PRESENTING THE ANH HAN SOLO BLASTER HOLY GRAIL...

Discussion in 'Star Wars Costumes and Props' started by Prop Runner, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    It finally arrived today: a near-perfect specimen of an aerial WWII German MG81 machine-gun booster/flash suppressor. Several disclaimers before I begin:
    1. It's on loan from the owner.
    2. It's NOT - repeat to infinity - NOT for sale.
    3. It won't be cast in resin.
    4. It WILL be replicated soon as a functional, 1045 medium carbon steel machine-gun part, but do NOT - repeat to infinity - NOT PM or e-mail me requesting to get on an interest list. Appropriate announcements will be made when it's time.
    And without further ado, the photos:

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    The following pics compare the MG81 booster-suppressor to the MARK IV suppressor replica:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And finally, overall dimensions:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A few notes and observations:

    As a mechanical engineer, let me be the first to say how utterly impressed I am with wartime German engineering. To get a physical dimension that on a drawing says 95.00 mm, 33.00 mm, and 32.50 mm to match within +/- 0.04 mm (that's 0.002 in.), the tolerances and quality control observed in a wartime factory 60 years ago to make this part exceed modern aerospace geometric tolerances, and that's NOT an exaggeration... :eek

    Overall, it's easy to see that the real suppressor is beefier than one of the closest replicas out there. In length, the two are nearly identical, but from end to end, you can all tell that there are glaring inaccuracies in the replica. Can't speak for David's or MR's, but I was told the MARK IV suppressor was copied directly off an Icons prototype. Goes to show how limiting photo references can be. Imagine how more accurate replicas will now be of the newly-discovered ANH Obi-Wan saber's emitter and gear. :)

    The small part that fits inside the suppressor is what my source calls a booster cone. It's part # C10 in this diagram:

    [​IMG]

    While I'm not saying it's the case, it is possible that in the beginning of the ANH production, the suppressor still had its booster cone:

    [​IMG]

    The reason I say this is because in this LFL production photo, the suppressor is concentric to the bull barrel:

    [​IMG]

    The famous screw could be used to hold the cone in place and the Naked Runner bull barrel might have fit inside the cone, whose inner diameter is 22.5 mm (0.886 in.). Do we know the true diameter of the bull barrel?

    Working on this assumption, the cone may have been lost if the suppressor had been removed during production or if it fell off and had to be reattached. Without the cone, using the screw alone or with some other insert to keep the suppressor on the bull barrel may account for the famous offset that we see in the promo stills. I invite critical analysis of my theory. :)

    Tomorrow I'm off to my local machine shop to verify the exact type of internal metric thread at the rear of the suppressor, and in a few days I'll post a detail drawing and renders of my revised suppressor 3D CAD model, which will serve as the basis for the most accurate replica of this part ever made. :D

    For more on the discovery of this part, please read these threads:

    http://www.rpf.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=96292

    and

    http://www.rpf.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=97264

    I could never have obtained this amazing part were it not for all the hard work of other possessed fanatics like myself to bring us to this happy day. Primarily, I'd like to acknowledge Amish, for starting the thread that led to the discovery and his determination to keep the quest going despite the mistaken conventional wisdom regarding the origins of the part, and of course Darth Lars, who made the connection to the German MG81 machine-gun. Bobadebt's unmatched contributions in his quest to perfect the replica of this part cannot be praised enough, and I'm very grateful for his generous advice and suggestions. Last but not least, I'd like to thank my source, Richard, an avid machine-gun enthusiast lucky enough to own a firing MG81 machine-gun, who was kind and trusting enough to loan me his suppressor after I confessed to him that it was part of a famous prop from Star Wars. :)

    Honorable mention must also go to my 3.2 megapixel Canon PowerShot A70 for allowing a mediocre photographer to snap such sharp close-ups. ;)

    Please feel free to post your questions and comments, and many, many thanks to Whackychimp for hosting these historic photos.

    - Gabe
     
  2. amish

    amish Sr Member

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    That is so beautiful. I am still in shock :)

    I will post more later when I have time to digest this all.

    edit: Had sometime to digest this.

    First, Gabe that is a great piece of history you hold in your hands. Not only Star Wars history, but a rare piece of WWII history. I look forward to the replica that will follow.

    As for the bull barrel prognosis, it seems that your theory may very well be correct, and it also makes perfect sense to me given the pictures and the way booster could hold the bull barrel in place along with the hider.

    I still have a lot more to digest :)

    Thanks for posting those excellent pictures, and thank you a 1000 times for all of the renderings that you have shared with us and whatever resources that you put into acquiring this piece on loan.

    Tom
     
  3. Lord Abaddon

    Lord Abaddon Sr Member

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    :eek :eek :eek
     
  4. Sporak

    Sporak Sr Member Gone but not forgotten.

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    Oh that is nice...Interesting differences...

    Man this has been quite a year...
     
  5. Gojira61

    Gojira61 Sr Member

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    WOW...just WOW...

    Jim
     
  6. franz bolo

    franz bolo Sr Member

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    Awesome Photos..

    FB
     
  7. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Thanks for the good words, guys. :)

    You know, in my frenzy to get this thread posted, I didn't really have time to sit back and proccess the historic significance of this part. It's now dawning on me that I'm holding in my hand an item that helped Lufftwafe gunners take better aim at allied fighters, bombers, and ground troops. A real wave of sadness suddenly came over me. And then I think of the Mauser and MG34s that may have played similar roles. :( I'm glad Bapty used just as many allied weapons to arm stormtroopers or I'd be feeling REALLY bad right now. In a weird way, I'm glad the MG81 is so rare, because it means the majority of them were shot down and destroyed...

    Then again, I'm consoled by the fact that such a prominent prop made up of entirely German gun parts and optics was bestowed on a scoundrel like Han Solo. :D

    - Gabe
     
  8. casey

    casey New Member

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    i love how instead of giving measurements theyre right there in the picture completely undisputable. good idea.

    is the knurled middle part as wide as the threaded end you measured in the pic?
     
  9. Ham Solo

    Ham Solo Well-Known Member

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    I'm in love. :)
     
  10. Durasteel Corporation

    Durasteel Corporation Well-Known Member

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    Gabe

    When youre done with it, make sure to send it back to me with proper insurance.

    :D D
     
  11. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Thanks. :) The outer diameter of the part is between 32.50 and 33.00. Here's the breakdown:

    Front edge of hider: 32.45 mm +/- 0.07 mm (high uncertainty due to dings)
    Knurled section of booster: 32.66 mm +/- 0.03 mm
    Flat section of booster: 32.43 +/- 0.01 mm
    notched section of booster: 33.00 mm +/- 0.05 mm (uncertainty due to deformation from cuts)

    Much more subtle differences than any replica ever made to date.

    On the other hand, the knurling is deeper than any replica I've ever seen. It actually cuts into the flat section. Initial measurement of the inner diameter on the curved edge of the booster show that it's about 0.5 mm deep.

    - Gabe
     
  12. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    :lol You wish.

    I don't believe the "D" in your name stands for "Dick." (scroll up - my source's name is Richard ;) )

    Seriously, Drew, I want to publicly thank you too for backing up us suppressor advocates and using your wealth of metallurgy knowledge to support the engineering and common-sense arguments that helped cement the consensus. :)

    - Gabe
     
  13. Serafino

    Serafino Sr Member

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    Gabe, fantastic on every level, way to go, great to see.
     
  14. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    While I agree that his is a fantastic find and great information. Let's not forget this is one example of a found item.

    Others, including the one USED in Star Wars could likely have different (yet subtle) features.

    The "notches" or whatever you call them in the back ring are clearly different than photos we see of the Screen Used Han Blaster.

    Let's try not to be beguiled by the find.
     
  15. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    True, Mike. I should have pointed that out. However, since we don't have access to the hero, the best I can do is reverse engineer what I have. Maybe David can chime in with his boosters, however there may be intentional design differences between those and the correct part. I should also point out that the shots of the hero part leave much to be desired in terms of sharpness, perspective, and parallelism to the film plane. If there are some major discrepancies, I can always tweak a dimension or two to get it closer.

    I'll leave it up to Phase Pistol or Serafino to post the obligatory "scaled line up shots" - let's see whose post first. :D

    - Gabe
     
  16. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    Don't get me wrong Gabe, I am the first to agree the photos lie all the time. It's been proven so many times that I truly laugh at people who think photos are the ultimate proof.

    That doesn't mean we should ignore photos either, but they are frequently misleading.

    Can we get a comparison of the notches on your sample, right next to a Hero shot?
     
  17. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    That's what I'm hoping Serafino or Phase Pistol will do for me as a favor, since they're so * good at it, lol.

    Honestly, I'm pretty wiped and hungry, so I think I'll take a break for the next 2-3 hours. What's good on TV tonight? What's my girlfriend up to? ;)

    - Gabe
     
  18. lonepigeon

    lonepigeon Sr Member

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    I really don't see a great difference between this actual found part and the one on the real prop.
    Comparing it side by side to the real prop I see that MAYBE the ends of the round notches are a tad more pointed on the found part. The tool that cut the ones on the real prop might've just been a tad duller.
    The knurling might be cut a little deeper on the found part as well, but those are the only two things I see.
    So a couple minor variations due to tool settings are possible, but I see no dimensional differences.

    On the other hand the earlier replica muzzle has many flaws which stand out being placed next to the found part. One error being the the ends of the notches are far too rounded. The rear dimensions are obviously far off.

    PS - Big thanks to the owner for lending that out to you Gabe. It's an excellent piece in amazing condition.
     
  19. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Thanks for your impressions, Chris. :)

    Since Serafino and Phase Pistol are probably sleeping off their Halloween weekend, I figured I'd start the scaled photo comparisons:

    [​IMG]

    So except for Chris' observations about the oval cuts and knurling, indeed the found part and the hero seem to match up exactly. I took the new photo using zoom from a distance to simulate as best I could the orientation of the hero suppressor and to reduce optical distortion.

    The only other suppressor photo anywhere near as clear (and film plane parallel) is the one below, but there's not enough detail to make an effective comparison.

    [​IMG]

    The monochrome Chronicles photos are right out, as we all know the blaster edges were poorly cropped out by image layout editor the publisher used used.

    - Gabe
     
  20. Serafino

    Serafino Sr Member

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    Hey Gabe, if I had some of these around I'd be glad to do some comparison shots but this gun is not my bag at all. :angel

    I agree with Chris' comments, the notch shapes and 'knurling' depth do seem different. There is a LOT of light being reflecting from between the grooves of the 'knurling' on the prop, whereas on the found object the ridges are very narrow rather than clearly defining the remains of the original turned cylinder as on the prop.

    I have to say one thing about using photos--photos only lie to people who don't use them correctly. When one knows what the limits are of getting information from photographs, one can work within those limits to derive accurate information.

    Photographic distortion is a specific set of effects which can be defined and understood. IMO if an apparently clear feature in a photo cannot reasonably be ascribed to a specific distortion effect, then it is reasonable to believe that you are seeing an actual feature of the pictured part. Photographs 'lie' to those who approach them sloppily, but they are also extremely literal mechanical transcriptions of the light effects present at the time, and they are very 'uncreative' 'liars'. :)

    (Edit: I also notice that the 'knurling' doesn't go up as high towards the flash hider--the prop has a very nice smooth rounded 'shoulder' there. )
     
  21. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Thanks for that , Andres.

    Another thing to consider with the knurling on the found part is that this suppressor was painted after whatever heat treatment and finish it was originally subjected to. The paint has worn off on the sharp ridges of the knurl, and because it was originally a liquid, it likely produced a small radius on the bottom of the knurl cut which disperses reflected light. For these two reasons, the knurl cuts appear darker and deeper between the exposed ridges. In the unpainted hero part, you can actually see the bottom vertice lines between the sharp ridges, giving the knurl a lighter and therefore shallower appearance.

    To illustrate this:

    [​IMG]

    Lighting is everything, folks. :)

    - Gabe
     
  22. kurtyboy

    kurtyboy Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    You forgot to add that its going to be illegal to ship replicas of this piece to some countries :lol

     
  23. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Actually, it's strangely appropriate that no MG81 parts should travel by air to the UK: most of the ones that already attempted the journey crashed into the North Atlantic... ;)

    Ironically, the ANM2 booster heatsinks originated the UK, so the customs declaration should read: "Returning historic British war relic to rightful owner" :)

    - Gabe
     
  24. Skyler101

    Skyler101 Sr Member

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    So... what are you saying Gabe, that the part was not from an old fire extinguisher, or the grips from an old motorcycle? Im not impressed at all... LOL..

    -Skyler101
     
  25. Serafino

    Serafino Sr Member

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    Gabe, very good point about lighting of course.

    I think it would be very revealing to line up the two examples enlarged and overlaid in Photoshop and play with the contrast of the pic of the found object.

    This may well show the two to be potentially much closer than they appear.
     
  26. Treadwell

    Treadwell Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Sweet photos. Quite an historic time here on the board.

    Many thanks to everyone involved in the discovery. With such great results, I couldn't be happier about being wrong.
     
  27. Darth Lars

    Darth Lars Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Very good photos of the found part. :thumbsup

    Say, could the cone have been welded on onto the muffler or do you think it has been machined as one piece? I am interested in if there are any differences in the transition between muffler and cone between this part and the real prop.
     
  28. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Good question. This was always an established assumption, but one based on a false comparison between the hero suppressor and the GK M9 suppressor, which is rolled sheetmetal and is TIG welded in 2 places. I have no doubt in my mind that the the hider and booster are turned frm the same stock steel rod. Both my tactile analysis of the internal and external surfaces and the high tolerances I measured lead me to this conclusion. Based on photos I've seen of the MG34, MG42, and some Czech and Russian suppressors, I'm sure they aren't welded either. Could an MG34/42 expert chime in and confirm?

    And since you asked, I thought it would be appropriate to post another historic photo: the hero found part and GK found part side by side:

    [​IMG]

    The welds on the M9 hider should be very obvious.

    :)

    - Gabe
     
  29. moffeaton

    moffeaton Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    That part above your fire extinguisher nozzle is an attachment to a Brazilian watering can from the 1960's. My friend's baby-daddy said so.
     
  30. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Not sure what a baby-daddy is, but I challenge you to show me the rusty original discovered by Jeff Ritzman while on a prop hunt in Sao Paulo. If you can, I'll publicly recant and add you to my List of Heroes. ;)

    - Gabe
     
  31. DL 44 Blaster

    DL 44 Blaster Sr Member

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    my best Paul Sr. "THAT THING IS SICK ......
     
  32. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Some updates:

    I've updated the 3D CAD model. In fact, I decided to start from scratch, since the older one is essentially a completely different part. After visiting my trusted machinist, where we used bore gauges and telescope gauges to nail the difficult internal geometry, we determined the following:
    • The thickness of the conical flash hider is NOT uniform - it's twice as thick at the base than at the front end
    • The 8 rows of 6 holes along the flash hider are drilled PERPENDICULAR to the central axis of the part. In other words, when you line up opposing holes, they are perfectly circular and concentric.
    • The internal thread is a Metric fine pitch M profile (M30x1, class 6H)
    • There are 85 knurl cuts (the exact profile will be measured by a knurling gauge)
    • There are 16 scalloped cuts, whose lands line up with the flash hider hole rows
    • There are two 5 mm-diameter opposing vent holes (unthreaded) that are slightly off the scalloped cut-flash hider hole row imaginary plane, by no more than 2-3 degrees. I believe this was not the design intent, so I lined them up with the imaginary plane; also, since the vent holes are smooth-walled, it raises the question of what socket head screw was used there on the prop - the screws either cut into the holes or the holes were tapped to accept a 5.5 or 6 mm screw
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The threads in the two cutaway views below are "virtual," so imagine triangular ridges coming out from the border of the yellow area:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The unknowns I'm currently confronted with on the road to replication are the grade of hardened carbon steel and the finish. Below are examples of standard finishes for carbon (non-stainless) steel:

    Parkerization, which is identical to the finish on the GK hider:

    [image]http://www.cpmuzzlebrakes.com/images/colobrake02.jpg[/image]

    There's also oil-quenching, which gives a rich black finish:

    [image]http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0007R6QOA.01-A8QVA2VP18VAT._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg[/image]

    Black-oxide finish:

    [image]http://www.globalspec.com/NpaPics/77/172473_121020032050_ExhibitPic.JPG[/image]

    And blued steel:

    [image]http://www.airgunsus.com/pics/rws2652.jpg[/image]

    If people would rather paint their replicas, or keep the look of unfinished C-1045 medium carbon steel, they could simply clear-coat it to ward off rust. Here's what it would look like:

    [image]http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0000AX4I5.01-A1787XOD7Q2I4M._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg[/image]

    I'll be consulting with my machinist and a few gunsmiths to determine the correct steel, heat tratment, hardness, and finish. One thing is certain: the original was NOT blued - that process was reserved for civilian and sporting firearms, not military, and is more an aesthetic finish than one that resists corrosion.

    Feel free to discuss the finish posibilities and if there are any gunsmiths in the house, your informed opinion on the steel would be most welcome. Drew, where are you when we REALLY need you? ;)

    - Gabe
     
  33. OdiWan72

    OdiWan72 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Gabe, your skills in creating CAD models are AWESOME.....

    My hat´s off to you :thumbsup

    Markus
     
  34. amish

    amish Sr Member

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    As ObiWan72 said above me, your CAD models are awesome. Personally, and I have no real knowledge about this, but parkarized sounds right for the part.

    Otherwise, tremendous work :)

    On a side note, how long does it take you to make these CAD models?

    Take care.

    Tom
     
  35. Gigatron

    Gigatron Sr Member

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    Holy cr@p Gabe. Some of those CAD renderings look like photographs :D :thumbsup.

    I'm probably going to be spending more money on upgrading parts (between this and the obi saber) than the things cost me originally.

    -Fred
     
  36. Darth Lars

    Darth Lars Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Great CAD drawings. Now, change them to reflect the prop. ;)
    I think it is clear that the knurling on the prop is more shallow and the notches (chamfer) on the back is less pronounced. I think the angle is the same on Boba Dept's muffler though.
    Me and Boba Dept noticed the knurling was not perfectly straight on any muffler or hider that we could study in detail. The prop's is almost straight, but not completely. However, I think replicating that tiny tiny detail would be too difficult and not many people are going to like it anyway. :lol

    As to the finish.. a rehash from earlier threads:

    Martin (owner of the first hiders/mufflers) wrote:
    In regard to the finish, most of the flash hiders were painted black, but some were parkerized.
    David/Boba Dept wrote:
    The parkerized finish is the way to go.
    I have a booster with that type of finish and it looks perfect.


    I think it looks brown in some pics and black or grey in others. It is definitely lighter than the Mauser. Then.. what finish is the Mauser and bull barrel? If we know that, then we know that is wrong. ;)

    I think it has been established that the muffler insert was used to attach the hider to the bull barrel. The question is how. I noticed in side pics of the prop that gap between the hider and bull barrel is larger in the bottom than on the top.
    Could a small nut have been inserted between the muffler insert and the inner wall of the hider? In that case, would it have been possible to have used that to tighten the bolt against the insert against the bull barrel against the front opening of the muffler?
    I assume there is no side hole on the insert ...
     
  37. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Thanks for the comps, guys. It means a lot to hear... But like Darth Lars, some of you are hard to please. :lol

    Here you go:

    [​IMG]

    Please ignore everything from the knurls and to the right, as the perspective is off on the CAD - it's impossible to match false-perspective to a real photograph, but I did the best I could to match the scale, and as you can see, I tweaked the scalloped cuts to reflect A) narrower & shorter cuts, and B ) rounder edges.

    I made the knurling a bit shallower in the CAD model, but when I export it as a 2D image, the high contrast lighting makes everything look deeper. So please don't look for 100% match-ups between the CAD knurls and the real-world knurls. I also corrected the chamfer to be a bit shallower - to me they line up now. I don't know about David's part and I'm not looking at ANY older replicas as reference material - what's the point? They're ALL wrong.

    I agree. No two parts will have exactly the same knurling, period. Not the originals, and certainly not the replicas. I'm not going to deliberately attempt to create unparallel knurling, but that may happen anyway due to the nature of the operation.

    From the best photos at our disposal, it can be agreed that the Mauser was deep blued. I personally would also go with parkerizing, perhaps a darker gray than the example above or the M9 suppressor. In the Chronicles and other photos, the suppressor is almost as dark as the Mauser.

    You assumed correctly - there are no holes period except the center hole. If a nut was inserted to capture the screw (good thinking. :) ), then it had to have been a very thin nut and somehow held in place against the inside wall of the booster while the screw was turned. Not sure that would have been possible in such a tight area... If the booster cone (insert) was originally used as an adapter between the booster and the bull barrel, I'm sure epoxy could have been used. The screw really doesn't play a significant role if this part was indeed used, so I could have been wrong in my theory. It's just that if you can see the edge of the bull barrel in the booster hole, what the heck is that screw grabbing? It makes no sense. However, if the booster cone was a bit loose inside the booster, then the screw may have just stablized it. Then, after it was lost, something would have had to be inserted on the other side to re-center the bull barrel, but obviously the booster/hider was still off-center.

    I'll be visiting my machinist again in an hour to go over some details and then I'll finish up the drawing. After replicas have been offered, I'll share the drawing with anyone who wants to make their own. :)

    - Gabe
     
  38. Serafino

    Serafino Sr Member

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    Gabe, speaking out of my ‘range’ again, the CAD knurling looks very promising to me. I think the reason it appears to go too high on the ‘shoulder’ is that the shoulder is even rounder on the prop, the knurling fades/becomes shallower due to the decreased diameter from the rounded shoulder–which may explain the weird effect of the knurling appearing longer in the middle and shorter above and below on the prop part.
     
  39. damon5973

    damon5973 Well-Known Member

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    all i hear are teh sounds of AAHHHHHHHH and angels singing. and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm prettttty.

    wow man, wow.
     
  40. steveday72

    steveday72 Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, here is what I think about the finish:

    Parkerized is far too grey to match the MG81 booster/flash hider.

    Black Oxide is not a thick coating, but actually treats the surface (and microscopically, the sub-surface) of the metal, so it would not chip like in the genuine MG81 booster. You can chemically brighten a Black Oxide part, by soaking it in something like "Kaboom" - it's probably the ammonia. Or it can be sanded/bead blasted off. But whichever way it happens, it won't chip off, because it can't.

    The chipping of the surface we see in the photos is a very important clue to the finish of the booster assembly.

    Ask the gunsmith if they ever sprayed parts with black enamel (like they did with cast iron stoves), because that's what it looks like to me.

    Great work

    Steve
     
  41. Lordsandy

    Lordsandy Well-Known Member

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    Just keeping this on the front burner........... :D
     
  42. SithLord

    SithLord Sr Member

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    Just an incredible thread...fantastic attention to detail....

    :cheers,

    T
     
  43. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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