1911Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to this BB..and a fairly new student of the 1911. I have a Kimber classic which I've spent much time customising myself. I'm looking to have the front strap done, and I'm not to up on the idea of sending my gun away(to wilson, or kimber etc.) for a month or more. I live in Columbus OH. Any reccomendations? ...I've heard of a local cop, who when off duty, is a terrific custom/pistolsmith; But I'm leary. Who's good? Any hints? Thanks. --HD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
104 Posts
Check out my website project. I just completed the section on front strap checkering. They turned out great too. As a first-timer.....I'm pretty sure you could do it yourself if you want to. Read the new section and look at the pictures......then if you still have any questions drop me an e-mail.
http://www.roderuscustom.tzo.com

Then select:

PROGRESS / SEPTEMBER 30 / DETAILS

over 20 photos to help illustrate. Hope it helps you. Take care.

------------------
I guess if we do that.....maybe we all earn the right to go home......

Please visit my Gunsmithing Web Project.

http://www.roderuscustom.tzo.com
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Ryan..I paid visit to your website, and now you've got me thinking "I can do this!" This was more informative than I could have hoped. For others who read this..go check out his sight..it's an A-Z for do-it-yourself'ers. I'll read up on applying bake-on next. Then I'll decide if I'm up to the task. Thanks again. --HD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
850 Posts
Ryan,,Great Web site.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

Everyone should take a look at this if you are akin to doin'g it yourself.

I think I'm going to try the checkering. I got time. I'm patient....and I am too cheap to pay upwards of $200.00 to have someone else do it.

It use to be $65.00 in 1980.

------------------
ACK

"Make the First Shot Count"!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
104 Posts
You are right TAckerman.....with the current prices it actually is cheaper to do it yourself. Even after you buy the tools you end up saving a few bucks. And don't forget that after the first one, all others are basically free.

If you use the same jig I used it would be VERY difficult to make a mistake. The darn thing is just about idiot proof (which is good for me hahaha). Just be sure to read the tips section at the end of my write-up.....it will save you a lot of grief in the long run.

Thanks for the comments by the way. I really do appreciate the feedback. It helps me to know that other people are enjoying the site.


Take care.

------------------
I guess if we do that.....maybe we all earn the right to go home......

Please visit my Gunsmithing Web Project.

http://www.roderuscustom.tzo.com
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,129 Posts
I have to respectfully disagree.

We have this trick, it is called a checkerd insert. We EDM the frame away, leavind it .040 thick to make it a level clean starting point. Than we lay in a checkerd insert. tig weld it in, silver soilder the bottom together, surface grind the sides and mill in the bottom mag cut out.

We do this on frames that are too thin to checker AND on frames that good people Try to checker. and get crookid, or break through, or double a line, or or or...

We have done around 75 of them, as testimoney that it is not all that easy. Many for Named shops.

Is your web sight a Good thing? Yes. Would I encourage someone to practice on there frame?
No. buy a piece of steel to practice on. when you get the hang of it, go for it. Is it Super secret rocket science stuff? no but it is not easy to lay it out and get it Just Right.

As a thought, for your long lines you start in the middle. it is closer to each side, so less chance of being Off. Try starting in the middle on the cross lines. it is not as far to the top or bottom. Also watch the edge of your file. many do not run paralell to the edge. and some do on one side and not the other. and some differ in pitch slightly from one side to the other.

I think your sight is a good thing. I hope I do not discourage you in any way.
I just don't think it is easy.
geo ><>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
563 Posts
George is right on. The front strap on most new Colts has been ruined at the factory and are too thin to checker. Your Kimber is so hard that Metalsmith quit doing them. I have had a Kimber here for three years that I can't face and have been doing front straps for almost 20 years.I have seen more bad checkering done by so called smiths that it makes me sick. I do a wrap around 30 LPI on the trigger guard that is wonderful but too costly to do for anyone else but me.You really should buy a file, a jig, some bandaids for your fingers, and invent new cuss words like the rest of us had to do.I worked in Aurora,CO in the 80's and my checkering was $150.00 then.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
DS,
Hope you caught my reply on the 'Jarvis' post. By the way, what do you mean by a Kimber being too hard?...I'm assuming that the frame's steel is some pretty hard stuff..? Thanks. --HD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,679 Posts
Speaking of hard front straps, have any of you hand checkered any Para stainless steel front straps? I've done a couple at full coverage, 20 lpi and let me tell you they are some more hard. A gunsmith friend, Rusty Kidd, tipped me off to dipping my file in a glass of water and keeping the front strap wet the whole time. This, of course, was after I was freaking about a checkering job that I had started on a P-10 and wasn't sure I could finish, due to the effort it took to cut with the file. Sure enough, the H2O did the trick and made it a lot easier, letting me finish the job looking as good as it is supposed to.
Of course I tried every other liquid in my shop to find an even better one, but to no avail.

I've checkered a few Kimbers and haven't run into a hard one yet, but I know they're lurking out there.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,594 Posts
I've had more problems checkering stainless Colts that were soft/crumbly/gummy. They were early S80 guns. Newer ones might be better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
563 Posts
The Kimbers, Paras SS Frames are a sure shot way to have to invent new cuss words!Most of our really great smiths like Don, Pistolwrench, Metalsmith take them in stride and are not bothered at all by these things. I did not do stainless steel 1911's Because I believe that they have evil Mojo in them, not because they are hard.SS wears out files like oak wears out wood working tools. One SS front strap=one file @ $ 28.00.I love this metal in revolvers, but not 1911's. The new investment cast stuff can be very hard indeed.Colt frames were a piece of cake compared to the Caspians I used to do.They were hard 15-20 years ago. I have never heard of a Caspian frame cracking.I built a bunch of them and most had full house checkering. I just had a Don Fisher S/A 38 Super here for a sight re-install and the frame is cracked on both sides.Right in front of the slide stop hole. Also, the ejector had never been pinned and was floating around being held on by the slide and nothing else.This 1911 has had a shock buff in it since it was built so there may be a lesson there.Checkering at it's best is a highly skilled endeavor. Go ahead and try it, but be as careful as you can
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I'm gonna let a professional do my Kimber. It'll be good opportunity to have a mag well and some other things done too, before I change the finish. I polished the flats on it the same day I brought it home, and I felt that THAT was a pain, and wished I'd never started on it. Turned out to have been well worth it, but this time it will just be $200 well spent. --HD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
563 Posts
Hound dog. I think you will be happier to have it done by a Pro. Don W can get it done for you and he is one of the best. Tell him I sent you. You are a neat guy!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
925 Posts
Hello everyone, please allow to share a little experience with you on the checkering situation. Although I have ZERO experience in checkering a frame by hand, I have checkered well over a 1000 frames by machine, probably half of which being Colts (without checking the books, a conservative guess).

George makes a good point to practice on a piece of bar stock not a frame, after all it does have a serial # on it and the way thing are going today, you may need a frame some day.

I think one reason people want to practice on a frame is because it has the correct radius already on the front strap. It would be difficult to file the correct radius on a square piece of bar stock.

I think the print calls for a 25/64” radius on the front strap for a standard Colt type frame. Most front straps check @ about a .392 to .395 radius, so if you have a mill and a lathe, turn a piece of cold roll to .790 O.D. and mill flats on the side so the bar is .750 thick, instant blank front strap.

Dave Sample stated above that many recent Colts are too thin to checker. Well, yes and no. I don’t believe I ever sent a Colt back that I couldn’t put 25 or 30 lpi on. Some Colts do give you the illusion of being thin because Colt is funneling the mag-wells now at the factory and cutting into the front strap section giving the whole front strap the appearance of being very thin, when in fact, its just funneled thin for the last .200 of the frame, if you measure deeper inside you’ll find they are just as thick as the older ones.

My post on “Judging Metal Checkering” details how to measure the front strap the entire length accurately without the aid of an expensive instrument. I know the post is long but it should be around the middle somewhere. Link is below.
http://www.1911forum.com/ubb/Forum11/HTML/000009.html

The funneled mag-well still poses a big problem for the checker’er; if you run your cutter or file through the thin funneled area it will cut the butt to a knife-edge, no good.

There are several ways around this; some guys weld the thin area and reshape, some cut the thin area out and silver solder in a piece of bar-stock, some guy just go easy on the file in the thin area and fudge it, either method gets time consuming and costly. I get around it simply by not checkering the frame all the way to the butt, I stop the cutters approximately a ¼” short of running off the frame at the mag-well, leaving a border at the bottom. Without the aid of a milling machine it would be next to impossible to border the mag-well with hand files.

Kimber, Wilson, McCormick, Nowlin, Rock River, Springfield stainless and Caspian are all examples of hardened frames. The hardened steel will wear my cutters 10 to 1 compared to mild steel, so I suspect they will be hard on your elbows and files.

The hardness in some of these frames very depending on which spot you check it and from frame to frame. I checked a Kimber that Rockwelled at a RC-31 in one spot and a RC-41 in another spot. To put a RC-41 into prospective for those not familiar with the hardness scale, a good hard slide will hit a 41, go a few points higher and you’ll need carbide to cut it, most files will just glide over top. Most hardened frames run about RC-28 to 32. The Kimber steel is also a very non-free machining variety , it machines tough and crummy and don’t file any better. When I’m through cutting the horizontal lines on a hardened frame my cutter mandrel is smoking HOT, mild steel will be luke warm. The Kimber stainless does machine pretty nice though, it’s probably a 400 series free machining variety . As to how it files? I don’t know cuz I’m not a filer but it has to be better then their blued steel.

I hope the info help some of you out, Pete Single


------------------
Metal Smith

The only thing I know for sure is what I can measure!
NRA Life Member

[This message has been edited by Metal Smith (edited 10-17-2001).]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
Metalsmith, I have a Colt Defender. I was going to have SA checker it 20-lpi From your response above will that be impossible due to that thin area at the bottom of the front strap?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
925 Posts
Hi EOS1D, I'd really have to check the frame and measure it myself but it is probably funneled thin, 20 lpi may be a little thin for Colt aluminum, I don't know how SA is checkering currently, best check with them first. Pete


------------------
Metal Smith

The only thing I know for sure is what I can measure!
NRA Life Member
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Originally posted by EOS1D:
Metalsmith, I have a Colt Defender. I was going to have SA checker it 20-lpi From your response above will that be impossible due to that thin area at the bottom of the front strap?
I dont know about 20lpi, but Tim Thompson of Wild West Guns in Anchorage just did my Defender 30lpi and it is awesome, Tim does some of the best work I have ever seen.....
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top