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Old 03-18-2017, 07:01 PM
WTN1271 WTN1271 is offline
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Default 3913.... damaged frame question

Looking for your thoughts and opinions on a crack that I discovered on the frame of an older 3913, serial TEA 4XXX.

I have owned this pistol for many years although I have never fired it, just been sitting in the safe. It was purchased at a very reasonable price and was described as an "agency trade in". Dont know any other history. Overall condition is good with normal holster/carry wear on the dust cover, trigger guard, and beavertail area. It came with Hogue rubber grips installed, which I like, so I never removed them until recently. And thats when I discovered 2 cracks on the "ear" of the lower portion of the grip frame where the grip pin goes through, (left side).
The hole is a little oblonged also.



It looks to me that when the Hogue grips were installed the mounting block did not line up exactly and rather than trim or sand the block to fit, force was applied to the pin to make it fit and the frame was damaged.

I called S&W and explained situation but they confirmed that welding/repairng frame was not possible. Also they dont have any spare frames available for replacement or purchase. Kind of what I expected but just wanted to be sure.

So I guess I now have a parts gun. Lesson learned to remove grips as well as field strip before making purchase.

Has anyone ever seen this type if crack before? Any thoughts on other ways the cracks might have occurred? (The right side "ear" looks fine. No obvious signs of having been dropped). Lastly, how unsafe would it be to fire this pistol in this condition?

Thanks for your input.

Updated photos as of 4pm 3/19/17.
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3913.... damaged frame question-1-img_5002-jpg   3913.... damaged frame question-2-img_5003-jpg  

Last edited by WTN1271; 03-19-2017 at 03:58 PM. Reason: Updated photos
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:11 PM
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Although it is hard to tell from looking at your picture, Ill take your word for it that the line is a crack and not a scratch or stain.

I have one high round count 3913. No cracks, just a worn frame. Doesnt affect function so I keep it lubed and shoot it.

A crack there on the ears of the grip pin should not affect function of your 3913. I would clean, lube, reinstall the Hogue grip and shoot that 3913. With no worries. If the adapter is too big, grab a new set off fleabay.

Hopefully FastBolt will see your post. IIRC, he knew an officer who had a 3913 with a crack in the dustcover. Gun still functioned safely, again IIRC.

Good luck! Hope this helps! Regards 18DAI
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:22 PM
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While I am certainly not one that advocates welding guns, in THIS PARTICULAR CASE your crack is NOT in a very critical spot and even if it cracked all the way through it would not go above the pin hole. I am not all that knowledgable about welding alloy but a Master Welder would be and he could certainly advise you about possibly doing so.

If you did nothing and shoot the gun you might have the crack spread and a piece come off - but again it would not go to the other side if the hole so I don't see a huge safety issue - just a possible loose grip issue.

Since you can't get it replaced by S&W and can't in good conscience sell it like that, I see little downside about talking to a professional welder. Nothing to loose.
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:03 PM
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I think you are correct WTN1271, it looks like someone went to install the aftermarket grips without lining up the holes for the grip pin and went at it aggressively with a hammer.

Based upon what I have read in the past, I would caution not to have anyone do any welding on an aluminum frame and suggest you not do anything until hearing some more from some of our very knowledgeable and experienced armorers here on the forum, who will probably be along soon. Also, given this one issue that you noticed, it might be worthwhile doing a complete disassembly, if that is something you are comfortable doing, and carefully visually inspect for any other issues.
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Last edited by 0849; 03-18-2017 at 08:08 PM. Reason: added disassembly recommendation
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:13 PM
WTN1271 WTN1271 is offline
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Thanks for the quick replies. It is definitely cracked. I hoped it was just dirt when I first saw it but my fingernail catches on it and close exam reveals a separation in the metal.

This gun was intended to be a spare gun for the range as I have other 3900 series for carry.

As suggested, I will completely disassemble and check for other damage.

From what I have read in other threads welding alloy frames is not an option.
Hopefully it will be safe to use as is.

Last edited by WTN1271; 03-18-2017 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 09:54 PM
Barrie Barrie is offline
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Aluminum can be welded but only by a very experienced and well trained welder. The Bradly armoured vehicle is a example of a aluminum welded vehicle. The Striker is all armoured steel instead. Different gas's are used in the welding process of both.
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Old 03-18-2017, 11:00 PM
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Too much liability for any welder - guns weren't made to last forever and your gun should be retired or parted out. If you send it to S&W, you will never see it again but may be offered something for taking it out of service.
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Old 03-19-2017, 07:09 AM
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Lot of good info here on welding aluminum: Is a cracked frame on an Airweight repairable?
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Old 03-19-2017, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S. View Post
Lot of good info here on welding aluminum: Is a cracked frame on an Airweight repairable?
Very interesting read, thanks for posting, looks like an excellent thread for anyone to peruse that is thinking about doing a repair on an aluminum frame.
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Old 03-19-2017, 04:00 PM
MichiganScott MichiganScott is offline
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Since the crack is in the piece that hold the grips on the gun, I'd be inclined to put the Hogue's back on and shoot it until the grips fell off and then part it out. I suspect you will shoot many rounds before that will happen.
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Old 03-19-2017, 04:12 PM
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OMG, my gun has a crack in the frame, is it junk? (There isn't a ROFLMAO emoticon)

Is this a stressed area of the frame? NO!

Is this area of the frame subject to firing stress? Again, NO!

Is this a safety issue. NO!

Will this ever affect function? For the final time, NO!

Shoot the gun and enjoy it. Chances are you will forget about this minor cosmetic issue until the next time you take the grips off.

If you choose to ignore this advice and continue to stress over this then sell the gun.

This was caused by some incompetent idiot proving there are some things that cannot be done be just anyone, even something so simple as removing and reinstalling grips! Probably used an over-size punch and hammer to do what can be done very easily and had no idea why it was so hard to get the pin out!
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Old 03-19-2017, 04:26 PM
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I know what I'd do if it were mine.

Like Alk8944 said, I'd shoot it until it showed signs of becoming a bigger problem. If it never did, then so be it. BUT if it did get worse I know how I'd fix it.

I have some aluminum alloy rods that can be melted with a MAP gas torch and will stick to just about any grade of aluminum or magnesium alloy. I'd pack the frame with clay to leave just that mounting tab exposed (to protect the rest of the frame from heat).

Next I'd grind/notch the crack out just a little with a file or Dremel tool and then fill it in with the rod & a torch. Reshape it with hand files & re-drill the hole.

Like Alk8944 said, it is in a non-stressed location and there is no safety concern. All it does is provide a mounting point for the grips. Just not that big or critical of a deal.
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Old 03-19-2017, 05:25 PM
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Here is a place that the low temp rod BC38 is talking about would probably work pretty well. Not a high stress area. Just there to keep the grip sirmly line up. Heck JB weld even work.
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Old 03-19-2017, 05:45 PM
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Yep. I'd be tempted to use some Alumiweld rods on those cracks.
Propane torch, stainless steel brush, and Alumiweld rods.
Alumiweld rods are really brazing rods for aluminum, not true fusion welding. However, a brazed joint is much stronger than what is needed for this crack.
I'm leery of MAPP on an aluminum part this thin. Even propane can easily melt the aluminum and requires care.
IF I were going to fusion weld it, I'd see if it can be TIG welded.
With it being in a non-stressed area, probably not worth the expense of TIG, and with the metal being so thin in that spot.....
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Old 03-19-2017, 06:04 PM
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Also, there are more expensive versions of that rod available.

If cyanoacrylate/CA/Superglue will bond to aluminum, your best bet woud probably be to buy some ultra thin CA glue and use it to glue those cracks, instead. No torch needed. Being a non-stressed part, you just want to stabilize the crack and keep it from spreading.
I use BSI ultra thin CA glue. I buy it from Amazon, but hobby shops carry it, too. Excellent product, great for small cracks.
Great for gluing your fingers together, if you're not careful.
Much better quality than most "super" glues. Many of them are imported from China. Many of them are a mix of CA and PMMA (plexiglas) resins.
The CA/PMMA mix could be just what you need, depending on how much gap is in those cracks.
If the gap is small, go with the BSI ultra thin CA. It wicks into cracks very well and is hell for stout.
I use this particular CA glue
Insta-Cure | Super Glue | CA

I've used it to glue stamped sheet steel cooling shrouds back into the cast aluminum end housings of electric motors.
The motors would regularly reach temps 95 degrees C, because the customer was exceeding the duty cycle of the motors.
That's the entire reason I had to glue the shrouds back in. They were pressed in, from the factory. Thousands of hours of use and overuse, and overheating caused them to loosen and work their way back against the motor rotor.
I never had one come loose after gluing them back in.

Just a thought. May or may not be right for your needs. YMMV.

Also good for closing cuts in skin, after thoroughly cleaning/disinfecting. Be careful how much you get on your skin at one time. It gets hot as it cures, and if you get a large spill of it on your skin, it can burn you.
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Old 03-19-2017, 06:23 PM
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Great advice, Jaymo!

Before wicking in the CA, would you recommend flushing the crack with a cleaner?
And if so, what do you prefer?

BTW Nothing cracked now, but this sort of thing shows up from time to time.

John
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Old 03-19-2017, 07:52 PM
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I have not done business with this shop, but have heard good things about them. Gunsmithing Services | Pullman Arms It might be worth giving them a call as they say they specialize in micro welding.
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Old 03-19-2017, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnHL View Post
Great advice, Jaymo!

Before wicking in the CA, would you recommend flushing the crack with a cleaner?
And if so, what do you prefer?

BTW Nothing cracked now, but this sort of thing shows up from time to time.

John
My 2c... clean thoroughly with a strong evaporating solvent ie. acetone or CRC's red can brake cleaner.

Allow plenty of time for the solvent to dry out of the crack then use some industrial grade wicking adhesive to seal things up. I recommend Loctite 420.

I wouldn't even consider welding. It's anodized which would be considered a contaminant in the weld puddle so you'd have to abrade the oxide layer off the weld site down to raw aluminum. Old aluminum can be very tricky to weld, a tiny bit too much heat and that tab is liable to melt, turn to mush and drip right off the frame. Also you'd need to know what the particular alloy of aluminum that is to select the correct filler metal... I have no idea what alloy S&W used for these.

Cheers
Bill
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:25 AM
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Thanks to all that have replied. My knowledge of welding is limited so your input is greatly appreciated. I like the idea of using the adhesive since I can handle that myself.

I did not fear that the gun would explode if fired but rather was thinking that the pressure from the mainspring could cause the ear to break off completely and then affect functionality if the mainspring became misaligned. Maybe I am over thinking that part and no force is actually transfered all the way through to the grip pin but that's why I asked the question.

I guess I will glue it up, reinstall the Hogue grips and fire away.

Thanks again for all your help.

Last edited by WTN1271; 03-20-2017 at 01:39 AM.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryS View Post
I have not done business with this shop, but have heard good things about them. Gunsmithing Services | Pullman Arms It might be worth giving them a call as they say they specialize in micro welding.
I'd use these people for the fix or part it out and buy another one (probably the latter).
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:05 AM
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Haven't heard the smart*#s remark yet so here goes.

It's broke and worthless as a shooter. I'll give ya $15 AND pay the shipping charges. You can call me @ BR-549 to get shipping info.
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