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Advice re my first SMLE

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wanderer42 View Drop Down
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    Posted: September 28 2010 at 8:10pm
Just joined the forum following my first purchase of a 1942 Lithgow SMLE from a dealer in the big smoke. Unlike others with the same pedigree this rifle had an excellent bore and action and too good to be true timber and fittings. On the way home I took the rifle to gunsmith who has re-built many of these rifles and he said that the timber was reproduction from Vietnam but the rest was "better than most" he had seen. I was very pleased that I had bought a quality rifle as all the prior research I had done had suggested buyer beware, but was a bit disappointed that I had bought an only partly original piece of Aussie history.
 
My question is how much does this fact affect the collectability of my rifle? Ididn't just buy as a collector it will get plenty of use on the range and hunting but it is always reassuring to have something that will increase in value should push come to shove in the collection. Is it worthwhile looking out for original timber to re-fit to the gun? I understand that these later model rifles didn't necessarily have serial no's engraved in the timber so would that bring it back to original?
 
I have attached photos of the rifle for any who are interested plus one of the engravings on the knox form. I would appreciate advice on what the se might mean, I understand the R means that at some stage the bore was rusted (not the case now) but the other characters are hard to read due to old rust damage, any clues? I haven't had a look at the marks on the side of the receiver as they are obscured by the timber and I have a long history of breaking things I love by pulling them apart without due care.
 
Appreciate any advice Cheers
 
 
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LE Owner View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LE Owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 28 2010 at 8:44pm
I hadn't heard of SMLE stock sets coming from Vietnam, though the AI No.4 Rifles are supposed to have some parts that were imported from Vietnam.
Unless theres some marking to indicate for certain that it came from Vietnam I'd be more likely to figure the wood came from India.
 
The wood does resemble shesham wood from India, but all the post WW2 replacement fore ends I've seen used the cross strap at the rear rather than the older cross pin and stock bolt lock plate that yours has.
 
If that difficult to make out marking on the flat of the Knox Form is JJco then the rifle was either refurbished or built up from parts by the J Jovino company of New York. These oftenhave very nice looking stocks from varied and usually unknown sources. They also don't have the copper recoil shoulder inserts that a Lithgow of that vintage should have.
 
I wouldn't worry much about the wood the rifle sits in so long as its properly fitted.
The vast majority of Enfields got a face lift sooner or later in their carreer.
If there aren't any copper recoil inserts these can be retrofitted if you like.
 
Nice looking rifle.
I vaguely remember there being something unusual about Lithgows with polished brass stock bands, but can't think of what it was off hand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MNJack762 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 28 2010 at 10:53pm
While I can't answer your questions about your rifle, I can say that it's absolutely gorgeous!  Own it with pride.

MJ
I am holding you by your right hand--I, the LORD your God. And I say to you,
"Do not be afraid. I am here to help you". - Isaiah 41:13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote A square 10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2010 at 3:13am
ill second my neighbors thoughts on that being a very handsome rifle and ill agree with the JJco probability , there were a bunch of 22 trainers they made up as well that looked fresh off the assembly line

i saw a few at gunshows here in minnesota  over the last few years
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2010 at 6:25am
The stamp on the knox form certainly looks like JJco, although I dont think too many of their rifles came back to Australia. Maybe someone imported it but that would be an expensive exercise considering there are still some cheap rifles floating around here. The serial number would giv a clue.
I have heard of the replacement stocks from Vietnam but I have never seen one so couldnt tell you if that is one or not, I am not sure what sort of wood it is but its nice.
As far as the brass band goes, originally it would have been blackened, they were just another material they used during the war. I heard a story once that they were on Naval rifles but I dont think that is correct as lots of Lithgows have them.
Anyway, nice rifle shoot and enjoy it.
By the way where in Australia are you?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LE Owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2010 at 7:08am
Just remembered, in part, where I'd seen the high polished Brass Band on a rifle.
It like yours was in NIB condition and had a very handsome stock of a wood that was more towards a chocolate brown in color.
Someone had posted an image of it on a blog, and I think they said it was a newly assembled rifle they had bought in Australia.
Could be some Australia based associate of JJco had been involved in importing the Lithgow receivers and parts to the US and wound up with some parts that they had assembled years later for the Australian market.
Civilian ownership of firearms has been touch and go in Australia at times so they may not have had a market for these rifles during the time frame that the Jovino rifles were being sold in the US.
 
Just a rough guess based on very slight information, but possibly worth looking into.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2010 at 5:06pm
The rifles and parts the Jovino got from Australia were the remaining stocks from Government stores.
There were new rifles and new parts including actions which had never been numbered.
They were sold out of the country to get rid of them, the government of the day did not want to let them go to civilians. Some were offered to service personnel at cheap prices.
I seem to recall that some of them were stamped with the JJco stamp prior to leaving Australia so it is possible that some could have remained and been sold off here.
I think the transfer was done through a major gun shop here so they may have kept a few.
As I said before the key may be the serial number as I am sure that the rifles that were assembled for Jovino had a suffix where the originals had a prefix.
As far as the brass bands are concerned, if they are not black then the coating has been removed and they have been polished.
All in all that is a nice rifle and should indeed shoot well all else being equal.
The market has always been here for the rifles but some states in the past have had lax gun laws where others have been very strict.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wanderer42 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2010 at 8:30pm
Thanks all for your advice and input, I agree the stamp does look like JJco with a N.Y. below the R, very interesting! The serial numbers on the receiver, bolt and nosecap are E908 but there is T999 stamped on the flat section on the top of the receiver just next to where the cocking piece is sitting and under where the bolt lever is sitting when the bolt is closed as in the photo above.
Have only shot a few rounds from it so far, the front sight is off centre by approx 1mm so it is shooting to the right of centre but otherwise shoots pretty close groups considering the shooter is more used to .22 rimfire recoil and noise or lack of I should say. Will correct the sight this weekend and try to zero the rifle in. Lithgow I am located just out of Bundaberg Qld, the rifle was purchased in Toowoomba Qld.
 
Thanks again keep up the good work!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2010 at 9:04pm
I am not up on the serial numbers but maybe someone else can tell you if that number is right for the year.
The R with the curly tail did signify rust but I wouldnt be too worried if shoots ok.
I am in W.A. Welcome to the forum by the way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LE Owner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 30 2010 at 2:13am
Originally posted by wanderer42 wanderer42 wrote:

Thanks all for your advice and input, I agree the stamp does look like JJco with a N.Y. below the R, very interesting! The serial numbers on the receiver, bolt and nosecap are E908 but there is T999 stamped on the flat section on the top of the receiver just next to where the cocking piece is sitting and under where the bolt lever is sitting when the bolt is closed as in the photo above.
 
The T999 number is almost certainly the PAA Proofed Action Assembley number. Normally there would be the same number on the underside of the bolt handle the two numbers facing each other when the bolt is closed. The PAA is not the rifle serial number, that was applied later. The PAA was used to track the action body and its handfitted bolt through the proofing and assembley processes so bolts didn't get exchanged.
The PAA was usually ground off during final finishing, but I've seen it still clearly visible on Lithgow rifles.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wanderer42 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 01 2010 at 8:28pm
Thanks LE Owner, the PAA numbers are indeed repeated on the underside of the bolt handle along with a star right on the join between the the knob and handle. The JJco thing had me concerned that I had bought a parts rifle but if the receiver, bolt and nose cap all match I presume it is original and that Lithgow's theory about it may be correct.
Tried to move the front sight across this morning by putting a timber block under the front sight base and knocking the sight across with a punch and hammer but it wouldn't budge. Put ten rounds through today and it consistently shoots at least 12" to the right at 100yds. Any suggestions on how to move the sight across without damaging sight or barrel?
 
Thanks again
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lithgow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 01 2010 at 10:11pm
All Lithgows I have seen retain the PAA number.
The foresight will move but beware, the barrel is very easily bent. You are doing the right thing in supporting the barrel.
Support it on something very solid and use a brass drift to move the sight.
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