The extraction of material positron lifetime components from positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy measurements, performed using conventional unmoderated radionuclide positron sources, requires accurate knowledge of both the spectrometer instrument timing resolution function (IRF) and annihilation events extrinsic to the material, the source correction terms. Here we report the results from study of spectrometer performance made using two reference samples, high purity polycrystalline aluminium, and stainless steel supplied by the National Metrology Institute of Japan (NMIJ RM 5607-a). Both prepared with directly deposited 22NaCl positron sources. The IRFs obtained by fitting spectra from both reference samples were monitored with time to evaluate spectrometer stability and to compare methods of IRF determination. Using the aluminium IRFs the analysis of spectra from the NMIJ stainless steel reference samples yielded a single lifetime component with value 106.9(9) ps.