Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sporterizing the Lee Enfield - Porch Project Pt. VI

I've been told, by a notable outdoor blogger, that the recent spate of tornadoes were caused by my "boss" being angry at me for running off to the range instead of focusing on the Lee porch project. Rather than risk the wrath of God and his messenger, I applied grit to metal.

The bolt looked nasty, covered in chipped black paint and generally dinged about, but that was soon fixed by steady application of 150 - 600 grit, followed by burgers on the grill and some company around the rarely used dining table.

clamp 'n vise
Bolt seen to, it was back to the barreled receiver. The barrel had been polished to 400 grit and had to advance to 600 in order to achieve a uniform finish with the receiver and newly shiny bolt. Wouldn't want the thing to appear two-tone, for goodness sake.

So I rigged up a small vise and clamp arrangement on the porch and got to work, which wasn't easy because half the congregation took the opportunity to swing by and visit. But I like that; far better than skulking away in an office pretending to be an "administrator". No danger of that when you're polishing gunmetal -- on the porch. You'd be surprised at how much pastoral work gets done that way instead of gazing numbly at a monitor. You can pray, too.

In a fit of enthusiasm, read the book, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and polish the whole business to 1000 grit. I thought it looked good, shining like a light saber in the sun. 

Next step? Refinish the trigger guard, attach new front and rear sights (tempted by a 2 leaf express) and blue. In the meanwhile, order some wood and finish the nearly done butt stock.

God bless,



The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Good to see you getting on with it

LSP said...

Don't want any more tornadoes now, do we, SBW.

Mattexian said...

Looks like it's coming along great. Also looks like a LOT more work than I want to put into any of my guns of that same era (1914 Swedish 96), I prefer the "as issued" look, only cleaning them up when needed with oil and 0000 steel wool. (Sometimes I let them go a little long between fondling and re-oiling, as they stay in the closet in favor of my more modern Warsaw Pact surplus carbines.)

LSP said...

It is a lot of work, Mattexian. But I'm looking at the project in several ways. 1: to get two cheap but interesting/effective sporting guns and 2: to learn some basic refinishing skills. And, well, because SBW sort of challenged me into it... Also makes for good R&R between the various evolutions of Mission ministry!

Enjoy that AK.

Anonymous said...

I've been following the progress of your Lee Enfield with great interest, having acquired an old No. 4 Mark 1* sporter recently myself. Quickly learned it's not just a single gun project; it's an archeological dig and near fulltime quest for information. I always wanted one of the old Lees because of their historical role in African hunting, but it's the first non-Mauser-type bolt I've owned and it takes awhile to figure it out. I'm currently refinishing the Bishop stock that came with it and will be tackling the medal finishing soon. I have no access to hot blue tanks and would not trust myself with one anyway, so I'm planning to use either cold blue liquid or paste. One of the major gun equipment sites carries a no-heat spray called Aluma-Hyde™ II that caught my eye, but I really prefer bluing if possible. I know you mentioned doing a rust bluing. If so, how did that go? If not, which option did you select? FYI, your site is the best source for sporterizing an Enfield I've seen, and I have searched out a LOT of them.
Fellow Enfield slave in San Antone

LSP said...

Thanks, Anon.

Your comment's timely; I'm just about to restart the project after a month or so's break.

I want to try the rust method because it seems to produce a better looking, more durable finish, and it can be done without tanks (I'm not going to invest in those)-- with steam. Also, it seems like an interesting skill to learn.

So, in the next few weeks I'll buy some Pilkington solution and post the result.

Saying that, some friends highly recommend Oxpho-Blue and tell me it's far less labor intensive.

The best way forward, I think, is to try various solutions on a small piece of metal and see which one looks best -- then go down that route.

Of course beauty's in the eye of the beholder and finish will vary according to the look/use you're after in the rifle. I'm aiming for something more classical than not with the III -- the #4's going to be different again...

Lees are addictive beasts, aren't they!

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Was reading a couple of your latest postings on the Lee and saw your reply to my own post.
I ended up going the Oxpho-Blue creme route after a lot of research and hemming-and-hawing. I briefly considered the Van's and the Super Blue stuff, but the Oxpho seemed to have the longest and best track record -- at least according to the MANY, MANY customer reviews I read (it is really appalling to see how few people can write grammatical sentences or spell on a third grade level).
In any event, had to order the Oxpho online and paid more for shipping than the blue, but results are outstanding. Just finished up the final coats in my backyard. Barrel came out deep blue black; receiver slightly less so which tells me it's harder metal. Still quite presentable though and a huge improvement over the fading original military finish. My backyard faces the west so I let the sun warm up the metal before application; otherwise followed the directions on the barrel. I did do a lot of metal preparation; ie, sanding and polishing.
My dad was a gifted amateur gunsmith and kept his own bluing tanks, but I did not want to mess with something that toxic and expensive. I was tempted by rust bluing, but a little worried too that I might ruin the whole works, so I'd be interested in knowing how your rust blue works out.
Now that I'm rounding the home stretch of the No. 4 I find myself tugged in the direction of refinishing an original No III SMLE. I'm hoping that once I sit down awhile in the shade the madness will pass, but you never know.

LSP said...

Good to hear from you, Anon.

Glad the Oxpho turned out well -- several gun people have recommended it to me. So I'm tempted; but I'll give the rust a shot and see how it works.

Have a go at the III, it'd be interesting to bring it back to original spec. I enjoy my military #4 and wouldn't mind center bedding it etc, but first -- fix up the sporters...


PS. send pics of your 4 and I'll post 'em, if you like.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if I do end up redoing a Smelly, it will be another previously sporterized job, with an eye toward recreating a Lee Speed. The No. 4 I picked up already had a Bishop stock which only needed refinishing. It's a Monte Carlo, but a conservative one, and after sanding and True Oil it is really nice. Couldn't bring myself to try rasping it down to classic form. A Lee Speed should really be a No. III anyway. I appreciate the original military rifles and would not want to sporterized a genuine collectable, but I'm not a military collector myself. It's the Lee's historical role as a sporter in colonial Africa that interests me. W.D.M. Bell among many others used one, and I'd like to see what I can reproduce. Sure can't afford an original given what they're selling for these days.

LSP said...

Similar thoughts here, Anon.

I really like the look of the Speeds and started the current project with just that in mind.

The problem, at least for me, is getting correct stock dimensions and I hesitate to "eyeball" it, based on pictures alone.

That probably means that my III will end up looking like a bit of a Parker Hale/Speed cross, which sounds a little odd but not bad for all that.

Still, I'll probably get another forestock and butt from Boyds and have a go, rasp in hand, at the recreation. I'd have to get someone else to do the all important Speed style checkering...

With you, the miserable stipend doesn't stretch to buying an original.

Beautiful guns.