by B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Vince has been disassembling and repairing so many guns lately that I believe no gun will ever leave his house without some part of it being removed, replaced, repaired or refined. He’s a master at fixing just about any gun that crosses his path. Sit back and read as Vince shows you the ins and outs of fixing a Daisy 717 pistol.
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A diamond in the rough, that’s what I thought when I looked at the beat-up Daisy 717 in a hole-in-the-wall gun shop not far from my parents’ house just about 2 years ago. Sure, it was a bit ugly, but (as the proprietor demonstrated) it pumped up and went pfffft when you pulled the trigger. So, I let him talk me out of $10 for it.
Turns out that going pfffft was about the only thing it did well. Putting pellets on paper in the same spot certainly wasn’t in its repertoire! I fiddled with it on and off for some time. I oiled it and cleaned the barrel, and it got a little better — but not great. It really struggled to do under 1″ at 10 meters for 5 shots, which is about twice the group size I can get from my Marksman 2004 (now known as the Beeman P17).
Barrel, anyone? Fair chance that’s the ticket. For all I know, some ding-dong used to shoot BBs through this thing. Like I probably would have done as a kid. But there’s a complication. I’m aware that Daisy still makes the 717, but they also make the 747 with a superior Lothar Walther barrel — a gun that appears to be identical in every other respect.
I got the parts diagrams and price lists for both pistols, and lo! Barrel aside, everything is indeed the same between the two. Well, except for the metal shells that are stamped 747 instead of 717. But certainly everything else.
Now I had to decide — $18 for the Daisy barrel, or $793 for the Lothar Walther? Ha! Only kidding! The LW barrel is only $50, still a bit steep for me, especially when I’m worse at pistol than I am at rifle. Is it worth the extra bucks? Will Wobbles the Pistol Pointer really be able to tell the difference?
I went to the expert: Mr. B.B. himself, who told me, “Absolutely go for the better barrel. It ain’t MY money!” Well, he didn’t phrase it quite like that, but he certainly did recommend the Lothar Walther. After kicking it around for about 18 months, I finally got off my keister and ordered it. For good measure, I also ordered a new valve assembly for $3. TWO DAYS LATER, I got them. I’m serious — I ordered Thursday, they showed up Saturday.
It wasn’t until I took the above picture that I noticed something. Seems that the new barrel assembly comes WITH all new valve guts, making that extra $3 superfluous. Not even worth sending back. Oh well, live and learn.
Anyway, down to business. The 717 comes apart rather easily, beginning with the three screws you can get to after lifting the pump handle.
From here, you can either lift the barrel and grip assembly away from the right-hand cover, or you can pull the grip off (rearward and downward) first. It’s not particularly difficult either way.
Now, you’re ready to put everything back together. Oil the o-ring on the new barrel assembly and put it all back together in reverse order. When you put the grip back in place, make sure you put the trigger fork over the valve stem as I pointed out in the above photos.
Everything is now all back together, and I’m itching to start punching one-holers. But, there’s a problem. I pumped the gun and heard a very light sssssssss from somewhere. It doesn’t take long to figure out that it’s coming from the muzzle, which means that my brand new valve is leaking. Grrrrrrrr.
Again, I take it apart and pop out the valve.
Hmmmm. No lint, no dirt, nothing apparently wrong. Aha! Maybe I just need to use that other valve assembly I bought after all! So I grabbed it, reassembled, pumped, and…sssssssssssss.
Right. Back apart, again. Looking at the guts of the valve, it’s obvious that the fault lies either in the valve plunger or the seat. Since I changed the plunger, that leaves the seat. It shows no obvious flaws, but I know that there’s got to be something wrong with it. So, I dug up a rounded Dremel-type stone that will fit the seat.
Gently, by hand, I reface the soft pot metal valve seat. I’m emphasizing gently and pot metal because someone might be tempted to go a little too nuts. The leak was obviously rather small, so the flaw in the seat must be pretty nominal.
Clean it out, back together again — with the original valve guts — cock it, give ‘er a pump, and…
No sssssssssssssss! I left it for a few hours and it held just fine. Now I can go back to finding out if my B.B.-induced extravagance on a $10 pistol worked out.
In a word, yes. Suffice to say that my group sizes are cut in half, meaning that it’s shooting at least as good as my Marksman 2004. Which, believe it or not, is saying something, considering how poorly I shoot pistol. One thing that makes it tougher than it has to be is the trigger. It seems awful heavy, and a check with my fishing scale shows it’s breaking at about 6 lbs.
Six pounds? We can do better than that. And I did. I opened ‘er up, again, fiddled with springs and such and cut the trigge-pull weight in half. It’s not quite as straightforward as just putting in a lighter trigger return-spring, because the same spring moves the hammer and opens the valve.
I was able to get around that problem pretty simply. How? That’ll have to wait for another day.