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.



Silverfiddle said...

I am impatient, but I found the sanding, staining, finishing, sanding, finishing... relaxing when I prepped all the woodwork for a home fixer-upper project. Drinking a beer while doing it helped, I guess.

While stationed in Afghanistan, I had a few opportunities to buy an Enfield.

The Afghanis were selling them, and they were all pieced-together crap, but the design work they did on the stocks was amazing, with inlaid stones and intricate patterns. No two were the same.

That is what intrigued me, but the silk road bandits were asking way too much, so I ultimately decided against it. Wish I hadn't now...

LSP said...

I agree, Silverfiddle, it is pretty relaxing; a beer certainly helps.

Interesting Afghan experience -- I've seen pictures of the rifles. Be neat to own one.

Of course our friends in India are still making Lees, but I think they're chambered for 7.62.

Fun rifle to shoot; I like the history of them, and the action. They can be accurate too.

Will have to see how my two "project guns" come along... in no rush though.