Tag Archives: gunsmithing

Simplify The Installation of AK Triggers With Our Slave Pin

The typical semi-auto AK trigger has four parts – the trigger body, disconnector, disconnector spring and pin. Installing it can be a challenge because you need to properly align the disconnector while sliding the pin through from one side of the receiver to another. For me, with big hands, this task takes more effort than I want.

This is your typical semi-automatic AK trigger group. On the left is the trigger body, top right is the disconnector, under the disconnector is its spring and at the bottom right is the trigger pin. The challenge is getting this all assembled inside of the AK receiver as the pin needs to pass from one side of the receiver, through one side of the trigger, through the disconnector to capture it, out the other side of the trigger and finally out the other side of the receiver. Trying to get it all to align inside of the trigger takes some patience.

The Solution – Use A Slave Pin

There is an easier approach. We can slide a properly sized dowel pin to serve as a “slave pin” during assembly to secure and properly align the disconnector and trigger outside of the receiver. This simplifies life tremendously. The unit is assembled outside where you can see what is going on, is lowered into the receiver and then the actual trigger pin is pushed through and it displaces the slave pin – the slave just exits the other side of the receiver.

This is the slave pin. Note how one side is beveled more than the other. That is the side that is inserted first. The bevel helps move things around during insertion and then the 5mm body provides the actual alignment for the trigger pin.
This is the assembled trigger group with the slave pin holding it all together.
Normally this would be in the receiver but I want you to see what is going on. As the trigger pin is inserted, it pushes the slave pin out of the way and it exits via the opposite receiver hole.
This photo shows how when the trigger pin is fully inserted, the slave simply drops out.
This is an ALG semi-auto trigger and you can see how slave pin is exiting the receiver as the trigger pin is installed.
So there’s the end result. A slave pin makes a world of difference. Note, that is one if our fire control group plates retaining the trigger and hammer pins.

Click here to order one of our AK Trigger Slave Pins

Click here if you are interested in one of our Fire Control Group Retainer Plates

In Conclusion

If you’re like me and want an easier way to install AK triggers, these new slave pins are the way to go!


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 1

I like to acid etch blades that I build using apple cider and/or ferric chloride. I also manganese park firearms and tools. Assuming the part is prepped properly, there are two common needs in all of the above – the part must be submerged and the solution heated. So you have two options, buy a stainless tank and heat source or build one using PVC pipe. These next couple of posts are going to dive into how you can build an affordable and very effective heated tank to finish you parts plus have some fun doing it.

PVC or CPVC?

We can use rigid PVC pipe as the container to hold the etching solution. It’s cheap, easy to find and easy to work with. I need to explain a few things first about what we can and can’t do with it.

In plumbing, rigid PVC pipe has an operating temperature of 140F degrees. The reason for this is that PVC is a thermoplastic and begins to soften with heat and will burst due to the pressurized water. We don’t have much pressure to worry about other than atmospheric pressure but you don’t want to push plain PVC towards 200F – it really isn’t designed for it.

If you want to do parkerizing at 190F, then you need to use CPVC pipe. CPVC rigid pipe has extra chlorination that allows it to withstand 200F while delivering water under normal household pressures. Fun trivia, CPVC was invented by Genova Products in Michigan.

If you are trying to figure out what you are looking at, if the pipe is white, it is probably PVC. If it is cream colored, it is probably CPVC. It ought to be labeled/printed on the side of the pipe also but be on guard for people putting stuff in the wrong bins at a store or clerks not knowing what is what.

In this post, I am working with regular PVC purchased from my local Ace Hardware because the tank is for acid etching knives and will the liquid will be 90-110F on average. If I ever build one for parkerizing, it would be in CPVC. The reason it’s an “if” is that I already have a big stainless steel parkerizing tank but it’s a headache to drag out and set up whenI need it.

The Parts List

Basically, we are going to build a tube with a cemented permanent cap on the bottom and a threaded cap at the top. You can go with any size you want. For most blades I work with, 3″ is plenty and I wanted it to be portable.

Let me give you a piece of advice – it’s aways better to be a little bigger than you think you need than to find that out later. When in doubt, make it wider and taller — within reason of course. Note, I knew a 3″ diameter and about 16″ tall would meet most of my needs but not all and I was fine with that. I’ll pull out my four foot stainless tank when I need to do something huge like a cleaver.

In terms of parts, you need the following:

  • A length of pipe of the diameter that is needed
  • A coupling for that size
  • A threaded adapter for that size – you cement it onto the end of the pipe and it gives you a national pipe thread on the other end
  • A threaded plug that fits into the adapter
  • An end cap of one type or another. If you use 3″ or 4″ pipe, you can use a toilet flange adapter to actually both plug the end and allow you to connect it to the wood if you aren’t making it very tall. I would be worried about torque on a tank with an overall length of 24″ or more. In those cases I would cement on a normal end cap and build up a crade around the pipe to support it.
  • You may want a drain for a big tank – I didn’t need one for this little unit because I can easily lift it even when it is full of the acid etching solution.
  • PVC cleaner and cement (note, PVC and CPVC use different cement)
  • Wood to form a base to keep the pipe from tipping over so it needs to be both wide and heavy enough. Really it’s up to you as to how you secure it to be vertical. I like a mobile base but you could tie it to something, etc.
  • A heating source and controller – we’ll get into more detail in the next post.

Weight Considerations and a Drain

Bear in mind that this tank can get pretty heavy if you plan on using really big piple (6″ or bigger). Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. You will find that other liquids can weigh more. Apple cider vinegar may be around 8.6 pounds and ferric chloride might weigh 10-12 pounds per gallon depending on the concentration.

I bring the weight up because if you are thinking of building a big tank, the weight is going to add up and you may want to install a drain near the base. There are two big reasons you need to think about this – you may want to move the unit around plus you will need to change the solution as it ages and breaks down from use.

This is my 3″ tank I just built. The toilet flange us availab;e for 3″ and 4″ pipe and is handy for smaller tanks. I’d build a cradle/surrounding frame to support a bigger tank.

The pictured tank is about 16″ tall with 3″ pipe and has about a gallon of 70% ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar in it. I can move it around very easily and portability was one of my design goals.

Assembling The Pipe

PVC is really easy to work with. You cut the pipe to the length you want or have the store do it for you. I use a big miter saw for stuff like this to get nice square ends and use an airline to blow all the loose plastic out (wear safety glasses).

To “glue” the pipe together, you first prime the surfaces and then apply the cement. Note, PVC and CPVC use the same primer but different cement. In this case,I use Oatey’s purple primer and clear cement. Read the directions on their box just to make sure. Bear in mind the solvent is really thin and is going to run everywhere – especially in cold weather.

I’m a creature of habit. I’ve had very good luck with Oatey products so I stick with them. There are other brands out there such as Ace’s own private labled stuff, but I stick with Oatey to avoid surprises. When following their directions and using their products, I’ve not had a joint fail/leak yet,

The Base

To make the tank stable, you need a big enough base both in terms of area and weight. I had some old 1×12 stock that I chopped into squares and stacked if four deep for weight. You can do whatever you want and your goal is stability, however you get it.

I centered the flange on the first board and screwed it in. I’m not sure I would trust the flange to handle the potential torque of a long pipe. For me, once I get around 24″ overall, I am going to build a cradle and not subject that flange to a ton of stress.
I then applied epoxy and clamped the layers together. I was kind of experimenting as I went. Just one piece of wood wasn’t heavy enough so I then added the additional layers after. I could have glued the base and then used longer screws to secure the flange had I known more up front. I wound up with four layers of wood in the end.

I have another tank that is full of a boiled linseed oil an turpentine mix that I use for hydrating wood handles in khukuris and cleavers that I restore. It has a rounded end bap on the bottom and the base is more like a heavy cradle made up fo 2×4 lumber that gives it weight and then goes up the sides to provide support.

This is a 4″ pipe with a wood scaffold base. It’s very stable. This is a tankI use for moisturizing and treating long wood hanndles.

Summary

That’s it for now. In the next post we are going to talk about heating the tank. This is where I did the most experimenting and can share some ideas with you.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 2

In the last post, I covered the basic construction of the tank. In this post I want to talk about heating the tank. Thanks to mass production of digital temperature switches, you can build a digitally controlled heated tank for a very reasonable price.

Why Does Heat Matter?

In case you are wondering, heating the solution does matter. Years ago, in 1889, a chemist by the name of Svante Arrhenius proposed an equation that would later bear his name. Basically, a chemical reaction increases as the level of activation energy increases. The reason temperature enters in as that you are raising the energy in the liquid, more energetic particles are bouncing around and increasing the volume of reactions which means that more successful reactions will occur as well. We can use a rule of thumb that for each 10C increase in temperature, the reaction rate will double and for each 10C drop, it will be cut in half. To sum it up, cold=bad for chemical reactions. As a side note, this is also why marginal batteries fail when cold weather hits.

So what this means to acid etching is that in my cold unheated shop in the Winter, reactions are going to be real, real slow. Thus, I must have a way to heat the chemical and the submerged part to improve the reaction.

The Heating Element For The Tank

The first thing I wanted to do was to keep the cost down and the second was that I didn’t want something that would get so hot that it would melt the PVC. I had a 30 foot length of roof heating tape from when we cleaned out my dad’s garage that I had been thinking about for a while. It always makes me feel good when I use something that was my dad’s.

These roof heating cables use AC voltage to warm up and melt ice are readily availble and are designed not to get so hot that they melt the shingles but also are designed to be spread out and not right next to each other so I was going to need to test the design. I planned to wrap the tape from the bottom of the tank until I ran out cable with each coil right against the previous. I was counting on convection of move warmer fluid up and cooler fluid down but I wasn’t really sure how it would sort out.

Another nice things about these heating cables, or heating tapes, is that they do not use a lot of electricity. The 30 foot model my dad had was spec’d to draw only 150 watts at 12 volts. That makes for a nice portable unit that you can run off just about any extension cord.

So, step one, I applied the tape to the empty tank and secured it just with 3M 3340 aluminum HVAC tape. This is the tape made for higher temperatures with an aluminum foil backing – it’s not dcut tape. I then watched the temperature with my Fluke 62 Max IR thermometer. You need an accurate thermometer and the Fluke has served me very well – it’s proved itself to be accurate, reliable and durable – it’s been bounched around a lot in my shop.

So, the temperature slowly climbed but made it all the way up to 170F before I shut it down. The PVC still felt pretty good but it was way hotter than what I wanted. Just plugging the tape in and calling it done was not the answer. Sure it would heat the liquid up fast but I couldn’t safey leave it unattended. I needed something to control the temperature but use the heat tape.

Please note that there are pipe heaters that are a different creature. Some of them need to be submerged in water or wrapped around a steel pipe. Do not use those types of heaters. There are a ton of different names buy you are looking for the cable or tape that is put on roofs to melt ice dams, etc.

Solution – Use A Digital Temperature Controller

I thought I knew the switch I was going to buy until I did some further research. Some controllers are very easy to set up and others seem a bit more confusing. I opted for the WILLHI WH1436A Temperature Controller 110V Digital Thermostat Switch. All you do set set the temperature for ON and the temperature for OFF. That’s it. If you want them, there are some more advanced settings that you can explore if you want but this seemed like just what I needed.

I undid the top few coils of the heat tape and rewound them with the temperature probe wrapped in them. I then used aluminum HVAC tape to secure the top. I set ON to 90F and Off at 95F and plugged the roofing tape into the controller.

I inserted the temperature probe a few coils down and secured the top with 3M Aluminum HVACtape. Note the small cable clamp screwed into the wood base securing the bottom of the heater tape and preventing it from unwinding.

I started watching with the Fluke meter and since the temperature based on the probe was 40.2F, the controller turned on power to the switch and the tape heated. It did cut power around 95F but the tape continued to warm up even so by about 10F so the peak temperature was between 103-105F according to the Fluke. This was actually within my acceptable range. I was just ballparking 90F but even 105F was fine by me.

The digital controller works well. I’m going to leave it loose some I can move it around depending on what I am working on and were.

There was one minor hitch I noticed during experiments – the controlled heat took over an hour to warm up the fluid. If I unplugged the tape from the controller and plugged the tape straight into AC power, the fluid heated way faster and the pipe never felt soft – probably because the tape was heating part of it and the acid was cooling it. This was the fastest way but risky because if you forget, it’s going to get quite hot. I let the fluid get up to 160F during one run and decided that I would only do this if I was in a big rush and going to be there working the whole time. If I wanted to play it safe, letting the controller keep things safe was a better bet. I could have also sped things up by setting the OFF temperature higher, say at 110F and that’s something I will experiment more with.

The temperature controlled tank worked out great on these high carbon steel damascus blades.

Operating Temperature Range

Do not heat ferric chloride past 131F. Remember that the heating element will still heat the chemical another 10 degrees or so past the upper limit you set as OFF.

The operating temperature range from MG Chemical is 95-131F. Based on my results, I don’t see a need to push the upper limit.

Click here both for their technical sheet and MSDS sheet,

Conclusion

I had about $30 in the PVC and fresh glue, nothing for the base, the controller was $29.99 and the roof heat tape was free but if you bought it, the price would be around $30. This definitely falls in the affordable category plus I turned out some really cool etched damasus blades using the controlled tank. If you want to know a bit more about the chemicals and my process, click here.

When I was done, I let the tank cool down, screwed on the lid, cleaned things up, coiled the cords up and stored the tank for the next use.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to Safely Change AR Muzzle Devices and Barrel Nuts Using a Magpul BEV Block

If you like working on AR-type rifles and plan to replace a muzzle device or change a barrel nut to install a free-floating handguard or to swap barrels, you are going to need to apply a lot of torque. Torque and aluminum are not friends and this is certainly the case with the upper receiver for AR rifles and pistols.

What not to do?

I actually want to take a minute and tell you two things not to do. First, do not simply clamp your lower in a vise and go cranking on whatever on the upper. Remember that the upper is connected to the lower by two steel pins going through relatively soft aluminim. Not a good combination.

Number two, there are work fixtures that look like a rectangle that allow you to remove the upper from the lower and then pin the upper to this block that is then held by a vise. I’m not fond of this either because then your two aluminum connection points on the receiver take up all the stress and they weren’t designed to do so.

Please do not do either of those or you may regret it. The odds are that you will regret it. I word it this way because you may get by once or twice but these methods are risky so don’t do them.

So what do I recommend?

I use a Magpul Barrel Extension Vise (BEV) block. It’s a very well designed block that engages via the barrel extension with its own steel lugs that are designed for strength but also to not harm the extension.

This is the top of the BEV block. You can see the front engagement lugs, the rear protrusion is for the bolt carrier and I would recommend keeping that O-ring oiled. The hole just under the front lugs is for a cross pin to secure it to the upper.

The BEV block uses a bolt carrier with the bolt removed to further secure it in the upper. You could remove the bolt from the bolt you normally use. I have a bolt carrier body that I keep in my toolbox for just this purpose.

The following photo shows it partially inserted in the upper.

This next photo shows it fully forward with the bolt carrier assembly installed. It does not have a cross pin installed at that point. Even without the pin it can handle the rotation stress. The pin just keeps it all in position and is not load bearing.

At this point you are good to go to change muzzle devices, barrel nuts or whatever else you may need to do without risking damage caused by torque. It’s a solid tool and I highly recommend it.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Two Rivers Arms Built Yugo M72B1

Once in a while I get to have fun.  For years I have worked with Two Rivers Arms making their grips so I knew they did a good job.  Well over a year ago, I bought two Apex M72B1 kits to have as prototypes but never had time to build them.  I must admit I have fun building rifles but the time just isn’t there any more.  So, given our new M72 handguards were almost ready, I called up Tim at Two Rivers and asked if they could build an M72B1 that looked like it came straight from the factory and that is exactly what they did.  Here are the amazing results of their efforts:

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Note, the following is our Yugo M70/M72 grip:

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Let me give you a quick run down of the parts you see above and a few you don’t:

  • Yugo M72B1 kit from Apex with a new Green Mountain barrel
  • Nodak Spud NDS-9 receiver
  • New virgin stock set from R-Guns
  • One of our Yugo M70 pistol grips
  • Tapco G2 FCG
  • RSA FCG retainer plate (I hate the shepherd hooks)
  • Real Yugo BHO Magazine

Two Rivers did the assembly, engraving, bluing and hooked me up with the right muzzle nut and cleaning rod.  This rifle looks simply amazing.  If you ever are looking for a builder, give them a shout … now if I can just afford one of their Tabuk DMRs some day 🙂  Tim, Shawn & Ed – thank you!!

Two Rivers Arms is at:  http://tworiversarms.com/ 

Our pistol grip is online at:  http://shop.roninsgrips.com/Yugoslavian-M70-M72-M85-M92-Grip-Yugo-M70-M72-M92.htm


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to do Home Manganese Parkerizing

The Following is a Basic Do-it-yourself Manganese Parkerizing Formula

A couple of friends online, Elkaholic and Ding, got me interested in parkerizing years ago and gave me a home brew formula and process steps they use.  I have been tuning that formula for a few years and thought I would share it as I use it both for blades and firearms.  It works great as either the base for a top finish, such as Molyresin or as a finish all by itself.  You may be wondering “why not just buy a premade formula such as the great parkerizing solution from Brownell’s” – the short answer is because tinkering can be fun and more rewarding.  I like to experiment and try different things.   So, with that said, here is the recipe:

Ingredients

– 2 gallons of distilled water  (it gives more consistent results because impurities have been removed)
– 2 “biscuits” of clean 0000 steel wool (thinner steel wool dissolves faster hence the use of 0000 grade)
– 1 cup of Klean Strip brand Phosphoric Prep & Etch (or other phosphoric acid etching solution around 35-45% concentrate per the Prep & Etch MSDS sheet)
– 6 rounded tablespoons of manganese dioxide (available at pottery supply stores, Amazon or eBay)

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Do this outside – never in your house or shop (unless you have a great vent hood).  If you do it indoors, you will likely make stuff rust fast!

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As you can see, I use a camp stove.  For the first couple of years I just used a Coleman stove but that was always a balancing act with my 48″ long stainless pakerizing tank that I used for barreled actions.  I found the above great Camp Chef stove at Amazon and it is fantastic but any heat source will work.

Also, be sure to use stainless steel for your tanks.  I watch for sales or buy stuff off eBay.  The big cooker above is from Walmart and the rectangular pan shown below is from Amazon and is normally the water pan for buffet lines.

For tongs to move stuff around, use solid stainless.  I tried the plastic ones and they can leave a plastic residue on blasted surfaces and mess up your finish.

Just like baking, if you want more of the solution, take the recipe and multiply it by two, four or however many multiples you want. Just be sure you have a place to store it when done.  I use 5 gallon jugs and label them.

Steps to Follow

  1. Add acid to water in a stainless pan/pot and heat to 190F – don’t boil and waste it.  I use a baking thermometer clipped to the side of the pan.
  2. Spray each wool biscuit with brake cleaner to remove oils and allow each time to dry
  3. As the solution warms shred the steel wool into the liquid and add the manganese dioxide
  4. Let the mix simmer and dissolve the steel wool before adding parts
  5. I always blast my parts before I parkerize them – I’ve heard guys tell about using a wire brush on a buffer or drill press as well but I’ve not tried that.  Blasting removes the oxides and exposes the bare steel.
  6. Make sure your parts are very, very clean and degreased — only handle with rubber gloves after they are cleaned or oils from your skin can mess things up
  7. You can suspend your parts in the liquid with stainless wire.  Leave them until the fizzing stops or about 30-40 minutes.  The time varies.
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  8. Rinse the parts with boiling water thoroughly to remove the acid.
  9. Spray parts with WD40 to get the water away from the steel
  10. Wipe down with oil or apply whatever secondary finish you want – don’t do both 🙂  If you are going to apply a finish on top of the parkerized surface, use acetone or brake cleaner to remove any oils and then follow their instructions.

At the bottom of the post are links to Amazon products including long parkerizing tanks.

Cleaning Up

When you are done, let your mixture cool and strain the liquid through a coffee filter into a plastic can for future use. I use a blue kerosene 5 gallon container because it is a different color from all my other 5 gallon containers plus I label it.  Point being, you do not want to get confused and pour this stuff in when you meant to use a fuel, etc.

The precipitate, the stuff on the bottom, should be scooped onto a shallow pan, allowed to dry and be disposed of as a hazardous waste.  For example, where ever your community collects old paints, batteries, etc.

Brownells Has Great Parkerizing Solutions and Kits

Brownells sells very well regarded ready-to-use formulations. I have no hesitation at all to recommend the below items to you – they are top notch.

  • Click here for their manganese parkerization supplies. Their formula meets Mil Spec STD171
  • Click here for their zinc parkerization supplies
  • If you have a lot small parts you want to park, they have a bench top kit ready to go that you can buy – click here
  • Click here for their complete parkerizing tank system. This is a complete system for gunsmiths or others who need to park everything from small parts and pistols up to firearms and swords.

In Summary

I hope this helps you out. I’ve used the above many times and the results are solid. Also, the following are many of the items you will need and are easy to order right off Amazon:


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.