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1911 spring replacement

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Post by hengehold Wed Jan 10, 2024 12:40 am

Do I need to replace the recoil and main springs periodically on a 1911? 

If so, how often? 

-Trevor

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Post by BE Mike Wed Jan 10, 2024 8:17 am

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Unless you are noticing a problem with not stripping from the magazine, the slide not closing on a live round or the empties eject with excessive force and the slide battering the frame, don't worry about it.
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Post by SteveT Wed Jan 10, 2024 9:39 am

As a general rule you should replace your springs every 50-100k rounds along with the barrel and bushing  1911 spring replacement  1f60b .

To be serious, I have heard that springs can affect accuracy... from a multi-time national champion. My take is if you are looking to maintain the last 1/4-1/2" of accuracy, then changing springs, or at least testing the gun's accuracy every few thousand rounds is a good idea. For us mere mortals, it probably doesn't matter much.
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Post by chiz1180 Wed Jan 10, 2024 12:43 pm

In general springs can fail and/or degrade. The more cycles a spring has experienced, the more likely it is to have degraded performance. Similarly the harder you work a spring the shorter its useful life will be.

I have had to replace the recoil spring on my wad gun once because its performance degraded, also needed to replace a mainspring in another gun. The indicator of problem in this case was function not accuracy.

In regards to accuracy, how the gun is sprung matters in regard to spring weight. I personally do not have any data on round vs flat coils or full length or gi guide rod.
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Post by kc.crawford.7 Wed Jan 10, 2024 1:12 pm

I'll add this in. Don't disagree with the other posts. But, a spring is a spring until it isn't. I've had bad, recoil, sear and mainsprings right out of the package. Bad metallurgy, bad heat treat or someone didn't hold their tongue right that day. If you start noticing more felt recoil and or your ejection is going into the next county, probably time to replace your recoil spring.

Just my .02 cents.
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Post by hengehold Wed Jan 10, 2024 11:26 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I noticed the Wilson Combat recoil springs I have say the service life for each spring is 4k rds but they are in the business of selling more springs :-)

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Post by Froneck Thu Jan 11, 2024 2:23 pm

Accuracy depends on uniformity. If a gun is built with a spring of a particulate compression amount accuracy will change if the spring changes, function also. As KC said a lot depends on the manufacture. Any changes in the alloy or heat treating will determine spring life as well as the actual compression new. I purchased a few springs from EGW, they seemed not to be the weight I requested. When asking what their test results were of their springs they replied they didn't have a spring tester and used the compression rating by the spring supplier. That prompted me to make one though I purchased all I haven't had the time to build it. However I did have a simple tester that did nothing more than determined compression change. When using a spring in my build guns I tested the spring as to how much it compressed with a given weight. When doing maintenance I checked the spring to see if it were the same as it was. If not I selected a spring that matched the compression of the spring that was used when the gun was first built. Recoil spring is in preload compression and compress the spring to near max when used. As with everything else the metal will slowly yield to the force upon it, springs are no different.

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Post by Pinetree Thu Jan 11, 2024 8:21 pm

Considering the amount of money I have invested in this hobby, changing the springs in both of my pistols once a year seems reasonable to me.

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Post by Froneck Thu Jan 11, 2024 9:10 pm

Before simply replacing the spring yearly You should make a simple gauge as I mentioned. When I was involved in making a spring tester I found not everyone measures the compressed length the same. The weight of the spring as listed is supposed to be the pressure required at the length of the spring when the slide is at the full rearward travel. Simply replacing a what was thought to be a (for example) 16 pound may not have been 16 pounds and the replacement be different also. So what might be the result is a still good recoil spring being replaced with one that is different.

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Post by tovaert Fri Jan 12, 2024 10:30 am

Wouldn't a simple "fish-scale" type device work...just hang a few different weights and measure the changes in length, then plot? That gives you "k"...the spring constant. Multiply that value by the initial compression length in battery plus the distance your slide moves from in battery to fully open. Those are probably linear dimensions that can be measured accurately. That gives you the spring #weight.

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Post by gweber Fri Jan 12, 2024 10:59 am

I change them once a year because the spring is dirt cheap compared to what the pistol cost to build

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Post by Froneck Fri Jan 12, 2024 12:57 pm

Fish scale will work especially if using it to compare compression to the compression of the spring that's in the 1911 when the spring was new and unused. Scale accuracy is not important since it's used only as a comparison.
 If I were to replace 1911 spring every year i would only purchase the spring from maker like Wolff. Measuring the recoil spring simply confirms the replacement spring is that same as the old spring when new. Therefore a spring from one maker is measured at the same compression length

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Post by Wobbley Fri Jan 12, 2024 1:06 pm

tovaert wrote:Wouldn't a simple "fish-scale" type device work...just hang a few different weights and measure the changes in length, then plot? That gives you "k"...the spring constant. Multiply that value by the initial compression length in battery plus the distance your slide moves from in battery to fully open. Those are probably linear dimensions that can be measured accurately. That gives you the spring #weight.
It’s easier to measure the “free length” then compress to the “load Gauge” length measuring the load.  The load gauge length for a 1911 is 1.625 inches.  The free length is the length sitting on the table.  Even then there’s tolerances involved.  The spring free length is 6.55 inches if it has 29 active coils and one coil “squared”.  The gauge is what the advertised “spring load” you think you have. Remember there are tolerances on all this and the spring load tolerance is 20%.  So a 16 pound spring might be 15.2 pounds and be within manufacturing tolerance. 

Here’s info from Brownells.  https://feeds.brownells.com/userdocs/learn/bt002003.pdf
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Post by Froneck Fri Jan 12, 2024 2:42 pm

In the chart provided the compressed weight at 1.81" is 13.55lbs +/- .60lb. That equal to +/- 4.44% Not sure if the 20% posted is +/-, assuming it is not then 16 pound spring can be 14.4lbs and still be in spec.
 When I talked to Wolff I was told the compressed length weight is at 1.625", chart gives 1.81" and when talking to well known top gunsmith he said he used an average length to make a gauge taken from IMSI springs and it was slightly over 2"
 That's why I measure the length of compression of a working new spring so that when replaced I will install the same spring! From what your saying at 20% (not +/-20%) or +/-10% a 16lb spring will vary from 14.4lb to 17.6 lb. Therefore a spring what was actually 14.4lbs could be replaced with a spring that is actually 17.6lbs. or the reverse!
 When I eventually get time to make my very accurate spring tested I will be able to provide accurate data. (so many projects so little time!!!!)

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Post by Wobbley Fri Jan 12, 2024 3:58 pm

Standard tolerances are 20%, 10% commands a premium and 5% can be held by selection only so they get expensive.  I remember a valve used in a hydraulic valve that was hand selected to very tight tolerances and cost 10.00 each but you could buy the similar spring in a hardware store for 5 cents.  They just made 1000 and selected from that batch..
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Post by SteveT Fri Jan 12, 2024 4:24 pm

Someone on this forum, I don't remember who, sold this spring weight checker several years ago. The concept would be pretty simple to duplicate. The smaller tube is for mainsprings, the larger square tube is for recoil springs.

There are marks on the side of the tube / channel for relaxed length and max compression length. It's pretty easy to pull the scale to the mark and read the value. I doubt I could rely on it for absolute measurements, but it is reliable to sort my springs and I can easily tell the difference between 14lb and 16lb.

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Post by Froneck Fri Jan 12, 2024 4:38 pm

Wobbly; OK but in normal tolerance designation indication as to the variation being Positive, Negative or both. +/-, + or - precede the tolerance. So if 20% and other percentages is a total therefore 20% is +/- 10%. In most cases tolerance is not in % but in actual amount. As in the chart the variation is given in actual deviation amount  being +/- .60lb.
 If a spring can vary as much as 20% simply replacing a spring with another of the same weight rating can cause problems. That will be greater if replacement spring can exceed rated value by +20% and -20%! If 20% is actually +/-10% then it's possible to have a 20% change in the replacement weight.
 A friend of mine has a recoil spring gauge similar to the small spring gauge, Round tube with a slot marked with the correct compression lengths marked also the same gauge for the smaller spring. Didn't come with a scale. I guess I can make a few if requested and they are not available else where!

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Post by hengehold Fri Jan 12, 2024 4:49 pm

I would love to have one of these spring testers. 
-Trevor 
SteveT wrote:Someone on this forum, I don't remember who, sold this spring weight checker several years ago. The concept would be pretty simple to duplicate. The smaller tube is for mainsprings, the larger square tube is for recoil springs.

There are marks on the side of the tube / channel for relaxed length and max compression length. It's pretty easy to pull the scale to the mark and read the value. I doubt I could rely on it for absolute measurements, but it is reliable to sort my springs and I can easily tell the difference between 14lb and 16lb.

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Post by chiz1180 Fri Jan 12, 2024 4:59 pm

Trevor,

https://www.dillonprecision.com/15305

Search 1911 spring tester, a few different people make them. also can be done with hardware store parts and a can do attitude.
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Post by hengehold Fri Jan 12, 2024 5:51 pm

chiz1180 wrote:Trevor,

https://www.dillonprecision.com/15305

Search 1911 spring tester, a few different people make them. also can be done with hardware store parts and a can do attitude.
Great, thanks for the link

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Post by jmoore Sat Jan 13, 2024 7:29 am

SteveT wrote:
1911 spring replacement  Img_4312
1911 spring replacement  Img_4313
Seems like it would be quite simple to mount it on a backing plate with a windlass of some sort to make it less tiring to use if you have a lot of springs. With a quick lock at various compression lengths it would be easier to record force measurements. Then you can cipher spring rates, and see if your springs are linear or variable rate.  (I have scads of "unknown" 1911 springs accumulated over 40 years.)

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Post by Froneck Sat Jan 13, 2024 7:43 am

I think that Dillon spring gauge is a good price. $45 would depend on what the shipping cost is. I'll check them out, handy gadget to have.
 My tester is a bit simpler and only to compare old spring (when new) to new replacement. Simple flat plate with 1" long bushing to keep guide rod straight. 2 screw holes to mount the plate. Guide rod with large diameter end that screws into a weight. Total weight of the weight and guide rod 16lbs. I then use machinist scale (6") to check compressed height

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Post by tovaert Sat Jan 13, 2024 10:36 am

Does it make sense to cycle a spring (some number of cycles) before weight consistency testing? I would think that Wolff, ISMI, etc., stress relieve springs but I don't know that for sure.

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Post by Froneck Sun Jan 14, 2024 11:36 am

During a build I have tested the spring new, then when complete tested it again but never seen any major change. Granted I used only one weight and was concerned with repeatability and would change the spring if it's was similar to new.  My main concern with the spring is the preload length. Accuracy depends on the closed slide and I used heavy springs to insure good closing. Of course I didn't want a too light spring so that my slide hammered back. Simply put the second testing was done when the build was complete and ready for match use. Distance was recorded so I could check it especially if accuracy changed. Vertical stringing was clue and sometimes a spring change cured the problem. Saved a lot of time.
 I doubt if the spring makers test every spring, they set up the winder check a few springs to insure set-up is correct then test a few to detect any changes. But I've never worked for any spring winder so I'm not sure what they do, nothing more than my best guess.

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