Jump to content
Brian Enos's Forums... Maku mozo!

The Bob Marvel Book of 1911 Pistolsmithing


CSEMARTIN
 Share

Recommended Posts

I wanted to start getting the word out that Bob Marvel has a book coming out, and he has asked me to write it.   

 

Some of you know that 1911 pistolsmithing has been a passion of mine since I began competing in 2004.  It wasn't long until I gravitated towards the single stack .45 ACP, and I quickly wanted to learn how to put one together.  After I finished my surgical residency, I signed up to take a vertical knee mill course at the JT Blong Technology Center in Davenport, Iowa. Then a forum member contacted me to let me know his neighbor was selling his Bridgeport.  It was in pieces, but the price was right.  Plus, it was easier to move!  

 

I bought some books and DVDs, and I started building pistols.  Looking back I'm afraid I have to admit they were lousy.  I really had no idea what I was doing, and I had no business doing this.  Then life got really busy for me and everything else took a pause.  But the desire to really do this right never left me......

 

Fast forward to 2017.  I stumbled upon a 1911 pistolsmithing course sponsored by Deep River Customs in North Carolina.  The instructor- Mr. Bob Marvel. 

 

I called my surgical partner and asked him if he would cover me for twelve days so I could head down and build a pistol.  He agreed and luckily I got the last spot in the class.  It was a two-day drive  and 8 very long days in the shop.  If my memory is correct, I finished the pistol on a Saturday, went out to shoot it and started driving home late that afternoon.  I have since given that pistol to my father-in-law, but the experience of it all is what really mattered most to me.

 

I reached out to Bob later on and asked if I could spend more time with him.  That was the beginning of an incredible journey into the world of 1911 pistolsmithing, and the beginning of a great friendship between the two of us. 

 

During my time with Bob, I have documented everything I have done with him.  I have hundreds of photos, several hundred pages of notes and over 600 videos.  Last weekend I spent another four days with him.  While I was there, he asked me to write his book.  My binders were on the bench packed with notes.  I pointed to them and said to him, "that is your legacy".  I want to share this with the world. 

 

If anyone here would please offer me some advice, I'm open to your ideas.  What would you like to see in this book? I don't want to leave anything out.  I want it to be perfect.  I have to get this right.

 

Thank you everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Writing a book is a huge undertaking. It took me 2 years from the initial thought of "I am going to write a book" to "Finished product in hand". The best advice that I can give is to accept the fact that it's never going to be 100% perfect. You will need to draw the line at some point and accept that its "Done Enough" for the initial release then plan on making updates to it after its in the hands of the masses and they give you feedback on what needs fixed. Also accept that if you self publish and have Amazon or similar manufacture and sell it for you they will take a 60% - 70% cut right off the top. That is a significant amount of profit lost on a printed book that is going to have a very small audience to begin with. Your customer base will maybe be in the single digit thousands. Take that potential customer base vs income into consideration before investing a crazy amount of time into it.

 

Given the type of content this kind of book would need to communicate, you would probably be better served with making a video series that covers each aspect of the gun build. Then build that into a membership fee based website that people would have to pay to access. More people would be willing to pay to watch a video vs pay for a printed book and sit down to read it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, CHA-LEE said:

Writing a book is a huge undertaking. It took me 2 years from the initial thought of "I am going to write a book" to "Finished product in hand". The best advice that I can give is to accept the fact that it's never going to be 100% perfect. You will need to draw the line at some point and accept that its "Done Enough" for the initial release then plan on making updates to it after its in the hands of the masses and they give you feedback on what needs fixed. Also accept that if you self publish and have Amazon or similar manufacture and sell it for you they will take a 60% - 70% cut right off the top. That is a significant amount of profit lost on a printed book that is going to have a very small audience to begin with. Your customer base will maybe be in the single digit thousands. Take that potential customer base vs income into consideration before investing a crazy amount of time into it.

 

Given the type of content this kind of book would need to communicate, you would probably be better served with making a video series that covers each aspect of the gun build. Then build that into a membership fee based website that people would have to pay to access. More people would be willing to pay to watch a video vs pay for a printed book and sit down to read it.

 

I think the best course (excuse the pun) would be to do both a video series AND the book.

 

I'm a manufacturing engineer for an Automated Semiconductor Test Equipment manufacturing company and part of my job is to create assembly, calibration, test, and troubleshooting documents on electro-mechanical equipment that have thousands of parts and tolerances down to 12 microns (0.0005").  My last set of documents for a Wafer Probe interface unit was over 2,000 pages, and 4,000 images.

 

It would have been much easier to create about 200-300 pages of reference material, ie. part numbers, torque specifications, measurements, tool requirements with overview images and process descriptions, then created a video series showing the nitty gritty details of each step of the assembly process, rather than having to write a third grade level description of each step of the process.  Unfortunately the requirement for my job is for strictly hardcopy process documents.

 

As far as the writing process, there are a lot of books on the subject of technical writing, but primarily the process is outline, outline, outline.  Create an overview outline of the major building steps in the proper order, then create an outline for each minor step in the major build order, then create an outline for each detail in each minor step, then fill in each outline and the document has pretty much written itself.  (Yeah, right!)  As I said above write it for a third grade level of reading comprehension in the most straight forward manner possible.  You're not writing a script for an action movie, boring is fine, condescending ain't!  Keep a chart of your progress with notes in case for some reason you have to work in a non-linear fashion.

 

Trust me, it is just grinding away, one word, one sentence, one photo at a time.  As some famous guy once said "Perfection is the enemy of good!", as Charlie said above, it will never be perfect, but you can make it pretty damn good!

 

If you do a video series, please get a good camera operator who can keep the camera centered and focused on the subject.  Use multiple cameras, fixed and mobile.

 

Good luck, and I will be inline/online to buy a copy.

 

Nolan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/14/2020 at 4:32 PM, CHA-LEE said:

It took me 2 years from the initial thought of "I am going to write a book" to "Finished product in hand". The best advice that I can give is to accept the fact that it's never going to be 100% perfect.  That is a significant amount of profit lost on a printed book that is going to have a very small audience to begin with.

 

Your customer base will maybe be in the single digit thousands. Take that potential customer base vs income into consideration before investing a crazy amount of time into it.

 

Given the type of content this kind of book would need to communicate, you would probably be better served with making a video series that covers each aspect of the gun build. Then build that into a membership fee based website that people would have to pay to access. More people would be willing to pay to watch a video vs pay for a printed book and sit down to read it.

 

I do think a series of videos is a great idea.  Bob and I have discussed doing this, and for now, that project is on hold.  Our biggest concern is loss of intellectual property.  Accepting something less than perfect is something I tend to struggle with, but I agree with you that perfection may not be attainable. I will do my best to obtain perfection though.  

 

A goal of 1-2 years is what I am planning on.  This project is a huge undertaking.  I have amassed a mountain of information.  The detail that goes into one of these builds is enormous.  Unless you have spent time with Bob Marvel building a 1911, you just can't fully appreciate what goes into one of these builds.  A book or video series will certainly get that point across.  But for now a book will be our focus.  Unless I have his explicit permission, the videos I have will never see the light of day.  I do hope to one day share the video as well.  Bob has trusted me with this information.  I am a loyal friend, and I will never betray his trust in me.

 

As far as profitability goes and the size of our audience, that really isn't a concern of mine.  I'm going to do this regardless of the outcome.  Bob has spent an incredible amount of time with me over the years, and doing this for him is a way of showing my gratitude and respect for him.  He has spent decades developing the processes he uses in these builds, and I just can't stand the thought of that knowledge getting lost or forgotten.  I need to preserve his legacy. 

 

On 8/14/2020 at 5:27 PM, Nolan said:

 

As far as the writing process, there are a lot of books on the subject of technical writing, but primarily the process is outline, outline, outline.  Create an overview outline of the major building steps in the proper order, then create an outline for each minor step in the major build order, then create an outline for each detail in each minor step, then fill in each outline and the document has pretty much written itself.  (Yeah, right!)  As I said above write it for a third grade level of reading comprehension in the most straight forward manner possible.  You're not writing a script for an action movie, boring is fine, condescending ain't!  Keep a chart of your progress with notes in case for some reason you have to work in a non-linear fashion.

 

Trust me, it is just grinding away, one word, one sentence, one photo at a time.  As some famous guy once said "Perfection is the enemy of good!", as Charlie said above, it will never be perfect, but you can make it pretty damn good!

 

If you do a video series, please get a good camera operator who can keep the camera centered and focused on the subject.  Use multiple cameras, fixed and mobile.

 

Good luck, and I will be inline/online to buy a copy.

 

Nolan

 

I am researching cameras right now.  Everything I have right now was recorded on my iPhone.  The quality is not ideal.  If there is a specific camera you would recommend, please let me know what you recommend.  

 

You read my mind with coming up with an outline.  That is precisely what I am doing.

 

Thank you everyone for your insight and advice.  I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a fantastic project.  I spent 20+ years writing and editing legal treatises, primarily on federal government contracting.  So, it's probably no surprise that my top recommendation is to find a good editor.  My second recommendation is that you make the book comprehensive in coverage.  By that, I mean when you address a topic, do so in a thorough manner, so the reader fully understands not only the how, but the why, of what you're covering.  I'd also devote some time to shop safety (a real consideration since most gunsmiths work alone) as well as tool selection, machining practices, fixtures, etc.

Edited by ltdmstr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, ltdmstr said:

my top recommendation is to find a good editor.

My second recommendation is that you make the book comprehensive . 

I'd also devote some time to shop safety

tool selection, machining practices, fixtures, etc.

Great advice!  Luckily, I have an editor lined up.  My wife has her Master's in Education, and she has a gift for finding mistakes.

The book will be comprehensive.  I will put everything I can think of in the book.

Discussing shop safety isn't something I had considered until you mentioned it.  I do think it's a good idea.

I will be discussing tools, machining and the fixtures we use as well as where to get them or how to make them.

 

Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...