• Phoenix Rising from the Ashes - Part 1 (by Peter Laidler)

    The following article is published with the kind permission of Advisory Panel Member, Peter Laidler. Capt. Peter Laidler is the senior Armourer in the UK Military, now retired, but based as a Technical Officer at the UK Military Small Arms School. 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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    "Phoenix Rising from the Ashes"
    (Part 1)

    or … how to rebuild of a totally unserviceable scrap No.32 telescope.

    By Peter Laidler

    This series of articles, together with the photographs, is hopefully going to detail the complete rebuild of a totally unserviceable, scrap No32 telescope. But before you get tooooo carried away, just be advised that should you be following this article with a view to making the incomplete one in your tool box, the one that you bought for £8 or $16, 30 years ago then forget it!

    This is the problem. In this case, a crushed ocular end that has taken the ocular lens cell with it. The front shade has also been damaged. But at least the shade can be repaired!

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    As for spare parts, well, everyone knows that the optics are available, albeit at steadily rising prices, from the No42 and 53 telescopes available from arms fairs and Ebay. The difference between the two is that the No42 has SEPARATE ocular lenses (lenses, a spacer and counter cell (or eye lens retaining ring). These are good for the No32 Mk1 and the earlier Mk2’s. The No53 has an eye lens cell (the brass cell, the lenses, spacer and a counter cell) This lens cell is suitable for the later Mk2’s and the Mk3/L1A1 telescope. I’m digressing a bit but…………. The remainder of the suitable spares from the No42 and 53 are the:

    Erector cell assembly: This might need skimming to fit your telescope. But whatever you do, DO NOT damage in any way, the stopdown hole in the shroud.

    Locking segment: Usually interchange throughout. Some are made from brass, other from a sintered alloy that is now crumbling due to age. You might need to smooth file one edge to get it to fit into the replacement tube.

    Segment cover: Once again, they usually FIT but the small 4BA clearance holes might need adjusting with a small needle file to mate with your telescope. Not interchangeable with the later Mk3 that are retained by 2 4BA screws, through small wings across the centre.

    OG or front lens: Only interchangeable with the Mk1 and 2 telescope. But I’ll let you into a little secret. While the No42 and 53 (and No32 Mk1 and 2) OG lens will fit into a Mk3 telescope, due to its smaller diameter, the fact remains that due to its loose fit, there is not the slightest chance of zeroing a Mk3 telescope with a smaller diameter OG lens. I won’t go into the technicalities but think of a moving prism cell telescope like the Pattern 18. If the OG lens moves, it is in effect a moving prism! BUT, if you wrap a piece of suitable thickness shim around the OG cell body, so that it is a snug fit in the Mk3 tube, then you have solved the problem
    Front shade: Once again, only interchangeable with the Mk1 and 2 telescopes. But, once again, they can be converted by machining the internal thread right up to the internal stop then once you’ve done that, cutting OUT the first inch of thread. In effect, moving the thread further up into the tube and making a clearance behind it. I tell you this for what it’s worth so that if you ARE in a jam, there is help on the horizon!

    You’ll see and read during this series of talks that if you’re REALLY up the creek, then you might be able to utilize the tube too!

    Additionally, doing it this way can be achieved using a relatively simple workshop. You don’t need the facilities of a vast workshop or even a fully equipped REME machinery lorry….., although I used it for some of this article

    The telescope in question, a Watson Mk2 had previously been, so far as was possible, stripped for spares. The reason for this was that the rear/ocular lens housing had been crushed, destroying the ocular lens cell and valuable lenses. The damage and distortion to the tube effectively prevented the removal of the erector cell through the rear.

    At the front/OG end, the front ray shade thread had stripped and the last Instrument technician had attempted to rectify it by securing it with an 8BA screw….., several times! Slight distortion during this operation …..or bodge, depending on your point of view, had distorted the front tube, making it impossible to remove the inner tube (see parts list, part number OS 3877) and cursor/deflection slide (part OS 3878). All in all, it was what you might politely describe as ‘a mess’.

    This time, the OG end showing where the stripped threaded shade had been retained with a screw……, right through the inner tube!

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    We need to do two things. Firstly to strip it fully and secondly, if we are to attempt to rebuild this telescope to new or certainly Base Workshop condition, then we also need a donor No42 or 53 telescope. The donor No42 or 53 telescope is going to be a valuable source of spare parts. And when you’ve used what YOU need, recoup some of your money by selling off the rest!

    Our damaged No32 with the donor No42. Note the ocular end of the No42 main tube has been machined down from 1.016” to exactly 1” diameter and cut off, ready for grafting on to out No32.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Not too many years ago, such a telescope would have been stripped for what bits could be removed and scrapped……… as indeed happened to this. Events have seen that with the prices of No4T rifles rocketing skywards and every part now available, albeit as poor or perfect reproductions, it is uneconomic to scrap telescopes as we casually did several years ago. For the simple reason that while it’s one thing to replicate a bracket or a set of pads, it’s quite another to even TRY to replicate a No32 telescope! This telescope also suffered from another problem. One of the erector segment cover screws and three of the deflection/range turret screws had sheared. But more about this later.

    With damage like this crushed ocular end, it is absolutely pointless attempting to straighten it out for several reasons. The first being that when you bend steel, it stretches it. And when you bend it back, it stretches it further! This compounds the second problem because for optical reasons, the larger diameter rear/ocular lens end must be exactly concentric with the main tube.

    The next paragraph details some fine instrument or model makers work that you might like to entrust to someone used such fine detailed work! To remove the sheared off 8BA turret and segment cover screws you will need to mount the turrets and/or tube exactly square to the drilling machine, taking extra care with the angle of the segment cover screw. Then drill carefully down into the centre of the sheared off screw with an 8BA tapping size drill (.071” or 1.8mm) until you clear the bottom of the sheared off thread. Do this to each, then clean out the thread with an 8BA tap, taking it down half a thread at a time. And while you’re there, run the tap down each of the other holes too. It is an easy mistake to let the drill run off-true. If you do this and it runs into the brass turret housing, have no fear. Simply use a fine centre to re-drill oversize to the depth of the original hole. Now, get a suitable snug fit length of brass brazing rod, file a small flat on one side, and soft solder it into the hole. I use 3mm plain brazing rod and it works a treat. Now, using the original index plate as a guide, just re-drill and tap to the standard 8BA. You’ve guessed in one of course…… Of the 4 sheared off screws in this example, 2 had to be plugged, drilled and re-tapped! It’s called ‘sods law’ in polite Army language…………….

    Our No32 mounted in a lathe chuck with the damaged ocular end cut off and machined EXACTLY to length.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    And again, close up showing the ocular end cut off. This time, it has been undercut internally to .960” diameter for a depth of .5”

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Now for a bit of mathematics……….. You have got to cut the damaged ocular end OFF the tube. So here’s what I suggest you do. Mount the tube in a lathe chuck, using a lathe bed steady as you’ll have 5” or so hanging out of the chuck (or cut it carefully) and cut the damaged end off at a point exactly CENTRALLY between the position of the rear bracket cradle. For our purposes, this distance is 2.05” from the rear of the segment cover collar. You will now need to bore out the usual .920” INSIDE diameter of the cut tube to ..960” diameter for a depth of approx .5” or so. From this, you will see that you have halved the .040” thickness of the sidewall of the tube.

    This time, the ocular end having been cut from the donor No42, cut exactly to length and shown with the centre inserted, being machined to .960” diameter for a distance of .5”

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Now, if the true end of your telescope is/was 5.25” from the rear of the segment cover collar, you will need a new end 3.2” long (5.25 – 2.05 = 3.2) cut from the No42/53 tube to graft onto your No32 tube. But let’s not get carried away because it’s a little more difficult than that.

    Firstly, the No42/53 tube is in fact 1.016 to 1.018” in diameter. So you’ll need to machine the required length of the main diameter of the donor tube to exactly 1” to match the diameter of your original No32 tube because this is just where the rear bracket cradle and cap will grip it. (On the other hand, you could simply machine the donor tube section down to match afterwards but that’s a matter for you!)
    Secondly, we’re not going to butt join the two parts together. Don’t forget, we have undercut the No32 telescope tube to .960” for a depth of .5”. So our donor ocular end must be 3.2” long PLUS .5” so that the .5” diameter, now machined down to .960” can slide into and be secured within the undercut. Is that all as clear as I can make it? If not ASK NOW and always remember this phrase. MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE.

    All that having been done and with the ocular end a tight push fit into the front end, you are now in a position to fix the two together. What I have always done is to simply clean, flux and tin the two mating surfaces. I put the front end in the lathe chuck, rotate it slowly and watch the soft solder cover the whole of the .960” diameter surface. Tin the ocular end and using a centre in the lathe tailstock while playing the flame across both tinned parts, gently press the new ocular end onto the needy front end. I use a centre simply because this ensures that the new ocular end is EXACTLY concentric. Simple isn’t it. You can see/understand now that the strength of this repair is in the fact that the rear bracket cradle and cap are extra support for the undercut join.

    Our rebuilt tube assembled, ready to be fluxed and tinned.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Again, now tinned and firmly soft soldered. Look carefully to see the joint ring. The joint ring is barely visible and in any case, will be hidden and additionally secured under the rear mount cradle and cap.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    If you want to be pedantic, then while you’re there, align the counter cell retaining screw to the 12 o’clock position. Now, another little secret. You can easily utilize this method of repair to fix the crushed/damaged rear end right up to the locking segment collar, undercutting the locking segment collar instead. Oh, don’t worry about the locking segment hole or cover screw holes not aligning afterwards………, just drill out and file/thread the new holes to coincide with what’s already there on the existing tube! The strength in this method is in the fact that the front and rear cradle and cradle caps are supporting the length of the tube. But there’s a drawback! Using this method of repair you need a lightly engraved No42/53 telescope and hope that the machining needed to bring the external diameter from 1.016” to 1.000” removes the old markings. Just a point to ponder! The next thing is to clean of any excess soft solder internally and externally and have the tube bead basted, phosphated and painted with sunkorite. But before you do, insert the stripped ocular lens and counter cell into the tube and fit the front shade. Also insert the turret and cover screws too. This will protect the threads. Ask the bead blaster to protect inside the turret openings with some mastic. He’ll be used to it and have a suitable compound handy

    Here’s one I prepared earlier! Not the one illustrated above but another done a week or so earlier while preparing the article. Shown bead blasted, phosphate and painted, and in brand new condition ready to give another 66 years of service. With a bit of care of course!

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    There it is. The first part of this article gives us a virtually brand No32 telescope tube. In Part 2 (click here) of this series of articles, we’ll fit the erector and ocular lenses.

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

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. Capt. Peter Laidler is the senior Armourer in the UK Military, now retired, but based as a Technical Officer at the UK Military Small Arms School. In addition to being a trained and highly experienced military "Armourer", he 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: "Phoenix Rising from the Ashes" - Part 1 (by Peter Laidler) started by Badger View original post
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