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Thread: Lee Enfield Bolt-Head Metal Composition?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Lee Enfield Bolt-Head Metal Composition?

    Do any of you more knowledgeable Enfield guys know what type of metal was used to make the Bolt-Heads on the Enfield No.4's?

    It seems that in my search for one of the right length, the longest one I could find measured short; and it has the #3 stamped on it. (.635)

    These guns were made in so many different places that it stands to reason that the specs on them would differ greatly.

    If I can find out what type of metal (or an equivalent metal) they were made of I'm about 75-percent sure I can make a safe working copy of a Lee Enfield bolt head.

    I know there are alot of guys here that have alot of smarts when it comes to the Lee Enfield. If possible, I'm just looking for straight answers and maybe some insight on the manufacturing technique used to make these little gizmos. No lectures please.

    I had to come back and edit this post cause I almost forgot to ask something else pertaining to these Lee Enfield Bolt-Heads. Anyone know what the thread pattern is on the tail end of these Bolt-Heads?

    Thanks in advance.

    HollowPoint
    Last edited by HollowPoint; 06-05-2011 at 10:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    The SMLE specs called for No.34F Special Gun Iron, a very pure malleable "white" cast iron with an extremely high resistance to compression. This metal also has an unusual ability to old lubricants like a bearing, which reduced thread wear.
    These were casehardened.

    I don't know if other metals or alloys were used for the No.4 but I suspect simple cast steel may have been used as well. Drop forged might be better though.

    Edited to add
    The Specs for the SMLE boltheads made from 1938 onwards were
    "Head, breech bolt -- Steel B.S.S.5005/103 -- Case hardened and polished"

    So its likely this steel was used for the contemporay No.4 boltheads.



    The M marked boltheads are Cast Iron, the M stands for "Mild Steel" but White Cast Iron is listed as mild steel in British metallurgy hand books.

    While resistant to compression the cast heads have less shear strength than steels.

    Threads for the SMLE Boltheads are diameter .4175 X 20 TPI
    The No.4 dia .4375 X 20 TPI

    If I can find out what type of metal (or an equivalent metal) they were made of I'm about 75-percent sure I can make a safe working copy of a Lee Enfield bolt head
    If successful you could sell a boat load of #3 boltheads, those are scarce as hens teeth.
    A #4 bolthead was made but not used as the British figured a rifle that needed one was worn past safe repair, but such a long head would be very helpful for those who reload and want absolute minimum headgap with undersized commercial cases.

    You might consider countersunk boltheads with plunger ejectors suited to the .223 conversions. A British firm made these and was charging $90 apiece for them, I doubt they had many takers at that price.

    You could look for a download of the SAID (Small Arms Identification drawings) for the No.4 , these may have a detailed mechanical drawing of the bolt heads with dimensions. The NRA site has these but not downloadable due to copyright issues.
    I had found a full set for the SMLE, No.4, and P-14 but a crash wiped my files. I haven't found another source yet.
    Last edited by Multigunner; 06-06-2011 at 06:15 AM.

  3. #3
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    Last I heard, Brian Dick at BDL, Ltd. has NOS (new, old stock) #3 Lee Enfield bolt heads in stock. He doesn't list them on his website, so I don't know how many he has or had, or even if he still has any. They weren't cheap, but they are new and unfitted.
    'I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more, Toto!' Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Multigunner:

    That's exactly the type of information I was hoping for. Thanks very much. I really appreciate it.

    In the back of my mind I was thinking I might be able to use (as my stock metal) a large diameter Grade-8 bolt to carve my replacement Bolt-Head out of, then I could heat treat that finished Bolt-Head.

    Since the term, "Mild Steel" is used to describe the metal used to make these Bolt-Heads, it sounds like a Heat-Treated Grade-8 bolt metal may be of sufficient strength to use as a replacement metal.

    Does this line of reasoning make any sense?

    nicholst55:

    I checked out the link you provided but, I didn't come up with anything on the Bolt-Heads in question.

    Anyhow, I was hoping not to have to shell out any more money on Bolt-Heads.

    Barring any unforeseen financial set backs, I'll be ordering a 4-axis CNC mill in October. I'm pretty sure I can use it to make up a replacement Bolt-Head of the right dimensions. I just want to make sure I'm using the right kind of metal.

    No sense in taking any chances. I've already had one Lee Enfield blow up in my face; literally.

    HollowPoint

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    I think I'd hesitate using a grade 8 bolt. Nothing wrong with the idea, but the heat treatment can lead to fatigue. I know, I've had it happen when just such a bolt was put under repeated cycling while under a load. The grain structure at the site of the break had a crystaline appearance......brittle.

    A grade 5 would probably be better as it's somewhat more elastic, yet still tough.

    Why not simply order annealed drill rod of the correct diameter, machine and heat treat? The metallurgy is more tightly controlled so you KNOW what you're getting. Also a lot cheaper than buying a bunch of bolts!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Believe it or not, Drill-Rod was also on my list of potential candidates for metals I might be able to use for making me a replacement Bolt-Head.

    Because I'm not really to knowledgeable when it comes to metal composition, I thought it prudent to ask around. It seems to be working cause even though I've only gotten three responses to my inquiry, all three have given me some real good information.

    I know what you mean about the price of Grade-8 bolts. I use them to make my own reamers on rare occasions and the price of each bolt can be outrageous.

    HollowPoint

  7. #7
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    Mechanical engineer here - Grade 8 bolt is a top quality steel, heat treated for strength,
    and MUST be stronger than 150,000 psi. This is much more than any cast iron that
    I am aware of, away from home at the present time, can't check my references to
    be 100% certain. Certainly a grade 8 bolt is not brittle, but it will not be as malleable as a
    Grade 5 bolt. This should not be a problem in this application, but a Grade 5 is
    still rated for 120,000 psi ultimate tensile strength.

    In any case, I'd be perfectly comfortable with making a SMLE bolt head from a Grade 8 bolt,
    or from even a Grade 5 bolt, since the bolt is in compression, and the lugs are back on the
    body, this should give you quite a large margin of strength. In my experience, the
    aircraft bolts (AN series) machine a bit nicer finish right off the bat. I have made a number
    of gun parts from AN series aircraft bolts, which have an ultimate tensile strength specification
    of 120,000 psi, too.

    Make sure you get your bolt from a reliable supplier, MANY bolts today are counterfeit, and in
    the aerospace industry, we are all demanding a reliable paper trail from the supplier back
    to the certified manufacturer. Some Chinese and Japanese bolt maker have been making
    low grade bolts with fake SAE or AN head markings.

    Bill
    Last edited by MtGun44; 06-06-2011 at 06:13 PM.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  8. #8
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    You might as well use the strongest available steel you can find, since its a reproduction of a bolt head theres no need to limit yourself to the materials they used long ago to allow economical mass production with the equipments at hand.

    Using a stronger bolt head should increase the safety factor somewhat, though strength of the other load bearing parts remains the same.
    Almost all Enfield action failures involve a broken bolthead, its the first thing to go and when it does pressure on other parts is instantly relieved.
    Only other bolt part I've seen broken in photos was the lefthand bolt lug. The bolt body at that point is a simple tubular piece of steel, other than the guide rib on the opposite side, and the lug itself is not that substantial. That lug broke away taking a chunk of the bolt body, leaving a hole in the body, rather than shearing at an angle as a Mauser or Springfield lug would.

    Making replacement bolt heads could allow one to custom fit the threads to take up slack in the threads of a worn bolt body. Armorers had access to bolt heads with minor variations in thread diameter, so they could use these to improve the fit by trial and error. They also recycled bolt heads, since a bolt head that over clocked due to wear might fit another bolt body perfectly, and a tried and true bolt head was usually more reliable than a new replacement.

    A new replacement bolt head would improve the rifle, but without the accepted proof markings and manufacturers marks it would not improve collector value.
    It could allow continued use of an original matching numbered bolt, which would prevent further loss of collector interest.
    I had to replace the matching number bolt of my SMLE MKIII with a unissued BSA replacement bolt body and bolt head, due to excessive side play and overclocking due to wear. Headspace was fine with the old bolt, but it was still obviously on its last legs. Since the numbered bolt itself showed signs of being a very old armory replacement, and probably scrubbed and renumbered, it was no big loss and the new bolt will make the rifle a better and safer shooter ,if slightly less valuable.

    If a bolt head with over sized shank were available I'd return the numbered bolt to its proper place.
    Bolts are fitted to action bodies with no changes made to the action body, so returning the old bolt should cause no problems.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I guess I'll be using either a Grade-8 or Grade-5 bolt then.

    I figure when it came time to actually run the part, I'd make it out of soft aluminum stock just to see if I could actually do it. I don't see why I couldn't make one myself. The only way to find out is to try.

    I may ruin the first two or three attempts but, ruining short pieces of aluminum rod is alot cheaper than ruining a couple of Grade-8/5 bolts.

    I'm not to terribly concerned about collector value. This is an old Enfield that's just been collecting dust for about a year in my storage room.

    This same Enfield is the one I've mentioned in a couple of different posts having to do with "Blowing up in my face." I never was able to figure out the How-or-Why of it. I'm just glad I wasn't hurt. (blew the bolt-head to smithereens though)

    Since that time I've replaced the previous action with a different Barreled-Action. The latest Bolt-Head it wears is a #3 that measures .635". It's still to short for my liking but, it works just fine with mild loads.

    I'll only be shooting low power cast bullet loads out of it but, in the event that it falls in to someone else's hands I want to be sure it doesn't blow up in their face should they decide to shoot full power loads.

    HollowPoint

  10. #10
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    At least you got away safe. A buddy of mine in Oz had his near new 1942 dated remington 03 crack the receiver with a barely audible ping when shooting it. Being he's done alot of commercial flying the sound bothered him...he looked it over and sure enough the receiver cracked. Had he not heard that telltale sound the next round would have put him in the morgue.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    gew98 is right... that buddy is me!

    First, let me relate a couple more recent episodes of the Springfield M1903 as related to me by a friend who is a competition shooter of milsurps in the USA (he uses K98's). In a recent match, not one, but 2 03's succumbed during the match - one sheared the kingscrew, the other, in typical 03 fashion, cracked the stock behind the tang of the action. Perhaps both shooters did not maintain screw tightness, but then that again is a failing of the 03 "design" (one Mauser overcame by timing the screws and using locking screws)

    Anyway, to my 2 ruined 03's. Bill is wrong in one regard - it was not a Rem 03, it was a late 20's SA 03 and a LATE RI 03, assembled by SA in 1924 or there abouts. Please bear in mind these are not fantasy - they have been verified by Jim Beard and another well known 03 historian in the USA who always prefers his anonymity, but prints books.

    Anyway, case by case:

    1. Rock Island M1903, HIGH serial circa 1918 receiver, assembled in the mid-1920's by SA using an Avis 2-19 dated barrel. This is a HIGH NUMBER receiver. I was using factory 30-06 (Rem by memory - this is about 10 years ago now), when I heard a distinctly odd "twang" sound in the receiver. Odd, so I retired that rifle from firing that day cause I just did not like that sound!

    Got the rifle home, disassembled it. There was a crack in the receiver running from the left index mark back to the Hatcher Hole. From the Hatcher Hole, the crack ran down to the front recoil/screw boss and across the bottom of the receiver. Scrap one 03!

    I had that action cut with a wheel, and kept the front section (sold the barrel etc). I only recently threw it out when we moved house.

    My odds couldn't get worse, could they?

    2. SA VERY late 03 (inter-war). This one had a SHOT OUT barrel, so I decided to import a same-date barrel and rebarrel it. Barrel came out easy, and when the new barrel went in, it was perfect - only needed about a 20 degree wrench turn to align. We went to get the bolt so we could check headspace etc (I was with a certified gunsmith with 30 years experience who used to assemble rifles for Omark / MAB here in Australia). When we came back, the action had split for a good inch. We had assured clean threads on barrel and action, and all was within spec, but somehow, it just twanged open enough for us to be able to see barrel threads! Perhaps - as was surmised by Jim and some others, when the receiver was relieved of the pressure of the old barrel, it had "relaxed" somewhat, and when the new barrel was installed, it "stretched" it again, and pop.

    Which makes one think just how brittle 03 receivers are! Metal fatigue even in the high numbers is obviously evident.

    I swore off 03's from that day on. Not only did I no longer trust them, but they are HORRIBLE rifles to shoot, both in terms of comfort (that buttplate digs in like a darned razor after as few as 20 shots) and sights (and I had 25 year old eyes when I was shooting them). Those rear sights may be fantastic for a range shooter, but on a battle rifle????!!!! VERY serious flawed military suitability, as was borne out in WW1.

    I'll never own another M1903. EVER.

    Besides, MANY MANY military rifles will outshoot it - K98, Arisaka, and even a good Lee Enfield (I had in excess of 190 Lee Enfields in my collection at one point)
    Last edited by Vulch; 06-07-2011 at 12:26 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by Multigunner View Post
    You might as well use the strongest available steel you can find, since its a reproduction of a bolt head theres no need to limit yourself to the materials they used long ago to allow economical mass production with the equipments at hand.

    Using a stronger bolt head should increase the safety factor somewhat, though strength of the other load bearing parts remains the same.
    Almost all Enfield action failures involve a broken bolthead, its the first thing to go and when it does pressure on other parts is instantly relieved.
    Only other bolt part I've seen broken in photos was the lefthand bolt lug. The bolt body at that point is a simple tubular piece of steel, other than the guide rib on the opposite side, and the lug itself is not that substantial. That lug broke away taking a chunk of the bolt body, leaving a hole in the body, rather than shearing at an angle as a Mauser or Springfield lug would.

    Making replacement bolt heads could allow one to custom fit the threads to take up slack in the threads of a worn bolt body. Armorers had access to bolt heads with minor variations in thread diameter, so they could use these to improve the fit by trial and error. They also recycled bolt heads, since a bolt head that over clocked due to wear might fit another bolt body perfectly, and a tried and true bolt head was usually more reliable than a new replacement.

    A new replacement bolt head would improve the rifle, but without the accepted proof markings and manufacturers marks it would not improve collector value.
    It could allow continued use of an original matching numbered bolt, which would prevent further loss of collector interest.
    I had to replace the matching number bolt of my SMLE MKIII with a unissued BSA replacement bolt body and bolt head, due to excessive side play and overclocking due to wear. Headspace was fine with the old bolt, but it was still obviously on its last legs. Since the numbered bolt itself showed signs of being a very old armory replacement, and probably scrubbed and renumbered, it was no big loss and the new bolt will make the rifle a better and safer shooter ,if slightly less valuable.

    If a bolt head with over sized shank were available I'd return the numbered bolt to its proper place.
    Bolts are fitted to action bodies with no changes made to the action body, so returning the old bolt should cause no problems.
    Errrr.....

    Overclocking bolt head is NOT a problem - it is DESIGNED to - it's SUPPOSED to rotate at least 10 to 20 degrees past alignment with the bolt rib. IF it lines up tightly WITH the rib, then it is OUT of spec and NOT corect and potentially a problem.

    The entire design of the bolt is predicated upon the over-rotation of the bolt head so that the bolt does NOT lock up due to dirt ingress, misuse etc. It allows for problems to be ovecome.

    You replaced something most likely NOT incorrect!!!

    Most people who do NOT know the SMLE have no idea about what is right and wrong. The funniest I usually see in US publications is the magazine standing vertical in the triggerguard (so that the back of the mag does not lie flush against the bow) - I can GUARANTEE you'll get misfeeds doing that! It's not supposed to be vertical - it is supposed to be flush against the bow of the triggerguard, till the magazine snaps into place with a distinct audble click.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulch View Post
    Errrr.....

    Overclocking bolt head is NOT a problem - it is DESIGNED to - it's SUPPOSED to rotate at least 10 to 20 degrees past alignment with the bolt rib. IF it lines up tightly WITH the rib, then it is OUT of spec and NOT corect and potentially a problem.
    Someone has fed you completely wrong information there my friend.
    The Bolt head is supposed to clock in exactly with the rib when new, original armorers specs allowed for a small over clocking but only in wartime when resources were tight would they allow a 20 degree over clock situation without pulling the rifle from the line and sending it to be rectified by an armorer.


    The entire design of the bolt is predicated upon the over-rotation of the bolt head so that the bolt does NOT lock up due to dirt ingress, misuse etc. It allows for problems to be ovecome.

    You replaced something most likely NOT incorrect!!!
    Why don't you read the Instructions to Armorers

    (iii) Test the fit of the bolt-head in the bolt, and examine the face for erosion; when erosion is excessive or the rib turns beyond the rib of the bolt freely, fit a longer bolt-head and adjust to the 064 gauge as necessary.


    Most people who do NOT know the SMLE have no idea about what is right and wrong.
    If you actually believe that the bolt heads are supposed to be over clocked then you are describing yourself. I've never seen an Enfield owner make that mistake, much less go on to pontificate about it.
    The amount that a worn bolt /bolthead combination could overclock before replacement was considered necessary increased only as resources for repairs could not keep up with demand.
    The allowance was ten degrees for awhile the increased to twenty degrees, not because any degree of overclocking was considered desirable but rather that they could still judge the rifle as reasonably safe to fire with that much wear and not have to pull it from the line.

    From much of the balderdash I've seen put forth as fact I'm fairly certain that unscrupulous sellers have worked to convince prospective buyers that the worn out actions of their rifles are as they should be. I've even come across a few that claim that a headspace of .084 is no reason for concern claiming that this was allowed in emergency situation when rifles were in short supply.
    I've also personally seen a gunshop owner telling a customer that the loose bolt fit of an Enfield with visibly spread receiver walls was the normal condition, that all Enfields were that loose.
    The Enfield boltway does have plenty of room, they even had to return many Australian Lithgows from the front because the Lithgow actions made before 1916 were too tight to operate in sandy conditions, but there is a limit to how worn or spread these can be before the action body is condemned.


    The funniest I usually see in US publications is the magazine standing vertical in the triggerguard (so that the back of the mag does not lie flush against the bow) - I can GUARANTEE you'll get misfeeds doing that! It's not supposed to be vertical - it is supposed to be flush against the bow of the triggerguard, till the magazine snaps into place with a distinct audble click.
    I've never seen an Enfield displayed in that condition in any gun publication in the US.

    I have seen a TV news logo with an AR 15 with 30 round mag appearing to be inserted backwards, I'm pretty sure that was a photoshop error when they added an image of the dreaded Assault rifle magazine to a photo of an AR with standard 20 round mag for effect. Not all photographers know much if anything about rifles.

    PS
    Heres the Armorers instructions for examining the Bolt of the SMLE MkIII.

    4. Action:—Bolt and bolt-head.
    (i) Test the distance of the bolt from the end of the chamber with gauges .064-inch No. 1 and .074-
    inch No. 1; the bolt should close over the .064, but not over the .074; when using the latter gauge, light
    thumb-pressure only should be applied to the knob. Also test to see that the wing of the bolt-head does
    not lift off the rib of the body.
    (ii) Examine the bolt for fracture and damage, especially at the cocking cam and recoil shoulders.
    Test the striker for free movement and fit in the cocking-piece: gauge the length and radius of the
    striker point; examine the bents and condition of the cam stud of the cocking-piece.
    (iii) Test the fit of the bolt-head in the bolt, and examine the face for erosion; when erosion is
    excessive or the rib turns beyond the rib of the bolt freely, fit a longer bolt-head and adjust to the
    064 gauge as necessary.
    (iv) Examine the extractor at the hook and for fit on the screw, and test to see that the screw is
    secure. Weigh the spring from the hook with the trigger tester - not less than 6 lb. and not more than 9
    lb. should be required to move it.
    Note.—The bolts of rifles in use should be completely stripped at each annual examination and
    lubricated lightly with G.S. oil.
    Heres the examination of the action body.

    Body, etc.—Examine the body of No. 1 rifles for fracture, especially in the region of the recoil shoulders; test the charger guide bridge for security if oil exudes at the rivets, but no appreciable looseness is found, no action is necessary; test to see that the retaining spring is held rigidly by the sear screw. Examine the sear and magazine catch for condition and free movement, and oil, as required.
    Gauge the protrusion of the stock bolt and see that the squared end is correctly located for the keeper plate in the fore-end.
    Locking bolt and safety catch.—Examine for fracture and wear, and test for functioning in both cocked and fired positions of the rifle; see that the locking bolt spring is held firmly by the screw and that the screw is secured.
    And heres a link to a PDF of the pamplet
    http://www.owrpc.co.uk/Applications/1931.pdf
    Last edited by Multigunner; 06-07-2011 at 02:17 AM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    Darn it, I better go tell the 3 unissued (as in NEW, never issued, unfired from proofing) Lithgow SMLE III*'s they are out of spec because all 3 of their bolt heads line up past the rib... damn it, better scrap them. Shame 2 of them are consecutively numbered. Oh, and the "Rifle, Experimental, Shortened and Lightened" also had it's bolt head go past the rib, and it most assuredly was never issued.

    Same for the new just-unwrapped Fazakerley No4 Mk 2 of my friend we just unwrapped 2 weeks ago. Better condemn it as well.

    I guess I just know nothing about Lee Enfields having collected them for 15 years. Damn it to he!!.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Every Lee Enfield I've owned had the bolt head rotate passed the rib.Hollowpoint I'll have one of your No.3 boltheads mate,been looking for one for years. Pat

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulch View Post
    Darn it, I better go tell the 3 unissued (as in NEW, never issued, unfired from proofing) Lithgow SMLE III*'s they are out of spec because all 3 of their bolt heads line up past the rib... damn it, better scrap them. Shame 2 of them are consecutively numbered. Oh, and the "Rifle, Experimental, Shortened and Lightened" also had it's bolt head go past the rib, and it most assuredly was never issued.

    Same for the new just-unwrapped Fazakerley No4 Mk 2 of my friend we just unwrapped 2 weeks ago. Better condemn it as well.

    I guess I just know nothing about Lee Enfields having collected them for 15 years. Damn it to he!!.
    Read the danged instructions to Armorers.
    Those wouldn't be the first Lithgows I've seen that loosened up on first firing. I've seen a boatload of Lithgows that looked as pretty but overclocked by a quarter turn.

    You have rifles that look mighty pretty but if the bolt heads over clocked by 20 degrees when they left the factory they were out of spec according to the Instructions for Armorers of 1931.

    The Instructions for Armorers for the No.4 state that if the bolthead over clocks by more than 20 degrees the bolt head should be replaced.

    The specifications loosened during WW2, but 20 degrees overclocking was not what the rifle was designed to do, it was the maximum wartime allowable overclocking before replacement was mandated.
    My rifle was made long before 1931 and even longer before they loosened up the maximum allowable overclocking specifications.

    Also you never bothered to ask how far my 1915 bolt head overclocked, you just made an assumption about a rifle you've never seen and proceeded to make judgements on a situation you don't truly understand.
    If you've only collected Enfields for 15 years you haven't dealt with them as long as I have.

    And as I suspected you appear to judge the condition of all these milsurp rifles by your experiance with safe queens you would hesitate to fire lest you lower their collector value.

    If you have an Australian Army Armorers manual that instructs that a bolt head that lines up with the rib without over clocking should be turned to 10 degrees past the rib using the bolt head wrench I'd like to see it.
    Last edited by Multigunner; 06-07-2011 at 06:24 AM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Bub
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    Safe queens? Out of the 190 I had in the safes at one point, maybe 10 were safe queens. The rest were well used, and I needn't explain about the bolt heads...

    10 to 20 degrees is HARDLY a quarter turn... more like JUST past TDC of the rib... but you knew that anyway. I am talking about the EDGE of the rib - the bottom edge - not the ENTIRE rib or the top edge. The head should JUST not quite line up.

    I agree, if the rib of the bolt head turns past the entire bolt rib, you have TROUBLE. But, if it turns so that the rib of the head is a wee bit past LINING UP, it's CORRECT.

    Most BSA's I had clocked up about 5 degrees over. Lithgow pre-WW2 the same. Lithgow and BSA WW2, 10 to 20 degrees.

    Ishapore - who cares.

    Armourer's found that is a bolt head clocked up EXACTLY in line with the bolt rib it was MORE likely to jam - they learnt that in WW1 in the mud of France. Post-WW1, they tightened up the specs again, yet as you have mentioned, come WW2, it was loosened again.

  18. #18
    Boolit Man
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    Well to start with, Bolt heads were fitted to each rifle. so while a No3 may have started out a certain length, it could be adjusted by the armourer. Only a NEW unfitted No3 will be the original size. Add to that, A new rifle off the assembly line could have anything from a O bolt head to a 1, or 2, Anything beyond a three is time for an overhaul

    I trust Vulch FAR MORE than multigunner who I am starting to believe is also on www.jouster.com under another handle and noted for his overbearing attitude to anyone who dares to question his gospel.
    Vulch has been collecting and shooting Enfield rifles for MANY YEARS. Although he went to the "dark side" for a while with mousers

    But getting back to the subject, I have a No4Mk2 fresh out of the mummy wrap, and the bolt head does have a slight overtravel.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulch View Post
    Safe queens? Out of the 190 I had in the safes at one point, maybe 10 were safe queens. The rest were well used, and I needn't explain about the bolt heads...

    10 to 20 degrees is HARDLY a quarter turn... more like JUST past TDC of the rib... but you knew that anyway. I am talking about the EDGE of the rib - the bottom edge - not the ENTIRE rib or the top edge. The head should JUST not quite line up.
    And those nice shiny FTR'ed Lithgows in that shipment all had bolt head over clock of a quarter turn, not a few degrees but around 90 degrees. I suspect these were damaged during proof firing prior to being imported, or had been used with unsuitable ammunition before being pulled due to damage and placed in storage till sold off. The lugs showed significant signs of upset as well.


    I agree, if the rib of the bolt head turns past the entire bolt rib, you have TROUBLE. But, if it turns so that the rib of the head is a wee bit past LINING UP, it's CORRECT.

    Most BSA's I had clocked up about 5 degrees over. Lithgow pre-WW2 the same. Lithgow and BSA WW2, 10 to 20 degrees.
    I'll keep my WW1 era Enfield rifle in pre WW2 trim, not degrade it to suit WW2 specifications for a Lithgow. The replacement BSA bolt was from a batch made in 1956 to refurbish SMLE rifles of varied manufacturers and time periods, the matching Bolt Head was selected by the seller for best fit on this bolt body and clocks in perfectly.

    You can expect any well used SMLE will have a few degrees of over clock, not because it left the factory in that condition but due to ordinary wear.


    Ishapore - who cares.

    Armourer's found that is a bolt head clocked up EXACTLY in line with the bolt rib it was MORE likely to jam - they learnt that in WW1 in the mud of France. Post-WW1, they tightened up the specs again, yet as you have mentioned, come WW2, it was loosened again.
    A 20 degree difference would hardly reduce locking surface as much as the average bolt kick up, and would not prevent the bolt from closing far enough for the rifle to be fired.
    Any slack in the fit of the bolt head does increase hammering of the mating shoulders of both bolt head and bolt body leading to a steady increase in wear.
    The Bolts were expected to wear in, not wear out.

    I'd still like to see an armorers manual that states that the bolt head should over turn by ten degrees much less 20 degrees straight from the factory.

    From what I've heard Lithgow no longer manufactured the parts for these rifles, they assembled them from subcontractor supplied parts, contractors with no previous experiance in gunmaking. I also have reason to believe that late wartime rifles were made from a steel that was inferior to that used for pre WW2 rifles, a carbon steel rather than the Chrome Nickel Steel used for other manufacturers SMLE production.
    The WW2 production Lithgows I've seen don't impress me a bit, the pre WW2 Lithgows look to be as good or better than contemporary BSA or Enfields.

    Its not uncommon for a newbie Enfield owner to over clock his bolt head believing they were meant to be screwed down tight, they then visit forums to ask why they can't get their bolt back in the receiver. I've seen these sorts of first posts a number of times. It doesn't take much to loosen the bolt head threading by trying to screw it down tight. I expect thats a major cause of over clocking , careless recruits not following proper procedure when reassembling the bolt after cleaning and damaging the threads. I've also seen a friend do the same first time he tried cleaning his 1918 BSA, luckily I saw what he was doing and stopped him, but it resulted in about ten degrees over turn when there had been no visible overturn before.

    The side play was far more of a concern to me, though over clocking that couldn't be reduced by other bolt heads I'd tried was reason enough to replace the bolt body. Headspace was fine at .068, the maximum commercial limit during the early 20th century and the measurement to be expected after proof testing and before wear increased it.
    The Replacement bolt bodies and bolt heads are pre proofed and bear the proper markings.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
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    5,532
    Quote Originally Posted by bydand View Post
    I trust Vulch FAR MORE than multigunner who I am starting to believe is also on www.jouster.com under another handle and noted for his overbearing attitude to anyone who dares to question his gospel.
    I couldn't care less who you put your faith in, facts are facts, read the manuals gun safety is not faith based.
    Vulch has been collecting and shooting Enfield rifles for MANY YEARS.
    And managed to do so without actually reading the manual.

    Slight is an unscientific term, and I could care less about what I'd consider a "slight" overturn.
    Huge Honking Over turn is a different matter.

    I believe Vulch's own words disprove his earlier claim.
    Originally Posted by Vulch
    Errrr.....

    Overclocking bolt head is NOT a problem - it is DESIGNED to - it's SUPPOSED to rotate at least 10 to 20 degrees past alignment with the bolt rib. IF it lines up tightly WITH the rib, then it is OUT of spec and NOT corect and potentially a problem.
    Most BSA's I had clocked up about 5 degrees over. Lithgow pre-WW2 the same
    So either the BSA and Lithgow rifles were not in spec at less than ten degrees over clock, or his original claim was wrong.
    The Enfield bolt was not designed to be ten or more degrees off the money, normal wear could result in a creeping loosening of the thread fit over time.
    Last edited by Multigunner; 06-07-2011 at 08:48 AM.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check