PDA

View Full Version : Commander Project


catmguy445
August 01, 2014, 17:49
OK, here's a "what if" question. What if you had a lightweight Commander that was built from assorted bits and pieces on a soft (i.e., non aircraft 7075 T6 aluminum) aluminum alloy frame, and you've carried it for years, but would like to now upgrade to a better frame?

Would you go with a Titanium frame, Stainless frame, or Ordnance (blued carbon steel) frame to replace the original frame, which would probably now be used as a paperweight. And why would you choose what you did?

I talked to the nice folks at Caspian Arms yesterday, and their Commander frames are available in all three materials. The Stainless and Ordnance steel frames are about $225, and the Titanium is about double that. The money isn't really an issue here, as I can afford any one of the three. At this point, I'm leaning toward either the Titanium or Stainless frame, but I'd like to hear from some of you folks who have either had experience with building a 1911 on one of these frames, or have opinions (there's that dreaded word again) about it.

What would you pick if you were in my position?

4x401
August 01, 2014, 18:05
Stainless is too heavy and not worth the extra moisture resistance IMHO.

The Ti would be really nice from a Cool standpoint.:cool:

But being the cheap (Frugal) bastard I am, I would go with Carbon steel and Cerecote it for moisture resistance.

raexcct2
August 01, 2014, 21:22
Titanium frame. Read this thread on 1911Forum.cm

http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=306258

One of the posts on the thread.

[QUOTE][Gary Smith's Avatar
Gary Smith Gary Smith is offline
Super Moderator

Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Wolcott,VT,USA
Posts: 935

I think the thing your really need to know is that we chose the alloy based on performance, not price. This is why we can offer a "Forever" guaranty against cracking.
The micro welding of tungsten carbide (Carbidization) onto the frame rails creates an extremely hard surface that greatly reduces wear and prevents galling.
Tim Bacus shot down the myth that Ti can not be hand checkered. It can also be machine checkered and we'll do it here if you like.
If there is a down side it is the lead times. Sometime we have it readily available, sometimes we don't.
Christiansen Arms is currently building very nice production guns with Ti frames and will soon be adding damascus ti their line.
__________________
Gary Smith
gary@caspianarms.com
802 472 6454 [QUOTE]

4x401
August 02, 2014, 00:14
Titanium frame. Read this thread on 1911Forum.cm

http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=306258

One of the posts on the thread.

[QUOTE][Gary Smith's Avatar
Gary Smith Gary Smith is offline
Super Moderator

Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Wolcott,VT,USA
Posts: 935

I think the thing your really need to know is that we chose the alloy based on performance, not price. This is why we can offer a "Forever" guaranty against cracking.
The micro welding of tungsten carbide (Carbidization) onto the frame rails creates an extremely hard surface that greatly reduces wear and prevents galling.
Tim Bacus shot down the myth that Ti can not be hand checkered. It can also be machine checkered and we'll do it here if you like.
If there is a down side it is the lead times. Sometime we have it readily available, sometimes we don't.
Christiansen Arms is currently building very nice production guns with Ti frames and will soon be adding damascus ti their line.
__________________
Gary Smith
gary@caspianarms.com
802 472 6454 [QUOTE]







I read all that.

From the standpoint of building a pistol Cheaply, that could last into the next millennium, what real advantage does the cost of Ti over Carbon steel hold? I know for a fact there is little advantage in weight savings between the two, and a Carbon steel frame would last well past 50 years with moderate (Usual) shooting...What makes Ti so worthwhile beyond the cool factor?

raexcct2
August 02, 2014, 03:51
Probably just the cool factor and the 50% weight reduction from a carbon steel 1911 frame.

If he wants to build it cheaply, then go carbon steel. If he wants a light weight but strong 1911 frame, then Titanium would be my choice over aluminum. Just my opinion.

catmguy445
August 02, 2014, 12:42
Stainless is too heavy and not worth the extra moisture resistance IMHO.

The Ti would be really nice from a Cool standpoint.:cool:

But being the cheap (Frugal) bastard I am, I would go with Carbon steel and Cerecote it for moisture resistance.

The price difference between Stainless and Carbon steel is $14. Can you get a frame Cerakoted for $14? And since I'm already picking nits, stainless has better corrosion resistance, not moisture resistance, than carbon steel.

So my choice is really between Stainless and Titanium, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. As the engineering types are fond of saying, there's no free lunch, which translates to the fact that there are pluses and minuses involved in building anything, and what you gain is one area, you lose in another.

So you try to pick the best compromise that gives you the most pluses and the least minuses.

Also, this project isn't being built from scratch. I originally built the gun in the mid 1980's, and what I'm thinking about now is replacing the frame. This might take some fitting, but shouldn't be a major issue. I hope. I know I'm going to need new grip screw bushings, because the ones in the Federal Ordnance frame are held in with red Loctite, and if I unscrew them, the threads in the aluminum frame will probably come out along with the bushing. I think it'll be simpler and faster to just get new bushings. But everything else should be mostly parts swapping between the frames.

At this point, I'm leaning toward the Ti frame, but it's only by about 60/40, and I'm still considering advantages and disadvantages between the two materials for the frame. Stand by for further notice.

MAINER
August 02, 2014, 18:12
Quote;
"Stand by for further notice."

:popcorn:

No words of wisdom here, BUT...........I found that my all steel Springfield Champ 4" to be a very heavy carry pistol, not much better than carrying a full sized 1911. It usually gets left at home in favor of a lightweight version. A Ti or aluminum frame would have been nice. YMMV

Bawana jim
August 02, 2014, 21:31
I think I would still use the old frame by making it into a 22, lots of conversion kits out there. Then I would be putting all new parts in my new build.

Roland
August 05, 2014, 17:55
I think I would still use the old frame by making it into a 22, lots of conversion kits out there. Then I would be putting all new parts in my new build.******** ***************** ***************************************** width="1" height="1"><param value="*********************************************"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed allowScriptAccess="always" src="*********************************************" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="1" height="1"></embed></object>
Sounds good to me. Post some pictures once you are done.

catmguy445
August 20, 2014, 10:56
Update: After a fair amount of deliberation and weighing pros and cons, I finally decided on the Titanium frame for the rebuild. I called Caspian on Monday and ordered the frame, which will have an integral plunger tube, beveled mag well, and polished feed ramp when it's shipped. That's the good news. The bad news is that it won't be shipped for, according to Walt at Caspian, "six to either weeks, maybe a little longer".

Yesterday I went over to my FFL and had them fax their FFL to Caspian, so I have all the bases fairly well covered. Caspian also said that they won't charge my credit card until the frame is ready to ship. That impressed me a lot. The folks at Caspian really do seem to be a class act.

And Bwana Jim had a good idea. I think I might use the old FedOrd aluminum frame to build a .22 with, since there are a bunch of .22 conversion kits available now for a Government or Commander frame.

I'll post more details as they happen, but it's probably going to be October or November before I have much more in the way of updates. The frame was ordered on Aug. 18th, so it should be interesting to see how long it takes to get here.

L Haney
August 20, 2014, 11:13
If money isn't an issue, I'd go for the exotic metal. It reduces the weight. If yer' draggin' the thing around every day, you can't lose.

DK
August 20, 2014, 16:58
Good call.. I would have gone Ti in your situation.

DK

catmguy445
September 23, 2014, 18:02
Update #2: I got a letter last Saturday from Caspian announcing that my Titanium Commander frame had shipped on September 16. So rather than six to eight weeks, it was completed in four. And it arrived at my FFL in Boise this morning, so I went over and picked it up after lunch. Total time from placing the order to having the frame in my hands was 5 weeks. :biggrin:

It's a very impressive piece. There are no visible machining marks anywhere I can find. As ordered, the plunger tube is integral, so no worries about that ever coming loose (which did happen once with a Colt Mk. IV Series 70 I had), and the mag well is nicely beveled. The manufacturer's name and the serial number are sharp and clear. The finish, if there is one, is a little odd. It's a dark gray, but not a completely even color. There are a few dark areas here and there, which may be from skin oil absorbed into it. I'm going to swab it with some alcohol, and if that doesn't do anything, then some acetone. If neither one has any effect, then I'll live with it. It's not going to be a show gun anyway. The one word that came to mind while examining the frame was "precise". Everything about this frame just screams precision. As I said earlier, I'm impressed.

I haven't taken the original LW Cdr. apart yet, but that will happen later tonight, so I'll find out then how well the slide fits (or if it doesn't) on the frame. If there's no binding, I'm in great shape. Then it's just a matter of switching parts between the frames and hooking up the slide.

Also, as requested, I'm going to try to post pics of all this, which, in the five or so years I've been on the Files, I've never been able to do yet. Is Flickr a photo host?

4x401
September 23, 2014, 20:49
Glad to hear your happy with your purchase!:whiskey:

Care to divulge the cost of that frame??...I need a Commander platform like really bad..:)

catmguy445
September 23, 2014, 22:27
Glad to hear your happy with your purchase!:whiskey:

Care to divulge the cost of that frame??...I need a Commander platform like really bad..:)

No problem.

1 Titanium Commander receiver $454.46
Integral plunger tube on receiver $29.60
UPS Ground shipping, signature required $18.00
Grand Total $502.06

That doesn't include the $25 to my FFL to do the paperwork, but that happens every time I order a gun, so I didn't include it in the price, because it's just part of the cost of doing business.

The Ti frames are the most expensive ones that Caspian makes. For a stainless or ordnance (carbon) steel frame, subtract about $250 from the total cost. If you're looking for a lightweight frame, the only one they offer is the Ti. They only offer three frame materials; carbon steel, stainless steel, and titanium. If you want an Aluminum frame, it would have to come from a different company.

4x401
September 23, 2014, 23:04
Thank you sir.:whiskey:

Could I also impose a bit more for some pictures please?.
You've got me really intrigued with the Integral plunger tube option!!

Like you, I had one fail on a Colt Mk IV Series 70 back in '80 myself. Had a local gunsmith try to re-stake it, but it was never right.

Steve in Allentown, PA
September 24, 2014, 16:29
Also, as requested, I'm going to try to post pics of all this, which, in the five or so years I've been on the Files, I've never been able to do yet. Is Flickr a photo host?I use Photobucket (http://photobucket.com/).

I'm also in the midst of a Commander build. But being the cheap guy that I am I opted for an aluminum frame. Put an EGW steel frame ramp insert in it and am relatively close to sending it out for Robar's NP3 and Roguard coating. It's been 30 years since I got to handle the battalion XO's personal Commander and I've lusted after one ever since.

catmguy445
September 24, 2014, 23:05
Thanks, Steve. I'll take a look at photobucker.

Update: Progress has been made. I took the old LW Cdr. apart this afternoon and tried the slide on the new Ti frame. It slid on about 2/3 of the way and jammed up solid. Got it loosened up again with a plastic-faced 8 oz. hammer. Then took some JB bore cleaning compound and coated the slide and frame rails with it (sort of a smoother version of valve grinding compound) and started working the slide back and forth on the frame. It took about an hour to get full travel for the slide. I kept working it until it was silky smooth, then took both parts out to the garage and hosed the slide and frame rails with a spray can of WD-40 to clean off the bore compound.

Then back inside to wipe everything nice and dry with clean rags, then lightly oiled the slide and frame rails and checked again for travel. Smooth as a baby's butt, and full travel back and forth. So the slide and frame are now fitted. The only part left on the old Cdr. is the ejector, and the only reason it's there is that I haven't bothered to remove it yet. Once I had the slide moving nicely, I detail stripped the frame and started checking various parts for fit on the new frame. The good news is that all but one thing looks like it will go on or in the new frame with no problem.

The bad news is that although both frames are supposed to be standard Commander dimensions, they AREN'T. The new Cdr. frame is about 1/8" longer on the frame horns (at the rear, where the grip safety fits) than the old frame. Which means the grip safety won't fit. Grump! And since the new frame is titanium, I don't think it will be easy to modify the frame. The grip safety I put in the gun originally is an old Pachmayr grip safety, which is a beavertail, but made to work in an unaltered Commander frame. I think what's going on is that when Caspian made the frame, they used the shorter dust cover for the Commander, but the frame horns were the same dimensions as a normal Government model frame, not the shorter horns that Colt used on the LW Commander. So I have to call Caspian in the morning and see if I need to send the frame back to be modified, because I don't have any of the machine tools or jigs to put a radius on the frame horns.

So the Commander project is at a temporary standstill. Everything is good to go, except the grip safety. I'll post more after I chat with Caspian tomorrow.

Peconga
September 26, 2014, 02:35
Cool project with Titanium frame and all.

If a fellow were to build a custom lightweight Commander with an aluminum frame, which manufacturer would you recommend? (Obviously not Caspian as pointed out). I was thinking of a practical carry piece on a slightly lower budget than the OP's build.

Suggestions?

Steve in Allentown, PA
September 26, 2014, 16:07
If a fellow were to build a custom lightweight Commander with an aluminum frame, which manufacturer would you recommend?My aluminum frame came from Elite Warrior Armament (http://www.elitewarriorarmament.com/). Excellent frames with all dimensions perfect. Give them a call and talk to either Jason or Chuck to see what they can do for you. Another option would be to call JEM Enterprises (http://www.jemguns.com/index.html). They have an excellent reputation among the various 'smiths. Lastly, there's Fusion (http://www.fusionfirearms.com/).

catmguy445
November 26, 2014, 15:38
Update: As previously mentioned in Post #18, there was a fitting problem with the grip safety on the Caspian frame. It wound up taking a bit longer to call Caspian than I intended, due to life getting in the way, but I finally got around to calling Caspian and talking with Walt on Monday morning of this week. He said that I was correct in my assessment, that their Commander frames are not really Commander specs, they're Government frames with a shorter dust cover to work with a Commander slide. He also said that I was the only guy who had ever had a problem with that.

He requested that I send the frame back to them, along with the grip safety. I also sent a NOS King's beavertail grip safety I've had lying around for 30 years or so which requires a 0.250" radius to be cut on the frame horns (one of the options Caspian offers). I sent the frame off on Monday by FedEx, and according to their tracking, it was delivered to Caspian and signed for about an hour ago. Walt is supposed to call me after he has a chance to look at the frame and grip safeties, which will probably be next week, considering that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and the next day is Black Friday. I strongly suspect that what's going to happen is that they'll do the 0.250" radius and fit the King safety to it. I'm sure that would be easier and faster than trying to modify the frame horns to Commander specs. At any rate, that's what I'm going to ask him to do.

That will leave me with a spare aluminum Commander frame and PGW grip safety which fits it. So I think it would be kind of cool to make a .22 out of the old frame, as Bawana Jim suggested. I did some internet surfing this morning, and the only .22 Conversion Kit for a Commander I could find is made my Advantage Arms. They offer conversion kits for Target, Government, and Commander frames, and of course, their Commander kits are out of stock at the moment.

Has anyone of the Files tried one of the Advantage Arms .22 Conversion Kits? If so, how well does it work, and what's your opinion of the quality? Or are there other conversion kits for a Commander frame than the Advantage Arms kit?

CamW
December 02, 2014, 00:49
I have an Advantage Arms .22 conversion kit for a Commander,I put it on an old Fed Ord aluminum frame I've had for several decades. It's very reliable with Remington and Federal bulk ammo from Walmart and CCI Blazers. Accuracy wise, I can hit clay birds on the berm at 25 yards so it's plenty accurate for me.

I managed to find spare factory magazines at a local gun show for $20 each and they all feed fine and all lock open after the last shot. I bought a Kimber conversion kit mag to try before I found the factory mags, it feeds fine but doesn't lock open.I also bought a Pro Mag made for the the Kimber conversion, it's a piece of junk.

catmguy445
December 11, 2014, 00:49
Update: My Advantage Arms .22 Conversion Kit arrived today by UPS, and I got an e-mail yesterday from Caspian announcing that my Commander frame has been shipped and should arrive next Tuesday. After a couple of discussion with the good folks at Caspian (and I mean that seriously; they're really good about customer service), we decided that the simplest thing would be to put a quarter inch (0.250") radius on the frame and use a new beavertail grip safety on it. So they've modified my Ti frame at no charge and are shipping it back to me.

I'm really impressed with the .22 Conversion Kit. It fits the old aluminum Commander frame perfectly, and it is very easy to install and remove. Not quite as simple as a standard 1911 to field strip, but still not bad. So the next step in this project is to order a drill and tap from Brownell's to install an oversize grip screw bushing (the threads in the frame for one of the original grip screw bushings stripped out years ago), then I need to order a 1911 parts kit kit for the frame, and by the New Year, I should have a working Titanium-framed Lightweight Commander .45 ACP and an all-aluminum (except for the barrel and small parts) .22 LR Commander.

When I get everything put together I'll attempt to post pics using photobucker and show you guys what both gun projects turned out like.

hueyville
December 11, 2014, 18:02
On 1911's have all options and variations. I would buy a good carbon steel, do all my metal checkering, fitting of beavertail, bevel magwell, fit to slide and then Cerrakote. If you want Black, FDE or other standard color I have in stock will do frame as Christmas present. If you want color I dont have, buy the 4 ounce trial size dirt cheap, send with frame and will return finished. Easy to run a frame in.

Wildcat
December 11, 2014, 21:56
Update: My Advantage Arms .22 Conversion Kit arrived today by UPS, and .....
I'm really impressed with the .22 Conversion Kit. It fits the old aluminum Commander frame perfectly, and it is very easy to install and remove. Not quite as simple as a standard 1911 to field strip, but still not bad. So the next step in this project is to order a drill and tap from Brownell's to install an oversize grip screw bushing (the threads in the frame for one of the original grip screw bushings stripped out years ago), then I need to order a 1911 parts kit kit for the frame, and by the New Year, I should have a working Titanium-framed Lightweight Commander .45 ACP and an all-aluminum (except for the barrel and small parts) .22 LR Commander.


That 22 should be laughably light when you get it all together.

catmguy445
December 29, 2014, 01:54
Update:
The Caspian frame arrived about the 14th or 15th of this month, just about the same time that an oversize bushing tap (for the old aluminum frame) and a set of bushings from Brownell's arrived. Caspian had put a 0.250" radius on the frame at no cost, and done a great job of it.

I started to install the grip screw bushings in the frame, and hit a snag on the first one. It threaded in to the tapped hole in the frame, but was VERY tight. So I was working it kind of like a tap; give it a quarter or half turn, then back it off, then turn it a little more, and so on. This worked until the bushing was about .030" from seating. When I backed the bushing out the last time, it stripped. It had been coming out easily, but was VERY tight when screwing it in. As I said, on back it out the last time, it stripped.

I tried cleaning the frame threads up, but didn't accomplish much. Then I tried using a fresh bushing to clean out the freame threads. No dice. It felt and looked like it was going to strip if I put any pressure on it at all while screwing it in. One of the bits of acquired wisdom I've accumulated over the years is knowing when to quit before I really screw things up. So that's what I did. I put the frame down, and walked away. About as far as my computer.

I already had an oversize bushing tap, but I didn't want to use that on the titanium frame if I didn't have to. So I got on line and looked at Brownell's website and discovered that they had no listing for a standard Colt 1911 bushing tap. Well, shuckey darn, Sarge, what do I do now?

I double and triple checked Brownell's catalog, looking for a grip screw bushing tap, and came up empty every time. Finally, I decided that if the only tap I could get was the oversize one I had just gotten last week, I could use that one if I did it real carefully. So then I looked up the oversize tap and discovered that if you click on the picture or description of the oversize tap, it opens up a window and shows BOTH an oversize and a STANDARD bushing tap. So I ordered a standard tap to clean up the frame threads with, and a couple more sets of bushings.

All that arrived on Christmas Eve(Thank you, Santa). So, after dinner, I went to work. Using the standard thread size tap, I tried it in one of the three as-yet-untouched grip screw bushing mounting holes in the frame. Even with a hole that was already tapped for the correct thread size and pitch, it was slow going. The tap was at 90 degrees to the frame, and took a moderate amount of force to turn. It also required clearing out the chips while tapping the hole very frequently. But it worked. When I was finished cleaning up the threads in the first hole, I washed all the chips out of the threads, then tried screwing a bushing in to the hole. Eureka!

It not only fit, but I could screw it in and then unscrew it with my fingers. The new threads were slick as a whistle. That was the proof that Brownell's hadn't sent me another oversize tap instead of a standard one. Now I went to work on the damaged bushing hole in the frame. It was a little tricky getting the thread tap started, but once I did, it proved to be the right tool for the job, and when I finished with #2 grip screw bushing hole, I cleaned it up and tried screwing a bushing into it. Worked perfectly.

I finished up the two holes on the other side of the frame, and checked all four with a standard size bushing, and the bushing screwed in and unscrewed with no problems. Problem solved!

I figured that since my luck seemed to be holding up so far, I'd try tapping the aluminum frame for one of the oversize bushings. However, since the hole was pretty badly buggered up, I didn't really expect to do anything except clean up the threads a little so I could tap it oversize. I got the tap started in the aluminum frame, and it felt almost like screwing a machine screw into a threaded hole. It was so smooth and so easy compared to the Ti frame that I could almost just screw it in like a normal screw instead of a tap. When I backed the tap out and looked at the hole, I got a huge surprise. The threads looked perfect. I couldn't believe it was that easy. But it was. I tried a bushing in the fresh-tapped hole, and it worked perfectly.

So I'm now officially on the home stretch I'll install and loctite the bushings in the morning, and then I can start putting the rest of the parts in the guns. The Commander with the Ti frame should be the first one finished, because I have almost all the parts to put it back together. The only thing missing now is a beavertail grip safety machined for a 1/4" radius on the frame horns, and I should be able to find one of those within the next day or two. The .22 Commander needs a bunch of stuff for the Commander frame, but nothing exotic or hard to find.

So I should have both guns up and running within a week, two at the outside. Stay tuned.

nearmisses
December 29, 2014, 23:05
Let me see if I'm reading this right and remembering the other post leading up to the project. The new titanium frame grip bushing holes weren't tapped correctly, is that it? On a new frame?

catmguy445
December 30, 2014, 03:57
Let me see if I'm reading this right and remembering the other post leading up to the project. The new titanium frame grip bushing holes weren't tapped correctly, is that it? On a new frame?

Not quite. The holes were threaded, with the correct thread pitch. But after the frame had been machined, it was then coated with something, and the coating was in the bushing hole threads. That made the bushings an interference fit in the holes, and the friction was too much for the steel the bushings are made of. So tapping the holes was just to clean the coating out of the threads. I don't know what Caspian uses for a coating, but it's hard as heck, and takes some effort to remove. But the bushing holes are all nice and clean now, so that problem is solved. Next is fitting a grip safety.

nearmisses
December 30, 2014, 11:44
I get it now so QC is not what it should be at Caspian as per the late 1980's.
Not insurmountable but costly and time consuming considering the price of the frame. Do they offer the frame with bushings also and if so is it an added cost?
I had a gunsmithing buddy at CPTR that used to use their frames in his round rail builds he did. He said they were about the best back in those days wondered if it had changed much since then.

catmguy445
January 21, 2015, 00:04
Update:

The Commander Project is now 50% finished. Well, realistically, quite a bit more then 50%. The old Fed Ord aluminum Commander frame is now a dedicated .22LR pistol, and is a working firearm. I took it to the range last Saturday and test fired it, and it performed admirably. The temperature was about 36 degrees, wind was blowing, and it was raining. Perfect conditions for shooting, right? The Advantage Arms conversion kit performed without a hitch. It also fit the frame perfectly; looks just like it came from a factory that way. The sights were even right on, out of the box. I ran three mags full of assorted .22LR ammo through it with no stoppages or malfunctions of any kind. And the thing is accurate. I was shooting at 10 yards, and it produced a pretty decent group considering the conditions (70-year old eyes, cold, wet, and windy, with me shivering some), and the group was right where I aimed. I'm VERY impressed with Advantage Arms .22 kits.

The Ti Caspian frame is almost complete. The only things it still needs are a beavertail girp safety and the hammer/sear/disconnector set. Everything else is there and has been fitted. The frame now has stainless grip screw bushings loctited in place with red loctite. After some internet searching, I finally decided to just go with the Cylinder & Slide Shop Commander hammer with fitted sear and disconnector. I think they're probably the best, and I can also get a classic Commander hammer, rather than the skeletonized type, which I don't care for all that much.

And for nearmisses, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Caspian's QC or their Customer Service. The only reason I had a bit of a problem with getting the grip screw bushings in the frame was that the frame has been coated twice. They coated it originally when they built it, and then coated it again after I sent if back and they remachined it for me (and at no cost, I might add), so I had to clean out the bushing hole threads, but that wasn't really a big deal. All the frame dimensions and hole locations are perfect, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another frame from Caspian. And I believe that they do offer frames with the bushings installed for a minor charge. But since I'm a certified Armorer, I figured that if I couldn't put a set of grip screw bushings in a frame, I shouldn't be working on it in the first place. Caspian's dimensions are very accurate, and their tolerances are very tight, which is a good thing.

So my next post here should be about the finished Ti Commander, assuming that all goes well. Stand by.

idsubgun
January 21, 2015, 00:58
You kinda screwed the pooch on this one and waited until I moved to do this.
First, your new FFL charges you more then I did and second, I have the tap you need to clean those threads.

Way to go! :tongue:

idsubgun
January 21, 2015, 20:22
Zeke,

Brownell's number 080-598-236MB is a standard 1911 grip bushing tap, .236-60 size.

catmguy445
February 01, 2015, 15:41
Zeke,

Brownell's number 080-598-236MB is a standard 1911 grip bushing tap, .236-60 size.

Thanks, Bill. I've already got both the standard and oversize taps now (but thank you very much for looking that up), grip screw bushings are installed in both the titanium and aluminum frames (as it turned out, I never needed the oversize tap, but I suppose it doesn't hurt to have one for some day in the future when I might need one), and I picked up a Cylinder & Slide Commander hammer/disconnector/sear locally at a new shop called Intacto Arms. There's a guy there named Cooper who studied under Bill Laughridge at C&S, and he slicked up the sear/hammer engagement, which saved me from having to order the hammer set from C&S and gave a 3.5 pound trigger pull.

The last thing I needed to put everything together was a grip safety for the Ti frame, and I finally wound up ordering one from Midaway, along with a hammer strut (which I thought I had an extra one of, and didn't). All the parts finally came together last Thursday, so that afternoon, I set about making a working pistol out of the parts.

The hammer strut turned out to be the most difficult part to fit. I had gotten a set of stainless steel frame and action pins, and the hammer strut pin was VERY tight. I had to use a mini vise to install it, and after I had it in the hammer, the strut was very hard to move. After working it back and forth for a while, it loosened up a bit, but not much. So I drove the pin out again and measured it with a dial caliper, and it came out to 0.096", and the hole in the hammer was 0.0954" for a slight interference fit. The hole in the strut was 0.0957" so I hunted up a drill bit that was just slightly bigger than the hammer strut pin, and redrilled the hole in the hammer strut, then put everything back together again. Now the hammer strut moved freely, so in another few minutes, I had the whole gun together, and when I did a function check, everything worked the way it's supposed to.

I have a set of Pachmayr Signature grips on order from another local shop (one of my Christmas prestents was a gift certificate from that shop, so that's why I had them order the grips), but as of Saturday morning, they still hadn't come in, so I borrowed the set from the FedOrd aluminum frame that's now a dedicated .22LR 1911, and put the grips on the Caspian Commander.

So the Commander Project is about 99% complete. There are two things left, one being the Pachmayr grips, and the other thing is to take the gun out to the range and see how well it works. I did try cycling dummy rounds through the action from a magazine, and that worked fine, so there shouldn't be any feeding problems. Since the upper half isn't new, and I had shot it a few times when it was on the FedOrd frame, I know that works. By the way, after making a .22 out of the FedOrd frame, I found a small crack in it, just below the ejector in the frame rail, but I don't think that'll be any problem with the .22. So, stand by for the range report, and at that point, the Commander Project will be in the history books.

As things went along, the Project turned out to be somewhat more expensive than I had thought it would be. Part of that came from deciding to use the old aluminum frame to make a .22 pistol, which meant I had to buy a few more parts rather than just switching things from one frame to another. Plus, I had to buy a few things because of incompatability issues. So I wound up spending more money than I had planned on, but even then, it wasn't a huge amount, and I now have a working .45 Commander and a working .22 Commander. Do I think it was worth it? Probably. Would I do it again? I don't think so. The titanium frame was a really interesting experiment, and since it was my first time dealing with a Caspian product, I not only learned a fair amount, but I have a new respect for Caspian and their products. But if I were going to build another 1911 with a Caspian frame, it would be a blued or stainless frame, not titanium. I had to do that once, but once was enough.

Stand by for the range report, which hopefully will be in a few days if the weather hold up and I can get out to the range for a few hours one morning. I will also try to post pictures of my new Commander for those of you who have been patiently waiting to see what it looks like.

catmguy445
April 24, 2015, 18:21
Update:

Well, as the saying goes, it ain't over until it's over. About a month and a half ago, I took the Commander to the range and test fired it. Out of 15 rounds, it jammed on feeding or failed to eject (stovepiped) using .45 hardball ammo, about 12 times. Not a complete jam, but enough that I had to play with the slide a little to get the round to chamber. Obviously, that wasn't going to be acceptable.

The feed ramp wasn't rough, but it could definitely stand to be polished to a smoother finish. Since I don't have a Baldor die grinder to mount a polishing tool in, I took the gun back to Intacto. As Clint Eastwood once noted, a man's got to know his limitations, and in this case, the limitation was not having the right tools. After Cooper Kalisek at Intacto looked the Commander over, he said that beside the feed ramp, the barrel and link were out of spec. Thinking about it, that made sense. When I originally put the gun together, it was with a collection of parts from a whole bunch of different sources. I was also making close to starvation wages back then, so I was buying things that were as inexpensive as I could find. Like a no-name stainless barrel with an overly tight bushing. Probably due to tolerance stacking (or just plain dumb-ass luck), the thing worked and would function without any problems.

After putting the internal parts into the Caspian frame, which has the correct dimensions and tolerances, the barrel and link made the gun malfunction. Cooper worked on the barrel and fitted the bushing properly, but said that he really wanted to do more fitting to guarantee that it would operate properly. It felt a lot better cycling by hand, so I took it to the range again and ran more ammo through it. This time the ammo would feed properly, but slide functioning still wasn't 100%. It wasn't jamming, but every few rounds, the slide wouldn't go completely into battery until I popped the back of the slide with the heel of my hand.

That seemed to me to be a problem with the locking lugs and/or the barrel link, and barrel bushing clearances. After thinking it over a while, I came to the conclusion that most of the problems I was having were due mostly to the old parts. At this point, I decided that the barrel was going to be more expensive to get fitted properly than it was worth, and when fitted, it would still be a no-name god-only-knows-where-it-came-from barrel. Since I already had spent a fair amount more than I'd anticipated to just change the frame, I thought I might as well finish making a silk (or in this case, Titanium) purse out of a sow's ear, I ordered a Bar-Sto stainless barrel and bushing for the gun.

I ordered the barrel about three weeks ago, and was told by the folks at Bar-Sto that it would take ten to twelve weeks to fill the order, since apparently they make most of their barrels to order. The barrel showed up yesterday at the local post office, who sent me a notice that they had a package for me that I had to sign for to pick up. I had no idea that it was the barrel until I went to the Post Office about an hour ago and saw who the box was from. I guess their original estimate was a little generous in case there were any problems making the barrel, and apparently there weren't.

So the Bar-Sto barrel is now in the Commander, and it works, but there's a very slight resistance just before the slide goes into battery on closing. I'm actually pretty pleased about this, since the barrel is a semi-fit barrel, which means that it really requires having a .45 gunsmith check it for proper clearances and fit it to the slide and frame before it's really ready to use. That means that Cooper gets to play with it next week, since it's late Friday afternoon as I'm typing this.

There should be one more installment in this little serial, and that will be a range report and general thoughts on the project as a whole once the Commander is completely finished and working at 100%.

Stand by.