Can I do this?

Discussion in '1911 Forum' started by ChrisDM, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. ChrisDM

    ChrisDM New Member

    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,
  2. dragunovsks

    dragunovsks New Member

    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.:eek:

  3. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

    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. :rolleyes:
  4. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    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? :p

    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. :D

    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 -

  5. ChrisDM

    ChrisDM New Member

    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!
  6. ChrisDM

    ChrisDM New Member

    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!
  7. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    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:

    WELCOME again.
  8. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    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.
  9. Slawth

    Slawth New Member

    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...:cool:

    OP- We need some pictures.
  10. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    Slawth, It's on sale!

    MidwayUSA - B & J Machine Model 500 Universal Front and Rear Sight Tool
  11. ChrisDM

    ChrisDM New Member

    Cane & JD, thanks so much for the great advice here. Finally an update (sadly) and some pics... First the pics:

    A group photo, out with some friends in the desert last weekend:


    And my buddy firing the 460:


    And now the bad news: The gun first went back to the gunsmith because the slide locked back (wouldn't return to feed the first round). The guy had to file a bit of the slide release lever off to allow the slide to come forward. The bad side effect was that the slide wouldn't lock back after the last round (it always returned forward no matter what), but at least I was shooting...

    So I took it out again a couple times, and the first round was always difficult to chamber. I tried a few different magazines, the Wilsons never gave me FTFs except on the first round, but always difficult getting the first round in, no matter what mag I tried... But at least the gun fired still.

    Then the new Novak rear sight got completely blown off. Back to the 'smith again, he had to drill a larger sinkhole and add a drop of Locktite to get the sight to hold.

    And finally last weekend my buddy was shooting it, we had gone thought maybe 50 or 60 rounds, and the slide release lever and detent pin (the pin behind the slide release) came completely off and out halfway through a magazine. I found the slide lever but never found the pin. I ordered another one from Kimber this morning, and another slide release lever.

    So, I'm beginning to think I'm just going to convert it back to 45, it seems either the parts can't hold up to the round or the gunsmith can't handle the job. BTW he was the only person I could find in my area that would do the work for me (remember I also added an ambi safety, magwell/MSH, trigger and new sights).. This is a brand new beautiful Kimber and I don't want it taking any more of this abuse....

    What do you guys think?
  12. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    Was the cause of the lock-back determined by the smith? I don't think it had anything to do with the slide stop. I think filing on the slide stop had a lot to do with the failure you talk about later.
    I'm only guessing because the Kimber site does not state, but the replacement slide stops (at $19.95) are probably MIM. You really want a good forged unit like:

    NightHawk Forged Slide Stop

    Or machined:

    EGW Heavy Duty Slide Stop
    Ed Brown Hardcore Slide Stop
    Wilson Combat Bullet Proof Slide Stop

    I had the same problem with the lock-back and I found the problem to be a sticky slide channel and a barrel bushing hanging up. I solved both by hand lapping with Wheeler Engineering - Lapping Compound Midway-Wheeler Engineering Lapping Compound Kit starting with the 220 and working up to the 600 grit. You will find that the bushing is free for the most part of the barrel but when you get it to the threaded, muzzle end, there seams to be a processing issue that causes the barrel to swell. This causes the bushing to hang when the gun goes into battery lock. Hand lapping cured both these issues on Fenrir.

    I also had the problem with the slide not locking back after the last round. I determined this to a couple of issues. My first was the gun would FTE on every round due to the fact that the 24# recoil spring wasn't allowing the slide to fully recoil to the rear resulting in the spent casing failing to contact the ejector and not ejecting. By reducing the spring pressure (clear down to 18# with one coil clipped) I got the FTE corrected but stumbled onto the next issue. The cycle time is much faster with the 460 due to the increased pressure. When using magazines with poly (tupperware!) followers the time over the slide stop is insignificant and fails to engage the stop. By switching to the Tripp Research Cobra Mag (with metal slide stop interface) this problem was eliminated!

    Tripp Research Cobra Mag


    Are you returning the slide by hand to load the first round or are you letting the slide returned on its own?

    Fenrir does the same FTF when babied but give the slide stop a quick thumb release and bang, the first round is at battery. Give the gun its head and let it do the work. JMB didn't design a 1911 to be babied!

    He didn't use locktite the first time?? And the novak actually came out of the dovetail??

    Me thinks you may need to ferret out a new smith! I told you I would do the swap for you!

    See above. ^

    Your Kimber is, and will be fine. You just need to do some tuning to get this hand cannon running. I'm weird like everyone here will verify. I enjoy working on my guns and fixing or improving them with the end result being a canebrake gun.

    Don't give up on this outstanding package. (Besides, we won't let you leave the fraternity! Once a member, always a member! Right JD?)
  13. ChrisDM

    ChrisDM New Member

    Thanks again for all the help Cane... I guess I made the mistake of taking it literally when Clark Custom said their 460 kit was "drop in"... They didn't mention needing lapping compounds or forged replacement parts etc in order for it to work properly. I would rather have a 45 I can count on than a 460 I have to cross my fingers with.
  14. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

    With all due respect to Clark Custom Guns, This is a significant change to the 1911. Going in, I took the "Drop-in" statement with a grain of salt.

    Of course the reason for my attitude is that I have installed 100s of drop-in parts before this project and each is an experience unto itself.

    Guns, like any operating assemblies are best when left in their "system engineered" or stock condition. When you start to change parts to that assembly you must be willing to re-engineer that which is necessary.

    Gun customizing is not an instant gratification sport. It requires a dogged pursuit of perfection.

    That or just "Blind Luck" like our friend JD seams to enjoy! [​IMG]