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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's my latest purchase,a 1902 Sparkbrook Metford MKII .

A few observations so far.

Bolt,(force match)barrel, action and rear sight all match.
The woodwork is all EFD manufactured,but marked correctly with a II and with rod channel.
The trigger guard and a few other bits are BSA marked.
There is an LSA inspection mark on the action.
The SOS markings on the butt tang,knox and barrel are identical suggesting these parts left service as is.
Screw heads are all nice and tidy.
The barrel is Metford rifled,and while quite pitted is not noticeably worn.
The inspection mark “RE"under a crown appears on the butt,action and barrel.
No visible date is shown on the barrel, but it is “VR” marked and also has an “R” on the knox,replacement or rust?
The last owner has had this rifle sitting in a safe for over 30 years,and it shows every indication of having not been disassembled for a very long time.
I have yet to disassemble it other than the hand guard.

Just prior to WW1 NZ bought in two batches of Long Lees.
Second hand units from Canada,marked C14 on the tang and refurbished ones from England.
The latter were marked E13/14 on the tang.
I have seen several MKII Metford's with the E13/14 tang markings suggesting the refurbished rifles were possibly a mixture of Metford's and Enfield's.
The tang on this particular rifle unfortunately has had all such markings removed (as has the action) prior to being sold out of service.
All in all it seems a pretty original piece,another member here has seen it and concurs.
A late Sparkbrook refurbished by Enfield prior to WW1 for a colonial contract?
I would appreciate any thoughts,corrections theories etc..

GDU


















 

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Very nice indeed. It's always interesting to see these rifles show up dated years after production was supposed to have ceased...especially coming out of the RSAFs.

It's also interesting to see that they were still using batching marks that late (the roman numeral looking chisel strikes under the bolt handle). I thought that practice had stopped with the Martinis. If you ever take her apart, keep an eye out...a good indication of factory originality, as they used to put those marks on everything down to the larger screws (at least through the muzzle loading era). You might even find them in the clearing rod channel if you're lucky.

A really great find...wish there was more of that sort of thing on this side of the world.
 
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Very nice, I go 'ape-shit' over these oldies when I find them, usually well beat and sportered.

The barrel is a replacement, you will notice the slightly different characters used for the barrel serial to that of the roll die characters on the receiver. Also the inspector marks on your right hand side of the reinforce tend to show barrel work was done.

It is an Enfield made barrel (it carries Enfield inspection mark by the proofs), so it should be dated on the underside of the reinforce. I can't quite see the complete broad arrow marking by the proof marks at the rear of the barrel where it breeches up against the receiver. If arrow WD, it pegs it pre 1897 made. I have no idea when Enfield stopped making Metford rifled barrels, my guess is 1895 (BSA made them into the 1920s).

The front sight barley corn is offset 50 thou to compensate for bullet drift. This was found to be too much, so in 1902, an update of an rear sight leaf with offset V notch 20 thou to the left was created for rifles in the field. Does your leaf have this * marking? (top face, bottom rh corner). If returned to depot, the front sight was modified by fitting an insert into the ramp al la Mk.I* Lee Metford and a * marked on the right side of the ramp. New production barrels had the barley corn updated and set at 30 thou, it also had the * marking. If the rearsight was updated, it had a * on the bottom right of the leaf. Your barrel is interesting in this regard. A late rifle, rebarreled at EFD but without that update.

The * on the reinforce I believe is rust pits in the chamber found by the armourer.

The R on the Nock's form could be to denote 'Replacement'. I have never quite figured this one out.

Lots of armoury maintenance over the years. The markings read like a book. Very nice find indeed!
 

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I beg to differ on the replacement barrel, I think its original to the gun and the numbering is the same on both receiver and barrel, You will note the stagger on the numbers is identical its only the strike maybe slightly different, the R may be for Rust or something else.

Someone does appear to have removed something from the top of the receiver though as it appears they have nicked the knox form, and the evident sanding marks where the Sold out of Service Mark is.

Excellent buy that will look fantastic once some TLC is applied.
 
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Mike1967, you might be right, the staggering of the numbers' position does look much the same, but I don't think that both sets were applied with the same roll die. To me the font of the numbers looks just a wee bit different. The barrel is most definately an Enfield made unit. Crown E 88 is on ALL my Enfield MLM and MLE rifles and carbines. He was a busy guy!

Would Sparkbrook have been fitting Enfield barrels? Maybe so, both factories were Crown establishments and I believe that one might draw upon another's stores if inventory was low. In fact I read that RSAF Enfield at one time held stores into which all manner of parts were deposited and drawn later by all other factories.

One observation of mine which I would like to just throw out there to the forum is that almost nine times out of ten, I find that a MLM or MLE will be fitted with a BSA marked trigger guard. Everybody, go take a look and see how many long Lees in your collection have a trigger guard with a script B inspector mark. I know that all factories made their own, but perhaps it was BSA that was contracted to produce trigger guards as spares for use by armourers.

This is all like detective work. Never say never with an Enfield.

I just took another look at the receiver, I didn't notice the nick in the Nock's form. Good catch, the receiver ring has been filed, perhaps to remove previous markings. Isn't this the location where Australia would put their Military District number?
 

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Would like to know where the term "force match" comes from. Looking at the bolt... to me it is a bolt from another rifle that has had the original # ground off and re stamped on top with this rifles serial #. Just an observation, but these things fly in the face of all correct procedure and to me say it was replaced post service. These rifles are not my specialty by any means, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

It is a great find, however. Even if the bolt has been fitted in civilian life, the rifle is a fine example of something so rarely seen. Congrats, and thankyou for sharing a great set of pics with us.

Edit to add...after reading the post above, I wonder if the filing on the knocks form and the rear of the bolt handle were done at the same time, perhaps in the case of the knocks form to make way for the sold out of service mark and remove either a MD marking and/or a rack number. Could it have had a bolt added to it for the purpose of selling it out of service?

as usual, the closer you look at some stuff, the less answers and the more questions we have...

just another quick one... The R on the knocks form, perhaps not the same script R as the book, but not a "square" R either... I would take it as being rust found in barrel by an armourer, and thew asterix in front of the knocks to denote where the rust is. If the asterix alone was to indicate rust, it should have been on the knocks form, not below it...
 
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Son, I have noticed that it seems to be the standard procedure of a field armourer, if and when he would renumber a part (barrel, sight leaf) the old number was left intact but lined out with a chisel or cancellation mark. The position of the bolt number on top of the handle is where the renumber would be placed. So I think that somebody other than an armourer removed the original number.

Factory refurbed and renumbered bolts have the old number filed off and the new one applied in its place.

Who knows? Once in civilian hands anything could have happened. The sans serif font of the bolt renumber is reminiscent of that used later by BSA. The butt socket has what looks like a BR (Birmingham Repair) inspector mark adjacent to the rear trigger guard screw. So she has been to Birmingham at one point.
 

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Yeah! I also find interesting (y'all notice that I am all over this one) is that; if it was built in 1902, why would it have not been to the latest Metford pattern of a Mk.II*? The Mk.II was obscolete by 1895.
This was my exact thought as well. Why a Lee-Metford, to begin with, and even then, why a Mk. II vs. a Mk. II*? I wonder if this wasn't an earlier receiver that was rebuilt and restamped to fit some contract.
 

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Son, in respect of your question on force match, I have only ever seen it on these forums, and initially it was by one of those GODDAMNS, I wish they would take it and shove it someplace where the sun never shines.

Interesting rifle.
 
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I wonder when the date would be applied to the butt socket? When the receiver was made, or when it was assembled as a barreled action?

Not much difference between a MLM Mk.II reciever and that of a MLE, if any at all (other than markings).

Now here is another Mk.II MLM


Different in that this one was most definitely put together by an armourer. The rifle is otherwise all MLM but has had a replacement MLE Mk.I receiver fitted and remarked. You will notice that the 'I' on the right has been added (note that the LE was not removed, it stayed but was struck out).

I wonder if this was a similar situation, an older rifle with a factory fitted receiver????
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks guys.










Righto,I have removed the forend and surprisingly its all in very good order ,what appears to be rust is largely reddish gunge which wipes off.
There is still cosmoline in the barrel channel.
More marks of interest.
Who was C Williams? a barrel maker?
I have never seen this apparently non military mark before.

OK, there is no asterisk anywhere on the rear sight,and you were spot on with the barrel date placement.
Barrel was made in 93,interesting such an early barrel with such a late receiver.
I have also wondered if the barrel is original to the action ,such a late contract would surely have dragged stock out from whoever still had them at the time.
As mentioned however the font is slightly smaller.

There is another number on the action L33L
Interestingly L33 also appears on the rear of the for end.
An assembly number? possibly just coincidence.
There is an assortment of markings as shown on the barrel,I assume they are run of the mill.

Re the bolt,I don't think the Kiwi armourers were as fussy as the Brits .
The number is sometimes cancelled as referred to but grinding it off and renumbering on top(or over the grind) is also seen.
It could have been done just prior to sale but I don't think its post service,but as always I could be wrong.

Regards the filing on both the tang and action,yes this was done when sold out of service as per the marks over the grinding.
The top action grind is not uncommon here ,what is unusual is they have also ground the butt tang(NZ date into service and rifle number) and side of the action(plus nicked the knox )probably to remove Home Guard marks which were often found in this location.
I dont think NZ normally put unit markings on our rifles.

GDU
 

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Is that an LSA view mark on the top of the receiver? There's definitely one on the dust cover...

For a rifle built at Sparkbrook (?) I don't see even a single Sparkbrook view mark... just Enfield/LSA/BSA...

I'm really starting to lean towards this being a "rebuilt" or "refurbished" rifle built using a bunch of leftover parts on an old action.
 
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Yup, that appears to be so. Perhaps it went through LSA for maint and had the dust cover fitted?

I have noticed on other rifles that often when work was done at the factory, a two digit date designator was stamped adjacent to the inspector mark.
Especially on bayonets these are sometimes (wrongly, I believe) called 'reissue marks'. On a rifle they are often found on the left butt socket beside the volley sight spring.


Might be hard to see but this one was into the Sparkbrook factory in 04 and into Enfield in 05

But the OP's rifle has tons of inspector marks, but none of them I see are dated.
 
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