Welding 1911 frame.
Largest Manufacturing Technology
Community On The Web
Close
Login to Your Account

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22
Like Tree6Likes

Thread: Welding 1911 frame.

  1. #1
    xring is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    CT-USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Welding 1911 frame.

    I plan to weld up the frame rails in a 1911 and re-machine them for a good fit. I have a Miller 180 SD tig welder than I will use once I am happy with my welding. It's been a while and I need to practice, although I have never welded anything so small and by my standards, precise! My question is what should I practice on? I have access to a decent supply of metal and can harden it. Is it more a question of the hardness or alloy and what rod should I use? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks.
    Bob

  2. #2
    johnl is offline Cast Iron
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Memphis Tn
    Posts
    407

    Default

    The way I have heard it is to peen the rails, not weld them. Also, from what I have heard, the frame/slide fit has not a lot to do with accuracy, the fit of the barrel and bushing is where it is at.
    Johnl

  3. #3
    xring is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    CT-USA
    Posts
    33

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by johnl View Post
    The way I have heard it is to peen the rails, not weld them. Also, from what I have heard, the frame/slide fit has not a lot to do with accuracy, the fit of the barrel and bushing is where it is at.
    Johnl
    I've both seen it and done it both ways. Welding for me is the way to go. I just want to weld it myself! Frame/slide fit does matter.
    Bob

  4. #4
    Crank's Avatar
    Crank is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Bob
    As Johnl indicated, slide to frame fit is one of the most mis-understood and plays a much less significant role than most would realize. I won't talk you out of it, rather I support your desire to learn. I have done it in the past and used 4140 IIRC. Be certain that you have positive (no sunken areas) welds and make sure that you get sufficient penetration. You can practice on a piece of 1/8 inch plate to get your technique and heat correct. While you are at it, put a bead on the hood area and on the bottom of the lug where the link pivots to allow for fitting to minimum play. That will make a huge improvement in conjunction with the rework of the slide to frame fit. I type too slow to go into all of the details but you can PM me with specific questions and I will try to give you some insight. I may not have hit on all of the points you are looking for input on but I am headed to bed, I have a lathe to pick up in the morning and guns waiting at the shop for repair.
    Good luck
    Mark

  5. #5
    boilermaker154 is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    pittsburgh
    Posts
    206

    Default

    if it were me i would practice on the same material and aproximate size and thickness,finding filler wire to match material shouldent be to tough. stainless or alloys get very runny and an amp or 2 can make all the difference. also, a freq wave adjustment machine would really help to controll the penetration, watch the undercut. i also agree with john, bushing to barrel is the big factor, a mtch grade wilson or similar would and is my choice for my 1911. myself, i took a 80% frame and bought an oversize slide,hand finished to fit. used a wilson match barrel (comes with fitted bushing) a wison guide rod and wolff spring kit. this can get exspensive, match trigger will also help if you got the $$$. good luck and have fun.

  6. #6
    bigsaxdog is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    palm harbor, fla.
    Posts
    43

    Default

    get a copy of the 'jerry kuhnhausen' manuals. pretty easy to find. the first volume is pretty basic, if you're gonna do this, it probably won't tell you anything you don't know. has the basic voodoo on trigger jobs though....the 2nd volume is the shizzit, has every dimension on the gun. original armorers drawings, i believe. welding and getting the correct cutter shouldn't be too hard. i would worry more about getting the proper stack dimensions, top rail, etc. the slide's gotta sit in the right place, or it ain't gonna feed right. kuhnhausen calls it 'vertical stack dimension'.......feed ramp is the other mystery....
    Chuck Kiegh likes this.

  7. #7
    GerryR is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    103

    Default

    I'm wondering if your Synchro 180 SD came with a pulser. Mine didn't but I added an external one to allow me to get down to the thinner materials. Much more control on the thinner materials. One of the drawbacks with the 180 is that it only has HF start; it has three ranges so I would use the lowest, #1, setting. The HFstart tends to blow the corners off of thinner materials, so try to stay away from the edges when starting. Touch-start or lift-arc would be better for this application but you just don't have it. For practice I would take some 1/8" plate and put it on edge and try to build the edge which is basically what you will be doing when you work the top rails on the frame. When doing the frame, I would take a piece of copper, 1/4 x 1 x length of rail, and mill it to have a lip on the 1" face that is the width and depth of the groove (for the length of the rail) and clamp that to the frame while you build the rail. This will give you a boundary for that part of the rail. This is assuming you are just going to weld the upper rail and not fill in the whole rail area and completely re-machine the rail and groove. For filler, I would use 4140 rod.

  8. #8
    IOWOLF is offline Hot Rolled
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    WEST IOWA
    Posts
    504

    Default

    Why on earth would you heat treat a 1911 frame?

    Before I get an arguement, think about an alloy frame, no heat treatment there.

  9. #9
    GerryR is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    103

    Default

    No argument from me. The steel frame won't need heat-treating although some people like to hard chrome the frames. If it is 4140 (not sure what his frame is) it is tough to begin with and if the rails are welded up with 4140, they will be the same. But, the alloy (aluminum) frame is not a good comparison as all alloy frames are Type III hardcoat anodized which, if my memory serves me, has a hardness in the Rc 63-65 range which is the only way you can run a steel slide on an aluminum frame and hope to get any life out of the frame.

  10. #10
    xring is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    CT-USA
    Posts
    33

    Default

    The gun I am thinking about is a Springfield, Brazil frame. The reason I talked of heat treating is that as my memory serves me, the frames are usually 40-42 rockwell which is tough but not hard. I just wanted to match the hardness so I would be learning the welding technique I would need. I'm not a welder but thought it make the process easier to learn.

    To the people with real world experience, would you not tighten up the frame to slide fit? The frames we have welded ( had them done professionally at $40 each) were welded to approximate the four point method described by Kuhnhausen in his book. I believe that he described a 15% accuracy improvement tightening the slide, frame fit. Do you agree with this improvement percentage? I know that as long as everything is where it belongs when the gun is in battery, it should shoot accurately. Clark did use his slide guide... I appreciate everyones ideas and hope you can show patience, I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous!
    Bob

  11. #11
    bigsaxdog is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    palm harbor, fla.
    Posts
    43

    Default

    i think there's some voodoo in mechanical accuracy, but i think there's alot more accuracy in the loads themselves.... tight gun w/the wrong loads still ain't accurate.

  12. #12
    Daewoo is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by xring View Post
    The gun I am thinking about is a Springfield, Brazil frame. The reason I talked of heat treating is that as my memory serves me, the frames are usually 40-42 rockwell which is tough but not hard. I just wanted to match the hardness so I would be learning the welding technique I would need. I'm not a welder but thought it make the process easier to learn.

    To the people with real world experience, would you not tighten up the frame to slide fit? The frames we have welded ( had them done professionally at $40 each) were welded to approximate the four point method described by Kuhnhausen in his book. I believe that he described a 15% accuracy improvement tightening the slide, frame fit. Do you agree with this improvement percentage? I know that as long as everything is where it belongs when the gun is in battery, it should shoot accurately. Clark did use his slide guide... I appreciate everyones ideas and hope you can show patience, I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous!
    Bob

    The short answer is no. FAR more important than frame to slide fit is barrel to slide fit and barrel bushing accuracy. I seriously doubt you are going to get a 15% accuracy improvement from playing with frame to slide fit. You will get a serious accuracy boost by switching to a bushingless bull barrel if it is properly fitted.

    Tightening the frame to slide fit also has reliability issues. The 1911 as designed is an extremely reliable pistol. One of the most reliable ever (properly maintained). As designed, the 1911 should rattle when you shake it. Tightening the frame to slide fit results in reduced reliability and increased maintenance requirement. You have to be a LOT more careful about proper cleaning and lubrication.

    If you are building a wallhanger or a range pistol, you should be OK either way. If you plan to actually use it and reliability, especially under adverse circumstances, is important forget about frame/slide fit unless it is WAY off and invest your time and money in a barrel upgrade, properly fitted, and a sight upgrade.

  13. #13
    submoa's Avatar
    submoa is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Kalifornia, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Daewoo,

    You are a little off base with your comments about slide to frame fitment. I've been building 1911's for 35 years and worked for Colt for a few of them. A properly fitted slide to frame is just as reliable as one that sounds like a baby rattle, maybe even more so. You are, however, correct about the relationship of slide to frame only providing a slight increase in accuracy, as long as the barrel is fitted in such a manner that the verticle "slop" , is removed. The problem is, a pistol fiited in such a manner will not shoot well for very long. Proper slide to frame fit is very important for the longevity of an accurate pistol. Verticle and lateral play in this fitment causes a tremendous amount of wasted energy during slide movement and increases wear significantly. Frame to slide fitting is extremely important in a properly built pistol and should not be overlooked.
    For many years I used the rail peening method to obtain this fit but found there were many guns that had such bad fits to start with, a proper fit was not always obtainable. I now Tig weld almost all of them and remachine them. I still use the 3.5 nickle-mild steel rod available from Brownells, and have found nothing better. I have probably done over 100 guns this way and have never had a return for any issues---at least for the welding part of it.

    submoa

  14. #14
    MilGunsmith's Avatar
    MilGunsmith is offline Hot Rolled
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Branchville, NJ
    Posts
    829

    Default

    The slide to frame fit is important for accuracy only when testing in a Ransom rest or with optics mounted on the frame. We had pistols that failed accuracy testing in the ransom rest, shoot the center out of the target when shot by a good shooter. Sights are on slide, barrel must lock up the same each shot, good bushing fit also. Slide to frame fit helps, but it is not a show stopper.
    henrya and akajun like this.

  15. #15
    Grizzlypeg is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    105

    Default

    Can you share your favored setup for the tig (electrode, dia, machine setup)?

    Quote Originally Posted by submoa View Post
    Daewoo,

    You are a little off base with your comments about slide to frame fitment. I've been building 1911's for 35 years and worked for Colt for a few of them. A properly fitted slide to frame is just as reliable as one that sounds like a baby rattle, maybe even more so. You are, however, correct about the relationship of slide to frame only providing a slight increase in accuracy, as long as the barrel is fitted in such a manner that the verticle "slop" , is removed. The problem is, a pistol fiited in such a manner will not shoot well for very long. Proper slide to frame fit is very important for the longevity of an accurate pistol. Verticle and lateral play in this fitment causes a tremendous amount of wasted energy during slide movement and increases wear significantly. Frame to slide fitting is extremely important in a properly built pistol and should not be overlooked.
    For many years I used the rail peening method to obtain this fit but found there were many guns that had such bad fits to start with, a proper fit was not always obtainable. I now Tig weld almost all of them and remachine them. I still use the 3.5 nickle-mild steel rod available from Brownells, and have found nothing better. I have probably done over 100 guns this way and have never had a return for any issues---at least for the welding part of it.

    submoa

  16. #16
    ShiftyThor is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Country
    ZIMBABWE
    Posts
    2

    Question Could this be the reason for a barrel link breaking?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crank View Post
    Bob
    As Johnl indicated, slide to frame fit is one of the most mis-understood and plays a much less significant role than most would realize. While you are at it, put a bead on the hood area and on the bottom of the lug where the link pivots to allow for fitting to minimum play.
    Good luck
    Mark
    I have been asked to look at a para ordnance 1911 as it has broken three barrel links and 3 slide stops firing 1,000 rounds. The person tried changing from number 4 to number 3 links and still had breakages.

    He had the frame machined to a square cut to fit an STI bull barrel by someone else. I have noticed that there is too much play in the barrel (with out the slide, attaching the barrel to the frame alone). Compared to my para there is a difference of around 0.3mm. The machining is very rough. Any other ideas what it could be?

  17. #17
    akajun is offline Cast Iron
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Brusly, LA
    Posts
    291

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MilGunsmith View Post
    The slide to frame fit is important for accuracy only when testing in a Ransom rest or with optics mounted on the frame. We had pistols that failed accuracy testing in the ransom rest, shoot the center out of the target when shot by a good shooter. Sights are on slide, barrel must lock up the same each shot, good bushing fit also. Slide to frame fit helps, but it is not a show stopper.
    Not everyone has a team of double distinguished Hard Holders at their beck and call.

  18. #18
    mf205i is offline Cast Iron
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Calif.
    Posts
    441

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ShiftyThor View Post
    I have been asked to look at a para ordnance 1911 as it has broken three barrel links and 3 slide stops firing 1,000 rounds. The person tried changing from number 4 to number 3 links and still had breakages.

    He had the frame machined to a square cut to fit an STI bull barrel by someone else. I have noticed that there is too much play in the barrel (with out the slide, attaching the barrel to the frame alone). Compared to my para there is a difference of around 0.3mm. The machining is very rough. Any other ideas what it could be?
    Since we can’t inspect the pistol, I will take an educated guess and tell the customer to stop dumping the slide on an empty chamber.
    Seriously, haven’t you noticed that this problem typically travels with the shooter, not the gun? I have seen this so many times. Typically the guy loves Rino Rollers, uses a 22# pogo stick spring to compensate, and dumps the slide after every single time he handles the gun, just to watch it fly or to look cool. Then he complains about broken parts and what a POS the Smith that did his 2.5 # match trigger job is because his hammer follows. To be clear even a gun with a stock spring will get beat up if the slide is frequently dumped on an empty chamber.
    Check to verify that he uses quality parts and that the gun locks up properly, check his loads, check the spring rate and then politely tell your customer the facts of life.
    Mike

  19. #19
    ShiftyThor is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Country
    ZIMBABWE
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you very much for your reply. I have been shooting with the guy for years. The first thing I asked was if he was dropping the slide on an empty chamber and he is no longer doing that.

    He was shooting a para barrel before and never had that issue. The problem started when the frame was machined to fit square cut. The barrel was also built up a bit by the barrel link to lock up nicely and line the STI slide to the frame. (It was changed from .45 to .40) Any other ideas or suggestions?

    Cheers

  20. #20
    Froneck is offline Stainless
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Mifflintown, PA 17059
    Posts
    1,095

    Default

    Been around competition shooting for a long time, Master Classification in NRA Bullseye. My son is 2x National Service Pistol Champion, Coach of the AMU Pistol team and 2650 shooter with both right and left hand. For those that know Bullseye shooting.
    Built quite a few tack drives that still shoot great. I did all that stuff seen in various books but it wasn't until I used my Mechanical Engineering Background and machinist skills along with advise of a few smiths that build top grade guns that I was able to successfully make a few great shooters that lasted a long time. That being said.
    If I were to build up a 1911 frame (did it many times) I would get is service hard chrome plated! It will require a surface grinder and diamond wheels but will last a lifetime and there will be no heat to distort the frame or soften anything! Plating can be controlled to add amount you what and where you want it! Best to have the slide plated too! Remember you don't what chrome plated! It's not the bumper on a car and decorative shinny chrome is not service hard chrome.

    Frank

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •