Changing a MSH, piece of cake, right?

Changing a MSH, piece of cake, right?

This is a discussion on Changing a MSH, piece of cake, right? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Well last night was the big night. I'd bought the parts to put a flat-checkered MSH on my SA Mil-Spec. Even bought an extended tactical ...

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Thread: Changing a MSH, piece of cake, right?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array Gideon's Avatar
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    Mar 2005

    Changing a MSH, piece of cake, right?

    Well last night was the big night. I'd bought the parts to put a flat-checkered MSH on my SA Mil-Spec. Even bought an extended tactical thumb safety. It was time to play junior gunsmith!

    I'd read all I could on it, asked for advise on this forum and others, and poured over the manual and some other stuff. Didn't sound too hard. Ah the feelings that came over me as I laid out my punches and a softer terry cloth on the workbench. I had numerous reference documents open on the computer just in case and even had my safety glasses. I figured I’d need those after I read one warning after another about the “extreme pressure” the mainspring is under.

    So I began with the easy job, the thumb safety. Finally wiggled it out and as it cleared the frame I though “piece of cake”. At that moment I hear a “phssssst” sound as something launched. Hmm, didn’t expect that. Well I began to search thinking it would probably be a good idea to find whatever it was. More than likely I needed to put it back in. Took 10 minutes but I found something in the corner of the room I didn’t recognize and assumed this was the part. But I had my reference documents on my computer so I opened the exploded parts diagram of a 1911 and learned about a plunger tube and all it’s innards.

    Well I tried to fit the new thumb safety and well, that’s just not going to happen. One of you warned that it might not be a drop in. You were right! Be careful comparison I realized it would take almost a 1/16th to get it to where it needs to be. So I started to put the old thumb safety back on. Almost had it too and then “…phssst”. I should have predicted that. Only took 20 minutes to find it and at least I knew what I was looking for. As I searched, I considered the wisdom of purchasing another one of these things and putting it in my toolbox. Well I found it eventually. And got back to the task at hand. Just about got it in this time too and “phsst”. But I’m smarter than I look! This time I had it pointed in a direction that would make it easier to find!

    Well then I took on this mainspring housing. Getting the old one out was a piece of cake but all the warnings of extreme pressure make me treat it like a hang fire between my fingertips. Well I put it in the vice and took it apart. Thank God no phssst. Put the new parts together along with a lighter spring from Wilson combat. But that thing wouldn’t fit! Tried and tried and it wouldn’t fit? There was always a ¼” or more gap when I slid in the MSH. I could have gone on all night like that but I accidentally tipped the pistol upside down and the hammer strut (I think that’s it) fell away from the frame just a bit and guess what? It fit!

    So I get the new MSH in and start to put in the retaining pin, you know, the one at the bottom of the frame. Well you see I’ve never put a pin in or taken one out of the 1911 before. So I get it lined up and “tap tap tap”, nothing! 30 minutes later I’ve got sore fingers from wiggling and trying to adjust the positioning of the MSH ever so slightly so I can get that pin in and guess what it starts doing? Phst, but fortunately only enough to hop out of the frame!

    Well finally I’m getting aggravated (preachers do to) and decided it’s only a Mil-Spec so if I get rough with it and scratch it I won’t care,…at this point. So I line it up and give that pin a good Whack and pop! In it goes!

    So it’s in and I do all of my safety checks and everything seems to function fine although there is a larger gap between the top of the MSH and the grip safety with the new part than there was with the old part. I’m going to shoot it this weekend but already like the feel and looks better.

    What a blessing it would have been to have someone with you who’s done this to help the first time! So the end result? I’d like to get an old 1911 and just work on it to learn and practice!

    Makes me wish I could take up gunsmithing for a serious hobby but then again, I might not be cut out for it after last night, still, it was fun!

    God Bless, Gideon

  2. #2
    Lead Moderator
    Array Tangle's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    LOL! I've been there Gideon!

    Actually though, if you're willing to accept the responsibility of installing the thumb safety yourself, I can talk you through it. But be aware of this, the thumb safety is a fairly precision fit component and a crucial fit. That's why it's best that it doesn't "drop-in". Plus the function of the thumb safety is critical also.

    You can actually evaluate the fit, so it's not like you have to install it and believe it's right on faith. Oh, wait, you're a preacher so faith is a good thing! It is to me too, but for the safety you can visually check it's integrity.

    Springs will go flying; very frustrating. If you get to a point that you want to try it again, let me know.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Array SOLOLUCKY's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    thats what makes me "scared" to werk on my guns.
    new parts not fitting, "pphhsssst"'s, etc.
    with an experienced onlooker i prolly would be more prepared i guess.
    and doing it in a "clean" room not a barn with too much stuff to hide what flies!

    glad it werked out for ya though.

    "yer a better man than i gunga din"

    This is mine. That is yours.

    Lets keep it that way.

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  5. #4
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Away - Health Problems
    Lol I think we all been there

  6. #5
    VIP Member (Retired Staff) Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    South West PA
    Gideon - next time - do this -

    Place over your head and work area, a lightweight white sheet.

    It is amazing how that will stop an errant spring from making full orbit - and for the critical phases where springs can go ballistic, not that much of an inconvenience.

    We decided in a thread not long ago - the spring you lose and cannot find after one hour - is the one that will reappear the same day Brownell's replacement comes in the mail
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!." - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array maclean3's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
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    I've decided to try the flat MSH on my Mil-spec as well, thanks for the heads up regarding the frustration. Anytime I'm working with springs I put on the safety glasses, very good practice to get into considering the possible injuries that could occur.

    I'll be picking up my Milspec this coming Tuesday, had the thumb safety and plunger tube replaced. IIRC, the plunger tube is SUPPOSE to be staked in place, not sure why your's kept slipping but it doesn't sound good. Considering that part failure could lock up your pistol, I'd suggest at least researching it a bit to see if you should give it some attention or take it to a 'smith.

    So .... do we get pics of your Mil-spec? I'd like to see how the new MSH looks in place. Where and what model part did you buy? I'm considering a Wilson Combat but there's so many out there to choose from I'm open to suggestions from all you 1911 fanatics.
    Thanks for the timely post Gideon!

  8. #7
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
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    Wink I Wish I Was There With You could have been got it back together & you're not taking a trip to the local gunsmith with all of the parts piled into a shoebox.

    Next we'll work on taking the entire pistol apart & popping it back together at night with the lights off.

  9. #8
    Member Array duckhunter's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Just when you're getting really good and frustrated, crank up the Dremel. It has probably been the downfall of more well-intentioned DIYers than the ball peen hammer...
    "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final." - Bill Jordan

  10. #9
    Lead Moderator
    Array HotGuns's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Hey Gideon...

    When you sare messing with guns its always a good idea to wear saftey glasses. Those little parts that tend to launch themselves will put an eye out in a heartbeat.

    I learned the hard way years ago. I took the recoil spring out of one of my .45's and didnt quite have the spring captured. It hit me right square in the eyeball. It scratched my cornea and was pretty painful for a few days and I had to wear a patch over my eye. When I went to the ER the doc asked me what happened. I told him I was taking apart a .45. He just shook his head and told me to point the thing down next time instead of up so it's bounce off the table instead of my eye.

    He was a gun nut and we spent the next 30 minutes talking guns.

    Anyhow...its better to be safe than sorry....

  11. #10
    OD* is online now
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    Array OD*'s Avatar
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    Two tips that may help you next time, Gideon,

    That small “phssssst” sounding spring (plunger spring) should have a dog-leg kink right about in the center, it keeps it from shooting out across the room. Ol' John Moses designed it like, that just for that reason.

    Two, I'll tell you what I do when changing a MSH, remove the slide first.

    It will let the hammer go far enough forward to touch the frame, alleviating almost all the pressure from the hammer strut & mainspring, and it will take very little pressure to reinstall the main spring housing pin.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow.
    End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

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