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  1. #1
    Member oldhoodoo1's Avatar
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    Building an 1895 Lee Navy display rifle

    I just finished with the 1903 Warner Swasey sniper project (real gun) and want to build a dummy 1895 Lee Navy to display with a full scale metal model of a SAW vintage Colt 1895 potato digger.
    What I am starting with his an old receiver that I have had been using as a paperweight for many years, serial 5xxx, navy marked. Just picked up a rusted lower trigger/magazine housing and a rear sight and the screws to put together the upper and lower. Would like to find a barrel next but other parts might be good also. My goal is to bring these parts back to life for display purposes. I have had some success in building up a display collection (full scale models/parts kits/dummy guns) that I take to living history events for folks to handle. Some internal parts will not be used (although if something turns up I will install them, my goal though is external parts. A shot out corroded, cut, or even bent barrel would work fine.
    Looking for a bolt but but I will be patient. I can mock up a barrel but it would be nice to find an original, even if damaged/shortened, stuff like that. In the end I will fabricate what I dont' have but the more I have to start will make for a better project. If anyone knows anyone that makes custom barrels that might actually make them for the Lee Navys I might look into that.
    If I really wanted an 1895 Lee I could find one to build up (I actually had one once) but the idea and part of the hobby is to make stuff based on what I already have and keep the investment low. For example, I had a fire damaged Lebel with a heat bent barrel that was given to me and with the straightened barrel (mostly straight) and a repo forestock it went from a disaster to an ok wall hangar. Had a Chauchat stock, a few bits and pieces and made a darn nice dummy gun at the fraction of the cost even of a parts kit and its a crowd pleaser. These display guns are to help kids and adults who might never get a chance to heft the real thing (especially more scarce guns) and get a "taste" of history.


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  3. #2
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Any parts might be gleaned from these guys with a WTB...we'd love to see pics of your "Wallhangers"...
    Regards, Jim

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    Member oldhoodoo1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    Any parts might be gleaned from these guys with a WTB...we'd love to see pics of your "Wallhangers"...
    Here are some of the wall hangers that were based on what I had or could obtain. The Lebel barrel is still not quite straight but you should have seen it before straightening. The highly modified Hotchkiss 1909 dummy gun was built around an original 1909 Benet Mercie stock. The Chauchat is about 20 percent original stock, sight, forward portion, rear portion and magazine, the pic was before I found an original magazine so that has been added, I also found an original bipod attachment which I installed but had to scratchbuild the bipod. Always adding in parts when I find them at reasonable prices. The 03 stock was scavenged from the fire by a friend and he put a 1913 barreled receiver he found on gunbroker. He sold it to me so I could install a repro rail for my original W & S. Not the real thing but I can shoot it if I want...I don't want. Maybe blanks. He or I don't know where that barreled receiver came from.
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  7. #4
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldhoodoo1 View Post
    He or I don't know where that barreled receiver came from.
    Probably best to not chance it then, the guy sitting there with the Lebel may agree. Nice looking pieces though...very nice.
    Regards, Jim

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    Member oldhoodoo1's Avatar
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    Thank you. One of the reasons I have not fully straightened the barrel of the Lebel, not to mention I did not drill out the magazine hole in the stock, is to set up a red flag. The charring on the buttstock should be enough, but some people only see what they want to see. They look down the sights of the lebel, they can see the issue. As for the 03, its a personal choice and I never like the recoil of an 03 anyways. Oddly, when they were tried with maxim silencers in the teens, the testers noted that the perceived recoil and muzzle blast were much less which made the 03's pleasant to shoot.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldhoodoo1 View Post
    but some people only see what they want to see.
    Even worse, I know a gunsmith that rebuilt an 1886 Winchester in 45-70 that was in a fire, also a Lee Navy sporter. They had both been cooked and had the forend completely burned away, he carried on and completely re did them and re blued them. They're out there now for those that want to shoot them, they'll never know. I had a Rem 870 go through me that didn't seem right and I could get the smell of charring on occasion from the gun. Seems it went through a fire and the gunsmith parted it out, receiver and all. This was a different guy. I guess the money makes it worth while...
    Regards, Jim

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    Member oldhoodoo1's Avatar
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    Interesting enough, a significant number of 1895 Rifles in the first batch of 10,000 were damaged in a warehouse fire before issue. Some of the guns were condemned, but most were salvaged and issued as they were badly needed. The 1895 USS Texas received some of these rifles and the Captain complained about the charring on the stocks of many of the rifles, but BurOrd said suck it up.
    Most guns seem to be inherently overbuilt, the Lee Navy is not one of them, in fact, it seems to have been "not quite done". Several design issues in the first batch made the rifle questionable that would have shown up in protracted testing. In the SAW the rifles were subject to having the bolts fall out as well as the magazine springs losing tension if the gun were kept loaded.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Yes, the Lees were a bit tiddly...
    Regards, Jim

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