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Thread: Surface Finish on Wartime No 4 and No 5 Rifles from ROF, ROM and BSA

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    Contributing Member 22SqnRAE's Avatar
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    Surface Finish on Wartime No 4 and No 5 Rifles from ROF, ROM and BSA

    G'Day No 4 and 5 rifle gurus, I am seeking your detailed knowledge.



    I'm challenged with the task of refinishing a 1947 No 5 Mk 1 rifle to 'as issued' status and I am searching for definitive information on the actual surface finishes used.

    I understand that post factory, these rifles could have been repaired, repainted, refinished in a thousand ways, some in service, some at Unit level, some FTR some by dealers or collectors prior to onselling.

    Questions I'm looking to answer:

    1. What was the original steel surface finish of the No 4 and No 5 wartime/immediate post war rifles?
    2. Was the painted surface finish regularly 'touched up' at Unit workshop level, or was this Base/Factory applied?
    3. How were engraved markings preserved when recoating receiver?

    I have read several comments about rifles being 'Parked and Blacked', understanding this to refer to parkerising the base steel then coating with a (brittle?) enamel paint. Previous research has led me to believe that UKicon rifles were 'blackened' or oil blackened, a version of bluing. My understanding may be way off line?

    Any little pieces of information that you may be able to contribute to correcting my knowledge would be greatly appreciated.
    Trying to save Service history, one rifle at a time...

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    Your No5 will have been parkerised/phosphated and painted with black spirit based paint and baked
    We would touch the black paint up as and when needed at unit and at Field workshop level.

    We didn't go out of our way to preserve the numbers/markings. If it was at Base workshops it would be stripped and bead blasted and then refinished. So if you were unlucky, after a few times the markings would just disappear. So you just stamp the number onto the butt socket. Fazakerley rifles were notorious for shallow numbering.

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    Contributing Member 22SqnRAE's Avatar
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    Thanks, Peter, that is extremely helpful and not too far off what I had expected. I appreciate your kind response.

    So, the No 4 and 5 were, in fact, parkerised? I have learnt something and have been quite misguided in thoughts until now.

    The task I have now is to determine the most effective way to remove the current coatings and refinish this rifle, taking care to preserve its markings. Preserving the engraved markings is proving to be a conundrum, but I'm sure some one else has done it. I've been toying with the idea of bead blasting the rifle, then applying molten wax to the engraved area to protect from a repaint. Once painted, remove wax from (hopefully) preserved engraved substrate.

    To everyone: Any comments or suggestions on this course?
    Trying to save Service history, one rifle at a time...

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    Glass bead will enhance the markings unlike sand... The paint thing, you're probably right. Just a cover of wax if you can stand doing it. A wax coat would come off with boiling water...poured from your tea kettle.
    Regards, Jim

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    On the other hand, don't bother with all that old wax and whatever. Just do what a zillion Armourers shops in the world do every day. Bead blast, phosphate and paint. If you want to keep the marks as-is, then you'll only be kidding yourself that it's original - when it's not.

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    My question is how bad is the finish now? if it's not rusted then generally a rifle with its original finish will be more desirable than one refined post serve. A gentle cleaning using suitable materials will preserve not only the rifles history but it's value as well.

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    Contributing Member 22SqnRAE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Laidlericon View Post
    On the other hand, don't bother with all that old wax and whatever. Just do what a zillion Armourers shops in the world do every day. Bead blast, phosphate and paint. If you want to keep the marks as-is, then you'll only be kidding yourself that it's original - when it's not.
    Peter, that's a good point and worth considering.

    Not sure I fully understand your point about '...not being original...'

    From your previous response, you pointed out in your service experience, and reinforced in the start of this response, that the rifles would be regularly refinished in service. So this leads me to consider that 'original' is probably only a point in time, such as factory finish. Authentic refinish however maybe a point to debate? But restoring back to a uniform, complete, accurate service condition seems valid. Have I missed your point, as I'm trying to understand where I'm not quite following your view. I'm not debating or disagreeing, just wanting to be sure I understand. Thanks.

    ---------- Post added at 06:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:43 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by No4Mk1(T) View Post
    My question is how bad is the finish now? if it's not rusted then generally a rifle with its original finish will be more desirable than one refined post serve. A gentle cleaning using suitable materials will preserve not only the rifles history but it's value as well.
    No4Mk1(T), a good question. This rifle is a bit of a pig. Its not particulalry rusted/damaged etc, it's badly treated and worn. It not a keeper to me with the barrel being probably, at best, a 5/10. As it is, it is not a valuable specimen.

    I'm using this one as a trial for several techniques to restore some other rifles in the near future, back to 'as issued' condition. Peter's suggestion of 'blast, Park and paint' is with merit, as it's what a Base Armourer would do, as he suggests. I'm thinking this would be a fairly low-risk trial for my much higher value rifles.
    Trying to save Service history, one rifle at a time...

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    You've been in the Army RAE......... Like your plant and equipment, once the rifles have come from Ordnance, bright and shining new, after a year or so they're used and starting to get a bit tatty. So they go into workshops for a bit of TLC and so on. After that they go back to the unit and so on. That's what I mean! It can only be facory new ONCE. Thereafter, it's rebuilt in the RAEME Armourers shop or sent back to a Base Workshop where it is rebuilt to brand new spec again, probably several times in its life just like the SLR you were issued with. That was made in 1973 but you had it like-new in 1993.

    As a matter of interest, just because the barrel is a bit rats, nowadays, this doesn't count too much. What DOES count now is the bore gauge free run (.301" MUST run freely in your case) and more importantly, the functioning and accuracy test.

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    22sqnRAE: Keep in mind that, from a collectors perspective, rifles that have obviously been through one or more in-service refits generally have less value than examples that may have factory original finish even if badly worn or heavily patinated (is that a word?). "Restoration" to factory new condition is effectively impossible and restoration to something emulating an in-service refit is probably best done with "shooter grade" rifles. For example, I have a mechanically excellent No. 4T that a talented previous owner parkerized and painted which is now, effectively, a "range rifle". It would be much more valuable (and just as good a shooter) had it been left worn and dinged. That is the perspective of the "collector" and certainly differs from the perspective of those that are mainly interested in shooting them. While I'm firmly in both camps, I think it is important that the message gets out that sometimes it's best to just leave them alone.

    Ridolpho

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    Contributing Member 22SqnRAE's Avatar
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    Yep, I'm not crystal clear with what you originally meant Peter, thanks. Apologies for being slow on the uptake.

    I have some gauges, just need to match them with the correct cleaning rod to pass them through with. Apparently in the decades I've been out of shooting in Oz, we've dumped the venerable Parker Hale stuff and now all use cheaper, gaudier American made equipment. As is to be expected, there has to be a different thread from both sides of the Pond! The headspace on this beast is >>0.074, so am seeking new bolthead to suit. Speaks volumes for the apparently licensed "Armourer' I bought this off. Still, experience doesn't come from reading a book.

    Really appreciate your wise guidance, thank you.
    Trying to save Service history, one rifle at a time...

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