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Question on #'s.

Printed From: Enfield-Rifles.com
Category: Enfields
Forum Name: Enfield Rifles
Forum Description: Anything that has to do with the great Enfield rifles!
URL: http://www.enfield-rifles.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=10263
Printed Date: November 30 2020 at 11:46am
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Topic: Question on #'s.
Posted By: Honkytonk
Subject: Question on #'s.
Date Posted: January 25 2020 at 10:32am
I was looking over the No1 MkIII I purchased this past fall. The gentleman said it's a matching numbers Lithgow. I really didn't pay much attention to that as I just thought it was a cool rifle regardless. The numbers do match on the receiver, bolt and nose guard. Nothing on the magazine or furniture. My question is: What constitutes a "numbers matching" rifle? Thanks!



Replies:
Posted By: shiloh
Date Posted: January 25 2020 at 1:00pm
For me, it`d be receiver and bolt.
I guess some real anal collectors would want everything and anything on the rifle as it was new issued.
I could never afford an un-knackered one so, bolt and receiver for me.
My1915 is forced matched and re-serialized by an armorer at some time, but that`s ok with me, because that`s history and how things were done.





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shoot em if you got em


Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: January 25 2020 at 3:01pm
Bolt, receiver, barrel, rear sight & nosecap on a SMLE.
Not all mags were numbered so a "blank" one is fine as is a number matching one. A non matching numbered one is not right.


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: January 25 2020 at 3:18pm
Armourers manual state that on the No1 Mk3 there are three parts that are 'specific' to an individual rifle, these being Action, Bolt and Nosecap.
If the rifle is ever disassembled these three parts MUST be kept together and reassembled together on the correct rifle.

Also, extract from :

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ARMOURERS
PART II
SMALL ARMS
CHAPTER I

Section 3.—Examination
Rifles No. 1 and No. 2, Mk. IV*
The following instructions are for general guidance; the sequence may be varied to meet special circumstances, e.g., when a particular defect due to unfair wears or other cause is prevalent, or when a brief examination only is called for. Reference should be made to Section 4 for Modifications,

1. General.—
Examine the rifle to see that the number, and the series letter where marked, on the nose-cap, fore-end, sight leaf, barrel and bolt agree with the number on the body, and that the rifle is
complete. Record deficiencies, if any and damage due to unfair wear for report.


Note : the sight leaf, forend and barrel are now added to the list of numbered parts in the 1931 issue of the Instructions to Armourers


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 5:44am
I had removed the rear windage adjustable site and retained. This was because I mounted a P-H apature rear site. I checked the site I had removed and that number does not match the receiver, nose cap and bolt.


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 6:58am
...so,in affect, it could be a dispersal rifle?...


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 8:39am
I read some posts on dispersal rifles, but admit, I'm not quite sure I understand. Please correct my definition;
-Used rifle comes in to armourer
- Armourer checks, decides rifle is unfit for service
- Worn parts are replaced, rifle brought up to spec
- The action, bolt, sights are all restamped with a matching new serial number

Am I close?


Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 8:50am
That's more like an FTR!
Dispersal rifles had parts made new in several small factories with experience in that kind of manufacturing. Scale makers made sights & so on.
The finished parts went to the central factory to be built into complete new rifles.
It was done this way to prevent disruption to manufacture because of say a bombing raid damaging the one factory that was making the entire gun.


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 10:33am
So is a dispersal rifle considered as good as a single factory rifle? Or am I missing the point again! Thanks! Be patient, Im learning!


Posted By: englishman_ca
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 10:42am
The Luftwaffe was disrupting manufacturing at the factory.

The term dispersal comes from the manufacturing of components being dispersed around the country to many small (and not so small) sub contractors.

BSA was the assembler of all the parts into rifles. Some say the B letter on the wrist is for BSA.
I am more on the thinking that the rifle was intended to be generic with no maker shown. 

The B actually denotes a Birmingham assembled rifle.  

The dispersal rifles were assembled using new and used parts. Even some receivers were scrubbed and recycled. Nothing new about this, if a used part gauged within limits, it went back into the bins. If it had serial numbers, such as a sight leaf, the old numbers would be struck out and new numbers applied.

The completed rifles were gauged to the same tolerances as those of regular production. Standards were not dropped. Allowances for finish were made, but only cosmetic with tooling marks and such. But a dispersal rifle was made to factory standards. It is not a second rate rifle.

 


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Look to your front, mark your target when it comes!


Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 11:24am
Originally posted by Honkytonk Honkytonk wrote:

So is a dispersal rifle considered as good as a single factory rifle? Or am I missing the point again! Thanks! Be patient, Im learning!


I have previously used the term 'mongrel' which is a commonly used word in the UK, but apparently has very strong negative connotations in the US

I wouldn't rate them as being a 'quality' rifle being built up from any parts that could be found lying in old boxes, under the carpet etc.

Up until 1940, BSA made normal high-quality No1 MkIII* on limited military contracts, marked with the usual Crown and BSA&Co, as well as identical rifles just marked "BSA&Co" for commercial sale and export.
With the invasion scare, the Ministry of Supply ordered BSA to make rifles out of whatever parts it could get together. Hence the rifles were made of mixtures of commercial and military parts, mixed walnut and beech wood (or all-beech), later on No4 butts and firing pin/cocking pieces. A second wave of production in 1945 even used recycled and re-dated receivers.
About the same time the emergency rifle production was started, BSA was ordered to disperse its many Birmingham factories away from the bomb-target central area, and also to increase war production by diluting experienced staff with war staff. BSA was a huge engineering group, and this "Dispersal" programme led to 70 seperate factories being set up, moved and/or expanded. Rifle production involved several of these factories (both No1s and No4s), and this type of "all available parts" No1 has become known as a "Dispersal rifle". Technically, even the No4s were Dispersals, as well as motorbikes, bicycles, aircraft parts, machine guns and heavy weaponry...
BSA marked these rifles with just the first "B" of BSA&Co. Presumably this was to dissociate the company from these slightly less-than top quality peacetime rifles!



Posted By: The Armourer
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 11:30am
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

That's more like an FTR!
Dispersal rifles had parts made new in several small factories with experience in that kind of manufacturing. Scale makers made sights & so on.
The finished parts went to the central factory to be built into complete new rifles.
It was done this way to prevent disruption to manufacture because of say a bombing raid damaging the one factory that was making the entire gun.


What you are describing there is the 'Peddled Scheme' (as used by SSA).
This scheme used a variety of different (independent) companies to make 'bits' within their capabilities, the barrel and action being made by SSA then SSA assembled the parts into a rifle.

The "Dispersal Scheme" was simply the component manufacturing was all based in factories owned by BSA but the quality was pretty poor as many of the extra employees were just 'drafted in' women who had no firearms or engineering experience.


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 11:36am
For me,a Peddled Scheme or a dispersal rifle or both hold a much higher value to me for what was involved in getting them up and running. I like mutts...


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 3:22pm
Again... my ignorance. I'm not sure my Lithgow 1919 No1 MkIII's production was disrupted by the Luftwaffe. 


Posted By: paddyofurniture
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 4:18pm
Originally posted by Honkytonk Honkytonk wrote:

Again... my ignorance. I'm not sure my Lithgow 1919 No1 MkIII's production was disrupted by the Luftwaffe. 

It was the German air force with Zeplins.


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Always looking for military manuals, Dodge M37 items,books on Berlin Germany, old atlases ( before 1946) , military maps of Scotland. English and Canadian gun parts.


Posted By: A square 10
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 4:52pm
i gotta agree that OPs rifle is not a dispersal or peddled scheme - he stated it was a lithgow in first post , he wanted to know what parts were numbered on an original lithgow in that time period i think , i will defer to those that know lithgows 

all of this is great info for those that didnt know tho , 


Posted By: Homer
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 5:49pm
No I think the OP’s question was what constitutes a matching Enfield. But for the record, the 1919 Lithgow was originally numbered from the factory, action, bolt, barrel, sight, nosecap and forwood. Definitely not the magazine and possibly the butt at state/unit level. Much later in WW2 barrels and sights weren’t numbered. But if all these numbers aren’t matching on a 1919 Lithgow that’s presumed to be original, it’s not matching. However, if the rifles been through a repair or a refurb of some kind, it may not have had the same parts numbered. For example, if it had undergone a refurb early post WW2 and marked on the butt R over MA over month/45/46/47, very possibly only the bolt and action will match. Barrels, sights, nosecaps and wood were left blank. Those that have a deeper understanding of the Australian service lee Enfield will have a better idea determining what’s correct and what’s not.


Posted By: BJ72
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 5:53pm
Honkytonk

Since your rifle was originally made by Lithgow (That's in Australia folks) I'll give you a bit of a summary in relation to their serial number markings.

Production was never disrupted by bombing or the like in either world war. The enemy never got close enough to Lithgow. With the help of our American friends (and a few others) we chased them off Clap

Early Lithgow made SMLE rifles were serial numbered throughout. The serial number was applied to the bolt, receiver, barrel, underside of the forend, nose cap, under the rear sight and in some in very early rifles, the rear sight base and the rear stock. The bayonet was also serial numbered to the rifle.

This changed in WW2 and by the end of the war the serial number was only applied to the bolt, receiver, underside of forend and and the nose cap. They also stopped putting serial numbers on the bayonets, That's for new rifles as they left the factory.

In the mid to late 40's, Lithgow also ran a refurbishment program where rifles were rebuilt. These refurbished rifles normally only had the serial number applied to the bolt and receiver. The rest of the components were unnumbered. They will be marked on the butt with the year and date they were rebuilt, such as R over MA 11/45 for a rifle rebuilt in November 1945.

Then from around 1950 on, Lithgow ran their FTR (factory thorough refurbished) program. These rifles were totally rebuilt and brought up to new rifles specs. Serial number application seems to vary a bit with these. They will always have matching bolts and receivers. The nose cap and the underside of the forend is usually numbered as well. Some had the serial number on the barrel and others didn't. These rifles are stamped FTR on the receiver. The year they went through FTR is also stamped on the left side of the receiver just above the trigger guard. Example, MA/50 for a rifle refurbished in 1950.

You will also find English SMLE rifles that went through both rebuild processed in Australia as a lot of English rifles ended up in Australian hands during both wars.

If you have an early Lithgow SMLE, it may well have ended up in English hands and may have been rebuilt by the English at some point. At the outbreak of WW1, Australia sent any rifles we could spare to England to assist.

All early Lithgow rifles were completely made and assembled at Lithgow. During WW2 production of components took place at various feeder factories and the components will be stamped accordingly. WA- Wellington feeder factory, BA - Bathurst feeder factory, FA - Forbes feeder factory, SLAZ - Slazenger wood workd etc.

By the end of WW2 production and assembly of the SMLE had been moved from Lithgow to the Orange (name of the town) rifle factory. Despite the fact the rifles were assembled in a totally different location, for some reason we still refer to them as Lithgow rifles. Probably because they were still stamped MA Lithgow. At the end of WW2, refurbishment and FTR of the SMLE took place back at Lithgow.

Magazines were never serial numbered on any Lithgow made SMLE's.

Soo...., to answer your original question, when do you consider a Lithgow SMLE all matching? It depends on when it was made or refurbished.

For me, the main thing for a rifle we intend to shoot is a matching bolt and receiver. If they don't match, we then need to start looking at the locking lug bearing surfaces to make sure they are both bearing evenly.

Hopefully that might help you understand your rifles history a bit better.


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My idea of gun control is hitting what I aim at and nothing else.


Posted By: BJ72
Date Posted: January 26 2020 at 5:58pm
Looks like Homer and I were replying at the same time Big smile


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My idea of gun control is hitting what I aim at and nothing else.


Posted By: A square 10
Date Posted: January 27 2020 at 5:12pm
looks like you both chimed in perfectly , and answered the OP questions far better than i could have , 

i get that an "original rifle" might vary from one period to the next and that markings were not always in all places as noted , i have a BSA that is all matching - not force matched after refurb , its not marked in every location that one of my longbranch all matchings are , thats why i suggested an ausie that collects lithgows respond , i dont own a lithgow - never found the right one that tripped my trigger and opened my wallet , 



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