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Any special difficulties with making these 1911 modifications?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Z-Michigan, Mar 23, 2011.

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  1. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    I have a Springfield Armory "GI" model 1911, the base-base model. I would like to make the changes outlined below, and want advice on any special pitfalls.

    Before I get "just buy X" replies, let me note that I own a couple of "X" which come from the factory with many of these features. I want to learn how to do the work below, in addition to getting the end result. I know it would be faster and possibly cheaper to just buy a higher end model that already has these. That's not my sole goal.

    Second, I should note that I've previously fitted and installed a replacement thumb safety, so I'm not a complete stranger to working on a 1911. But I'm not an expert either.

    OK, here's what I want to do:

    -Replace stock backstrap with a flat one and standard spring arrangement. From what I've read this should be easy. I think I did all the same steps when fitting the thumb safety on another 1911.

    -Replace stock trigger with an extended type trigger. I understand this might require some fitting of the new trigger within the frame.

    -Replace stock hammer, sear and disconnector with new parts. My main reason is to get rid of the long spur on the hammer that gives me occasional hammer bite. I wouldn't mind if improved trigger pull comes with it, but that's not my priority. Since the parts are relatively cheap, I figured replacing all three would make sense if I'm replacing one. The all-Brazilian GI model seems to have fairly rough/crude lockwork.

    -Replace thumb safety - I've done this before so I know I can do it.

    -Grips. Ditto.

    -I'm debating beveling the magwell for easier mag insertion. This would mean cutting through the parkerizing and then painting it when done. Not sure about this.

    I would greatly appreciate comments from people knowledgeable about these items - are there hidden difficulties, or is this all straightforward if I read up and take my time? Please, only comment if you actually work on 1911s (I don't care whether pro or amateur).

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. gunplumber

    gunplumber Member

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    Wilson Combat has a book and vid you can purchase to learn just about everything you want to do to a 1911. I watched a friend of mine do his pistol (with just a tad bit of help from me to hurry it along) and was quite impressed. Just a thought......
     
  3. Petros

    Petros Member

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    I highly reccomend the .45 book by Jerry Khunhausen.(spell?) It is straight up to follow and makes sense. The cost of the book is only one screwed up part. Ask me how I know? I ended up machining my own hammer and sear fixtures to keep them all straight. You will want some stones to do some of the light work such as polishing deburring ect. Good stones are pricey ,but I have taken the stones from an old Lansky sharpening kit and made good use of them. When you get your trigger close to fitting the slot if not already undersized, you will want to mark the top and bottom to see what still binds for the best fit and keeping it square. If you don't have any dykem metal layout fluid a sharpie works ok. Be aware a sharpie will bind parts if applied between tight pieces. That's just a tidbit of my experiences. I'm sure everybody has thier own way to skin a cat. Petros
     
  4. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    Appreciate the comments so far, would also appreciate a straight-up "no, nothing unusually difficult in that group of tasks" if accurate.

    Petros - I wasn't planning to do any stoning of the hammer/sear interface. Do I need to for just a simple installation?

    I understand that some filing/sanding/stoning of the trigger may be needed to fit it into the track.
     
  5. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    It is called a mainspring housing. Usually very easy.


    The new trigger WILL require fitting in the frame unless you want it to rattle around.

    Cheap parts will likely require fitting, and if cheap enough may not work correctly in your gun (tolerance stack issues).
    Pre-fitted parts are likely to work better, but may still require some final fitting for your frame tolerances.


    Just 2 screws per panel.
    It can get a little harder if you need to change out the grip screw bushings.


    Buy volume 1 of Kuhnhausen
     
  6. Petros

    Petros Member

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    Hard to tell untill you put it all together and see what you got. The few guns I did worked fine, just were not as smooth or crisp as I wanted untill I smoothed them out.
     
  7. gunplumber

    gunplumber Member

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    Fitting the trig should be proceeded with file work to the inside of the trig ways to smoothe and remove burrs. The top and bottom of the trig will/should have to be filed as they will come oversize (on a custom). The mag well is simple; remove the insides and install in the new unit. The hammer,sear, and disconnector should drop in.

    "Hard to do" is a relative term; what is hard for me may not be for you. None of this work is what I call hard to do; the hard part is knowing what it takes to do it properly.
     
  8. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    Thanks, that's what I was looking for. I do expect some fitting and some learning, I'm just trying to make sure none of these tasks are in the "time consuming for experts and nearly impossible for anyone else" category.

    Trying to keep these mods on a budget, does anyone have any comments on the hammer/sear/disconnectors from S&W and the Wilson "factory plus" line? There also some Ed Brown products in about the same price range, and I'm using an Ed Brown safety (I've used that brand before). Not expecting the same result as a $2000+ gunsmith gun, just asking for warnings if any of those brands/lines are total junk.
     
  9. robmkivseries70

    robmkivseries70 Member

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    Wear your eye protection when working with springs, especially the main spring. The hammer, trigger, sear fitting would be beyond me; though, I have a friend that does them.
    Best,
    Rob
     
  10. ralfus

    ralfus Member

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    When you switch to a round/oval style hammer you will most likely need to change the grip safety. One original style like you probably have is not clearanced for a commander style hammer.

    Have a vise available for the mainspring housing. Clamp it in the vise rightside up to free both hands to have one compress the mainspring while the other hand taps out the retaining pin.
     
  11. mrbro

    mrbro Member

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    When swapping the hammer make sure you get the right one. The original and series 70 type has a hook at the half cock position that the series 80 does not have. With a series 80 in an older design the hammer can slip at the half cock point. This could be devastating if the hammer follows the slide down on a round in the chamber.
     
  12. hey_poolboy

    hey_poolboy Member

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    Ditto on the Kuhnhausen book. It's a great help.

    Harrison makes a great trigger too. I just stuck one in my GI a while back. It just took a little fitting and it feels great.
     
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