Tag Archives: Guide Rod

How To Re-Assemble A 1911 or 2011 Full Length Guide Rod, Spring and Reverse Plug Using A Small Engine Valve Compressor

If you’re reading this then I am assuming you know how much a bear it is to re-assemble the full length guide rod, spring and reverse plug group that many 1911 and 2011 pistols are using. When a takedown paper clip or pin slips during disassembly or re-assembly of the pistol, life gets interesting fast.

Well, if you want to get into an argument with a 1911 guru, ask if the full length guide rods make a difference. The answer tends to be “no” and I am not arguing for them. What I am finding is that bull barrel 10mm pistol makers as of late aren’t using bushings – the slide and barrel mate together directly and the guide rod assembly is captured in the slide, not by the bushing.

This is a Desert Eagle 10mm by Bul Armory with a full length guide rod (the solid circle in the middle).
Rock Island Ultra FS HC – also with a full length guide rod. The silver circle is the end of the guide rod.

To disassemble these types of pistols, you usually need to insert a pin in the guide rod to capture the reverse plug. Some guys bend a paper clip. I got so annoyed by how tacky that looked that I had a ton of takedown pins made from 1mm stainless wire [click here to go to our website].

With the slide locked open, you insert the pin in the hole machined for this purposed, release the slide and move it forward against the pin. I’d recommend against letting the plug slam forward into the pin as it isn’t going to do either piece of steel any favors over time. That’s our takedown pin by the way.
Once the pin has limited the travel of the reverse plug and basically stopped the spring from applying pressure, takedown is a breeze.
With the tension removed, it all comes apart real nice in theory.
Boy, that sure is nice and neat isn’t it?

And Then Reality Hits

Folks, there are a million and one reasons why that pin can get knocked out of the hole and the reverse plus is going to come flying off at the speed of light. This kind of stuff happens to me way more than I care to admit. I can’t tell you how many parts I have lost control of and heard a faint “tick” sound as said part lands on the other side of my shop never to be seen again. Well, that’s not exact true, I did find an AR buffer detent in the tool caddy of my ShopVac last week. I vaguely remember losing one at point.

Big word of advice, if you are working on a spring loaded part, do it in a place were you can find the parts if you lose control. Yeah, you may be laughing now but wait until you hear that “tick” sound of a part landing on the other side of a congested (fancy way of saying “messy”) shop.

In my case, I haven’t launched the reverse plug yet but I did release the tension to see how it was made. Ok, big mistake. The recoil springs for a 10mm start at 16 pounds and are more likely to be 20-24 pounds. With my carpal tunnel, I could not compress the spring enough to reinsert the pin. I had a serious WTF do I do moment? Under no circumstance was I going to ask my wife to come help me 🙂 A second set of hands would have done the trick for sure but I needed to figure out a quick and dirty way to do it myself.

This is the full length guide rod, reverse tube and spring from by Desert Eagle 10mm 1911.

In this case, I carefully inserted the parts in a bench vise and very carefully compressed them until I could get the pin back in. I was really nervous because if either the plug or the rod shifted, I was going to launch parts. It worked, but there had to be a better way.

Solution: Use A Small Engine Valve Compressor

I’ve read, watched and worked on a ton of stuff over the years. I knew there were valve spring compressors for small engines that might work perfect for this so I did some research. The Stens 750-174 looked like it would work perfect and it did.

Here is my new Stens 750-174 that worked perfectly You can adjust the width of the tips and the big screw allows you to very easily compress the spring.
With the two little thumbscrews you can independently adjust the width of the holders.
There’s a trick to getting started – first rotate your guide rod so you will have access to the pin hole once the plug is compressed past it. Now what I did was to start with the base inserted in the tool and it was resting on the table. I then inserted the reverse plug, pushed down and tipped/pivoted the assembly into place so the other tip could grab the plug.
So I adjusted one tend to hold the base of the guide rod and the other to cradle the reverse plug and turned the big crank to compress the spring, reinserted the pin – done!

Conclusion

If you have a pistol with a full length guide rod for whatever reason, I would honestly recommend our takedown pin and also keep a Stens 750-174 spring compressor around if you may need to put it back together solo.


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