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Problem with mainspring housing on RIA 1911A1

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by jnmullin, Apr 11, 2004.

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  1. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    I am having a bit of a problem with my new to me Rock Island 1911A1. When I shoot it, the pin that goes throught the bottom of the mainspring housing starts working itself loose and then the grip safety makes a "popping" noise when it is pressed and when it is released. The pin has worked out enough after 15-20 rounds for the noise to start happening, but doesn't seem to work any further out, even after about 100 rounds.

    When I look through the hole on the right hand side of the frame, the pin in the mainspring housing is not exactly aligned with the hole in the frame and I can see a very small portion of the MS housing. Also, when the pin is tapped in so that it is on the hole on the right side of the frame, the MS housing looks to be misaligned. Looking at the pistol from the rear, it appears that the MS housing is slightly canted to the right.

    Is there anything I can do about this, or do I just need to replace the mainspring housing? I hope that I have explained the symptoms well enough.

    Thanks,
    John
     
  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    MSH Woes

    Howdy John,


    From the way it sounds, either the holes in the frame aren't drilled straight...or the hole in the mainspring housing is. Hard to say without
    seeing it. If it's the housing, swapping it out for another one is an easy
    fix. If it's the frame, things get a little involved.

    Also a slight chance that the hole for the mainspring, plunger and cap
    aren't straight...which could cause the pin to walk out also.

    Try removing the housing. Take the gust out of it and push the pin through. You may be able to see if the pin is straight by eyeballing it.
    If it looks okay, try to find a drill rod or other suitable length of round stock to use in the frame to check for a misalignment there.

    I'm gonna say that it's PROBABLY the housing.

    Luck!
    Tuner
     
  3. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    Tuner,

    Thanks for the information. I have ordered a new MS housing, so when it comes in, I will try my hand at stripping the gun down far enough to replace it.

    Thanks again,
    John
     
  4. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Mainspring Housing Swap

    Hey John,

    The simplest way is to use a large rubber band or tie-wrap to depress the grip safety when you remove the housing. That way, the sear spring won't pop out of place and require removing the thumb and grip safety to fix it.
    The only thing to watch for is to make sure the hammre strut goes back
    into the middle of the mainspring cap.

    Your housing will come without internals. If you need instruction on tearing
    it down, let us know.

    Check your PM inbox, if ya haven't already.

    Tuner
     
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Does the mainspring housing pin have a groove around it in the middle? And when you look in the hole in the MSH itself, can you see the end of the MSH pin retainer? If both are not there, the pin will not stay in.

    The MSH pin retainer is on the bottom end of the mainspring (hammer spring). It is pointed and extends partway into the hole. Its point fits into the groove and keeps the MSH pin in place so it takes some force to drive it in or out.

    Incredibly, some of the current mainspring housings are made without the retainer and without the hole drilled through into the pin hole; the pins are smooth. Saves a bit of time and money, and who cares if the gun disassembles itself while shooting?

    Jim
     
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Groovy?

    Good point, Jim. I've never seen a mainspring housing pin without a groove, but I have seen the housing pin and hammer pin in the wrong holes...in a new gun, so I wouldn't be surprised at anything.

    Also forgot to mention the possibility of a broken pin. Been a while since I've seen one do that.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  7. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    I assume I can take the pin out and look at it without having to do anything else. The gun is actually used, so I too would not be surprised at anything either. The pin had a concave and convex end, for what it is worth. It looks to me like the housing itself is actually slightly crooked in the frame. It appears that the housing is slanted slightly to the right, but maybe I am wrong.

    Thanks for the help, and I will probably be asking for more help when the housing comes in and I begin taking things apart.

    Thanks again,
    John
     
  8. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    When I got home last night, I knocked the pin out of the housing and frame. It did have a groove in the middle, and I could see something in the hole that I assume was the retainer.

    Is it too much to hope for that I can replace the housing without removing the hammer and safety? I doubt that I can, but I just want to make sure.

    Thanks,
    John
     
  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    re:

    Howdy John,

    I did a cut and paste on an earlier reply. The retainer that you was in the hole was the mainspring plunger.

    ____________________

    The simplest way is to use a large rubber band or tie-wrap to depress the grip safety when you remove the housing. That way, the sear spring won't pop out of place and require removing the thumb and grip safety to fix it.
    The only thing to watch for is to make sure the hammer strut goes back
    into the middle of the mainspring cap.

    Your housing will come without internals. If you need instruction on tearing
    it down, let us know.
    ____________________

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Whoops!

    Just went back and re-read your last post...

    If you removed the housing without capturing the grip safety, the sear
    spring probably popped out of position. You don't have to remove the
    hammer, but you will have to remove the grip and thumb safeties to
    get it back in place. The hammer is a no-sweat removal anyway...
    One pin holds it in.

    Put the hammer at full cock and push on the right side of the thumb safety
    crosspin while you slowly move the safety to the ON position. It should
    come out at about the halfway point. Watch the plunger. If the spring doesn't have a kink in it, it'll fly out and hide from ya.

    The grip safety will come off when the thumb safety is out.

    Lay the sear spring into the frame with the tab on the bottom in the slot.
    Make sure that the left leg is on top of the sear leg and the middle leg isn't
    under the bottom of the disconnect.

    Slip the mainspring housing part-way in until it puts pressure on the sear spring. Slide it up a little further and get the hammer strut in the little cup in the mainspring cap... If you slide it all the way up, you won't be able to
    get the grip safety in place. It has to be just a little below flush with the bottom of the grip frame.

    Put the grip safety in, and be careful to see that the strut is in the slot. It
    can get pinched on the sides if you're not carful, and the housing won't slip into place. Depress the grip safety, push the housing into place, knock the pin in, and you're done.

    Replace the thumb safety. Cock the hammer, and push in and up while
    holding the plunger in. If the hammer won't cock, the left leg of the sear
    spring is under the sear. Start over.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  11. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    I actually managed to get the pin out and look in the hole in the housing without removing the housing from the frame. It surprised me, but miracles never cease. It went back together easily and still functions correctly.

    So, it sounds like I can hold down the grip safety somehow and remove the housing without have to take anything else apart. Is this correct or am I misunderstanding you? I hate to ask so many questions, but this is my first 1911 and I am far better at taking things apart than at putting them back together.

    Thanks,
    John
     
  12. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Housing Out

    jnmullin asked:

    So, it sounds like I can hold down the grip safety somehow and remove the housing without have to take anything else apart.

    Correct. As long as the grip safety is depressed, the housing can be
    removed and replaced easily and quickly. Just be sure the hammer strut is
    in the right place when you put the housing back in...and the hammer is down.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  13. Jeff Timm

    Jeff Timm Member

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    A small suggestion from an ancient armorer. Elmer Weems as I recall, post maintenance small arms at Ft. Hood, TX back in the 1970s.

    The mainspring retaining pin is a one way pin that holds down the plunger in the MS housing so you can disassemble the weapon.

    To remove the MS assembly, put a drift pin (a flat pointed untapered punch, or appropriate rod stock) in a vise so it lies horizontal to the ground.

    GENTLY, press the MS Plunger against this pin, holding the MS housing so that the retaining pin is HORIZONAL. This keeps the spring tension OFF the pin making it easy to remove. Don't drop it on the floor, it is grey, tiny and will disappear instantly (a magnet may be useful). Then carefully release the spring tension to avoid tiny vital parts departing for paradise, or other unrecoverable places.

    Real M1911 jocks keep a piece of rod in a hole in the side of their work benches, saves having to clamp down the vise every time you do a .45.

    They also have two pieces of colored tape, a patriotic red and blue looks better than white on a workbench, coming off the backstop of the work surface. They place the recoil spring up against the backstop and make sure the spring length is between the minimum and maximum allowable lengths. See your M1911 maintenance manual for the dimensions.

    Geoff
    Who has been around, being born in the first half of the last century. :cool:
     
  14. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    After checking with a tight fitting drill bit - the closest thing I had to drill rod - the old MS housing is drilled crooked by about .015.

    The new MS housing is a les Baer Custom that I ordered from Brownell's. I got the guts transfered over to it no problem, but it fits VERY tightly in the frame. I can press it in about 3/4 of the way by hand, but it won't go the rest of the way. It is blued, so I can see wear on the bluing where I have slid it in and out. How is the best way to go about fitting this thing to the frame?

    Thanks,
    John
     
  15. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Tight Baer

    Howdy John,

    You can use a smooth mill file to remove material from the housing or
    fashion a sanding block from a scrap of about any square metal stock.
    Plate glass will work, too.

    Use 360 or 400-grit wet or dry paper to take a little material off starting
    with the area of finish removal. Trial and error. Take a little off both sides,
    check, repeat until it slips in smoothly. Use light strokes. It will cut faster
    than you think it will.

    If possible, it's better to pull the housing against the file or sanding block. If you use a file, it will only cut one way, so don't use a back-and-forth motion. Cut, stop, lift the part straight up, reposition the part, and repeat.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  16. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    Location:
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    Last night. I finally got the new MS housing to fit. It involved a lot of quality time with a file, but the new housing's holes line up nicely with the ones in the frame. The true test will be to see what happens when I shoot it some. Hopefully, that will be tonight.

    I guess my nest project will be to lighten the trigger a little bit. Time to start using the search function some more.

    Thanks for all your help,
    John
     
  17. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    MSH Success

    Ah! Ya got lucky. The original MSH was the screwy part instead of the frame. Always good when somethin' like that goes right. It could have gone the other way...Ask me how I know.:rolleyes: :banghead:

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  18. jnmullin

    jnmullin Member

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    It sounds like you know about that from experience. I know what you mean. I work on computers for a living, and very little is ever easy. This job wasn't hard at all, just time consuming.

    [rant on]
    I called Armscor/RIA this afternoon to tell them about it. Even though I bought the pistol used, they were willing to replace the part under the limited lifetime warranty. The only catch was that they had to do the work; they said that if I did any work to it, I voided the warranty. I specifically asked if swapping out mainspring housings was considered "gunsmithing" and they said that it was and that it too would void my warranty. I guess the new rosewood grips and new recoil spring constituted "gunsmithing" too. Oh well, I don't guess I needed a warranty that much anyway.
    [/rant]

    Thanks for your help Tuner.
    John
     
  19. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Void Warranty

    Howdy again John,

    When the service rep hug up the phone, he probably high-fived the
    guy monitoring the call. They now have grounds to hand your pistol back to you no matter what breaks or turns goofy on it. What a travesty.
    Colt will honor their warranty as long as the area being repaired isn't connected to what you repaired previously. For instance...If your
    barrel bushing breaks, it wouldn't have anything to do with replacing
    the grip safety or the extractor. Bang! New bushing, shipped UPS,
    and no questions asked.

    Well...as they say. "There ain't no reason for it. It's just policy."

    Not to worry, though. The thing ain't exactly a Swiss watch, ya know...:cool: Anything else goes wrong, ya got a giood bunch
    of folks on THR who'll help out again.

    Luck to ya, neighbor!

    Tuner
     
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