Tuesday, October 07, 2008

1911 maintenance without tools: A Modest Proposal

I love the 1911!

Part of the reason is that you can completely dis-assemble and reassemble the pistol using no tools other than the parts contained within.

Have you heard that legend?

Do you believe it?

Are you sure?

I mean ... are you really sure?

I'm curious how reasonable this proposition might be, so I contacted a local gunsmith (and USPSA Grand Master, whose name will not be mentioned at this time) with the proposition that he make the attempt to prove this legend.

His reply?

I'll think about that. I have heard the same thing, but have never tried it....
I don't blame him, not a bit.

I'm not sure it can be done, but I also think it's worth the effort to try.

So here's the challenge, which may be known as "The Process" (see below):

  1. Completely dis-assemble, and then re-assemble a Genuine 1911 (military surplus) Colt Pistol, SN. 31312** ca. 1918. No tools will be used, but parts of the pistol, ammunition and magazine (the stuff which one can reasonably expect to be available in the same time and space as the pistol) may be used as tools when and where seems appropriate. The pistol must be equally as functional after reassembly as it was before the process began.
  2. Perform the same process with a Kimber Custom pistol, which includes a full-length guide rod. This is perhaps the greater challenge because the manufacturer will assume that a "Geek Tool" will be constructed by the owner to remove the Guide Rod Assembly. The Geek Tool would normally be used to retain the recooil spring on the guide rod.
The limitations:
Both pistols are in my immediate possession, and I would/will make them available for the experiment.

Both pistols feature 'fixed sights'. Removal of the sights is not part of the problem, so both the front and rear sights will not be moved in the process. I'm confident that the barrel can be used as an adjustment tool, and the frame as a hammer, but sighting the pistol back to the current zero would be beyond the scope of this exercise. This will not be attempted during "The Process".

In addition, the Ejector is often 'peened' into the frame. It will not be necessary, nor advisable, to remove the Ejector.

The Plunger Tube as well need not be removed.

We're not trying to make this process beyond the means of a primary arsenal maintenance effort.

Whatever techniques are used for this project must leave the parts un-damaged. If this is shown to be not possible, that will be valuable information. The criteria is that the pistol must function as perfectly after the process as it was before the process. Obviously, this implies that the pistol(s) must be test-fired both before and after the process.

The Details:
I've given this some thought, and I can see how certain parts may serve a particular purpose.

For example, the dis-assembly of the 1911 may be performed at two levels. The parts may be referenced in the 1911 Schematic, and the process of reassembly is demonstrated in this animated video.

The first level is to Field-Strip the pistol.
The barrel bushing is rotated counter-clockwise to remove the Recoil Spring Plug. The slide stop is removed, allowing the slide to be detached from the frame. The Recoil Spring assembly (Recoil Spring, Guide Rod) can be removed and dis-assembled. The barrel is removed.

The second level is to Field Strip the Slide Assembly.
the firing pin is depressed to allow the Firing Pin Stop to be removed. This allows (in turn) the firing pin, firing pin spring, and extractor to be removed.

The third level is to Detail Strip the Frame Assembly.
This specifically includes the mainspring housing assembly, the hammer and sear assembly, the trigger assembly the magazine assembly, the safety assembly and the grips.

Have I left anything out? Fine, except for the exceptions listed below ... that goes, too.

Essentially, after the completion of of the Third Level of dis-assembly (and reassembly), there should be nothing left connected to the slide except for the sights. There should be nothing left connected to the frame except for the stock screw bushings and the ejector.

What parts can be used as tools?

It's axiomatic that removal of the firing pin allows that part to be used as a tool to remove all of the pins which keep the major assemblies (including the mainspring housing

But how do you remove the firing pin block to get at the firing pin?

The first assumption is that the the Slide Stop will serve to depress the firing pin sufficiently to remove the firing pin block.

If this is feasible, most other problems are resolved. Just looking at it (I am deliberately not testing these hypotheses), it appears that the diameter of the Slide Stop is too large. Let us assume that this is possible.

The firing pin can be used as a Pin Punch to remove all of the pins retaining the trigger assembly, the hammer assembly, and the mainspring housing (and connecting pins within each assembly).

How about the screws?

The three-finger spring ("Sear Spring") might be used as an awkward screwdriver. But how do we break loosen the screws which have been torqued? Can we use the rim of a .45 acp cartridge? How about the tang on the front of the magazine? Is it too thick?

Let's assume that these can be used to break loose the major screws, such as the Grip Screws.

The final hurdle is the Magazine Catch Lock, A#21 on the Brownell's Schematic.

I'm not sure whether the Sear Spring is sufficiently robust to start this screw without suffering damage. In fact, I'm not sure whether the width of the fingers is sufficiently small to fit within the limited circumference of the hole within which the screw dwells.

If these three obstacles -- the firing pin, the grip screws, and the Magazine Catch Lock -- can be resolved, then I see no reason why the 1911 cannot be disassembled using no tools except the parts of the pistol.

How about the 1911 with an Extended Guide Rod, as is typically found on the Kimber and STI pistols?

I don't know about this. The School Solution is to un-twist a paper clip to serve as a Recoil Spring Retainer during dis-asembly.

The only parts I can consider acceptable resources for this purpose are coil springs. This includes the Recoil Spring, the Main Spring, and the coil spring in the Magazine Catch Assembly.

The first is unavailable, as the tool is used to retain this spring.

The second and third are so small and designed to fit into the narrow channels of the Mainspring Housing and the Magazine Catch Assemblies. It seems likely that the gunsmith would have to partially uncoil the spring to function as a Mainspring Retainer Tool.

At this point, I'm stuck.

If you have any suggestions to resolve the various questions which I have raised (small-diameter pin-remover other than the Slide Stop to remove the Firing Pin; and some kind of tool to retain the Recoil Spring on the Kimber Extended Guide Rod), I would appreciate your contribution.

When we have the answers to these two questions, perhaps we can continue with a video demostration of How To Dis-Assemble and Reassemble the 1911 Without Tools.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Full Metal Jacket - 2008

YouTube - Obama Youth - Junior Fraternity Regiment

Folks, I have NO idea ...

H/T Crime, Guns and Videotape
UPDATE: 08-OCT-2008
I'm not the only viewer of that video who found it incomprehensible ... or indefensible. The original video has been deactivated, but Yuri pointed me to another version on YouTube (thanks, Yuri).

Also, the middle-school teacher/advisor of the "drill team" has been relieved of all duties by the school board, who had warned him of the consequences if he posted the video on the Internet. (See "Obama Commandos' teacher disciplined".) It seems they don't think an educator should be indoctrinating 13-15 year old students in political activism ... especially when it results in chanting campaign slogans for a single candidate.

On The Road

I could have done a better job of establishing an excuse for not mentioning this before, but I didn't contribute to this venue for the past 3 weeks because of personal reasons.

My son is, as I know I have mentioned before, in the Navy. He recently completed his A-school training for Master at Arms. He is now a Navy Cop, with the badge and gun and everything, and while I can't imagine Gentle Ben as the guy who busts drunks in bad bars I am inordinately proud of his determination to establish himself in an Honorable Profession. (YMMV, if you're a drunken sailor.l)

Nevertheless, he had 10 days to get himself from his A-school sight in Texas to his Permanent Duty Station (for 3 years duration of the 4.5 years remaining in his Military Commitment) in San Diego.

He has chosen to spent his 10-day furlough, for such it must be defined, in the home of his mother and stepfather (Julie and Ed) in Northern California.

this was my best chance to see my son, Ben, and his wife and to meet his brand new twin sons for the forseeable future. So I took some time off work and drove to the Redding, California, vicinity where he would be spending his leave.

Going South: Friday
Driving from the Willamette Valley in Oregon to Northern California is not normally that stressful. But the weather did not cooperate, and my 350+ mile drive south was essentially a Hell Ride.

I saw two wrecks on the the way ... a Ford Taurus and a dump truck, both upside down for unknown and unknowable reasons, but probably related to the slippery road conditions. The weather was rainy, the first significant rain of the fail, and the 3-month hiatus on inclement weather served to slurry the oils on the road surface into a slippery film which not only made the road surface similar to ice, but the cars and trucks in front of me threw up a fog of oil which obscured my view for much of the drive. My windshield wipers were not up to the challenge, even though they were the most "High Tech" available, and I took much more time than I had expected to make the drive from the Willamette Valley in Oregon to Redding, California.

When I got there, I was already bushed. But I had already committed to driving the extra 30 miles through bad back roads to where my Son was waiting, so I did it.

I spent two hours with my Son, his step-father, and his wife. I also re-acquainted myself with his son Jake ("The Shy One" ... not much paternal reinforcement there because I hadn't seen him for the past 2 of his 4 years.)

I arrived around 5:30 pm, and by 7:30 when dinner was ready I realized that I was entirely too exhausted to join them for dinner and still manage to safely renegotiated the twisting road between their domicile and my motel in Redding. So I left early, with regrets, for the sake of safety.

Saturday: Reunion

Saturday Morning I left Redding at 9:30 am with the intention of spending the day with my family. This actually worked out rather well, although I didn't get to spend the whole day with my entire family.

I finally met my twin grandsons. Logan seemed distracted, internalized. Aiden looked me right in the eye every time I presented myself to inspect him -- it was as if he was inspecting me.

Their mom tells me that usually they are just the opposite, as well as being different in demanding attention (Aiden yes, Logan no) than I had also observed. Just goes to show that twins are naturally adept at confusing their families; it's not a learned skill.

For the record, both boys are fascinating. I could watch them for hours. I did.

Their older brother, Jacob, celebrates his 4th birthday in a couple of weeks. Because I can't be there then, his father Ben and I took him to a local toy store so he could pick out his gift. During the thirty minutes we spent touring the toy store, he said "buy me this!" 87 times. Then he went back to the first toy we had viewed ... a yellow plastic Caterpillar Tractor and proudly carried it to the counter for purchase.

Note: he selected 7 more "buy me this" between that moment and the time we left the store. And two more times on the sidewalk.

Not surprisingly, Logan and Aiden's personalities are not well developed. They're cute as heck, they are definitely different (Logan has a higher hairline) but they have a lot of growing to do before they become more than milk-processing machines.

Jake, however, is endlessly innovative. He was enormously shy on Saturday when I first met him, but he got over that before Saturday ended. He really likes being photographed, but his sweet smile was difficult to catch, it is so fleeting. Also, he kept asking me to take his picture, then tried to show me his butt when I brought the camera out. The kid's either a natural Geek, or he has seen too many Ace Ventura movies. Must speak to his parents about this.

My Daughter-in-law (DIL) is the kind of mother who can only be described as awesome. Endlessly patient, sweet to her children and saucy to her husband, I have always loved her but I fell in love with her all over again this weekend.

My Son The Cop (seems strange to describe him thusly) is trim, brave, personable, loving to family and endlessly patient. Just like always. I'm concerned that I may be too proud of him.


Grandma Ju-Ju and Grandpa Egg are mellow and industrious. Their home is beautiful; they designed it and had it custom built for their retirement in a gated community. Ju-Ju is working at a retail store to help support the extended family. Egg is diabetic, and so spends his time supporting the family by maintaining the household.

Son and DIL will be leaving for San Diego in the next couple of weeks. Son got the ten-day change-of-duty-station furlough, but is working part days in the local Navy Recruitment office to preserve his Leave Time. DIL and kids will follow him to San Diego after he has completed arrangements for Married Enlisted Housing.

After we bought Jake his B-day gift, Sone and Jake went grocery shopping. We bought components for "Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes" Spaghetti, which I later prepared while the rest of the family (sans Ju-Ju, who had to work until 8pm) watched "Iron Man". Jake flirted with the camera between moments when I rushed to the kitchen to stir the pot of spaghetti sauce.

We ate at 7pm, Ju-Ju came home from work and ate her share, then we all adjouned to the driveway to watch the gated community's delayed version of Independence Day Fireworks. (Fire hazard was down to zero for the first time in four months.)

I left for my motel by ten pm, and for the third night in a row did not sleep well in a rented bed.

Going Back North, Sunday

I underslept and then drove another 350 miles back home.

I must be getting old. The freeway driving through the roller-coaster ride which is the Siskiyou Mountain Range turns out to be both frightening and fatiguing. Despite predictions to the contrary, rain was again a factor. People in California scoff at speed limits, even at mountain passes of 4,351 feet (Siskiyou Pass) and turns which are marked at "Maximum 50 MPH turn, this is no shit!" or the politically correct equivalent.

After two nights of little sleep in uncomfortable beds, eating strange food and missing my comfortable normal regime, I am blitzed with stress and tension of driving back over a highway where I have seen demolished vehicles only 2 days previously, and under similar driving conditions.

I am reminded again of the Freeway Definitions of An Idiot, A Jerk, and An Asshole:
  • An Idiot is someone who is driving slower than you are.
  • A Jerk is someone who is driving faster than you are.
  • An Asshole is someone who is was driving faster as you are, until he passed you; but immediately slowed down to bogart the passing lane so you can't get around the Idiot in front of you.
During my trip I contemplate that the drive between Oregon and California seems longer than it use to be.

I had left Redding before 10am, and by 3pm I am suffering from The Mother Of All Bellyaches, cranky, and not feeling very communicative. However, I did phone SWMBO and tell her that I was within two hours of completing the trip. I wouldn't want her to worry, although I am wondering what made me think I was physically competent to make this trip in 3 days.

when I finally get home, I phoned SWMBO again with the "Safe Arrival" message and inform her that I am going directly to bed.

Which I did. And I couldn't sleep.

I am tired, and achy from driving 900 miles in three days. I originaly promised that "I will continue with this journal tomorrow." I won't, except that this version is much expanded from the original version ... but it is no less boring.

I'm glad I made the trip. And I am very glad that it is over.
UPDATE: Monday, October 6, 2008
This article has been expanded to make it more complete and coherent. Sorry if I've missed on both counts. Sometimes I write to convey information, and sometimes I write for therapeutic reasons. This is Door Number Two ... I write because I must.

If you have read the whole thing, I wonder that your life is even more boring than mine.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sherrie Of The Jungle

Here we are.
We're the Princess of the Universe.
Here we belong,
Fighting for survival ...
(Apologies to "QUEEN")

Last night we received the wonderful news that Sherrie from Dundee has finally won her long battle with cancer.

[Cheering! Crowd noises!]

Sherrie endured the agony of chemotherapy, the sickness (and hair loss) of radiation therapy, and finally her doctors decided that surgery was her last best hope.

They operated two days ago, and she was released from the hospital yesterday. She was home before the flowers that SWMBO sent were delivered to her hospital room!

Sherrie told SWMBO that the doctors are convinced that they got every bit of the cancer, and now she is on the road to recovery from the surgery.

I know that she is far from comfortable today, but this Gallant Lady told Sandie that this is the end of active treatment. Sherrie is now a cancer survivor, and from what Sandie tells me she's understandably even more joyful than we are.

Sherrie has been in close communication with us ever since she heard that Sandie is fighting lung cancer. She has been a wellspring of support and advice for Sandie; she was just completing the chemotherapy course of treatment when Sandie was diagnosed.

Sherrie wasn't dealing with cancer by herself. She also had Lorin (Husband, head of her own Support Team, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, reluctant Master of the Vacuum Cleaner, and always there to do whatever he could to make her as comfortable as possible.) Together, they taught us courage, the value of devotion, and that nobody can or should try to battle cancer alone. Sandie and I are grateful to them for their voluntary efforts to help us through the early stages of Sandie's treatment. They have been the exemplars of feisty folks who just won't quit.

They were there when we really needed them. We still do.

During her subsequent radiation therapy, according to Lori (Statsmistress at Dundee and Albany), Sherrie showed up at the Dundee range one day on the back of a motorcycle! She had already lost all of her hair, but her head was wrapped in a colorful do-rag and she was having the time of her life on the bike. This is not a lady who is ready to be voted off the island!

(click on the photo for full-size)

Sherrie and Lorin are perhaps best known locally for their annual efforts to design, build and officiate the famous Jungle Run stage at the Dundee Croc Match.

In celebration of this most excellent day, here (once again) is their favorite video taken from the 2005 Crock Match. It was, of course, filmed on the Jungle Run.

(Raw video courtesy of Ron D.)

IPSC people are among the best in the world. We don't just "go shooting", we make friends.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Woman Wearing Cow Suit

Woman Wearing Cow Suit Charged With Disorderly Conduct - Local News Story - WLWT Cincinnati

A Middletown woman is accused of being disorderly in public -- while wearing a cow suit.

A police report filed about the incident said Michelle Allen allegedly chased children in her neighborhood while wearing the suit on Monday evening.

Allen also urinated on a neighbor's front porch, the report said, and was warned by officers to go home and stay there.

A woman wearing a cow suit? Urinating on the porch?

She must have been really pissed off!

Utterly fantastic.

At least she lived up to her character.

Rumor has it that she had four male streakers inside the suit with her.

Family Pride

I haven't told you much about my family, mostly because it's boring to people who aren't part of my family.

But I'm going to take a long weekend (Friday thru Sunday) to visit out-of-state family, which means that while I may write on Thursday the chances are I'll be packing for my trip.

Most of my stuff is pretty boring, but if you choose to stop by here from time to time, this is a warning that there will probably be no new material for the next few days.

I don't need to tell you why. But I want to. If you don't want to hear about it, this is a good time to move on to something more interesting.

You may know that my son, the B-Geek, is in the Navy now. He has completed his A-school training (Master At Arms ... he wants to be a cop, which fills me both with pride and concern) and will soon be transferred to his permanent duty station for a 3-year tour. That station is too far away for a weekend visit, but this weekend only he will be within a one-day trip from my home while he visits his mother.

I'll be taking Friday off work and driving to where he and his wife (and the majority of his five children) are, so I can see them. I like my son, I like his wife, and I like their children.

Most important, I have brand-new twin grandsons as of six weeks ago, and this may be my best chance to see them for the first time ever.

There was a time in 1968, in a fire-fight in Viet Nam, where I found myself curled into the tiniest possible ball while I waited for a hand-grenade to go off, and my thought was a regret that I had never had children. I was 23 years old at the time, and frankly had never expected to come home, but until that moment I didn't realize how important it was that there be Little Geeks in the world.

(Then, I thought of them as "Little Sergeants", but that has changed over the years as my priorities changed.)

The grenade never went off, and I've since been blessed with two Little Geeks and they, in turn, have provided a total of seven Littler Geeks. No, I will resist the temptation to apply the title "Least Geeks". I am surprised to discover that children become even more precious in the Next Generation. I don't understand how that could be possible, but there it is.

The most recent two are twin boys. I've only seen their pictures. That I have never met them is A Darkness In The Force.

There is a school of thought which suggests that our progeny is a Narcissistic extension of our own ego. That may be true, I don't know. But to me, grandchildren are an affirmation of life.

They may grow up to be total rounders and worthless dregs on society, although I very much doubt it; their parents are too family oriented to allow such a travesty. Both my son and his wife, the Aly-geek, love children and all of their children know it.

It is important that children grow up with a sense of family. I grew up that way, and I know that the best thing I can do with my life is to pass that sense on to the twins and their siblings.

So I'll be spending some quality time with The Kids ... Jake and the Twins ... and this is hopefully only the first of many opportunities to acquaint my grandchildren with a sense of continuity.

It's difficult to do, given that career choices have taken my children, and their children, so far away from me.

But my children are determined that their children know their family, and that they learn Family Pride.

I couldn't be more proud of all of my children.