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Thread: Questions on salvaging a burned up 1911

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Questions on salvaging a burned up 1911

    A friend brought several guns over to ask me if they can be salvaged.
    His house burned down due to some electrical fault, made worse by his oxygen tanks for his breathing apparatus feeding the flames. The house burned like a railroad flare.
    His gunsafe wasn't as fire resistant as expected.

    The worst burned was a 1911 series 70.
    It got hot enough that the springs lost all tension so I expect the heat treatment is compromised.
    The rounds in the magazine cooked off blasting trapdoors of metal through the openings in the grip frame.
    I think rather than the steel being simply annealed that some exterior areas quenched by the fire hoses are brittle.

    Is it possible to re heat treat the frame and slide?
    Not sure if the barrel got as hot but it may need replacing anyway due to rusting for days in the rubble.
    I figure its best to simply replace the smaller parts such as hammer and trigger linkage etc. Springs also of course.

    If we take it to a machine shop to check hardness what would be the figures within safe limits for frame and slide?

    Since his insurance won't cover this sort of loss he won't want to put much into rebuilding it. Probably cheaper to buy a new one or another used one.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Your last idea is the best one.

    There are people who do this kind of work, the re-heat treatment of metal, but their services are expensive, and you'll always wonder.......

    Its best use would be as a wall hanger, permanently disabled.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master rondog's Avatar
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    I'd have to agree, it's junk now.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master



    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    Pacific Metallurgy used to do this for $125.00 http://pacmet.com/

    Blanchard Metal Process of Utah does this also https://www.bmproc.com/

    Some info on specs here. https://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=35134

    Unless the metal is heavily scaled it most definitely can be reheat treated. The cost benefit ratio is the real question.
    Last edited by ShooterAZ; 01-19-2020 at 07:24 PM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    I think its a goner as far as shooting it again.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 01-19-2020 at 05:51 PM.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    wait for a gun buy back program and turn it in for $$$

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Insurance should cover the house and contents one would think. That gun is fancy scrap if you can make out the Colt logo...

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by turtlezx View Post
    wait for a gun buy back program and turn it in for $$$
    I wish I'd thought of that.

    It might also be good for practice bluing, teaching yourself to do trigger work,
    practice your draw and jam clearing skill, or getting good practice taking one apart & putting it back together in the dark.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    Insurance should cover the house and contents one would think. That gun is fancy scrap if you can make out the Colt logo...

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
    Home owners policies tend to be very limited for firearms

    https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/blo...your-firearms/

    https://news.leavitt.com/personal-in...-owners-guide/
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    You might get away with using the frame and new trigger parts and a marvel 22 conversion on top. Other wise its better to start over.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I have saved a few guns that have been burned, they were mostly low pressure guns like rimfires, and one is a 30-06 that is now only a light load cast shooter!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post

    This is very true. A lot of insurance policies cap at $1,500 for firearms. You can record the serial numbers, keep the bills of sale/purchase in another location, even photograph them, but they'll tell you that you should have purchased Collector's Insurance. I know I've looked into that option several times, including insurance offered by the NRA, and it is cost prohibitive.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I agree that the 1911 wouldn't be worth the cost of restoring. Besides that pistol two Enfields, a no.1 MkIII* and a no.4 Mk I BSA were in the safe. Both had the fore ends burned completely to ashes just ahead of the receiver ring, the wood around the action body is scorched but intact. I'm thinking these actions might be salvageable but would need new barrels. Only things above the center of the safe burned, two pistols stored at the bottom look undamaged even resin and plastic grips unmarred. A bit rusty and covered with soot but should clean up okay.
    A Chinese SKS lost its entire stock. I think it is probably toast.

    Someone made an offer on the whole shebang but the undamaged CZ 52 and a generic .380 are worth more than he offered.
    I've fired that CZ in the past but these just don't fit my hand. Everyone else got good results but I couldn't hit anything with it, otherwise I'd have bought it from him myself. I'll just clean those two up for him for now so he'll at least have the beginning of a new collection.

    PS
    The 1911 might be useful to someone who makes moulded holsters for this model. Welded and demiled of course.

  14. #14
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    Please don't make offers to buy/sell on this thread!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Wood chars at about 450 degrees, if burned off completely likely got a lot hotter in the safe, the unburned wood might have survived because the open flame ran out of oxygen. I would not trust any firearm exposed to that kind of heat unless inspected and hardness tested by someone who knows what they are doing.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master



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    It's Toast. My shop restored many fire job guns to shootable/useable condition but if the springs were annealed the gun was junk and would destroy them so no one would try to repair them then get hurt.

    It is cheaper to buy another at that point IMHO

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Pick out a Tombstone and a plot...

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Boogieman's Avatar
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    new internal parts and a 22lr conversion kit
    The 3 people a man must be able to trust completely are his gunsmith his doctor & his preacher ..,his gunsmith for his short term health ,his doctor for long term health ,and his preacher incase one of the others mess up.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    a modern 1911 will be made of aisi 4130 or some such, and treated to have a thru thickness BHN of about 180-225, as it is a heavily built gun for a low pressure cartridge. early military 1911 were not so durable. springs tend to be tempered at 400-500*, so anything more and they will loose strength. the gun is not worth repairing. water quenching from over 600* will make the steel subject to brittle fracture.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I seem to remember one gun company gave a discount for guns destroyed by house fire.

    The gun buy back turn in is a great idea.

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