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MG-34 belt pull strength is weak - normal?

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 1:51 pm
by SyntaxError

First time posting on this board but it seems to be the only active place to discuss inner workings of MG-34s on the Internet, so here I am.

I have a TNW semi that runs relatively well after the usual tweaks and such necessary to get these things running. One question I have though is how effective is the MG-34's design in pulling long belts that hang from the gun in a static lafette mount setup? I understand that the Gurttrommel was used to hold a 50 round belt off to the side but I can't mount a Gurt on the gun while it's on my MG-3 tripod, so it has to be a loose belt.

I find for range use that if I let the belt hang off the gun to the side without support that it often fails to pull the belt enough to align the next round to be fed properly on the gun, causing a stoppage, as the belt hasn't advanced for the bolt to pick up the next round.

Is there anything that can be tweaked to help assist the "belt pull strength" (for lack of a better term that I may not know about) on an MG-34? I'm not sure how much the TNW semi design may bleed off excess energy of the bolt cycling backwards under recoil may be robbing the camming mechanism of the top cover/feed block on pulling the belt, so I suppose that could also be a contributing factor, but would newer/in-spec springs for the various doo-dads on the feed block also help assist that, or is this all related to the camming of the feed block/feed tray/bolt notch for the feed tray raceway in action?

Perusing through Folk Myrvang's book "German MG-34/MG-42 Universal Machine Guns", on page 287, he does note (and I remember he mentions on other parts of the book) that the MG-34 is known to have issues feeding long belts dangling off of the gun. To quote the book, "When using the MG34 especially, but also the MG42 on AA tripods, it was strongly recommended that the belt drum be used. The guns lack the power to lift long belts of cartridges and feed them into the mechanism, and this was also to be considered when shooting from the MG Lafette when it was set in its highest positions".

I'm guessing based on that passage that the MG-34 just has issues pulling long belts without support from a tripod or elevated position (such as an AA tripod), and belts should be assisted by an assistant gunner, or a support hand to help support the belt to feed into the gun while shooting, but I just wanted to confirm that this is the case and there's nothing really wrong with my gun or feed block.

Thanks for any input or advice, this board has been very helpful. 8)

Re: MG-34 belt pull strength is weak - normal?

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 9:47 pm
by 42rocker
1st Welcome to the Board!!
2nd While I'm working on an MG34, it's not to the firing stage yet. But from what I've seen hanging long belts off the side causes the problems you brought up. When I shot a Friends MG34 (FA) I used the left hand as a feed hand and everything worked just fine. I think that there are some folks that will add to this as they have the tnw mg34 setups so I hope that will add to this.

Later 42rocker

Re: MG-34 belt pull strength is weak - normal?

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 8:42 am
by Abominog
Feed springs are a wear item and always the first suspect for problems. That includes the main recoil spring.

But as you identified the mg34 feed is not as strong as the Uber powerful mg42.

Re: MG-34 belt pull strength is weak - normal?

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 11:26 am
by JBaum
The feed system on the 34 fully advances the cartridge during the rearward stroke of the bolt.

The 42 advances the cartridge half-way on the rearward stroke, and the other half on the forward stroke.

That makes the 42 a much more efficient system, due to the better leverage of only doing half the work on recoil, and the other half on return of the bolt. That's why the 42 has sufficient strength to lift an entire 50 round hanging belt, but not the 34.

Re: MG-34 belt pull strength is weak - normal?

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 1:58 pm
by SyntaxError
Good information all, I figured it was just a general weakness of the design. Didn't know about the MG42's half belt feed feature, the Germans were pretty smart to come up with that.

On a side note, I figure having newer, in-spec springs for the little parts is something good to have regardless. Does anyone know of a source for new production springs for the little parts for the MG-34 such as the springs for the feed pawls and such?

Re: MG-34 belt pull strength is weak - normal?

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:51 pm
by 42rocker
If I need anything mg34 one of my first go to is brp guns

Brian knows his stuff and has had some to the springs reproduced.

Stay Safe

Later 42rocker