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|Wm MALCOLM-STYLE SCOPE
ADJUSTMENTS & REPAIRS
(Emphasis on J. W. Fecker scopes)
By Wayne McLerran
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, additional adjustment is necessary. 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 may be required for each distance, but I set
the adjustment for a mid-range target such as the turkey silhouettes and do not
change the focus for the other distances, which works for me.
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 very thin fragile wires and the thin wall 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
Cleaning the Crosshairs
Crosshairs 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 and crosshairs. I do not pretend to be well versed at cleaning crosshairs
and have damaged two while successfully cleaning others. Due to the very
delicate wires, don’t even consider cleaning them with a cotton-tipped swab or
similar applicator. Directing air from a squeeze bulb or from a canned
compressed air duster usually works to 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 may work 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. There are
no guarantees that you will not damage the crosshairs so don’t attempt to use
anything on the crosshairs other than blown air unless you are prepared to have
If the crosshairs are broken or a different type or size is desired, they can be
replaced. Refer to the article titled Replacing Crosshairs in Vintage External
Lens Separation (Delamination)
Since J. W. Fecker scopes were produced from the mid 1920’s to the 1950's,
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-glue (re-laminate) the
elements. Having an optics background, I have repaired and re-laminate 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.
Rather than attempt to instruct you in the proper steps to clean scope lenses, I
suggest running a Google search for “cleaning optics” or “cleaning rifle scopes”.
The process generally applies to any optical device, including spotting scopes,
binoculars, etc. Note, typically one of the 1st steps is to remove any
dust using compressed air or a soft optics brush, the same type of brush
mentioned earlier to clean the reticle.
Scope Repair Services
Run a Google search for “riflescope repairs” or contact one of the following
services for scope repairs or crosshair replacement wire.
Iron Sights, Inc., Scope Service Division, 918-445-2001, 918-521-7736. 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., 915-740-4290, Owner is Bill Ackerman. Bills daughter
Cheryl is also part of the business. Cheryl can be reached at
Parsons Scope Service, 513-867-0820, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Unertl Optical Company, Inc.
email@example.com. 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 crosshair wire, check for suppliers on eBay or contact Dan Stangarone via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan sells tungsten wire in two diameters (0.0015”
medium and 0.0005” fine). Send him a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE)
for shipping. Dan says it’s annealed tungsten crosshair wire and shows up jet
black. If you’re uncertain as to the wire diameter to use, I suggest using 0.0015”
since it’s less likely to break and easier to see when handling, but ask Dan for
Wishing you great shooting,
Last Update: 3/11/19
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.