I recently purchased one of the untouched Nepalese P-53 Enfield rifle-muskets from IMA on a weekend special. I have taken advantage of my new camera to document what I received and what I have been able to do with it. I hope this thread will be useful to those who, like me, have only limited tools and experience in firearms repair. I am presently concentrating on cleaning the weapon and restoring it to a structurally sound and functional condition. I am not trying to restore it to "like new", or planning to use it as a shooter.
My philosophy of restoration, partly out of necessity because I have few tools beyond a set of gunsmith's screwdrivers and simple gun cleaning kit, is to proceed as a 19th century Nepalese workman would have, relying on manual labor rather than power tools, and improvising with whatever is available. I try to put myself in the mindset of one of those workers with the mantra: "I must not break the King's rifle, or I will surely be beaten severely or killed."Day 1
The rifle and bayonet arrived in a sturdy brown cardboard box which I use as an improvised workbench. The contents are wrapped in plastic bubble wrap secured with tape, cushioned with a copious quantity of plastic peanuts. Unpacked, the contents resemble something out of an ancient tomb.
The bayonet, after being wiped with a dry towel, is attached to an already- cleaned P-53 hanging on the study wall which did not have one. This gets it out of the way for now and completes a display.
The rifle appears to be totally complete, including the original butt plate still firmly attached with correct screws. All sights, bands, band springs, sling swivels and ramrod are present. The ramrod is bent, and appears to be rusted badly inside the forestock, causing a longitudinal split. The worst thing is the trigger guard, which is broken in two places. I'll call or email IMA to see about the availability of an extra after I've cleaned and disassembled the whole thing to see if anything else is on the wish list. (If that fails, the Rifle Shoppe has reproductions). Otherwise, the stock is sound and everything looks good to go for a fun project.
This is a bad picture, but it does show the less-than-perfectly-round muzzle opening, and the interior of the bore. No cleaning has been done, obviously; this is just as it came out of the box.Day 2
The barrel is out of the stock, the bands are in the process of cleaning. One side nail out, one still to go. Until I get the lock off I don't know what to expect, but the hammer does not engage or hold when pulled back.
The stock, along the barrel channel and at the breech, looks like I am going to get to learn how to use AcraGlas. The rammer is thoroughly rusted in place in the stock; that is going to take some thought and careful work.Day 3
Not too much time to work on the project today, but some progress. The reluctant side nail finally loosened with injections of PB Blaster-acetone mix. The lock innards are fairly clean, the stock is coming along slowly to applications of denatured alcohol and elbow grease.
With the help of a friend I was able to drive the rammer out from within the lock cavity.
It is badly corroded in the middle as expected, but all intact and now being cleaned preparatory to straightening. The initial cleaning of the bore shows distinct rifling, but still needs a lot of work.
Here is the rammer as removed from the stock: rusty and corroded, and bent like a snake:Day 4
It's not quite "straight as a ramrod" yet, but after careful straightening by hand it goes in more easily than it came out.
After a good cleaning the lock works, holds on half and full cock. Slow going, but I'm having a lot of fun on this one.