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Dominic's Barrel Part Three

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by 1911Tuner, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Dominic's Norinco barrel from hell arrived today. I just had the opprotunity to give it a quick once-over. More to check, but I'm pressed for time until tomorrow afternoon.

    In the few stolen minutes that I've spent with it, I can say that it's pretty badly out of spec, and the resulting damage was such that John Moses himself couldn't have saved it. The damage was likely established within the first 200 rounds, and the lugs would have been wiped out in another 200 or less.

    I'll give a full report tomorrow...Gonna be a long, busy day and 0400 is gonna come early. It'll probably be sometime after 2:00 Eastern time before I can get back to it, so all that have been following this unfolding saga should keep an eye the thread.
  2. Jammer Six

    Jammer Six member

    'Tuner, that's the second time you've said that, and it's got me wondering.

    In North Carolina, does 0400 ever come late, or exactly on time?
  3. macavada

    macavada Well-Known Member

    A question, Tuner. I saw where it was mentioned that the Norinco barrel was chrome plated and would be difficult to work with. Being that it is so hard, how much damage would have been done to the locking recesses on the slide? All that damage to the lugs would have correlated to considerable damage to the slide, no?
  4. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    macavada asked:

    All that damage to the lugs would have correlated to considerable damage to the slide, no?

    Highly probable...That's why I was concerned that Dominic's gunsmith may have missed something. The barrel's lugs are set back by the impact. It involves 2/3rds of the front lug, and about half of the center lug. The rear long...#1..has about .010 inch sheared off the top at an angle.

    I'll detail what I found this afternoon. Gotta go test fire another Officer's Model from Hell to let it prove its worth. ;)
  5. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    The Ugly Truth

    Got done a little early and am happy to report that "Officer's Model from Hell the Second" is now tickin' along happily. I think the sledge hammer and backin' over it with the truck probably did the trick. :eek: :D

    On to the Norinco barrel... :(

    Where to begin? This barrel was about as bad as I've ever seen and still allow the gun to function.

    The damage to the locking lugs was due to the lower barrel lug being located too far to the rear by about .020 inch. This accomplished the same thing as the impact surface in the frame being set too far forward.
    The barrel stopped against the frame before the barrel lugs had completely unlocked from the slide, and the result was the damage that was seen in the first pictures.

    Additionally, the upper areas of the lugs were actually set back. The forward lug was affected for roughly half of its height...The center one by about a third, and the rear lug had been sheared off at an angle the took
    .010 inch off the height.

    Moving along to the headspace question...

    I dropped a GO gauge into the chamber for starters. The rear face of the gauge stood above the hood by .008 inch...suggesting a slightly short chamber. Not an altogether bad thing if the gun is to be used for National
    Match Bullseye competition...but not a good thing for feed reliability.

    For the next part, I used a known good side as a control, and two stock
    Norinco slides that checked within .003 inch of the specs on all critical dimension of the control.

    The barrel was engaged into the control slide on the GO gauge, which it accepted easily. The NO NO gauge also locked into battery position easily, which would be cause for immediate rejection...but that's not the worst of it.

    With the NO GO gauge in the barrel and in battery, I was able to slip a .023 feelergauge between the rear of the gauge and the breechface.
    The aggregate dimensions added up to .045 inch of excessive headspace from the minumum...and .034 inch of excessive headspace
    if the difference between GO and NO GO was split dead in the center.
    To put it in simple terms...Dangerously excessive headspace. A .050 feeler gauge slipped between hood and breechface without drag, and
    it stopped a .054 feeler gauge...putting the clearance at .052 plus/minus
    .002 inch. Here was a classic example of "Headspacing on the Extractor".

    On to the third problem...

    The locking lugs were dimensioned well within spec from the barrel hood to the thrust faces of each lug, and there was a full .016 inch of fore and aft play in the barrel to slide lug engagement, which contributed to the lug setback because when the pistol fired. The barrel and slide lugs had a good running start at each other, and when the barrel was held firmly to the rear of its travel, there was a large gap between the hood and the slide. This wasn't measured, but was noted to be a substantial amount.

    The fact that the locking lugs were dimensioned correctly from the barrel hood puts everything badly out of spec from the hood forward...and from the rear faces of the barrel lugs back. I don't see how the gun worked at all. Mr. Sample did a nice job of cleaning up the damaged areas, but it was in vain. This one was dead meat before the first round was fired.

    Two conclusions were drawn from this:

    The damage to the lugs...and probably the slide...was likely done within the first 500 rounds, and possibly the first 200. The previous owner probably noticed it and pawned the gun off on unsuspecting Dominic, who then proceeded to fire the gun and thus increased the damage to the point that he began to notice it. He very likely also noticed weak ejection and possibly a few short-cycle malfunctions due to the slide's recoil momentum being interrupted by its impact with the barrel. Based on my own experience, the two forward lugs would have sheared off within 500 rounds of the time that the pictures were taken.

    It's also my opinion that both the previous owner and Dominic were extremely lucky that they have both eyes and all fingers intact. The
    static headspace on this pistol was such that, by all rights, it should have
    blown a case, with the possibility of sympathetic detonation of two or three rounds in the magazine.

    A little knowledge of what to look for can go a long way to preventing us from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous "Horse Traders" who
    have no qualms over passing on a defective gun to somebody else.

    Your first clue that something is wrong is a large gap between hood and slide. Most production guns have a gap that can run from as little as .003 inch to as much as .012 or even a bit more. If this gap is larger, lay the gun down and walk away. A set of small feeler gauges carried in your pocket is all you need to guard against being taken.

    Next...if the owner will allow you to field-strip the gun, push the barrel fully into the slide, hold it forward, and use the feeler gauges again to see what the gap is when the barrel is pushed firmly rearward. If the gap closes by as much as .005 inch, the gun is borderline. If pushing the barrel back allows the hood to touch the slide...walk away wth a smile on your face.
    You've outsmarted the rascals.

    If you're serious about buying only safe, serviceable pistols, invest in a
    2 piece set of GO and NO GOf gauges. I keep an extra GO gauge that's .895 inch...or .003 inch shorter than the SAAMI minimum, strictly for the purpose of short-chambering a gun used strictly for target matches. Mine is home made, and not necessary for checking for safe headspace. If
    you're truly serious, you can hire a machinist at a small job shop to make
    a .910-.912 inch NO GO gauge to narrow it down a bit more. .920 NO GO is fine for an ordnance-spec gun, but slightly long for best accuracy
    if the chamber is close to that maximum. Your red flag will be if the gun will almost go to battery on the .920 NO GO.

    Now I gotta go rest my back...I blew it out again, and am now waddling like a
    duck as I go about my routine. Time for the ol' crippled man to stretch out.

    I shall return!

    Cheers! (ouch)
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    More Specs

    Movin' along...There was one dimension that leapt out.

    The lower lug feet are .080 inch thick, measured at the tips. This measurement should fall somewhere between .112 and .120 inch...with an absolute minimum thickness of .110 inch.

    This indicates that there has been some hand-fitting at some point in the barrel's life. Whether it was done in-house during the manufacturing process, or at a later point by an owner, is unknown.

    As noted...the thrust faces of the locking lugs were almost perfectly dimensioned from the rear face of the hood...which was too sort...making the locations of the lugs too far forward on the barrel. Assuming that the corresponding slots in the slide were in-spec as to location, the lower lug feet may have been set back in an attempt to align the slide with the frame
    and bring the disconnector timing slot into correct position.

    While it's possible to compensate for small spec/tolerance stack problems with minor adjustments in key areas, taking things that far out of spec serves no purpose except to create other problems.

    In the final analysis...this barrel should have been rejected at the assembly point...and the problems with assembly should have served as an indication that the barrel was hopelessly out of spec. The question that remains is...
    How many others are out there? Is this a fluke...or is it indication of a problem during manufacture that wasn't recalled after it was discovered?

    Stand by for further developments...

    J.G. Travis, Investigative Reporter :scrutiny:
  7. SMMAssociates

    SMMAssociates Well-Known Member


    (Interesting thread....)

    Just a guess 'cause I really don't know a lot about this, but do you think that Dominic's barrel was for another gun and somebody "fitted" it 'cause it was handy?

    I.e., for an "Officer's Model" or something like that? An off-spec clone?

    Some gunsmiths are worse than me :D , and Tuner knows how skilled that isn't....

    All of this reminds us of the need to wear eye protection. A case blowing out isn't likely to kill you, but it could really ruin your day.

  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Interesting Thread

    Howdy Stu,

    The barrel in question was a Norinco OEM barrel that started another thread showing evidence of some timing problems...Can't remember the thread title off the top of my head. It progressed to one of our resident smiths making a valiant attempt to salvage the barrel. See Dominic's Killed Barrel: A Timing Study.

    I was curious about the barrel because I have a local Norinco that's supposed to be on my bench sometime in the next week or so...and from the phone conversation, it had some of the same issues. Dominic sent me the barrel to check some specs on. Another thread that goes back to the barrel is the one on Headspacing...with reference to Dominic's Killed Barrel. This one has gone into overtime, but is well worth it, because it shows what can happen when specs go haywire. If the OEM slide's specs were close to the three that I used for the check...the gun was dangerous to shoot...and it was in service as a shooter. Scary.

    I'll try to find the other threads and send the links to you on a PM. They're not buried too deep, and you may be able to dig'em up a page or two back
    from the top. Seems like it all started about a month ago.

    Later on!
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I just don't understand, nobody but you and my local 'smith ever have anything unfavorable to say about those wonderful Communist Chinese knockoffs. I mean they are cheap, they are tough, and if you don't mind little tweaks like the guy who said: "The hammer and sear pins were not parallel on mine, but I just cut the sear to the same angle and it has a real good trigger pull." they are just great. Aren't they?

    And the Cowboys shooting People's Republican Army chinese copies of Winchester and Colt shotguns can just go sit on their spurs, too.

    Don't anybody tell me about cheap prices and fair trade, I have Jap, Eyetalian, and Kraut guns galore, but the Communist Chinese are our enemies NOW. Tee shirts and sneakers are bad enough, we don't need to be paying the Red Army weapons factories direct.
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    Howdy Jim!

    While I'm in complete agreement on the communist point, they've long since been paid, and the Norincos that are around have mostly been in private hands for nearly 10 years.

    I jumped on the Nork Wagon late...and I've driven up to 50 miles one way in order to examine one whenever the opportunity comes up. I've looked at
    around 60 to date, and with the exception of an occasional bad sear or
    rear grip frame being cut wrong...all the ones that I've looked at have been well within spec...if a little rough...and dead reliable. Some owners report as high as 25,000 rounds without a single malfunction.

    However...I've been hearing bad things lately. This is the fourth instance of dangerous headspacing that I've become aware of, and I'm waiting for another one to have a look at as soon as the guy can arange for the trip up here. I'm trying to determine if the issues are within a certain serial number range...and if so...indicates a bad run that was probably the result of a jig or fixture shifting during the machining process...and was never recalled.

    So far, it looks like there's a pattern, and I'll report it here as soon as I can get more information. If we can nail it down to a certain range, we can let potential buyers know to check the numbers before buying.

    As far as not trading with the Reds...If you'll compare a South African made Griffon with a Norinco...you'll see the similarities, right down to the funky-colored sear springs and machining marks in the slide. One Commander clone that I looked at even had a fully machined upswept ducktail grip safety. Too close to be a coincidence. The one that I looked at was higher quality in the fit and finish than your average Nork...but I'd be willin' to bet that they're cut
    on the same machinery.

    Stand by for the rest of the story...
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Yeah, they are "already on the street" and they are cheap, and they are strong, but so is a stone axe. If my guy was netted up I'd have him send you some horror stories about the Communist copies HE has seen.

    As Mr Mason told Mr Dixon, you gotta draw the line somewhere and for me it means NO Red Chinese guns.
  12. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    No Net

    Jim...If he has a shop, I'd like to call him and see if he kept any of the number ranges on the ones that were demon-possessed. PM me if this is
    acceptable to him.
  13. Bill Z

    Bill Z Well-Known Member

    That's a lot of Norks all in one place, I haven't even heard of that many even being shot around Augusta. You guys got something going on with the Chinese up there?
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Lotta Norks

    Nah...The things sold like hotcakes around here the first 2 years...kinda like the GI Springers do now. It wasn't unusual to see as many as 10 in one store on a Monday, and sold out before Friday. The past two years, I've spread the word far and wide that I'll detail-strip and clean'em for free just to get to take some measurements and have a look. Nork owners have been crawlin' outta the woodwork ever since. Most are good to very good...Rough, but pretty good for what they're meant for. None have broken any parts...Zip. Zero.
  15. Bill Z

    Bill Z Well-Known Member

    When ya gonna do a study on Colt AR's? I'm putting some matches together for next year and I hate cleaning that thing. :(

    Well, I'm warmed up again, time to get back out in the shop. Youse guyz have fun.
  16. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Matty Mattel Study

    >When ya gonna do a study on Colt AR's?<

    Don't get me started on Jammin' Jenny. :rolleyes:
    Been there and done that...OJT.

    Extractor is too small...Spring too. Case is too straight. Rim is fragile. Chamber is too tight. Gas system fouls the carrier. Gas rings are fragile. Stock is fragile. Bolt release is fragile. (Good thing the bolt will release with a slap on the butt) Barrel flexes when ya use a tight sling and throws shots 6 inches to port. Cleanin' is a snap though. Take the top end off and wash out the lower with carb cleaner and drip dry. Scrape the carbon off the bolt with a knife. Drench it with oil and go. Replace the rings and gas tube every 12 months/12,000 rounds. Replace the carrier key on the first sign of short-cycle that's not ammo related. Good weapon for guard duty and long-range recon. Other than that? Well...Keepin' it on the high road. :evil:

    I hear that the M-4 is much better, though...

    I don't want no teenage queen...I just want my M-Fawteen! Sound off...

  17. gamachinist

    gamachinist Well-Known Member

    Back to the Norc barrel,
    I'm curious,since it is chrome plated,is the metal soft under the chrome?
    I can't think of a better reason for the barrel to be chromed on a very low budget gun.
    If the metal is soft,that would explain the rapid battering of the lugs,while the slide suffered less damage?
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Just an Old Softie?

    Howdy Robert,

    Hard to say without seein' the slide. Judging by the vertical depth of lug face setback on the barrel, it may be hard to see in the slide. It would be almost in the corner of the slide lug. I'd say that hard chroming would likely do damage to the slide regardless of the quality of the steel underneath. The slide hit the barrel hard. I'd expect a crack to show up adjacent to one of the lugs within 10,000 rounds...probably #1 or #2...but the Norinco slides are pretty tough, so it may take longer. Unless Dominic really puts the gun to the torture test, he may never see it...at least not for several years.
  19. MNine

    MNine Well-Known Member

    Could you go into a little more detail please about the rear grip frame being cut wrong? I just got my new (ok used..but new to me!) Norinco 1911. It is all original except the thumb safety. It looks like the frame area around the grip safety was cut by a worker Friday afternoon before a holiday with a hacksaw! The cuts in the frame are not straight, it almost looks like the worker went the wrong way and corrected himself at one place. :eek: The grip safety itself is original, rough but ok. I have pics which I can try to send but they are not too clear. Otherwise the frame is fine except for tooling marks here and there. Mechanically it seems sound, everything functions just the way it is supposed to on a functions check, but I have not shot it yet.
    Is this something that you have seen before? Is this a problem for future reliability? I was going to install a Clark Grip safety anyway, perhaps I could have it fixed then. Thanks!
  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Grip Frame

    MNine asked:

    Could you go into a little more detail please about the rear grip frame being cut wrong?

    Howdy MNine...Surely.

    Basically, the contours are cut at a steeper angle than they should be, and the edges protrude past the grip safety when it's depressed. It makes for a
    near-knife edge that will slice your hand open when you shoot. Fairly easy to correct with a little careful filing and contouring...but it does require touching up with cold blue. I've seen this problem in about a third of the earlier Norincos that I've seen.

    I had this issue on one of mine, and a THR forum member had one that cut him badly enough that he brought the gun to me to correct it. We drank coffee and swapped lies while I did the deed...which took all of 30-40 minutes, including heating the frame in the oven, rebluing, and reassembling
    the works. Happy to report that his pain has ended, and he is blastin' away
    with his Nork.


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