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Another Colt C Drum Query


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#1 catnipman

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Posted 17 October 2004 - 07:22 PM

Hi, I'd appreciate some comments about a C drum that I have the opportunity to purchase. Essentially I'd like to know what this C drum is worth and/or what one would be willing to pay for it. My intent would be to buy it and either keep it or resell it.

Both the drum body and drum cover are marked with serial number 0550 and appear to me to look like the Colt C drum pictures in Traci Hill's book (page 329). However, the roter is a blued roter with a solid shaft, so I assume the roter is a West Hurly roter.

The drum finish looks like it is NIB except that a small area around the feed lips looks like it was dragged on concrete. The finish is gone and the metal is scraped shiny but not dented, deformed or even really missing much thickness. It might just be some kind of really bad fixup job of some kind. The body and cover fit together and come apart just fine. Also, the top and bottom of one of the drum rails has been mashed together so it is about half as thick as the other one, which looks just fine. Inside, the drum looks unused - in fact, there's packing grease along the sides of the drum on the inside. The roter has some barely noticeable wear marks on it.

The gentleman that has this drum for sale is a retired dealer who says he bought about a dozen C drums directly from West Hurley in about 1992. He has this one and one other one left. (This other one looks like it is all West Hurley, except the cover is a Colt cover with S/N 1238 - and theoretically isn't for sale).

I'm guessing that he has these two left because they are what were left after the better ones were picked over. Also, I suppose over the years his parts could have gotten mixed up, some of his buyers could have traded parts around, or maybe AO West Hurley just slap-dashed a bunch of C drum parts together to make this batch of drums. I'd be kind of interested if anyone knows which of these theories might be correct.

I haven't yet tested the 0550 drum to see how well it works, but I suppose I might if I get serious about buying it. I did turn the roter a bit by hand and it seemed to make a bit of a scraping noise though I couldn't quite tell if any of the roter arms were scraping the drum body or if it was the bottom of the roter that was scraping.


I'd be grateful for any discussion and opinions about this matter. Thanks, catnipman.


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#2 Ron A

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 12:06 AM

Can you get photos? I find it strange that someone would have put West Hurley guts into 2 Colt C drums. I think there was little chance AO had left over Colt C drums parts. It is also strange that one dealer would have 2 mixed part drums like this... I would be happy to send photos of a Colt C and a West Hurly C drum if you desire.
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#3 Bob B

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 01:51 AM

I certainly can't claim to be an expert on the subject, but my gut tells me there's something wrong here, and the fact that the dealer still has this C-drum after having sold the rest of the stash he states came from WH suggests that others must have thought so too. Can't understand why a "numbered" Colt drum would have WH internals. Nor does it make sense that one of the mounting rails would have been squeezed to make it thinner, except that I read one of the faults with the WH repro C-drums was that the rails were incorrectly shaped so that the fit was too tight, and the rail plates themselves were incorrectly positioned making the drum tilt a few degrees to the rear. Maybe the obvious attempt at modification was some garage tinkerer's attempt to correct these problems. I suspect this may not be a Colt drum at all, but one of the notoriously bad WH reproductions abandoned halfway through a failed attempt to make it serviceable. I'd proceed with great caution, and perhaps seek the advice of someone who really knows drums. Any chance you could get some pictures to post here?

Also, the serial number with the leading zero seems odd to me. Did Colt use a leading zero on its numbered drums (i.e. 0550 as opposed to 550)?

It might also be that the dealer bought odds and ends left over from WH's experiments prior to manufacturing the repro Cs. That COULD explain the mixture of Colt and repro parts, if in fact any of the parts are really Colt-manufactured.

Edited by Bob B, 18 October 2004 - 02:08 AM.

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#4 gijive

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 06:06 AM

If the serial number starts with a "0", it's a West Hurley drum, not a Colt drum. Colt drum serial numbers don't start with a "0." It's sounds to me like it's more trouble than it is worth, unless he wants to sell it to you for a couple of hundred bucks.
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#5 TD.

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 07:16 AM

catnipman,
I would listen to the others who have posted previously. Unless you are getting a steal of a price, I would run away from this. I saw what appeared to be a new in the box WH C drum at Knob Creek on Friday for $1500 asking price. Another member reported $1200 for a WH C drum later that weekend (could have been the same drum). I suggest contacting Merle or PK and ask them what they charge to completely redo a WH C drum and factor that into the selling price.

I checked Gordon's book for a listing of a Colt C drum with Serial Number 1238. It is not listed, however, several drums close to this number are. I would also ask Ron A to post some pictures of a Colt C drum and WH C drum. That should give you a lot of information to work with.
Good Luck.

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#6 Ron A

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 09:41 AM

Over the years I have saved photos of everything Thompson - Most of the photos come from members of this board or items offered on web sites for sale. I have over 400 photos of Thompsons items. If someone will send me their email address I will send - or send me the direction to post myself photos of Colt C drums and WH C drums. Thanks
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#7 catnipman

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 10:58 AM

This is all great information; I appreciate it very much. I stupidly forget to take my digicam yesterday when I looked at this drum. Based on the information here, I think I'm not going to give too much more thought to purchasing this drum, though I might go to the trouble to photograph this drum and post the pics here if my path happens to intersect with the seller's in the future.

Ron, email me your drum pics and I will put them on my Comcast web server space and I'll make a post so they can be seen here. My email is irwin@ucar.edu.

Thanks, catnipman.
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