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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This thread is dedicated to all the neophyte, would be, gunsmiths that frequent this excellent site such as myself.

I have discovered that 1911's have a series of "gotchas" where, if you don't know ahead of time, you can actually physically hurt yourself and do damage to your surrounding.

My last adventure was installing a Cylinder & Slide Super Match trigger kit in my Kimber Series 1. The kit included a new mainspring. I quickly realized that the Kimber mainspring housing is plastic and Dr Bob was kind enough to provide a metal one which came yesterday.

Eager to trade housings and springs I sprung into action minus the correct tools and fully knowing there was a 23# spring in there.

I depressed the plunger, pulled out the little pin that holds everything together and bang, parts were flying everywhere. I really expected to see the old spring sticking out of my computer monitor since it was pointed in that direction.

I was lucky. I found the two parts that fit in the end of the spring and had the new spring handy so everything went back together nicely. The old spring is still MIA but at least it didn't hit the monitor.

Tell me I'm not the only one who has made a stupid mistake such as this one and please share any other misadventures you might have had. I hope my tale prevents someone from recklessly pulling things apart without any sort of planning.

Cheers,

Jerry
 

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Nope you're not.

I took my Dan Wesson apart to clean the shipping oil off the slide and put fresh oil on and didn't realize that there was a tube that went over the end of the recoil spring until I went to put it back together. It had apparently shot off across the room through a doorway and landed in the bedroom on the bed.

I had to follow what I believed to be the trajectory path to actually find the missing part. [took 45minutes].
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It's sort of the older kids version of running with scissors.
 

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I was once trying to replace the mainspring on a Ruger Mk I pistol. The mainspring goes in first, then a ball bearing, then a lever goes on top of that and it's all held in place by a pin. I had it in my vice and was trying to hold everything in place while I inserted the pin when... PING! It slipped out and shot the spring and ball bearing dead-center into my glasses, leaving a big gouge in front of my eye.

I'm a believer in wearing safety glasses!
 

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Not just for 1911s, but it's usually a good idea to make sure it's UNloaded.

About 40 years ago I learned this lesson while wiping down a pellet rifle. Wiping the front sight when somehow it discharged pellet passing between fingers, small nick in one, and striking my lamp!

Thought I was going to die... from my father not the pellet!

Will never make that mistake again!
 

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I've launched the recoil spring plug more times than I can count on my hands and feet. My ceiling looks like a far away galaxy with all the crescent shaped moon marks on there.

What's worse, is shooting a recoil spring plug downrange at the range. At an INDOOR range. Gah! :bawling:
 

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Couple little tricks I've come to use -

I like to use, as a padded mat on the bench/table, one of those magnetic temporary signs that you see stuck onto the door of a work vehicle. Flip it over, so the black magnet side is facing up, and you have a magnetic mat that keeps pins and other parts from rolling off the table.

When doing an operation wherein a spring or spring-loaded part is likely to go flying, I like to perform the operation, where possible, with everything, including my hands and tools, inside of a large freezer bag. That way, if you slip, and parts fly, they just hit the inside of the freezer bag, and, if they manage to somehow fall out of the freezer bag, they just fall out onto the magnetic mat.
 

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Not a 1911, but the first pistol I ever bought or disassembled was a Ruger 9mm P95, which has a captured recoil spring assembly. I loved shooting that pistol so much that my next purchase was a Ruger P97, which I believed to be the .45 ACP version of that pistol, and largely is, with the exception of the recoil spring assembly, which uses an uncaptured recoil spring assembly.

The first time I took it apart, I lost control of the recoil spring assembly as I was removing it from the gun and ZIP! a silvery object, which was the entire guide rod, shot past the side of my head at high speed. Had it hit my eye...

The dangerous parts of a 1911:

1. the recoil spring plug

2. the mainspring

3. the firing pin and spring

4. the magazine spring and follower on old-style magazines
 

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As the saying goes, there are two types of people, ones who have let the spring fly and the ones that haven't done it yet.

What almost turned into a fatal accident was when my wife was away and I decided to use the kitchen table as my bench. I think it was on a Beretta, the spring flew and just touched one of the cloth curtains and deposited an infinitestimal amount of oil on it. I think that one would need a microscope to see it. The first thing that she noticed was the curtain.

Remember, always wear safety glasses.
 

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As the saying goes, there are two types of people, ones who have let the spring fly and the ones that haven't done it yet.

What almost turned into a fatal accident was when my wife was away and I decided to use the kitchen table as my bench. I think it was on a Beretta, the spring flew and just touched one of the cloth curtains and deposited an infinitestimal amount of oil on it. I think that one would need a microscope to see it. The first thing that she noticed was the curtain.

Remember, always wear safety glasses.
Yep - true. I well remember after enlisting in the Army in 1943, one of the most dangerous exercises in basic was the day we were "trained" to field strip our 1911 pistols. Safe places were relative as 99% of the guys lost their plugs and turned them into unguided missiles immediately.

I guess the upside - if any - was it taught us all to have "eyes in the back of our heads" and always be alert to our surroundings.

:)
 

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The little pivot pin ball detent on AR's...had fun with those for awhile:biglaugh:
 

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I've sent a firing pin sailing across the room once. Forget how many recoil spring plugs I've launched :biglaugh:
 

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Yep - true. I well remember after enlisting in the Army in 1943, one of the most dangerous exercises in basic was the day we were "trained" to field strip our 1911 pistols. Safe places were relative as 99% of the guys lost their plugs and turned them into unguided missiles immediately.


:)
Same thing with me but in the USMC in 1970. Saw more incoming that day than in the rest of my service. :biglaugh:
 

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I was lucky. I found the two parts that fit in the end of the spring and had the new spring handy so everything went back together nicely.
Yeah, just went through that, found the upper end spring plug near the cat food dish, covered with cat hair. I was down on my hands and knees with a flashlight practicing breathing control to hold back my panic while looking for it.


I was once trying to replace the mainspring on a Ruger Mk I pistol.
One of the most difficult assemblies I've ever done!
 

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I personally really like the non-captive, disappearing springs in a Ruger DA revolver's trigger group! The noise the little buggers make zinging out is kind of like, "see-yaa-byyyeee!"
 

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Between looking for stuff I've let get away from me and my wife's crosstitch needles I've more than justified the cost for a good magnet on a stick. I keep a magnetic business card upside down on my cleaning bench for the little stuff, too. Have you ever tried to find that teeny tiny spring in the firing pin block on a Series 80 Colt in the carpet? Magnet on a stick to the rescue!!!!
 

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I forgot to mention that, while it doesn't inflict physical pain, it can add hours to your day - depending on which room you're in - if you don't watch it closely when removing the thumb safety, the plunger spring can "disappear" and can cost hours finding it - or replacing it with another -

DAMHIK

:)
 

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I love it when you launch a spring and then tear the shop apart trying to find it with no success and finally just order a new one and then find the original in the back of a toolbox drawer under a box of small parts. Dave, I still remember the first time I played with the famous MK II mainspring housing ball.:eek:
 

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One of the worst injuries I ever saw in the shop was when the other guy was doing a special blending job on a mainspring housing and frame.

He removed the housing to check something and accidental ran his hand across the frame.
The edges were razor sharp and cut him to the bone.
Required a screaming fast trip to the hospital and many stitches.
He also once bumped his hand on a 1911 rear sight dovetail getting a good gash.

The same thing can happen with some older model guns like the infamous Winchester 1973. The lower edges of the frame are like two razor blades once the trigger group is removed.

As a Master watchmaker as well as gunsmith I know ALL about looking for tiny parts that snap out of the tweezers or spring away.
One of my best was a tiny and irreplaceable part for an antique high grade pocket watch.
Snapped out of the tweezers and I spent several hours trolling for it on the floor.
Finally found it..... stuck to the BACK of my neck tie.

Another favorite was doing a 100% disassembly on a Kahr Arms and having the front extractor plunger snapping away.
I HEARD it hit a nearby book case, so I spent an hour unloading the 6 foot tall by 8 foot long case looking for it.
Found it laying on the work bench behind the frame.
Shoppers heard all new words.
 
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