Tom McArdle is Turnbull Mfg. Co.’s in house metal engraver. Tom has been engraving for 17 years and has been doing the engraving work at Turnbull for 6 years. He learned the craft at Montgomery Community College in North Carolina on the GI Bill while taking night classes. He was originally enrolled in their gunsmithing program but switched to engraving after seeing the beautiful engraving work the students were able to produce after only one year of training.Tom uses a traditional hammer and chisel or other hand pushed tool along with a magnifying glass to do a lot of the engraving. This is the same technique that has been used for hundreds of years. At times he uses air powered tools, which have become popular in the industry in the last 30 years. When using the air powered tool he must still direct it by hand. The pneumatic tool provides a very clean cut and is most often used on modern pieces. When restoring older firearms it is important that they have an authentic look. In these cases he would use the traditional hammer and chisel method. None of the engraving work at Turnbull is done by computer programming. The engraving work done at Turnbull is meant to last for several hundred years. The amount of wear on the engraving depends on a few factors. First is the delicacy of the engraving, finer more intricate designs will wear away quicker than simpler designs. The placement of the design on the firearm also determines how long the engraving will last. Finally how often the firearm is used and handled will play a factor into how well the piece will age. Tom’s favorite projects to work on are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. He enjoys doing lettering work which is a relatively short project and he also likes to experiment with new designs and use his creativity however it is rare that he has the opportunity to do experimental work. Tom likes to work on lettering because it is extremely difficult to engrave letters that are high quality. People see perfect lettering every day and any mistake in the engraving is easily detected.
Back in August of 2007 I was watching my favorite driver Tony Stewart win the race at Texas Motor Speedway and shooting off a gun in Victory Lane! (I’ll add the gun was not as beautiful as a Turnbull manufactured firearm.)
I immediately fired off a letter (pun intended) to the folks at Texas Motor Speedway singing praises of Turnbull Manufacturing. Along with the letter, I sent a custom made pen holder and Turnbull catalog. To my dismay, I got no response!
I shot off another package to yet another in the chain of command at Texas Motor Speedway – same sweet package with the letter, catalog and pen holder. Still no response. I have already made the decision Turnbull Manufactured Firearms need to be in victory lane, so I continue my pursuit.
Third package sent out with the same goods, but to yet another person at Texas Motor Speedway. This time I get a phone call. I was told to “stop being a pain”, and “they got the message loud and clear”. I was further informed they were under contract with another company who was providing the Victory Lane firearms. I wasn’t giving up…
I continued to send emails, letters and each newly printed Turnbull catalog as they were released to this third contact over the years. I followed up in 2009 to see if that “other vendor” still had a contract, and again to my dismay they had just renewed.
Did I mention I had already decided that Turnbull Manufactured firearms were meant to be in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway? I wasn’t about to give up hope.
March 8, 2010 my phone rings… I’m getting ready to leave for a gun show in Germany and the voice on the other end of the line asked “can you help us?” I don’t think I need to tell you who that was. If you’ve seen the news and you’re a fan of ours on Facebook, then you already know that Turnbull Manufacturing is providing the Pole Trophy and Victory Lane Firearms for the 2010 racing season at Texas Motor Speedway – starting with the Samsung Mobile 500 race this weekend.
We’ll be there with these custom manufactured and custom engrave firearms. I’d love to hand Tony Stewart these 45 Colt revolvers to fire in Victory Lane!