Rebuilding my RIA: The VooDoo that I do

that’s quite an appealing view… nice!

1 Like

Another update.

So I got the frame back the other day and she was all perty and fresh with the bits that I have been carving on coated, so I had to see how it would look put back together. Saturday I got a bit of time to do some final contour work and lay on some cold blue to the steel parts. Not my best job and I kept getting interrupted with Honey Do’s but the object was to get the parts mostly smooth and covered, not make them show quality. After all they are going to get blasted and coated.

I discovered in the reassembly process that I had forgotten to undercut the slide release and in playing with the frame ended up scratching the he!! out of the coating under it. That of course required a flurry of filing and sanding to get it relieved as well as a good bit of cussing. There are also indications of a bit of drag under both sides of the safety which will have to be addressed prior to them being coated as that will add even more thickness.

My intention was to begin the polishing procedure on all the rubby bits inside but I figured that I would just assemble it and see what I had. I noticed a huge difference in the angles and shape of the RIA sear in comparison to a stock military sear. On a whim I stuffed an untouched military sear inside on reassembly just to see what it would do.

Weeelllll I may have to go back to the RIA sear as the brandy new military sear came in at 3 lbs NO ounces and the finish is not worn off yet. That said the trigger is crisp but now there is a bit more over travel than before. I will address that on the range but I think the final trigger pull will be somewhere around 2.5 lbs once the parkerizing is worn off, just a touch light. I see some parts swapping in my future to UP the trigger weight.

All in all I am pretty happy with things. The Hammer needs a haircut and the trigger is going to need to be addressed. An extended slide stop , S&A Magwell will have to be put in as well as an Ed Brown 2 piece guide rod as I am over the single piece disassembly process ( @Nancy & @Zee for less than $30 you can eliminate most of your disassembly / cleaning woes).

Cheers,

Craig6

2 Likes

That is really getting to be quite the lovely bit of work @Craig6!

yeah, so let’s talk more about that :smiley: Maybe you can take both @Nancy and I through it?
Right now the Warthog is defeating my attempts to take it apart.

@Zee If I remember correctly your Warthog is an Officer’s length pistol? If so check this

Officers two peice guide rod

@Nancy For a full length slide there are A LOT more options

Ed Brown Full Length Guide Rod

Essentially it replaces your one piece guide rod and instead of trying to mash the plug down and rotate the barrel bushing you just unscrew the front half of guide rod (it comes right out the plug in the front). Catch the spring and back half of the rod in your hand as you pull the slide off and then just release the tension and pull the back half of the guide rod and spring out the back and poof no tension on the plug or barrel bushing and everything comes apart easy.

I had forgotten what a PITA it was with a one piece guide rod, I’m over it. For less than $25(my price) I am into a two piece stainless unit and no more hassles. That said you do have to get it apart ONCE and MOST “drop in parts” don’t, but these are pretty universal so I expect no issues.

Thank you! I am quite pleased with it so far. I just ordered my guide rod, extended slide stop and magwell/mainspring housing so in a week or so I will have pics up of how they all fit and go in. It will probably be a bit more before I get the front end of the slide serrated and it and all the frame parts coated with “Carbon Black” (it’s a deep black that has a bit of shine but not glossy). In hind sight I think I should have gone with a darker shade of grey on the frame but it is still cool the way it is.

I still have to clean up the file marks on the safety, do a throat and ramp job on the frame and the rubby bits inside need some attention. I am just wayyy light on an unpolished trigger pull right now so I may have to check my Box O’ Parts and see if I have a long sear in there somewhere. That or I will have to replace the hammer, not sure yet. I’m still $$$$ ahead vs. an Ed Brown or Wilson or Colt custom stick but I have another $225 to spend at a minimum and I haven’t even shot the bloody thing yet :crazy_face:

Cheers,

Craig6

1 Like

@Craig6 I’m still struggling to understand the names of the parts and what you’re doing, but I catch on to something every time I reread it. Thanks for starting this thread and for taking the time to explain everything. I really appreciate it!

2 Likes

@Nancy,
This will help a little:

You can find part’s names and links to videos in this pdf.

@Craig6, do you know if RIA 1911 (full size 5" barrel) will accept recoil spring from different manufacturer (also 1911 5" barrel).

1 Like

@Jerzy I will say that 99% WILL fit a “Government” sized pistol. There are a few out there that are for a specific recoil guide that may not (usually the double spring variants). I am going to A$$uME that you are looking to try different recoil springs in your double stack 9mm./? I checked the diameter of the stock RIA spring against a couple different military and civilian one I have and they are identical in dimension (but not sprig rate).

In general for 1911’s there are four recoil spring lengths
GM: Government Model, 5" Barrel
CM: Commander Model, 4’ Barrel
OM: Officers Model, 3.5" (ish) Barrel (these recoil springs are very different from “normal”)
LS: Long Slide, IIRC 6" barrel

Cheers,

Craig6

1 Like

If there is anything that I can explain better please point it out. It’s the old saw “Never proof read your own work, you already know what you are talking about.”

The gun itself was fine when I got it just had a few things that bothered me like the right side of the safety was digging into my trigger finger. I also didn’t like the feel of the grip safety in the web of my hand, it stuck out too much when depressed. Re contouring the grip safety dropped the gun deeper into my hand which caused the same issue on the left side of the safety so I had to go at that too. It also required that I re contour the curve and depth of the trigger guard as it too was rubbing my trigger finger.

The extended slide stop and S&A Mag well are both personal preference items from previous experience. One will probably have to be modified and fitted (slide stop). The other I expect no issues on installation.

Cheers,

Craig6

1 Like

@Craig6,
Yes, I’m thinking to update spring with guide rod in my 1911 Double stack.
I has regular size 5" barrel, spring is 12 lb.

Replacement spring is a regular “music string” material, so I thought about flat spring. But this one is manufactured by Wilson Combat only.
For flat spring I would need to replace guide rod as well, because of smaller inner dimensions of the spring.

2 Likes

@Jerzy Ok, I see the one you are talking about with the Wilson system and it comes with a “short” plug for the 5". Going from a full length guide rod to a “short plug” will not gain you anything and may cost you in accuracy and efficiency. IMHO you would be better served replacing your one piece guide rod with a 2 piece from what ever maker makes you happy.

IIRC your 1911 is a 9mm ./? What is the intent of your spring upgrade? Is it not cycling, FTF stove pipe or do you just want to play with stuff?

Remember the function of the recoil spring is to compress juuuust enough to have the slide fully extract the empty case and shove in a new cartridge without getting the two confused. You DO NOT want the spring fully compressed so that the slide is by proxy slamming into your frame. So it is a delicate balance between function and abuse.I am not up on 9mm 1911 spring wights, not what I do. A 12lb spring in the .45 world is for softball loads only. My old “Ball” gun had a 21lb recoil spring in it to tame the military TZZ Match rounds that were doing 1025+fps with a 230gr. If you did not lock your wrist and elbow it would stove pipe. A 18 lb spring would beat up the frame.

So with all that being said get yourself a 2 piece guide rod or even try the 2 piece “Group Gripper” from Wilson (I know folks that swear by them and few that swear at them) and then look at Wolf Springs. They have a Recoil Pack that has Variable Power Springs from 16.5 to 9 lbs. This is from Brownell’s, they are currently out of stock but you can hunt them down elsewhere.

969-131-150WB
Wolff Variable Recoil Calibration Pak for Govt. Model

Mfr Part: 13115

Spring Pak

My price is $27.08 PM me if you want to know how to get that price.

With a spring pak you can tune the spring to what you shoot most often and the variable spring rates allow a bit more flexibility in ammo choice in that they will handle full house defense loads but will also function with “box” ammo.

Cheers,

Craig6

1 Like

@Craig6
I need to replace spring after couple thousand rounds. I can feel difference now, so it the time for a new spring.
I hate to replacing parts frequently, so flat spring is something I’d like to use (over 40,000 rounds guaranteed)
Wilson Combat has ‘Full-Length Guide Rod, Full-Size, Flat Wire’ which looks exactly like mine from RIA, plus Wilson Combat ’ Flat-Wire Recoil Spring, 5" Full-Size, Chrome Silicon, 13 Lb’.
So that would be set I’m trying to use for my 1911.

I do care more about having reliable and long term working tool, than extra $$$.

I’m just afraid of putting Wilson Combat parts into RIA gun.

1 Like

I got you and looked up the one you were talking about.

These are the important parts

Full Length Recoil Spring Guide Machined from Bar stock
*** .250" Rod Diameter***
Compatible with Shok-Buff® Recoil Buffers

Most 2 and 1 piece guide rods are larger than that as you have discovered. That said the amount of time (and frustration) you will save with a 2 piece is incalculable. If you are taking your slide apart to clean your tube replacing an expendable part should be no consequence especially at $8 a copy. It’s just a part of running a 1911. That said don’t forget your firing pin spring, they go south too, probably 3 recoil springs to one firing pin spring.

IMHO I like the variable rate springs as it allows you to run a heavier spring (save the frame) and still be able to shoot mid range loads. That you have been able to recognize the difference in spring performance is a HUGE factor. When I was hot and heavy into pistols 40,000 was couple months so it is a matter of perspective.

As for Wilson in an RIA, the RIA plant in the Philippines was built on Colt tooling for war production in the 1930’s all the stuff that they have replaced still duplicates Colt standards for the military. Mr. Wilson was a watch maker that liked to shoot and he took his fine art skills to improve the Colt Military 1911. Wilson and RIA are a match made in heaven so let not your heart be troubled Wilson, Ed Brown, Nowlin and a host of others will serve you well. I am still leery of Kimber pistols due to experience in the 80’s/90’s when they were considered “crap” guns and lived up to their name exceptionally well. I understand that they have improved now but it’s a brand I hesitate to touch on par with Raven and HiPoint. That said it is really hard to screw up a 1911.

Cheers,

Craig6

3 Likes

Thank you sir for all the info. Yeah, 1911 platform is the best on the World. Hard to screw it up.

1 Like

I will second what Craig says about WC parts. Not all 1911 parts are really “drop in” parts, but springs are.

@Craig6 Pretty impressive home smithing! Enjoying this thread.

1 Like

Yeah, this is the real 1911 (RIA/Colt) thread . :wink:

1 Like

So I finally got off the X and ordered the parts I needed and they showed up today. Wilson Extended Slide Release, Ed Brown Two Piece Guide Rod and a Smith & Alexander Mag Guide. My first shock was the Ed Brown, it landed on the bench wrapper side down and when I looked at it I thought “Crap, they sent me a one piece.” Believe me I have a fairly good eye and I could not find the joint, yet much to my happiness when I turned the two ends a gap appeared. That is some doggone outstanding machine work!!!

With the S&A I figured I had all the spare parts I would need in my box O’ parts. Mainsprings yes, plungers and buttons no. Doggonnit now I have to use the RIA parts but I replaced the retaining pin with a MilSpec steel/parkerized one. I have MilSpec mainsprings but figured I would use the RIA and swap if trigger pulls became an issue later if needed. On install I did notice it fit well but there was about a 1/64" gap between the magwell and the frame. I should be able to tighten that up by moving the hole in the mag well down a skosh. I also noted there is a “step” at the back of the mag well so the frame will have to get tapered to fit and provide a nice ramp, I think I remember this from a previous install also.

The Wilson part was actually the first part I checked for fit as I really want to avoid scratching the coating with steel parts. Will it was SNUG, as in I had to turn it in to get it through the first hole and needed to screw it in until it just stopped about a 1/4" from seating. “Some fitting may be required” this sounds like the prelude to the Christmas bit, “Some assembly required”. Normally I do the next part on a drill press but it is now 15 years later and I have a battery operated drill which is much more handy. Again with the flat files and in short order the shank was turned down so that it operates freely. I also took the opportunity to relieve the back side so it wouldn’t rub. Now it pops into place nicely and does not rub the frame but the leading edge is gouging a bit into the wood grips. Oh well these are assembly grips and the final ones will be rubber. You can also see the LPI (Lines per Inch) are way off but I didn’t have too many options.

This is for @Nancy & @Zee . Ed Brown two piece guide rod. It is literally “Drop In” and as noted above there are dam few that are. There is no help for getting your slide apart other than the VooDoo that you do. That said, once it is apart your life is about to get a whole lot easier.
Take and slip the spring plug down into the slide from THE BACK END and make sure your barrel bushing is in the correct location to capture it in the position of function (both ears down). Then feed your recoil spring in under the barrel and insert the stub end of the guide rod in the loose end of the spring.
I wrestled the guide rod stub and spring into position on the slide itself, the spring DID NOT want to cooperate. You may find it easier to partially insert the guide rod extension, up to you. One way or the other get the spring and plug jammed in so that it is up against the link lug and clamp your hand or thumb on it and DON’T LET GO.

At this point slip the slide onto the frame to keep the recoil plug and spring inside and then feed the guide rod extension in and screw it together. Once you have the two piece rod together that spring and plug are not going anywhere and you can relax. Make sure the stub end of the guide rod is oriented correctly as it lays against the barrel. From there it is just normal slide re assembly. Make sure the link is down and slide the slide back till it hits then fiddle in the slide stop. Now give the end of the guide rod (under the barrel) a good sharp turn with the allen wrench to lock it down and you are done.

Getting it apart is even easier. Unscrew the guide rod. get the slide to the disassembly notch and pop out the slide release. Ease the slide forward and catch the recoil spring in your fingers as it comes off the frame. The spring WANTS to come out so be aware of the guide rod plug or it will either hit you between the eyes or land on the other side of the room in the deepest darkest hole it can find.

I think I will bring my files, stones and pieces parts with me to hunting camp this weekend and be able to address a couple more issue that I have noted. Additionally I will have to hit the books and buff up on barrel hood clearance as I think I am having a bit of an issue with it but I don’t recall the details. Oh and as long as God is willing and the crick don’t rise Ima shoot it on Friday!

Cheers,

Craig6

3 Likes