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Old September 30, 2008, 02:17 PM   #1
HiBC
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!911,weld Swenson slide/bbl pad?

I picked up an excellent condition Randall stainless Commander clone.Pretty poor in the accuracy dept.Noticed the hood- bbl slide fit is poor,bbl can be moved around quite a bit.I dont want to money pit this gun,so Fitting a new bbl is not my first choice.
Mr Swenson would fit a pad inside the slide opposite the ejection port to position the bbl.He would drill a hole in the slide,fit his insert the hole,then weld over the protrusion on the outside of the slide.

My plan/question.I know a master of the TIG who can weld stainless beautifully.Is there anything wrong with just building up the same pad with a little weld inside the slide then milling it to match the bbl radius with the bbl in a slide centered and locked position?

Is there a concern about the weld generating a crack?

I'm not looking to make a match bullseye gun,if I end up with say .003-.007 clearance on the right side hood fit(barrel centered) I can accept it but I want to take up all the slop on the other side.

Feedback from 1911 gurus? Thanks
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Old September 30, 2008, 03:38 PM   #2
Harry Bonar
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welding

Sir;
I do want to be careful about offending you but I would not weld anything on that barrel or slide.
You could hunt around and mybe find a good used barrel that could correct that condition.
I've heard of welding up the bottom lugs, the hood, etc - I don't want to do either!
Hope I've not offended you, but merely stated the truth as I see it.
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Old September 30, 2008, 07:24 PM   #3
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HB,No offense taken!! I'm pretty easy to get along with.
Thanks for your advise.
For sure,I won't weld on the barrel ,and I won't weld near any locking surface.
And,I do not intend to weld inside the notch in the slide where the hood rests.
But I also don't subscribe totally to the zero welding school,either.
While I would not weld a reciever ring or near bolt locking lugs,Certainly welding sporter bolt handles on a bolt is common practice.
I have a 1911 38 Super fitted with a S+W revolver rear sight similar to how Mr Swenson would do it,only the rear sight dovetail was TIG welded away,and a couple of raised lugs added to support the sight.All is well.
I am still not sure my plan is a good one,and I hope for more advise.
I CAN be talked out of it. I am talking about a tool+die grade Tig Tech,not a goose pooper with a buz box.
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Old September 30, 2008, 10:56 PM   #4
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"Goose pooper" - now that's a new one for me! I've got a lot of years as a professional welder, thought I heard them all.

DO NOT WELD!!! DO NOT WELD!!! DO NOT WELD!!! DO NOT WELD!!! DO NOT WELD!!!

If the barrel is bad, replace it with a known good quality new one. A few dollars saved won't mean a thing if it blows-up in your hand and in front of your face! Sorry, I'm not as tactful as Harry when it comes to safety issues.
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Old September 30, 2008, 10:57 PM   #5
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(scribbling "goose popper with a buzz box...")
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Old September 30, 2008, 11:04 PM   #6
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1911s are very easy to work on and extremely forgiving. Just don't weld on the heat treated parts. That means barrel, slide, sears, hammer, etc.
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Old October 1, 2008, 01:23 AM   #7
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Well,I would not have bothered to ask if I figured I already knew everything.
So far,nobody has suggested it is a good idea.
Thank you.
This reenforces what I already knew.Just buy a Kimber.By the time I am done,this will cost me more and not be as good.
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Old October 1, 2008, 07:34 AM   #8
Jim Watson
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I guess Jim Clark and his heirs are a little wilder than correspondents here. From the current Clark Custom Guns catalog:
"Weld hood and lugs on factory barrel & prep for fitting $ 60"

That used to be standard practice before the cottage industry of oversize replacement barrels got going. Doesn't mean just any welder can do it, but the local guy who did one of mine had no trouble and his Daddy the gunsmith fitted it up to shoot very well.

As to the Swenson locator lug in the slide, he may not have been the only gunsmith to do it, but there weren't many. Most just fitted the barrel tight. But if you want one, the only reason not to do it is that there are people who will pay enough for a Randall to set you up with a current production gun.
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Old October 1, 2008, 12:51 PM   #9
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Thanks,Jim
Reading about Mr Swenson and some old school methods gave me the idea.
I bought this Randall for a reasonable used handgun price.
Now,you have suggested I might be compromising a collectable??
OK,folks,Randall Raider SN less than 3500Original mag,unmodified.Had Hogue palmswell rubber panel grips.
If you want to throw a lot of money at it,PM me before I start in a week or so. Then I won't have to feel guilty.
So far,replaced the extended slide stop with a non-extended,and have Hogue wrap grips with finger grooves.
My parts pile I have been accumulating for it,STI hi ride beavertail and the button jig for the radius,24-7 big dot tritium sights,a long trigger.
Probably going to put a Nowlin trigger set in.
Thats most of a $300 bill gone.Add $179 for a bbl but wait,bbl fitting requires some special tools.
Just to give an idea of my expectations,I want groups tighter than 4 in at 25 yds.Its not a prairie dog gun,but I want it to shoot.
I'm not an Olympic shot,but back when I shot one handed at bullseyes,my averages were in the 270's .Resting my forearms on bags,a 1911 that won't do 4" at 25 yds needs work.Am I wrong?
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Old October 1, 2008, 01:59 PM   #10
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I have no collector's interest in a Randall, have at it. I can see where a 4"+ gun would aggravate a bullseye shooter.

You might look into the Cash Gustin system; setscrews into the locking recesses to V-block the barrel into alignment. No heat.
http://www.google.com/patents?id=ByN...result#PPA1,M1

Otherwise, weld away. Do you have means of cutting the pad to fit?

Caution: I am not a gunsmith making professional recommendations. Just happen to have read some stuff along the way.
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Old October 1, 2008, 02:35 PM   #11
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As far as cutting the radius,
I had this plan.I have a Swenson barrel to slide centering jig.I was going to depth mic from the flat side of the slide to the barrel,with the barrel centered.
Then,by mic'ing the bbl OD,I have a radius and a location to set up in a Bridgeport.Or,I could just indicate center on the slide.
I do understand I don't want to jam the bbl to one side to take all slop out,just nudge it to center.

I realize a ball mill large enough to cut the radius will not be able to get too close to the breech face.
Going with someting like a 3/16 carbide ball mill,I know how to generate a chart of numbers to crank handles point to point to match the bbl radius with a small ball mill.
That's how I used to cut mold cavities old school,before we had CNC in the shop.Then I just stone off the high spots.
So,I could make the Swenson insert,and the little tack of weld on the outside of the slide wouldn't make much heat.
AAAHHRGH!!!I suppose I could buy a bbl,and indicate the slide stop hole and spot the underlugs with an undersize end mill,then pick that up.
In the mold biz,we had occasion to use the services of microwelders.Those guys are amazing.
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Old October 5, 2008, 01:27 AM   #12
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For what it is worth,I think i'll buy a barrel,likely a Wilson.Old school would work,and it is cheaper,but it is not as good as a well fit new bbl.And the insert/weld lacks resale.
Thanks again,all,for your response.

So,its getting an STI beavertail,24-7 big dot tritium,likely a Nowlin trigger kit,a wilson bbl,and long trigger.I'm toying with the bobtail mainspring housing idea.
As it is stainless and I will have some $ in it,thoughts on armalloy,hardchrome,electroless nickel? I'm not so much about cosmetics,I like flat black,but wear/gall,etc
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Old October 5, 2008, 01:40 AM   #13
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Here's an inexpensive commander barrel...

I would avoid doing anything other than replacing the barrel. I've always have good luck buying barrels on gunbroker. Most cases, accuracy was obtained by switching out the link to tighten up the lock-up. Of course, a bushing fitting is ALWAYS a good idea with a new barrel.

I found these on Gunbroker.

Blue finish $40
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=111927217

This one looks like it's stainless (or at least, polished) $60
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=111951616
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Old October 5, 2008, 08:39 AM   #14
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weld weld weld....

Mr. Cogan of Accurate Plating & Weaponry hard-fit a 9x19 Nowlin barrel in a Witness; EGW hard-fit my stock 9x19 Springfield Armory barrel in a 1911.

So I am with Mr. Watson here.....
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Old October 6, 2008, 12:01 PM   #15
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HiBC,

Well, you are certainly considering the old school approach. The new barrel gives you the highest probability of getting a good result that lasts, but I'll describe a bit of what's involved in the old method so you know what you'd be getting into.

Getting a barrel weld-up is how it was still being done when I started learning to build match guns in the early 80's. It used to be the standard method on carbon steel barrels. I've seen a picture of the late Bob Day doing the welding with an oxy-acetylene torch, adding wire from a magazine spring as the filler. I sure wouldn't want to try that myself for fear of getting the flame oxidizing and carburizing balance wrong and the barrel too hot. It's a skll. The point is, the filler matters. It has to be hard enough for the service but not so hard you can’t scrape the fit. The fly in the ointment with your Randall is that it is stainless, and the galling issue will come up. Since stainless barrels with oversize hoods and lugs for fitting are made and work fine, I’d suggest looking at barrel steel rod for the filler. Your welder may have other suggestions?

Hallock's .45 Auto Handbook (1980) has a photo of a welded-up barrel on page 166. but it isn't very clear. He does, however, have clear line drawings showing how the shaping and scraping are supposed to come out on page 169. You should see that if you are going to try this. Brownells sells a cutter system that works in-situ, but it is too much expense for doing just one gun. Filing and scraping will be reasonable for that. The late George Nonte, Jr.'s book, Pistolsmithing, has a clearer photo of a weld-up barrel ready for fitting on page 359, and a line drawing on page 367 showing the weld filler positions. He shows the weld buildup including the sides of the hood (barrel extension) their full length. Welding the width of the hood is necessary, but you only need the sides done far enough to guide the hood in its channel in the slide, so half way to the corners is fine if you don’t mind the appearance.

Nonte labels the picture an arc welding job. He meant heliarc (TIG), I am sure. A friend of mine with a stick welder once insisted he could do the job with that equipment. Rather than hand him a barrel, I had him try to prove it first by building some weld up on the edge of scrap piece of 3/16" steel plate. It didn't go well.

An important part of the welding procedure was getting the chills right. Guys who did it frequently had machined copper chills that hugged the chamber and made good electrical contact for the welder ground and spared the chamber from heat exposure or ground return hot spots. You may be able to improvise by splitting a slightly undersize copper pipe and using barrel vice jaws to force it to conform. Boring a chamber O.D. hole in a sandwiched pair of aluminum bars would be easier. The old time gas welding trick of submerging all but parts to be built up in wet sand is an alternative.

Usually, before fitting a barrel, you would have fit the slide to the frame of a carbon steel gun, mainly by peening the frame rails down. Many gunsmiths recommend you don't even try to bring the frame rails down on a stainless gun. The galling issue and the fact stainless is less ductile than carbon steel make it very risky to the health of the receiver. Assuming u don't try, the barrel will wind up rather high when it is locked into the slide lugs.

One short cut you could try is the method Bob Chow used to remove vertical barrel play. He cut a piece of spring steel just a few thousandths wider than the rearmost locking lug recess in the slide, tapered its edges, then wedged it up in the recess. Apparently these oversize bent shims with feathered edges didn't fall out. They centered the chamber axis vertically over the firing pin tunnel, and the rounded shape tended to center the barrel left to right as it moved up into battery. It did the same thing the Cash Gustin screws do, but without altering the frame. The necessary thickness of this shim would depend on your existing lockup free play?

Have fun, and be careful.

Nick
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Old October 6, 2008, 12:31 PM   #16
HiBC
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I sure do thank you for telling me what folks used to go through!!
I have established the hood notch in the slide is not oversize.
I have decided to just fit a new bbl,probably a Wilson semi-drop in.
I've also decided I can determine how much,if any,steel needs to be removed from the underlugs with a set of gage pins.
Heck,I might even buy a book so I don't have to re-invent the wheel.

Did you know the guy who invented the wheel gets all the credit,but I have to hand it to the guy who decided to radius the corners of of it :-)
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Old October 6, 2008, 01:35 PM   #17
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Yeah, that square wheel was a little rough riding. Great traction, but an awful pothole maker.

Nick
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Old October 6, 2008, 02:31 PM   #18
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A buddy of mine had a chrome moly barrel welded to remove both vertical and lateral movement. Small spots of weld were placed at about 1:30 and 10:30 in the first slot, a la the Kart ez fit barrel. These were then filed by hand so that the barrel was centered in the slide, and riding on the slide stop pin. It won't work to take up much slop, as you are forcing the barrel down onto the slide stop, so you have to have plenty of lug engagement to begin with.
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