Sucesses and failures of a first build
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  1. #1
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    Sucesses and failures of a first build

    So as I mentioned in the other thread I've started building up the Bulgarian '74 kit I've had sitting in my closet for the past 10 years. Its a super nice kit, original barrel, matching numbers. Got it for like $250. Why oh why did I not buy more of them. Anyways this is my first actual build, and do I ever wish it was on something more available/cheap..but I suppose its what I got. Most of its gone well so far, but a couple things I'm gonna be kicking myself forever for. Nothing too major, but I figured I'd post this anyways, maybe someone will learn from it, or ya'll can just laugh at my dumbass lol.

    The de-mill went pretty smooth, most of it was already done, just had to tap out the remains of a few rivets and drill out the long rivet on the rear trunnion. Barrel pin didn't put up too much of a fight and the barrel came out pretty easy with the toth tool press tool. Got all the holes drilled for the trunnions with the ak builder jig, trigger guard rivets came out really nice, the rear one I pancaked, overestimated how much I need to tighten the bolts down. Could fix it but after you read the rest of this you'll understand why I've decided I probably won't lol. Everything up to this point was going well so maybe I was feeling overconfident idk. Front trunnion rivets was were things went a little south. Its almost entirely my fault and I knew at the time I should've just stepped back and done a little reading and reviewed some videos. But I guess sometimes I get momentum going and I don't want stop. So I didn't have a tool to do the demples for the swell necks. I put one of them in and decided in that moment like yeah that looks good I can live with that. Went ahead and put in all 6 rivets...

    After that I moved onto the rear trunnion and got the long rivet installed, that came out nice despite using homemade tools for it. That night I got home and started researching dimpling on here and realized I should've just gone to the hardware store and gotten a 1/4" ball bearing or used a screw head. So the next day I decided to drill out one of the swell necks and try it. It went alright but I kept having this issue where some of the rivet would mush itself over onto the side of the recess inside the trunnion. So I had to drill it out a couple of times and on the 2nd or 3rd time the drill somehow wandered off center and egged out the hole. After that I decided I'd just put a non swell neck since the shaft is slightly smaller and they didn't give me any problems, because I clearly suck at drilling out rivets and didn't want to take the chance again, but now it sits misaligned with the other rivet and there's nothing I can do about it. Nothing appears to be a problem structurally but man I just hate myself for that. Course on the way home I realized I should've used a center drill to start the hole, why I didn't think to do that in advance I'll never know. Probably because it would actually require me to be patient and order one.

    Its like why be in a hurry? Its going to be like that forever. MATCHING. NUMBERS. BULGARIAN 74 KIT. You dumbass lol.

    Oh well, lesson learned, hopefully the side folder will turn out better, and aside from that one misaligned rivet this one is going fine I think. If anyone has any genius suggestions on how to fix that hole that don't involve welding I'd be happy to hear them. I wonder if I could drill it out again, get it aligned right and then fill the gap with high temp jb weld or something...but I'm hesitant to try and fix it cause every time I do I make it worse. Also any tips for drilling out rivets and not messing up the holes would be appreciated as well. I'd really like to be able to drill them out safely and consistently without damaging anything in the future, in case I need to redo them.

    On a more positive note I got the ejector filed down to a nice close fit with the bolt, also had to file the mag release. Mags fit nice and tight in the well. Just have 4 more rivets to do. Each side of the rear trunnion including the one that's shared with the scope rail and the other two for the front of the rail. Also how parallel with the top of the receiver does that rail need to be, like would being off by a few thousandths be a problem? I've got the holes drilled and it's pretty spot on when I fit with the rivets but there is a little bit of play.

  2. #2
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    Here's a pic of my shame lol. I'm on the fence between leaving and fixing but worried I might make it worse.
    PA160115.jpg

  3. #3
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    I doubt anyone’s first build is perfect, mine had a few cosmetic defects as well. I’d say you’re doing well. Stick with it. Be wary of dremel tools... it’s east to get cocky and ruin things. Lol

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  5. #4
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    Thanks! Yeah I can be overly perfectionist at times, can't help it haha. But yeah I just need to let it go and move on before I make it worse lol. And yeah the dremel definitely deserves some respect, I choose to hand file the ejector for that reason, no need to wind up with same ejection issues I had before.

    Then main issue I'm concerned with now is I'm having trouble getting the rear two rivets in. They're so long that since the bolt cutters open/close on a radius that it starts to come into play and ends up only squashing part of it. I haven't been able to get a successful set on one of those yet. One side should be any easy fix to just make it shorter as the AK builder rivets are longer now than they need to be to accommodate various trunnions. The other side I'm not sure what I'll do about yet since it needs to be that long for the scope rail.
    Last edited by matt74; 01-09-2020 at 03:15 PM.

  6. #5
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    You my be able to fill that void in the forward rivet location with a small amount of JB Weld and toothpick it into the void and use a small file to clean it up.

    Do this prior to painting and it will never be seen.

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    I’ve had similar experiences where I thought I could improve something, and then “fixed” it into something permanently worse cause I got impatient. Yours still looks better than some of my fuck-ups.

    Still to date I’m lousy at several of the finer things like shaping the rivet head on the long rivets. At first it didn’t bother me much cause the rivets still held everything together good, and my only concern was good function, but over the years it’s been bugging me more and more, especially when I start working on a new one with imperfect rivet heads, after seeing pictures of other people’s first builds that look very professionally done. I will say this though, my first build I’ve shot a ton, so even without the finer details looking great, I’ve got a ton of enjoyment out of it. That thing has definitely not been just sitting in a corner somewhere looking pretty. And in the end, I think that counts for a lot.
    Last edited by Haris122; 01-09-2020 at 10:14 PM.

  8. #7
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    Story of my life when doing this sort of work haha. Yet I'm still quite tempted to drill out that rivet and install a new one as inline with the other as I can get it, then fill the gap with JB Weld as AKBlue suggested. I wonder how well it will hold up to the heat though since it's right next to the chamber. Either way, I'm gonna try to get the rest of the rivets installed this weekend and then see what I want to do from there. I got a center drill in the mail this week so I might stick some rivets in a piece of scrap metal and then try drilling them out to see if I cant get any consistency before I try it on the gun.

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    Dont feel too bad. I'm sure the non swell necked rivet will hold up fine. And high temp JB weld is rated for like 500 degrees. The outside of your chamber wont be getting anywhere near that hot.

    On my second build (My first went almost perfect actually, I think just by luck) I severely egged out the barrel pin hole with the reamer on my numbers matching 1969 Izhmash kit and ruined both the barrel and the front trunnion. I ended up having to completely scrap the build because of it. I ended up buying a different front trunnion and I made a mutt Khyber pass rifle out of the rest of it but only after another $350 for a new barrel and trunnion. I've done a few more builds since then and they have all come out pretty good I think so don't give up. Try another gun and learn from your mistake.


    And AKbuilder makes a guide tool for drilling out rivets. Its only $30 and I wouldn't even attempt to drill out rivets without it. Using that tool I have never messed up a hole drilling one out. Honestly though I think having a full set of good AKBuilder tools will help make everything go more smoothly. I dont work for them haha but I spent less on a full set of their stuff than I spend on just one parts kit sometimes so I think its worth it, especially if you plan to do a few guns. I think all their riveting tools ran me about $200.
    Last edited by Roxborough; 01-10-2020 at 08:10 AM.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxborough View Post
    And AKbuilder makes a guide tool for drilling out rivets. Its only $30 and I wouldn't even attempt to drill out rivets without it. Using that tool I have never messed up a hole drilling one out. Honestly though I think having a full set of good AKBuilder tools will help make everything go more smoothly. I dont work for them haha but I spent less on a full set of their stuff than I spend on just one parts kit sometimes so I think its worth it, especially if you plan to do a few guns. I think all their riveting tools ran me about $200.
    That’s some things I need to invest in. For the most part I haven’t spent any money on jigs or other specialized build tooling. At first I even tried to remove the barrel without getting a press. Back then people were saying you could just hammer it out with a punch and some pennies put on the chamber face. Nope, not that barrel. But yeah, I’ve been looking more and more at some of the jigs and other specialized tools being sold just to get better looking results out of it.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt74 View Post
    Story of my life when doing this sort of work haha. Yet I'm still quite tempted to drill out that rivet and install a new one as inline with the other as I can get it, then fill the gap with JB Weld as AKBlue suggested. I wonder how well it will hold up to the heat though since it's right next to the chamber. Either way, I'm gonna try to get the rest of the rivets installed this weekend and then see what I want to do from there. I got a center drill in the mail this week so I might stick some rivets in a piece of scrap metal and then try drilling them out to see if I cant get any consistency before I try it on the gun.
    If you do decide to drill and remove and reset that rivet. Now is the time. Once you install the barrel and paint it., the likelihood diminishes a lot.

    I think if you set a new centered rivet the void will likely be covered.

    There are various ways to drill out rivets. If you have a rotary/Dremel tool you can flatten and score the rivet head so the drill bit does not wander.
    Or use a sharpened pin punch or nail set to center punch the rivet head so the drill bit has a centered guide.

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    Quote" I got a center drill in the mail this week so I might stick some rivets in a piece of scrap metal and then try drilling them out to see if I cant get any consistency before I try it on the gun."

    Having a center drill is a good start but you need to line up your spindle center with your rivet center, so you need what we call a center finder {more money I know} this is the hard part to do on a drill press
    better done on a mill or mill drill..It can be done on a good drill press and cross slide fixture..{this may be over kill for some}..
    Last edited by packrat; 01-10-2020 at 10:05 AM.

  13. #12
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    Don’t know how your going about your rivet drilling out but here’s how I go about it.
    I never try to use a drill press .... I aways use a handheld drill motor.
    I start with a 1/8” or smaller drill
    If it starts going crooked I can tilt the drill and get back to center .... as in keep cutting at an angle then tilt it back up strait.
    This aways gets me back to center
    Then I drill strait all the way though.
    Then go a bit bigger strait though.
    Lastly I’ll go up to 1/4” ish drill and start drilling just the head .... usually the drill grabs and the head twists off.
    Sometimes I’ll just knock the head off with a chisel .... depending if good receiver or scrap stubs.

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    Oh shit I totally forgot AK Builder made that guide tool! *Headdesk* Thank you for reminding me! I'm totally ordering one of those, $30 is nothing given the trouble I've had drilling them out manually. That'll really come in handy when I start working on the sidefolder too. Thanks to everyone else for replies and suggestions on other methods too, I've tried doing them by hand as well. Sometimes I'd get good results and sometimes not. Usually I'll start by filing the head flat then I'll start with an 1/8" drill. Seems dependent on which way the wind blows if it decides to walk off or not, probably because the filed flat isn't perfectly level, even tried using a center punch and still would walk sometimes. Though I think at that point it was largely just due to impatience and the drills starting to get dull.

    FWIW I looked up the temperature specs on JB weld, 550 F for the normal stuff, which should be plenty as others have indicated. The high temp stuff is good to 2400F supposedly, but from reading reviews on amazon it seems more finicky in its application process. So I think I will stick to the standard variety. I have some laying around and I'm somewhat familiar with using it on other stuff.

    By the way, are you supposed to file the head flat with the rivet drill guide or is it meant to just go right over an untouched rivet?

    Also if anyone experienced with the toth rivet tool can give me advice on how to deal with the longer rivets for the rear trunnion I'd very much appreciate it. I swear the radius that the jaws open and close on is messing me up whenever I try to do those rivets since they're longer than all the others.
    Last edited by matt74; 01-10-2020 at 07:16 PM.

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    One other thing that helps, at least in my case, is using cobalt drill bits, in case you haven’t already. They made things a lot easier for me at least, and at keeping them more straight.

  16. #15
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    I may have to give those a try, if only for the extra durability. Ordered the rivet drill guide and went ahead and got the one for the trigger guard too, since I've got to do a complete demill on the sidefolder once this one is done.

 

 
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