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I probably shouldn't post this because I have other build threads to finish, but this has been laying on my workbench for a month, begging for attention...


I'm on vacation and I was in the mood to fabricate today, so I decided to tackle the tedious part.


Starting with a 1.5" diameter X 0.065" wall thickness steel tube, I very carefully bonded the templates using 3M Super 77 spray adhesive.  I used scrap paper to mask any area that wasn't being glued.  Since the templates come in two pieces, this required masking the bottom, spraying and carefully aligning and attaching the top template.  Then all the sticky masking comes off.  Then mask the top, spray and carefully align and attach the bottom template.  Remove all the sticky masking.  Then comes the metal work.  Once the tube is done, I'll be attaching real parts from a Sterling parts set.


Steel tube with templates bonded in place.  I left the tube long for now.  It will be cut to fit the front and back receiver pieces later.



Since there are many holes in each line, any misaligned hole would be very apparent.  I started by center punching all the holes.  You want to take your time here and make sure they are as close to centered as you can get them - this will make drilling easier.  I make a really light punch, check to see if it's perfectly centered, then punch it heavy.  If some are slightly off, you can try to correct by punching at an angle in the direction you need it to move.  If that doesn't work, you can still make very slight corrections at the drill press.




One last thing before getting down to business.  I want the bit drilling into the pipe exactly perpendicular to the drill press table.  The pipe is round.  If it's even a little off, the bit will want to slide down the slope and you might end up with off center holes.  I don't have fancy equipment like a mill or a walking table - just a very standard floor model drill press and a little hand vise.  To make sure I was drilling straight into the pipe perpendicular to the table, I made "registering" marks on the end of the pipe.  Each mark is lined up exactly with a row of holes.  Then, I "squared" a top and bottom register mark for each row of holes and locked the pipe down in the vise.  Ready to drill. 



That's when the windshield guy showed up...  My windshield cracked from one side to the other about a month ago when it was -20 deg F.  Glad to finally have a new windshield!!!



Back to the fun.  Because I'm going to weld original parts to this tube, I didn't have to drill EVERY hole, but even then, there were still A LOT of holes to drill.  I counted after I was done because I DIDN'T want to know when I started...54 holes.  Take your time and make sure you start each hole on the punch mark.  I like to drill VERY lightly, then let up on the bit to check that the hole is starting centered.  I found out awhile ago that a regular drill bit will want to "deflect" one way or the other when starting a hole on a round surface.  The center punch helps, but it's no guarantee.  Then I tried a "stepped bit".  I have a friend who calls these "the golden Christmas trees".  These have a much stiffer body and don't deflect.  And not having to change bits to drill bigger holes is a HUGE bonus.  I can't even imagine how many bit changes I would have done with 54 holes!  Once you get the hole started, now is your second chance to get the hole centered if it was slightly off center in the previous step.  (CAUTION:  If you don't have experience with a drill press, the next step can be extremely dangerous and I advise against it.  I wouldn't even attempt it with a regular "twist" type drill bit - ONLY with a stepped bit.)  Once the hole is started and has a little depth, if I'm slightly off center, I add a little pressure from the side to move the hole the direction I need.  Just a little pressure - NOT the time to FORCE it.  This causes the bit to cut on one side, but not the other.  You could probably "move" the hole by 1/64" to 1/32".  Too much pressure and you risk snapping the shank of the bit - not good.  Don't do it if you don't feel comfortable with it.  And for damn sure, WEAR safety glasses.  I've been doing it for years when necessary and I've only broke one bit - a steel twist bit.  Anyway, here's some progress...




After an hour or two of drilling, I finally finished.  You might notice I didn't drill any of the holes at the front of the template.  You'll also notice an angled pencil mark on the template - I will eventually cut off the entire front of the pipe at an angle - and replace it with the front from an original Sterling.  This spares me from having to create the rolled edge at the front of the receiver, the muzzle, the sight, the hand guard and the bayonet lug.  Over to the workbench - I put my small vise into my big vise to achieve a comfortable working height and angle.  I found out a long time ago that this is one of the keys to good workmanship - if it's not comfortable, find another way.  When I was learning to TIG weld, my instructor spent about 20 minutes setting up to do a 5 minute weld - he used anything and everything to support his arms, cable, torch, hand, legs, whatever, so he would be absolutely comfortable while making the weld - and you know what?  He makes some beautiful welds.  Ready to start cutting the ejector port and charging handle slot with a Dremel and some cutting disks.  I'm going to cut close to the line, but not ON the line - I'll maybe leave 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch.  I'll come back and fine tune it with some hand files.




Safety glasses and a paper dust mask.  I hate being covered with metal powder from Dremeling (is that a word?), but I guess it's a necessary evil if you're going to have hobbies.  The least you can do is avoid breathing it!  Cutting and some filing done.  I'll probably fine tune these again after welding, so I left a little to work with.  Parts fit, but they're TIGHT. 




Next update, I'll be drilling small alignment holes for the ejection port guard and folding stock pivot.  Then, I'll (GULP) chop off the front at an angle to match my Sterling piece and finally start welding...  hopefully it doesn't take a month to get there...


I hope you enjoyed this post!!!




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Man you got so many ongoing project!! But they're all very interesting to follow :)


I saw you had to cut your pipe toward the back before the rounded hole of the cocking channel to be able to slide the inner bolt inside, but wasn't it possible to dismount the cocking lever from the inner bolt instead?

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Ian, Tim, and Vern:  Thanks for your kind words!  Let's just pray I have the talent and the time to finish this build successfully!



On 4/18/2014 at 4:49 PM, The5thHorseman said:

Man you got so many ongoing project!! But they're all very interesting to follow :)


I saw you had to cut your pipe toward the back before the rounded hole of the cocking channel to be able to slide the inner bolt inside, but wasn't it possible to dismount the cocking lever from the inner bolt instead?


Germain:  Yep, I blame my career for having multiple projects...they expect everyone to "multi-task" at work, which means doing about 15 things at the same time.  Because I'm a detail person by nature, I used to focus on one thing at a time, from beginning to end.  Over the years, I realized I was beginning to multi-task in my personal life.  I'll never understand why corporations can't appreciate and utilize each person's strengths rather than expecting everyone to fit into their idea of an ideal employee...


I could easily dismount the cocking lever - that would have been much easier.  The whole purpose of cutting the pipe toward the back is so I can weld on the back of a real Sterling.  This will result in having a functional back cap, retaining clip and rear sight.



Thanks for your support!!!

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This is awesome! i want to do this so bad...but the thought of drilling out that tube...ugh...i complain enough drilling out the PVC ones lol.


Maybe i'll commission you for the drilled out tube :P

Edited by Darth Voorhees
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OK, so I had a bunch of other stuff to do today, but you know what?  I took a week of vacation because I was fed up with my job...and that means I should be able to do anything I want.  Like work on my E-11.  Yeah, THAT'S what I'm doing today!


First up was setting up the folding stock in the correct location so I could figure out where to drill a hole for the pivot alignment pin (you'll see that in a few pictures).



Pivot piece.  After lining everything up, I tapped the pivot with a small hammer to transfer the pin location onto the template.



The pivot alignment pin on the underside of the pivot.  Transfer mark center punched.  Notice the alignment pin is offset to one side.



This is why the alignment is CRITICAL.  If the pivot isn't in the right place, this catch may not work correctly.  Nobody wants their folding stock flopping around... 



Pivot pin locating hole drilled.



The ejector port guard ALSO has a locating pin.  This time I just lined up the guard and wiggled it to transfer the pin location onto the template, then center punched it.



Guard locator pin hole drilled.  Really close to the edge - I half expected the drill bit to break through the edge and grab, but it all worked out.



Ejector port guard fitted.  Sorry for the crumby picture - iPhone zoom doesn't work well after Red Bull...



While drilling holes yesterday, I drilled a hole for the trigger group sear.  This needed to be squared out.  It's a small area, so the dremel was pretty much out of the question.  I ended up using a square file.  Slow going, but accurate.  Somebody should make a small reciprocating tool for files...



Sear "mortise" completed.  Trigger group layed alongside.  There's another locating pin towards the front of the trigger group.  The sear protrudes up through the hole, but the back edge of the sear DOES NOT come through - there's kind of a pyramid shaped wear mark on the back edge of my sear.  This edge hits the OUTSIDE of the receiver, which is how it is supposed to work.  That's why the size and shape of this square hole is important.



Trigger group locating pin hole.  I just barely started drilling, then stopped to check placement.  If this locating hole is even a little off, the sear won't work properly with the previous square hole.  It was located well, so I continued drilling.



Video: Trigger/sear testing.  This verifies the sear works well and I can move on to the next step.


Again, while drilling holes yesterday, I drilled the 25/64" hole for the extractor.  I also drilled two holes in the magazine area to allow cutting tool access.  I started removing the steel from the magazine area with some dremel cutting wheels.



Finished the corners with a hacksaw blade in a plastic handle (does this tool have an official name?)



Magazine port cut out and edges filed.  This took more work than I thought - clearances are really tight around the magazine.  Even the slightest little burr will prevent the magazine from seating properly.  Lots of fine tuning, but I finally got it working well.



Magazine well fitted.



Video: Magazine testing.  This verifies the magazine snaps into the well and through the receiver without any interference.  Moving on to the next step.


Here you can see the business end of the magazine and the extractor through the ejection port.



OK, all the tedious locating pins and ports are cut, so I could remove the template.  I bonded the template with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive and that stuff really STICKS!!! (which is GOOD - I didn't want the template moving while drilling and cutting).  To remove it, I soaked a rag in acetone, wrapped it around the template and let it "soak" for a few minutes while I cleaned up the workbench and put tools away.  Even then, I still spent another 15 minutes removing glue - I finished with a scotch brite pad and acetone.  I wanted everything super clean for welding.  One more step before that though...


Time to cut off the front of the steel pipe to fit my original parts.  When guns are demilled and sold as parts sets, they usually cut them apart with a torch.  This leaves nasty melted edges.  I ran my parts across the belt sander to clean up the edges.  The front piece is cut at an angle so it still has the bayonet lug.  Why couldn't they just move back an inch and make a straight cut?  Most parts sets I've seen are this way, so there must be some federal law against making straight cuts...  Anyway, this makes for a difficult fitting.  I had already marked my template with a freehand, rough line to show the cut angle.  I "eyeballed" this line using the receiver holes as a reference.  I cut off the front of my pipe with a good old, low tech hacksaw.  Then I cleaned up the cut on the belt sander.  I had to sand a little, then do a test fit.  After about 10 tries, I had the exact angle and rotation.  Then I laid out the parts.



While checking the fit, I needed something to keep the parts in alignment.  Something that fits perfectly inside the receiver...  I used the original bolt.



Here you can see the bolt inside the parts.  It has an opening on one side which can be rotated to go over the bayonet lug rivet.  With the parts aligned and properly fitted, I mounted them in my little vise.  The plan is to make a few tack welds with the bolt and vise holding everything in alignment, then remove the bolt and finish welding.



This is my OTHER helmet.  Awesome investment and worth every penny.  Somebody should make an auto-darkening Stormtrooper welding helmet!!!  FINALLY, I've arrived at my favorite part - an excuse to weld something!



After welding, I had some small "penetration bumps" on the inside of the receiver.  The front ones are OK, but the back ones would interfere with the bolt action, so they needed to be smoothed out.  A long time ago, I had to drill a hole through a wall that was almost 2 feet thick.  A machinest buddy of mine made me a drill bit "extension".  I got that out and used a 80 grit flapper wheel.  This worked GREAT for cleaning out the inside of the receiver.  We're making guns here people!!!


Video:  Flapper wheel cleanup.


So here it is.  No pictures while welding - too many things to keep track of.  I filed and dressed the front welds.  The back welds are still raw, just wire brushed.  I'm considering leaving them to show without question that this is my blaster.  I'll think about it.



Front shot.



Back end.  Lots of little starts and stops while welding - I didn't want the receiver to warp.  I welded about 1/2", then let it cool.  Flipped over to the other side, welded another 1/2", then let it cool.  Repeat until finished.



Filed the edges around the cocking channel.  Assembled parts.  Had fun cocking the bolt.  I'm cool when I'm entertaining myself.



Front end assembled.  Just noticed I took out the muzzle bolts - they're in a little plastic case with other small parts so they don't get lost!



Back end assembled.



I guess the next step will be using a torch to silver solder the rest of the parts onto my new receiver.


Comments and suggestions welcomed!  Hope you're enjoying this build - it's getting there!

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I don't even think it is fair to refer to this as a pipe build. This is more like a blaster fabrication than a pipe build. Beautiful work, Aaron. Beautiful work space, too. Can't wait to see it finished. :)

Edited by Dark CMF
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Germain:  Thanks for the video posting code!  Way easier than I thought...  No recommendations from you is a compliment in itself.


Tim:  You inspired the videos!  I probably wouldn't be doing this build if you, Steve and T-Jay hadn't turned it up to 11 on resin builds...I didn't think I could hang with you guys on a resin build.  My shop is 1400 square feet - bigger than my house and definitely a blessing!


Rid and Brian:  Thanks for the compliments!

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Please post when you will be holding welding classes so we can all learn your skills.


I just threw my blaster out. It sucks compared to this.

EXACTLY! I'll add that the skills used in a resin build are probably pretty simple to figure out.


What you're doing is something that I simply can't do - and don't have access to the materials, even if I could. LoL.


Truly awesome looking so far? Are you going to figure out a way to put electronics into it??? :D

Edited by Dark CMF
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Steve:  DON'T throw your blaster away!!!  Yours is finished and it's beautiful!  With each piece I add, my blaster gets heavier...feels great in my hands, but probably not a great choice for trooping.  Not to mention it will probably pop all the snaps on my armor when holstered...  Looks like I might be building a resin blaster after all.


Tim:  Thanks for the compliments again.  I hadn't ever really thought about electronics, but I suppose that would be a nice feature.  If would have to fit in the magazine well - I want to retain the functional bolt action.  But, I guess Brian brought it up in another post - what's the purpose of a bolt on a high-energy weapon???


LeMaxim:  Thank. You. Very. Much!  Loved your post on the coffee cups.  Really enjoyed your partner's web site too!


UPDATE:  Soldering isn't going so well...  I could have welded the parts on and been done by now.  I want to use the original methods, so now, I'm learning a new skill.  Apparently, regular solder and flux don't work well with steel.  I'll be investing in some expensive gunsmithing silver solder and the appropriate flux.  Hopefully, I'll have that by next weekend.


Stay tuned and thanks again to everyone for all your support!

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There's no way Steve should throw his blaster away. He should give it to me!


This is awesome Aaron. I wish I learned to weld. It would come in so useful. I reckon I could understand how heavy that thing will be. Very nice to have though. Not that I know much about guns, but it looks like you only need the inner barrel to have a completely re-furnished machine gun. Can I say awesome again.


Good idea with leaving the welds, if you don't think it will detract from the look once painted.


Oh, and you hack saw blade with a plastic handle - is called a plastic handled hack saw :)

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