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Working out some loads.

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Printed Date: September 19 2020 at 6:01pm
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Topic: Working out some loads.
Posted By: 303 Hunter
Subject: Working out some loads.
Date Posted: July 26 2020 at 5:24pm
Last week I shot my No.4 mkI* to work out seating depth. The load was woodleigh 174 grain weldcore protected point bullets on top of 46 grains of BL-C(2) powder, Federal 210 LR primers loaded in partial full length sized R.P cases.
I started at 3.046” to be .025” off of lands worked up at .005” intervals to .005” off of lands with four round strings. The below picture is of the first load at 3.046” C.O.A.L and grouped into 6 and 1/8 inches centre to centre at 100 yards.

The rifle is shooting to the left so only three rounds of the next load hit the target and they are loaded to 3.051” and grouped 2.475 inches.

The next load has a C.O.A.L of 3.056” and again because of the rifle shooting left only three rounds hit the target and grouped 4.259” centre to centre.
The fourth load is loaded at 3.061” and grouped 5.441 inches.

The last load has a C.O.A.L of 3.066” and grouped 3.236 centre to centre.

Below is a picture of the rifle.


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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz



Replies:
Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 26 2020 at 6:25pm
Go with load 4.



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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 26 2020 at 7:23pm
Based on these limited tests, I’d agree, load 4 gave the best results.  

My minimum tests are four ten shot groups.  I’ve learned over the years it’s just not possible to determine the best load from 5 shots.  5 shot groups will weed out loads that won’t group well, but won’t tell you the loads that will group well repeatedly.  

Repeatable results are everything.  




Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: July 27 2020 at 5:07am
You might want to try a 150 gr Hornady Spire Point.


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: July 27 2020 at 11:41am
The reason that the test are limited is because I only have twenty R.P brass cases to work with for that rifle.
Honkytonk, I could try some 150 grain bullets but I liked the performance of the Woodleigh bullets on the deer I shot last year and as I have been drawn for elk and moose this season I want to make sure that I have enough bullet for them.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: July 27 2020 at 12:40pm
Good point. For open sites, your last grouping, in my opinion, is very acceptable! More than enough for big game. P.S. That is a really nice looking rifle!


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 27 2020 at 2:23pm
Depending on where the other two shots went, group 2 might be better.   Try to get all 5 on paper before you settle on a load.  

I’ve not found much difference in accuracy with bullet seating depth, most LE barrels have long throats, all 5 of my No. 4 rifles do, I can’t get anywhere near the lands, the bullet would be out of the case.  I’ve tested COAL ranging from 3.04 to 3.10 with no significant change in the average center to center spread of 10 shot groups.  

But, this is not to say it won’t make a difference in your rifle.  I just wouldn’t put a lot of stock in a single group of five shots.  




Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 27 2020 at 5:05pm
Your groups look basically good. The center, as you say as to the left. Adjust the front sight  a little to the left (front sight moves INTO the error) Then try again.


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: July 28 2020 at 11:27am
As you have the fore end cut down, it may affect the accuracy. What up pressure is applied to the barrel at the front band area (that would mid band on the standard fore end) You would probably require around 12lbs pressure. That would be similar to what bedded rifles from Fultons would have. It will probably help with the accuracy.

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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: July 28 2020 at 12:43pm
Originally posted by Honkytonk Honkytonk wrote:

Good point. For open sites, your last grouping, in my opinion, is very acceptable! More than enough for big game. P.S. That is a really nice looking rifle!
Thank you Honkytonk.

I realize that seating depth doesn’t matter as much on a rifle with a long throat but you need to remember that my No.4 has the new Criterion barrel on it so it doesn’t have a long throat.

Zed, I’m not sure how much pressure is on the barrel as I don’t have a means to gage it.
The stock is a L42 A1 stock and was put on by Lee Enfield Restorations in Saskatchewan when they rebarrel it for me. If it makes a difference it’s also shooting 8-9 inches high.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 28 2020 at 1:54pm
Check with britrifles. He had an issue with a Criterion barrel shooting wonky on his M1.


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 28 2020 at 2:54pm
You can remove the handguard and slip a sheet of shim stock or paper under the barrel bearing.  To measure the barrel bearing pressure correctly, raise the muzzle off the bearing with a spring scale having someone hold the rifle inverted on a bench such that it is supported at the front of the receiver and butt stock.  I made myself a simple stand to do this.  




Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: July 28 2020 at 10:35pm
The L42a1 fore end will be probably larger diameter inside for clearance around the heavy barrel fitted to that rifle. If your using the standard .303 barrel you won't have any support unless it was modified when being fitted to your rifle. Definitely worth looking at; as the wood plays an important part for accuracy with the standard barrel.

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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: July 29 2020 at 11:26am
Britrifles can you give me a little more detailed instructions with pictures on how to check the barrel bearing pressure.

Explosive, the trigger is fine.

Zed, there is a gap above the barrel but there is some contact on the bottom.

I appreciate the advice been given here although there two other things that also have an affect on accuracy and they are the recoil and tall grass obscuring the target.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 29 2020 at 11:38am
Goosic is correct, the L42 had a free floating heavy barrel, so unless the guy who installed your new barrel also bedded it to the forend, you won’t have any barrel pressure to measure.  Incidental, a free floated No. 4 service weight barrel can’t be expected to shoot accurately, the forend barrel bearing provided dampening or barrel vibration for improved accuracy.  


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: July 29 2020 at 12:03pm
Okay, tell me how and I will give it a go.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 29 2020 at 2:33pm
303 Hunter, first check if the barrel can freely bend in all directions at the front end of the forend.  Grasp the forend and barrel with both hands and see if the barrel moves in all directions.  If it does, it’s not likely there is any barrel bearing support in the forend (except at the chamber reinforce), in which case, there is nothing to check, the barrel is free floating.  You might want to consider adding a barrel bearing support to the forend to give approx 12 to 14 lbs up pressure on the barrel at the sling swivel band. 


Posted By: WilliamS
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 9:22am
Explosive, how on earth is a nearly six inch group at 100 yards fine?  I expect 3-4 MOA out of my milsurps... better from sporters.  If that is your standard then I am not surprised you see no difference with or without upward pressure.


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 9:31am
Explosive - you are easily pleased.
My Milsurps all shoot 1MoA (except the No5 when it gets hot)

Open (iron) sights at 82 yards (75 metres)Prone, with only elbow support.
No4 Mk1*

2 Warming Shots at 10:00 then 5 rounds.






Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 9:34am
Originally posted by 303 Hunter 303 Hunter wrote:

Okay, tell me how and I will give it a go.
Shamu had stated to make some adjustments to the front sight by drifting it to the left in increments.  Do that first. The center bedding method is what is recommended for your rifle now due to its current configuration. The areas circled in red are where your barrel needs to be making contact with the wood. Criterion barrels have the exact same contours of an original No4 and needs to be bedded to the furniture the same way it left the factory to maintain its accuracy.  Barrel harmonics during live fire without proper bedding in place will show up on a target as horizontally strung shots. The Armourer IIRC, has a copy of Capt. Peter Laidler's  article on the correct stocking up methods. The supplied photo is courtesy of E.G.B. Reynolds 


Posted By: WilliamS
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 10:10am
Load #5 provides a much better starting point than load #4.




Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 10:17am
Everybody please settle down.


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 12:31pm
303 Hunter, if you want to check the contact pressure when you're testing the fore end to barrel fit. You can use a rig like Britrifles, with the rifle upside down. If you fill water bottles to the correct weight and hang them off the muzzle. This will give the deflection equivalent of the up pressure. A piece of paper fitted between the bedding and the barrel should just pull free when the adjustment is correct. You can adjust the amount of water to see what the load is. You can shim using gasket material or thin wood shims.

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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:19pm
IMHO, I do think the original No. 4 barrel bearing at the forend works very well.  The downfall is that it is more susceptible to humidity and temp changes than the Mid or Centre bearing.  Many years of development and experimentation to improve target accuracy did produce tangible results.  

A well set up No. 4 with standard muzzle bearing and match grade handloads should repeatedly put 10 shots under 2 MOA off the bench with scope sighting.  Mid band or Centre bearing should group under 1.5 MOA.  Some will be better than this, if so, you are fortunate.  

A free floated service weight barrel will not likely consistently group 10 rounds under 6 MOA.  The groups will be vertically strung, but lateral fliers can also occur as the barrel vibrates in an oval pattern at the muzzle.  



Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:26pm
Originally posted by Explosive Explosive wrote:

Understanding the effects of barrel harmonics and oscillation

WHY FLOATING A BARREL INCREASES ACCURACY.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGEh_GYgZqk" rel="nofollow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGEh_GYgZqk


Well, not too likely this guy knows more about accurizing Lee Enfield Rifles than Fultons of Bisley or Parker Hale, or the many skilled armourers who spent a lifetime fitting forends to get the best accuracy for the highly competitive national and international Service Rifle matches ....

Just my view, but hey, maybe they were all wrong and this guy knows something we don’t?


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:31pm
Nope!  Smile


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:31pm
Originally posted by Explosive Explosive wrote:

Understanding the effects of barrel harmonics and oscillation

WHY FLOATING A BARREL INCREASES ACCURACY.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGEh_GYgZqk" rel="nofollow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGEh_GYgZqk
On some rifles Explosive, some.
The Lee Enfield rifles NEED to be bedded correctly along the length of the forend furniture to maintain its accuracy. Anything less and accuracy falls off dramatically.  Master Armourer Captain Peter Laidler, E.G.B. Reynolds, Ian Skennerton and a multitude of other Enfield rifle professionals including the folks that originally designed and manufactured the rifles will attest to. This is one area of expertise that you are obviously not privy to. 


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:39pm

[/QUOTE]

My LB sporter tells me you don't have a clue.                Watch the video above.[/QUOTE]
You keep throwing these little jabs at us proclaiming we do not have a clue and that your rifles will outshoot anything we have and top it off with unsafe reloading practices.  Why? What are you trying to accomplish here Mick? Making friends is definitely not one of them.


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:43pm
Originally posted by Explosive Explosive wrote:

Originally posted by Goosic Goosic wrote:

  Master Armourer Captain Peter Laidler,...


PMSLLOL


The proper way :



" ....................Now for the muzzle. This is where fact differs from fancy. Of all the new fangled methods of fitting fore-ends, with mastic this or rubber mounted that spring loaded wotsits or what-jer-ma-flik thingies that some have tried ….., some who really ought to know better incidentally, none of these methods has EVER been proved to out shoot a properly set up No4. And, to prove the point, not one other method ever got past the first trial when it came to out shooting the No4T. Yes, the muzzle, When you’ve got the back end fitted perfectly, this is what the good EMER says about the muzzle

‘The barrel must be absolutely clear for its whole length except for that described for the reinforce (we’ll come to that bit in a few moments). At the muzzle, it should bear for the full length (that’s about 2” or so) along the raised muzzle seating of the fore-end, for approx .3” of its radial width. Apart from this bearing, the barrel will be clear of the fore-end all around for a minimum of .020” and free of all other influence. The weight required to lift the barrel from this muzzle seating should be between 3 and 7 lbs. If the weight is below this, the barrel bearing at the reinforce should be lowered. Notice that! The front trigger guard screw is the pivot when fitting fore-ends. If the weight is above this, then the body and reinforce seating will be raised.

Well, we’ve done the rear end, we’ve done the muzzle and we’ve talked about lowering or raising the body and reinforce bearings ….., but where are they?

By now, you should have the fore-end sitting down on the body and a nice tight snug fit. There must not be ANY PLAY of the fore-end between the butt socket and the draws. That’s got that bit out of the way. You have also got the fore-end sitting down and bearing evenly at the muzzle. Now it’s time to smear a smidgin (an engineering phrase now, indicating just a tiny bit …..) of engineers blue onto the underside of the front of the body, where it houses the front trigger guard screw spigot and extend the blue backwards along the thin walls of the magazine housing for a distance of not less than 1.9” from the front of the body. This blued surface MUST ‘….bear evenly throughout its surface and at the same time, the fore-end must be clear of either side of the barrel socket of the body’. That is to say, the fore-end must only touch the front face of the butt socket, the draws and the front of the body extending for 1.9” rearwards, equally on both sides.

But before you get this bearing surface in the body you’ll find that the reinforce of the barrel is starting to bear. Remember how we very carefully chiseled of a gnats knacker or a sliver at a time from the draws? This is what you have to do with the wood at the underside of the barrel reinforce. Just a sliver away at a time being patient all the time until, and I’ll quote ….. ‘There must be a good bearing at the reinforce, extending for its full length and not less that a third of its radial width (we say that, that equates to just a smidgin over ½” radially …). It is important that this bearing is in the centre of the reinforce seating of the fore-end. The sides must be entirely clear of the barrel.

Some fore-ends have been found to be too low at the reinforce bearing and there’s no way of checking these before you start! Many came to light during the L42 programme and ….., I’m going off the subject, but just remember the ‘plate, reinforce’ saga! If your is low, then the only answer is to chisel it out and insert a hardwood insert….. or start again or just commit suicide………. The same applies to warped fore-ends I’m afraid and while I’ve come across a few, they were inevitably scrap

From all of this, your fore-end is perfectly fitted. The handguards must have no bearing on the barrel whatsoever. That is to say, a good,.020” clearance all round. 


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:45pm
Originally posted by Explosive Explosive wrote:

Originally posted by Goosic Goosic wrote:

  Master Armourer Captain Peter Laidler,...


PMSLLOL

Pissing Myself Laughing?
Shamu or Eric feel free to reprimand me as you see fit. 
Explosive.  You are an absolute disgrace to this forum and will never fit in based off of your ignorance alone. You are testing our patients and rocking the boat for whatever reason you have come up with. Take your negativity and find another group to irritate. 


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 1:51pm
Maybe he was in the Wyoming Navy and learned nothing ..........





Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 2:33pm
Originally posted by Explosive Explosive wrote:

Originally posted by Goosic Goosic wrote:



You keep throwing these little jabs at us proclaiming we do not have a clue and that your rifles will outshoot anything we have and top it off with unsafe reloading practices.  Why? What are you trying to accomplish here Mick? Making friends is definitely not one of them.


Knowledge is more important than popularity.


"Respect you knowledge, as it is the most important of all things. Without knowledge you shall understand of no thing. You shall die in the darkness for lack of it. Abuse it not, for it is the key of life itself that opens all eyes and all portals, and it shall show you The Way." 
   (Unknown author. )
You sir have yet to show any amount of knowledge in regards to anything you have presented us with currently. Now. Lack thereof, you have demonstrated in spades.  


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 2:59pm
Actually, I think Explosive is from Saskatchewan, Canada. Right to the west of my province of Manitoba, Canada. As a Canadian, I apologise for his behaviour on behalf of all Canadians... way to much banjo playing within the family.


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 3:02pm
I will say no more. He clearly knows more than all of us combined, and all who have come before.  Not sure why he is on this forum.  


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 10:07pm
Okay, thanks for the advice everyone!
I did the preliminary barrel wiggle test and I got upwards movement, very little side to side movement and no downward movement. Hope I’ll be able to find out how much pressure there is at some point over the weekend.
Although I don’t think that the central bedding will work for this stock because the two cuts in the stock on Goosic’s picture is one long cut on my stock.

As for the the load workout I’m going to do one more test between load five (because it grouped 3.236 inches with all rounds) and load two ( even though only three rounds hit the target I had a sheet of plywood behind it and I’m fairly sure I the other one hit just out side of my paper target and would only at about an inch too an inch and a half to the the total grouping still making it one of the tighter ones.)
Each load will have ten rounds. Haven’t decided if it will be one ten round string or two five round string per load.

Will post close up pictures of the stock so that you all can see what I’m seeing and can give your advice.

P.S I had noticed that explosive was hot tempered. It’s good to see him gone.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 10:38pm
Before getting too involved with the rifle adjustments; it's probably worth going back to the range with more rounds, and maybe a bigger target to at least see the fliers. 
Looking again at your target photos; I think the last photo shows promise, with 3 impacts on the same elevation. The sideways movement could be the shooter if your using iron sights. Try at least 10 rounds of that load and see how you get on.

Glad to see the back of "explosion". I don't like that kind of attitude. 


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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 10:46pm
Are you starting out at 100 yards?  If you are, may I make a recommendation that you start at 25 yards aiming at the bottom center of the bullseye and note where the bullets strike. Make front sight adjustments as needed. Move out to 50 yards and repeat the process aiming at the same point on the 25 yard target, making sight adjustments as needed and noting  where the bullets strike.  Move out to 75 yards and so on until you are at 100 yards. It is very time consuming but will give you a better understanding of how to make the rifle perform for you...


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: July 30 2020 at 11:06pm
I noticed something from you very first post. You are using 46 grains of the BL-C(2) powder behind a flatbased 174grn bullet. That is .5 grains from maximum charge.  According to Hodgdon reloading data,that round can generate around 42,900 CUP and a muzzle velocity of 2616 fps.
It might not seem like much but you might want to consider backing the charges down to the starting weight of 43.0 and having the recommended  COL of 3.075". You will.lose over 200 fps but you will also drop the pressure down almost 7000psi giving you a better burn and allowing the bullet to stabilize itself prior to and after leaving the barrel. It is my personal belief that you have too much of a bullet jump to the lands with your particular seating depth. 


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 31 2020 at 5:14am
Sounds like you have had the forend off.  If there is no perceptible downwards movement of the barrel, it must be making contact with the forend.  There might be a barrel bearing (raised piece of wood or Composite material).  Can you take a photo of the forend barrel channel for us.  

I’m not familiar with the L42 forends, but I do know they had sufficient clearance to free float the 4 lb heavy barrel, so there should be a lot of clearance around the Criterion barrel which is of standard service weight.

And Goosic brought up a good point, might want to back down on the charge weight, a mid range load should do well.  




Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: July 31 2020 at 5:21am
I also see that the 3.045 OAL was 0.025 off the lands, I assume you have measured that.   I can’t seat bullets to get anywhere close to the lands in any of my No. 4 rifles, about .25 inches as measured with a bullet comparator when seated to magazine length (3.075 max).  

46.0 grains of BL-2(C) with a bullet only .005 from the lands is a bit risky.  


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: July 31 2020 at 10:17am
The fore end on my L39 should be the same as the L42 with exception of the trigger area (receiver hung trigger) . I have a spare No4Mk1 fore end on my bench too so I'll try and get some photos this weekend to compare the two.
 the L39 wood is covered in some type of laquer and I've been meaning to strip it back to linseed oil it as original. So good reason to get started!


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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: August 02 2020 at 1:43pm
So I got a chance to compare the fore end's of the No4Mk1 and the L39A1 (similar to L42 for barrel channel). the L39 is basically made from a standard No4 type. But the barrel channel diameter is increased to approximately 1", for the heavy barrel; where the no4 is probably around 7/8" in the same area. The fore end is cut short just after the mid band.


The standard No4 barrel would be bedded at the centre bearing; as seen in Goosic's post. You can test using a wooden shim. I made some oak shims just for an experiment; in case I want to try accurising a rifle with this spare No4 fore end. i was able to curve the shim by heating it up in boiling water  until it became flexible, then set it in a press made from a steel tube. Once shaped it would be easy to fit for testing.
It may be worth looking at this type of bedding to improve the rifle.


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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: August 02 2020 at 2:19pm
Okay, here is the pictures of the forestock.
As you can see there is only one groove in the bottom of the stock so in order to improve the bedding I have right at the barrel band to work with unless I make some thing to fit the groove.

As for the load it self I have already worked up the powder charge and 46 grains was one of the better ones and I haven't really seen any pressure signs.
I did make a mistake on how long the freebore was. I thought that I had contact with the lands at 3.071 inches but I went back and checked it yesterday I found that I had contact with the lands at 3.150 inches so my bad.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: August 02 2020 at 5:28pm
If it were me, I would experiment with shims under the barrel at the middle band.  12 to 14 lbs works good in my No. 4 rifles that have bearings at the middle band. 

This pressure is measured at the muzzle, and corresponds to the upwards force needed to list the barrel off the bearing such that a thin shin (0.003 thick) will slip as you pull lightly.  The trick is that the rifle must be supported at the receiver and butt stock only, not by the forend.  

If you test with various shims and find what works best, you can bed the barrel with bedding epoxy, no  more than one third of the circumference of the barrel.  


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: August 02 2020 at 5:36pm
Note how the rifle is supported.  In this case, the rifle has standard barrel bedding at the muzzle, you will see a sheet of thin aluminum shim stock under the barrel at the muzzle bearing (front of forend) and a trigger scale in the muzzle. Pull down on the trigger scale and lightly pull on one end of the shim stock, increase pressure on the scale and note the reading when the shim stock begins to slip.  




Posted By: Pukka Bundook
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 6:02am
Simon,
 
With a half-stocked rifle, I don't think .303 can get an accurate reading at the muzzle, can he?


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 10:47am
That’s why it’s important to support the rifle as shown in the photo, the forend has no influence forward of the barrel bearing.  Of course, the thin shim (or paper) is placed between barrel and forend bearing which in his rifle will be at the middle Sling swivel band.  

Barrel bearing pressures are measured at the muzzle, regardless of the position of the bearing in the forend.  The desired pressures will not be the same between muzzle bearing, middle band bearing or center bearing.


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 10:57am
This old lecture from Peter Laidler in 2008 may be of interest :

L42 handguards

Peter Laidler 
Date: Sat 15 Nov 2008 10:02 am

The fore-end and handguards of the L42
Or how to turn a silk purse into a sows ear
By Peter Laidler

Unlike the same meat, different gravy L39, the now famous L42 was programmed differently. But before we go on a bit, let’s drop a whole bucketful of praise onto this famous Enfield offering. True, it is probably the rarest of the breed, possibly the most expensive, its price is rocketing skywards as we speak, in fact terms like world economic depression are almost alien to its upwards spiraling prices. It is without doubt, as accurate as anything before it and even though I’ll say it quietly, in reverence to the L96 stable, since….., but………… ! You’ll realize now, that all was not good about the L42 and I’ll tell you why…………….

The conversion programme from No4T to L42 was, as we all know, undertaken in several tranches at Enfield between 1970 and 81. The butts, if they were serviceable, remained with the original rifle and the same applied to the fore-ends but unlike the butts, the fore-ends were to be modified by an outside contractor. The reason for this is unknown to the author in spite of asking many questions. But it’s felt that there was little wood-machining facilities remaining at the Enfield factory at the time. Additionally, even if there were, the facilities that did remain, a left-over from the L1A1 era, the General Staff Requirement (the GSR) of 1080 L42s was insufficient to re-start it. But there you go! In their previous morphication from No4 to No4T, then if it was accurate enough to be selected as a telescope rifle as a plain No4, then provided it was put back, as it was, after conversion, then the accuracy would remain. And as a general rule, it did. This was (presumably) the thinking back in the 70’s. Put the same fore-end back onto the rifle and it should retain its accuracy as before.

Of course there were several differences. The first being that the fore-end was shorter BUT, as there was no barrel bearing from the reinforce forward, then already, life is easier. Additionally, if the OLD No4 barrel and body was a proper fit in the fore-end at the reinforce then given that the new reinforce was machined to exactly the same dimensions, then that too would be a perfect fit. And by and large, they were. So far, all is well ….., in theory.

The problems start when the fore-ends are sent out on a rotating basis to an outside contractor for conversion. Cutting the front end off is simple but it’s the simple mathematics of routeing a 1” half-round groove down a fore-end that’s narrowing towards the front that are flawed. When the 1” half round cutter gets to the front of the ‘new’ shortened fore-end, you’re left with a wood thickness of anywhere between .050 and .070” thickness at the top edges. What planet were they really on? Did they really need a 1” wide channel when the new barrel was only .830 or so in diameter? I ask this because when Armourers were fitting new fore-ends at Field and Base workshops, they would slide a .020” shimmed spacer between the barrel and fore-end, right down to the reinforce and if it cleared all the way, that was sufficient. So, .870” (.040” + .830”= .870”) is all that was really needed for the new barrel channel. That way you’d have a bit of meat spare on each of the top front ends of the fore-end. But no………. It wouldn’t be half as bad if the bodger with the routeing cutter machine routed it down the centre of the fore-end. But no! Of all those fore-ends that I’ve seen, it’s slightly off centre to the extent that while even the thicker side is thin, the thin side is, well……………

But that’s not all. After the conversion process, the fore-ends have been scraped or sanded off to within an inch of their lives. But not as you’d expect a half decent Armourer to do it ….. Oh no, not with a bit of care and thought as he’d been taught over years and years of his apprenticeship and during his service of care and consideration. The contractor had gone hammer and tongs with what seems to be a sanding belt and in doing so, had rounded the top edges making them thinner than the thin-ness they are already but also has run the sander into the upper band recess and as you’ll see later, has caused even more problems. Let me give you an example. At one particular Infantry unit I was charged with overseeing, the snipers would pull the sling tight, almost wrapping it around their arm and body and in doing so, pulling the top band backwards as they did so. You’ve got it in one! The fore-end at the band part was so sanded away that there was insufficient support for the band by what should be the edges of the band recess in the wood. So, the band would just pull in and chip away and take a gouge or two out of the bottom of the fore-end or just slip back, down the bloody fore-end! Then the top of the band would draw down into the band groove in the handguard and that’d split too. And so far, we’re only with the original Mk1 fore-ends already fitted! It gets even worse when it comes to the spares stockpiles ordered next!

As fitting a fore-end was a Field Workshop repair, the rifle, with its split handguard and fore-end would make its way to the workshops. There, in the days of plenty, a new fore-end would be ordered from Ordnance. The old handguard and fore-end would be put into a rack waiting for the day that once a pile had been gathered, they’d all be repaired in one hit. The ‘new’ fore-end would duly arrive from Ordnance. But that was only half the battle because the ‘new’ fore-end had been converted by the same butchers who had converted the original. Even previously new Mk2 types that were retro-modified to Mk1 spec were sanded to within an inch of their lives too, with thin front ends and off centre barrel routing channels. As for the modification to the rear, to retro modify from ‘open rear’ Mk2 to ‘closed rear’ Mk1 spec, well, words fail me! Many of those that I’d encountered were simply a bodge too. For example, even the back strap (that replaced the Mk2 type tie bolt and nut) wouldn’t sit into the recess machined for it, making it impossible to fit to the rifle right from the start.

Armourers soon started to file defect reports about the situation. I saw one with the report that came back from Ordnance to the effect that ‘……..most of the retro modified fore-ends were converted from second hand stocks, taken from scrapped or other well worn rifles and their condition reflect this’. I suppose that makes it alright then was my immediate thought! But that reply in itself was incorrect. Clearly some of the converted fore-ends were clearly converted from NEW stocks of Mk2 fore-ends. Indeed, some I saw were retro converted from a brand new very late Mk2 Fazakerley fore-end configured for the UF55A type rifles …., you know the sort, the partially completed No5 rifle bodies without the original cut-off block. We know this because Sgt Roger Xxxxx had to cut this away from the fore-end before he could even start to fit it to the rifle! I actually saw a new fore-end come straight from Ordnance, with the front top edges so thin that when the Armourer saw it, he came over to me, commented on it, pressed it between his finger and thumb and it cracked away before my very eyes. Yes, they were an absolute disgrace. As if to make them look a bit better (difficult…..) it looked as though they’d been given a bit of a quick blow job with a can of cheap varnish. Words fail me

It soon became apparent that it was easier to forget about ordering ‘new’ fore-ends and simply repair what you had. At least you knew it fitted! This was achieved by undercutting and dovetailing in a 2” or so long patch x 1” or so deep at the front of the fore-end and extending it an inch or so behind the upper band so that by carefully making good, you could a), leave the top much wider by narrowing the barrel groove/channel and b), leave a LOT more wood to the front and rear of the band recess. The accompanying photographs show a selection of the repaired fore-ends and some of the methods used by the older Armourers. Apologies about the picture quality as some of these are taken from old photographs taken during the era, to highlight the problems. They do also show just how you can go about completing a similar repair to your own rifle should you need to. But just remember this. ONLY TAKE OUT THE MINIMUM OF WOOD FROM THE NEW BARREL CHANNEL. The minimum is the diameter of the barrel PLUS .020” clearance all around.

As a sop to make the best use of many otherwise ‘serviceable’ fore-ends, a small plate was inserted into and under the front of the trigger guard. It would appear that this plate was done to all replacement stocks but not necessarily to the original fore-ends unless it was required. This WAS a good idea but not a ‘new’ idea because the gun trade had been using a similar ploy for many years

As for the handguards, well, the converted No8 handguards were the first to go because being originally wider than the No4 fore-end, they were also slimmed down on the sander to within an inch of their lives and in turn, this had left the front end about as marginal as the fore-ends! The later ‘new manufacture’ handguards were much better but during the mid 80’s, these were in short supply and with trials being undertaken to replace the trusty old steed, no more were ordered. Maybe Ordnance had got the message about the pxxx-poor quality of the bodgers involved earlier! When this happened, many Armourers were made aware of the shortage of serviceable L42’s and reverted to the converting of No4 rear handguards by extending them forwards to fill the need. You’ll still find these on some L42’s but you’ll have to look hard to see the join, under the band and inside, extending rearwards. An external giveaway is the small wooden plugs in place of the brass liner rivets. The quality of these REME Armourers repairs and conversions is a testimony to their years of apprentice and on-the-job training. A far cry from the diabolical workmanship of the original bodgers that they’d encounter later.

As Sgt Roger Xxxxx said to me once while we were ‘busy’ range testing a few ‘……….the rifle is just SO accurate, it’s a credit to Enfield and that’s in SPITE of the fore-end, and not BECAUSE of it’. I couldn’t have put it better myself Roger! Oh yes…., a word of advice and warning. If you see him or any other old-time Field and Base workshop Armourer of the 70’s and 80’s, please don’t mention L42 rifle fore-ends and handguards because you’ll soon learn that they all suddenly suffer from rabid outbursts of Tourettes syndrome and a robust reply can sometimes offend

Next, we’ll show how a needy fore-end can be saved from the great scrap-bin in the sky. Thanks to Armourer Sgt Roger Xxxxx for the technical explanations and old defect report photos

 





Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 11:39am
Thank you for posting that Armourer. It was an interesting read. i had noticed that the channel in my L39 fore end is slightly off centre; but not critically so.

303 Hunter. If you can measure a gap between the barrel and the area around the mid band in it's normal state. Then set up the rifle as mentioned by Brit rifles and pull the barrel downwards by hanging a 7 litres of water in plastic bottles from the muzzle. This will give you approximately 12lbs in weight.
Then measure the increase in gap. Make a shim the same thickness as the total gap. 
This should give you a good start point.


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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 12:17pm
Originally posted by Zed Zed wrote:

Thank you for posting that Armourer. It was an interesting read. i had noticed that the channel in my L39 fore end is slightly off centre; but not critically so.

303 Hunter. If you can measure a gap between the barrel and the area around the mid band in it's normal state. Then set up the rifle as mentioned by Brit rifles and pull the barrel downwards by hanging a 7 litres of water in plastic bottles from the muzzle. This will give you approximately 12lbs in weight.
Then measure the increase in gap. Make a shim the same thickness as the total gap. 
This should give you a good start point.

7 litres of water weighs about 15.5 lbs (plus the weight of the containers)

5.5 litres is roughly 12 lbs


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 12:42pm
You are correct Armourer; my mistake. 1 litre is 1 Kilogram which would be 2.2lbs. So 1x 5 litre plastic bottle would be a good place to start. 

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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 12:55pm
How would one go about stocking up a No4Mk1/2 with a 2A1 barrel?



Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 3:11pm
I love the look of that rifle! Cover the palm of your hand at 100 yards with open sites? My humble advise would be to put it back together, enjoy it as a really cool hunting rifle and a respectable range shooter. And load rounds that cycle good in that rifle in regards to OAL length. Done deal. Go kill a moose... 


Posted By: 303 Hunter
Date Posted: August 04 2020 at 8:32am
Thank you britrifles and Zed. Now that I have a good idea as to what I’m doing
Overall I’m pleased with how it’s shooting. I’ll just work on the bedding a little bit, do one more load test, pick the best one, zero then go with it.

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The Lee Enfield is to the Canadian north what the Winchester repeater was to the American west.   Cal Bablitz


Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: August 04 2020 at 10:21am
Let us know how it turns out.

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It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!



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