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Aussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded project

Article about: I've a little winter project; retro convert my old Lithgow (1942) No 1 MkIII* hunting rifle back to 1942 military specs. It just so happens that 40 years ago my grandfather gave me the compl

  1. #11

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    As far as SNs go, the metal pieces and wood were produced separately and then assembled at the arsenal. The receiver would have a production number located on the top of the metal collar to the left of the bolt and just under the bolt handle. Once the rifle was fully assembled it would be given a SN stamped on all major pieces metal and wood. The letter prefix roughly denotes year of assembly which doesn’t always correspond with the year stamped on the collar. Mine for example is stamped 1942 but assembled in March of ‘43 so it has the D prefix. After assembly when the weapon was proofed those marks were applied at the base of the barrel just in front of the receiver under the top hand guard. The month and year of assembly is also stamped here. The butt stock was also stamped at this time with the SN under the straight grip and on the side with year and with ,as on mine, SMLE HV VII MA meaning it was proofed for the high velocity mk VII ammo and Mangrovite Arsenal

  2. #12

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    Great and informative posts here. Whenever I get a chance to heft one of these old milsurps from WW2 I am amazed at the heft of these rifles. Quite a handful to carry around. The build quality is really something to admire. Built to take a lickin and keep on tickin.

  3. #13

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    You are right about that. Even the butt stock is a heavy piece of wood.
    That's interesting info from 08SMLE48, for the record my bolt which has the E71292 serial on the underside of bolt arm, also has a mark BA42, which I understand means it was made at Rifle Factory No.2 Bathhurst. I can see the proof inspection stars and once I've taken off the forestock I'll have a look for the assembly date marks.
    The document from the Lithgow museum states the E series were manufactured at Orange SAF-3.

  4. #14

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    The "back to the past" retro fitting begins..

    From sporter to military spec. Brothers in Arms, the 1942 Lithgow with my 1941 fully wooded Lithgow SMLE. A few photos.

    Aussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded project

  5. #15
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    Excellent Choice Anderson.
    on restoring that old war horse.
    So what are your thoughts about the finish on the stock??
    Following this one!!

  6. #16

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    I'll probably try to match the wood tone to the butt stock which I will retain. The fore stock came off a Lithgow SMLE of similar age but has really no aging at all other than post war dust. So open to advice on wood oils etc to bring it back a bit darker without losing the grain.

  7. #17

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    Went up to the Lithgow small arms factory museum last Thursday. Surprised to learn that there was a dozen different species that the wood "furniture" was made from! ....check what yours is.
    " I used to be indecisive but now I'm not quite sure "

  8. #18
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    Yeah I'm not sure what finish/oil they used on the rifle stocks across the pond.
    And they do vary between countries.
    BLO is/was a big one used on our wood stocks. I know it from using it on M1 Garand stocks.

    Semper Fi
    Phil

  9. #19

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    I decided the try Linseed oil on the NOS fore stock, and after three coats I was very pleased with the finish. The first problem I struck was discovering... Aussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded projectAussie SMLE sporter retro fully wooded project
    ...the old sporting rifle fore stock was bonded in place with a strong glue, but with bit of work managed to separate and clean up the pieces. I recovered the main screw bush from the old stock and fitted it to the new stock. This takes the main screw into the receiver and prevents it damaging the surrounding wood. Starting to look the part. A little bit of bedding in for the receiver was needed.

  10. #20

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    Following on from ( and correcting / clarifying ) my "furniture" comment in post #17, I found the following information on the GUNBOARDS.COM website.
    Interesting reading I thought?


    LITHGOW WOOD

    You may be interested to know that Australian defence manufacturer ADI at Lithgow used Australian timber for the manufacture on the SMLE .303.
    Timber types used in .303 SMLE production from 1913 to 1955:

    1913-1915 English walnut was imported from England
    1915-1940 Queensland maple was used
    1917-1924 Some experimenting with Coachwood
    1921 some examples of walnut
    1940-1955 Coachwood

    As a matter of interest, the Lithgow Small Arms Museum have on display, a set of nine (9) SMLE rifles (marked Lithgow 1919 Mk.III*) stocked in the following timbers:

    Walnut Queensland
    Black Bean Queensland
    Carabeen NSW
    Red Myrtle Tasmania
    Queensland Maple Queensland
    Birch New Zealand
    Blackwood Tasmania and Victoria
    Crowsfoot Elm Queensland
    Coachwood NSW

    Records are sketchy, but it's believed that these rifles were part of the "Bushweek" Exhibition held in the Sydney Town Hall as part of the peace celebration marking the end of the war. The rifles are complete with bayonet, these having matching timber grips. The botanical species is painted on the right hand side of each butt. Two sets of nine (9) rifles were produced, both sets are owned by the Museum.​
    " I used to be indecisive but now I'm not quite sure "

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