My apologies to all for the sporadic nature of my U.N.C.L.E. Special Project. While my work as Assistant Editor for Shooting Illustrated takes precedence, sometimes fate intervenes instead.
Paul and Eric's carbine barrel arrived and looks positively fantastic. Somehow, despite several months of e-mail correspondence, we experienced a communication goof regarding the barrel's titanium extension. For some reason, I was under the impression the extension would anodized (I blame my editorially taxed brain), but it turns out neither Paul nor Eric has access to the equipment necessary to anodize titanium. While nothing more than a simple miscommunication to be viewed as a minor setback, the fact is I promised you completion photos were forthcoming.
So, I turned to the possibility of coating the barrel extension and handguard in Brownells Alluma-Hyde II—an extremely durable, epoxy-based paint I've had success with in the past. Brownells technicians confirmed the product will adhere to titanium, provided the surface is roughed up prior by glass beading. Thankfully, my co-worker John had the proper facilities and came to my rescue—only to report that the barrel extension had a super-hard finish that literally sparked when the beads hit the barrel extension and failed to provide even coverage. As a result, we switched material, only to try blasting it again with sand. Luckily, after a couple of tries, the switch worked. John also gave me an airbrush to use when applying the Alluma-Hyde II, but I need to buy a can of propellant before I can proceed with finishing the barrel. (Of course, given the recent chain of events, as luck would have it, all local hobby shops are currently out of stock.) Section 2 is currently investigating possible intervention by T.H.R.U.S.H.
To make matters more "interesting," this barrel did not contain a locking block when I purchased it, and all of my attempts to install one have met with failure—including one shooting session that ended on a sour note when the loose block shifted under recoil only to completely seize the barrel and slide assembly. At the time I suspected the commercial locking blocks I was using were incompatible with my war-era barrel, although I have yet to find any supporting text for confirmation. Regardless, I contacted Earl's Repair Service and ordered a war-era locking block along with a locking-block retaining spring. At present, the replacement parts seem to have fixed the problem, but another range session is needed to know for certain—once time and workload permits.