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1911 thumb safety

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by tdstout, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. tdstout

    tdstout Well-Known Member

    I have a Springfield 1911 GI model that I bought around 7 or 8 years ago. A couple of months ago, the tube in between the thumb safety and the slide stop(sorry, don't know the technical term for this) has worked itself loose on one side, so now when I put the safety on, the little pin that sticks out of the tube slides out too far and locks the safety in the on position.

    To get the safety back off, I have to push the little pin back into the tube with my left hand thumbnail while at the same time push the safety down with my right hand. It's extremely annoying having to use two hands to turn the safety off.

    So my question is, how can I fix this? Do I need to send it to a gunsmith or is it something I can do myself? I would post a picture of it but I'm a little dumb when it comes to electronics:cuss:

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The Plunger Tube is staked inside the frame.

    It takes a special tool to stake it properly.

    I would imagine if you are handy, it would be way cheaper for you to buy the tool and fix it yourself then to ship the gun off to have it fixed.

    Two different types:

    Probably easier to use:

    It would be wise to order a new Plunger Tube and replace yours with a new one to insure there is enough length left to properly stake it again.

    A tiny drop of BLUE Lock-Tight on the legs before staking can't hurt either.

  3. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    RC, can you use the second type with the ejector in place? My commander's tube has come a bit loose and needs to be re-staked.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    It appears it has plenty of ejector clearance, but I have no personal experience with it.

    The one I use I made out of an M14 op rod spring guide in 1968!
    But I see they cost more then a staking tool now days!

    I might add a couple more things.

    1. It is a good idea to countersink the holes inside the frame with a ball end Dremel dental bur before staking.

    2. It is a good idea to find a couple of # drill bit shanks that just fits inside both ends of the plunger tube to support it so it doesn't get crushed while staking it.
    I forget the sizes but the larger one is #35 or #36 I think?

  5. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    good tip, thanks. is the countersinking just to prevent damage from overinsertion of the staking tooth thing?

    EDIT: never mind... I read up on it and it's to allow room for the posts to expand, right?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    No, it is to allow the stake flare someplace to get a grip on the inside of the frame.

    Staking (flaring) the tubes in a straight-through drilled hole doesn't work so hot.
    In fact, it is the #1 reason plunger tubes fall off in the first place.

    The manufacture saved 5 minutes or less by not counter-sinking the holes.
    Now it costs you big bucks to fix it like it should have been in the first place.

    Some manufactures are just gluing them on now and not staking at all.

  7. brickeyee

    brickeyee Well-Known Member

    I still put a drill bit shank in the tube during staking as insurance against crushing.

    I am to lazy to bother remembering the size, just try some # size bits til you find one that barely fits.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    I have not seen one, but I am told some of the makers are gluing those tubes in place; they have studs for positioning but they are not long enough for staking! :barf:

  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    I saw one the other day, and curiously enough...it was on a 70s-era Colt Combat Commander. The holes weren't chamfered and the legs of the plunger tube were a good 64th too short. I didn't have a new tube, so all I could do was restake it and tell the guy that it probably wouldn't hold very long.
  10. hey_poolboy

    hey_poolboy Well-Known Member

    I realize that I'm not alone in my wanting to learn to do these things by myself.
    So, I don't blame anyone for doing their own repairs, but there's one obvious solution that I have yet to see offered.

    IT'S A SPRINGFIELD! Call them and have them fix it. They are quite well known for fixing their guns even if you aren't the first owner. There are frequent reports of them not only fixing guns, but doing other minor tweaks and upgrades while they're in the shop.
  11. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    That solution isn't a secret. There's only one "right" way to install a plunger tube. If they didn't take the 2 minutes needed to fix it right the first time...we don't have much confidence that they'll fix it right the second time.
  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    That's fine, but before you (or anyone else) starts fix'n you better get a copy of Jerry Kuhnhausen's The Colt .45 Automatic - A Shop Manual, 'cuz you may not know as much as you think you do.

    You will also learn from reading it that some jobs require special tools, jigs, fixtures and other expensive equipment. Staking a plunger tube is a good example. Professional gunsmiths can afford what's necessary because the cost is spread over many guns. It is not however, cost effective to buy the tools (and whatever) to fix "a" gun, or just several ones.

    So some try to use something in the way of a work-around, and end up with a blotched job.

    If you still want to go ahead; shop manuals and other instructional material, as well as specialized tooling will be found at www.brownells.com

    Incidentally, if the pistol in question is sometimes used in a defensive weapon context, a loose plunger tube can get you killed, because if the little safety plunger slips backward while you are carrying in condition #1 (cocked & locked) you can't get the safety off. Browning was smart enough to put a little lip at the top of the left-side grip to both help hold the tube in, and protect it against blows. Some grip makers who don't know any better leave the lip off - which is a big mistake. Some other very wise folks I know go to the trouble of glass bedding the lip to that it is absolutely tight against the tube. Perhaps not necessary, but good insurance. ;)
  13. tdstout

    tdstout Well-Known Member

    That's what happened. I wasn't in a defensive situation, but when I went to shoot it for practice, i couldn't get the safety off.
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Well I strongly advise that...

    You don't do this when something serious is afoot - and I am delighted that it happened at a range and not some "mean street." :uhoh: :D

    Now I hope some readers get a clue...
  15. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    I'd like it better if the people who are cranking them out would get a clue, and stake the tubes on the right way.

    C'mon, guys. It's only a couple minutes work. Can it be that hard?
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Dear Tuner.

    The problem here is that you don't understand modern manufacturing.

    We at Old Fuff's Gunworks pay close attention to those things that are important to our treasured customers - such as full-length recoil spring guides and accessory rails incorporated into the dust cover. Another specialty we offer is trigger finger pieces with 6 rather then 3 holes. No pistol leaves our factory without an extended magazine release button, slide stop and safety lock paddle. :uhoh:

    We are about to introduce a feature that will revolutionize the industry - a slide that has serrations running the entire length from back to front. Also another first will be our exclusive global positioning device cleverly concealed in the recoil spring plug. With it you can't miss... :uhoh:

    And responding to a recent study by our marketing department, all models will come with a standard box magazine that holds 12 rounds of .45 Ball. We accomplished this by getting rid of the mostly useless and unnecessary magazine spring. :uhoh:

    You may have noticed that I didn't mention the plunger tube. That's because most of our customers don't pay any attention to it, so we don’t either. It’s held on with "best quality" chewing gum. Chewing gum allows us to eliminate costly machining operation to countersink the holes in the frame, and posts on the tube, and save money by not having to buy a staking fixture and hire someone to operate it. What with the government and all we can't afford to hire any more extra hands then we have to.

    While John Browning did a fair job of designing the pistol, we have vastly improved it. I am sure you will agree.

    Blusterbottom V. Fuff; CEO, Old Fuff Gunworks.

    :D :D :D :D
  17. Fleet

    Fleet Well-Known Member

    As I understand it, Ruger came up with the right solution and made the tube integral with the frame, so there's nothing to come loose.
  18. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Yes and no. Browning did it the way he did for two reasons.

    First, when the frame was machined from a forging it was much easier to not make the tube part of the frame. This isn't true of an investment casting.

    Second, if you damage the tube in a Browning/Colt you replace only the tube. On the Ruger you'd have to replace the whole frame.

    In Browning's day both the frame and tube were made the way they should be, and the tubes were correctly staked. They seldom came off.
  19. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    ha ha ahaaa!!! Classic! :D
  20. hang fire

    hang fire Well-Known Member

    For almost a century, John Browning's original 1911 (A1) purpose designed weapon served, and served very well.

    While some might think they are improving the design, in reality they are not, but just tinkering around the edges. If one thinks they are smarter than John Browning, they can prove it by designing their own supposedly superior semi-automatic handgun.

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