Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

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Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Keyholed on Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:55 am

I've decided to build a dedicated lower for my Nelson conversion. I've never built a receiver, but I've done a lot of reading (Kuhnhausen and others), poured over a lot of project diaries, and done enough disassembly/assembly that I know how everything works together.

I'm planning on using a Foster (Caspian) lower. I'm not expecting a beautiful, carved-from-a-single-piece-of-steel product. I'd like it to function, I'd like to do a nice job smoothing out the contact surfaces for the fire control and ignition parts, and I would be greatly pleased if it didn't look like it had been attacked by epileptic chimps with rusty rat-tail files.

(1) If I have Caspian radius the frame's grip safety tangs to .250", and use one of their .250" grip safeties, will I need the Ed Brown fixture? Or can I be reasonably sure of being able to move right on to final fitting of that surface?

(2) Is there a preferred pin manufacturer? I'm looking at pin kits from EGW, Wilson, and Nowlin, and there's only a $2 difference between the three.

(3) How's the Colt-manufactured thumb safety? I'm looking for something inexpensive and small, and don't mind shaping and shaving the paddle a little bit.

(4) I can source needle files, sandpaper, and crocus cloth easily enough. Where should I look to find Arkansas stones? Which ones do I need? I'm thinking here about leveling out the side of the frame and the side of the grip safety. Or should I use something else? I'm not planning on touching the sear/hammer engagement surfaces

(5) What's the preferred tool and method for smoothing surfaces like the trigger bow and track? I've seen it done with just about everything, but it's rough (no pun intended) to make judgment call without being able to run a finger over the finished product.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Keyholed

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by JKR on Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:12 am

I just finished (well almost finished) this same project. I also used a foster frame that I picked up at Perry.

My Marvel unit slid right on so there was no work necessary on the frame rails. 

I used a GI type grip safety so I can't speak to your first question. I may still change this to a beavertail in the future as I have not yet had the frame finished.

I bought the pin set from Caspian when I bought the frame.

I used a Colt thumb safety. It worked perfectly.

I did buy a few tools from Brownells. The trigger track stone came in handy. The trigger required the most fitting of the whole project. I also bought a sear jig and ceramic stones to do trigger work. I used inexpensive fire control parts that were on hand. I wanted to learn trigger work without risking expensive parts. 

At the suggestion of Scot Soik (gunsmith) I purchased an EGW high magazine catch. I believe this is an important part. The conversion works and feeds flawlessly on this dedicated frame.

I'm still undecided about the grip saftey and how to have the frame finished. There is an outfit near me that does Ceracoat. Can anyone speak to that?

I found this to be a very enjoyable project. Hope your experience is the same.

Jim

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Christopher Miceli on Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:11 am

I believe Nelson plastics mags sit higher like if you used EGW high catch. But it was done by where they placed the catch in the mag. Check with Nelson to confirm.

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Wobbley on Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:35 am

What you're looking for is called an Arkansas stone file set. http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/stones/gunsmith-s-premium-arkansas-stone-file-set-prod625.aspx

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by jglenn21 on Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:33 am

the 250 radius on the grip safety will work on a Caspian frame.. I've used quite a few  Brown safeties with them... today I much prefer the 220 radius on a Capsian and the EGW is a great fit..

Cerakote is a great finish  very tough and thin.. But it has to be applied correctly.. try and find a certified Cerakote applier. Most are listed on their site.

I'd suggest you get KC's trigger control setup if you are not planning on doing a set yourself..  talk with him about what you want in a trigger...

Most pin kits are just fine.. EGW's tend to run on the large side of spec and may require a bit of fitting.. The Brownell's own brand set is nice for the $$

the trigger track on Caspians tends to be a bit rough(casting) so the trigger track stone from Brownells is worth your money.

I use quite a few Brown thumb safeties...very nice finish and fit

enjoy your project

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Jon Eulette on Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:10 am

Christopher Miceli wrote:I believe Nelson plastics mags sit higher like if you used EGW high catch. But it was done by where they placed the catch in the mag.  Check with Nelson to confirm.
Use standard/stock magazine release with Nelson magazines.
Jon

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Keyholed on Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:43 am

jglenn21 wrote:I'd suggest you get KC's trigger control setup if you are not planning on doing a set yourself..  talk with him about what you want in a trigger...

Precisely the plan! I've never had a chance to so much as dry-fire a roll trigger, so I'm looking forward to it (and a trigger with adjustable pre/overtravel!). Good to know about the pins, too.

I was hoping to avoid buying a whole stoning set, but them's the breaks. The trigger track stone looks like a decent deal. I'll have to get all the parts together and see what I need.

I'm going with the stainless finish because I can't justify the expense of a professional finish--too much just to ship and (in my state) FFL the frame around. So I'll just be Scotchbriting any exterior filed areas, and then polishing the sides for a Klassy look. I'm debating between blued and stainless magazine release and thumb safety.

For carbon steel, there is the option of a bottle-blue job:

http://www.ktgunsmith.com/KTGS22.htm#_027

This guy did a blue-it-yourself job on a carbon Caspian frame. Didn't come out too bad. It is what it is.

Jon Eulette wrote:Use standard/stock magazine release with Nelson magazines.

Yes--the stock release on my Springfield frame has never given me a problem.

Keyholed

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by jglenn21 on Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:51 pm

if you want to go with the Carbon frame try finding a good Cerakote  person in your area.. if done right it's very tough...

cold blue simply doesn't hold up verses hot bluing...


best home solution is rust bluing... This is the best and easiest rust bluing around

http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/metal-bluing/specialty-bluing-chemicals/express-blue-1-prod8795.aspx

pretty simple to use... and good results

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by rich.tullo on Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:03 pm

I would go with SS less work. I used black parts and SS and it looks great. EGW mag catch may not work without fitting, too high. I would go with a regular GI mag catch to start and then see what you need, you may need a low mag catch. Mine will not hold he slide back but she is accurate and functions 100% so its not a big deal imho.  

Caspian sells grip safeties, I used a Wilson Drop in and it required some fitting my bet is Caspian will do better. 

C&S parts worked well on my frame did not require much fitting. I would invest in a sear jig and trigger box thingy to get the trigger right or spring for a trigger job by a good Bullseye gunsmith. At the end of the day mine came out 90% to 95% of the cost of getting one built by a known gunsmith and it cost me about $450 all in for the lower. 

So it can be done.

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by djw1cav on Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:47 pm

I built a dedicated Caspian lower for my Nelson conversion a little over a year ago.  Like you it was my first build.  The one lesson I learned that was not mentioned in the posts above is that the frame/conversion fit does not have to be super tight.  When I was planning the build everything I read said slide frame fit was supposed to be tight.  So I sized the frame for a tight fit and it worked fine in the summer, but it would not eject the spent case when it got cold.  After several weeks of blaming the ammo, the oil, the springs and anything else I could think of I remembered that the coefficient of expansion for alum. is 2.5 times that of stainless steel.  The aluminum slide was contracting more than the frame and slowing the slide so much that the gun would not cycle properly.  So I took .0005" off of each side of the slide and the gun started to cycle perfectly.  I tested it down to down to 30 degrees F and it still ran well.

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Dr.Don on Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:13 pm

Since the barrel on a Nelson or Marvel is clamped to the frame, you do not need any slide fitting with these conversions.  Loose is fine. In fact, a dedicated lower is a great place to use a snappy looking stainless frame because there is no chance of galling because you leave the slide loose.

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Jon Eulette on Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:28 pm

I've never needed to fit a receiver to accept a conversion slide. The conversion slide will typically sit approx. 0.020" forward of rear of receiver.  Just like Don said, the barrel is fixed to the receiver when assembled, so slide fit isn't critical.
Jon

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Skid on Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:14 pm

This is a very interesting topic and has been helpful , question #1 when using that "Mark Lee Express lube #1" I don't understand what they mean when they say "carding"
 question #2 using that bluing you have to reapply a couple times ? or just once or what ?

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by r_zerr on Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:53 pm

Skid,

the bluing solution is what used to be more commonly referred to as a "Belgian Blue."
The color, depth and coverage comes from several applications where the stuff is but on and it forms an oxide, usually brownish. Carding refers to using the very soft, de-greased steel wool or a "carding brush," to remove the brownish oxide from the steel, leaving what starts out as greyish, then transitioning to blue-black over several applications.

Rust blue is similar, except the items to be blued are placed in a closed "closet" along with an open bottle of rather caustic bluing solution, whose vapors alone caused the items to rust overnight.  The reaction, carding, and follow up are same as the efforts in a Belgian Blue.  The chemical vapors in rust bluing are caustic enough that barrels have to be plugged in this process, or they rust too.

Rust blue is the classic process that old Winchesters, and many other arms were subjected to. Color and depth of blue was a factor of the chemicals used to cause the rust, combined with elbow grease of polishing and carding.  Of course, this all occurred once upon a time in a land far, far away, long before plastic guns, bead-blasting, and cerakote where even a bad dream from a corporate cost-savings scheme. :-)

-Ron

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Skid on Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:02 pm

Thank you Ron.
 I know nothing about bluing and I have held off from buying some receivers to make some dedicated lowers for my nelson conversion's.

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by djw1cav on Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:12 pm

Here is a photo of my stainless Caspian (Foster) frame with Nelson conversion.  IMHO it looks good.  I like it better than my all dark range officer.



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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Skid on Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:09 am

Thanks djw1cav for the picture.

Skid

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by jglenn21 on Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:35 am

right now Caspian has the Foster carbon receivers for $100 and SS for $110

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Re: Building a 1911 Receiver -- Questions

Post by Jon Eulette on Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:09 am

I own 2 Fosters. They are excellent. Fosters are Caspian 2nds. Great for conversions.
Jon

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