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Posted: 8/10/2003 3:46:36 AM EDT
I am so sick and ashamed of myself I just don't know where to begin. I think I have ruined both a barrel and an upper receiver trying to do an "installation."

I tried to take a short cut, and as I tried to "fix" it, the results got WORSE and WORSE.

I took $400 worth of parts and reduced them to trash.

Please, recommend a gunsmith, one with machining skills and a refinishing shop, to fix the following:
  • Beautiful lightweight DPMS barrel is badly mangled and the finish marred.
  • Barrel nut has chipped teeth.
  • Barrel nut is frozen on the receiver because its over torqued.
  • Barrel indexing/alignment pin may be sheared off, the barrel has been canted out to 45 degrees.
  • Receiver under the nut may be split or otherwise broken (can't tell because the nut won't come off.)
I have decided to make no attempt to fix it myself (I tried it already.) My only course of action is to sent it to a gunsmith who can take it apart, repair and replace the parts, refinish and assemble it.

I am especially concerned about the barrel index pin. I don't know if this can even be fixed, in which case the barrel is trash. Advice about this part especially appreciated.

Please, no preaching at me about how I should have done this or that differently. I'm not interested, and its no joke. I am literally sick and outraged at myself for this disaster.

Please recommend a good gunsmith somewhere in the southeast US where I can send this mess to be fixed.

If I don't get any good responses, I'll sent it to Kurt at KKF. I'm sure he'll do a great job. My only hesitancy with him is that he's loaded with work and it'll probably be months before I get it back.

All I can say is: NEVER AGAIN.
Link Posted: 8/10/2003 3:54:44 AM EDT
Can you tell us how things got to this point? I'm guessing that you used barrel blocks instead of the reciever block. How did you get enough torque to break the receiver?
Link Posted: 8/10/2003 6:49:28 AM EDT
Agreed with Curt, if you could share your learning experience with everyone on the boards we all benefit. Anyone, myself included, who has done a build have made mistakes, some small and some big... it's how we all learn. And anyone who 'preaches' at you has never tried... Kurt may be a bit busy, but he's my first choice for any AR related work... If anyone can make it right, it's Kurt...
Link Posted: 8/10/2003 7:10:55 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/10/2003 7:14:26 AM EDT by M-Forgery]
I would send it off to Kurt at KKF. It will be worth the wait and will be better than new when you get it back. You certainly have learned a lesson the hard way. Please share with the group so we can all learn from your experience. The barrel index pin is easily replaced, no worries there. Even if it is sheared off, this is a soft metal pin and can be quickly drilled out and replaced. Good luck!
Link Posted: 8/10/2003 7:28:18 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/10/2003 7:28:35 AM EDT by Black_Rifle]
I can only think of one person: Kurt, he will know if it is fixable and will do a good job, of course it will be costly and make time. I am sorry to hear your misfortune, that is how we gain experience. BR
Link Posted: 8/10/2003 8:51:00 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Carbine_Man: I am so sick and ashamed of myself I just don't know where to begin. I think I have ruined both a barrel and an upper receiver trying to do an "installation." [...] [b]Please, no preaching at me about how I should have done this or that differently. I'm not interested, and its no joke. I am literally sick and outraged at myself for this disaster.[/b]
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First of all Carbine_Man - don't get discouraged. Everybody here who has built ARs has also screwed up parts in the learning process. And anyone who says different is a liar. Except for me, of course - I'm perfect and never wrecked anything. (Ok, not even I could say that with a straight face. [:D]) But without even seeing the situation, let me do my Amazing Kreskin impression and tell you what happened: (1) You used barrel vise blocks. (2) You used a torque wrench. (3) You applied the magic grease to the threads, tightened and loosened the nut several times, and tried your best to torque the barrel to the proper spec. (4) After you hit 30ft-lbs. you couldn't get another gas tube notch to line up so you started leaning in the torque wrench so hard that is actually turned the barrel extension in the upper. (5) Now the barrel is jammed, the barrel nut is torqued to 100ft-lbs. and you can't get it loose. Now you know why I constantly hammer on the Torque Nazis. These Chicken Littles make such a huge production out of tightening one damn nut that they actually cause damage by convincing new, inexperienced AR builders to use stupid, ineffective, and destructive procedures. So to everyone here who constantly parrots the "magic grease," tighten/loosen 3 times," and "must torque barrel nut to 30-80ft-lbs." mantra, SHAME ON YOU!! You have lead poor Carbine_Man astray and caused him to trash several hundred dollars of neat hardware. Carbine_Man - read this [url=http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=4&t=161133]barrel torque[/url] thread. Buy a set of [url=http://www.bushmaster.com/shopping/gunsmith/om-003.asp]receiver blocks[/url]. If you're using a barrel nut wrench with 3 pins, buy one of the fully enclosed [url=http://www.bushmaster.com/shopping/gunsmith/223-wrench.asp]wrenches[/url]. Things are already screwed up and can't get much worse, so might as well apply some brute force to fix it. If you have to, use a breaker bar on the wrench to loosen the barrel nut. Keep in mind that the only purpose for the barrel pin is to make sure the front sight is straight when you tighten the barrel nut. Don't be afraid to hammer it back into place. Also, you can repair the gouged-out slot in the upper by gently peening the soft aluminum back in place with a hammer and punch. Tap on the threaded area with the barrel in place so the barrel extension acts like a little anvil. What you want to do is tighten up the notch so the front sight base is straight and the barrel can't twist in the upper. If the slot is a total lost cause, you can always fill it with a little JB Weld and file it to fit. Hey, it's better than trashing the whole upper receiver. Besides, no one will ever see it. In terms of finish, everything will be under that handguards. Aluminum marks left onthe barrel will disappear with Birchwood-Casey Aluminum Black. Use B-C Super Blue on the dinged-up steel. If the gouges are in the steel, then use a file to smooth them over and then touch them up. I've done it, and afterwards you'd be hard pressed to tell it was ever messed up. So, Carbine_Man - you might be able to salvage this if you don't mind buying $50 in tools and doing a little reading. Besides, after all this, wouldn't you like to take this little carbine upper to the range and shoot it? It's one thing when everything just falls into place. But just think of being able to take a total disaster and turning it into nice shooting AR. And that's what Build-It-Yourself is all about.
Link Posted: 8/10/2003 6:48:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/10/2003 6:49:45 PM EDT by Fenian]
Carbine_Man, don't beat yourself up...a lot of us here have done similar things...I just got over trashing a perfectly good Armalite upper trying to put a friggin $50 float tube on! When the dust settled, I'd warped the upper receiver, and still hadn't gotten the barrel off. I tried removing it without the barrel vise OR the action block...talk about dumb! Anyway, I finally took a step back, and realized I needed to wait for the right tools AND some practice. To make a long story short, I sent my newly purchased RRA upper and Armalite barrel and bolt assembly off to Compass Lake Engineering...they put it all back together for me, and didn't charge me much...$65 including shipping, I believe. When I got my action block, I was able to remove the barrel, install a rail float tube, and reinstall the barrel on a kit gun I built. I just took it slow, thought about what I was doing, and had the proper tools...so I didn't repeat the expensive lesson of a week or two before. Take a deep breath...you can fix whatever you did...it may just cost you a few $$. And, I can almost guarantee, you won't make the same mistakes again. It's all part and parcel of what makes AR-15s so fun...you CAN work on them yourself, once you get a little knowledge, and the right equipment. here's the link: [url]http://www.compasslake.com/[/url] It may take a little longer than normal to get your stuff back...they're at Camp Perry for the nationals, so work could be backed up. Call and talk to them anyway, and see what they say. They're very nice people, and they won't make you feel like you're a dumbass when you tell them what happened. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 12:19:26 PM EDT
Well, H_E was basically right. I had sworn I wouldn't do this myself. After reading this thread, and talking it over with my best friend (my wife) I've decided to go ahead and get the action block and a good wrench. There's a gun show next Saturday, and I'll pick them up then. I also remember a thread somewhere around here that described getting a sticky barrel nut off by putting the upper in the freezer overnight before working on it. Does anyone else remember the freezer trick? Any other suggestions? You guys are great. I feel better.
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 12:30:21 PM EDT
Carbine_Man, the barrel nut on my Armalite was *really* on there. I doused it with Kroil, let it sit for 30 minutes, and still had to assist my buddy--the 325 very large biker/bouncer one--by sitting on the workbench to hold it down, and helping pull the wrench with a free hand. It did finally break loose, but not before a considerable amount of effort...MUCH more so than what 30 to 35 lbs of torque should call for.
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 1:36:17 PM EDT
Carbine_Man, we've all been there and done that. Don't give up. A couple of things - take a look at my [url=http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=4&t=167316]Gas Tube Tool Trick[/url]. Once you get your barrel mounted properly, this will make it so easy to index your barrel nut. Pick up a cheap gas tub at the gunshow and make the alignment tool. I posted instructions [url=http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=4&t=165221]here[/url] on "adjusting" the slot in the upper receiver to make sure the front sight base is straight before spinning un the barrel nut. And this time, remember - turn the barrel nut on by hand until it bottoms. Then tighten it with the wrench until the next gas tube notch lines up. Really easy. Good luck!
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 2:24:48 PM EDT
Here is the link for "FREEZING" the upper to free up the barrel nut. Comes from Bushmaster's website. [url]http://www.bushmaster.com/faqnew/content_by_cat.asp?contentid=154&catid=96[/url] Hope this works.
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 6:53:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/11/2003 6:53:32 PM EDT by Carbine_Man]
Originally Posted By M-Forgery: The barrel index pin is easily replaced, no worries there. Even if it is sheared off, this is a soft metal pin and can be quickly drilled out and replaced.
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Do you think its something a screw-up like me can do? Can I make a pin, or do I need to buy one? How is it held in the hole, friction, glue, peening? Any hints appreciated.
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 7:14:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/11/2003 7:16:08 PM EDT by XM777]
Originally Posted By Homo_Erectus: Once you get your barrel mounted properly, this will make it so easy to index your barrel nut. Pick up a cheap gas tub at the gunshow and make the alignment tool.
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Used to use this trick until I purchased one of these from Brownells: "Barrel Nut Alignment Gauge" [url]www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p=432&s=1991#1991[/url] Basically it is just a piece of ss rod with chamfered ends that fits in the gas tube key. Costs about $4.00 but is worth about 1000x its weight in gold.
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 4:36:36 AM EDT
Go C_Man! As my skiing buddies used to say, "a great fall is a chance for a great recovery!" Once you get that motha off of there, here is my tip: RUSTOLEUM 1200 degree black spraypaint matches my upper pretty darn well! Also- take a real close look, and you are planning to check your headspace once you get your upper together, right? Pete "The only people who don't screw up are the people who don't do anything."
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 10:26:30 AM EDT
Originally Posted By stinkeypete: Also- take a real close look, and you are planning to check your headspace once you get your upper together, right?
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I wasn't planning to, because I have no reason to believe that I have bothered the barrel extension. Also, let me describe what the situation is in a little more detail. I carefully inspected the receiver, and there is no outward sign of anything being broken. There are no marks on the receiver of any kind, and no cracks that I can see. Right now, the barrel appears to be perfectly lined up on the receiver, the feed ramps are in the right place and the front sight looks fine. What is wierd about this is, at one point before my last attempt to loosen the barrel nut, I thought the front sight was canted about 30 degrees. Now, I think I must be crazy. I was hopping mad and boiling over with frustration, so maybe my eyes played a trick on me. If I really did break the barrel pin, what are the odds that I would twist the barrel nut back to exactly the point where it was lined up, but still not get the nut off? It seems to me highly unlikely. When I first write this cry for help, I assumed the worst, that I had sheered the barrel pin off. I have to wait for the gun show to get a receiver vise block (I also put a note in the "WTB" forum.) I can't do anything until I get that, hopefully on Saturday. So its kind of a crap shoot. When I open it up, I'll find either:[list][*]My eyes played a trick on my and the pin isn't broken and the receiver is fine, OR[/*][*]My eyes are fine, the barrel really was twisted, the pin is broken and/or the receiver under the nut is screwed-up.[/*][/list]If its the latter, I'll try to repair, but it will depend on how bad things are. If the pin is broken off below the surface of the barrel, or if otherwise I can't get it out, it may get ugly. I'll prolly be able to fix the reciever, unless the whole threaded portion is split, which to me seems unlikely (but I'm only guessing.) C_M
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 3:48:57 PM EDT
This may be the dumbest question yet, but if it is on, everything lines up, and there is no damage, why do you want to take it apart? Cheers!
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 5:05:50 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Him: This may be the dumbest question yet, but if it is on, [red]everything[/red] lines up, and there is no damage, why do you want to take it apart?
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Everything except the next notch for the gas tube. [:(]
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 5:32:43 PM EDT
Shit!
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 7:49:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Carbine_Man: Everything except the next notch for the gas tube. [:(]
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See, my first attampt at a barrel job was also a disaster. (Not quite as bad as this, but close. [:D]) After tightening and loosening, saying the magic words, carefully keeping a keen eye on the torque wrench, and failing, I gave up. So I asked a good buddy who an armorer in RVN with the US Army. First he smacked me upside the head to make sure I was paying attention. Then he told me to throw away the torque wrench and use a breaker bar. His exact words were "Watch the barrel nut, NOT the wrench!!" Now for me barrel changes are a 10 minute job. I use a combo wrench with the built-in handle, and my little gas tube tool. With one hand I lean on the wrench, with my other working the bolt carrier back and forth in the upper. A few seconds later the little alignment tool pops through the barrel nut notch and I stop because everything is now perfectly lined up. It's that easy. All you have to do is ignore the Torque Wrench Weenies and it could be that easy for you, too. That is, as long and you remember to watch the barrel nut and not the wrench.
Link Posted: 8/12/2003 9:54:29 PM EDT
Exactly what Homo said. Also, you will hear, "What they have in the Army manual is barrel vise jaws"--yada yada. It is not a matter of opinion, those guys are WRONG. I don't care what they say, action blocks are far superior for mounting barrels. BUT, for installing/removing flash hiders or muzzle brakes, use barrel vise jaws, not the action block. So you really need vise jaws, too, just not for installing barrels.
Link Posted: 8/13/2003 8:55:43 AM EDT
I hate to see ya get all frustrated. I installed a new upper on my Bushy cause I wanted a FT. I went to the Funshow and took all the advise I found here. I bought the big wrench, (heavy armorers ) and a receiver block. That was the best $30 I have ever spent. I also read [b]ALOT[/b] about the torqueing issue and decided that I dont need no stinkin torque wrnech, just my eyes and some common sense, It worked. tighten hand tight and then one more hole witht he wrench. Shoots as straight as from the factory. If ya dont get to the show or for some reason you cant find one, I can LEND you mine to use to fix er up and get her to the range. Just promise to get it back to me on a timely basis. IM if you end up not getting one. Good luck and listen to HOMO_ERECTUS. I did and it works fine and no further posts about how I could not get it to the next notch until it hit 95lbs or more etc. Torqing is for head bolts not AR barrels.
Link Posted: 8/13/2003 10:36:05 AM EDT
Originally Posted By 800Mtrs: If ya dont get to the show or for some reason you cant find one, I can LEND you mine to use to fix er up and get her to the range.
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That is a very fine offer, and I thank you. However, I got in touch with a local shop in Raleigh (Black Rifle Works) and he told me that he has vise blocks in stock and he will be at the Raleigh show this Saturday. I also stopped at Lowe's and got some 3-in-1 super-duper penetrating spray oil, and some Rustoleum high heat paint (see my other Super Blue thread.) I'm going to repeatedly soak the barrel nut in penetrator before sticking it in the freezer Friday night. Thanks again to everyone for all the great advice. I'll post Saturday what the damage under the nut looks like.
Link Posted: 8/13/2003 3:11:47 PM EDT
CM..have no fear...Dave at BRW is the NC black Rifle guru....he has gotten my A$$ outa many a ar jamb...I have the tools and know how...but just watching Dave work is worth the couple of bucks he will charge ya....like we say "he's the Charlie Daniels of the torque wrench"
Link Posted: 8/15/2003 8:00:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/15/2003 8:00:50 PM EDT by M-Forgery]
Originally Posted By varmitgun: CM..have no fear...Dave at BRW is the NC black Rifle guru....he has gotten my A$$ outa many a ar jamb...I have the tools and know how...but just watching Dave work is worth the couple of bucks he will charge ya....like we say "he's the Charlie Daniels of the torque wrench"
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I have also had work done by Dave and he does good work. He put the Oly FIRSCH on my rifle at the last show.
Link Posted: 8/16/2003 5:28:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2003 5:33:09 PM EDT by Carbine_Man]
[size=4][b][center]Happiness at last!!![/size=4][/b][/center] I went to the Raleigh gun show early this morning. When the doors opened I raced over to Black Rifle Works table and got the vise block and wrench. Got home, got the upper out of the freezer, fiddled with the block, fiddled with the wrench, then finally got down to business. [b][i]The barrel nut came loose with a little pressure, right away![/b][/i] Now the moment of truth. What kind of ugly mess is under the barrel nut? Is the receiver a wreck? I spin the nut off and... [size=4][b]The receiver and barrel are COMPLETELY undamaged!!![/size=4][/b] I can't explain how it was that I thought the barrel was wildly canted, but in any case, all my worst fears are out the window (Praise the Lord!) I reassembled the upper, sanding the front to get it to fit right, followed all the good advice here. It went together great. I blued the damaged nubs on the barrel nut. Repainted the barrel. Installed the gas tube. On go the handguards. Check the gas tube to the key, tweak the tube a little. Oil it all and ready to shoot. Fit it to the lower... [size=4][b][i]ITS RANGE TIME![/size=4][/b][/i] Went to good old Durham Pistol and Rifle club. Set up at the 25 & 50 yard pistol range. Started at 25 yards. One round, then two more, then a mag full. After 20 rounds, we're on paper at 50 yards. We fired a total of 100 rounds of 55 gr. Lake City, 100 rounds of 62 gr. Wolf, alternating between 20 rnd USGI mag, 30 rnd USGI mag, and a 30 rnd steel Brit mag. Results:[list][*]KABOOMS - NONE [:)][/*][*]Failures to feed - ZERO [:)][:)][/*][*]Failures to extract - ZIP [:)][:)][:)][/*][*]Failures to eject - NULL-point-SQUAT [:)][bounce][:)][bounce][:)][/*][*][b]TOTAL NUMBER OF FAILURES OF ANY KIND IN 200 ROUNDS - [u]NONE!!![/u][/b] [:)][:)][:)][bounce][bounce][:)][:)][:)][bounce][bounce][:)][:)][:)][/*][/list] In celebration, I took the kids to a local barbecue place. I ended the day with the fine taste of Ed's Red and Wolf powder residue mixed with barbecue sauce licked off my fingers... YUMM! THANKS TO ALL, I'LL POST PICS NEXT.
Link Posted: 8/16/2003 7:18:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2003 7:21:12 PM EDT by Carbine_Man]
[img]http://home.mebtel.net/~hicksfam/FlyGun.jpg[/img] [list][*]DPMS Lightweight barrel, the width under the handguards is the same as at the muzzle.[/*][*]Mil-spec upper and upper parts from Del-Ton[/*][*]DPMS lower + M&A lower parts kit[/*][*]ACE Ultralight stock, also from Del-Ton[/*][/list]The rifle weighs about 4 1/2 pounds as best I can tell without a postal scale. I may or may not keep the sling arrangement, its okay for now. The low weight means it has more felt recoil than a typical AR-15. But it feels GREAT! Its almost like a toy gun, it feels so light. Thanks again to all for your words of advice and encouragement. Carbine_Man
Link Posted: 8/16/2003 7:36:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2003 7:39:34 PM EDT by stinkeypete]
Nice looking rig! I like the "tube" look- straight barrel, straight handguards, tube stock. After all this suffering, you would be a fool to ever sell this gun. I suggest you print out the threads of your on-line agony, and get them ready to pass on with the gun to your oldest kid, for that day when the gun passes along. pete
Link Posted: 8/17/2003 11:04:24 AM EDT
Nice looking rifle, we should get together and burn some powder one afternoon.
Link Posted: 8/17/2003 11:33:44 AM EDT
So, Carbine_Man - what are you going to build next? [:D]
Link Posted: 8/17/2003 3:47:38 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Homo_Erectus: So, Carbine_Man - what are you going to build next? [:D]
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I believe I will celebrate the sunset of the AWB by building an M4-gery on a brand new lower!
Link Posted: 8/17/2003 3:52:55 PM EDT
Originally Posted By stinkeypete: I like the "tube" look- straight barrel, straight handguards, tube stock.
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Yeah. Sort of like, "is it a rifle, or a nine iron?" [:)] I just like my rifles to look unique, and mostly uncluttered.
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