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Old March 14, 2013, 05:44 PM   #1
Dan D
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Has anyone actually crushed a 1911 plunger tube

I keep hearing that the staked on tubes are better than the integral because you can remove them if they get crushed but, I have never heard of anybody actually crushing one, unless it was while staking it.
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Old March 14, 2013, 06:56 PM   #2
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What's a plunger tube?
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:07 PM   #3
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I've never heard of any one crushing a plunger tube before and I'm not sure that it would be something I would even worry about.
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Old March 14, 2013, 07:32 PM   #4
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
What's a plunger tube?
The horizontal part in this picture that holds the spring plungers for the slide stop pin and the thumb safety:

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Old March 14, 2013, 07:58 PM   #5
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Never seen one "crushed" but I have seen one break the staking pins. The reason Ruger made theirs integral to the frame was to prevent that from happening. I consider that superior to staked on plunger tubes and Ruger is able to do that because of precision casting.
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Old March 14, 2013, 09:03 PM   #6
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I guess it's possible to crush one, but if you applied enough force to the side of the frame to crush the plunger tube that would more than likely create a few other issues as well.

The only problems I've ever seen with plunger tubes have been from bad staking jobs that allowed the plungers to work themselves loose. An integral unit solves that problem and the possiblity that it could be damaged to the point of requiring the frame to be replaced seems so remote to me that it should be way down on the list of 1911 concerns.
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Old March 14, 2013, 09:08 PM   #7
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If you do, I'm guessing you are holding the gun too tightly.
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Old March 14, 2013, 09:25 PM   #8
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I can't imagine what it would take to crush one. With the left side grip usually giving a bit of protection to the plunger tube it would also result in the destruction of the grip panel too. I'd rather suspect it would damage more than just the plunger tube. Even if it manages to hurt JUST the tube, you could likely have that integral one milled off and a new one staked in. But I've just never heard of a bent tube (however, I've not been around the block near as much as some others, so maybe it has happened... I just think it would be really rare).

I also would think an integral one would be a major improvement to the design. Although removing a loose one and installing/staking a new one isn't all that difficult (IMO, better to replace one that's coming off), it is a potential failure point that the gun just doesn't need to have, not with modern manufacturing capabilities.
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Old March 14, 2013, 10:22 PM   #9
Dan D
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The way I've been thinking is, if something is going to be able to crush a plunger tube odds are something else on the gun is going to get messed up.
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Old March 14, 2013, 10:47 PM   #10
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As Kreyzhorse put it, it's not something I'd be worried about but since I have seen staking pins break, I like what Ruger did with the integral plunger tube.
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Old March 15, 2013, 05:49 AM   #11
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What's in a Stake?

The staked plunger tube allowed an armorer to replace one that became damaged in the field with a simple tool and a 25-cent part (in those days) rather than having to take the gun out of service and returned for repair.

In those days, the tubes were machined from real steel instead of being popped out of a mold. The legs rarely broke, if ever.

They were properly staked, so they rarely loosened...and the ones that did loosen didn't cause a problem because the extension on the grip both supported it at the bottom...which is why they rarely broke or loosened...and kept it from walking out of the frame. Most of the time, a loose plunger tube wasn't discovered unless the grips were removed, and unless it was seriously loose, nothing was done about it because the left-side grip panel nailed it down solidly.

In this Age of the Common Man, it seems that the manufacturers and clone producers of a 102 year-old design either can't seem to find the blueprints...or follow the blueprints...or they feel that the blueprint specs are merely suggestions.

And now my standard mantra:

The 1911 pistol was designed to function. If it's correctly built to spec and fed halfway decent ammunition from a proper magazine...it will function. It's a machine. It doesn't have a choice.
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Old March 15, 2013, 01:16 PM   #12
Dan D
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Tuner, have you ever seen a plunger tube that was solidly staked on but damaged in some other way and needed to be replaced? I have searched all over and havent found one instance where that has happened. I'm not worried about it, I'm just really currious because every where i look people say it could happen but no one can say "It happened to me".

I was under the impression that an Ed Brown or Wilson Combat plunger tube was superior to USGI but I've seen Ed Brown pistols with loose tubes after 1500 rounds. Is it the tubes or the way they are installed that would cause this?

Thank you for your time.
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Old March 15, 2013, 02:28 PM   #13
1911Tuner
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Tubes

Dan, I've seen a couple that appeared to be impact damaged, but only one that impaired the plunger's function. Due to the tube's surface being below the thumb safety and the slidestop...and the rest being mostly covered by the extension on the grip panel...it's not very common.
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Old March 15, 2013, 02:31 PM   #14
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I've had one that was staked and one stake broke requiring it be fixed.
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Old March 16, 2013, 07:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
I've never heard of any one crushing a plunger tube before and I'm not sure that it would be something I would even worry about.
I took two of my 1911s to a local 'smith for restaking of the plunger tubes. One had been loose for years, and the other, loose since new. The 'smith had one of those modified vise-grip staking tools, and as he's fixin' to start squeezing, I said something like, "I thought it was necessary to put a drill bit, or something, inside the tube, so it's isn't crushed by . . ." Well, apparently it is necessary to put something inside the tube, because after crimping the drill bit had to come out anyway, to open the crushed plunger tube.
As for the tube being crushed while the gun is in use? Maybe by flying shrapnel, but I doubt you'd have to worry about it on the range.
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Old March 19, 2013, 02:34 PM   #16
IZinterrogator
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Re: Has anyone actually crushed a 1911 plunger tube

If an integral plunger tube is crushed, you can take it off with a grinder and install a staked tube.
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Old March 19, 2013, 03:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
If an integral plunger tube is crushed, you can take it off with a grinder and install a staked tube.
Aaaand if a stake-on tube is crushed, you can skip the part with the grinder.
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Old March 19, 2013, 09:50 PM   #18
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I have seen several crushed. A couple were done when wannabe gunsmiths clamped the frame in a vise, another when an attempt was made to stake it without supporting it. Not common, but not unheard of, either.

FWIW, the reason for the staked in tube is not so it can be replaced, though that is a benefit. It is to make milling the frame forging easier, the same reason the ejector is not part of the frame. Ruger casts its frames so it is not a big decision to make the tube part of the frame and mill around it, but with a forging, those little "bumps" make a lot of difference in machine time.

Jim
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Old March 19, 2013, 09:58 PM   #19
BillM
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^^^^^Yup, What James said!

If the plunger tube is off and the grip bushings aren't installed, the 1911
frame is a big flat surface on both sides. From a manufacturing
standpoint---especially 100+ years ago---that is a huge advantage
in terms of machining time. I've made metal chips for a living for
years, and I really enjoy "reverse engineering" old guns. Trying to
figure out how they did that with 19th century technology.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
took two of my 1911s to a local 'smith for restaking of the plunger tubes. One had been loose for years, and the other, loose since new. The 'smith had one of those modified vise-grip staking tools, and as he's fixin' to start squeezing, I said something like, "I thought it was necessary to put a drill bit, or something, inside the tube, so it's isn't crushed by . . ." Well, apparently it is necessary to put something inside the tube, because after crimping the drill bit had to come out anyway, to open the crushed plunger tube.
I believe this is the type of scenario to which the OP is referring. I've heard of this as well.
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