Gun Hub Forums banner

1 - 20 of 70 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello Charlie and Gang, it has been a while and I thought I was overdue for a visit. I hope all has been well and everyone is fine.

I'd like to ask your advice on a new (to me) 1911 with a problem, if I may impose . . .

I recently obtained a 1948 Colt commercial 1911A1 with Micro target sights and a trigger shoe installed.

The gun was filthy and had been neglected for a long time. There was some surface rust on the slide and frame, and the internals were all gunked up. I don't have a full history on the gun, but I'm told it hadn't been shot by the owner since sometime in the 1970s, and it looked like it probably wasn't cleaned well since it was brand new.

After getting it cleaned up, it became apparent that the slide binds on the frame rails when the slide moves out of battery. It's not just tight--it actually binds up and has to be forced open/closed. I've looked at slide and frame and can't see anything obvious, but there are some high points where the wear is more pronounced.

The presence of target sights and trigger shoe made me start to wonder if maybe somebody had put the slide in a vise to tighten the fit and "accurize" it as used to be popular. If so, I think they might have overdone it.

It's also possible that it's just damaged or flawed. The only thing I know is that it doesn't seem right.

The rollmarks on the slide are of the correct type for the period indicated by the serial number on the gun, so I'm doubtful that this is a replacement slide--it appears to be the original.

I have not fired the pistol yet, and don't intend to do so with the binding issue.

I'm not sure what I want to do next and would appreciate your thoughts. I took the pistol to a local gunsmith but he wasn't accepting new work right now. He advised using 800 grit aluminum oxide lapping compound and working out the rough spots on the slide and frame rails myself. This seems like a good plan, but I thought I might check and see if anybody here had any other ideas before I do something irreversible.

I took the barrel out and just put the naked slide on the frame--it stuck just like before, so I'm pretty confident it is a slide/frame rail issue and not something else.

This thing started out as a beast, but after a thorough cleaning it looks like it has a lot of potential. The lapping compound idea sounds conservative enough, but I want to make sure there isn't something else I'm overlooking before I start with that.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

V/R
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,714 Posts
There are two ways you can do this;
1.) Identify where the binding is occuring(You need to do this either way), put the frame in a vise(Be careful of the Grip bushings) and lightly dress the rails with a fine Arkansas stone,trying the slide every couple of passes. This way you don't effect the rest of the frame/slide fit. You want to dress both the top and the sides of the rails with light pressure on each pass. also, be sure to lube on each check and clean it off afterwards.

2.) Lapping compound; This, to me, is kind of a 'Shotgun approach' to the problem. As the lapping compound tends to spread out and affect the other parts of the frame/slide fit. This is how it's done when first fitting the Slide to the frame and can loosen the fit a tad.

Are you sure it's binding on the slide or frame? It could be binding on the ejector.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
Sarge is right lapping compound is a bad idea.

I think your analysis is correct and somebody clueless tried to tighten the slide.

You should be able to see the tight spots just by blue wear. If it was done by squeezing the slide chances are the binding is on the lower segment that goes inside the frame. That is a surface that is easy to see and reach. My approach would be with a fine file or fine emery cloth wrapped around a file. just take a stroke or two on the high spots and try it. It is best to strip the frame to keep junk out.

Sometimes slide tightening is done by peening the top of the frame but if it was you should see dents or drawfiling marks on top of the frame.

This is one of those things that is easy to fix but just as easy to screw up. Make haste slowly. Clean and lube after each cut.

Sarge's suggestion of using a stone is fine but slow and a coarse india stone may be safer. Either way you're probably going to have to go to Brownells to get the right stuff. I keep forgetting that everyone doesn't have a drawer with 20-30 different files... :?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,627 Posts
Charlie Petty said:
... I keep forgetting that everyone doesn't have a drawer with 20-30 different files... :?
And some of us lack the skill to use them properly. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Gents, I appreciate the outstanding feedback!

Are you sure it's binding on the slide or frame? It could be binding on the ejector.
That's an interesting question, and the truth is that I don't know. I'll have to take a look again--anything in particular I should be trying to spot?

I don't recall the frame having the peening marks you described Charlie, so I suspect I'll see the wear marks you describe when I reinspect.

Charlie, I'll be having to visit Brownells either way, since my tool bench lacks these precision files and stones. I took a look at the website for stones today and they had this description for India Stones--does this sound like the correct item?

Man made from aluminum oxide. A uniformly dense stone with superior cutting properties make these medium grit stones cut faster than hard Arkansas. Especially useful for lapping, honing, sharpening and polishing in tight places where the special shapes can reach into nooks and crannies.

Since I believe Clint was right when he advised "A man has to know his limitations" I need to disclose my lack of experience working with these products. I would like to use the most gentle method, even if it takes longer, because I don't want to damage anything by the unskilled use of an aggressively cutting product. Does this favor the Arkansas stone method?

V/R
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,499 Posts
Back in the ancient days of the last century, some folks tried to tighten the slide fit by whacking the dust cover on the work table. This could be a seriously awful idea.

Before I did anything else I would mike the slide rail to opposite side rail gap and the slide width at the groves.

I have seen some really old pistols which bound up from a very fine corrosion, very difficult to see, much less remove, but I'm talking ancient Army pistols in the 1970s.

Geoff
Who assumes you have stripped the internals and checked the clean frame against a clean slide.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
While the ejector could do it the micro sights suggest somebody tried to "accurize" the gun so the slide is still the most likely suspect.

First detail strip the gun so there is nothing extraneous to interfere and then just do slide and frame. From your description there should be visible bright spots where the rub is. Bob always preached "the gun will show you where to cut" . If you don't see anything take a magic marker and cover the frame rails and try again. If nothing is still obvious clean it real good and go shoot it a bunch. That will either fix the problem or make the wear marks obvious.

Until you know where the rub is there is no point in buying anything because there are many shapes of stones.

The catalog description is correct but this type of problem just doesn't need a very fine stone and you can waste a bunch of money buying something you will never use again. ARkansas stones are reasonsbly inexpensive.

I assume you're still on active duty so there are probably some red hats around who might have a clue... just turn your BS meter on high... :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Charlie! Invaluable advice! I really appreciate it.

I see the Red Hats haven't changed much over the years. . . :wink:

V/R
Mike
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
Some of them claim to know how to fix stuff... some actually may

Actually the idea of trying another slide is good if you have another 1911 since that would narrow down choices between the frame or slide
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Hello,

The plot thickens . . .

I followed Sarge's advice (thanks!) and tried another slide. In this case. it was a 1927 Argentine Colt. The slide of the Argentine Colt was binding in the same spot on the '48 Colt frame. Conversely, the slide of the '48 Colt fit on the Argentine frame just fine.

So, maybe I've got a frame issue.

There are bright spots on the frame from wear, but no visible peening marks. When viewed from the front, the rails look straight--maybe, just possibly, angled downward ever so slightly. Hard to tell.

I had to pack it up for now, but next test will be to use the marker to darken things up. Thanks again for all the ideas.

V/R
Mike
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
Just keep going back and forth with it until you get very clear marks on the frame... then it's probably time for a stone...

keep us posted
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,714 Posts
Ten Driver said:
Hello,

The plot thickens . . .

I followed Sarge's advice (thanks!) and tried another slide. In this case. it was a 1927 Argentine Colt. The slide of the Argentine Colt was binding in the same spot on the '48 Colt frame. Conversely, the slide of the '48 Colt fit on the Argentine frame just fine.

So, maybe I've got a frame issue.

There are bright spots on the frame from wear, but no visible peening marks. When viewed from the front, the rails look straight--maybe, just possibly, angled downward ever so slightly. Hard to tell.

I had to pack it up for now, but next test will be to use the marker to darken things up. Thanks again for all the ideas.

V/R
Mike
Hmmm....bright spots on the frame from wear.Ten-Driver, in the Arcane, Black-magic world of Gunsmithing, these are called.....a clue. On a properly-fitted frame the wear should be even. do me a favor, cover the bright spots with either Dichem or magic-marker and work the slide about ten or twelve times and see if the spots reappear. If they do, dress them down a bit with a stone and try again. Keep going until they stop appearing. See if the binding stops.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,543 Posts
If you've got a set of dial caliphers, measure the slot in the frame rails (or try the shank of a drill bit). IIRC, the slot on a stock frame is about 0.125 inches or 1/8 of an inch. If one is careful, some rail peening can be done without leaving marks. Depending upon where the tight spot(s) are, there are ways to do that that don't involve hammers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Hello,

Thanks again for the advice, all.

I got access to two other 1911s and had the same story--the suspect slide would fit OK on the other frames, but the other slides would not fit on the suspect frame.

So, I think it might be a frame issue.

The rails and ejector have all kinds of areas where the blue is rubbed off, so I cleaned them off and blackened them with a marker. Same with the slide rails. After cycling the slide on the frame 3 times, here is where the big rub marks are (I hope these pictures work--my first time attempting to post some):





There was hardly any wear on the top side of the frame rails, as if you were looking straight down on the frame from above. Most the wear appeared to be on the side of the rails. On each side, a bright spot up front, nothing in the middle, then again a bright spot further aft. You can see the ejector has some rub marks too.

The slide itself looked pretty clean--just a bit of the marker rubbed off, but nothing huge.

So these would be the places to start on the frame, I suppose. Any suggestions on what shape of stone I should get to work these areas? The part under the rail (in the groove) seems like it would be the toughest to get at.

V/R
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,543 Posts
Brownells sells a multi-stone set that contains a variety of shapes. There's a triangular stone that would fit in the rail slot, or you could carefully use a small square Swiss file.

However, what really catches my eye in that second picture is the wear (or fitting marks) present on the ejector. I think I'd give great consideration to gently removing the ejector and seeing what difference that might make. At minimum, marker the ejector and give the slide another try to see what's what. If you see marker removed, compare the ejector slot in that slide with another known to be good. If dimensions are the same, the ejector is suspect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the sharp eye and for the advice! I'll see what I can do.

Things are proceeding slowly here because I've got one arm in a sling. This has been a test of patience so far!

V/R
Mike
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,055 Posts
But how is the other guy?

I'm beginning to think that the frame was peened down because the weakest part is around the mag well and that's where you show the most wear. Of course the properly trained hammer operator would know to not hit it there.

I agree with Bill on the tools. A large square india stone for the outer rails and a small triangular "slip" stone for inside. We actually made files for the inner frame rails by using a surface grinder on a long fine file and leaving only one cutting surface that just fit inside the rails...

I haven't looked at stones in the Brownells catalog in ages... they last a long time... but I'll see if I can get a more specific suggestion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Thank you Sir! I know you've got lots to do, so don't feel a rush--I think I'm going to have plenty of time to get to this, because it's really starting to look like it's beyond my one-handed capability right now. I could probably do some light stoning with one hand and a lot of patience, but if that ejector has to come out . . .

The "other guy" in this case was a lot taller than me and was tough as steel. I thought I could walk all over him, but I was wrong. The SP's got him though. The police report had him listed as "Ladder, Crew Entry." He had an accomplice too, but I only got his street name--"Gravity." :wink:

They did a number on my shoulder! It's the shortest solo flight I ever took. Too bad I didn't just land on my head--nothing to hurt there. :oops:

V/R
Mike
 
1 - 20 of 70 Posts
Top