Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

1911 homestyle trigger job

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by bigjim, Dec 23, 2003.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    Here is what I did.

    Removed trigger parts.

    Held hammer in a smooth jawed small high precision vise.
    Can be had for 20 dollars from Harbor frieght.

    Took a feeler gage .021 and layed in on the hammer in front of the hooks to limit the cut. It also gives you a guide to cut evenly.

    Then I took a superduper hard fine stone( polishing stone for knives) and cut the hooks down to .021 keeping the angle that was there to begin with.

    Then I grabbed the sear chucked it up in the smooth jawed little vise putting the engagement surface even with the top of the vise and kepted the same angle on the edge. Then just touched it to polish the engagement surface.

    Took just a tiny bit of tension off the first leaf of the trigger leaf spring. ( very tiny amount ). You could barely tell the difference by looking.

    Dropped in a 19 Lb Wolf mainspring.

    Cleaned parts put the gun back together function tested the gun and boosted the trigger 5 times.

    Trigger gage said 3.5 lbs. No creep at all. Entire process took less than 2O mins. Dry fired the gun 200 times and weighed the trigger again. Still at 3.5 lbs and feels fine. Can not get the hammer to follow down no matter how hard I let the slide drop.

    What am I missing here? Why do people charge so much for this?
     
  2. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,058
    Location:
    Decatur, AL
    How about because some of us are afraid to do what you did? :)
     
  3. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    LOL!

    Hmmmmm Ok...then you gunsmith guys..... Does this process sound ok?
    what am I missing?
     
  4. Rich in VA

    Rich in VA Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    You don't say what kind of parts you have, but I assume they're not junk.

    I can usually do 3.5# without touching the hammer or sear, just tweaking the sear spring and doing a bit of boosting. This is if the parts aren't junk.

    If you're careful, your process is fine. Don't think that you'll do that every time the first time, and keep some spare change handy to buy some extra sears.........

    How much do you think is fair to charge? I charge $65 labor, plus parts, and I will not work on a stock Para hammer. Some triggers are quick, as was yours, some are not.

    Careful how you drop that slide, that's an easy way to break off the sear nose. Once or twice is fine as a check, but don't make a habit of it.

    Sounds like you did a good job.

    Rich
     
  5. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    Stock parts on a Springfield WW2 milspec. I had a set of new GI parts sear/disconnector/hammer that I just tried the same thing on. They came out good too. I hear you about bad parts.

    For what it is worth 65 dollars is a fair price. Smiths around here charge more and takes weeks/months for a trigger job. Out of survival I needed to learn how to do this myself.
     
  6. SnWnMe

    SnWnMe Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2003
    Messages:
    1,099
    Location:
    Inland Empire
    "1911 Homestyle trigger job"

    Is there any other kind?

    I do the same spring manipulation coupled with a lighter hammerspring as you described. I don't stone my hammer hooks though. I only polish. I also polish the sides of the hammer.

    My record is one sear messed up in 4 1911s worked on. My best is a 3#er on a Series 80. It's held up since 1995.

    Did you also improve the fit of the trigger to remove play? An oversized aftermarket trigger that is fitted nicely will wrap things up nicely for you:)
     
  7. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    4,922
    The price ranges I've seen from competent 'smiths usually run something like this, in rough figures:

    Basic trigger jobs (stock parts): $70-80
    Nice trigger jobs w/ new triggers: $110-130
    Uber trigger jobs (replace ALL trigger components with high end tool steel goodies): $250ish

    Kind of hard to say what is and isn't worth what if you haven't pulled the triggers in question, but in general I'd say the round numbers I listed are what I consider "reasonable."
     
  8. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    Yes I need to order a better trigger. But this is a Mil-spec looking gun.
    Don't want one of those candy assed sissy triggers on this one. I swapped in the wide GI type spur hammer I just did the prep on and it looks cool. Now I just need to find a good looking gi thumb safety and this gun will be how it should have been from the factory.

    I have passed up nice guns with sorry triggers before because I did not want to have to deal with some prima-donna beaaachh of a gunsmith to fix the trigger.

    Now I don't have to anymore! :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2003
  9. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    Sean, I hear ya.

    its not the cash I really mind. Its the wait and the rampant BS. If I could take my gun in and the Smith looks it over. Then tells me to come back later that day and pick it up done, I would have paid 150 dollars for a basic job and been happy.

    They all love to say....you can have fast, cheap, good. Pick any two.

    What you often end up getting is SLOW>>>> EXPENSIVE >>>> and PISS POOR.

    No excuse for it. Don't take in more work than you can do.....on time....
    and correctly. PERIOD
     
  10. stans

    stans Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Messages:
    2,426
    Location:
    central Virginia
    The problem with do-it-yourself trigger jobs is that they are usually done incorrectly. :mad:

    The sear angle gets changed, the hammer hooks get cut too shallow, angle might be changed as well. The sear spring gets a few new bends. Then the kitchen table gunsmith goes to the range with his fresh 3 pound trigger pull, loads a full magazine, racks the slide, maybe the hammer does not follow at this time, but when the trigger is pulled, the 1911 goes full auto (a condition that J.M. Browning did not have in mind for this design) and rounds go down range, up into the air, and the roof over the firing line gets ventilated .:what: This has not happened to me, but I have seen it happen to others.

    My best trigger job also came in around 3.5 pounds, have not had the hammer follow even after a few thousand rounds, some loaded to maximum. The key is, as you did, watch what you are doing and don't change the engagement surface angles.:)
     
  11. Sunray

    Sunray Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2003
    Messages:
    10,498
    Location:
    London, Ont.
    "...cut evenly..." Cut what? There shouldn't be any cutting of the sear. Just polishing. You cut a 1/t turn off the main spring. Polish all mating surfaces and that's it. You can change the springs too.
     
  12. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    please reread the original post. The cutting refered to was the hammer hooks which were WAY to long. Those I cut to .021.

    I did just as you said and just touched the sear with the finest stone I had to polish it.
     
  13. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Mainspring

    T'was saifd:

    "...cut evenly..." Cut what? There shouldn't be any cutting of the sear.

    Unless it's too long...which some can be. The other situation is when the
    holes for the sear pin aren't drilled/reamed dead straight in the frame, which can also happen, and more often than you'd think. (Can I get
    an AMEN from the poor smiths who've tackled a few Auto-Ordnance 1911s
    and had to stome the sear at an angle?)



    You cut a 1/t turn off the main spring.

    Please don't. With mainsprings available in one-pound increments, there's
    no need to screw up the geometry. In days gone by, we put a rod through
    the coil springs and spun'em on a belt sander to reduce the power and retain a full-length spring. No need to do even that little trick these days
    with 1911 mainsprings available in about any load rating that you could ever need. FWIW...I don't go lower than 21 pounds on any mainspring,
    but that's just me. Cutting down on the mainspring load doesn't have
    a lot of bearing on the trigger pull anyway, assuming all else is good.

    Polish all mating surfaces and that's it.

    There are a couple surfaces that are better left alone. The backside of the
    sear primary angle is one...The top of the disconnector is the other.
    Not meanin' to flame...Just tryin' to prevent some forest fires.

    Cheers!
    Tuner
     
  14. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    Public praise of 1911tuner

    I would like to acknowledge 1911tuner for his tireless efforts to share his experience in a manner which encourages rather the embarrasses the beginner.

    If we had more "industry professionals" interested in sharing the secrets and helping others along I think the shooting sports in general would be improved. I also have found the "how to" section over on Pistolsmith.com helpful.

    Look most "gun smithing" is not rocket science. All we need is someone to show us once or twice. Then we go ahead and practice. We will ruin some guns? Not if we are careful and don't get in over our head, but yeah we probably will mess something up once or twice.

    But let me tell you something. A basic trigger job on a 1911 with the pin holes in the right places and trigger parts that are decent, is possible for ANYONE to do. Now does this mean I would try to tackle a 1.5 lb trigger on a game-gun with all kinds of expensive trick parts, that are geared to a very very high end shooter...... HELL NO!

    But guys the days of waiting 5 months to pay a hundred dollars to some "smith" to take the creep out of a Springfield Mil-spec are over for this shooter. What do you do after carrying the gun around for a few years and shooting it a lot? Do you take to the gunsmith to clean it for you? We as a group can and should do better.

    This is just my opinion. But it seems to me that anybody that can not change a tire, fill the gas tank, and wash the windows on a car, has no business driving. They are a danger to others.

    Similarly if you are shooting a gun and don't have a basic understanding of how it works, the ability to strip it all the way down to look it over and ensure it is in proper working order, it makes me wonder just how safe you are to be around?

    Anyway thank you to 1911tuner and the other experienced gunnies that are willing to take the time to show us the things that all gun owners should know. You guys give back a lot to the shooting world, and some of us are even open minded to listen and take advantage of it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2003
  15. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Wow!

    bigjim...You're mighty welcome.

    Yeah, in the beginning, parts will be ruined. That's part of it. Even some experienced pistolsmiths and tinkerers do it from time to time. I do...You will, and as long as we learn from our mistakes AND our successes, it's a positive thing. Anybody who tells you that they've never killed a part is
    blowin' smoke.

    The very best advice that I can give anybody is to first know the basics
    and go slow for the first few times. Patience is the key. Measure twice,
    cut once. Any time a trigger group is modified, even in the slightest way,
    be careful and load a few magazines with two rounds for the test firing.

    Good luck to everybody!

    Tuner
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,908
    Location:
    Arizona
    On “do it yourself†trigger pull jobs.

    When everything works they are fine, but if an inexperienced user makes even a small mistake they can be dangerous.

    The hammer hooks are too deep? It depends. The manual safety has a lug that blocks the sear so that it doesn’t move, in theory safely holding the hammer at full-cock while the pistol is being carried in Condition One (cocked & locked). But in a less then perfect world there may be enough clearance between the lug and sear to allow the sear to move a little bit if the trigger is pulled while the safety is engaged. If so you have to deduct the movement from the hook’s total height. If the hooks have been reduced the trigger-pull job may require a new or modified manual safety to be safe.

    So you reduced the hooks to .021â€. Did you do anything about the half-cock notch (1911 style guns) or half-cock ledge (Series 80 Colt’s)? If not, and you install a trigger with a stop screw, you may risk having the hammer catch or “tick†the half-cock position as it falls causing mechanical damage or misfires.

    Is the sear bearing evenly on both hooks, or just on one side? If only one side is bearing you may have to advance a hook without changing any angles. Do you have the experience and the correct file too do this?

    I could go on, but this should be enough to make my point. A professional pistolsmith’s charges includes both his experience and the tools, jigs & fixtures and gages that can make the difference between a truly safe job and one that might cause serious problems later.

    I know. I have an extensive collection of messed-up sears and hammers, as well as other parts taken out of other peoples’ pistols after they brought me their gun asking for help, because “it didn’t work right.â€

    This is not to say one can’t do they’re own work. Just that too do the job right – really right – you need to know all of the ramifications on what too do and not do, and have the necessary equipment. There is a lot more involved then filing down the hammer hooks, polishing the sear, and changing out or bending some springs.

    But haven't people done exactly that and everything worked fine? Sure, some have. But on the other hand some have ended up with an result that was nothing short of an accident waiting to happen.
     
  17. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Fluff is...

    Wise. The 1911 is a deceptively simple thing, until it comes to tinkering
    with the trigger group. Tread lightly there. FWIW, I don't do match-grade
    triggers, and I get nervous whenever I see hammer hooks shorter than
    .020 inch long. I like .023 on a carry gun, and for the reasons stated.

    Even if the lug on the thumb safety allows zero sear movement, they can
    and do wear with time and use.

    Again...be very careful when messing with the trigger.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  18. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    I am sure oldfluff is correct. His post unfortunately is a perfect example of why I value posts like 1911tuner makes.

    Most posts = You can't, to dangerous for everyone but me and the rest of the 1911 brain trust. Oh you need a mill and electron mass spectrometer to do that!

    1911tuners posts = Wise precautions, sane limits, easy to follow instructions, encouragement, and yes a bit of kindness for us mear mortals.

    Just so knowbody gets the wrong idea, I don't think 1911tuner is God nor am I trying to sleep with him. I just admire his Posts, information, and attitude.

    Now I am going to get my shop manuals out and make sure I understand what old fluff was talking about. Got to find the chapter on the "secret file" old fluff mentioned.
     
  19. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Old Fuff

    I don't know who Old Fuff is, but I have a feeling that his real name would
    be familiar to us. I also think his warnings come from the same place as mine...A junk parts drawer full of sears, hammers and disconnectors and
    many hours spent straightening out trigger jobs that went wrong. If you
    have never had a surprise full-auto experience with a 38-ounce, 45
    caliber pistol, it's hard put it into words, and until you've seen someone
    hurt by the same, it's even harder to understand why some pistolsmiths
    have the hair stand up on the backs of their necks whenever they hear
    of a kitchen table trigger job. Not that it can't be done...It can, if the
    job is done with the right equipment and a good measure of caution and
    patience. It's just that he and I have seen the results of too many that
    are dangerous.

    The one thing to keep in mind is that, even with a perfect trigger job,
    things wear and things change if the pistol is used...and that after a
    few thousand rounds have gone downrange, it's not the same as it
    was when it was fresh. Springs weaken. Engagement surfaces get
    polished and worn. Steel fatigues, and cracks or chips.

    When hammer hooks are cut shorter and the sear angle is altered, the
    buffer that John Browning built into the trigger group that allows for wear
    is much narrower, making periodic examination critical. Maintenance is
    more crucial than with a stock trigger group. Any sudden change in trigger "feel" is a red flag. Fuff is all too aware of this, and I think that he
    is more concerned with our continued health and well-being than anything
    else.

    Be careful!

    Tuner
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2003
  20. romulus

    romulus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    576
    Location:
    on a glacial structure
    I just wanted to polish sear and hammer hooks without altering geometry or dimensions...I thought a white ceramic stone, approriate jigs, etc. would be what I needed. On the stock parts, btw. I thought a ceramic stone would not remove metal but only polish (meaning the amount of metal removed would be infinitesimal...) Would you kindly advise?

    BTW, I don't recall having seen anyone answer Old Fuff as Old Fuff, it seems it's always Old Fluff :p It's Old FUFF!!!
     
  21. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,908
    Location:
    Arizona
    Bigjim:

    There is nothing “secret†about the file I mentioned. The day hasn’t come that I won’t explain in detail the circumstances and facts about any tool or other equipment I mention, and where it (they) can be obtained.

    You will find the file in Brownell’s catalog (www.brownells.com). It is a square file with one or two safe edges. One should never try and adjust or smooth the face of the hammer hooks with a stone because a stone will leave a rounded corner at the bottom of the hooks where the correct file will not. The safe edge prevents the file from making the hooks deeper.

    While you are at it, notice the many other tools, jigs, fixtures and gages that Brownells’ offer, and keep in mind that if you have questions they maintain an excellent technical staff who will provide expertise that’s only a phone call away.

    Tunner is right. Neither of us can supervise nor observe what you or anyone else on this forum does. We can offer advice but have no way of telling if it is understood or used. And yes, I would rather a novice has the work done by a professional rather then hurt themselves or someone else. I am pretty sure that if someone who was close to you (or for that matter, yourself) became sick or was injured you would want them to have the services of a medical doctor rather then someone who practiced medicine without any particular qualifications. I think your guns deserve equal consideration.
     
  22. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Fuff? FUFF???

    Dang...So it is! Can't believe my eyes have mislead me for this long,
    especially seein' as how I really like the guy. :uhoh: :eek:

    My apologies Fuff...Hope ya understand. Well..I've been called Turner,
    so I guess it happens to us all .:rolleyes:

    Ayway, since I'm not a trigger man, I can't really advise you on the stones
    except to say that there are white, brown, and black. White ceramics
    would do for a light clean-up, and progress to black if you want smoother
    surfaces. I get the hooks square, and hit'em with a square file made
    with two protected sides to get both on the sear...then a few light strokes with a white ceramic to clean up any rough edges left by the file, put
    a few drops of oil on the whole shebang, and boost the hammer a few times to settle it all in and go. I like .023-.025 hammer hooks and a
    5-pound break. I can live quite well with 6, as long as it's clean. If I
    bend a sear spring, I bend the left leg TOWARD the sear. I Use 23#
    mainsprings and will tweak the center leg of the sear spring only enough to get the pull to 6 pounds. If it winds up at 5, so much the better.
    Bend that left leg too much, and the sear may not reset to the bottom of the hooks. Bend the center leg, and the disconnector won't reset reliably.
    Hammer falls to half-cock.

    This matter of sub 4-pound triggers is an area that I don't address, and
    until you actually feel an honest-to-God 3.5-pound trigger, you can't
    appreciate how really light it is. A clean 5 or 5.5 pound trigger is marvelous,
    and anything lighter is, IMHO, courting disaster on a carry gun.

    Polishing things other than the sear's primary angle helps a lot. The face of
    the disconnector and trigger stirrup...The sides of the trigger bow...The
    angled side of the disconnector where the sear spring rides...The tops of the sear spring legs at a slight angle... A light escape angle on the sear...All these things add up, and you can get that crisp trigger without taking a chance on having a dangerous trigger.

    Be well, and be careful now...Hear?

    Tuner
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,550
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Tunner?

    LMAO...Okay...I had it comin'. I went back and edited out the "L".
    Fuff it is!

    sal-OOT!:cool:

    Tunner/Turner/Tuner...Take yer pick. I'll answer to any of'em.
     
  24. bigjim

    bigjim Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    793
    Guys I am going to start a new thead with questions these posts are bring to my mind. I am going to post some very close up shots of trigger parts and complete with Arrows and numbers to make it easy to talk about.

    Then we can have a chat about proper procedures and tools. We will make it at the begining that what we are talking about will be a SAFE trigger for carry that will last.

    I am hoping 1911tuner and old fuff will continue to contribute but would welcome any other input from experianced trigger guys. I am going shooting this morning so I will post some later. Does this sound like fun or what?

    I will name the thread the 1911 carry trigger clinic.
     
  25. romulus

    romulus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    576
    Location:
    on a glacial structure
    Will be there, thanks...
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page