Can I do this?
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Old 03-10-2009, 04:23 AM   #1
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Default Can I do this?

Hey guys, first post here looking forward to being a member... I just bought my first 1911, a Kimber Eclipse Custom. I also bought a bunch of parts for it, and am wondering if I should try to install them or hire a local gunsmith. I am fairly handy with basic tools, but have never done any gun work. I did buy the Wilson Combat 1911 maintenance manual which breaks down 1911disassembly and assembly with nice step by step photos..

So here are the parts I'm adding:

Rowland 460 kit (I know I can handle this one)
Wilson Ambi safety and S&A ambi mag release (I'm a lefty)
Wilson trigger
S&A magwell/mainspring housing unit
new grips
Kimber adjustable sights (The dovetail replacement kind)


Its the safety and trigger I'm not sure of, as I believe I'll have to completely disassembe the gun. I like the idea of learning how to do this myself, but I also want it done right and have found a recommended local gunsmith who quoted me $100 for the job... What do you think? Thanks,

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Old 03-10-2009, 04:57 AM   #2
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As long as they are "drop-in" parts you should be fine. I've bought drop-in parts for my RIA .45 and not had any trouble. Most places you buy parts for will tell you if they are drop-in or if they need a gunsmith to install.

If you don't feel comfortable with it you should talk to a gunsmith just to be on the safe side. Wouldn't want the gun to have a major malfunction while you're shooting it.

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Old 03-10-2009, 05:10 AM   #3
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As you say, you have no gunsmithing experience. Many "drop in" parts don't actually drop in and require hand fitting. If you feel up to the task, by all means go ahead. If not, spend the hundred bucks and get it done right without any headaches.
Oh, and make sure the gunsmith does well with 1911's. Many guns have been screwed up by incompetent gunsmiths.

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Old 03-10-2009, 02:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ChrisDM View Post
Hey guys, first post here looking forward to being a member... I just bought my first 1911, a Kimber Eclipse Custom. I also bought a bunch of parts for it, and am wondering if I should try to install them or hire a local gunsmith. I am fairly handy with basic tools, but have never done any gun work. I did buy the Wilson Combat 1911 maintenance manual which breaks down 1911disassembly and assembly with nice step by step photos..

So here are the parts I'm adding:

Rowland 460 kit (I know I can handle this one)
Wilson Ambi safety and S&A ambi mag release (I'm a lefty)
Wilson trigger
S&A magwell/mainspring housing unit
new grips
Kimber adjustable sights (The dovetail replacement kind)


Its the safety and trigger I'm not sure of, as I believe I'll have to completely disassembe the gun. I like the idea of learning how to do this myself, but I also want it done right and have found a recommended local gunsmith who quoted me $100 for the job... What do you think? Thanks,
Chris - Welcome to the Forum.

Okay, a few random thoughts and then I will get the meat of your question

1) Nice choice in the Kimber Eclipse - The guy's gun shop I work in has one and it's a great pistol.

2) You say you have no experience in gunsmithing. To be honest, the 1911 is not the ideal first practice piece in this endevour. Just my $0.02

3) Why the trigger? Just out of curiosity, be the stock trigger from Kimber can be tuned to a very reliable street carry pull of around 3.5-4# without too much effort. Is this just preference? Or did you read somewhere that it was the best and therefor it simply must be had?

4) .460 Rowland - Welcome to the Club! In my signature you will find a link to an on going build off with another forum member here ( I am building mine on a Kimber ). The thread has a lot of useful information about the cartridge and what to expect. And there is the stuff Cane wrote....LOL

5) You're worried about replacing the safety but the dovetail sight change out isn't giving you pause?? Be afraid - One tiny tap too much on that dovetail and you can split them. I have done this, it wasn't the adjustable sights, it was a fixed tritium model, and I was a moron, don't follow my lead on this.

For the basic answer to your question - I would pay the $100, but ask if you can watch the process so you know what is going on. Several "drop in" parts, especially for the 1911 platforms DO NOT drop right in and will require hand fitting. Too much hand fitting and you now have an unreliable carry pistol.

Check to see that your 'smith actually builds 1911's. Everyone thinks they can fine tune the basic firearms ( boltguns, AR's 1911's ) but some people aren't as qualified as others. Make sure this guy is a 1911 builder. A good thing to find out is if he is a member of the 1911 Builders Guild ( I forget the real name, but anyone that is a member will immediately know what you are talking about ).

Good luck and post some pictures when you get the final project done, I would be most interested to see the end results.

Best of Luck -

JD
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:49 AM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback guys... JD, I followed your buildoff, it was one of the reasons I'm building one of my own, so thanks!

As for the trigger replacement, I just like the look of the Wilson better, and I know its a good trigger. As for the job, I've decided to let this guy do it. He tells me he's built many 1911s. I asked him if I could "watch and learn", but he said the last guy he let into his workshop got popped with a spring in the face and sued him, so... No. I do want to learn though, i may pick up an old Colt someday and pick it apart. Not my new $1200 Kimber though!

Thanks again for the words of wisdom guys. I happen to be a professional photographer and am looking forward to photographing a couple pistol projects I'm working on. Will post the pics here!

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Old 03-19-2009, 03:28 AM   #6
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Just an update guys... I couldn't resist installing these parts myself. I picked up my new Kimber this morning, fired a couple hundred rounds through it and took it to the gunsmith for the upgrades. He said he couldn't get to it til Friday so I said I'd bring it back then. So I got it home, got it into pieces and that's where it will stay until Friday!

And actually the step I was really having trouble with was getting that 24lb 460 Rowland spring onto the 2 piece guide rod assembly. What a pain in the @$$... I also couldn't get the thumb safety out of the frame... But I did get the new mainspring housing/magwell in!

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Old 03-21-2009, 05:50 AM   #7
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Old 03-21-2009, 07:59 AM   #8
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... I also couldn't get the thumb safety out of the frame... But I did get the new mainspring housing/magwell in!
The trick to removing the thumb safety is to have the hammer cocked.
Start to apply the safety and pull it out of the receiver. It should release when it travels just past the plunger. With a new gun it will be tight so just wiggle it or apply pressure to the passenger side of the pin. It will not come out in the full (off or on) position. DO NOT FORCE IT! You do not need to, just jiggle it out.

You will need to modify your passenger side grip to allow the ambi to work. That or get new grips.

What type mag well did you get? arched or flat?

How about some photos? Here's a little secret; take photos as you take apart a gun for the first time. Then you can follow the digital bread crumbs back to full and correct assembly!

Take that 20# spring with you to the range for your first blush with the 460. If you start getting FTEs step down to the 20 and see if that corrects the problem.

I hope you swapped out the FP spring with the Wolff that came in the kit! If not, do it now! You don't even need to strip off the slide, just put the gun in slide stop and swap out the FP spring while the slide hangs over the hammer.

Is the Kimber Eclipse Custom a model 80 type with the safety nazi required FP safety system? JD, anyone, a little help here? If it is, it's not a show stopper but will require three hands or a friend to help chase down the parts that are surely to fly if you have little experience.

The reason you need to swap out the spring is simple; there is so much physics happening with the 460 that without the xtra-power FP spring you will experience unacceptable FP drag and mushrooming of the primers. You are shooting a cartridge that's damn near three times as powerful as the standard 45 ACP. Yes, it's that impressive! But the thing I found a little anti-climatic was the recoil. That comp hanging 1 1/2 " out from the muzzle really works! Don't get me wrong, I'm not disappointed, just surprised how efficient the system works! You have a real hand cannon there! WELCOME to the fraternity.

Georgia Arms is now producing 230gr Gold Dot Hollow Points.

Georgia Arms - .460 ROWLAND

I have yet to try them but its on my dance card.

I don't know where you live but here in Ft. Lauderdale G.A. has a booth at our gun show and here's a little secret. I call G.A. and order the 460s (or any other ammo) I need and they have my order waiting for me when I get there! I don't need to worry about getting there late and they have sold out. Here's the real benefit, If I order and have the ammo shipped to me I pay for the freight and if I just buy the ammo at the show I pay the 6% FL sales tax. If I call and order (not pay) and go to the show I pick up my "internet" order and don't pay freight or tax. Internetz for the WIN!!!

PM me if you want and I will be glad to help you get this conversion right! No sense in you needing to reinvent the wheel.

Here's some more info on mags, check it out:

http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f57/1911-mags-11991/#post84096

WELCOME again.
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Old 03-21-2009, 09:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ChrisDM View Post
So here are the parts I'm adding:
Rowland 460 kit (I know I can handle this one)
Wilson Ambi safety and S&A ambi mag release (I'm a lefty)
Wilson trigger
S&A magwell/mainspring housing unit
new grips
Kimber adjustable sights (The dovetail replacement kind)

Its the safety and trigger I'm not sure of, as I believe I'll have to completely disassembe the gun. I like the idea of learning how to do this myself, but I also want it done right and have found a recommended local gunsmith who quoted me $100 for the job... What do you think? Thanks,
Please do not try to replace the sights if you are inexperienced!!!

Sights that are dovetailed into the slide WILL NOT come out by applying shock pressure!! (hammer and drift pin) This interference fit requires constant pressure applied by a specific arbor mechanism sometimes called a sight pusher. Do not take a hammer and drift to this $3K gun!! When I investigated the method and cost to remove/replace sights I found most smiths charge ~$100 for the swap. This is not because it requires some uber talent. They charge that because they can, the reason is simple. The tool to remove the sights (from a 1911) costs ~ $150 and most people see this as a $50 savings to have it done.

Not me, I found this tool: The B & J Machine PI Model 500 Universal Front and Rear Sight Tool at Midway on sale ($108) and can swap out or adjust my non-adjustable sights when I want.

MidwayUSA - B & J Machine PI Model 500 Universal Front and Rear Sight Tool

This small arbor applies the correct pressure and makes sight changing a snap leaving NO witness marks!

Here is the deal of the year! Send me your slide with the sights you want installed. I'll do the swap with 1 day turnaround and not charge you a penny.......well no money. I'll do it if I can keep the removed sights. The only thing it will cost you is the shipping cost because you already have purchased the adjustable sights. Speaking of that, did you get the complete set or just the rear sight? If I'm correct, the front sight needs to be taller if you go with the adjustable rear.

To entice you further, while I have your slide, I can swap out the Wolff FP spring from the CCG kit (if you sent it along), make sure the FP galley is burr free and lube and protect this ignition sub-system, while I have the slide apart, I will measure the extractor pressure and record it for you, and finally I will put the canebrake touch on the firing pin stop/hammer interface and breech face.
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Old 03-22-2009, 10:32 PM   #10
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Cane- that is a bargain for a sight adjustment tool. I recently sat quivering in fear as I took a 1/4" wooden dowel to my NHC rear sight two weeks ago to make a windage adjustment... I am not the type to start fiddling with my guns as I have exactly zero gun smithing under my belt. It worked out for the better with nary a mark to my new baby, and she is spot on now- but I wished I had this tool you linked too. that is a very reasonably price. Ordering one now...

OP- We need some pictures.

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