Posts Tagged ‘air cane’

The art of collecting airguns – Part 7

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

This blog has done a lot to stimulate my own airgun hobby. I told you about the lucky accident that got me a 19th century crank-wound shooting gallery dart gun for Christmas, now it’s time for an update.

Like many of you, I cannot get out to as many flea markets, garage sales and auctions as I would like. In fact, I get to almost none of them! Instead, I have to look for alternative means of finding airguns for my collection. One of the best ways, and I have documented it already in this series, is watching the airgun classified ads and the other buying and selling websites on the internet.

We’ve discussed the dangers of dealing with people you don’t know. I told you about how I came in possession of my Walther LGV Olympia target rifle for only $425. It was a rifle advertised on the Yellow Forum classified ads website, but I already knew the seller was an honorable man. So, there was no risk dealing with him.

Well, two weeks ago, I did it again, only this time I scored a double! Allow me to tell you the tale.

One place I watch for buys is a website called Texas Gun Trader. It’s mostly a firearm website that gun owners in Texas use to buy, sell and trade guns. Because it’s all in-state and because this is Texas and therefore free from restrictive state legislation, this practice is still legal. There are thousands of entries on this site, but I seldom find anything that I want, because its mostly new guns, black rifles and plastic pistols. But, by watching i, I do catch the few good buys that come along — most of the time.

As an airgunner, I know and love the Sheridan company. Did you know that back in the 1950s, they also made a firearm? They made just over 15,000 single-shot .22 rimfire pistols that were low cost ($17.95) and originally meant to be thrown into tackle boxes and under truck seats. Remember, those were the 1950s, and freedoms abounded back then.

Anyway, the Sheridan Knocabout, as it was called, was never a star in its day. But today, an airgun collector may have an interest in owning a firearm made by one of the best-recognized airgun companies in America. I certainly do. It’s just the reverse of wanting to own a “Winchester” model 427 spring rifle, even though you know it was made in Germany by Diana.

A couple weeks ago, I saw that I’d just missed a Knocabout pistol posted a few hours ago on Texas Gun Trader. It was up only a few hours before it sold, and the selling price was $185 — a good price if the gun’s in good shape, which this one was. Better than that, it also came with a genuine Sheridan leather holster marked with the Knocabout name. That’s much harder to find and probably adds considerable value to the package. But I’d missed it — darn!

So, I went over to to the firearm auction website, and searched on the name Knocabout. To my utter astonishment, there was one listed! I’ve done this numerous times before and always came up empty-handed, but this time I struck gold. The listing was for a gun in excellent condition, the original box with the owner’s instructions and another pamphlet about shooting. And, beside that, it also came with a leather holster!

The Sheridan Knocabout is a single-shot .22 rimfire pistol from the 1950s. This one is in excellent condition.

The small stud through the front of the triggerguard is pressed down to open the action for loading. The action opens via a spring, and the cartridge is ejected automatically.

Slightly over 15,000 pistols were produced. This is an early one.

The box is the only place that has the name. It cannot be found on the pistol. Note the unusual spelling that led to my good fortune.

The holster is made to fit the pistol. It’s much more scarce than the pistol, as not many of the $18 utility-grade pistols had $3 holsters bought for them.

Boring to anyone but a collector, the markings on the holster positively identify it.

The starting bid for this gun on the auction site was $250, which is high for a gun alone in excellent condition, but only perhaps slightly over half of what a boxed gun with a holster is worth. Then I looked at the number of times the listing had been viewed. It was less than 50! Nobody was looking at this gun! Want to know why?

It was hidden from view because the name Knocabout is a misspelling of the word knockabout! The second “K” is missing. Just on a whim, I did a search on the term Sheridan Knockabout and I found another gun in excellent condition listed on the same website, but there were already 12 bids on it. The gun I wanted to buy had nobody looking at it, while the same gun, minus the box, instructions and holster, had lots of interest.

This is a search strategy I’ve written about before, and it’s so powerful that you really should try it. Search for Daisys all day long, then search for Daiseys. You’ll find them. There are almost as many Crossman airguns as there are genuine Crosmans. Internet search engine optimizers know that misspellings are so common they must be incorporated into addresses, so you should learn to use this powerful tool, too.

I waited out the bid cycle and won the gun, submitting the only bid it received. I then made arrangements to pay and have the gun shipped to my local Texas FFL dealer. Because the gun was coming from another state, I had to register it through a licensed dealer in my state. That’s the law. The gun that was listed on the Texas Gun Trader was located in Dallas and would not have had to be registered because it was being sold between residents of the same state. That’s the way the federal law is written, and only a few states have created additional laws on top of it. Not Texas.

Okay, so now I go to my gun dealer to arrange the transfer of the gun. I pay them a $30 transfer fee and they arrange to receive the gun and register it to me. While I’m talking to the salesman there, I mention I’m into airguns, and he tells me about an airgun he’s had for years, but it no longer works. His father bought it many years before, and they’ve had some wonderful times shooting it together. I tell him that I will help him get it running again, and asked him to bring it into the shop so I can look at it. He said he would because he’s been looking for someone who knows something about airguns. I assured him that one way or another we’ll get his rifle fixed.

While we talked, I tried to guess what kind of gun he had. It was a breakbarrel for sure, but he couldn’t remember the brand or model. He thought it was from Germany. When I got home, I told Edith about my encounter and about the breakbarrel spring gun that stopped working (wouldn’t shoot a pellet out the barrel) and simultaneously we guessed that it might be an FWB 124. That would make perfect sense with the gun suddenly stopping like that, because the 124 had a bad formula for the piston seal and eventually all failed.

So, last week I went back to the shop to register my new pistol that had just arrived. After everything was finished, he showed me his late model Beeman FWB 124. It was the final model model that has no palm swell, has the aluminum trigger blade and the serial number is above 40,000. Oh, boy! According to Jim Maccari, this is a gun that will respond quite well to one of his tuneup kits. I told the guy that and I told him what his rifle was worth. I figured he would be delighted to have this cherished old favorite back in operation. Then, IT happened. You know what I mean. He asked me if I knew of anybody who might be interested in buying his rifle.

This 124 just snuck up on me at a gun store. And, yes, the scope is all wrong but I’m going to try it anyway.

I’d assumed that since it was his father’s rifle there was a lot of emotional attachment, and I would just be happy to get it running for them again. I never imagined he might want to sell it. So, I offered a fair price that was about a tuneup kit’s value less than the price I had told him it was worth. Long story short, I bought the rifle. That’s what I meant by this tale being about a double score. Not only did I get the great Sheridan Knocabout pistol, I also got an FWB 124 that I can now tune for you and share as part 14 to the FWB 124 series. I never planned this or even thought about it, but you can bet I moved plenty fast when the opportunity presented itself.

I also told the seller to watch this blog; and if he had regrets or second thoughts, I would sell his rifle back for what I paid. I usually do that if there’s a possibility of any emotional attachment.

So, this was a great find on two nice collectible guns: one is a firearm with an airgun connection, and the other is a fine vintage air rifle that has a lot of potential to be a nice shooter after I fix it.

All of which leads me to the rest of this report. Here I have some things for you if you’re a collector. All the time the story of the Knocabout and 124 was happening to me privately, another story of airgun acquisition has been unfolding right on this blog in front of you! I’m talking about the Whiscombe JW 75 serial No. 5 that was up for sale that I announced in the comments section. That rifle, which as of today has not been sold, has had the interest of two of our active readers. Maybe it will sell and maybe not, but it’s a story of acquisition that’s happening right now.

The rifle has a Tyrolean stock and is the same breakbarrel/underlever design as my own Whiscombe. The owner of this .22 caliber rifle wasn’t satisfied with the accuracy he was getting at 50 yards, so he did some experimental work that lead to the gun being returned to Whiscombe for another barrel. There’s more to it than that, but those are the highlights. Since Whiscombes don’t come on the market that often, I wanted to make sure all of you knew about this one. Contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the seller if you’re seriously interested.

There’s also the cased air cane made by Reilly of London that has all the tools, plus the pump and everything is in the original wooden case with maker’s label. That gun is another costly collectible that has been in play since last November. And, it’s still available the last time I checked.

In the collectible airgun world, it doesn’t get much better than a 19th century cased air cane from London…with all the tools.

And, now for a new prize that hasn’t been seen for almost a decade. Do you remember the article Steel Dreams, about the attempt to build a spring rifle in .22 caliber that would exceed the speed of sound? Well, that rifle is now available. Read the article and see if this is something you’re interested in, because it isn’t a rifle to shoot a lot. If you are serious, email me, and I’ll forward your message to the seller.

It’s a bruiser! One of two handmade guns designed to take .22 caliber pellets through the sound barrier.

Since this report is about collectible airguns, I want to make sure you all know about the best finds that come to my attention. You can do your own searching, as I’ve outlined above and good luck to you, but sometimes there are special things that are directed to me, alone. When I see them, I try to get the word out. If you’re a serious airgun collector, keep an eye on this blog and neat things will pop up from time to time.

The 2010 Roanoke Airgun Expo – Day one

by B.B. Pelletier

Well, we all wondered a month ago whether the Roanoke show would run this year after the passing of the organizer, Fred Liady, but it did run exactly as planned. Fred’s widow, Dee, made sure that the show went off exactly as Fred would have wanted it, which was her memorial to his memory.

All of the attendees had Fred foremost in their minds as they set up in preparation for the doors to open. Dennis Quackenbush conducted a short but heartfelt ceremony a few minutes before the doors opened on Friday for all of the attendees to remember not only Fred but other noted airgunners who left the building this year. There weren’t many dry eyes in the crowd when Dennis finished his short eulogy in front of the Fred Liady memorial table at the front of the show hall. Then, everyone filed past Dee and told her how much they missed her husband. I was surprised she had the strength to stand there and greet over 100 people who’d known Fred for so many years. At the end of the ceremony, the mood in the room was one of quiet remembrance that lasted until the doors finally closed the next day.

The show was dedicated to the memory of organizer Fred Liady. Attendees were invited to sign his memorial document, and there were numerous people who signed in from the internet.

Roanoke was different this year
Besides the somberness under which everything operated, this was a very different show. It was quieter, slower and more reflective of the current economic times. By that remark, I mean to imply that the prices on airguns were lower than I’ve seen them for many years! That’ll come out in this report, but I’m going to take a different perspective, because to me, this show also happened very differently.

Instead of me flitting from table to table and deal to deal, the show literally came to me. Most of the deals I made were thrust upon me rather than me having to seek them out. Allow me to explain.

Marv Freund, a good Maryland friend for many years, told me he had a strange airgun at his table that he thought I’d be interested in. He wasn’t certain of the name, but by the time we walked over to his table I’d pinned it down to Falke, a German maker of classic springers. And of the many models that Falke (falcon in English) made, the model 90 underlever was the top…and Marv had a Falke 90 to show me! They don’t get much harder to find than that. This was the first Falke 90 I have ever seen at any airgun show, and I’ve been attending shows since 1993!

The wood stock has been worked over by a budding folk artist. When I finally show it to you, you’ll see that the stock has definitely been folked-over, but the metal seems to be in good shape and it’s all there. Marv named a price that would have been good for 1980, and I acquired my first airgun of this show.

Back at my table, I was marveling at my good fortune when several blog readers walked up and introduced themselves. Most of those I met have not yet commented on the blog. I encouraged them to do so, but it was just nice to meet them and put faces on more readers. Then, Fred from the People’s Republic of New Jersey (FredPRoNJ) arrived. I’ve met him before and he’s kept in touch this year following my hospital stay. With him was his friend, Tom, the former Navy SEAL, who I suspect is starting to warm up to airguns from constant exposure through Fred.

Reader Fred, from the People’s Republic of New Jersey, was the first to spot my table.

He handed me the logbook for his new Benjamin Marauder that showed the work he’d done to get the valve as stable and conservative as possible. The data I saw were quite impressive, and I know that when he finishes his experiment we’ll all be treated to an excellent guest blog. But Fred had some guns he wanted to buy and one RWS 350 he wanted to trade or sell, so I bid him well as he wandered off in search of his dreams.

Then strange deal No. 2 happened. Richard Schmidt, a dealer from New York, came by my table and we chatted about airguns in general. Back at my first airgun show in 1993, I bought a Hy-Score model 807 (Diana 27) from him at the Winston-Salem airgun show, which was the forerunner of the Roanoke show. I still have that 27, and you can read about it here. Anyway, Richard knows I have a weakness for 27s, so he offered me a nice one he’d brought. When he showed it to me, I was very pleased at the overall condition. He named a price that was mid-1990s, and I reached for my wallet. But Mac broke open the barrel and pointed out that the breech had some bad damage that was not repairable. Richard was as surprised as I was, and he took the gun back for a barrel replacement after the show.

A couple of hours later, I was relating this story to Mac and to blog reader Lloyd. As I was lamenting the loss of a good model 27 a man walked up and said, “You want a Diana model 27? Here’s one for you! I’m sorry that this one says Winchester 427 instead of Diana 27, but you know they’re the same guns.”

Mac on the left and reader Lloyd were ready for a great show.

Well, a Winchester 427 is the top of the Diana 27 hierarchy. It’s like saying you’re sorry that this is a Rolls-Royce instead of a Bentley! I told him I would like to pay the price I had negotiated with Richard Schmidt and he agreed. After a quick once-over, I couldn’t get the money out fast enough — and my second purchase was history.

Elsewhere in the show there were deals spilling off dealer tables — literally, in one case, when a gun rack dropped all of its vintage guns into the aisle. Not once, but twice! If you wanted a Feinwerkbau 124, the show was loaded with them. Prices started at $170 for a standard model in good shape and never got up to $400. If the same guns had been advertised on the Yellow Forum classified ads, they’d have sold in a day.

That FWB 124 in the center is a deluxe model going for only $285!

But is wasn’t just 124s that were hot. I saw hundreds of vintage guns at prices that reminded me of 20 years ago. How about a Diana model 66 target rifle for $350! Or a new-in-the-box HW 55! I didn’t catch the price of that one, but it was NIB, so who really cares!

How about a Diana model 5 pistol from RWS for just $75? It was like new.

Then there were the REALLY old airguns. Cased air canes and dart guns from the 1700s. A cased butt-flask rifle with all the tools. Yes, they weren’t cheap because they never are, but they were there — and in profusion. A serious collector could not have discounted this show. But something was different.

This cased air cane with the pump and all the tools was made by Reilly of London. One of many fine antique airguns at this show.

A dart gun from the late 1700s was one of a pair. The set trigger could be fired by blowing on it.

In years past, I’ve witnessed deals involving huge sums of cash at this show. But I didn’t see any of that this year. And, when people talked about it, they all seemed to say they had money to spend but were less willing to spend it than in years past.

Some were frustrated by not finding exactly what they came for. The R7 was high on many lists this year, but there seemed to be a shortage of them at this show. However, Fred from the PRoNJ did connect with a Beeman model HW 50S that satisfied him quite well. I expect him to let us know how this rifle meets his needs.

He got it in a super deal from Pyramyd Air, which had four tables of guns, pellets and accessories and was always busy. Mac bought a Daisy model 25, one of the new ones I’d just finished testing, for a super deal! And, he bought as many pellets as he could carry in a super dented-tin sale they had. Pyramyd Air Tech Manager Gene Salvino was doing anything and everything to sell guns and equipment to anyone who dropped by their tables. Blog reader Lloyd bought a great AirForce scope from them to use on a Benjamin Discovery he also picked up.

Gene Salvino (right) the Pyramyd Air tech manager, shows a rack of precharged rifles to interested buyers.

I returned half a truckload of test guns to Pyramyd Air at the start of the show. Some of these went back as far as three years.

I was back at my table when a tall gentleman stopped by to say hello. When I heard him say he was our very own reader Kevin, I came out from around the table and hugged him, which I’m sure embarrassed him to no end. Months ago, when I was flat on my back, Kevin and several other blog contributors, including Lloyd and Fred, virtually took over the duties of answering the questions that came in. This blog would not have functioned as well as it did without their help, and Edith and I will never forget what a wonderful thing they did for us all.

Reader Kevin arrived on day one and toured the show floor.

Toward the end of the first day, Paul, another contributor and guest blogger, stopped by the table to say hi and we talked for a bit. He’s got another guest blog coming together, but it may be a while, as building a new house is on the front burner in his life right now. However, Paul’s still an airgunner, and he revealed that he’d seen a gun he thought would be perfect for his needs. But the outcome of that story will have to wait my report about day two.

Reader Paul holds a BAM B40 at my table. He stayed for both days and found a couple of nice airguns.

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