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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
July 18th 2012 was a day that changed my life. After firing 400+ rounds of semi corrosive 308, I decided to do a thorough strip down and clean of my semi 1919. Upon reassembly, I inserted the bolt into the receiver, and could not get it to line up with the hole for the charging handle. I get my flash light, look down to see what is binding and BAM. I can still vividly remember the loud BANG as the rod came to a stop on the floor of my orbital socket/skull. I remember looking to the left and having the drive rod smack my nose....I knew I was in trouble. I immediately went into shock, lost balance and slumped down into a nearby chair. Luckily I had friends in the room when it happened. I was rushed via ambulance to the hospital. Initially the Nurses and Doctors were not very informative as to whether or not I would lose my eye. After what had seemed like hours, an ophthalmologist and neurologist broke the bad news. I woke up out of surgery in ICU 12 hours later. I had bandages around my eye, and the upper half of my head. My girlfriend and other family asleep on the floor. Morphine and whatever they gave me made things easy. My family came in every few hours from all over the country, when I was awake the story was unraveled.

The drive rod flew through my right eye and broke through my orbital socket pushing bone fragments into the frontal lobe of my brain. I underwent "brain surgery", where they removed a baseball size piece of skull from my forehead to gain access to extract bone fragments/cleaned up the mess. 41 staples to put my face back together. I walked away without any brain damage. The head ophthalmologist was not on call to perform the enucleation (eye removal). I was taken off pain medication after 2 days, and had a PICC line inserted in my right arm for a heavy, heavy dosage of antibiotics. I was allowed to go home after 4 days. 2 weeks later I had my enucleation procedure. 2 months passed and I was fitted for a prosthetic eye.

All in all, it could have been alot worse. I'm very thankful for having a rock for a girlfriend and family. I'm not looking for sympathy, just passing on my story as a warning. Life is good, I'm still with the same girl, bought my first house 3 months after the accident and still love shooting/collecting ww2 firearms....It took alot of guts to go anywhere near that spring and drive rod for a very long time. After inspecting it and pondering what the hell caused the rod to unlock, I found worn/squared edges to the tangs that engage the bolt. Part of me also thinks the rod was never a fully turned and locked in place. Who knows.

Either never remove that ******* or be VERY VERY CAREFUL. Treat it as a firearm and keep it pointed away from your body!

The morning after

mike111.jpg mike11.jpg

First go with the prosthetic eye
 

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Darn, you are lucky to be here to write that.

I won't ever complain about paying $60 for one of Dolf's spring tools, looks like they are money well spent.
 

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warning

God bless you,I bought Dolfs tool and use it a lot.Thanks for your post.I found a drive rod that would lock in the bolt but did not hold very well,this might have been my fate as well if I had not found it.Your post will help a lot of careless members.Wish you well.
 

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wow, that's pretty horrible/amazing.


I had my first run-in with a drive rod when I bought my first gun in '02 and it went through the drywall in my room . That was enough for me to go slow and follow the same steps every time.



the same can happen with a FAL, buy the damn tools.
 

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Those things scare the bejesus out of me. I even coined the phrase "rod o death" quite a few years ago to describe them and how it is pathetic that our military didn't upgrade those things when a better option was devised. The commercial guns did away with that before 1924. Sadly you are not alone on the long list of good people killed or maimed by this thing. Hopefully your brave post might prevent a few others from joining you. As long as 1919's and 1917's are around, the dangers of a design fault that should have been remedied over 90 years ago will continue to be a significant danger. Thank you for your post and good luck.
 

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Thank you for posting this, Its a reminder to all of us to be careful with that spring. I still have a scar on the web between my index finger and middle finger from not being careful. It's nothing compared to this though.
 

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Thank you for posting this, Its a reminder to all of us to be careful with that spring. I still have a scar on the web between my index finger and middle finger from not being careful. It's nothing compared to this though.
The same, except mine is in the area of the wrist. Minor scratch which left a small scar compared to your injuries but a good reminder of what could have been if I wasnt being careful about keeping my arm out of the way Just in Case it cut loose, Cause it did...
I was lazy and didn't remove the drive rod while setting the adjustment/alignment on Lou's crankfire to my 1917a1 with the backplate off. The vibration of manipulating the trigger caused it to unlock. If I was not conciously avoiding putting my body parts behind that thing it would have been worse. You can see the grease marks from the recoil spring in the image as well. I knew better but didn't want to deal with the aggravation of reloading the spring and driving rod.:eek:


Thank you for sharing this, hopefully it will serve good notice to newcomers the Rod of Death is not to be taken lightly. Had a parts kit show up in the mail recently and when I was lifting out the well wrapped parts all in bubble wrap I just about took a duece when the one peice as I lifted up I realized I was holding the bolt with the locked driving rod in place aiming at my face. They had shipped it that way.:eek:
 

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Very glad to see you have come through this as well as you have. That being said, you still paid a pretty high price.

I too have a scar on my hand, on the web between my thumb and forefinger. I was at one of the So Cal shoots and was fiddling with a minor issue on one of my Brownings. I had to field strip a couple of times in the process. One of my friends (and an old member of this forum) was standing behind me by a few feet. As I was pulling the bolt out of the receiver, the bloody rod and spring let go, flying past me and nearly hitting my friend at calf level. Just missed us both.

Now I was convinced that I had somehow failed to lock the rod at a full 90 degrees. Moments later, the bolt was coming out again. This time, I made doubly sure the rod was locked properly. Damned if it didn't fly out again, this time taking a small chunk out of the hand, as described above. I was puzzled, to say the least. Upon inspection, I found that one of the locking pin ends was worn short and simply was not capable of a solid lock in the bolt. Ever since, I have looked at every rod in my inventory to make sure it is to spec. I've found a couple others I wouldn't put in a gun for anything.

Your experience was probably the result of the worn pin, not a failure to lock it properly. Sad that your lesson was far more extensive and expensive than some of us others. Just glad you came through to tell the tale. But everyone here needs to inspect that darn cross pin on any driving rod they own. If one side looks worn or shorter than the other, scrap it. This should be a warning to everyone here.
 

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While not a guarantee it cannot happen, Dolf's tool adds a measure of safety when working the rod-of-death. Where can I get Dolf's tool? Also, is there a simple and prudent modification that might be made to the bolt and/or rod to reduce such accidents?
 

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I talked with Dolf at the last KC about the spring tool and he sent me one after he returned home. I have no idea where you can order one.

While not a guarantee it cannot happen, Dolf's tool adds a measure of safety when working the rod-of-death. Where can I get Dolf's tool? Also, is there a simple and prudent modification that might be made to the bolt and/or rod to reduce such accidents?
 

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The very first time I ever disassembled a Browning, I did so on a table in my garage. The recoil spring and rod took off for Alpha Centauri and just missed my head. They landed some 20 feet behind me squarely on the windshield of my car. They left a mark for posterity. Every time I drove that car, the chip on my windshield in my field of view reminded me of the danger of a Browning recoil spring and rod. I got away cheap.
 

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Wow. While I have personally never had an issue with my guns, I've seen and read quite a few stories from folks who suffered injury from the drive rod not engaging properly, but this is the most serious and graphic one I have seen. I am so glad you were able to recover as well as you did from this.

I guess two things to remember:

Check for worn tabs often!

Be very careful removing and installing the rod!

This second thing we have preached for a long time here, but I never heard about worn tabs until now......
 

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Momma's ARE Always Right

ANOTHER GOOD SUBJECT FOR A "STICKY"

STICKY:
This $20 part could kill ya!
Everyone with a new 1919 parts set, and everyone with a completed 1919 firearm should inspect the cross-pins on the spring rod for wear. They should be of equal lengths and have crisp ends. When removing or re-installing one, it is best to use a specialized tool, (such as Dolf's) when approaching this task and keep all body parts out of the line of compression of the spring and rod. This spring has enough compression to TAKE YOUR EYE OUT. At least one board member here has lost an eye, and the rod nearly pierced through the rear of the orbital socket INTO HIS BRAIN! Wear protective eye wear, practice safety and LISTEN TO YOUR MAMA!

(Place picture of drive rod & spring here)
Want to see what a loose drive rod can do? -- Dangers of a Browning 1919 Spring & Guide Rod https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mfIfETQ4Xk

(Regarding Dolf's tool -- http://1919a4.com/showthread.php?15444-Dolf-s-New-Tool-is-Here-!&highlight=drive-rod+spring)


We used to play "Army" with our Red Ryder BB guns. We WOULD shoot directly at each other, but we had "a rule" that if someone pointed at you, you had to turn your head away as you ducked. We never seriously hurt each other because we "followed the rules." But Mommas still hollered as us as we ducked behind trees and fired back.

Somebody recently posted "the .30 (1919) will try to hurt you, but the .50 (Ma Deuce) will try to kill you" regarding ka-booms. Here we see how very lucky you were with the .30!!!

I feel what happened to you was probably the result of a worn pin, but I guess that is irrelevant to you now. It is, however, an extremely good lesson to all around firearms -- ONE CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL. Sorry you went so far in learning this lesson, but at least you're grateful for what you still have. Women can sometimes be a rock, can't they? Your might consider wanting to get more serious about the one you have who has been so good and so supportive of you.

Carry On!
Gary
><>
 

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Prosthetic Eye

Just Curious who made your eye? Mine was made by Randy Trawnik and its pretty damned good. Not gun related, just wondering. J
 

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A good reminder

That rod scares the Hell out of me. I always keep my body parts clear of the rear of the casing with the back plate removed and set the bolt on the bench with the rod pointing at the wall. The design fault was fixed on Colt commercial guns and the M37 with the captive rod arrangement. Some parts for these firearms are what maybe nearly 100 years old and used ones are of unknown specs. None of my drawings have legible dimensions for the proper length of the pin.



Here's a homemade tool for removing the driving spring rod/spring for the bolt. Its two pierces of 1X2 with an old jig saw blade between them set into a slot. Clamp this in your vice set the bolt on the wood block with the blade engaged in the driving spring rod slot hold the bolt with both hands and turn releasing the rod from the bolt and slowly release the tension on the spring. Works pretty good for re-installing the spring/rod.
 

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That's a very good point. Does ANYONE have the spec for length and diameter of the cross pin? That would be very good information to have.
 

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I learned the rules about 47 years ago while an armorer in the National Guard. When disassembling or assembling the internal parts of the .30 caliber BMG never place ANY body part directly behind the receiver. I always insert and remove the internals by grasping the trigger or lock frame keep the hand well below the bolt. If inspecting the internals for proper fit do so with the rod and spring removed from the bolt. Never store the bolt long term with the spring compressed and locked in the bolt. Never use a screw driver to remove the rod as there are half a dozen better and safer tools to do it. Never leave the bolt with spring and rod compressed where anyone else can examine or touch it. In fact it is probably best that maintenance be done when nobody else is around just for safety sake.

And yes as stated the rod should be inspected prior to use. This is a most basic of safety rules.

Another rule is to handle the bolt like it is a loaded revolver with the hammer cocked. I generally handle the bolt like the rod WILL fly out and act accordingly.

I have been fortunate as I have yet to have an accident happen. That is why I remove the internals from mine as seldom as possible. I have recently been asked to tear down and examine several M1919A4s in a local Military museum and here is my chance to put my safety on line again.
 

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old dogs and old tricks

I learned the rules about 47 years ago while an armorer in the National Guard. When disassembling or assembling the internal parts of the .30 caliber BMG never place ANY body part directly behind the receiver. I always insert and remove the internals by grasping the trigger or lock frame keep the hand well below the bolt. If inspecting the internals for proper fit do so with the rod and spring removed from the bolt. Never store the bolt long term with the spring compressed and locked in the bolt. Never use a screw driver to remove the rod as there are half a dozen better and safer tools to do it. Never leave the bolt with spring and rod compressed where anyone else can examine or touch it. In fact it is probably best that maintenance be done when nobody else is around just for safety sake.

And yes as stated the rod should be inspected prior to use. This is a most basic of safety rules.

Another rule is to handle the bolt like it is a loaded revolver with the hammer cocked. I generally handle the bolt like the rod WILL fly out and act accordingly.

I have been fortunate as I have yet to have an accident happen. That is why I remove the internals from mine as seldom as possible. I have recently been asked to tear down and examine several M1919A4s in a local Military museum and here is my chance to put my safety on line again.

All that crap about the old dog and new tricks is just that.

The old dogs know the old tricks which is why they are old dogs.

You are a careful and prudent guy, you will do fine.
 
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