Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Les Fusils Militaires Français, Chassepot, Gras, Lebel, Berthier et MAS 36
SWIHARTMARK
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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by SWIHARTMARK »

Okay, I just so happen to have a Berthier M1892 carbine and M1886 Lebel to compare parts with. First, they look a lot alike. Second, dimensionally, except for overall length, they seem pretty much interchangeable as their measurements are within .005" of each other (common standard manufacturing tolerance). The threads match as well. The biggest problem, and it is huge, is that the Lebel part is .813" long and the Bertheir part is .670" long. I even put the Bertheir part in my Lebel (both stick out), but the shorter Berthier part does not lock in the Lebel's bolt head as it still turns while it is fully screwed in. The end of the part fits into a precise hole to lock in the bolt head. Both ends of both parts are the same, but since the Berthier part is shorter, it will not work in a Lebel. Now if Liberty Tree collectors can confirm their part is around .813" long, you are cooking with gas. If it is shorter, stay away. Smack them around if they cannot confirm any dimensions. Question their manhood or something too.

Now, if I can find out what thread that part has and find a button die to turn those threads, I can make a replacement part. Since my new shop isn't as well as equipped as my last one, don't hold your breath. I'm guessing its metric since France is the home of the metric system. Ummh, I do have a set of Harbor Freight button dies out in the garage.....ummh..... I think I once made a piece for a M39 Finnish Mosin with them as it had a metric thread my machinist handbook rarely mentioned. I also found they really don't work very well on other stuff, so its a crap shoot. I might use softer steel to increase the chances of the dies working. If Liberty Tree Collectors has your part, I'd go for it first.

As for other Lebel parts, those were made most likely using several jigs, so making them would be cost prohibitive. A four axis computerized lathe or mill would have a hard time duplicating them without some tinkering and tinkering is time and time is money. Perhaps I could make a firing pin, and no I'm not taking my bolt apart since I am a moral coward since it is giving me Carcano bolt PTSD just looking at it now. How I ever got my Carcano bolt back together involves a lot of pain, so I'm not going there.

I hope this helps.

Oh, AIM SURPLUS had Lebel rifle ammo by PRVI last time I checked. Unless you can reload, I'd snag some now. Its $19.99 a box of 20. I'll give you 35 cents a case for your used brass too. New brass is around 70 cents. Graf and Sons carries PRVI brass.

I just got in some 32 cal gas checks, made myself a .325 sizer to use on a mould I got for .329 cast bullets for a Steyr, so I hope to finally shoot some cast bullets in my Lebel and Berthier. Unfortunately, I passed up a 3 shot Berthier rifle for $299 at a local shop recently, but I got reloading components and tooling instead. I didn't think the bore was up to my standards. Rust on the outside can be cleaned up, but a bad bore is bad ju-ju for me. I shoot what I collect. Both my Lebel and Berthier have very good bores, but no matching parts. Viva interchangeable parts! Take Care.

Best Regards,

Mark

I might get to go shoot my Kropatchek tomorrow if the weather holds. Converted the .348 Winchester brass to 8mm by 60R with some significant machining. Good thing I had some real blanks from around 1905 to cut the rim from. Skipped the black powder substitute and went real FG powder. I love my BP clouds.


HEY 72SUMC, how did those 7.65mm French Long cases work in your M1935A and M1935S pistols? I just got a mould to cast bullets for those things.

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Ken W
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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by Ken W »

Mark, thanks for the measurements. I was told on another board this morning that the Liberty Tree bolt connecting screw does indeed fit a Lebel. I will call them though and confirm the measurement of it.
What I really need now is all the information I can get on that receiver bolt/screw. (See attached picture below). Would it be feasible to make one of these? Being on a fixed income I'm fortunate that I was able to acquire my Lebel on the cheap. Finding an extra one for parts for a similar amount could take decades or might never happen.
1886 Lebel mystery reciver bolt defined.png
1886 Lebel mystery reciver bolt defined.png (1.61 MiB) Viewed 5079 times

I do reload and will definitely be making up 8mm Lebel rounds when I finally get this rifle back into working order. I'm just put in an order for a stripped bolt from Numrich and, hopefully, I'll be able to utilize the bolt connector from it and, assuming that the screw from Liberty Tree is compatible, that mystery screw in the receiver will be the final ingredient.

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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I just tried to use a Berthier bolt screw that holds the bolt head to the bolt in my Lebel and almost permanently got the bolt head locked in the chamber. Luckily I had a working Lebel bolt screw to put in place and get the bolt head out again! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED . The shorter Bertheir bolt screw does not extract the bolt head, while it does screw into the bolt. I rest my case. Previously I just rotated the bolt head while the bolt was not brought into the chamber with the bolt screw off. You cannot do that with a real Lebel bolt screw in the bolt. The bolt head with not twist unless you engage it into the chamber. Again, smack the guys at Liberty Tree Collectors arounds and really question their manhood, if not veracity. You can refer them to me if you want. I would really enjoy chewing them out.

As for the trigger housing bolt, I tried to get mine off, but it was very tight, which leads me to think there are other things very heavily dependent that it stay in place. I took it about 1/8th of an inch out and it felt like things were very much attached to it, as in locating off it, so I kept it in thinking putting it back in might be a very difficult process. The other side of the bolt is turned down to precisely fit into a hole on the back side, since I did not see threads there. I might put some Kroil penetrating oil in it for a day or so and see if I'm not just feeling the effects of some very old rust. It was scary enough to have my bolt head stuck in the chamber from listening to the people at Liberty Tree Collectors, so I backed off taking it all the way out.

Perhaps Kelt from our forum can get us specs, even in French, they should be in Metric. I can read Korean and some Chinese, so while I never studied French, it isn't that bad. I've worked with blue prints in French before, so this would not be my first trip to the rodeo. I've also worked with them in Japanese and German, and the Germans rotate their parts backwards from other nations in side views. A simple screw would have lengths, widths and diameters in....Arabic numbers like 1,2,3,...... There is always Google translate, but I mostly deal in numbers. I'll have to check what 4140 pre-heat treated stock I have to work with. Plain softer steel might or might not work in this application. I sense a lot of tension on that bolt and I want something resistant to pressure.

Now I'm really wanting to play with my 8mm Lebel stuff. Have you gotten a 8mm Lebel revolver yet? Made cases for it out of 32-20 Winchester shells. Went to work today, didn't hit the range like I wanted. Perhaps tomorrow? At least I got some stuff loaded for my MAS-36. First time shooting it with cast bullets. Next time might be hand pulled stuff from old Syrian ammo.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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Mark, don't worry about taking out that bolt, it only goes through a hole in the trigger group housing. Nothing rotates on it, and no springs, I just took the one out of mine, and it is VERY tight, but it's got a taper just behind the threads to help getting it back in. It might help to use some sort of clamp or vice to make sure the trigger group is seated firmly into the action body. I just tapped it back in part way with the screwdriver handle.

Checked the screw against my (rather junky) tap and die set, I had nothing that fit exactly. Appears to be 5mm but rather coarse threads. Closest to fitting was a 12-24 NC. I actually used a couple of 12-24 screws on "less critical" places in one of my Lebels, one was for the "hidden" tang bolt, the one you have to remove the trigger guard to access.

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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PS, My Lebel likes to shoot the .329 Steyer bullets sized to .325, but they're a bit short in OAL, and sometimes when working the bolt "smartly", the loaded round will launch right out onto the ground. To avoid having to get a custom mold for it, I'm considering epoxying a spacer in the back of the lifter. Basically, the bullet has to be long enough for the nose to hit the edge of the receiver ring to keep it from flying out.

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Ken W
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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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Thank you to both Mark and Les for the help and info. I really do appreciate it. Especially since I don't know anyone locally here that has any French firearms at all nor do they have the slightest knowledge of any of them.
I will definitely grilling the people at Liberty Tree about their repro screw.
I don't have a Lebel revolver yet but would love to get one one of these days. I do have a Gras though. Got it a couple years ago and have never shot it as of yet.

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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The bolt that holds the bolt head to the main bolt appears to be a #12-24 thread and not a metric one. I happen to have a button die for that. The Harbor Freight set I have also has a thread counting gauge in each of its standard and metric sets and the only one that bolt came close to was #12-24. Mine was worn a bit and a little undersize, but it seems to coincide with a #12 diameter bolt. I also matched the bolt to its corresponding tap. I could look for some free machining steel to cut a bolt with since those dies are real cheap and don't cut well. The gauges and tap holders were well worth the cost of the sets, strange but true and they proved it today. I had a real hunch when I bought those sets those things would come in handier than the actual dies. I planned to only use them on plastic and aluminum. I'll see if my shop has a USA made one made from tougher steel.

I shall try to find a YOU TUBE video on how to strip a Lebel rifle before I take that other bolt out. I'm guessing its the same type of thread too.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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Mark, to take out that bolt-first take out the tang screw behind the trigger guard, then unscrew the bolt in question. Of course, it'll stop coming out when it comes to the end of the threads. I just then carefully pried it out some with a screwdriver, then hold on to it and twist it back and forth to work it out. Once it's out, then the whole trigger guard and assembly just pivot out of the action. It seems like there's some "side pressure" on the bolt, if you can understand what I mean. While the Lebel functions the same as the Kropatcheck, it's "Modular" and way more repairman friendly than the Krop. Just those 2 screws and all the moving parts aside from the bolt itself come out as one assembly.

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by les1234 »

Ken, I have a Gras too, and while I have shot it a little, getting brass that fits is a real pain.

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by 72 usmc »

Some interesting information on your gun board post. Here is link, Interesting: 2 different screws, not bolt bodies.

https://forums.gunboards.com/showthread ... 6-93-Lebel
To old to fight and to old to run, a Jar head will just shoot and be done with you.

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by Ken W »

72 usmc wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:25 am
Some interesting information on your gun board post. Here is link, Interesting: 2 different screws, not bolt bodies.

https://forums.gunboards.com/showthread ... 6-93-Lebel
That's odd. I had never heard of those mud covers before. That would explain the different lengths.

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kelt
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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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72 usmc wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:58 pm
Maybe Patrick on the gunboards forum post will help you find parts in France or come up with a schematic in french and he can put English names to the parts. My old GunParts catalogs have no French parts listed. I do not own a Lebel so I can not make actual part comparisons to my Berthiers. I got some great parts for my Berthiers from vonmazur on this forum. I will try to look in the book and get some pictures as photo shots for you.
some pictures of the screw here:
http://www.cruffler.com/Features/NOV-01 ... ber01.html

some pictures of the screw liberty tree collectors show and is in my berthiers:
pictures of lebel photos and the screw
IMG_2156.jpg
IMG_2157.jpg
IMG_2158.jpg
IMG_2159.jpg

This last photo shows your type of screw maybe?? There may be 2 variations of screws / bolt heads on a Lebel?????? I am way out of my knowledge base on these Lebels- never owned or fired one.
IMG_2160.jpg
There was indeed two type of bolt head screw, the original as reproduced by Liberty Collectors, and a 1915 model with enlarged head to include a bolt cover plate (a simple piece of contoured sheet metal covering the receiver opening when the bolt is closed acting as mud protector.

kelt

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Ken W
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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by Ken W »

Somehow I missed all of the later posts on page one. Thanks to 72 usmc for all of the pictures and info and to Rapidrob for the email address.

Greetings Kelt. Thanks for the confirmation on the two different sizes. So the Liberty Tree ones, which is designed from the original design, will be the proper length for a Lebel bolt without the mud cover? Like 72 USMC said they do look a bit rough. Do you happen to have any leads or further info on that cross bolt (vis transversalle)?

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

Post by kelt »

Here are the data you seek

https://forums.gunboards.com/showthread ... 5-question

Warning, the dimensions listed in the link are not correct, the thread pitch is 1mm see drawing with correct measurement #36

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Re: Help needed in saving an 1886/93 Lebel

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I have an el cheapo 5mm by 0.9 thread die. Right now we are busy at work, so getting one of these made may take some time. The screw in the bolt appears to be a #12-24 and we only had a #12-28 die, which isn't even on any charts I've seen online. Again, We are busy at work, so getting one of these mad may take some time. Also, el cheapo dies often either don't work, or break. I used a common 1/4-20 die from that set on soft steel and it would not start a thread. I replaced it with something US made and the threads cut almost immediately. The screw I made is now part of a 1871/84 Mauser. Really surprised it wasn't all metric. BTW, standard 5mm threads are 5mm by 0.8, not 0.9. I do have the die through. I might have used it for a Mosin a long time back. BTW, my shop will allow me to bring in my Lebel and make sure that piece fits while I work on it.

What is real amazing is that that top bolt does not appear to be metric. Nothing in the charts has that thread pitch with that diameter. If you can find either bolt on Ebay, snag it.

If you do get the Liberty Tree bolt for holding your bolt face on, do make sure the bolt face does not rotate before it is sent into the chamber. This means your bolt has not engaged. There is a hole the bolt fits into that holds it to the bolt face. I finally got mine out to check that. I thought it was a slot, but it is a hole. The bolt head really did get stuck in the chamber and would not come out until I put the Lebel bolt in it. I have no idea if a 1892 Bertheir carbine is different from the 1916 made one.

Bon Chance Mon Ami.

Best Regards,

Mark

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