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Jim Ballou's "Monitor"


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#1 deerslayer

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 06:21 PM

Jim reproduction of a monitor is going up for auction... I've gleaned a little on subguns about its history. Does anyone know the full story? Any guesses on what it will sell for... maybe because Jim owned it it will have a little more value than what a reproduction of a monitor should bring.


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#2 darrylta

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 06:39 PM

Dan,

I don't think many people can tell its a reproduction. It's being advertised

as the real deal. Buyer Beware!

For kicks, read the comment section after the video. :-)

Darryl


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#3 OCM

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 07:07 PM

Hmmmm, I've seen this, lots of Monitor stuff missing on the" Monitor"

I'm in the process with Dan Block & CJL , building a Colt Monitor, with a OOW Receiver,  and I believe ours will be closer then this one. I'm a geek on this stuff , so should be fun.

Darryl is our leader tho-

 

OCM  


Edited by OCM, 23 October 2017 - 04:01 PM.

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#4 Junkyardslug

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 09:29 PM

I have all of Jim Ballous Papers from his last book project, among them this unpublished article he wrote on this Faux Monitor.   One reason I like this board is the Thompson people have a collectors mindset, and I want to thank all you guys and David for constantly hammering the importance of 1) Marking reproductions and 2) educating yourself on what you buy.  If you went by the Julia auction listing you'd think this was a legitimate Monitor.

 

I thought about Xing out the names and dollar amounts but this is what Jim wanted published in the book he was working on when he died. 

My Dream BAR!
Colt R80 Monitor

by Lt. James L Ballou

    Fifty years ago there resided on the wall of the legendary '1010 Commonwealth Ave" in Boston, Massachusetts, the Ballistics Lab of the Massachusetts State Police, headed by Lt Carl Majeskey; my "Dream BAR" the legendary Colt Monitor, Factory Designation the R-80.  It was love at first sight, slim lines, excellent balance, and it was a Colt.  Research proved it to be the first R80 produced and sent to Charlestown Prison in March 25, 1931.  I dreamed of actually shooting this very special BAR.   It was unavailable because of lack of paperwork.  Carl later became a friend and a staunch supporter.  There has been much speculation on haw many were produced, it became the FBI's first Combat Rifle and they obtained about 90 of them.  Kent Lomont got close to 80 Parts Kits, but was dismayed to learn they were Torch Cut with the internals in place so they were worthless as Kits.  He had specifically requested they be disassembled so the small internals could be used to build a post dealer sample.  There were about 100 Argentinean Monitors that became parts kits in 7mm Argentine.  There were rumors of other countries that bought the R80, which was the factory designation for the Monitor.  From the number of rifles turning up, one could speculate possibly 1,000 were actually produced.  The only reason the state police had theirs was that C 102792, the very first Monitor put together, was turned in by the Prison Guard that had taken it home when the prison closed in the early 1960's; since they it has undergone some indignities, it has lost the characteristic bulbous compensator and someone carefully  crafted a plastic A1 butt stock to replace the original and someone else has put an A2 carrying handle on it, obviously an anachronism.  Through the   years the value of the weapon has climbed to well over $50,000 dollars, well beyond the salary of a school teacher or police officer.

    The Second Colt Monitor belonged to John Scott, a gentleman of the First Degree.  He generously allowed this author to handle it without reservation.  At last my first dream was accomplished, my love was consummated.  Firing this rifle was Heaven on Earth.  The balance was perfect, controllability was excellent.  Alas, this perfect BAR was far beyond my reach monetarily.  After about 200 rounds I was lusting after this Jewel of a MG.  Further, the Bulbous Cutts Compensator actually worked perfectly.  Held loosely in the hands you can actually see the muzzle of the rifle dip downward.  This was a Man’s perfect BAR, mine.

    It all began one night in a Nocturnal discussion with eh BAR’s number One Fan, Kent Lomont.  He told me it would be possible to build a Modern Monitor, and even some special changes in the design.  First and foremost increase longevity of the Barrel.  I was surprised to learn the American BAR the M1918A2s barrel life was rated at 7,000 Rds.  Personally I was used to putting 10,000 Rds of 30/06 ammo on a weekend shoot.  Having done this more than ten times I had exceeded more than 100 times I  had beaten the odds 10 times over by the Time I was in ”Tales of the Gun” when she begun to key hole badly.  Dominic Spediacci had turned down M1919a4 Barrels to BAR specs and could be made from Stellite lined M1919 Barrels.  Dom also solved another nagging problem for me, the issue of firing a BAR and letting the Op Rod forward over night and the carbon would freeze the Bolt shut.  He put in an FND Gas rod reversing the system so that the rod went into a cup.  This was Marriner’s Paten an made the FND 100% reliable in battle where guns sometimes have to work for days without Cleaning.

    I remember the first M249 SAW I ever fired was another ‘Consummate Southern Gentleman” Lamar Cheatham’s.  I fired all 200 linked rounds without a problem it was a “Blast”.  His only comment was “Do you know how long it took me to link 200rds of 5.56x4 and put them in that box?”

    Back to our Conversation, I explained my dream and Kent said “Dominic Spediaccie!  He is the only one that can do this with precision”  He went to explain what a wonderful machinist he was and could even do the Markings I had in mind”.  A few weeks later I heard from Dominic, he had just had purchased a Polish Parts kit, an early one made by Colt.  If I could find a Colt receiver he could build it into my dream.  Kent bailed me out again, he had a transferable M1919 BAR that had been refinished.  A few months later my beloved wife, Pat passed away with severe Kidney and Liver Problems; and left me with $25,000 life insurance policy.  This was just enough for the kit and the M1919 Commercial BAR.  We all spoke together until August of last year when my partner and dear friend in OO, inc, Burke Fountain, decided to fixit Kent Lomont in Salmon, Idaho.  Some special request actually made Dominic’s job easier.  I was not interested in the tinny ejection port cover it rattled and jammed.

    Weeks ran into months, and our Planned visit was imminent, August 18, 2011 was almost upon us when Dominic called and said he was almost done and he would meet us at Kent’s.  I was like a kid waiting for Santa Clause, and so was Kent.  I had not even seen the Transferable Colt Model 1919, I knew it had been reblued and also the polish Kit had to be reblued to match.  I had requested a couple of changes; first I did not need an ejection port cover and I wanted USMC markings to match the Monitor on the second floor of the Marine Corps Museum at  Quantico.  In this case are the complete works of John Browning, sample of The Monitor, the Colt 1911, the models 1908 .380 ACP and 1909 .25 ACP.  At the beginning of WWII when they were thinking of an elite force within the Corps, called the Paramarines.  One of the suggested weapons for the Marine Corps Par Outfit was the Colt Monitor; the Monitor in the case had the Marine Corp on the Top Cover.  Bob Landies sent me the special top cover that they put on the M1918 A3 they the fancy up for the USMC Model.  Dominic said, “No, he would rather do it himself”, What a Fantastic Job he did.  With  the Marine Corps Markings on top, Where do we Put the Words “, Colt Monitor?”  I have seen those words printed on the left side of the Receiver in the Monitor Brochure and in advertising, but never on a real Rifle.  This is my dream BAR so;  I put the words on the side of the receiver.  I am never going to put it out as the real deal but as a Reproduction.  As the Pictures show we all were in love with this Rifle.  I could hardly wait to fire it the Next day, the brand new reproduction Monitor.  Dominic chose to give me one of his reproduction Cutts Compensator, the most prominent Feature of the Monitor.  Dom clearly marked as a Reproduction.  All the Colt parts are marked with the C and arrow.  Also not the Pistol grip trigger housing is from a real Monitor and like all commercials of the ear are set up to take the curved .303 Brit magazine.  Finally Morning arrived we took 5,000 Rds of 30/06 1000 Rds of .50 BMG and buckets of .45 ACP.  Plenty of Food and Water and headed up to the Great Divide.  At about 5,000 ft we found a little valley, complete with Angus Bulls a small Pond fed from a Mountain Spring.  We first mounted two of Kent’s BARs on his Land rover and stared to bust rocks and cut down Pine Trees.  I set up a Table with sand bags to test my Monitor.  All I can say is she lived up to my Expectation handling like a dream. My dream came true.  After Lunch we hauled out some Garands and I carried a Matching Pair of M1911 Colts.  ON the next Mountain Kent hand place a Steel Plate at about 300 YDS above us.  Dominic started hitting 9 out of 10 shots, I was able to Top him with the M1 Garand and then the Sprit of the BAR kicked in, I tried the Colt Monitor and it shot better than the Garand.  Kent called out. “See if you can sweep the water and get an even Pattern in the Pond” (See photo)

We ended the Day happily with five .45s.  I stared to make Kent laugh , when I showed off my skills with two matching .45s, I fired both simultaneously, making the hills reverberate with the dual muzzle blast and letting the bullets converge at about 75 yds in the water.  “You Old SOB, you are full of surprises.”  What a beautiful day, full of Joy and camaraderie!

Thanks you Lord for letting me live past my allotment of Three Score and Ten

PS; I would be willing to bet if enough of you war to order a Monitor in Semi M1918 A3 I am reasonable Sure that Bob Landies of OOW would be willing to make a few for you.  I am sure Dominic Spediacci could make the special compensator for you
 


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#5 Adg105200

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 05:00 AM

Very interesting, thanks for sharing!

Andrew
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#6 deerslayer

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 05:24 PM

Very good. Thanks for all the information.
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#7 OCM

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 07:40 PM

I knew Jim , just a bit, basically on the Clyde Barrow stuff, that I  discussed with him.

 

Appreciate sharing this with the group. He was a good soul.

 

The issue, like all auction houses, is this- Not Jim Ballou's dream gun.

 

Good, good for you for posting this. Personally appreciate it.

 

Sandy  


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#8 deerslayer

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 09:05 PM

Why is the rear sight base backwards on a polish bar/monitor?
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#9 OCM

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 08:55 AM

I'll bite-


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#10 jim c 351

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 10:47 AM

Because its Polish???

Just a guess.

Jim C


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#11 Mongo

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 11:15 AM

Why is the rear sight base backwards on a polish bar/monitor?

So you can read the numbers on the range scale as you adjust it with out having to crane your neck above the weapon. FN started doing this which is opposite than the bolt action rifles of the time.


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#12 dalbert

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 10:40 PM

Junkyardslug,

 

Thanks for posting the article, and for the kudos about the importance of marking reproduction items.

 

Dan,

 

Thanks for posting the video.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


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#13 Ed L

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 09:41 PM

This is fantastic.  Thanks for posting this.

 

I first read of the Colt Monitor in Stephen Hunter's book G-Man.  Though a work of fiction, the Monitor played a prominent role. I started researching it and got very interested.  I am just getting started with class II firearms and the Monitor, though interesting, was way out of my budget.  Besides, I was intimidated by the complexity of the internals of a BAR.


Edited by Ed L, 02 December 2017 - 09:42 PM.

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#14 dalbert

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 10:00 PM

Ed L,

 

Welcome to the Machinegunboards.com!  Feel free to post and ask any questions you may have.  We have some of the most knowledgeable folks on the net on this board, and they will be happy to help you.

 

David Albert

dalbert@sturmgewehr.com


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#15 ron_brock

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 12:15 PM

Funny that Julia advertises this as a world record price for this model. I guess thats the reproduction Monitor model?

Ron

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#16 johnsonlmg41

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 08:43 PM

I read that as well and was shaking my head the whole time.   I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed for them, assume they are mocking collectors, assume ignorance is bliss, or assume they are nefarious shills?  I've bought number of guns there and have been rather displeased with their service lately.   They seem good at taking money, then after that all communication grinds to a halt.  The odds of me ever consigning there are about zero.  They are starting to make RIA look good?


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#17 OCM

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 11:15 AM

I've wondered why Jim didn't want the ejection port cover, that's a big part of the Monitor, as is the huge muzzle break. ( length too of course) . In talking with the guys at OOW, they did make a Monitor and sold it for 20K, wondering if this was part of the Ballou project ? 

I guess Julia could back out of the "  World Record " verbiage by saying this was a Reproduction model , the only one . 

Oh well. 


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#18 jim c 351

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 10:04 AM

Junkyardslug, Since you have all the papers from Jim Balou's latest, unpublished book, what do you intend to do with these papers??? Are you planning on publishing them.? Thanks, Jim C
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#19 OCM

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 11:50 AM

This is fantastic.  Thanks for posting this.

 

I first read of the Colt Monitor in Stephen Hunter's book G-Man.  Though a work of fiction, the Monitor played a prominent role. I started researching it and got very interested.  I am just getting started with class II firearms and the Monitor, though interesting, was way out of my budget.  Besides, I was intimidated by the complexity of the internals of a BAR.

 

That's a great story of Nelson with a Monitor in Lebman's basement, in the book G-Man. Story is a little off from reality, but a good read.......I've seen a news video showing Lebman's basement under the saddle shop. Firing a Monitor there would likely blow your ears out and cause some interesting reactions up in the saddle/boot shop. 


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#20 Junkyardslug

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 11:37 AM

Junkyardslug, Since you have all the papers from Jim Balou's latest, unpublished book, what do you intend to do with these papers??? Are you planning on publishing them.? Thanks, Jim C

 

Jim,

 

Ballou had been working with Armor Plate Press to get this book ready.  They also have the manuscript, probably a more advanced copy than I have.  

 

Jim Ballou was a normal everyday guy, and when he spoke or wrote about the BAR like he was talking to a group of buddies around the campfire; not like he was writing a reference book.  I also have the manuscript from his first book (purchased from Ballou in 2003) and it is a completely different work from the the published book 'Rock in a Hard Place'  His publisher for the first book (Collector Grade Publications) had to re-write that book using his manuscript as a template and his research to plug in facts after they struck his waxing poetic from the page. It was such an undertaking they declined to take on his 2nd volume

 

The main problem with the 2nd book is that Jim wrote in his normal style but the accompanying research is scant at best.  He wrote a lot of first person accounts he collected (not transcribed; but re-told in his way).  He would go on about the genius of John Browning in odd places.  He had lists of BAR rumors he had heard over his lifetime but zero evidence beyond that.  He put things back into the manuscript for his 2nd book that Col. Grd. Pub. struck from his manuscript from his first book.  The whole work is very rambly and without much direction.  I feel if one were to go through and clean everything Jim did, do proper citations, and get ready for publication, one would have about a 40 page book.

 

Just as an example, in the piece Jim wrote about the Monitor that I posted above; he said "From the number of rifles turning up, one could speculate possibly 1,000 were actually produced"  Well, we don't have to speculate, because we know how many monitors were produced because we have the Colt records.  It was 125.  90 went to the FBI, 35 went to prisons, banks, mine companies, dealers, ect.  In fact, to whom each Monitor was sold is know because that's in the Colt records also.   Was it because he heard a rumor that there were 1000?  Was it because it made a better story?  We shall never know; but if I were his editor it would be negligence for me to allow that to be printed.

 

To answer your question; I will probably not do anything with the manuscript.  It's a Gidion's knot of a piece and it would have to be torn down to the studs and rebuilt from the ground up.  The research material of his is more interesting but almost all of it came from his first book effort.   At some point when I have the time I may try laying everything out and seeing if there really is enough to make a stab at it.  But it probably won't be anytime soon

 

George


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