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Thread: Misaligned Lee Enfield chamber - any hope?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Misaligned Lee Enfield chamber - any hope?

    I have this 'sporterized' SMLE with a fairly tight bore that is actually quite good for the first 3/4 of it's length. Well, I found that paper patched boolits were engaging the rifling unevenly. I suspected an offset chamber and further testing has convinced me this is the case. The last boolit I tested shows a distorted base where the uneven entry into the bore is most evident.

    Is there any hope for this rifle? Can such a rifle ever shoot straight? What would be the best bullets to try?

    A normal patch, fired in another rifle


    A patch from this rifle.




    A boolit showing the two sides

    [/url]

    In the first image the rifling impression goes up to the nose while in the second image the impression is only on the base shank. Notice also the base rebate is ironed out in the first image but still present in the second.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 03-13-2018 at 03:15 AM.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    leebuilder's Avatar
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    Try a chamber cast. I have seen this twice before. Once not sure of the cause. The other looked like someone had a drill up their to remove a stuck case or just plain ??????
    Be safe
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    How does it actually shoot?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Just find a better barrel, there should still be a few out there.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I haven't taken it to the range yet. I'm wanting to load something up to try in it and am wondering what would be the most likely options, like heavy bullets or boolits or lighter bullets or boolits. What would have the best chance in an out of line chamber?

    Getting a new barrel would cost many times the price of the rifle. It's a project rifle, intended as a suppressed carbine - it's been 'sporterized'. But it was cheap. I have seen a few good used barrels on sale but quite pricey.
    I'll see if I can do a chamber cast.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 03-15-2018 at 12:03 AM.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I have a Savage 99E (the cheap yeller stocked model) in 308 that has a chamber that shows a bit of a non-centered cartridge throat. I fire-polished more than advised, then use moly-coated bullets 165-180 grains too acheive accuracy 1.5 to 2 MOA at 100 yards. Not super, but OK. With boolits I can manage 2 MOA (100 yards) using the 311332 at .309 with 25 grs RL7. Works for offhand practice and 25 yard speed practice. Did kill a spike elk with it using 190 Hornady.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Thanks, MostlyLeverGuns . That is encouraging. I have in mind a carbine for bush hunting so that would do but you know how it is, there will always be a longer shot presented when you don't have the right gun for it.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I found a boolit that seems to align in the bore.



    It's a two diameter boolit that sits firmly in the throat with the boolit base at the case neck.



    The 'lube' was AutoSol metal polish. I smeared some on the base shank before seating then on the exposed shank and a blob on the nose. I'll do a few more of those and see how well the bore polishes up. Then I'll probably try then on the range with lube. Or maybe on the range with the AutoSol trick? Not sure if that would have any effect on accuracy though but at least it will be polishing the bore and not leading.

    The trouble is, until I have cropped off the damaged fore section of bore, I won't know what is causing inaccuracy.



    Believe it or not there is still rifling in there. Just not as clean as the rest of the bore and going back some six or more inches.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 03-16-2018 at 08:36 PM.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    If you plan only low pressure loads you could consider boring out the chamber, installing a sleeve and chambering the sleeve with a good .303 reamer.
    EDG

  10. #10
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I was thinking about that. I might need to lose some eight inches of barrel to get to sharp rifling. A short barrel would suit low pressure just fine. That fired boolit had something like 3 grs of BullsEye behind it. Not sure how fast that would be moving but for paper target or empty beer cans, it would be just fine. Besides, coming close to sonic with a boolit that heavy is still low pressure with the right powder and that boolit is something like 220 grs.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 03-17-2018 at 09:02 PM.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I'm looking at doing a chamber cast at the moment. I'll have to give this some thought as I have never done one before. An idea I have come up with is to use an epoxy putty as it is going of but still pliable. The stuff in question softens when heated (below boiling point of water) so in a worst case scenario it can still be removed easily.

    So here it is.




    Notice that axial line on the first image. There are also suspicious irregularities on the chamber end. I would think those are from corrosion and I don't see them being of any significance.

    I have no way of checking for misalignment from this cast. I will have to do a whole chamber and throat for that. When I roll the cast on a flat surface it runs without wobble or any sign of runout. I'm wondering whether the chamber alignment is Ok after all.

    At least now I know what the throat profile is.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 03-17-2018 at 11:51 PM.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I have never used paper patched bullets. But I know a rough surface texture on one side of the throat will grab a patch or paper jacket unevenly and possibly cause what is tearing your paper patch.

    Fire lapping or 50 to 100 jacketed rounds might smooth out a rough throat.
    EDG

  13. #13
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Interesting thought. The bore looks smooth on all sides in the throat area and the cast I did would confirm. However, that axial ridge which corresponds to a groove in one land could be the culprit. Also, there is that roughness at the chamber end. Perhaps firelapping is in order. I would like to test this rifle with jacketed's so maybe I should start there with the first few being rolled in grit.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Could be corrosion or crud up at the base of the neck.
    When you read the fine print you get an education
    when you ignore the fine print you get experience

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I've heard of an Australian barrel mod to convert to .30-30 Winchester for 200 yard match shooting. The smaller case being more efficient when light loads are used.

    The barrel shank is cut off and bored and threaded, the cut off barrel is threaded and screwed into the shank then reamed for the .30-30 chamber.
    The chamber neck should be wide enough that there is no binding when .303 bullets are seated in the case neck.

    If done in this manner , whether converting to .30-30 or re chambering in .303 , you could choose the section of barrel with the best rifling.

    Probably more trouble than its worth but its a proven option.

    PS
    The articles I've read on the manufacture of Milspec Lee Enfield barrels would suggest that a misaligned chamber would be impossible. A sub contracted barrel perhaps.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I've long been interested in a 30-30 chambering on the Lee Enfield. As you say, it would be more efficient for lighter loads. Probably an ideal cast boolit set up for the LE. Or maybe I can find take off barrel.

    I have been coming to the conclusion that the chamber is not misaligned after all. I'm planning on loading a few 180gr Speer RN's and giving it a go at the range to see what it does. I might first fire a reduced load into my test tube to see how it rides the bore.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 03-21-2018 at 12:27 AM.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I did a test with a paper patched boolit with similar profile to the plain cast boolit that aligned.



    It looks promising. It's a heavy - heavier than I need but made for a good test, I thought. The charge was 5 gr of Clays. The patch shows a reasonably even cutting through and came off at the muzzle.

    The boolit set firmly into the chamber with the base level with the neck base, same as the plain cast. Perhaps that is the trick to get this gun to shoot. I'll be testing shorter boolits then loading up for range testing.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 04-01-2018 at 01:09 AM.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  18. #18
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I decided to fire a jacketed bullet into catch medium to see how that aligns.



    The bullet is clearly distorted. What is not visible is the land impression on the right side of the bullet. That impression goes further up than the two visible impressions which can be seen as unequal.
    Last edited by 303Guy; 04-09-2018 at 03:08 AM.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

    ''Assume everything that moves is a human before identifying as otherwise''

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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
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