Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tabuk Build Log – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cue the music! So I thought I’d post a little of the good, bad, and ugly on the status of the Tabuk build. Once I got the barrel together, I was waiting to install the scope rail, which required spot welding. I ended up picking up one of the ak-builder spot welder sets. The beast works very well! I made a few practice runs on some scrap I had lying around. Then I bit the bullet and actually welded the rail onto the receiver. I checked alignment and spacing with my calipers and had pre-fit the rail based on the fit of the top cover.

After getting the rail on, I went ahead and installed both the front and rear trunnions. This was one of the most challenging riveting jobs I’ve had to do as it involves a mix of countersunk and flat rivets on a bulged front trunnion. The bulged trunnion is sometimes hard to get the tools around properly, but with a little work I was able to get everything aligned.

As you can see from the pictures above, the rivets look great from both sides. I was particularly concerned about this build as it involves not two, but three of the long swell neck rivets. These had given me trouble in the past, but I’ve changed how I use my tools a little so I can see the progress of the rivet head formation better. The results speak from themselves.

Once the trunnions were in, the next step was to install the barrel, and we all know what happened then. The picture below shows the first pass of installing the barrel. After I removed it from the jig, I thought I hadn’t pushed in the barrel enough based on the fact that the bolt face stopped ¼” from the chamber. Turns out it was just hung up on the receiver where it had been tig welded, but not knowing that I put it back in the press. Big mistake.

At this point I have a new barrel on the way – I’ll have to get that barrel shortened and re-threaded. I also have a friend locally who may be able to help me straighten the existing barrel. In the interim I also discovered I’m missing a ferrule for the lower handguard. Tried to order one from Apex, but their lower handguards come sans ferrule. I’ve ordered one from an alternate source, and if it arrives with the ferrule I’m going to try and have some made up as I think there should be a market for some!

Watch this space!

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