M1911 stress fracture


August 27, 2006, 10:04 AM
Unhappily I appear to have a stress fracture on the left side of the frame of my dear 1918-vintage USGI M1911. It is located at one of the more common metal fatigue stress points, as shown on this photo of an A1 (http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a23/b322da/M1911/scan0001.jpg). It is about 1/4 in. forward of the slide stop hole, beginning at the point where the sturdier part of the slide with the slide track begins. (Please forgive if I am using the wrong lingo.) It extends down about 3/16 in. I can feel it when I drag a fingernail across it (gently), and it appears definitely to be a crack rather than a scratch. I cannot tell visually or by touch whether or not the crack goes all the way through the frame, the inside of course not being smooth and glossy like the outside.

It has been suggested to me that an expert may be able to weld this crack so that I can continue to use the weapon as Mr. Browning intended it to be used. It has already been substantially modified for bullseye competition to the point that I do not consider any adverse effect welding might have on its collectability to be a factor.

I am located near Galveston, Texas. Can someone suggest a gunsmith, perhaps in the Houston area, to whom I might deliver the weapon for an expert technical analysis, followed by welding, should that indeed be possible? If, on the other hand, it proves necessary to ship the weapon to an out-of-state gunsmith I am prepared to do so.

If you enjoyed reading about "M1911 stress fracture" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Old Fuff
August 27, 2006, 10:19 AM
Welcome to The High Road - But I wish it could have been under better circumstances.

A very good welder could repair the crack. An alternative would be to replace the frame and salvage all of the other components except for the plunger tube and grip screw bushings.

I would then seriously consider installing a EGW firing pin stop with a small radius at the bottom (for more information use the forum search feature and the key words "firing pin stop"). This, in combination with new, standard hammer and recoil springs will slow down slide velocity a bit.

"1911 Tuner" will probably be along shortly, and he's had a fair amount of experience fixing sick 1911's. All is not lost. :)

August 27, 2006, 11:36 AM
57Coastie, In Houston one of the very best in the world is www.briley.com

They can do any sort of work required, but it won't be cheap.

August 27, 2006, 11:39 AM
More properly called a fatigue fracture [fracture after many stress cycles] it can be welded by a highly skilled TIG welder.If you do it carefully inspect all those problem areas and repair all of them. You will probably want to reblue it also. Take good care of it !!

August 27, 2006, 11:52 AM
Howdy Coastie and welcome aboard.

The crack in the bridge above the slidestop is a non-issue, except that it may interfere with slide movement. Just remove it.

The one at the junction of spring tunnel and frame rails is a common stress fracture point. It'll probably self-terminate...but it may not. You can stop it
by check-drilling it. Use a prick punch to mark the very end, and use a small drill bit to drill through the frame. About a 1/16th bit is enough, but be careful not to break it off in the frame. A good tig welder can close up the hole and the crack if you want, but it's not really necessary. I have a pistol that's been cracked like that on both sides for years...check-drilled...and I've continued to shoot the gun for tens of thousands of rounds without a problem.

The bad news is that you can expect it to clone it on the other side. The other bad news is that the frame is soft, and not well-suited to heavy use, given its age and unknown round count.

The other bad news is that the original slide is also soft, and if it's cracked or peened at the indicated areas in your picture...it's pretty much dead in the water. A good welder may be able to return it to service, but the cost would be more than you'd want to spend on a slide that'll just crack again shortly.

Essex makes a pretty good cast slide for about 125 bucks. You can order it with cuts already made for different sights, including...I'm pretty sure... adjustable Bo-Mars. Check out their website.

A step up to a Caspian slide will net you a high-quality forging, and the cost reflects it at a little over twice the cost of the Essex.

Luck to ya!

August 27, 2006, 01:01 PM
I want to express my sincere appreciation to all those who responded so kindly and helpfully to my request for help. After being insulted as an unintelligent dummy on another forum for wasting members' time with my foolish question, I was directed to this forum by another M1911 aficionado, who told me that the members of this forum understood that one does not usually post a question unless there is something he doesn't know, and that I could expect courtesy, patience, understanding, and assistance, no matter how dumb the question is.

He was right, and my faith in mankind has been restored. :o

I look forward to getting back to the range soon with my favorite, after I pursue the several paths I have been given by our kind members, both here and in private.

August 27, 2006, 01:29 PM
Gotta Love It!
Great Members.

August 27, 2006, 06:58 PM
Coastie...There just ain't no sucha thing as a dumb question. I reckon all those who have a problem with "dumb questions" were born with all that knowledge oozin' from their overstuffed brains.:D

Or, maybe they asked somebody along the way...;)

August 27, 2006, 11:17 PM
These cracks are quite common. EGW lists weld repairs at $40 per side, if I remember correctly.
There are a few theories as to what causes them. I believe it is hard contact, under recoil, of the slide bottom to the dustcover top.
I advise relieving the top surfaces of the dustcover to prevent contact.
I hope this helps!

August 28, 2006, 06:18 AM

>>There are a few theories as to what causes them. I believe it is hard contact, under recoil, of the slide bottom to the dustcover top.<<

One that I agree with. I like to see about .007-.010 inch betwixt top of cover and bottom of slide when the slide is full rearward. You?

August 28, 2006, 06:49 AM
A step up to a Caspian slide will net you a high-quality forging....Have they started forging?

August 28, 2006, 06:56 AM
I believe that Caspian has always used machined billets for their slides, though that may have changed. They've recently started using castings for the frames...or so I heard.

August 28, 2006, 07:50 AM
I have a crack at the spring tunnel and frame for about 10,000 + rounds now and the "dust cover" is still on the gun. ;) I don't think the crack has increased any.

I'd bet a sloppy slide/frame fit doesn't help with the slide "bouncing around" and smacking the frame in that area...what do you think?

If the other side cracks and they meet, the spring tunnel comes off the gun, my FLGR :D , will keep the gun working. ;) I may even start a new "fashion trend" in 1911's.

August 29, 2006, 12:24 PM
I don't have any numbers pertaining to the clearance, Clarence.
Best method is to file the top of the dustcover until there is visible clearance, then use a marker pen to verify. Next fire the gun several times, and check the ink again. Many times the forces of firing will reveal new contact.
Pay special attention to the areas immediately adjacent to the slides recoil spring tunnel.
Welding as done by EGW is a quite satisfactory fix for a steel frame. Aluminum frames can not be repaired.

August 29, 2006, 12:52 PM
How'd you know my middle name?

My practice is to clearance the tunnel on a slight downward rake from the back to the front until I can just slip a .007 gauge between the front corner of the tunnel and the slide when the slide is full rearward. Then I lightly break the corner.

My theory on how it happens is that, when the slide smacks the frame, the thin tunnel flexes, or bounces upward and makes contact. Your shoot and check method seems to bear that out.

If you enjoyed reading about "M1911 stress fracture" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!