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Design Of The Police Case


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#1 Sgt

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 09:34 AM

Does anyone know the story behind the design of the Thompson police case, why they chose that upright, tipping box. The gun looks pretty inside, but it seems like a flat design would be much improved. So, what are the advantages or traditions of making it so vertical?
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#2 1921A

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 11:47 AM

Sgt:

There is some evidence that the FBI/Police type cases evolved from a modified musical instrument case of the period. Chicago Luggage and Swetnam both made music cases. Somewhere in my collection of TSMG stuff I have an advertisement from the late 1920s or early 1930s showing a case that looks exactly like the thompson case on the outside. Inside is a musical instrument - some type of horn. The case appears to have a velvet interior.

Who ever came up with the idea for a hard case would logically have sought the assistance of companies that produce that type of item. In this case Swetnam, Books, Chicago Luggage, etc.

From a manufacturing standpoint, it makes sense to use something you already make. The horn case probably closely matched the gun's dimensions and it was a simple matter to design an interior layout suited to the TSMG and accessories. The resulting product was compact, inconspicuous and easy to store in a vehicle, file cabinet or gun locker.

Both FBI and Police cases tip backwards when empty and the FBI model also tips heavily to the magazine end when carried. It appears that the Police case was redesigned to correct one of the problems, but there is some evidence that it might actually predate the FBI model. The poor balance when empty is probably additional evidence that the Thompson case was adapted from another product. Little, if anything, was done to solve the tipping problem - probably because it just wasn't important. However, there is a variation of the Swetnam case with hinges that do not allow the lid to tip all the way back. This case does not tip over when empty. It's unknown if this was an attempt to correct a problem or just coincidence.

The Indiana and Alabama cases are flat designs. The Alabama case works well and resembles the design of current plastic gun cases. The Indiana case is another matter. It was designed by a salesman to carry his sample gun. When you open one the case lid lays out flat and takes up considerable space. It kind of looks like a brief case on steroids. In my opinion, it's an example of poor design and wasted space, but it was beautifully made and served it's purpose.

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#3 gijive

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 02:26 PM

Greg,

Interesting and well thought out post.
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#4 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 02:59 PM

The FBI/PD TSMG cases were cool as a static display prop with all contents left inside, but they were probably the worst conceived transport cases ever devised for a firearm. Regardless if they were based on an existing musical instrument case, the lack of forethought in the practicality of the ergonomics is staggering to say the least. Even though FBI acting director Pat Gray should have been keel hauled for destroying most of the bureau’s 110 Colt TSMG’s, his destruction of the cases could almost be excused. They were on the right track as far as utilizing a case that didn’t need to be laid down to open (like the Indiana/Alabama/military types), but then the designers wanted to cram too much into a single level space, even if it had separate compartments. The case should have opened from the top, without being laid down, using a tray design that could hold the mags, drum, and buttstock, on the top level and then the tray would be removed revealing the TSMG underneath laying on its side, instead of on the actuator. Then the case would not dump over when the components were removed. And since the case would be of the exact length and widest width dimensions of the TSMG, there would be no need for straps to secure the weapon, or accessories, as the case would not be carried like a brief case.
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#5 snipershot1944

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:18 PM

True, but then it would not look like you were carrying a saxophone to music class through the streets of Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. It would be obvious that instead, you were carrying a Chicago piano.

BTW, anybody ever hear the story of some enterprising FBI agents who went bin diving to save some of the TSMG cases and accessories when they were thrown out by the bureau? I have seen a couple of cases in Virginia, reputed to be ex FBI cases, with accessories. And Remington Mod. 10 Shotgun cases of similar construction too reputed to be ex-FBI.

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#6 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:46 PM

Sniper,
That may hold true for the violin/viola type case associated with the mob, but the FBI/PD folks were not concerned with disguising what they were carrying. Who knew the difference between a saxaphone case amd a tool box or gun case back in the 1920's & 30's anyway?

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#7 Sgt

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:50 PM

Fantastic comments, guys! I never thought about the possiblity that it used an existing music case design. I still enjoy the historical look, even if it wasn't the best possible design.
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#8 snipershot1944

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:51 PM

Art-my post was meant as a joke. Friday PM humor mode is on. Just waiting on the 5:00 call to the first beer of the weekend. biggrin.gif
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#9 1921A

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 04:44 PM

Sniper

Funny you should mention "bin diving" for cases. Three of the original FBI cases I acquired years ago came from retired agents. One from Miami and two from Jacksonville. That's sort of how they got them. When the Bureau called in the Thompsons in the 1970's all they requested were the guns. Cases and accessories were sometimes kept for other uses. One of mine became a gun cleaning kit complete with long model Thompson rod and a complete spare parts kit.

I personally like the FBI/Police type cases. They served their purpose and I doubt any agents lost sleep
because their empty gun case tipped over. tongue.gif

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#10 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 08:16 PM

Greg,
I’m sure you appreciate the design, considering you turn out your very own repro cases. However, as far as FBI agents not losing any sleep over their TSMG cases falling over backward, you are quit correct; they probably spent more sleepless nights worrying about the fact Hoover never recognized organized crime, how he claimed credit for capturing Nazi spies when they had surrendered, and the fact that the whole G-Man myth was predicated on the Bureau’s own screw up at the Union Station Massacre. And since the FBI agent’s window of opportunity to actually brandish a TSMG with any regularity in the pursuit of a criminal was between 1935 and 1938, when the last of the Midwest bandits was dead, in prison, or writing their memoirs, it is doubtful that the agents transported the cases to any great degree, much less opened them.

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#11 RichFitz

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 11:03 AM

Maybe I can convince Greg to build my thompson travel case.

user posted image

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I was planning on having these made but due to the manufactures being out of state, I needed an exact model of the thompson to send for fitting. A redesign of the front fold down area has a piece that holds the thompson in place even if the case is upside down.

The case is based upon the Louis Vuttion travel case which do not tip when open or empty-

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#12 Sgt

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 11:36 AM

To make it perfect, you could have a plastic sleeve in the fold-down side to hold your transfer papers.
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#13 snipershot1944

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 01:11 PM

How about adding a slot for a nice hip flask?
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#14 45wheelgun

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 02:09 PM

RichFitz,

There is a local company to me that could build that case, and I have a Thompson they could use as a model. What did you think you were going to use for material on the outside and inside of the case? Did you have an estimated retail on the case? I know I would like something like that. I love that you thought to put a paperwork spot. I always slide mine behind the stock.

Looks like a well thought out design.

Dave
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#15 full auto 45

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 02:10 PM

Now that would be a nice case to have. The pouch for the paper work is a good idea. The cuffs you can buy anywhere. I may have a set or two I kept after the old girlfriend left! wink.gif
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#16 blishblock

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 03:59 PM

Years ago, say early 1980's, I knew an armorer in a sherriff's dept in Calif. who came across about 50 FBI cases. I got 3. The rest went to other collectors. One or two are on display at the NRA thompson exhibit now.
I have also run across retired agents once in a while who have the cases. One sold in Va about 2 years ago. So it seems that a lot of them made it out into priviate hands.
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#17 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 04:30 PM

Blish,
Well, that is certainly fascinating story about a LEO stumbling across "50" FBI cases. If Auto-Ord shipped a case with each of the 110 Colt TSMG's the Bureau ordered between 1935 and 1939, and acting Bureau Chief Gray supposedly destroyed most of the 110 Colt TSMG's, in favor of keeping the parked WWII TSMG's, and he destroyed "most" of the cases as he could get a hold of, it sure seems providence that someone would mange to find intact nearly half of the total cases the Bureau ever received.

And if you say that many agents also managed to also appropriate a case from their local office, then Gray could only have destroyed a token amount of the 110 cases. So there are either a great number of 30 year-old repro FBI cases about, or just about every one of the 110 cases survived and perhaps even doubled in number over the years. It would seem almost a mathematical certainty that any original FBI case that is on the market today would have come from that California Sheriff's stash.

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#18 Norm

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Posted 17 July 2004 - 04:50 PM

QUOTE
Bureau Chief Gray supposedly destroyed most of the 110 Colt TSMG's, in favor of keeping the parked WWII TSMG's


That sucks! sad.gif He clobbered almost 110 Colt Thompsons. That REALLY sucks! sad.gif

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#19 Norm

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Posted 18 July 2004 - 10:04 AM

Philohio,

What you say is true.....but it still sucks!

Norm sad.gif
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