Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sporterizing the Lee Enfield - Porch Project Pt. V

You know what it's like in the mission field, drive several hundred miles to say Mass and teach a Confirmation class full of inquiring minds. "Tell me, class. Just what is a Sacrament? And why do we have them?" They did well and we'll have more Confirmations at this one Mission than we've had in a decade. Result.

nearly there
Still, class over and it's time to fall back to the LSP Compound to get on with serious Gospel imperatives, namely sorting out one of the Lees -- on the porch.

porch vise
First things first, apply another coat of finish to the butt and notice that almost all of the grain is full. This is not a job for the impatient. Just sayin'. Woodwork done, stand it up somewhere to cure.

But that's not all, not by any means. The barrel of the Lee demands polishing. Get down to it, starting with 150 grit and moving up to 400. Use a block, sand along the barrel, then across the barrel, as if you were buffing shoes.

Give the receiver another going over with 600 grit and notice the cacophany of stampings. I especially like the Crown and BSA & Co marks. 1917 puts me in a somber mood; who knows what hells this rifle and its rifleman went through. 

Ma LSP says, "Maybe it shot some bulletheads." She doesn't waste words. A Texan. Several hours later the job was done. Barrel sanded to 400; in the next installment I'll bring it up to 600 to match the receiver.

elbow grease
Maybe it's time to turn to the bolt... Have a blessed Palm Sunday.

All glory, laud and honour.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Huge Hat Small Gun

some fool with a hat
Sometimes extremely large hats seem to go together with smallish guns... but I just got back from a preaching engagement in Dallas. The theme? The two thieves who were crucified alongside Our Lord. They serve as types of sinful humanity and were bad outlaws, which is why they were crucified. One repents, so there's hope for us all.

When I was invited to speak at this Lenten series and told that the theme was on various aspects of the Stations, I said, "Sure, I'll talk on the thieves." The Senior Warden looked at me and said, "I thought you would."

I find that vaguely unsettling.

God bless,


Sporterizing the Lee Enfield - Porch Project Pt. IV

After removing most of the unpleasant black paint from the barreled action, the obsessive madman avid Lee Enfield enthusiast ponders the best way to prepare the metal for bluing -- on the porch. There's several options; use a wheel and various polishing compounds, or do it by hand. I wisely didn't trust myself with a wheel for fear of cutting into the metal and ruining the job, so by hand it was.

get on with the sanding, for goodness sake
The objective here is to sand the metal using progressively finer grit until you get the look you want. This is the finish that will appear through the blue. I started with 180 grit and worked up to 600, producing a mirrorlike, scratchless, even sheen.

Be careful around straight edges, screw holes and stampings. Use sanding blocks to keep the surface even; I found small, old, cut to size kitchen sponge worked pretty well -- it can be formed and holds its shape, which is useful for sanding around the receiver. Don't forget in a fit of squaddie-like enthusiasm to keep a light touch, otherwise you'll mess things up. 

non satis
A lot of elbow grease and patience later, the receiver was looking acceptable. There was some pitting, understandable in a rifle that's nearly a hundred years old, but I can live with that as it's mostly below the stockline and won't be seen. If you're keen you can file the pitting out and blend the hole in to the rest of the surface. I didn't think that was necessary for this old warhorse.

Word to the wise. Be careful with the III safety catch; it's easy to remove and polish up but be sure it works when you reassemble and install -- work the bolt to ensure the action's smooth and if it is you've got it right. If not... don't try to brute force the bolt, take out the safety mechanism and start again, making sure its moving parts are in the correct position.

Then spray the beast with oil and admire your handiwork.

better still
Next step? More polishing.

Patience is a virtue. You can pray while you sand.


Sporterizing the Lee Enfield - Porch Project Pt. III

The thing about finishing the furniture of your rifle is that it takes time, a day or more between each application of oil/varnish, so that the finish has time to dry and cure. This means you have plenty of hours to start work on the metal. So don't be a slacker, get down to it.

sights off, stripper on
First things first, you gaze at the barreled action, wondering why the British Army in its infinite wisdom decided to coat the venerable III in some kind of thick, baked on, matte black paint.

get the paint off, LSP
After removing front and rear sights (tap out the holding pins) you brush on noxious K3 and wait for the stripper to work its magic. Ten minutes later you take plastic scraper to paint and wonder why so little of it comes off. After three or four goes at this you think, "This is incredibly annoying. Maybe I'd better use something stronger." A trip to Walmart and a can of Aircraft Remover later, you're there on the porch spraying and stripping. Use gloves, eye protection and avoid flame. The stuff explodes, apparently, like a bomb.

some kind of bomb
After an hour or so the paint's off, helped on its way by scraper and fine steel wool, revealing a somewhat pitted receiver and a decent enough looking barrel.

Next step? Polish the metal to prepare it for bluing.

Train Hard. Think Positive. Fight Easy.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sporterizing the Lee Enfield - Porch project Pt. II

nasty old rubbish
You've got your Lee. It's been "bubba'd" and you want to turn it into something nice, so you set-to on the porch and...

Sand the wood to 600 grit, but first strip off the gunky finish; I used K3 with a flexible plastic scraper and 0000 steel wool. Don't gouge the wood, for goodness sake, and make sure you sand with the grain.Then clean with mineral spirits, let dry, and apply the first coats of finish to seal the wood (x3 for me). Wipe on/off as per instructions.

Then fill the grain and build a finish by wet sanding with progressively higher grit (180 - 600++). Cut 1"x1.5" paper and use a block (I used a cut down old dish sponge -- flexible, some recommend a rubber eraser) to keep things even. Sand in small circles, using a thinned finish (I used Minwax Antique Oil Finish and Mineral Spirits, 1:2) until the finish becomes a little tacky and begins to take. Anyone familiar with "bulling" things will understand this instinctively. We used to "bull" our gasmasks till they shone like glass. Same idea, but more useful. See here for instructions.

what's with the Spyderco?
Anyway, when there's a sufficient slurry of oil/varnish and wood dust, wipe it gently counter-grain, just using the weight of a lint free cloth. This will fill the grain and make for  a respectable finish. Please, do not use steel wool in the process. It's a right mess and better off on pots 'n pans. Rottenstone/Flatstones? Knock yourselves out, but this is a quick truck gun fix -- if your truck's an Aston Martin and the Fix is some kind of Edwardian Tomfoolery. 

Leave the partially bulled wood to cure for a day or so and repeat the process till the grain is filled. Leave for a couple of days, buff up with hi-power polishing compound and there you go. I'm nearly at the end of the "fill the grain" bit.

getting there
Do not attempt any of this if you do not like sanding and/or have a heavy, clumsy, heretical hand. Do something else instead, like read Drudge, or ZeroHedge. Or...

You can work on the metal.

Good luck and God bless,


Sporterizing the Lee Enfield - Porch Project Pt. I

I had a choice. Buy a plastic stocked sporting rifle for around $400-500 or buy a sporterized Lee Enfield for $150, fix it up and have some decent wood and steel with Empire History. Your pal and mine, the Suburban Bushwacker, told me that I was "required by law" to go Empire and so I did. Several weeks later I had two sporters, a No. 4 and a Mk. III, both in the price range and crying out for further enhancement. For me, that means using the Lee Speed as a template; at least for the III, which is a Speed action.

Lee Speed
What next? I started work on the III. The objective being to practice finishing/refinishing the furniture (gun stock) before buying a new stock -- and preparing the metal prior to bluing. Why? Because I can't afford hundreds of dollars to send the thing off to Turnbulls for the blue and a thousand dollars for the custom stock. No. I have to save those $$ for a 4x4 pickup. So, I figured I'd do it myself and here it goes, first things first, by way of the porch.

Here's the III.

It's a BSA from 1917, factory refurbed in '31 and '53. Bore's bright, serials match and it's covered with thick black baked on paint. The stock's a mix of Walnut (butt) and something else at the forend.

what a filthy gopping mess
Cheaper than a handy set of double soled Veldtshoen (by far) and obviously ready for porch re-sporterization.

Say your prayers,


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Don't Mess With Texas

Some people have this idea that Texas is sort of backward, because it's not like France, or Brussels, or Dalston, or something. That's ridiculous, we're an advanced country.

benchmarking to best practice
We have software.

We have hardware.

Sometimes the two go together for awesome effect. Apologies to The Fact Compiler.

God bless,


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

.22 Shoot Out

Ruger, Higgins, Browning
After a brisk hell for leather and devil take the hindmost ride across the Waco countryside I got back to the manse to find my philisophic friend and all 'round sportsman, GWB, on the proverbial doorstep. With guns. .22s, in fact. After pounding the mahogany over curry we decided to take the guns out for a shoot the next day. Which .22 was best?

There were three contenders. A Browning take-down, a Ruger 10/22 carbine, and a J.C. Higgins tube fed bolt action, all with iron sights. The winning rifle would be the most accurate, most reliable, give the best bang for the buck and be the most fun to shoot. Look, feel and finish were also important. Ranges to be at 100, 50 and 25 yards, against a variety of targets -- a steel plate turkey, coke cans, a piece of aluminium scrap metal, a silhouette and steel plate spinners of various sizes (serving plate down to silver dollar). Shooting positions standing, kneeling and prone, no bench resting.

fix that gun
A great plan but when we got out in the field the wind was so fierce that it was hard to stand up, not dissimilar to shooting into a wind tunnel; accuracy was going to suffer. Still, you live in Texas, you want to shoot, so deal with the wind.

All the rifles did well. The Ruger came out tops for accuracy at 100 yards, which surprised me. The Higgins did best at 50 yards, making swift work of assorted soda cans  and the Browning was... OK. Reliability went to the Browning, which performed flawlessly. The Ruger was good for the most part, but suffered the occasional stove pipe, and the Higgins went down at one point with a malfunctioning bolt (fixed with a quick bout of field surgery). Word to the wise -- don't waste your money on a 30 round Butler Creek magazine with plastic lips for the 10/22. They're rubbish. At least the one we tested simply didn't work.

Bang for the buck? That has to go to the Ruger, which is hard to beat at $197 from Academy Sports. The Higgins came in second, with plenty of bang for around 100 pawn shop bucks, but it's a 50/60 year old rifle. The Browning has to rank third. This .22 is beautiful and you pay for it, at around $700+++ per gun and, go figure, it works well. Well it should at that price but is it any more accurate than the Ruger or the Higgins? I don't think so, maybe less. Still, it's a beauty.

Fun to shoot? I'd have to go for the Ruger because it's neat to blast off 30 semi auto rounds in no time at all. More exciting than the deliberation of the Higgins bolt and the stymied 10 round Browning magazine. As for look feel and finish, that depends on the shooter, but for me, the Higgins felt and shouldered best, followed by the Ruger. I didn't like the Ruger's cheap and nasty plastic butt plate and forearm band, and its inletting could've been better. But at $197? A deal. For overall appearance and total elegance, the Browning wins hands down. So it should, at its price.

The best gun, overall? The 10/22. It's America's favorite .22 for a reason. That said, don't scoff at second hand deals, like the Higgins. An accurate and well enough made rifle, but be prepared for the odd eccentricity. After all, it's an old gun. The Browning is great. If you have the $$$ get one. I shot my first rounds with one when I was 7 and enjoyed it then. I do now, even if the thing ejects hot brass into the sleeve of your coat.  

So. If you're a man of means, get a Browning. If you're on a miserable stipend get a 10/22, probably better value new and right out of the box than many slightly cheaper second hand bargains. Save up and get one.

Shoot straight,


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sandman - Fixing up a Lee

If you see a sportered Lee Enfield No. 1 Mk. III, with a decent bore, matching serials and good looking BSA stamp (1917), all for the price of a cheap pair of shoes... well, you buy it, of course. Then you stare at it for awhile and like a child fascinated by the workings of a watch, take it apart.

tools of the trade
The metal was covered with a thick coat of baked on black paint from a 1951 refurb and the wood was covered in some kind of badly applied finish; I'd guess gloopily applied linseed oil. After removing the paint  with a mixture of K3 Stripper, Aircraft Remover, a plastic scraper and fine grade steel wool, I turned my attention to the wood.

First you strip off the old finish. I used K3 and it's easy to use, in a noxious kind of way. Brush on the stripper and let it work its chemical magic for around 10 minutes. Then scrape off the finish with a flexible plastic scraper. Use gloves, work with the grain, don't gouge the wood. Repeat, then repeat again, this time using steel wool. After several goes the old finish is off. Clean the wood with mineral spirits and enjoy the look of the thing; you'll have a glimpse of how it'll appear when it's refinished. Then...

You sand, and sand, and sand, and sand.

in between sanding -- use a tack cloth

I started with 180 grit and worked up through 600. Use a sanding block or your work will be uneven (some suggest a rectangular rubber eraser -- I used an old dish sponge I'd cut down to size). Be careful around stampings and sharp lines. Clean the wood between sandings with a tack cloth.

Some time later the wood will done. Clean it off with mineral spirits and congratulate yourself on the sheer patience of the thing; the stock is now ready for finishing.

Don't attempt this if you are an impatient, nervous, erratic person who doesn't like sanding. 

Also, don't lose sight of your Lenten rule, whatever that may be.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Rowan Resigns!

It is over. 

Rowan Williams, successor to the Throne of Augustine, has announced his resignation. Courageous, incisive, strong and, above all, clear. These are just some of the words that sum up this fearless defender of the faith.

Druid, Islamic jurist, Arian, Rowan will vacate the See of Canterbury in November for his beloved Cambridge, where he will become Master of Magdalene College.

Electric Kool-Aid
We will miss you, Rowan. You helped to make the Church of England the greatness that we experience today.

Rowan with "Scally"
Bets are on that John "Scallywag" Sentamu will succeed Rowan Williams as Achbishop of Canterbury.

That will be awesome.

Kyrie Eleison.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Shot Dead

I was driving to the local Tom Thumb after early morning Mass in Dallas when I noticed flashing lights in the rear-view. The cops were out in force.

Seems that a gunman was waiting outside the local Western Union for a cash delivery. When the armored car pulled up everything got "stand and deliver" but the driver wasn't having any of that, so he got shot in the arm, returned fire and fatally wounded the robber, who died later in hospital. 

I use that Western Union from time to time. Maybe I'll reconsider.

Stations of the Cross tonight. 

Die to wickedness and sin.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Throwing the Cat

In the tumultuous days of the early nineteenth century, when Reform and Riot were in the air of England and the French Revolution loomed large across the Channel, Archbishop Howley sat on the throne of Augustine in Canterbury.

Howley was an old-fashioned High-Churchman and an opponent of Reform, which prompted an angry mob to attack his carriage on the rough streets of Canterbury. Howley's Chaplain exclaimed:

"Your Grace, they have thrown a dead cat at me!" To which the prelate replied, "You may thank God, sir, it was not a live one."

There's a moral in that, if you care to draw it, for today's Church.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Starchild Space Alien?

Ground-breaking scientific research has revealed that a mysterious skull, discovered in a Mexican tunnel, may not be human.

After extensive DNA testing, the outsize cranium, popularly known as "Starchild", was shown to have different mtDNA than normal humans, with a much larger number of nucleotides than a usual person.

This has lead some experts to speculate that the Starchild is a space alien, “foreign to normal human genetics within the framework of that subject as it is currently understood... definitely not from planet Earth."

ACoC Bishop
Others disagree. "The Starchild isn't a space alien, it's a hybrid," said one source, "It's probably just the swollen skull of an ACoC bishop. Part human, part something else."

Human, hybrid or alien, Starchild remains a mystery. ACoC continues its journey into the far reaches of the stellar void.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Children of the Sun

Sunday morning sunrise. Roosters.

If anyone had suggested that a couple of years ago I would've laughed. "Don't be ridiculous," I would've said. But you know, God can build up as well as cut you down.

Just sayin'.

Shoot straight.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Drive a Stake Through its Black Heart

Old news I know, but MERS is dead, thanks to Judge Grossman, which is a good result if you're looking down the barrel of foreclosure in Florida and elsewhere.

For some reason bankers are resigning by the bucketful. 116 of them as of today, apparently.

Now why would that be?

Stay on the horse,