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  #1  
Old 03-29-2009, 08:56 PM
Bulldog Six Bulldog Six is offline
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Bob Rodgers 1911 Build Class (March 2009) - PICS Restored!

Last year, Bob Rodgers (www.rodgerspistolsmithing.com) hosted a small group of intrepid 1911 fans in his shop for a special class. Beginning with bare Caspian frames and slides, and all the parts necessary to build complete 1911s, Bob spent six long days with his charges, resulting in some accurate, fine looking pistols (http://forums.1911forum.com/showthre...ighlight=class). His wife told me that at the conclusion of the class he was happy but exhausted.

Demonstrating the triumph of hope over experience, Bob is about to undertake another such class this year. With five new students and one returning graduate building another gun, tomorrow (Monday) the second iteration of this class gets underway at 0800. Last year's unofficial Distinguished Graduate, ddg4238, is back again, not to build another gun but to assist Bob with this year's particularly challenging group of students, along with Head Window Licker Irvin.

As one of this year's class, I arrived in Mountain Home this afternoon with friend, fellow student and training pal Citrus Dude to be informed by HWL Irv that I had been elected to chronicle our daily exploits, and so I shall. Here are a couple of shots of Bob's shop and what it looks like inside, with the benches, vises and lights he rigged for us, and our own tools laid out on the work tables.

The Shop


What every shop and estate in the country needs: a tractor and a steel plate rack!


Day Zero saw all students arriving to set up their tools on the workbenches before dinner, save for one, whose long journey may have been made longer by snowstorms in the midwest. With a little luck, he'll be in tonight.

Bob and Citrus Dude in the Shop (and if the Dude looks a little dazed, cut him some slack - he'd just driven 17 hours to get us here)


My work space: overhead light, 300 pound articulating vise (OK, maybe not quite that heavy but massive) and hand tools. I asked for the mattress and ball on the floor, too, but Bob said they belonged to Wil (the adorable dog who owns Bob and Sandy) and that I had no chance.


All present, including our gracious hosts Bob and Sandy Rodgers, went to dinner at a local joint famous for terrific fried catfish and breathtaking view of a local lake. We noted on leaving the restaurant that one customer who parked in a handicapped parking space had disabled the post marking said space by backing his cowboy Cadillac into it, leaving it at an angle to threaten pedestrians walking by. Naturally, the offender, now being sought by law enforcement agencies throughout Arkansas, is one of our very own window lickers. Lacking a USB cable tonight, the photos necessary to convict won't appear for a day or so. With full stomachs that hurt from laughing, we piled into our vehicles, and retired for the night.

Parking lot surveillance image shows a horrified wife surveying the damage, but the husband/driver remains unidentified, and is still at large.


Watch this space for each day's [mis]adventures of this crew as they try the patience and good humor of a great pistolsmith, all-around great guy, and demonstrable glutton for punishment, Bob Rodgers.
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Last edited by Bulldog Six; 03-27-2011 at 11:42 AM. Reason: Restoration of pictures
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2009, 09:14 PM
Randall Kepley Randall Kepley is offline
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Cant wait for the updates! R.K.
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  #3  
Old 03-29-2009, 09:18 PM
NewKimber+1 NewKimber+1 is offline
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I heard once,... from a great gunsmith, that's one of the only restaurants left that still serve possum pie!
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  #4  
Old 03-29-2009, 09:25 PM
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pistolwrench pistolwrench is offline
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Good Gosh, I cain't wait to get to sleep....just to hasten news of tomorrow's adventures!
There is no airport close to Mountain Home. As such, the local Chamber of Commerce asks all visitors to be watchful for Possum roadkill on the trip there, so as to not diminish the local supply.
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  #5  
Old 03-29-2009, 11:15 PM
paladin4415 paladin4415 is offline
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I feel like a five year old waiting to go to Disneyland tomorrow. I CAN"T wait to hear more.
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  #6  
Old 03-30-2009, 06:27 AM
echo6 echo6 is offline
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This should be interesting
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  #7  
Old 03-30-2009, 06:32 AM
Bob Rodgers Bob Rodgers is offline
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Another restaurant has rolled up its WELCOME mat and placed it in storage for the remainder of the week.

We're off to a great start.
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  #8  
Old 03-30-2009, 07:04 AM
leade45 leade45 is offline
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I would pay some good money just to be present and observe.
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  #9  
Old 03-30-2009, 10:17 AM
irvin irvin is offline
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I don't know where you come from but in Miami we back down until we hit something and stop. That is the same way to build a 1911, keep taking metal off until you see light or get stopped.

Another chance to drive Boob nuts!

It snowed yesterday and I almost headed back to Miami, no one said it would be this damn cold and Arkansas doesn't have heat or A/C. Bob just got electricty last year and indoor plumbing is coming soon.

This may kill Bob.

be safe irv
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  #10  
Old 03-30-2009, 04:11 PM
BigJon BigJon is offline
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I'll be watchin' this one with interest, seein' as how Bob still hasn't changed his mind about lettin' me in the next class, hopefully in October.

Hey, Bob, while I'm up there I have, oh, four or five 1911s I've really butchered. I know you probably just sit around the whole time and relax while the students toil away, so maybe I'll bring 'em to give you some welding practice!

Just kidding ... juuuuuust kidding.
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  #11  
Old 03-30-2009, 05:45 PM
joszx67 joszx67 is offline
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Don't forget PICS!!!! Should I overnight a USB cord?

Best regards,
Joseph
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  #12  
Old 03-30-2009, 06:16 PM
BBBBill BBBBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irvin View Post
...Another chance to drive Boob nuts!...
Did you just call Bob a Boob?!?!?!?

Since I've relocated to central FL, I was going to come over to your place this week to grope .. er .. handle the latest one you got. Now I find out you are up there in Ar Kansas.
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  #13  
Old 03-30-2009, 06:35 PM
irvin irvin is offline
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Bob is a boob.

be safe irv
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:20 PM
hooks hooks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBBBill View Post
Did you just call Bob a Boob?!?!?!?
anyone got a picture of boob?
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  #15  
Old 03-30-2009, 09:15 PM
CitrusDude CitrusDude is offline
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Just got back to the motel after a long day on the bench, and a thoroughly enjoyable Italian dinner. Bulldog Six is in the room next door trying to type up today's udpate through a Chianti jog. As you will not be disappointed, today's experiences will be exploited to all of the attendees dismay. It is just amazing how much work goes into fitting the parts on a well built 1911. Every step of the process continues to widen my eyes.

Only one chunk of skin was removed today. Main knuckle of my support hand. At this pace, I may not have much meat left on my hands by the end of the week.

Can't say enough about Bob's patience, and the mentoring given by Bob and his support team. I'm very happy to be here, and hope i can minimize my windowlicker moments for the balance of the course.
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  #16  
Old 03-30-2009, 09:26 PM
irvin irvin is offline
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Hi Citrus Dude

Nothing about the prank we played on Bob?

be safe irv
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  #17  
Old 03-30-2009, 10:57 PM
Bulldog Six Bulldog Six is offline
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Day One

The day began auspiciously, with all students at their benches and ready to go by 0800 (well, 0800 Miami time anyway). Since we missed the local constabulary crossing into Arkansas yesterday afternoon, Bob had been deputized to check our papers and did so. A member of the local welcoming committee and assistant instructor for this class (known as The Spook) can be seen in the background providing his own contribution to Arkansas hospitality.



Since setting up our workspaces yesterday afternoon, the 1911 parts fairy had placed a box with our name on it at each workspace, containing slide, frame and all associated small parts for the 1911. Bob had already done the preliminary measuring and rough fitting of the frames and slides before we arrived, and flattened and serrated the slide tops for those who requested it, as well as adding front cocking serrations for those who have aesthetic objections to the clean lines of the original Government Model design.

As seen in the workspace photo added above, Bob provided a three ring binder with a very comprehensive workbook in it. One of the first steps therein, once we'd been briefed on the safety rules that applied in the shop, was to learn how many different critical dimensions there are on the frame and slide of the 1911, and how to measure them accurately. The adverb matters, as Bob discovered several unique artistic interpretations of operating a dial caliper. When your scribe couldn't account for a consistent difference of .002" between his measurements and Bob's, he quietly re-checked the zero on his device and discovered it to be EXACTLY .002" off. The Lord loves a window licker, and thank goodness. Below, Bob shows Ricardo and Citrus Dude how to measure the correct way.



We completed the frame/slide fit by gently lapping with a mixture of JB bore cleaner and oil, leaving us with slides that moved freely from full recoil back to battery, and smooth as glass.

We checked our slide stops for solid engagement in the slide, gently radiusing the square corners of the locking tab and checking for lobe/slide clearance inside the gun, relieving as necessary. We also checked for daylight between the plunger tube and thumb safety lever, with several of us removing metal from underneath the safety lever to ensure that we don't scratch the tops of our plunger tubes.

Returning to dimensions, Bob explained that many feed ramps in production guns and frames today are shallow, and not all at the correct angle. He had re-milled each of ours to the correct specs, but the milling marks were still visible on the ramps, so he had us instally conical Cratex polishing bits in our Dremel chucks, and polish the marks out, leaving a near-mirror finish on the feed ramps. We were cautioned not to lean back (toward the muzzle) with the tip, lest we break the sharp, clean angle at the top of the ramp. As the first Dremel fired up hit about 12,000 RPM, Bob said, "Ah, the sound of American indutry." Here's a shot of Citrus Dude in action with the Dremel.



Next up was fitting our barrel bushings, first to the barrel, then to the slide. We each were shown how to use an expanding reamer, lubed with a little cutting fluid, and having inserted our bushings into a special retaining tool in the vise, twisted it down through so that our bushings were internally reamed to the size that produces a nice snug fit at the muzzle of a Kart barrel. That was the easy part. Next came a [near interminable for some of us] series of blue Sharpie markings, filing around the circumference of the bushing, trying to insert it into the slide (it only SEEMED about twice the size that would fit in the end of the slide), noting the high marks from which the blue ink had been scraped, filing those spots all around the bushing, taking care to avoid the lug, re-marking, and repeating until the bushing could actually be inserted (with a little help from the Brownell's hammer) into the slide. It was during this exercise, that we all came to know and love this helpful bit of wisdom: "The object of filing isn't to make something shiny, it's to remove metal."

Irv the prankster put a rare, good one over on Bob by subtly switching Watfa's barrel for a spare junk barrel he'd brought, and began showering the shop with sparks from the belt sander as he loudly proclaimed to give an impromptu lesson. Once Bob's heart had resumed beating, he composed himself well enough to discreetly misappropriate and hide Irv's keys, and Irv was in the local Yellow Pages looking for a locksmith before Bob finally fessed up. Friendship is a wonderful thing.

Bob explained to us that some things had to be done individually (bushing reaming, lug fitting, etc.) and that while we weren't engaged in one of those sequential activities that he expected us to make good use of the time by doing things such as removing the casting lines and rough surfaces from parts such as the back of our slide stops and thumb safeties. Keeping constructively occupied is easy - there is ALWAYS more to be done, and we took only one brief break for lunch in the late morning, then another quick break in the afternoon.

Final bushing prep consisted of applying lapping compound (a more abrasive mixture than what we'd used on the slides and frames) to the exterior surfaces of the bushing, re-installing it (but keeping the slide out of battery since the bushing was already fit to the barrel at the muzzle and we didn't want to destroy that snug fit), and using a bushing wrench to twist the bushing back and forth in the slide until the desired degree of resistance had been reached. The results of trying to muscle a bushing that hasn't yet been Sharpie'd, test-fitted, and filed enough are below. It was the only bushing wrench destroyed on Day One!



The special bushing jig that we used in the vice wasn't the only special tool that Bob provided for his students. Like many of us, Watfa prefers to do her filing and Dremeling standing up, but her vice on the bench is pretty well elevated, so.......





The final big event of the day was to fit our barrel hoods to the slide. This was another operation requiring trial and error of marking, aligning (installing barrel and bushing on the slide, and the slide assembly on the frame to ensure barrel centering), gently tapping the barrel rearward to establish white marks on the rear edges of the barrel hood, then disassembling everything to gently file down the offending high spots until the desired .003" clearance on each side had been achieved. We put a 45 degree angle on each side topline then used a similar procedure to establish the proper clearance between the rear of the barrel hood and the breech face.

The mantra of the day had to do with our filing: "Level and true," or moving the file in such a way as to make a surface cut that is square to existing axes, and doesn't fundamentally alter the design of the part being filed on. It's a hell of a lot easier to discuss than it is to execute. Here's a shot of Dwayne (ddg4238) working with Ricardo on the final strokes at the back of his barrel hood.



We left the shop at about 1800, amazed at both how much we had accomplished, newly impressed with the amount of precise handwork that can go into building a reliable, accurate 1911 (although determination of those virtues for our guns comes later this week), and dog tired after only the first day. Bob, Dwayne, Irv and The Spook were all generous with their assistance and patient with our questions.

Tomorrow morning, we kick off by fitting the lugs!
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Last edited by Bulldog Six; 03-27-2011 at 10:35 AM.
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  #18  
Old 03-31-2009, 01:18 AM
Greyson Greyson is offline
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Wow. I love this thread. I always wanted to take a course like this, but my better angels talked me out of such self-deprecation.

I watch with envy and hope...

Regards,
Greyson
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  #19  
Old 03-31-2009, 05:31 AM
Gary1911A1 Gary1911A1 is offline
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Hope to be there for a class sometime in the future.
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  #20  
Old 03-31-2009, 05:59 AM
jim42 jim42 is offline
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Me too
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  #21  
Old 03-31-2009, 07:05 AM
Bob Rodgers Bob Rodgers is offline
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Filing a surface level and true appears to be a God given skill that many of these window lickers willingly traded off for some other. I await enlightenment as to what that may be.

I will admit to being nailed by Irv's little (very little) joke yesterday. What made it so believable is the fact that Irv is SUPREMELY capable of such a licker move as evidenced by Buck's photo of the parking lot sign incident.

All in all, we had a good day. We're on schedule (more or less) and I had the pleasure (?) of learning that fitting a bushing can consume almost an entire afternoon.

The "Spook" had to return to his crime fighting duties and won't return until Friday. The "Case of the Mangled Sign" will probably appear on his desk. With any luck, an arrest will be forthcoming. Allow me to state right now that I know nothing about the call to the crimestopper tip line.

Dwayne, Irv, and I will pick up the slack and keep the class moving. Hopefully forward......
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  #22  
Old 03-31-2009, 07:10 AM
DevilDave1911 DevilDave1911 is offline
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looks like a hoot and two halves!!!! would love to do that sometime....in Arkansas??? Only if we can egg the old Clinton house one day! LOL


seriously tho, cool post, look forward to the saga continuing....fun pics too.
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  #23  
Old 03-31-2009, 07:59 AM
sophijo sophijo is offline
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Fun

Yup; that looks like a lot of fun!
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  #24  
Old 03-31-2009, 09:05 AM
natpro7420 natpro7420 is offline
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This thread is great! I would love to do something like this someday. I am still trying to build up the nerve to move beyond just shooting and cleaning.
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  #25  
Old 03-31-2009, 09:54 AM
rglock35 rglock35 is offline
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I would be content if Mr. Rodgers would just sell me one of those lab manuels .

I'm enjoying this very much. Thanks for the posting and the pics to everyone involved .
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