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Series 80 Frame Blank Warning

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by 1911Tuner, Oct 30, 2006.

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  1. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    I've had occasion to mention the frame blank spacer used when removing the Colt Series 80 levers...and the flanging that sometimes develops around the holes...and that it can interfere with sear reset.

    Yesterday, I had occasion to see what can happen firsthand on one of mine.
    I recently replaced the spacers in all my beaters, since they'd gotten pretty badly catty-wampussed over time and repeated filing to dress the flanges. The new parts had been in place for about a thousand rounds per pistol, and was only about to the halfway point for a detail-strip/cleaning/dressing.

    I'd fired about 12 or 15 magazines in this particular gun...and when its turn came, I picked it up off the table, slapped a magazine in, and chambered the first round with an overhand slingshot...and the gun fired when it went to battery. Luckily, I'd only loaded one round into the mag because I intended to fire 8 rounds...or I'd probably have had a full-auto event right there.

    The problem was that the flange had kept the sear from resetting correctly, and it barely had the hammer hooks. When the slide went home, it jarred off, and because it didn't reset and catch the half-cock...BANG! Had it gone full-auto, it probably would have moved up and back in an arc and shot my arm off about midway between elbow and wrist, because my arm was still above the slide when it fired.

    Ladies and laddies...If you use one of these blanks to replace the levers in a Series 80 pistol...keep a close eye on it, and dress any flanging around the holes...no matter how small. I'd advise a teardown and inspection at 500 rounds on a new part...and less frequently as the holes wallow out and enlarge...but no more than every thousand rounds. I've been dressing the flanges at my usual 2,000-round detail strip and cleaning...but you can bet that I won't let it go that long again.

    The spacers were never intended to permanently replace the levers in the Colts. They're too soft and too easily deformed. They were originally designed for triggersmiths who wanted to save time when working on Series 80 equipped pistols.
     
  2. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Wow an ND. Hope you are OK, well except for your laundry, of course. ;)

    I always wondered the intelligence of replacing those lil levers in the Series 80. I could never tell the difference between the trigger of mine and the older non firing pin safety models but some would swear the little levers screwed up the trigger pull something awful. :what:

    Now we have some data that confirms my suspicions about the smarts of those guys and gals who know more than Colt. :cool:
     
  3. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    AD/ND

    Yep, BigG...An unexpected bang. Although I'm adamant about keepin' the muzzle downrange even when I shoot alone...this one unnerved me a little, since I had my arm across the top of the slide. If the magazine had been full, I'd be willin' to bet that it would have fired at least 2 rounds. The possibility of the gun crossin' by arm was definitely there. It'll serve to remind me to
    hang on tight whenever I drop the slide, and to expect the unexpected.

    I'll start tearin' the altered Series 80 Colts down for inspection more often, for sure...and if it happens again, I'll just use the original parts with the arms lopped off the plunger levers.
     
  4. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Member

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    Thanks Tuner. I've gone through two sets of levers...neither set allowed for reliable ignition. There was still the occasional slight indentation on the primer. Not enough to ignite the primer, just a small impact mark. Thats when I installed the Series 70 stuff and put the Series 80 levers in a baggie.

    Guess I've got to do some more work on the OMFH.

    Thanks again,

    salty.
     
  5. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    OMFH

    Salty...The problem is late release timing of the plunger. Colt may or may not send a #2 plunger lever, but you can call Cindy and ask. Alternate method is to heat and bend the OEM lever arm for a little more lift.

    If she will send you the #2 lever, go ahead and have her send #3, too.
     
  6. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    Cylinder and Slide has a "higher lift" lever for the series 80....just a FYI.
     
  7. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Member

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    Got it. Call Cindy, ask for #'s 2 and 3, & say three 'hail Marys'. I guess I'll ask her to send the cup and spring also. Maybe she'll accept plastic $ for the parts.

    I guess I shoulda mentioned it in previous post, but an OEM Series 70 hammer was installed as the levers, cup, and spring went into the baggie. Does that make a difference?

    Thanks Tuner,

    salty.
     
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    re:

    Saltydog wondered:

    >I guess I shoulda mentioned it in previous post, but an OEM Series 70 hammer was installed as the levers, cup, and spring went into the baggie. Does that make a difference?<
    *************

    Nope. Not a bit.
     
  9. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Member

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    Ohhh Happy Day, I get to play with the Officers Model again.

    salty.
     
  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I thought of doing that if I ever got a series 80 pistol, but so far that hasn't happened.

    Now you've given me another reason to make sure that doesn't happen. ;)
     
  11. XavierBreath

    XavierBreath Member

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    Glad to hear you are OK Tuner!

    I've often wondered why people don't do this if they detest the Series 80 stuff so much. I suppose it is so you can later reverse it all if you sell.

    I note that Brownells bills the part as a replacement for the levers, not a a gunsmithing type thing.
     
  12. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    re:

    Quote:

    >I note that Brownells bills the part as a replacement for the levers, not as a gunsmithing type thing.<
    *******************

    Yep. Brownells only lists lever #1. For the other ones, you have to go to Colt...and they may want you to send in the gun for fitting and timing.

    Fuff said:

    >I thought of doing that if I ever got a series 80 pistol, but so far that hasn't happened. Now you've given me another reason to make sure that doesn't happen.<
    *********

    Make sure that what doesn't happen...Use a frame blank or score a Series 80 Colt?:D

    None of my Series 80 pistols are carry guns. All range beaters. I reserve the
    pre-80s for carry...including a rebuilt '43 USGI Colt that's been languishin' in the safe a bit too long. Time to call it back up, methinks...:cool:
     
  13. olyeller

    olyeller Member

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    thanks for the heads up, 1911tuner; I have one of these in my para limited gun.
     
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Both... :neener:

    In the unlikely event that I find myself needing another 1911 platform gun it is far more likely to be homebuilt on an aftermarket frame then a new or used Series 80.

    On the other hand if someone offered me one at a ridiculously low figure... :evil:
     
  15. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    The Fabulous 80s

    Aw, Fuff. The Series 80 Colts are pretty good pistols, if ya discount the minimal number that have timing issues with the firing pin release...which is pretty easy to correct. (Mine have taken a lickin' and still tickin'.) Out of 6 total that I own, there's only been one that gave me a problem...and it's now a blank-equipped beater. The others functioned perfectly. Not sayin' that I completely trusted'em enough to carry'em, though. Unwritten rule states: "The more gadgets it's got, the more Murphy it gets."

    Not sayin' that because I didn't have a problem with five examples...nobody else will or that because I had a problem with one that everybody will...Just my own experience. And...Not all the guns that have the spacers will repeat what all of mine did...just a potential problem that bears watchin'.
     
  16. XavierBreath

    XavierBreath Member

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    I haven't had a problem with any of my Series 80 guns. In fact, about a year ago, Tuner was nice enough to sent me the Colt Series 80 levers to put back in a pistol that had the spacer plate! Call me nuts. :scrutiny:

    I never understood why fellows would order that spacer when a couple of appropriately sized washers would do the same thing. Anybody see any reason why a coupla stainless steel washers would not work?
     
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Sure........ :scrutiny:

    But as you say it's one more gadget to go wrong. :uhoh:

    The lack of such stuff was part of the reason the pure-Browning guns were so reliable and trouble free. Then came the lawyers... :cuss:

    Now other folks are in a different boat, but if I HAVE to have another .45 all I really need too do is find a frame, and it isn't likey to be one from a series 80 Colt...

    But who knows...? :evil:
     
  18. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I don't know that you'll be able to find any washers that are thick enough, and fit within the area between the hole spacing.

    And besides, I have enough trouble getting the :cuss: levers back in place, let alone some :cuss: :cuss: :cuss: washers. :D
     
  19. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Not to worry, Ol' Fuff...I use the Series 80s to beat on so I can save my pre-lawyered pistols for more serious duties.

    And...yes. I tried the washer route, and they're a bit more tedious to install than the levers.

    Tunerfish's helpful hint of the day:

    An AR-15/M-16 firing pin, ground flat on the end makes a dandy slave pin for the trigger bar lever. :cool:
     
  20. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Fuff - I dearly respect you but you are really starting to sound senile. I hope I am wrong. :eek:

    They all break. I've had any Colt GM, GC, Commander, or Government contractor built pistol and nothing but in the 1911 type. None of them is perfeck. Honest Fuff, and I tout them just as much as you do. But I don't act like I believe it 100%. If it's man-made, it can and will fail. The Series 80 is a big step above the original Series 70 in fit, finish, and overall quality, and you of all people should know it and be willing to say it. :confused:
     
  21. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    70/80

    BigG wrote:

    >The Series 80 is a big step above the original Series 70 in fit, finish, and overall quality, and you of all people should know it and be willing to say it.<
    ***********

    Now, if you're speakin' of the dark days of the Colt Series 70 pistols...I'll hafta agree. If you mean the commercial pistols produced from about 1924 until 1967 or '68...you just ain't seen a really nice example yet. The mid-30s, especially...and from the end of WW2 until around 1960 or so were some truly good Colts.
     
  22. BigG

    BigG Member

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    No, Tuner, I did not mean the old fashioned commercial Colt (pre Series 70) when I said original Series 70. I meant the guns with the billboard markings and spring bushing. The guys who call them the pinnacle of Colt quality obviously don't know much. I've heard them say that, too, when they disparage a Series 80.

    I haven't checked out the re-release Series 70 (recent production) but I assume they are better quality, like the Series 80, also.
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    70/80

    BigG wrote:

    >I did not mean the old fashioned commercial Colt (pre Series 70<
    ***********

    Whew! I thought you'd taken leave of your noodle there, G....:D
     
  24. FourTeeFive

    FourTeeFive Member

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    I seem to remember a LEO death in Washington state back in the early 80's due to this. Guy was sitting on the locker room bench getting ready for duty, racked back his .45 slide to chamber a cartridge, released the slide and it went full auto. He had a light grip on it and the gun snapped up and a round went into his head.

    Ever since hearing that I've had a firm grip on the gun when releasing the slide.
     
  25. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Senile?? Of course I'm going senile... :what: Why shouldn't I...? :D

    Now lets look at the full quote...

    Now... I didn't say that a pre-80 series Colt pistol couldn't fail. What I said was, that the addition of the firing pin block added an additional feature that could fail, sometimes did, and in my opinion wasn't necessary. If we exclude the short-lived Swartz firing pin block that Colt offered in their commercial pistol during the late 1930's and 40-41 you can't name any 1911 pattern pistol made between 1911 and 1980 that did fail becuae of a firing pin block problem. Incidentally both the U.S. Army and Brazil refused to accept the Swartz lock, leaving Colt to produce two different frame/slide sets. One style for Uncle Sam and Brazil, and a second one for their own commercial pistols.

    For workmanship, fit and polish, the Colt's made during the 1930's put the ones made after the war to shame, and if you want to see the high point of regular Government Model production look at an original National Match .45 or Super .38 - neither of which have been equalled when it comes to wormanship, fit and polish... :cuss:

    Before the War Colt used "selective fitting" to match frames and slides, and these matched frames and slides were at some point polished together as a unit. After the War this went out the window along with wide-spur hammers as the cost of labor increased.

    No, they don't make them like the used to... :banghead:

    They can't afford to... :uhoh:
     
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