Need some 1911 assembly help

Need some 1911 assembly help

This is a discussion on Need some 1911 assembly help within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I just started trying to assemble my first 1911 from a kit and parts last night. I didn't get very far... So, I got the ...

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Thread: Need some 1911 assembly help

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Need some 1911 assembly help

    I just started trying to assemble my first 1911 from a kit and parts last night. I didn't get very far...

    So, I got the trigger in, the sear and disconnector seated and pinned, the hammer and strut seated and pinned, the leaf spring in place, the MSH installed and pinned, and the grip safety seated. At this point, the hammer and trigger had the correct tension, and I could half-cock and fully cock the hammer, then release the fully cocked hammer with the trigger correctly.

    Next the slide catch/safety spring and plungers went in and I tried to install the thumb safety (the left half of an ambi safety). Here's where the problem started. I spent a good 10–15 minutes trying gently to seat the safety in place, but no matter what I did the safety catch would slide in until it was close to the frame (maybe 1/8"–1/16") and not go in farther.

    Then something happened—I think I fiddled with the hammer and when it draw back to half-cock the safety finally slid in all the way. Then to function check the safety I cocked the hammer completely…

    …and then everything locked up. The trigger will not budge. The safety wiggles upwards a little but nowhere close to the fully engaged position. The hammer won't move. The grip safety has a little movement, what I would say seems to be enough to get out of the way of the trigger.

    From this position I managed to remove the MSH and pull out the leaf spring. The hammer strut is loose behind the grip safety, but the remaining pieces are locked up tight.

    So, how hosed am I? Is there anything I can do from here to back these parts out? And why was I having so much trouble with the safety in the first place?

    I appreciate any help you kind folks can offer.

    (Yes, I know about 1911forum.com, and I may end up asking over there, but I know there are a lot of 1911 folks here and that I trust the information on this forum. )
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    Next the slide catch/safety spring and plungers went in and I tried to install the thumb safety (the left half of an ambi safety). Here's where the problem started. I spent a good 10–15 minutes trying gently to seat the safety in place, but no matter what I did the safety catch would slide in until it was close to the frame (maybe 1/8"–1/16") and not go in farther.

    Then something happened—I think I fiddled with the hammer and when it draw back to half-cock the safety finally slid in all the way. Then to function check the safety I cocked the hammer completely…

    …and then everything locked up. The trigger will not budge. The safety wiggles upwards a little but nowhere close to the fully engaged position. The hammer won't move. The grip safety has a little movement, what I would say seems to be enough to get out of the way of the trigger.
    Congratulations, your safety works.

    Seriously, from the description,I believe you will need to dust a bit off the safety's block surfaces. VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: Do you have the Kuhnhausen, or similar 1911 manual describing how to fit a safety?

    If not, I would strongly suggest you pick one up before going further.

    It's been about 5 years since I touched a 1911, so...

    You'll need to "wiggle" things to get your safet back out. Once you do, you'll probably see some scratches on the block surface, which indicate the areas that will need filing. You can't just zip off metal, the angles are modestly important (get the manual), but, with the safety removed, when looking into the hole where the sear and hammer surfaces are visible, you will see the pieces that the safety needs to seat against when in the raised position.

    I "learned" safety fitting by replacing a sock safety, so I had a model. With the parts kit, you really need a manual. Even if you pull the safety from another 1911, the safety cust may be in dramatically different places and angles, because of tolerance stacking and manufacturing differences.

    Sounds intimidating, but it isn't bad, just take your time. BTW, while you have it open, insert a mag in the well, and make sure your trigger bow doesn't rub on the mag. That can be 1/3 of a good trigger job.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Add: The "block surface" is that little nub that goes into the frame, in front of the pivot pin.

    Also, it will be easier if you begin the fitting to allow the safety to be "on" first (ie, move into the upward position to block the hammer and sear. If you get to the point where slightly forceful pressure slides the safety to full engagement, make a couple more very light passes with the file or stone, and you should be there.

    After that, drop the safety, and see if you can pull the trigger. Usually, you have to take a bit off the backside of the safety block to allow the hammer and sear enough room to move in the "off" position.

  4. #4
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    When you do an assembly you do not pin the MSH in right away.
    You should slide it on up to keep the leaf spring in place and get the end of the hammer strut properly positioned on the mainspring.
    The Thumb Safety can only be inserted when the hammer is in the fully cocked position.
    So you need to get something really thin & firm to slip under the Thumb Safety to push the plunger into the plunger tube while you wiggle the Thumb Safety into place.

    After the thumb safety is in.....you you cock the hammer....that sort of slides the unpinned mainspring back down....then you pull the trigger while depressing the grip safety and ease the hammer all the way forward.

    That is when you slide the mainspring housing up into position.
    Make sure the hammer strut is inside and on the mainspring cap.
    and depress the grip safety enough to get it under the mainspring flange.

    The last thing you do is push up on the the mainspring housing a tiny bit while at the same time tapping in the pin with something non-marring.

    Now...if your Thumb Safety is stuck and your hammer is all the way back - and everything else is in place properly....then that only can be one thing.

    That is that the Thumb Safety is not always a "drop in" part.

    It is wedged in tight & what you will need to do to get it back out - is get a small piece of sheet brass or copper - anything that you can fold over the Thumb Safety flange to protect it....so that you don't chew it up....and use some vice grips or some pliers and pull and wiggle the Thumb Safety back out again.

    Once you get that done...since the Thumb Safety needs to be fit...we'll cross that bridge after you get it back out again.
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  5. #5
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Memo to self: "fitting 1911 parts" does not mean making them fit better, it means making them fit at all!

    Okay, first lesson in 1911 home gun-smithing learned.

    Honestly, I knew some fitting would be necessary and this was my first attempt at putting the pieces together to see how well they fit out of the box before I went back and tried to make them better. Guess I am going to learn more on my first build than I expected...

    Anyone recommend a good set of stones/files for this job?
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    How advanced do you want to go?

    I've used these for "eyeball polish".
    SHAPED CERAMIC STONES at Brownells

    Here's the right way to do it (the Series II is a more versatile investment):
    SERIES I STONING FIXTURE at Brownells

    A decent set of needle files, and a 4" or 6" fine cut file is what I would recommend for "primary" fitting.

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