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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello good folk,

This particular Lithgow MkIII* has a cracked forestock, particularly around the draws area and above the action screw. I would like to ask for advice on how to proceed in repairing it, if it is even possible to repair. I was thinking of applying carpenter glue like Titebond III in the cracks for repair.

It doesn't look like the stock screw was turned, so the cracks in the draws might come from something else. I have also found a rubber washer in the buttplate trapdoor just hanging around without being fixed. What is it's purpose?

Thanks for your time.
 

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Leather washer goes against the buttstock bolt to keep the oiler from rattling.

Yes, the stock can be repaired but it will need proper fitting. Looks to be a classic example of a loose main screw and recoil taken up on the left side only. The right side recoil block looks to have never been in contact.
 

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This was my adventure in forend repairs .

 
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Classic example for newcomers to Lee Enfields of why you don't shoot them without verifying good fit of the forend. This would be a challenging repair but the way I look at it would be what do you have to lose? In service this forend would have been burned for firewood and a new one installed. With ones in this shape I've chiseled out the entire draws area and inserted a walnut "patch" with lateral dowel running through to further strengthen. In yours you'd likely want to attempt to glue the crack running up from the front triggerguard screw but would be smart to add an "Ishapore Screw" in that area. Here's a couple of photos of a No. 5 that came to me with draws area totally destroyed (previous owner said he was selling because it wouldn't group). This one saw tropical service and I chiseled wood out until I had nice parallel surfaces in fresh wood then shaped a large rectangular patch with draws roughly pre-cut. Mine appears to have suffered from an ill fitting replacement forend done in Indian service (numbered to the rifle) and I found the front triggerguard bushing to rear of forend measurement was too short and probably the reason it had failed. I had to drill out the area and insert a dowel and re-drill the hole. Mine also had the dreaded crack forming above the screw so I installed a Ishapore style screw to hold it together. Now an excellent range gun and all this patching has survived through around 300 shots.
So, it can be repaired but be ready to spend a lot of hours and go through a trial and error process. If you enjoy it then, like I said, you have nothing to lose.

Ruprecht
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Alan De E: Thanks for the comment but, in fact, I actually make up for a general lack of skill by having abundant time. I'll admit I was pretty nervous the first time I dove into one but bad repairs can simply be chiseled out for another try. It's also a pretty strong motivation to keep a rifle in its original wood- with this No. 5 I'm not sure what I would have done if not able to repair the wood it came with. Another fun aspect of the hobby!

Ruprecht
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Classic example for newcomers to Lee Enfields of why you don't shoot them without verifying good fit of the forend. This would be a challenging repair but the way I look at it would be what do you have to lose? In service this forend would have been burned for firewood and a new one installed. With ones in this shape I've chiseled out the entire draws area and inserted a walnut "patch" with lateral dowel running through to further strengthen. In yours you'd likely want to attempt to glue the crack running up from the front triggerguard screw but would be smart to add an "Ishapore Screw" in that area. Here's a couple of photos of a No. 5 that came to me with draws area totally destroyed (previous owner said he was selling because it wouldn't group). This one saw tropical service and I chiseled wood out until I had nice parallel surfaces in fresh wood then shaped a large rectangular patch with draws roughly pre-cut. Mine appears to have suffered from an ill fitting replacement forend done in Indian service (numbered to the rifle) and I found the front triggerguard bushing to rear of forend measurement was too short and probably the reason it had failed. I had to drill out the area and insert a dowel and re-drill the hole. Mine also had the dreaded crack forming above the screw so I installed a Ishapore style screw to hold it together. Now an excellent range gun and all this patching has survived through around 300 shots.
So, it can be repaired but be ready to spend a lot of hours and go through a trial and error process. If you enjoy it then, like I said, you have nothing to lose.

Ruprecht
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Thanks for the advice sir. I will start by cleaning the area with acetone and applying glue to at least make it more stable and check the fit afterwards. Then, I'll see where it takes me from there. Upon disassembly, I've noticed that the king screw was not tightened all the way by the previous owner. This might have created the cracks.

Oh well, I'll leave this to my inexperience dealing with Lee Enfields. It is astounding to find out just how many people there are with cracked forends. Makes you think why the British made such a fragile design.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This was my adventure in forend repairs .

Thanks sir. I will follow this closely for the repairs. First, I'll try some simple fixes . If those are insufficient, I'll move to more radical approach.
 

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Oh well, I'll leave this to my inexperience dealing with Lee Enfields. It is astounding to find out just how many people there are with cracked forends. Makes you think why the British made such a fragile design.
The design is pefectly sound when maintained by trained armourers using the correct tools and fixing and fitting things properly and to specification.
The problem comes later when we have untrained civilians who thinks a rusty hacksaw and a big hammer is all that is needed, they don't know how the parts interface with each other and have no idea what 'setting' or specification for fitting are needed, add in the fact that parts have not been made for 50 - 60 - 70 - 80 - 90 - 100 years and 'stuff' has to be 'adapted' and modified to fit is when we get problems.

I'm surprised that Ford didn't build their '2 litre 4-cylinder cars' gearbox and brake systems to still work when you drop in an 8 litre V12 engine, but they just seem to fail for no reason - fragile design maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
The design is pefectly sound when maintained by trained armourers using the correct tools and fixing and fitting things properly and to specification.
The problem comes later when we have untrained civilians who thinks a rusty hacksaw and a big hammer is all that is needed, they don't know how the parts interface with each other and have no idea what 'setting' or specification for fitting are needed, add in the fact that parts have not been made for 50 - 60 - 70 - 80 - 90 - 100 years and 'stuff' has to be 'adapted' and modified to fit is when we get problems.

I'm surprised that Ford didn't build their '2 litre 4-cylinder cars' gearbox and brake systems to still work when you drop in an 8 litre V12 engine, but they just seem to fail for no reason - fragile design maybe?
There is a reason why majority of the countries went to a two action screw system without relying on wood for support. Given that this particular rifle suffers from more broken stocks than most other guns of the era, given the vastly rich internet database of people with similar problems and how to fix them, it is safe to assume that maybe, the design is not as well thought out in that particular aspect. Every gun has its flaws, Enfields seem to suffer from weak stocks...
 

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Given that this particular rifle suffers from more broken stocks than most other guns of the era
Do you really mean 'broken stocks' or do you mean 'damaged draws' ?

A big difference.

I'd suggest that damage to the draws is almost always 'user error' and is, in many cases, down to the 'I must take it apart' mentality that some owners have, and without knowing how to correctly diassamble and reassemble the rifle do most of the damage themselves. The only instance I can think of where the draws seem to have been damaged in service is the Indian Mk3's where the slathering of oil has softened the wood resulting in damage.

It may not be you taking it part incorrectly it could be any of the previous owners who have 'started the rot'.

Using the correct methods and correct torque on the screws would not result in any damage - going back to the car analogy, its like using a 13mm wrench on your 1/2" bolt and wondering why the corners are rounded off and the spanner slips.

Or, are you really taking about 'broken stocks' ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Do you really mean 'broken stocks' or do you mean 'damaged draws' ?

A big difference.

I'd suggest that damage to the draws is almost always 'user error' and is, in many cases, down to the 'I must take it apart' mentality that some owners have, and without knowing how to correctly diassamble and reassemble the rifle do most of the damage themselves. The only instance I can think of where the draws seem to have been damaged in service is the Indian Mk3's where the slathering of oil has softened the wood resulting in damage.

It may not be you taking it part incorrectly it could be any of the previous owners who have 'started the rot'.

Using the correct methods and correct torque on the screws would not result in any damage - going back to the car analogy, its like using a 13mm wrench on your 1/2" bolt and wondering why the corners are rounded off and the spanner slips.

Or, are you really taking about 'broken stocks' ?
The sad part is the rifle has a beautiful exterior condition, but under that beautiful wood its cracked in several places. It has been refurbished twice: once in 1943, and again in 1945. The metal is in great shape, the action is smooth as glass and it has a solid 5 groove barrel.

If I were to look at any other gun in this condition and see a crack above the action screw, which is the only crack visible from the outside, it would've been a no brainer to pick up, as that would be a quick and easy fix. However, I'll need to do a lot more work on this rifle to safely shoot it in its current state. I got a pretty good deal on it, but I should have known about the issues with Lee Enfield forends prior to purchase. That's my fault.

When you talk about correct screw torque, what is the correct amount for this rifle? I've always heard that if the screw is tight and it's not turning, leave it be and not force it anymore on any gun.

I have carpenter glue on the way and I'll apply that after a good acetone cleaning. Then comes tweaking the forend for a correct fit, about which there is a lot of source material. I'll repair the rifle as best I can, with the tools at my disposal, and if it's still not enough, I'll just sell it and let it be someone else's headache.
 

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The sad part is the rifle has a beautiful exterior condition, but under that beautiful wood its cracked in several places. It has been refurbished twice: once in 1943, and again in 1945. The metal is in great shape, the action is smooth as glass and it has a solid 5 groove barrel.
What gives it away as being refurbed twice in 43 and 45?
Shame about the draws. All the signs were there, too bad you couldn’t spot them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
What gives it away as being refurbed twice in 43 and 45?
Shame about the draws. All the signs were there, too bad you couldn’t spot them.
The stamps on the RHS of the buttstock state: "MA Lithgow SMLE III* HV 1943". To the right of it there is a RA 6/45 stamp. Previously, I assumed that the stock should have a 1942 stamp on it instead of the 1943, however, the rifle receiver might have been made late December, so they just put a 1943 stock on it, which would have been close enough. So it might be twice refurbed, or only ones. I'd say it's definitely refurbed at least once, given the 6/45 stamp.
 

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The stamps on the RHS of the buttstock state: "MA Lithgow SMLE III* HV 1943". To the right of it there is a RA 6/45 stamp. Previously, I assumed that the stock should have a 1942 stamp on it instead of the 1943, however, the rifle receiver might have been made late December, so they just put a 1943 stock on it, which would have been close enough. So it might be twice refurbed, or only ones. I'd say it's definitely refurbed at least once, given the 6/45 stamp.
Yes the refurb date is 6/45, the MA Lithgow 1943 etc stamp was applied to a rifle the year it was made, most likely a reused butt off another rifle.

Curious, does this rifle have an unnumbered nosecap?
 
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