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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While my other project, that old Springfield, is off getting machine work at EGW, I decided to finally start a project for myself. I’d purchased several Colt Series 70 slides a while back, and decided to build one into a gun. The slides are big letter rollmark on the left side, and are marked “Colt Competition” on the right side. They have no Series 80 holes, and are actually pretty nice. The frame is a Caspian cast frame.

The first step was to measure the available slides and match one to the frame. I was able to pick one that was fairly close to the rail dimensions, and set it aside. Next I quickly fitted up the Brown tactical mag catch, hex head mag catch lock, and EGW mag catch spring. I needed this assembly to hold my aluminum mag well filler for clamping in the vise.

Here’s a pic of the slide, frame assembly, and tools, ready to fit:


The lapping compound is from US Products, and is a garnet based, non-embedding compound. They are apparently the same company that makes JB Bore Cleaning Compound. Garnet based compounds apparently degrade readily upon use, while aluminum oxide compounds are rather durable and can embed.

I applied Break Free and some 600 grit compound (GK5) to the slide and frame rails, then pushed the slide on as far as it would go. Here’s what it looked like:



I applied smooth, even pressure to the ball handle, and used a rubber mallet to knock the slide forward on the first few strokes. It didn’t take long before the parts started to fit together. After every 15-20 strokes, I removed the slide and reapplied the lapping compound. After the mechanical fit felt about right, I hosed off the oil and compound to check my work. The slide was binding at the end of its travel, and this was finally tracked down to the dust cover. The top of the dustcover was cleared with a medium ceramic bench stone – just a little went a long way. The inside of the dustcover was hitting the slide too, so I cleared some of that with 220 grit wrapped around a rod (ok, a Sharpie). After getting the basic clearances, I reapplied oil and GK7, an 800 grit compound. After the fit became smooth, I cleaned and checked again. No hitches or rough spots. For a final finish, I went all out and applied JB Bore Compound to the rails and lapped again. The result was a silky smooth action and pretty snug fit with no discernable vertical play and just a touch of horizontal play.

Here’s the finished product, ready for more work:


The whole procedure took about 90 minutes. I could conceivably have finished it in 45 minutes, but it took me a while to track down the points where the slide was binding.

Next up is the installation of a Wilson beavertail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Made some more progress on the pistol today. Unfortunately, I neglected to order a plunger tube the first time around, so I had to work around what I had. The first project today was to cut the frame for the Wilson beavertail. One of these days I’ll actually get a frame that’s precut, but I have some fear that the cuts will be too sloppy and I won’t be able to make it tight. Here are some shaky before and after pictures of the frame with the Wilson jig installed:





As before, I started the process on a grinder, then went to a coarse file, finishing up against the jig with a number 0 Swiss file. Figure on this file getting buggered up, as it skates against the hardened jig frequently while final finishing. The final fitting of the beavertail took quite a while, for some reason the frame and Brown ambi just wouldn’t cooperate. After about 45 minutes of slow metal removal, I was really close, and finally got frustrated and threw some 100 grit lapping compound in the fray and lapped the beavertail the rest of the way in. I finished by lapping with 280 grit. It worked fine, but I would have avoided the mess of lapping if I’d been able to find the bind spots faster.

The Brown ambi was fitted next, and I found that both levers were not perpendicular to their pins. I tried bending them, but was unsuccessful. The pins wouldn’t mate in the middle either, and took quite a bit of metal removal to get them to mate. While I like the Brown safeties, I find that they are rather dimensionally inconsistent. The safety was also way too high in the frame, needing to be cleared over .025” for the slide. The ambi will need much more work before I’m done.

The ambi and grip safety were not the last of my headaches. The mag release felt very rough, and I had to lap fit the release to the frame hole, polish the outside of the mag catch lock and the inside of the release. It still feels a little rough. The SA mag well also appears to have been made on a Friday, as the mainspring tunnel was very rough and filled with machine marks. The coarse Cratex rod resolved this problem. I also polished the mainspring cap and MSH pin retainer. Last of the headaches, the head of the SVI disconnector that I intended to use did not fit through the frame hole. This after I prepped and polished it. Fortunately, I had a Briley disconnector handy, and it fit.

Before I started the trigger work, I put the slide together so that I would be able to dry fire the gun. A Wolff FP spring, Caspian extractor, FP, and FP stop were inspected. The FP stop, hard as woodpecker lips, was fitted first to the slide, then to the extractor.

Next, I prepped my EGW sear and Wilson hammer. I polished the sides on a medium ceramic bench stone, and finished selected surfaces with a fine stone. My Power sear jig made quick work of cutting the sear angles, and this time I had a Norton medium India stone to set the relief angle. The medium cut quickly, and made it easy to set the angle. I installed a CMC hammer strut into my hammer, and staked an EGW strut pin in place. A few quick swipes on the medium stone dressed out the exposed heads of the staked pins.

I threw all the components together and tried the trigger. It felt ok, so I left the Wolff sear spring alone, to be adjusted later.

Here’s a picture of the gun as it is now:



Not yet installed, usable, or fitted are the Colt spring plug, Brown spring guide with 17 lb Wolff, EGW slide stop, EGW ejector and misc. pins.

I also tried throwing a scrap Springfield barrel and bushing into the gun, just to hold the two halves together, but it wouldn’t swing down out of lockup. Rather than hassle with fitting this barrel, I’ll wait for the real barrel to arrive.

Next up: fit the ejector and plunger tube. The plunger tube will then allow me to complete the install of the ambi and grip safeties. I’m finding that assembly of previously unrelated parts into a complete gun is more of a headache than rebuilding an existing gun. Still, I have complete control (theoretically) of what I’ve got, so we’ll see which turns out better.

Total time today: 5 hours.
 

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Looks good Hilton. you need to start designing a makers mark.
Today was good weather for "garage time" :smile:
what are you planing as front strap treatment on this one?

have you seen the new Mccormick ambi safeties? cost is half that of the Brown tactical and recuting it like a Brown is 5 minutes.



Shay
 

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Hilton,

This is definitely a first-rate "how to" for the uninitiated -- and I'm one of them! :smile: I was totally unfamiliar with the finer points of several of these operations, and your report has really cleared up a lot of confusion. It helps to understand something of the "art" behind the process.

In your opinion, is assembling a pistol in this fashion at all intuitive for a reasonably-skilled person, or does it require the application of a lot of learned techniques? I'm not sure how much "trial and error" I would want to risk on a $300 frame ... but this strikes me as a pretty enjoyable project (see -- you can tell I've never done it myself :smile: ).

Please keep this one going!

Chuck
 

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Comin' right along! Hang in...tomorrow's a day of rest...
 
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No rest for me tommorrow.I work at a Christian Conference Center.

_________________
Have Fun and Shoot Straight

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: 38 Super Combat Commander on 2001-09-29 19:46 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Shay:
Are those new CMC ambis the same as on the Kimbers? Are they MIM? I remember that the safety on my Kimber was really hard and didn't respond well to the file. The Brown units, as I've seen first hand, vary drastically from one to the other. I have a Wilson on my main gun, maybe I'll have to try one of those too. I think the Brown will likely need at least 30 minutes more wrestling to make it right. I want to do 20 lpi on the front strap, and may either have EGW do it or perhaps I'll have to weasel that Marvel jig from you after you've tested it. :smile:

Chuck:
The Caspian frames are under $200 retail, and are of excellent dimensional quality. They are minimum tolerance, so parts unfortunately don't drop in. Everything has required fitting. While I find most of the work now intuitive, it's only from familiarity. The first go around was not intuitive at all. If you're fairly mechanically minded and PATIENT, you can do fine at this. Though there have been lots of headaches with the two current projects, I find the time to be very relaxing.

Thanks for the responses guys, it's good to know that someone is enjoying the posts. If there are questions or if you seek more detail, feel free to ask.
 

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On 2001-09-29 20:20, Hilton Yam wrote:
Shay:
Are those new CMC ambis the same as on the Kimbers? Are they MIM? I remember that the safety on my Kimber was really hard and didn't respond well to the file.
I think it is MIM but it took to the file pretty easy. if you're familiar with the Kimber safety's then imagine cutting 2 lines from the lever.
Wilson has a wide ambi that can be cut nice, they do it for gun buyers by request.

Jig? anytime, want to go first? :smile:

Shay
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here are some quick updates of the progress on this project.
Next up in the project was the fitting of the plunger tube. I used a Brown plunger tube assembly and Wilson plunger staking tool. I lightly sanded the posts with 320 grit and test fitted it to the frame. It was awful tight, so after the test fitting, I used a coat hanger wire to remove the tube from the frame.



After I was satisfied with the fit, I degreased the holes and tube, applied red Loctite 271, and pressed the tube into place. I clamped the frame assembly into the vice with the Tom Wilson staking block supporting the tube on the outside. The picture below shows the Wilson staking tool, a rectangular bar with a pointed stud to stake the tube’s legs from inside the mag well.



Here’s a picture of the staking bar in place:


The support block did not accommodate the plunger tube very well, as seen here:


A bit of work with a file opened up the channel in the block to allow the tube to fit in. It didn’t bottom out like I’d hoped, but seemed to adequately support the tube. A few taps with a 4 oz ball peen on the top of the staking bar got perfect mushrooming of the tube legs, and it was all done.

Next, I got set up to install a Kart EZ Fit barrel kit. I liked the idea of the EZ Fit in that it allowed the use of the standard #3 .278 center link, which is theoretically ideal for a standard pattern gun. Here’s the barrel and the tool kit:



The barrel was placed into the slide with the loose bench bushing and aluminum locator block:


I quickly adjusted the hood length with a file, and got the barrel to drop into the lug recesses in the slide. However, upon fitting the barrel to the frame, I realized that the lower lugs simply would not fit into the barrel bed of the frame. Since the barrel was cheaper, I cleared the sides of the lower lugs a bit, and it started fitting into the frame. If I had a mill, I think the better solution would’ve been to take .001” off either side of the barrel bed of the frame, to keep the barrel centered. All I had was hand tools, so this was the best I could do. The slide and frame could now be assembled together to fit the barrel’s radial lug height. Not so easy. The barrel wouldn’t fit with the slide in place, as the frame’s barrel bed was not beveled to allow the radius of the barrel to fit. In the pic below, I highlighted the problem area with a black marker:



Again, a mill would’ve made short work of this, but I settled for some careful work with a #2 file. After much work, the barrel finally started to fit into place and would swing freely in and out of battery. The slide was mounted and I started to adjust the height of the EZ Fit pads to allow the barrel to swing up into full battery.



I ended up having to remove almost the entirety of both pads to get the right height lockup, as the slide seems to sit fairly low in relation to the frame. Additional intuitive refitting of the barrel hood and radial lugs was necessary to get the barrel to seat properly. The instructions were for an ideal situation, and I had far from ideal. The final step was to apply 400 grit lapping compound to the lower lugs and mate them to the slide stop.

I have no pics of this, but I did also install the EGW ejector onto the frame. The install pretty much looks like the job I did on the Kimber (search for that thread if you want to see). I have done zero on the cosmetics of this gun, and that will not be attacked until I square away the functional aspects of the gun.

Next up:
-check headspace and chamber dimensions of the barrel. Ream and throat as necessary.
-fit extractor
-polish slide/frame internals for function and reliability
-install sights

I’m thinking of using King’s National Match sights so that this gun can be shot right away without being sent out for machine work right now. It’ll also then be a little like that Colt Combat Govt Series 70 -“the one that got away”. I should’ve bought one of those instead of that dumb Gold Cup Series 80 back in 1983. Oops.

After I shoot it a bit for function, I’ll give it a thorough cosmetic workover. It’s pretty crude looking right now. I’ll also post some other pics later.


_________________
DBS

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Hilton Yam on 2001-10-26 21:43 ]</font>
 

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I also have to thank you for sharing this. I have been collecting the items to build my first 1911 and I was really excited to come across this website. Also happy to find this thread. Please keep posting on the progress.
Thanks Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have been steadily working on the gun from hell, as I've dubbed this project. The fact that these parts never previously existed as a gun means that almost every component needs to be fitted and checked for function. What a headache this has been. The Colt slide, while very pretty, has given me fits. Its rails narrow at the front, and strike the frame rails as well as binding the recoil spring plug. Other exciting problems include:
-Kart EZ fit (HA!) hand cycles nice, but fails all timing/clearance tests, requiring extensive refitting. Not done yet, as I can only stand so much EZ fitting at a time.
-Brown extractor was substituted for Caspian when it wouldn't tension properly. Brown part has shallow hook and is unreliable. It also needed to have the FP stop slot recut.
-I staked in King's NM sights. The arsenal style staking tool blows. The MMC staking tool I saw in the Wilson video is a hundred times better (same as Trijicon unit in Brownells), but also over 10x the price. No more staked sights.
-Navidrex SA mag well cut grips are also PIN covered grips! I didn't want this, so I had to cut the MSH pin holes out myself.
-I got inspired and decided to recut the Brown ambi's contours for more cosmetic appeal. I lost my way with my artistic direction just about the same time my hand cramped up from holding the part in place. I used a pair of vise grip pliers and saved the day.

I've got 24 shop hours on the gun so far, and it'll take a minimum of 4-6 more to get the barrel and extractor to be satisfactory. The bbl functions right now, but without proper clearances and timing, its service life will be awful short. (For more on bbl timing, visit http://www.schuemann.com) The only bright spot so far has been the speed with which I did the preliminary recontouring for the dehorn. It probably only took a total of 15 minutes with the file to bust off the edges, including the INSIDE of the hammer hole. The fine work with the sandpaper will be much more time consuming, but will likely come much later.

What's next? More barrel fitting and a new extractor (actually, I'll sit and refit the original Caspian unit). I will likely leave the SA mag well unblended (at least inside the well) until I figure out what to do on the front strap. My goal would be to hand checker 20 lpi on the front and 40 lpi under the trigger guard. I intend to practice on some stock before doing the frame. Pics will come later, when I can stand looking at this dumb project!

_________________
DBS

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Hilton Yam on 2001-11-14 21:38 ]</font>
 
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