1918 Enfield ShLE III*

This was my first attempt at restoring a rifle.

One afternoon there was a knock at the front door,  I wasnt expecting anyone so I answered the door and was greeted by a friend who simply said, you collect rubbish don’t you? Now not having a clue where this was headed, but always the magpie, I smiled and nodded Yeah! From under his arm he produced something wrapped in an assortment of newspaper and left, obviously very happy to be rid of some junk!

Well, this todate this has been my pride and joy to restore and I think stil the one that has given me so much satisfaction to do, as the results were stunning.


In moderatly poor shape
In moderately poor shape

The old girl was in poor shape. Now before I suggest taking on a project like this and as hard as it is it to say no to a challenge, there are a couple of things that you need to take into consideration. Firstly what do you intend to do with the rifle, if its to restore to a shootable state, then get the old girl looked at by someone who knows their stuff. You need to be safe.

Then be realistic and realise that some restorations may cost you more than the rifle is worth! Woodwork alone can cost (US) 150+ and then by the time you get it shipped across and then pay exchange! Then you may also be limited due to how much you are allowed to purchase in one go! But if you stumble across something worth while then start a slush fund! Also be prepared to wait!

It actually still moved!

It actually still moved!

Righto, enough of the sensible warnings! The one thing that I noticed when I saw the rifle was the state of the wood work.  It was missing the top woods and the forewood had been removed just forward of the mag. With wood work, if the wood is original with a few bumps and knocks from its service life, then that is gold. Please  dont sand or varnish or do anything to “fix” it up. All you will really achieve is to ruin the providence and history of that rifle. You may even remove specific and historic markings that may mean nothing to you, but are important to the rifles history. However, this woodwork was beyond repair.

I knew I would never be able to repair this woodwork or salvage anything from it. It was too heavily gouged out around the wrist and forewood area and had been the object of some interesting carvings! But if you plan to restore rifles, throw nothing away. Parts of the wood may match a future project that may need repairs.

Heres one such trick. Say you have a hairline crack in a set of  woods that you want to use and you have  an old donor piece of the same colour. Go get some fine sand paper and pva glue. Get the donor piece of wood and sand away so you get a suitable amount of wood dust. Mix in a small amount of PVA glue till you have a pliable paste. Without breaking or making the crack in the good wood any worse, gently open the crack and push in the paste. Carefully wipe of excess. Now here is where you need to use common sence. Dont smear the paste everywhere, as later when you go to oil the wood you will see streaks! Use just enough to blend in and hide the crack. But if the woods has a big crack somewhere load bearing, you will need to dowel it and thats a whole new topic for a rainy day! But let the PVA wood paste dry, modern PVA has an incredibly strong bonding agents and it drys clear. Hence the wood paste should blend in nicely and even out the crack.

rather rough

Back to the rifle, now besides looking like a good challenge, the metalwork on this rifle that had some interesting markings and it was this aspect of the rifle that  what  really caught my eye. It was all the numbering and the way things had been crossed out and re numbered, she had obviously had an interesting life. There were “N” and a raft of other numbers all over the show.

Detachable Mag?

The state of the mag and the barrel also attested to an interesting life, one that I thought worth having a crack at! However I had to be realistic, whilst the crown  of the barrel was not anything that would set any service rifle comp records, it still had a bit of life left in her. Plus I had the advantage of being able to reload my own ammunition. This  meant, that possibly, with a bit of tinkering with the right cast lead projectile there may be hope for the old girl yet……But again the exterior of the barrel looked rough! Sadly I do recal someone saying that at least I had a stake for next years tomatoes!  But, like I said, the crown was ok, the rifling still had a bit of life and what the heck, she looked a great challenge! And lets be honest this was the ideal rifle in which to learn on.

Tomato stake anyone?


you wouldnt believe it!
Not Bad!!!

All that was used on the old girl was a heap of CRC, some Penetrate and a load of time. I simply let it soak, and i really mean soak and for good measure soaked all over again after each clean. I would clean the metal parts lightly with a rag first, then a tooth-brush just to  see what would lift off. Then soak all over again and slowly repeat.  Once most of the surface rust and gunk had come away I used a  genuine Copper Goldilocks soaked in CRC, But this was approached the gently, gently way.  If you don’t know what “Goldilocks”  is ask Mum, your  wife, even Nana, who ever,  but for the love of all things Enfield, DONT uses stello pads or modern super abrasive pads. Please also steel wool, whilst 0000 grade may be fine for wood, NOT metal. It will ruin the metal work. In fact if the metal  hadn’t been so badly rusted I would not have used the Goldilocks at all. Since then ive learnt there is another way of removing rust and I will show you that on another project. Also I felt i could at least afford to learn on the barrel as it would be enclosed in the woodwork and  it also gave me a chance to get the technique right for the receiver. But please remember copper Goldilocks!

Copper is a soft metal, it removes rust but doesn’t harm the metal finish on the receiver or barrel. There were some spots I did use worn green cleaning pads, I will find out the brand but if anyone knows the little green square of stuff they used to put in Rat packs, well it’s that stuff. But again use older stuff it takes a little longer but the effort is well worth it.

Clearer Markings

Again on the areas that had real pitting I used Penetrate. I wrapped that aspect of the rifle and let it really soak in, again avoid temptation and just leave it alone! Some bits sadly needed some help to regain some of its previous colouring, I used a cold blue product, again I will have to go and check the brand but that was only on the barrel. Thankfully, the rest came up like christmas! But follow the directions!

Same Barrel

I’ve recently ordered a set of woods to bring her back to near completion and I will post those pictures when she is complete. I still need the metal work like nose caps and screws but its in no rush!

8 Responses to 1918 Enfield ShLE III*

  1. Adrian Wildman says:

    I have just started looking over your site which i recived from another person. I like it very much it is on my top fav list. My rifle is a smle II 1899 I have been looking to put back on her some of the missing bits. My gun safe is not big enough lol
    Would you know where i could get volley sites and the brass button on the butt.
    Once again top job on the site must get back to more of it


  2. Mark says:

    Adrian, where abouts are you, as that has a bit of a bearing on where to go to get the parts that you are after. Thanks about the kind words regarding the site too.

  3. Adrian Velich says:

    Hi, really enjoying finding out about the restoration process. Just bought 2 smle mk3’s, can you suggest where I could find timber and front metal work to convert them back to issue condition? Both have matching serials and in 85-90% condition.

  4. waso says:

    when you re-blued your smles did you bead blast your metal work before? or is that necessary. Can bead blasting remove any marking? I need your help old wise one.

  5. Mark says:

    Have a look at Numrich, can be a bit hit and miss with the woods, there are a couple of suppliers in the UK, i will have a look and see if i cant find the sites, post some pics of the restoration, always good to see others and how they restore the old girls back to their former glory.

  6. Mark says:

    No I didn’t bead blast, don’t have that ability yet! But working on it. I used brass wool and used the gently gently approach. I think i used CRC or something similar to that to loosen the rust first, I will have a look in the garage later but I do recall letting it really soak into the rusted parts first. Post some pictures of the before and after, always good to see how others approach problems.

  7. Aaron says:

    Hi Mark, just wondering if you needed to full out one of those license to import forms when you ordered your parts? Considering a project like this but I’m just a bit dubious about the hassle of ordering new foreshocks etc from overseas.

  8. Mark says:

    Aaron, you dont require license to import when buying in woodwork. Just beware that sometimes the woods you get may be mismatched a little. Be aware though It may take a month or so to land. Also you may find some exporters in the USA will only allow sales of only up to 100US, but that shouldnt be an issue with sets of wood.

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