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BUTTS, fitting new or refitting old - lee enfield no4 mk1 markings

BUTTS, fitting new or refitting old-lee enfield no4 mk1 markings

BUTTS, fitting new or refitting old...
By: Peter Laidler
The BUTT. On the face of it, it's a simple enough job. Just unscrew the
old and bash the new one on and screw it up. But that's JUST what you
might do ....., screw it up! If you have a look inside the but socket of
the rifle, you'll see that it is actually tapered and it's tapered for a good
reason. That being to keep the butt TIGHT. All new butts are slightly
oversize at the butt socket and what we do is to fit the front end into
the butt socket and tap the rear end of the butt, where the heel and toe
butt plate screw holes are, with a rawhide mallet so that you start to see
witness marks from the rifle butt socket. Then with a rasp or coarse
file, rasp away GENTLY until the butt starts to fit into the taper of the
butt socket. Keep doing this and you'll visibly see it going further into
the butt socket. Ideally (but certainly on a grenade launching EY rifle),
with a last tap of the rawhide mallet the butt should bottom out into the
underside of the socket. It should be horizontal to the rifle.
Now for the important bit. The wooden shoulder of the butt, the part
that sits proud of the butt socket, MUST be clear of the butt socket and
there should be a gap of about 2mm between that edge and the actual
butt socket. Have you got that? There MUST be a gap of about 2mm
between the steel butt socket and the butt. If there isn't a gap, then you
can be sure that a sliver of wood WILL break away. The butt MUST be
tight in the socket and in an ideal world, according to the REME
Armourers bible, the wood of the butt MUST (but in civilian circles,
should) be proud of the socket by approx 1/16" and the edges should
be crisp and sharp. Now, remove the butt and slap on a xxxxing good
coating of XG279 or automotive high melting point grease. Some of
you will by now have noticed that there are TWO shapes inside top
surface, inside the No4 rifle butt socket. The OLD ex SMLE shape
with a rounded step on the right and a tapered step on the left and the
post 1942 (?, but that's what we called them .....) shape of two
rounded steps.
Officially, and according to our EMER's, you CAN fit a double
rounded stepped butt to a single round/taper step body after adjusting
the wood accordingly. But you CANNOT fit a single rounded/taper
step butt to a double rounded butt socket. This is because, try as you
might, you'll never truly get it tight ....., or if you do, it won't last!
That's the OFFICIAL party line. But if you think that any old, wise
and weary old Armourer Sergeant would allow you to wait until a
stock of double rounded butts arrived, from stores in England to Korea
or Aden or Malaya or wherever you were, you're WRONG. It was
quite common practice to simply dovetail, glue, patch, peg and make
off the butts to get to the type you need. Simple isn't it.
How tight do I tighten the stock bolt? I cannot find a specific torque
figure but if I said to you xxxxing tight would be about right, then we
won't fall out but don't forget to put the double coil spring washer in
first followed by the stock bolt covered in the same grease. I nearly
forgot. Before you put the stock bolt into the butt, with your long `BIT,
screwdriver, stock bolt', check that there is a metal washer inside the
butt. You'll easily tell by the metal to metal sound. If there's NOT, then
PUT ONE IN. And DO NOT, DO NOT tighten the stock bolt up with
the fore-end fitted because if the stock bolt does protrude into the body,
then you WILL bugger up the rear of the fore-end and rest assured, a
cock-up like that will ensure that you will be buying the tea's and buns
at tomorrows tea break.
Next, the butt plate. All the EMER's state is that the butt plate should
be `...evenly seated with the edges below the level of the wood surface
of the butt'. In other words, it must be of a smaller silhouette than the
butt. I say, with an approx .100" or 3mm gap around its edge and the
edge of the wood. As for the fit of the butt plate, then, once again, I say
evenly, by taking wood from underneath the butt plate to get an all
round even bearing at its edge. If there was a 010 - .015" (ten to fifteen
thousandth) that would be acceptable but no more. Oh yes, please,
PLEASE don't polish the bloody thing up. We did it as apprentices to
show off our skills but I never ONCE saw one polished to a gleam by
an Armourer. A slight linish with emery to get rid of a scrape or
roughness, but polish ......................
What about stripped buttplate a sling swivel screws? Easy. For the butt
plate screws, drill out 3/8", hard, oak, tapered plug glued and driven in.
Sling swivel screws, same but ?". Wait 24 hours, make off and re-drill
out with 3/16" and 1/8" pilot holes respectively. And I don't want to
see old matchsticks, broken-up bits of softwood or rolled up bits of
card in there either. It's shoddy workmanship and reflects badly on the
good name of Armourers, the oldest trade. Here's a little font of
Enfield knowledge that you didn't know before now.
As a result of ours being the oldest recognized trade in the Army (Oh
yes it is........, waggoners were never an officially recognized trade at
all ....), even today, Armourers have honour of always being
acknowledged as `Armourer' before their rank. Hence Armourer Lance
Corporal or Armourer Sergeant or Armourer Warrant Officer. Some
have suggested that on being Commissioned, it was really a demotion
by having to forfeit the sacred title of Armourer.
The next episode will be fitting fore-ends. Are you still in for the long