• Myths and Truths of No.1 EY Rifles (by Peter Laidler)

    The following article is published with the kind permission of Advisory Panel Member, Mr. Peter Laidler. On behalf of MILSURPS.COM members, we'd like to publicly thank him for his support of this forum, as well the broader Lee Enfield collector community in general.

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    "Myths and Truths of No.1 EY Rifles"
    By Peter Laidler

    You might be interested to know that the last time, so far as I’m aware, that No1 EY rifles were removed from mobilization/war reserve stocks for overhaul was in the late 60’s. This was certainly the case for the UK MoD. It would appear that they were removed again within a year or so later, destined for the great scrap yard in the sky. But have you ever wondered how it was done?

    Right, this is how. The .060” diameter copper wire …..OK then for you oldies, 17SWG would be unrolled from the spool then wrapped tightly around a thick, stout hardwood handle, as shown in the picture. This was the way that the wire was kept tight. The rifle being overhauled or donor rifle would be greased-up and assembled, less the butt and bolt and a brass plug pressed or tapped lightly into the muzzle so that it gripped the rifling. Then a totally stripped slave bolt was inserted into the boltway. The brass plug was then put into a lathe chuck and a rotating centre inserted into the hole at the rear of the bolt. Thus, the butt-less rifle would rotate about the axis of the bore.

    The end of the copper wire would be threaded through a .060” hole in the fore-end, at the start point of the binding (or just under the nose-cap for the first run…..). Then the Armourer, holding the wooden handle tight, would allow the lathe to run at a very slow speed while he kept the handle and wire TIGHT but allowed it to wind its way down for the required distance. The distances being 5” down from the nose-cap and for 2” up, from a point 1.5” from the front of the body. It could all be done quite quickly

    The first and last 6 coils of the binding were soldered. Simple isn’t it.

    The rifle shown here, from the Small Arms School at Warminster shows the correct marking applicable to the period with the yellow EY and dark green band extending to both sides of the butt. Interestingly and contrary to popular belief, the EY rifle (and the Sub Standard rifle) was perfectly safe for firing ball ammunition but the extra bore wear and subsequent lack of accuracy was catered for in a more relaxed accuracy pattern on the Armourers test range. And yes, they were all range tested too!

    Thanks to former Armourer ‘Robbie’ Robertson who was able to shed light on this. Robbie also commented that ‘………….. we did about 250 of the rifles in 1967 or so but I don’t ever remember seeing any of the actual cups since Korea in the early 50’s. I don’t think we had any!’

    Maybe, just maybe, the EY rifle ought to be classed as a true classic and deserving of a place in every Enfield collection, alongside that other now classic, the DP L59 No4

    The Author with the roll of old .060” diameter….., OK then, 17SWG for you £ shillings and pence oldies!

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Same again, coiled tightly around what looks suspiciously like a mallet handle! Notice how Capt Mainwaring has dyed his normally dark brown, thick wavy hair to a more serious and mature ash grey colour in order to give him that certain gravitas. Now, the shop cashiers don’t keep pestering him for proof of age when buying drinks and fireworks.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    An EY rifle muzzle, from Warminster. Properly wrapped with the first and last 6 coils being soft soldered. This binding was to coincide with the start of the rod from a rodded grenade in order to strengthen that part of the barrel.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Same again, this time, the breech and reinforce. Note the ¼” BSF bolt. Some call this ‘the Ishy screw’ due to the fact that all/most rifles FTR’d at Ishapore are reinforced at this point with an ugly wood screw. Very few realize that this screw is actually a REME sanctioned and authorized repair and of 28 or so No4 DP rifles recently culled from Devon and Cornwall Cadets/schools, two were modified in this way ….. And they hadn’t been anywhere near India!

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    The Warminster EY showing the ‘non standard but fit to fire using service ammunition’ kakhi 2” wide band and the yellow EY identifier.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Copyright ©2006 - 2009 by Peter Laidler and MILSURPS.COM

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. In addition to being a trained and highly experienced military "Armourer", Peter Laidler has authored two excellent books about the No.4(T) sniper rifles and their No.32 scopes. They are titled "An Armourer's Perspective: .303 No.4(T) Sniper Rifle", which he co-authored with Ian Skennerton and his own dedicated work, "Telescope Sighting No.32".

    If you're really interested in some in-depth learning about the No.4(T) sniper rifles and the No.32 series of scopes, their history, evolution, repair and adjustments for shooting, I'd highly recommend those two books, which are pictured below.
    ....... (Feedback by "Badger")

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Note: The opinions expressed herein or statements made in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Military Surplus Collectors Forums, or the ownership and moderation group of this site. MILSURPS.COM accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein. Also, please note that neither the author nor MILSURPS.COM recommends that any member of these forums, or a reader of this article, try this type of experimentation without the proper knowledge, equipment and training.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Myths and Truths of No.1 EY Rifles (by Peter Laidler) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. harlton's Avatar
      Hello to one and all,
      New to the forum, other than as a lurker and user of knowledge.
      I have a dilemma, I have a 1904 EY sht lee all original, sights,wood, volley sights, matching #'s the whole ball of wax. Actually one of my favorite rifles.
      The Thing is, it's been deemed an EY at some point, and the copper wire has been wrapped around it, obviously back in the day. The thing is it needs a good clean and the wood needs soaking in oil.
      Once I take the original wire off, it's gone forever and if it's gone, should I bother to put it back, the wood is all original, as is the rifle. I'm not sure once it's off I'll want to put it back, although I don't know what's under the wire.
      So the question is should I remove it, or leave it alone, for another 100yrs. I know 1904's are few and far between, how about with wire on or off.
      All the best Ian
BadAce Tactical