1911 slide lapping 101

Discussion in '1911 Forum' started by canebrake, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    I'm going to post a How-To thread on lapping in your 1911 slide. Some members have had some issues and I had a baptism of fire getting my SS XSE Government to cycle properly with the 460 Rowland kit installed so I thought I'd share my experience.

    This project is a rather simple DIY project and on a required skillz scale of 1-10 you will need to be a 5. (And no Ineffable, I don't need to say which end of the scale is low!)

    The equipment you will need to perform this operation, besides your standard 1911 strip-down tools, are:

    • Lapping compound and I suggest the Wheeler Engineering Lapping Compound Kit $ON SALE$ here > Wheeler Engineering Lapping Compound Kit (1 oz each of 220, 320, 600 Grit Compound) - MidwayUSA
    • You will also need a small art/flux brush to spread the compound in the lands and groves of your slide.
    • Some good dish soap like Dawn.
    • A scrub brush that will fit in the lands and grooves of the slide.
    • Have at least one can of Brakeclean, maybe two. I can never have too many cans lying around for gun cleaning.
    • A 5 gallon pickle bucket or something similar to wash the lapped parts between grits.
    • Have plenty of shop towels and shop air (compressed air) to blow out dirt and dry the parts. A can of computer dust-off works just as good.
    • Q-tips are a must! Best thing to clean the firing pin and extractor channels.
    1. Lapping compound
    2. Compound brush
    3. Dish soap
    4. Scrub brush
    5. Brakeclean
    6. Q-Tips
    7. Shop/compressed air
    8. Shop towels
    9. Bucket
    10. Whatever CLP you use
    11. Plenty of elbow grease

    I’m going to re-lap the Colt and take photos for this demonstration.

    Hang in there; I'm a retired engineer so sometimes I go a tad fast. If that happens just let me know.
     
  2. Drrhein

    Drrhein New Member

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    Excellent! I now have the kit and am ready to go.

    Dennis
     

  3. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

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    Thank you. I like to see how others do things and what I can incorporate into my process. Thumbs up!
     
  4. spittinfire

    spittinfire New Member Supporter

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    Cane, this will come in very handy for me as I start the 1911 build.
     
  5. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    This sounds good. I love learning new firearm skills.
     
  6. Drrhein

    Drrhein New Member

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    Any news on this?
     
  7. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Sorry guys, I had a bad week.

    Let's start with the required materials and tools.

    Lapping compound w/brushs:
    [​IMG]

    Dish soap:
    [​IMG]

    Scrub brush:
    [​IMG]

    Brakeclean:
    [​IMG]

    Q-Tips and Shop towels:
    qtip.jpg

    Shop/compressed air:
    dustoff.jpg

    Bucket:
    BUCKET (1).jpg

    Whatever CLP you use:
    clps.jpg
     
  8. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Next step, completely strip your 1911, everything except;
    1. Sights
    2. Plunger tube (remove the spring & plungers)
    3. Grip bushings
    4. Ejector

    While you have it in this most revealing condition, inspect everything.

    [​IMG]

    NOTE: Slide lapping is the art of removing interference fitting areas of the slide channel. To remove metal, you MUST remove all lubricant!

    • Get your soap and mix with hot water in the bucket.
    • Place the large parts (receiver, slide) in the bucket.
    • Place your small parts in a strainer and dip in the soapy water. th_sive.jpg
    • Scrub all parts until void of any lubricant.
    • Lay parts out on a clean shop towel and re-inspect everything. Look at the wear areas and for cracks or galling.

    This is the time to decide if you are going to lap other areas besides the slide, or maybe just a clean-up with a greenie or foam backed sand paper.

    [​IMG]

    Trigger Bow ^

    [​IMG]

    Slide stop ^

    [​IMG]

    Barrel ^

    Using your compressed air, clean all the nooks and crannies. Use the q-tips to clean the extractor and firing pin channels.

    If you find any trace of lube, draw more hot water, add the Dawn and re-do the scrub thingie.

    When you are comfortable with the cleaning, proceed to the next step.
     
  9. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Lapping;

    Take the compound brush and the courses (lower number, 220) compound and apply to both the receiver and slide channels.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Assemble the slide onto the receiver and be careful as the compound will "scrape-off" as you marry the two parts. With the slide to the rear, take the excess "scraped" compound and apply it to the inside rails through the ejection port. Slowly move the slide forward applying the compound the full length of the rail.

    With the compound applied, start the slide cycling going the full length of travel. Avoid slamming the dust cover against the feed ramp/barrel lug machining.

    You will feel the compound cutting the high spots with a grinding feedback. Keep cycling until the feedback disappears. If compound is forming on the outside of the slide, use the brush to re-apply it through the ejection port until the "grinding" feedback ceases.

    The compound will consume itself into a liquid media darkening with the suspended, removed metal. When you are sure it has stopped working, cycle the slide another 50 times.

    Separate the two parts and using the bucket and the Brakleen, completely clean the parts until the compound is gone.

    Blow dry the parts and inspect for wear areas. This will show you where the high spots are located. Re-apply the 220 grit compound insuring the high spots are well coated. Following the above step, continue until the current compound is spent.

    Repeat the step at least one more time with the 220 grit for a total of three applications.

    Now repeat the above using the the two remaining grits, 320 and 660 for a minimum of 9 total applications. Do more of each grit if needed. NEVER go back to a more course grit! It's a waste of time and money. If you do each grit three times, it will be done. More is never better when you are removing metal!

    Do a final wash of all parts with the Brakleen followed with soap, and dry completely. Coat all parts with CLP and reassemple your 1911.

    DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CLEANED PARTS UNPROTECTED FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME! Rust (oxidation) never sleeps.

    Let me know how this worked for you.

    cane
     
  10. IGETEVEN

    IGETEVEN New Member

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    This needs to be stickyed Boss! :cool:
     
  11. lonyaeger

    lonyaeger New Member

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    Very well done, Dude! We appreciate it. :)
     
  12. Drrhein

    Drrhein New Member

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    Did the lapping procedure yesterday just as you described. Was amazed to see where the high spots were when changing grits, not at all where I thought. Smooth as butter now. Will go to the range tomorrow and shoot 100 rounds. If the slide doesn't hesitate I'll consider the problem solved. I'm also trying a new ammo, Speer Lawman clean-fire which I've heard is 90% cleaner than wally world ammo. I've also read that the ammo got a bad rep a while back because of overly hard primers. However Speer assured me that that problem was solved so I'm giving that a try. I'll take pics of the Springfield after I'm done. With wally world ammo the first inch and a half back from the muzzle is usually black so we'll see if that improves with the clean-fire.
     
  13. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Drrhein, tell everyone how hard the lapping process was.

    Cake walk! And a great job for anyone to do to improve the cycling of your 1911. With the slide lapped-in, you can now experiment with spring weights fine-tuning your cycle time without the friction variable.
     
  14. Drrhein

    Drrhein New Member

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    Took me all afternoon, maybe 6 hours. Arm is still sore. must've taken several hundred cycles per grit before achieving that "grit used up" feeling. This is labor intensive so I can't help but wonder how the factory does it?
     
  15. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Labor (time) intense yes, but other than elbow grease, only medium skillz required.

    On most production guns, they don't. (~<$1,500 guns)

    I'm sure you have heard of the term "hand fitting"?

    Well you now have a slide that's "hand fitted" for your 1911. :p



    Did you get to the range today? Inquiring minds need to know! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  16. Drrhein

    Drrhein New Member

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    Slide lap range report

    Finally got to the range today to fire my Springfield 1911A1 Loaded match, after performing Cane's slide-lap procedure..

    The difference is amazing!! SSooo smooth, didn't hesitate or miss a beat. Shot 100 rounds and was so pleased I shot another 100. No failures of any kind just workmanlike performance, as it should be right out of the box. Even after 200 rounds, the slide is smooth as butter and the binding, gritty action is gone.

    Sadly, the companies that build firearms today have shaved the dime so close that what you get for the thousand dollar mid-range price still needs hand fitting.

    Hats off to Cane for this wonderful bit of effort to show us how it's done..
     
  17. Wyatt Earp

    Wyatt Earp New Member

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    Questions about lapping

    Thank you Cane for the informative post. I've thought about lapping my 1911's in the past and I have a couple of questions. I'm sure, as with any good thing, lapping can be taken too far. What signs of when "enough is enough" and if taken too far can accuracy be affected in the negative? I'm worried that I'll just be introducing normal wear faster and would require refitting of the slide sooner rather than later. If my weapons function properly and I don't have any concerns would I be better off leaving well enough alone? Do my concerns make any sense? Thanks for any and all knowledgeable opinions.
     
  18. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    As a retired engineer I will share with you my well/over used mantra; "Never change a running assembly." What's to gain? You will need to run your scheduled PMs which should include lube and visual inspections. Only make changes when indicated.
     
  19. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    very interresting i think even i would be able to do that.

    all my 1911's rattle like toddlers in a toys'r'us.

    i take i wouldnt need to do that for loose 1911's. i dont have feed issues with any of mine.

    sorry if it seems im being dense.
     
  20. Wenonah

    Wenonah New Member

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    I wouldn't worry about lapping a loose 1911 unless it is misbehaving in some way. I would also be hesitant to lap an aluminum frame unless I had someplace already set up to anodize it after it had been lapped. It's probably OK without the anodized finish but I can't help thinking that the additional hardness would help reduce wear.