Saturday, May 4, 2013

SMLE rebuild attempt 1

Well, the smle arrived and I'm not impressed. I ordered a new stock, forestock and handguards from Numrich and stock bands and screws from Sarco. Here's what I started with:

 Yeah, pretty awful, but that's just wood. What's worse is what I find next. The charger bridge (the piece that goes across the top of the receiver to hold the stripper clips) has obviously been broken off and welded.

Here are the original photographs.

If you have trouble seeing
the break, I've highlighted it here.

And to add insult to injury, here's the last straw:

 That's right, Bubba the gun mangler shortened the barrel by a good 3 inches, so it no longer fits in the forestock. Well, that means another order to Numrich and wait another couple of weeks while I figure out how to fake up a barrel wrench and an action wrench, cause I'm already $300 into this project, which is as much even a good SMLE is worth, let alone this one.

On the other hand, took it out to run a few rounds through it today. I was worried about the welded charger bridge, but that piece is just pinned in normally, and by all reports the rifle operates just fine without it. Still, it was worrisome, so I threw a sandbag over the action when I fired it the first time. Just in case. Also, I checked the headspace. I used a dime for the low space (a US dime is approx .060 inches) and a nickel (approximately .075 inches) for the no-go gauge.I had to cut them down with bolt cutters to get them in, but they checked out just fine. This is not exact, but could be improved with a bit of sandpaper.

Anyway, the gun fires beautifully. The trigger is a bout 3 lbs, with a nice clean break. I wasn't really aiming, just trying to get a feel for the gun, but bullets went downrange very accurately. The recoil on the  other hand, well, the phrase "kicks like a mule" isn't enough. More like "kicks like a rage-fueled mule on steroids." The first round I braced on my bicep, with the action under a sandbag. I didn't want to put my face that close to a 70 year-old gun that had been abused. The kick was very painful, no bruises yet though. After that, I fired from the shoulder, one shot kneeling and one laying down, both braced on the shoulder. The recoil was serious, but not painful.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SMLE project

The other day I won an online auction at and bought this:
The folks at NW Armory in Portland were very helpful, and as efficient as the US Govt would let them be. I completed the transaction in 30 minutes (pretty good considering the paperwork, etc), and waited 2 hours for my "instant" background check to complete.

The gun itself is a Lee Enfield No4 Mk1* (No, that's not a footnote, it's part of the model designation). This was the standard British battle rifle of WWII, an improved version of the Lee Enfield Mk1 used by British troops in WWI. It is considered by collectors to be one of the best rifles of it's era, sturdy, reliable, accurate and powerful.

This particular rifle is one of 1.2 million produced by Savage Arms at Lake Chicopee NH.The British government found that they needed more rifles than England could produce, so they contracted production out to firms in Canada, Australia and Savage in the US. In the beginning, neither Savage nor the British Army were happy with the arrangement. The Army quality control inspectors rejected many of the rifles produced by Savage, who were watching their profit in the deal being eaten by what they felt were cosmetic flaws.

The US government stepped in and resolved the situation. Through the Lend Lease program, the US government purchased the rifles and loaned them to Great Britain for the duration of the war. So this gun, and all but the very first few thousand produced were stamped U.S. PROPERTY. At the end of the war, in lieu of return of millions of guns, thousands of airplanes and dozens of ships, the British government was charged by the US government for 10% of the cost of the goods delivered, and given 50 years to pay, so this gun was not fully paid for until December 29, 2006.

If you look carefully, you can see that the stock and furniture of the rifle were at some time carved by an amateur of surprisingly little skill. This is the good side. The other looks like it was attacked by a demented, machete-wielding monkey with a spastic muscle disorder. I will be replacing the wood and hopefully getting a good rifle out of the deal.

More pictures when I get a chance to work on it.


You will notice a new page here, Projects (L proiecti), a place to post photos and discussion of some of my various projects.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Three years!

One method to deal with stress is to lock it in "the box". The Box is where you put stress that's too much to deal with, so you can deal with it later. The "deal with it later" part is important. Time may heal all wounds, but stress kept in the box makes for neuroses and probably heart attacks. Later, in quiet times when it's safe to do so, stuff comes out of the box, sometimes whether you want it to or not.

It's been 3 years since Susan's mastectomy, the last surgery to remove cancer from her body. Just before Christmas.

I was driving to the store last night, new years eve, thinking over the year past. I was suddenly swept over with all the grief, the pain, the frustration and most of all, the fear I had put in the box in 2010. I pulled over to the side of the road and wept. After five minutes the storm passed. I dried my face and drove on to the store.