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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a good friend and co-worker who was one of the folks who lost their home in the SoCal fires. They woke up at 2:30 am cause they smelled smoke, looked outside and the fire was about to engulf their home, they got out with their dogs and the clothes on their back.
My gun related question is: he had two 1911s and one .44 magnum revolver that went thru the fire, is there a possibility these can be rebuilt? Is there a good way to figure out if the steel is still ok? I realize springs and the barrels would need to replaced at a minimum, but wonder about the "temper" of the slide and frame. Anyone have any experience with this? Or, know who I should contact? I'd like to try and save these guns for him if at all possible.
 

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My guess is there is probably no simple answer. Much would depend on the temperatures they were exposed to.

Even if it was cost effective to refinish the gun and replace springs, grips, sights, etc. and nothing was warped, you would want to reliably estimate the worst case temperature and time exposure then check into the consequences of that with a smith

1) who was knowlegeable about metalurgy -heat-treat and temper issues
2) who could test at least surface hardness -if not more- to get a handle on where the parts are at.
 

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A house fire can reach temps of over 2000 degrees F. at that temp steel will be between light yellow and white hot. Not a good thing. The pistols will need to be inspected by someone who is up on their metalurgy.
Good luck to your friend and all of the others who are dealing with these fires.
 

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Two things could happen - losing the heat treat on the steel, and significant warpage.

They need to be taken down and evaluated part by part. There are simple hardness testers out there that have a very small stylus that won't leave much of a dimple. The trick is that you have to have a fixture to hold the part steady to check hardness.

Soft frame and slide may not be bad - they may just be subject to accelerated wear. But you don't want soft stuff in your ignition system, methinks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies, I'm going to check them out today and see what they look like, will go from there.
 

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If the guns didn't get very hot, they'll be ok. If the house was burnt to the ground, chances are the guns are ruined. If the springs still work and the finish looks the same, the steel is okay. A good indicator is the grips - are they burned off? Maybe the gun got too hot. Just charred or deformed? Probably okay.
 

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It depends. The 44 Magnum can have most every part replaced. The specs will tell on it, chamber forcing cone, barrel dimensions and cylinder dimensions. The frame might be fine and he could replace the cylinder, barrel, springs and all internal action parts. The 1911s are probably going to need all new springs, barrels, action parts such as plunger, safety, springs, hammer, sear, trigger and more. It might be less expensive to simply replace the firearms. I have had a S&W 1902 rebuilt after a fire for strictly sentimental reasons. It was not cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I visited my friend Saturday and checked out the guns too. I think they are a total loss, sadly. The springs are gone in both Colts, they melted away; the Ruger .44 is completely frozen, rusted so badly you can't even see the gap between the cylinder and the frame (rear). One of the Colts must have had an aluminum MSH, as it's gone completely. They might make good bookends or such, but I doubt they are worth trying to make functional. Too bad, they were nice old school pistols, hopefully his insurance will give him some decent repl. value.
His house, like so many others in that area, is indeed, burned down to the foundation.
 
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