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ZeroRoom's E-11 Scratch Build (Very Pic Heavy)

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Well I finally got a moment off work over Christmas and had just enough days to get obsessively stuck in to a new E-11 build.


I'm building this one totally from scratch with the exception of a grip casting and a mag casting I had lying around. The rest of the build is my laser cut plastic parts and some found items. All my reference and measurements come from the "Best Sterling Templates Ever" thread that can be found here. I have used the actual templates we built up and relied entirely on the measurements and reference photos so generously provided by the team of real Sterling owners who contributed to that thread - sskunky, Christian, Lichtbringer and DaveJ - so a huge thanks goes out to them for giving me a chance to do a scratch build with accurate specs and skip the BBC plans altogether. Another huge thanks goes to Andy PlayfulWolfCub who made some corrections to errors I made in the blueprints and sent me literally hundreds of reference pics of his Sterling for me to work from.


For those of you wondering when these templates are going to go public, the answer is soon. This build has allowed me to correct a few small errors and as soon as I'm done adjusting the template booklet I'll post it for all to grab :)


Well without further ado - onto the build. I didn't get as far along in the four days I worked on it as I would have liked but these things always take longer than anticipated don't they? Here's what I've done so far anyways...




I started with the trigger assembly. I know this is unusual but I have a plan to create a functional trigger assembly that will allow the bolt to be cocked and fired when the trigger is pulled. As a result I needed to build the rest of the blaster around the trigger assembly to be sure that everything was slotting together correctly.


First I drew up my plans for how I thought a working trigger assembly might be constructed. This is basically a modified version of the real Sterling trigger function, greatly simplified after the manner of a toy dart gun:




Basically the trigger should push the bolt catch down far enough to release the bolt and have it slam forward:




Now heads up here: I have no idea of this will work. It's purely theoretical and until the whole thing is assembled I won't know if it succeeds or not. If it doesn't it's no big loss, I'll just have a static prop. If it works however it will add some fun.


I started out with all my appropriate cut parts:




The laser cutter cuts very sharp straight edges so I had to use the sanding drum on my dremel to shape the front portion of the trigger with the correct rounded edge. You can see the shape in this pic better:




I glued the inner workings onto the right hand face of the trigger assembly in order to install the parts and rubber bands:




I made short video of the parts in action but I can't embed Mobile Me gallery videos for some reason so if you're really keen to see it, you'll have to click here:




This is the finished "sandwich" of parts:




I've only painted the parts of the trigger assembly that will end up exposed after final construction. This is simply because paint and glue don't play well together and I want to be gluing plastic to plastic, not plastic to paint, for durability.


The next step was to prepare the grip mount, which is this bit here:




You can see in this image from Christian that, whereas most parts of the Sterling were butt braised on, the grip mount was flange braised:




So I needed to create the flange edge for my grip mount pieces. I needed to make sure that the angle at which the flanges spread fit the barrel casing perfectly so I came up with this system:


I took the plastic grip mount pieces and sandwiched them between two pieces of wood and set them in the oven for ten minutes




Then I wrapped my receiver tube in foil to protect it from any heat transfer




And literally pressed the tube into the soft heated plastic until I got a flange flare I was happy with:




Then I had to set about making a trigger guard. I happened to find a strip of copper hanging around my man cave that was the correct 1.6mm thickness. I transferred the trigger guard template flat onto the copper strip with a pencil:




Once I was satisfied with the measurements I clamped the copper strip down and cut it to shape using a jewelry saw:




Lather, rinse and repeat for the other end and we're ready to go. The tricky part was the bending. The copper is soft so bending it is easy enough, but getting the precise shape of the Sterling trigger took some concentration. Initially I printed the trigger guard shaping template and bent the strip while laying it against this shape on the paper, but ultimately the best way to do it was to bend it in position against the trigger assembly using reference photos and some tricky yoga positions.


This trigger guard shape varies slightly from the real Sterling trigger guard in that I've removed the small curl at the top front. It does however insert properly into the trigger group like it should, but will be held with glue instead of a swiveling pin:




All that was left now was to paint everything up. It may seem odd to paint the entire grip and trigger assembly up before it is attached to the barrel casing, but as this section layers black pieces on top of silver I needed to do it prior to assembly. Again I've taped up the pieces to prevent paint spray reaching the parts I want to glue:




Painted the grip while I was at it just to maximize my fume inhalation opportunities:




Here's a pic of my finished trigger assembly next to a photo Andy PlayfulWolfCub's sent me of his real trigger assembly:




and here it is with the whole shebang assembled and the selector switch in place:




You can see in this pic the great texture that the hammered black spray paint Seantrooper put me on to gives the parts. Very close to the wrinkle paint (sometimes incorrectly referred to as parkerizing) used on commercial Sterling L2A3's, and a pretty convincing metal simulation. The actual Hammered Black is gloss so it requires a satin overcoat to knock it back.




The selector switch was an easy part. Again I need to use the dremel to shape a curve into the base




but then it was a simple assembly and paint job:





I painted a layer of Krylon Crafters metallic on first and let it dry. Then I gave it a coat of the black satin and while it was still wet, I lightly whipped a piece of sandpaper over the switch to produce the weathering.

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The big kahuna! This is the meat in the sandwich of the Sterling baby. It's the lengthiest part of the build and if I stuff it up the whole project goes down the toilet.


As I mentioned here, I was able to track down a ready source of accurately sized tube (38.1mm / 1.5" OD - 1/8" wall thickness) in a polycarbonate plastic. I know some people were concerned that the polycarbonate would be a little weak at that wall thickness to do the job, but I can safely confirm its strength. From the moment I cut it to length I could tell that it is a lot more rigid than PVC but not so much that it's prone to cracking.


As usual, the first step was to apply the tube template. I used this Lineco PVA like adhesive because after it dries, if you wet it it goes back to liquid again, which would make the paper easier to remove:




At first I tried painting the glue onto the template, but quickly shifted to watering down the glue and painting it on to the tube instead, as it made it easier to slide the template around and align it correctly:






Once that was all set up it was time to start shredding it up. Rather than drilling the holes in the tube, I opted to use cutting and grinding bits on my dremel. Grinding the holes in tends to leave (a little) less flashing and is gentle enough to reduce any warping on the tube. I still used the step up method of making the wholes from small to large of course, by simply attaching dremel bits of increasing size:






While doing this I hold the dremel like this with my thumb on the speed selector switch:




This allows me to dremel each hole gently at first continually increasing speed as the size of the hole increases. Don't go too fast though or the heat transfer will melt the plastic! (trust me on this :( )


I finished the holes with a dremel grinding drum I had that is 10.5mm in diameter. The actual Sterling holes are 10.7mm in diameter, but you'd have to be Eagleman to spotthe difference.


To do the other details I started by using a fine engraving bit on the dremel. I clamped a ruler to get the straight lines really straight, and just engraved deep enough to create a channel to guide further sharper dremel bits like the cutting wheel:





Likewise I engraved mid depth channels in the other shapes before using a combination of cutting engraver tips and grinders to hollow the shapes out. Where possible I used engravers with identical OD's to the slots being cut:






I'll take a note of dremel bit numbers with matching sizes to the templates and post them up for others soon. I should also point out here that it always sounds so easy when it's written out in tutorial form "I just cut this, this and this". It isn't. Maybe I'm just indeed, silly but this is a slow process and takes a lot of TLC not to get out of line or slip and mess up. So don't stress if you find this slow going. Take care and go slowly on purpose and your finished product will be much cleaner and more precise. It took me. Adult 5 hours or so just to do the cuts and sanding on the receiver.


Speaking of sanding, you can see here that there is a lot of flashing produced inside the tube after all the cutting is done:




Obviously it needs removing, but the first step was washing of the paper templates so I could get to sanding and cleaning the tube. I soaked them in water to soften the glue and then stripped them off with a stiff brush:




(By the way: when you do this it will fill the sink and clog the drain with a paper mâché like paste. Do not leave this in the sink for three days for your wife to discover. She will not be well pleased... At least that's what I heard...)


Sanding and grinding any flashing off the outside is easy. It's the inside that's tricky. I used the flat backside of the grinding drum on the dremel to get the main bits of it off. I put it right through the hole, slid it to one side and then pulled back (oh haha). This way it catches the edges and you can slowly grind all the flashing away hole by hole. This is where the big advantage of using clear tube comes in - you can really see what you're doing inside.




This worked pretty well but to ensure the sanding and smoothing was complete I carefully crafted my own high spec, custom engineered sanding tool ie; I glued a bit of sandpaper to a PVC pipe and rammed it into the pipe:




(I learnt that trick at Guantanamo Bay)


The last bit of sanding and grinding was the flattened section at the front that allows the bayonet to slide on. It's no-ones fault but my own, but this is positioned incorrectly on the templates, so if you've already downloaded them - take heed. Do not drill the hole marked bayonet lug. I have since corrected this, thanks to Andy PlayfulWolfCub's notes and great photo references.


Since I had to go without templates on this one I marked off the area to the correct 11.11mm width using masking tape and simply ground the photic down using the sanding drum on my dremel. It's hard to photograph this section but looking front on at the receiver you can see the flat area in the circumference:






The next step was to ready all the bits that attach to the barrel casing. Although the correct technical term for these is "sticky outy thingies" I'm going to refer to them as the sights and shields. These bits are both simple and challenging at the same time. The principle is simple but accurate shaping is challenging and needs a few goes to get right. I've photographed the process for the front sight guard but the methodology for the curved shields at the ejector port and front is identical.


First I start with my laser cut plastic piece.




To get a good accurate fold I have used the folding template for the sight shield profile and traced it on to a piece of wood. I use my Dremel Trio (my second favorite tool behind my Dremel 300) to cut the profile shape out:




This gives me a sort of forming buck I can bend my plastic over, as this particular bit has a distinct series of curves and is, IMO, a very iconic part of the Sterling. Eg: I want to get it right.




Putting the plastic piece on a tray I heat it in the oven for about 5-6 minutes (it's only 2mm plastic)




Then I simply pick it up and carefully fold it over the forming buck. Note this time I had the good sense to wear my work gloves so as to not end up with Freddy Kruger hands.




Again, this sounds a lot simpler than it is. It took me quite a few goes to get right - even with the forming buck. Luckily you can put the plastic back in the oven, reheat it and it will flatten again for a second attempt. Too many times though and you will crack the plastic. Take your time with this. It's another thing that sounds easy when you type "I bent it like so", but can easily look great from one side until you look at it from another angle and find its asymmetrical. You also have precious few seconds to work the plastic. It's bendable right out of the oven but reverts to rigidity rapidly so you need to be as spot on as possible right away or you're s#!% outta luck and it's back to the start.


The front sight, thankfully, was much easier. All I had to do was drill the small hole in the top of my sight base and insert the sight.




My sight was made of 2mm plastic but the real sight tapers to a mere 1mm width at the top. (much like the classic screwdriver tip often used for this part). Easy fix - small sanding drum on the dremel and groove in the shape:




The rear sight was easy too. The base plastic parts look like this:




I glued the inside and base portions together like so:




I didn't glue the semi circular sides to the sight at this point. To be accurate relative to each part they have been designed to be stuck on after the base section is already attached to the receiver. This allows the sight to account for the curve of the pipe rather than sit flat (and therefor high) on the tube.


The stock clip mount was already covered in my plastic bending thread but here are the pics again just in case.





At this point, in order to obtain the correct placement for all these parts I had to reapply the end tips of the tube templates to my pipe.




This may sound like doubling up, but there is no way to sand and clean the tube with either the paper or the parts applied. Even with the templates there can be tiny slips one way or the other applying the sights and care is needed. Luckily, as we all know E-6000 gives you a decent amount of working time to get everything positioned just perfectly. I wanted to be very precise with my sights because I'm pretty sure this is the reason that so many of us TK's can't hit the broad side of a sand crawler. My friend Dave (who sadly died in the DeathStar tragedy) told me his gun couldn't even hit a wookie running clear across an open docking bay! Truly shocking.... Rest assured I was careful to zero them perfectly.




While I had the template stuck back on I took the opportunity to cut the End Cap lug slots. I didn't bother using the proper 41mm diameter here because of my end cap style (more on that later) and simply cut the slots into the existing pipe.


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While the E-6000 was curing under clamps for all those bits I thought I might as well get to work on the muzzle parts. This was a breath of fresh air following the sight alignment nightmare.


These are the three base parts from the laser cutter:




The only bit of effort needed here was to dremel the curved edge into the base piece. Just a simple sanding job really, then stack and glue as directed by your doctor.


You can see the curve in the base here:




This will be attached the barrel not to the receiver so I can set it aside for the moment.






This one was a roller coaster of decision making about which I changed my mind more times than I changed dremel bits. I had obtained the accurate 33mm pipe from some dumpster diving and considered actually recreating the entire bolt accurately even though it would never be seen. This probably wouldn't have been impossible, but naturally once I ran out of crack I realized this was a pointless endeavor. (Although I still may try it some time) So here's what I ended up doing.


First I cut the PVC pipe to the correct 123.8mm length:




I decided I would simply create a round bolt which concentrated only on getting the visible portions correct. I started by adding the plug that inserts to the rear of the bolt. I didn't make the entire guts of the breech block and end plug - just the part that remains exposed after assembly.


You can see in this picture from sskunky that the end plug has a bevelled edge on its visible end.




Back to work with the dremel! Man, I love that tool.




The cocking handle hole and the firing pin slot are the only parts visible through the barrel casing so I used the cut tube to establish correct placement and measurements. The pilot hole seen here looks off centre to the pencil marks but it's actually the pencil marks that were off centre once all the measuring was said and done.




The big challenge was getting the rifling guides correct. Although I had correct length and width measurements for these the exact angles are harder to account for, especially since they curve around the breech block. I decided to use three full length rifling guides spaced evenly around the breech block to create a simplified version of this part. Most of the measurement had to be done on the fly using various reference photos, but I now have a template for future use.


I cut the pieces in paper first to practice getting accurate sizing and placement around the body of the breech block:




Once I was satisfied with my measurements I cut identical parts from aluminum flashing.




I decided to use the aluminum flashing because at a thickness of 0.3mm it shouldn't interfere with the ability of the 33mm OD pipe to slide through the roughly 34mm ID receiver, as it did when I did this test fitting:




Also it's a nice light colored metal which means when I paint my bolt a dark steel I can sand back the paint on the rails to get the effect shown here in this pic from Christian:






Once the breech block was all painted up and then sanded in a circular fashion, to simulate machined metal it's all done:






After letting the E-6000 cure for 24 hours it was time to get back to the barrel casing and smooth out the joins between the tube and the parts. I decided just a smidge of Bondo smoothed into the seams should do the trick. The question was how to get such a tiny amount of Bondo smoothly into such a tiny space. I couldn't use a brush because the stuff sets so fast the brush would be dead and useless after one go.


I decided to take one of those clickable eraser pens and cut the eraser to a fine point. This way I could just trim more off as the end got ruined by hard Bondo, and the tip would act like a fine brush to push and smooth the Bondo in the seams and get that seamless welded look the blaster needed.




There was occasion to do a little work with my fingers to really get a perfect join but overall I was pleased with the finished job:




I was modeling my build construction on the actual Sterling construction method detailed in the "Guns Of Dagenham" with the exception of attaching the grip mount to the barrel casing. So at this stage I had the same level of completeness to the barrel casing as a raw Sterling does right off the factory line - now it was ready for painting.






I painted the barrel casing with the same Krylon Crafter's Metallic that I used for the breech block. It's made for painting plastic without priming and it gives a beautiful darker steel color, as opposed to the silver type metallic paints. When it first goes on its almost too shiny. The small metallic sort of 'glitter' texture you get with metallic paints needs to be knocked back a bit with some gentle sanding to prevent it being too shiny. I used a 400 grit sandpaper followed by a 1000 grit sandpaper and very, very gently sanded around the pipe, turning it as I went to simulate machined tube.


It's hard to capture in photos but you can see how much it can look like steel tube:





So this is the finished barrel casing awaiting its next coat:




This was as far as I got in my break though. I'll have to wait until the weekend to pick it back up now, but that's probably a good thing in terms of really letting the metal coat cure good and proper, so that weathering the black doesn't take the whole lot back to plastic.


I'll be back next week then to update the build thread with progress - onto the end cap, the barrel, the spring, cocking lever, bayonet lug and *gulp* - the folding stock!


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Great work Lucas!!! :duim:



BTW, are you making all the parts from scratch, or are you going to be using other parts eg: real Sterling SMG parts or from any other kits?

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Wow! These are some compliments from serious heavy hitters :D Thanks guys!


@ Tom I'm using a resin cast for the mag and mag housing, the grip and the end cap, but other than that all the parts are either the laser cut plastic parts I made or hardware and parts I had lying around. The three resin bits aren't doopy doo's though - I'm not sure of their origin I picked them up from a user here.


Other than that there are no kit parts. This is all pretty much a 'make it up as you go along' build. Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

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  1. What the hell is wrong with you?
  2. I admit getting a little hot and bothered reading this thread. Entendre-riffic.
  3. Would kind enough to post the reference photos you're using for the front sight? (I'm having trouble with my droopy kit)
  4. Liar. The image photo below is obviously a reference photo:


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Wow, this is an awesome scratchbuild!

I really want to do a scratchbuild myself, and this thread really puts gasoline on that fire.

Can't wait to see the progress and finished result.

BTW, are you going to be adding any sound and/or lights to it?


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Now that I've zinged ya good - I have a nice side too :P


Would kind enough to post the reference photos you're using for the front sight? (I'm having trouble with my droopy kit)









Big thanks to Andy PlayfulWolfCub for shooting these and sending them to me!

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BTW, are you going to be adding any sound and/or lights to it?


Hey Martin,

No light or sound for this one. I couldn't figure out a way to get all the gear and still have an operational breech block - I needed an entirely hollow receiver...

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Well ZR... That was the biggest non-John Stewart induced laugh I've had in a while. The wife agrees.... about the funny factor that is, not my panties.


Sadly you couldn't be more wrong about my undergarments. I live in Hawaii. I don't wear any... men's or otherwise.







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Well ZR... That was the biggest non-John Stewart induced laugh I've had in a while. The wife agrees.... about the funny factor that is, not my panties.


Sadly you couldn't be more wrong about my undergarments. I live in Hawaii. I don't wear any... men's or otherwise.






I couldn't resist postpics.gif

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you could put the electronicx in the front part of the barrel under the T Track.

have it all run from the bolt turning the light on.


very impressive build you have there!

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