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This problem has been cropping up more often than we'd like to admit, and as our favorite forum continues to grow with new members arriving every day, more and more folks are chiming in with similar experiences.

The problem seems to lie mostly with Interarms PP-series models (based on reports of this problem). While shooting the pistol, many have reported a malfunction in which the safety lever rotates to the "safe" position as the slide cycles, rendering the pistol inoperable for the next shot. This is obviously a serious problem as it renders the PPK untrustworthy for carry purposes. It has happened to me in the past and I thought I had the problem solved with a detail cleaning of the slide, but the problem has reappeared with my Interarms PPK and it's extremely frustrating to say the least. I cannot trust it for carry until this problem is solved, and it's no fun carrying a P-38.

Tonight I took my slide down for a thorough cleaning and inspection.



I didn't remove the loaded chamber indicator pin as there's nothing wrong with that system and it's unrelated to the problem; I firmly believe in, "If it ain't broke, don't 'fix' it". Now, I pay close attention to my PPK after a day at the range and clean it well. After the tear-down of the slide, the channel in which the safety plunger/spring/and the little angled piece which interlocks with the extractor was quite clean save for a small amount of lubricating oil darkened with powder residue. All parts moved freely. There are no burrs or obstructions in the hole.

Now for a closer inspection of the parts in question which relate directly to the problem. Here is the best picture I could get of the "fire" detent in the safety cylinder. It is this recess which engages the safety plunger while in "Fire" mode... and it looks relatively intact to me. There is some slight burnishing on the side of the recess and definite galling between the recesses but nothing severe. Observe:



And now the safety plunger. These are the best photographs I could get with my girls' digital camera in macro mode. There is some slight wear to it, but again, nothing severe and no obvious observable cause for this to not marry properly with the recess in the safety cylinder:



Upon second look, the spring does appear to be slightly bent, but I don't think that should factor into the equation much. That small spring is surprisingly stout and offers significant resistance to compression.



Too bad you couldn't be here to look at the parts yourself to see if I'm missing something. Here's my best attempt to have you sit behind my eyes and observe for yourself. Sorry for being all nerdy, but load it up in 720 high-def, open it up full screen, and let me know if you spot something:


We'll get to the bottom of this yet, my friends. It is my hope this thread might one day become a useful place for we Walther enthusiasts to go for help when we're at the range enjoying out PPK's and all of a sudden we find the safety flipped on.

-Pilotsteve
 

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Steve.....how many rounds have been fired through this weapon....an approximation will do? If you purchased it new....when did the failures start, or did they start right out of the box?

Maybe someone can show us some pictures of an older German original so we can examine the "old steel" components against the stainless steel in the IA guns.
 

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If you look carefully at the safety drum, and the wear line extending from one detent hole to the other, you'll see that it's slightly misaligned. The plunger is resting on the left side of the hole, not in the center. That, coupled with the wear on the plunger tip, is what's allowing the safety to flip out.

Why is it misaligned? I don't know. Could be a safety that is incorrectly dimensioned, or has its detent holes mislocated. Or a slide that is machined slightly out of spec (i.e., too wide to allow the safety to seat fully, or the hole for the safety drum is not deep enough or is mislocated). Or the spring tunnel is slightly mislocated or drilled at the wrong angle and does not exit where it should. Or everything may be in spec but there might just be a stackup of tolerances that can be cured by mixing & matching parts.

That's how gunsmiths earn their pay.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Steve.....how many rounds have been fired through this weapon....an approximation will do?
Autonut, I traded for this pistol in 2010 from an excellent gun store in Port Orange, Florida. I was like new in the box and did not appear to have been fired very much but there's no way of knowing for certain. I have sent many hundreds of bullets down the barrel since then - a guess would probably be somewhere in the 900-1200 bullet range.

I wonder if the real question is, "How many times has the safety lever been flipped back and forth?" That is what will cause the wear on the surfaces/points in question. Every time that safety cylinder is rotated, metal pieces drag across one another with nothing but fluid (gun oil) to act as a bearing surface. Hence the galling seen between the detents and the wear on the safety plunger.


If you look carefully at the safety drum, and the wear line extending from one detent hole to the other, you'll see that it's slightly misaligned...

M
I'm not sure - it may very well be a trick of lighting and angles. Better pictures to come tonight when I get home from work. Then I'll REALLY be able to get in there (with better lighting/less glare hopefully) and see. Unfortunately the eyeloop video shots didn't come out as well as I wanted... it's one of those things where you've just got to be there I guess.

One thing is for sure - the safety lever locks into the "safe" position a bit more firmly than it does the "fire" position. On my (Ahem... my girls') PP, the safety clicks into and out of either position with much more surety than the PPK. It's also a metallurgical fact that stainless steel just does not like to rub on stainless steel without the surfaces taking some metal along with them for the ride.

-Pilotsteve
 

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That's not at all too many rounds and I agree with your point on safety flipping. Most people think that stainless steel is inherently stronger and harder than carbon steel, but I do not think that's the case. I am no metallurgist (one may show-up here to offer an opinion), but I believe stainless steel can be softer than carbon steel. I realize that stainless is only regular steel with a small percentage of nickel added....more-or-less, but that may not make it any harder or stronger. There are numerous "grades" of stainless steel. If the material used in the safety catches and plungers is of the softer variety....it would wear quickly. That is why I would like to see the "trails" on a well-used original German gun, or a blued steel version.

I have not sought-out the other threads concerning this issue, but I wonder if it has surfaced more-so in IA stainless guns. I just took my 380 PPK/S out and burned-down 50 quick shots.....ya'll had me worried. I am happy to say that my lever still doesn't flop.:D
 

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I don't have a lot of knowledge about this so please take it with a grain of salt. Would a possible fix be to order german carbon steel parts from Earl and get the safety switch hard chromed to match the stainless steel? It would be expensive but worth it if it fixed it for good.
 

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Guess I'll start posting here then.

For future reference, here's a link to the post where my woes began and a video of the problem at hand.

http://www.waltherforums.com/forum/pp-tp-series/22916-some-walther-ppk-weirdness.html


In the video, the gun had been thoroughly cleaned and had the firing pin spring and safety/ejector spring replaced.

At the moment, I'm waiting for a new safety/ejector plunger to arrive as well as a new safety catch and new hammer.

I'm taking a nuke' em approach to solving this issue where I'll try to replace as much as I possibly can and hope that it solves the issue.
 

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Apropos the toughness of stainless steel, the answer seems to be 'it depends'. One of the things S&W did with their groundbreaking M-60 Chief's Special back in the day was to use varying alloys of SS to avoid the galling issue, but a complete fix eluded them, and the action parts are actually hardchromed carbon steel forgings.
For a toughness comparison, Colt went to SS fire control group pins in their 9mm carbines built on AR receivers, because they are subjected to a lot of stress compared to the gas-operated guns. The stainless pins seem to have solved their pin breakage problem.
It all depends on the alloy, but I'll grant you Steve's safety cylinder does look a little the worse for (perhaps galling) wear.
The more I think about it, the more I recall having this issue with that long-departed Interarms .380. It seems to me that I dimpled the drum stops a little deeper with an electric drill and solved that particular issue (but I never could get it to run on reloads).
Moon

ETA- methinks this might be a great opportunity to order a safety drum from the Gulf Uniform (that's Smith & Wesson), and see if it will in fact interchange...we need to start learning these things.
M
 

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Discussion Starter #11
More, better pictures of the issue.

Tonight I took out the camera, mini-tripod and a lot of patience to try and get the best pictures I could of the parts in question. After careful observation, we can see there is indeed some wear, albeit very slight. Observe the roots of the problem:

Here we have my safety cylinder, no flash so we don't have glare issues. The graph paper background is 5 squares to the inch, or .2 inches per square - aligned with the cylinder of the safety on the X axis, with the "fire" detent uppermost:



A better photograph with flash:



I manipulated the photograph by superimposing some 90 degree lines to align with the Y axis through the detents which are aligned with the grid. This negates Mike's hypothesis of the detents being out of alignment with one another. (I beg your apologies, Mentor). The previous pictures were inconclusive as I was holding the cylinder at an angle.



An up-close of the "fire" detent in the cylinder - the best I could manage with my girls' 10.2 megapixel camera in macro mode. With the flash on we reveal some damage to the integrity of the conical profile of the detent. Some metal has been swaged away:



Again from a slightly different angle; I rotated the cylinder approximately 10 degrees for this image which confirms metallurgical compromise:



And now onto the safety plunger. We can see the tip has some scarring but I believe it is designed to be flat to allow more surface area contact with the cylinder "flats" in between the detents when one rotates the safety. Think about it... if it were ground to a sharp point the contact area would be very small and under such intense spring pressure the forces of metal-on-metal friction would be severe, leading to significant galling of the stainless steel. The more contact area, the lesser the pressure.

At any rate, the tip of my safety plunger has definite imperfections. Observe:



Whence rotated to a different area we can see there is some metal removed from one side of the cone, probably in line with the swaged surface of the detent in the safety cylinder. It's difficult to tell... either some metal has been removed from the plunger or metal has been picked up from the safety cylinder and packed onto the plunger.



Finally, the spring/plunger/extractor hold assembly aligned with the .2 inch/grid graph. My guess is .57 inches... what's yours? Mike says the Overall Length for this spring should be 16mm (.62992126 inches). A bit short is mine?



We WILL get to the bottom of this problem, my friends. Hang in there, Guy. I'm having the same problems you are but am wholly unwilling to give up on this fantastic pistol. Together, with a little help from my friends and the experts here (along with an admitted dash of nerdiness), we will solve this vexing problem.

-Pilotsteve
 

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Steve,

does the plunger mate with the recess in the safety drum very well? I was just thinking about how the valves on car engines are fitted, maybe this would benefit the mating and solve the problem.
 

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Steve: I didn't say the detent holes were out of alignment with one another. What I said was that the plunger was not in alignment with the holes. And all of your photographs confirm that the metal displacement is predominantly on one side (toward the end opposite the lever), not in the center of the dished portion of the hole. The safety might be saved by cleanly reaming the holes and restoring the conical point of the plunger, but the better and easier solution is to replace both parts.

M
 

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Steve
It looks to me like the "extractor piece" angle is too long. Set your extractor piece and the extractor next to each other ... do the angles match or is the EP way longer in angle? There should be some air space or the extractor will not "hinge". In other words if the two angles meet perfect the extractor could not hinge. It just seems from your photo that we have tooooo much angle on the EP. If true, this could cause the EP to crawl a bit over the extractor, yes the extractor still hinges but this would lesson pressure on your safety arbor pin.

Just a thought :)
 

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Maybe someone can show us some pictures of an older German original so we can examine the "old steel" components against the stainless steel in the IA guns.[/QUOTE]

Oh jeeze Auto, you're forcing me to go out and buy one of those Zellis pistols? I only wish one of my local shops had one, at a price I could swallow. :D

Well in the name of "research" I spose I should spring the extra $$ ...
 

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I'll check the EP and detent plunger today for attraction to a mag. SS on SS -- why? No other metal in the shop so that's what we'll use ... I don't think so. Why not 4140 or Stressproof to ride over the SS parts?

As to smoothing the rough texture on the tip of the DP, why just remove metal, why not work harden it, once you've got the loose cracked metal off ...

And once all is tidy again, grease the detent holes, Weapon Shield.

(and now back to searching my local shops ... :D (my kind of research!)
 

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other research: I'll call Hitchner today (40 miles from me) and see if I can learn what parts they cast for Ranger. Also what alloy(s) they used. Who knows how far I'll get, but I'll try.
 

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How about trying it both ways? Deepen the dimples on the safety drum (and see if that works?). If not, or even if it does, order a drum from S&W and see if it fits properly. I'm guessing that it would be cheaper than getting one from Earl, which likely wouldn't be stainless in any case. If the Smith part doesn't fit, they'll cheerfully take it back, unmodded of course.
6string may be on to something as well; if galling really is the issue, then a carbon steel detent pin might well be a great idea. In its oily home in the slide it's not apt to rust.
Moon
 

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Those components would have been a prime candidate for case-hardened parts. Just looks like an awful lot of wear to me for no longer than Steve has had it and the rounds it's seen. BUT....maybe Steve just sits in front of the TV and flips his lever all the time.....we don't know for sure.:rolleyes:

I will for sure insure that contact area gets a lot of lube-attention. If I had to purchase another drum....I believe I would spring for a blued steel one from Earl and the plunger as well.


SOMEBODY on here that has an "old blued gun" is going to see this and show us his/her drum after a few thousand rounds.....sooner or later so we can compare.
 
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