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|Wm MALCOLM-STYLE SCOPE ADJUSTMENTS
(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
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 wires.
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 them replaced.
If the crosshairs are broken or a different type or size is dsired, they
can be replaced. Refer to the article titled Replacing Crosshairs in
Vintage External Adjustable Scopes.
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
sope 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. Bill's
daughter Cheryl is also part of the business. Cheryl can be reached
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.