Friday, March 30, 2012

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.



The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I find all that polishing very soothing, keep at it and spare a though for Nurse Mc - now he's at Watson Bros this is all he does day in day out - with another six years to go!


LSP said...

It is soothing and, I think, a bit of a stress reliever. So that's all good.

I'll be sure to spare a thought -- 6 years...