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(Emphasis on J. W. Fecker scopes)
By Wayne McLerran
Last Update: 4/18/14

Note – Although the emphasis is on J. W. Fecker scopes, much of the following
information will also apply to other brands of externally adjustable “tube type”
period-style scopes patterned from the classical Wm Malcolm design.

Prior to discussing specific adjustments and minor repairs, I should point out
the one very unique feature of a Fecker scope, which is not found on similar
models from other suppliers, past or present.  For distance focusing and
parallax adjustment, rather than using an adjustable objective lens, which can
be hard to reach, Fecker scopes feature a mid-tube sliding erector lens.  The
lens is held captive in a housing that is finely adjustable with two locking rings.  
The feature is easily identified by a “bulge” in the middle of the scope,
resulting in a profile humorously described as being similar to a chicken snake
that has recently swallowed an egg.  The photo below displays two examples
of ¾” Fecker scopes with sliding Pope-style ribs.

Reticle & Image Focus Adjustment

First, allow me to clarify a bit of terminology.  I tend to use the terms reticle
and crosshair synonymously, but a crosshair is only one form of a reticle.  
There are post reticles, dot reticles, circular reticles, and many other forms of
reticles.  In the type of scopes this article discusses, crosshair reticles are by
far the most common.  Although modern versions of externally adjustable
scopes may offer other forms of reticles, I’ve never run across an older scope
with anything other than a crosshair reticle, with the possible exception of a
crosshair with one or more reference dots added.

Now, prior to adjusting anything else, It's a good idea to loosen the eyepiece
lock ring and, with the scope aimed at a moderately bright defused light source
(the sky is great), adjust the eyepiece to optimize the image of the crosshairs.  
Lock the eyepiece in place and proceed to focus the scope image.

The next step is to bring the scope image into sharp focus at the intended
shooting distance.  The center (sliding sleeve) has separate locking rings on
both ends.  One locking ring is usually marked off with a reference scale.  The
center sliding sleeve does not rotate, but slides fore and aft.  The two screws
prevent the sleeve from rotating and connect the sleeve to a sliding housing
inside the scope tube.

To adjust the focus loosen one of the locking rings and tighten the other,
moving the center sleeve. If the sleeve does not move easily, the two screws
may be binding slightly due to age and dried lubricant.  Loosen them slightly.
Now look through the scope at a target or image positioned at the range you
intend to shoot.  Using the locking rings, slowly adjust the center sleeve fore
or aft until the image is clear and crisp and the crosshairs do not move as you
move you head/eye up and down and left and right.  If the cross hairs appear
to move with the scope held very steady, the scope is not in focus.  Continue
to adjust while moving your head around until the crosshairs cease to move.  
Lock the center sleeve in place and record the settings for future reference.  If
you will be using the scope for several distances, such as in BPCR silhouette
competition, adjusting and recording the setting will be required for each

Reticle Alignment

Adjusting the reticle alignment is relatively easy, but does require a bit of
caution.  The reticle vertical/horizontal alignment is accomplished by rotating
the flat knurled ring located just in front of the eyepiece housing and lock ring.  
The ring is locked in place by two opposing screws.  The screws pass through
small slits in the scope tube and screw into the reticle housing.  Loosen both
screws approximately ½ turn and rotate the knurled ring sufficiently to align the
reticle.  Now tighten the screws, but here’s where caution is required.  The
reticle housing is brass and the small screws can easily strip out the threads in
the housing if overly tightened.  If the threads are stripped, the eyepiece and
reticle housing will have to be removed and new holes drilled and tapped,
which is a delicate operation, considering the small threads and the very fragile
nature of the reticle.  I can’t verify the screw threads used for larger scopes
but the ¾” tube 20.5” long scopes will require a 2-56 tap and either a #50 or
#51 drill.  Since the housing is made of brass I prefer the smaller #51 drill.  
The new holes must be drilled exactly 90 degrees from the existing holes to
align with the reticle wires.

Cleaning the Reticle

Reticles that have accumulated lint or dust can be very irritating to the viewer
and may be cleaned if absolutely necessary.  But cleaning must be undertaken
with caution.  First, completely unscrew the eyepiece, which will fully expose
the reticle.  I do not pretend to be well versed at cleaning reticles, but I would
not attempt to clean one with a cotton-tipped swab or similar applicator.  
Directing air from a squeeze bulb or from a canned compressed air duster may
remove some clinging particles, but additional persuasion will most likely be
required.  Assuming the reticle is made of very fine wire, a delicate retractable
dust brush especially made for cleaning optics can be used to gently sweep
away clinging debris.  Edmund Optics (
http://www.edmundoptics.com/) is one
source for a relatively inexpensive optics brush.  Or better yet, get the Leupold
Lens Cleaning Pen, which has a fully-enclosed natural fiber brush on one end
and a microfiber cleaning pad on the other end, with a reservoir for lens
cleaning fluid.

Reticle Replacement

If the reticle is broken or a different type or size is desired, it can be replaced.  
To do so the reticle housing must be removed.  1st completely unscrew and
remove the eyepiece housing.  Now remove the two opposing screws in the
knurled reticle alignment ring.  Using a hooked tool of some type, gently hook
the front edge of the housing and pull it out.  Some come out easily and others
can be tough to remove.  Noted in the front edge of the housing are four very
small screws used to hold the reticle wires in place.  I have successfully
replaced the reticle on one scope, but prefer to send the housing to someone
experienced in replacing reticles, especially if a specific wire thickness or
configuration is desired.  Reinstalling the housing with a new reticle attached is
a delicate operation.  Therefore, a safer and less complicated solution is
to send the complete scope to a repair service.  If you’d like to try your hand at
replacing the wire, there is a fellow that sells reticle wire.  Refer to the listing
under Scope Repair Services below.  Or go to the YouTube link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65Q-2E6Tz7M for a video on replacing the
reticle with a very thin strand taken from common unwaxed dental floss.  The
video should also help if using reticle wire.

Lens Separation (Delamination)

Since J. W. Fecker scopes were produced from the mid 1920’s to the middle
of the 20th century, there’s a chance that shooters will run across older scopes
showing signs of lens separation, especially if the scope has not been
maintained properly or exposed to high temperature and humidity for extended
periods.  I’ve never removed the center erector lens, but can verify that both
the ocular (eyepiece) and objective lenses are compound lenses.  In other
words they’re each constructed of more than one (typically two) glass elements
glued together (laminated) with an adhesive closely matching the index of
refraction of the lens glass.  The adhesive can break down, usually starting
along the edge of the lens, progressing inward and forming spider-web cracks,
voids, and/or a cloudy region between the elements.  In older scopes the
adhesive is Canadian balsam.  Using the proper technique, it’s a relative simple
process to separate and re-glued (re-laminate) the elements.  Having an optics
background I have repaired and re-laminated lenses, and expect that companies
advertising classical scope repairs would also have the capabilities.  Since
instructions are available on the Internet, you could attempt the repair,
but will need a spanner wrench or similar tool to remove the lens assuming the
rims of the housings for the eyepiece and objective lens are not dented and the
inside threads are in good shape.  A source of Canadian balsam or a modern
type of lens adhesive will be required.

Lens Cleaning

Rather than attempt to instruct you in the proper steps to clean scope lenses,
I suggest reading the article at the following site
http://www.arksky.org/asoclean.htm.  The process applies to any optical
device, including spotting scopes, binoculars, etc.  Notice that one of the 1st
steps is to remove any dust using a soft optics brush, the same type of brush
mentioned earlier to clean the reticle.

Scope Repair Services

Contact one of the following services for scope repairs or reticle replacement.  
Also included is a source of reticle wire in case you decide to replace the wires

Iron Sights, Inc., Scope Service Division, 4814 S. Elwood Ave., Tulsa, OK
74107, (918) 445-2001, (918) 521-7736,
www.ironsightinc.com.  The owner is
Mike Sexton and the company is usually backlogged on repairs so don’t be
surprised if it takes several months to get your scope back.

Optical Services Co., 5489 Santa Teresita Drive, Santa Teresa, NM 88008, (915)
oscscope@aol.com.  Owner is Bill Ackerman.  Bills daughter Cheryl
is also part of the business.  Cheryl can be reached at (915) 740-4290,

Parsons Scope Service, 2213 Smith Road or P. O. Box 192, Ross OH 45061,
(513) 867-0820.  
http://www.parsonsscopeservice.com/, Gil Parson the founder
and longtime owner passed away in Sept. 2010.  His son is running the company.

Craig Stegall, Portland, Oregon, (503) 849-4184

Quality Scope Repair, 538 Cross Hill Lane, Fordsville, KY 42343, (270) 799-
www.qualityscoperepair.com, qualityscoperepair@outlook.com

Unertl Optical Company, Inc., 17 S. Hampton Rd., PO Box 234, Donnelsville, OH
45319-0234, (937) 631-2854,
aaron_unertl@earthlink.net. Aaron Davis, a long-
term Unertl employee, repairs and reconditions externally adjustable Unertl
scopes.  He also works on other brands of scopes.

Vintage Scope, Benjamin N. Penk, Santa Maria, CA, (805) 619-7143

For reticle wire contact Dan Stangarone via email at
ds1911@verizon.net.  Dan
sells wire in two diameters (0.0015” medium and 0.0005” fine).  As of this
writing the price is $15.00 per 10 ft length, which should last the average shooter
several lifetimes or many attempts to get it right.  Send him a self addressed
stamped envelope (SASE) for shipping.  Dan says it’s annealed tungsten reticle
wire and is very strong.  It shows up jet black and is easy to work with.  If you’re
uncertain on the wire diameter, I suggest you go with the 0.0015”, but ask Dan for
his recommendation.

For standard or custom reticles, contact T. K. Lee Company (
scopedot.com), 1282 Branchwater Lane, Birmingham, AL 35216, (205) 913-5222,
info@Scopedot.com. The company can replace the reticle with a standard
crosshair or, as stated on their website, they can, “Replace the crosshairs in your
scope with a custom LEE DOT reticle, the quickest, most natural and instinctive
aiming reference there is. We can install a dot or dots in most scopes, sized and
spaced to your specifications.”

Wishing you great shooting,