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 Post subject: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:53 am 
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Hello. I have enjoyed reading through your forum but have never posted anything. So I hope I'm following all the forum rules.

I'm trying to find out some information on a pistolsmith named Jesse E. Harpe from Tampa, Florida. I posted this in the Custom Pistol section because Mr. Harpe not only was known for competition pistols but also created some custom carry pistols.

From what I have found out so far, Mr. Harpe was one of the first civilian gunsmiths to start accurizing the 1911. He did most of his work from the 1930's into the 1960's. The American Rifleman did an article on him many years ago. The article was probably published in the 1950's but I'm not sure about that. I have sent the American Rifleman an email to see if I could get a copy of the article.

I have a 1942 Colt 1911-A1 that he worked on. Would anybody else have one of his pistols or any information on him?

Below are a few pictures of my pistol. I'd enjoy reading your comments.

Thanks for your help.

Image

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:33 pm 
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Location: Marshfield, Mass.
Try calling Gil Hebert in Knoxville Il. #309-289-2700 he may help, he is probably the last guy around from that era who sold stuff to most of the smiths of the day.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:06 am 
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Greg,

Thanks for your response. What type of stuff would Mr. Hebert have sold to the smiths?

I forgot to mention in my original post that Mr. Harpe was a Smith & Wesson dealer and a locksmith.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:29 am 
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I can't help but I'll be all ears, I love hearing about these guys.

Greg, do you mean Gil Hebard?


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:05 pm 
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Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Very interesting and quality looking logo stamp. I tried to google him and found nothing.

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SWENSON BOBCAT 45, SWENSON COMBAT COMMANDER 45(built for me), TUSSEY JR 45, VOLKMANN LWCC 45
S&W 37 Peruvian PIP


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:46 pm 
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Can't help either, but Iam hanging out with Ned..waiting ot hear more. Let us know what you find out.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:21 am 
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Here is an update on what I've found out about Mr. Harpe.

I found a gentleman online who knew Mr. Harpe. He said Harpe had a gunsmith/locksmith business on the eastern edge of Tampa, Florida near the Union Railroad Station. One of the things he was known for was accurizing the M1911 pistol. He started doing this in the 1930's. One of the ways he did this was he produced his own barrel bushing. If anyone is interested I'll take my barrel bushing out and try to take some better pictures of it. However, you can tell from the pictures I have already posted it is definitely not a GI bushing he modified. The mainspring housing is though. You can see where the lanyard loop was cut off and it was checkered to match the front strap checkering.

In searching the internet I found an article published on March 23, 1957 that states Harpe is one of the three outstanding gunsmiths in the country. The article is not about 1911's though. Here is a link to that article.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=8 ... 95,3761706

I also received a response from the "American Rifleman" and the lady who did the research could not find an article specifically about Harpe but did find two articles he wrote for them. One article ran in April 1942 on "Handgun Trigger Pulls". The other article ran in July 1942 on "Revamping the 45 Colt". Unfortunately she said their hard copies of these volumes are very fragile and could not send me a copy. There is also a possibility of there being an article about Mr. Harpe but researching their old records is difficult. The gentleman who knew Mr. Harpe said there was an article because he had a copy of it and actually gave it to Mr. Harpe in 1972 because Harpe did not have a copy.

The more I find out the more it seems Mr. Harpe could have been one of the forefathers of 1911 pistolsmiths and his work was forgotten over time.

If anybody else has any information or copies of those old articles I would love to read them. I really enjoy the history of these old pistols and the men who worked on them.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:20 am 
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Landman wrote:
...If anybody else has any information or copies of those old articles I would love to read them...


PM sent.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:04 pm 
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that is very cool, hope you learn more and can pass it on to us :)


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:28 pm 
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I found an April 1942 issue of American Rifleman on Ebay. When I get it I will scan the article for anyone interested.

I still need the July 1942 issue if anybody runs across one.

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:56 pm 
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Scan it and post it! This is going to be fascinating.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:57 am 
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Ned Christiansen wrote:
Scan it and post it! This is going to be fascinating.


I found the July 1942 volume now too. Once I have them both in hand I will scan and post the articles.

Amazing what you can find on the internet!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:58 am 
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Location: Tuttle Oklahoma
Joe, it is Shockey. RL Shockey had a shop in El Reno Ok about 35 miles from here. He was a well known bullseye smith. He cam eup with the "mousetrap" on top of the spring plug.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:46 am 
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I hate to show my ignorance but what is a mousetrap on a spring plug?


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:02 am 
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Location: Tuttle Oklahoma
I may have a picture somewhere. It is a small spring that was silvered on top of the recoil spring plug. It applied upward pressure on the bottom of the barrel insuring consistent positioning in theory. Todays match bushing negate any real or perceived benefit of the moustrap.

Moustrap was a nickname derived from its look. It looked like a cocked moustrap. Here it is described in an old Gil Hebard catalog as an "accuracy improver and recoil reducer"

Quote:
All Shockey .45’s are now fitted with the exclusive and Patented
Accuracy Improver and Recoil Reducer. This maintains a constant
pressure on the barrel which compensates for any wear that might
develop. More important, it reduces recoil, as the spring roller is
working at all times during the complete cycle of the gun. This
slows down the action somewhat, giving a heavy slide effect,
reducing the twisting action of the gun and prolonging life of the
accuracy job. Practically indestructible, it is especially valuable
where relatively destructive GI or heavy loads are being used.
However, the shooter of light .45 loads will gain the same
advantages too, and will particularly like the cushioning effect the
device produces.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:08 pm 
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Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Gary, very nice of you to do the research. This must be a rare piece.

_________________
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SWENSON BOBCAT 45, SWENSON COMBAT COMMANDER 45(built for me), TUSSEY JR 45, VOLKMANN LWCC 45
S&W 37 Peruvian PIP


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:28 am 
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Thanks Gary. I've never seen or heard about the "mousetrap".


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:05 am 
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first let me apologize to landman for hijacking his thread.

here is a picture of the Shockey mousetrap.

Image

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http://www.randgfirearms.com


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:53 am 
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No need to apologize. I enjoyed learning about the mousetrap. That is very unusual looking.

For an update on my magazine articles, I'm still waiting to receive the issues I purchased. I'll get them scanned as soon as I receive them.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:53 am 
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Location: Marshfield, Mass.
Shockey has a nice tutorial in the back of Gil Heber(d)'s Pistol Shooters Treasury. Al Dinan of Conn. was also a very inovative 1911 smith.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:49 am 
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Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Now, that is innovative. Good to see some of the old names given credit for their pioneering work.

_________________
NRA ENDOWMENT LIFE
SWENSON BOBCAT 45, SWENSON COMBAT COMMANDER 45(built for me), TUSSEY JR 45, VOLKMANN LWCC 45
S&W 37 Peruvian PIP


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:30 am 
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Here is a scan of Mr. Harpe's article in the April 1942 edition of American Rifleman. It does not deal with 1911's but is an interesting article on revolver trigger pulls. I have not received the other issue yet which is about 1911's.

It is in picture format because I could not figure out how to post a PDF file. If anybody knows how let me know and I'll repost it. It might be easier to read that way.

Image

Image

Image


Last edited by Landman on Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:31 am 
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Sorry. That didn't work well. It is too small to read. The website must have resized it.

Anybody who would like a copy in PDF can email me at onexco@swbell.net


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:08 am 
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Here is Mr. Harpe's article on "Revamping The .45 Colt" published in the July 1942 issue of American Rifleman. It is posted in picture format but if anybody would like it in a PDF file just let me know and I'll email it to you.

The barrel bushing, recoil spring plug and checkering on the pistol in the article is exactly the same as mine. The only major differences are the pistol in the article is a 1911 with different sights. Mine has a Micro rear sight and is an original Colt 1911A1 with the serial number matching the slide and receiver.

Image

Image

Image


Last edited by Landman on Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:36 am 
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Location: Colbert, WA USA
You can tell that Mr. Harpe was a Smith of High Caliber...working at the Lathe in a White Shirt and Tie! I can't finish my coffee without staining my shirt, let alone working out in the shop.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:41 pm 
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Location: Durango, CO
Landman,

Thanks for sharing the pics and the articles. I'm ashamed to say that I'd never heard of Mr. Harpe, but thoroughly enjoyed reading the articles. I found it cool that he would just suggest making yourself a bushing from scratch to get a good fit. It harkens back to a time when real metalworking skills were common in our country, and you couldn't just be good at marketing/hype and declare yourself a good gunsmith. :D I'll be keeping my eye out for more about this early pioneer Mr. Harpe.

I think you have a real piece of history there. Thanks again!

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:08 pm 
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Stan,

I found the part about making your own bushing very cool too. He suggested it in such a casual manner that you can tell he thought a lot of people reading the article would be capable of doing it. This was definitely back in the time when we were a manufacturing nation. That fact played a very big part in our victory of WWII. Seemingly almost overnight, companies went from making sewing machines to 45's (Singer) and jukeboxes to M1 Carbines (Rockola). Obviously, there are a lot of other examples of those transitions but those two always stick out in my mind.

In my pistol, the bushing is not only custom made but so is the recoil spring plug. Their fit is also the tightest I've ever seen on a 1911. Even with a bushing wrench it can be difficult to turn the bushing. Also, the barrel and all the major contact points are polished to a mirror finish. The hammer looks like some metal was removed at the top to facilitate the slide going back easier and the face is also polished to a mirror finish.

Below is a better picture of the barrel, bushing and recoil spring plug.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:01 am 
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Fascinating stuff, and love the pic of him working in his shirt and tie. Reminds me of pics of folks going to Brooklyn Dodgers games dressed similarly. People carried themselves differently back then. To the 'smiths here, I'm curious as to how his measurements and techniques used in that article translate to how you do your work today. Similar?


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse E. Harpe
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:50 pm 
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Great stuff; thanks for sharing and keeping the memory of Harpe's contribution alive.


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