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More importantly, how can it be avoided. I've heard many theories and hearsay about how all frames will one day crack no matter what, but one gunsmith I know has said he has never seen one. What's the true story?

Thanks

Erich
 

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It can be avoided by not firing the pistol


Actually, I have only seen one cracked frame and have only HEARD about one other. The cracks originated from the slide stop hole of the frame and travelled up towards the slide. I believe this is where most cracks occur. I don't believe it is a common problem, as long as you maintain the gun, and you aren't shooting +P+ loads all day.
 

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Though I lack any empirical evidence for same, I think Shok-Buffs are a help in avoiding frame cracking, as is replacing the recoil spring regularly.

Rosco
 
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The frame cracks I have seen-- maybe 6 or 10- have all started at the side of the frame and just where the rails end and the dust cover starts, in other words, right where the impact of slide to frame occurs. I'm not sure but it seems like they were all on the left side, although I don't know why that would be. Have never seen one coming from the slide stop hole, and that area is relatively much, much stronger. I've had decent luck welding them. I have also tried "heading them off" by drilling .013" holes at the point where they seem to end, but either they extend further than what I can see or they just don't stop to notice the hole. The ones I have seen were all or mostly in pin guns (meaning steady diet of hot loads). I agree that shock-buffs should help prevent them. They happen simply because the dust cover has suffered thousands of vibrations-- one at a time-- and finally starts to separate from fatigue, just like bending a paper clip back and forth until it breaks, only a lot more times and a lot less movement, o'course.

I believe they don't actually hurt anything, as they start at a very thin spot and (from what I've seen) can only propagate so far before the material becomes so thick that either they stop or continue at a rate so slow as to be unnoticeable, and you will probably have trouble with stalactites before the dust cover actually cracks through and falls off.

The only other frame crack I've seen was on an aluminum Para Ord frame, which cracked on both sides, from the trigger track notch at the backstrap, forward to the mag release hole. I believe this is not unusual in the lightweight PO frames.

Ned

[This message has been edited by ciao-kapow (edited 03-15-2001).]

[This message has been edited by ciao-kapow (edited 03-16-2001).]
 

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Using them as hammers or billy clubs. Weak springs. A steady diet of excessively hot loads (see weak springs).
 

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Hi Everyone, Steels cracking under stress is a funny thing for sometimes seemingly unknown reasons, I've seen a few frames crack at the dust cover, frame junction and yes, always on the left side, go figure, drilling the hole is a good idea, I do this before its welded. The BIG problem is the stress risers in the corners, steel mostly tends to crack in the squared corners, the proper way to build that area is to grind a small radius on the corners of the mills being used to eliminate the corner with a radius, inside the bore of the dust cover and top edge, bigger the radius the more strength. Springfield frames are heavier in this area because of the cracking but I still see squared corners. I had a big chain conveyer with a 1 inch shear pin on the drive with a small squared groove turned in the center of the pin to shear at that point, that damn pin would shear 3 times a day, I ground a small radius on the sides of the tool bit to cut the groove, the conveyor is still running today with the same pin. REMINGTON 1100 & 1187' have a long groove about a 1/16" wide and a inch long behind the ejection port, this is cuz the 48's and 58's cracker in this spot, they cut a groove to eliminate the stress. 1911 slides I seen cracked crack at the rear hood corner opposite the ejection port, if it cracked any where you would think it would crack were the port is lowered BUT there are large radiuses in the corners, when I lower ports I use a 1/2" mill, never seen one crack there. The post above are good. Metalsmith
 
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Re-reading Shane's post, maybe when you said slide stop hole you were referring not to its pivot hole, but where the rear of the slide stop passes through the frame? That bridge, formed by the frame rail, does also crack (so I've read), which is why it is not present-- pre removed-- one some models like the Delta Elite and Defender.
 

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Originally posted by ciao-kapow:
Re-reading Shane's post, maybe when you said slide stop hole you were referring not to its pivot hole, but where the rear of the slide stop passes through the frame? That bridge, formed by the frame rail, does also crack (so I've read), which is why it is not present-- pre removed-- one some models like the Delta Elite and Defender.
Absolutely! I was just about to re-post to make what you just said, more clear. Thanks.

PS - I'm a fan of shok-buffs too.
 

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I have seen a couple. These were both Navy guns assigned to a shooting team member and they got shot with hardball five days a week. The guns were both built in the forties or fifties as I recall and then were accurized in the seventies. A CWO buddy of mine brought a cracked one to the San Diego matches saying "look what I did!" Both pistols had LOTS of miles on them.

Regards,
Marvin,
PRK
 

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I've seen about 5 Springfields with cracks at the dust cover/frame junction, all on the left side, and some with cracks on both sides. The guns were shot to varying degrees with ball, and I have little idea about the spring replacement schedules on them.

Metalsmith:
Does the welding/remachining of the dustcover permanently fix the cracking issue, or will the frame likely crack again? How long would you use the pistol with cracks on both sides? At what point would one decide to repair it?
 

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Belive it or not, they do crack on the right side to. I dont know what it is these past few weeks, but ive seen alot of frame/dust cover cracks. 6 have been on the left an 2 on the right.

Keep in mind these are guns that belong to a Recon unit an they abuse the heck out of the. nothing for them to shoot 3,000 rds in a good week or two.

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-DPB

"You gonna build them pistols or whistle dixie"
 

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Forumites,

I've seen and repaired many 1911's with the 'classic' dustcover crack on one or both sides.

I think a major contributing factor to the cracking is contact between the slide and dustcover. Many times while examining a cracked frame, I will find actual peening of the top, forward area of the dustcover.

As a matter of routine, I file the top of the dustcover to produce a .010" gap between it and the bottom of the slide.
Depending on the slide to frame fit, one might want to ink this area, fire, and recheck for contact.

Proper repair consists of excavating the crack with a burr and tig welding for 100% penetration, followed by torch annealing and remachining inside and out.

I have never seen a once repaired frame crack again.

Chuck

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Hi fanof1911, I wouldn't worry about the frame cracking, believe me, when you put enough rounds through that frame and it cracks you will be satisfied you got your moneys worth, we're talking 1000's and 1000's of rounds to crack it, personally I like a shock buff, I like C&P's, building and maintaining machinery I've come to appreciate buffers to take the shock out to keep steel from fracturing. I asked the late Jimmy Clark about putting a shock buff in his pistol and he said the only cracked frame he seen had a shock- buff in it. Maybe he never looked hard enough or we were talking about a different kind of crack, but Lord knows this man has had more pistols go through his hands then most of us could only dream of, at any rate I think this buff is a good idea and the concept is used in industry every day, like I said steel crack in funny places for weird reason. Story: When they were building helicopters during Vietnam war they were putting a sticker like a bummer sticker on the tail booms that said keep your head down or something like that, someone put in for a suggestion (cash award) to put the stickers on a roll, it would save money and time putting them on and manufacturing them, well the person putting them on rolled them out on the tail boom and cut them off with a razor knife scoring the boom with the sharp blade, well guess what? The tails booms were cracking and falling off in combat where they scored them with the razor knife. How they solved the problem? Went back to the old peel off stickers. Hope this lightens you on the subject. p.s. if you are going to weld the dust cover use a 5/8 copper backer in the dust cover, pre-heated before welding. Chuck has a good post above. MetalSmith

[This message has been edited by Metal Smith (edited 03-23-2001).]
 

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hmmmmmm.
Let's consider this........the slide strikes the shok-buff and it distorts, mushrooms out and puts force on the inside of the dustcover.......
just a thought.

Chuck

FAST-GOOD-CHEAP
pick any two
 

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Originally posted by fanof1911s:
More importantly, how can it be avoided. I've heard many theories and hearsay about how all frames will one day crack no matter what, but one gunsmith I know has said he has never seen one. What's the true story?

Thanks

Erich
I have seen a few as folks have described here. My guess is that it is due to fatigue right at the point the cutter stopped (at the end of the rails/recoil abuttment) which creates a square corner. Square corners are an invitation to cracks (slides often crack - after many thousands of rounds) rith at the corner of the cut for the hood in another square corner.

Steel guns are relatively easy to fix if it just involves that most common crack. You can keep the crack from spreading if you don't mind a small hole but to make it look good one needs a good welder and the frame needs to be refinished.

Shokbuffs help, I think, but they can create their own particular problems for a fighting gun so be careful (My Wilson Combat Master will not feed ball with a Wilson Shok Buff in place... but that is by no means an indictment of either).

I did have a Fed-Ord aluminum frame crack in multiple places within about 1,000 rounds. The left rail simply left the pistol form the back of the magazine well to the rear, and there were multiple hairline cracks around the mag catch and front strap. You don't always get as much as you pay for!

Onward,
Jim Higginbotham
 

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Just a afterthought, all the pistols i mentioned earlier had shok-bufs in them. Talkin to a few oldtimers in my shop, that were around back when the M1911 was standard issue, said that it was a very common thing to see them crack right there.

As to what causes it, there are a number of reasons, all mentioned earlier. My case is all the frames are rather low serial # colt's that have been around forever an finally gave out from hard use.

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-DPB

"You gonna build them pistols or whistle dixie"
 

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For personal use, I wouldnt stop shooting immedeiatly just because the dustcover started to crack.

Most of the guns that I work on are military owned, an as soon as the crack starts, the gun is pulled.

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-DPB

"You gonna build them pistols or whistle dixie"
 

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Frames crack because of stronger than normal recoil springs! That's the most common cause. Use a 16 lb. spring and junk the shok-buff's. Everybody keeps trying to improve on John Browning's masterpiece!
 
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