctly. Refer to the dimensions as published in Thompson: An American Legend to determine if your gun's feed ramp meets the original blueprint specifications. I've corrected several W/H guns with nothing more than judicious use of a Dremel tool, files, sandpaper, patience and ingenuity. (The feed ramp can be done if you're careful - do not get in a hurry - it usually took me three or four evenings worth of work to get it done right. IF you have any doubts about your ability to do this j6b, I strongly suggest that you get a licensed NFA manufacturer to do this repair job). The only other problem that I've run into frequently on W/H receivers is the rear sights' hollow rivets failing. Colt used solid rivets to hold the Lyman rear sights on the original guns. Don Hall (Ariz.) sells replacement solid rivets for rear sights. D.W. Richardson covered the "how to" on rear sight riveting in TCN # 46 and see also my article in TCN # 73.