Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This blog is for those who are new to shooting and to airguns. Sometimes, we have to address the basics, and that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m inviting the veteran shooters to chime in with their own ideas of what the new airgunner should avoid.
For reasons I cannot fathom, new shooters think they need to clean their airguns even more than firearms are cleaned. I know people who never clean their .22 rimfires until they start to malfunction, yet these same people don’t hesitate to take a bore brush to the barrel of their favorite air rifle every chance they get. It isn’t necessary to clean an airgun barrel that often, and it actually exposes it to possible damage from the cleaning process gone wrong.
Why do we clean a gun?
Historically, guns used what we now call black powder, whose residue both attracts moisture and then turns it into sulphuric acid. It begins to do this in less than 24 hours following shooting, so cleaning was/is essential if the bore was to be preserved. Later, when smokeless powders were developed, the early primers that ignited them contained compounds that were just as corrosive to the bore as black powder residue. A great many .22 rimfire rifles have lost all their rifling from the combined activities of this primer-based corrosion, coupled with over-zealous cleaning.
More recently, shooters have discovered that the jacketed bullets of centerfire cartridges will quickly foul barrels with metal deposits. While this doesn’t corrode the metal, it does fill the rifling grooves with jacket metal until all hope of accuracy is lost. So, the metal fouling has to be removed with a combination of chemical and mechanical action.
The modern .22 rimfire, in sharp contrast, uses clean-burning powder, clean priming and shoots clean lead bullets at low velocities. Nothing in its makeup or operation requires frequent cleaning. Those who shoot .22s can get away with not cleaning their guns for many hundreds and even thousands of rounds. Eventually, there will be a buildup of powder fouling even in these clean guns, but the contrast with centerfire guns is vivid.
Finally, there are the airguns. They neither burn powder nor use primers, so there’s no residue. They shoot at low velocities (compared to many firearms) and use clean lead pellets, so there’s little metal fouling. Only with some of the more powerful airguns do the velocities get fast enough to scrape off some lead from the pellets. And some barrels seem more prone to scrape off lead than others. That, alone, is the sole cause for buildup in an airgun.
In contrast to a firearm, an airgun can be fired tens of thousands of times between cleanings…and some lower-velocity airguns may never need cleaning at all. Those with brass or bronze barrels are entirely impervious to cleaning requirements.
The time to clean your airgun is when the accuracy falls off, not before. Do not clean an airgun barrel on a regular schedule — they simply don’t need it.
2. Disassembly without a plan
I’ve done this and so have many of you. The gun isn’t working right, so we take it apart to find out why. Then, we haven’t got a clue how to get it back together. That results in a basket case of parts that somebody else will be able to buy for a song. Don’t create bargains for others! Before you take an airgun apart, give some thought to what it takes to put it together again.
The way to do this is to first research the gun on the internet, to see if there are any disassembly or assembly problems. If there are known issues with a gun, there should be plenty of information on the internet.
Another thing to look for is if any special tools or equipment are needed. With spring guns, you usually need a mainspring compressor to safely disassemble and assemble the gun. And if you’re disassembling a BB gun like a Daisy Red Ryder, you need to make a special fixture to hold the gun while the mainspring is compressed and parts are removed. Unless you have three arms, this fixture is absolutely necessary.
Then, there are guns that are assembled during manufacture in ways that make them almost impossible to repair. One good example of this is the barrel of a Benjamin 392, which is soldered onto the pump tube at the factory. If the solder joint is ever broken, it’s next to impossible to repair. That’s because the joint is very long and is difficult to keep an even heat on the entire joint at the same time. The solder flows in some places, but clots in others. When you move the heat to the places where it’s clotted, you lose the solder that flowed before.
Don’t attempt repairs or modifications unless you know you can do the entire job. Better to spend some money to get the job done right by an airgunsmith than to charge in and break or lose some irreplaceable part.
Some of the new owners’ manuals tell people to oil the compression chamber on a frequent schedule. While oiling was appropriate for guns with leather piston seals, the newer synthetic seals don’t need nearly as much. Over-oiling causes detonations that can damage the gun if they’re allowed to continue; and once they start, there’s almost no way to get them to stop. All spring guns diesel; but when they go off with a loud “bang,” that puts a strain on the mechanism.
I always like to err on the side of under-oiling because all that does is make noise during cocking. Over-oiling causes problems, though, and in extreme cases the airgun must be disassembled and dried out.
There are places to oil besides the compression chamber. Linkages need a drop every now and then, and the wood parts can always benefit from a Ballistol wipedown.
The other place oiling is necessary is on the tip of each fresh CO2 cartridge before it is pierced. The best oil for this job is Crosman Pellgunoil, and a CO2 shooter needs to always have some on hand. The oil is blown through the gun’s valve when the cartridge is pierced; and it gets on all the sealing surfaces, making a tight seal against gas loss. It’s the No. 1 maintenance action a CO2 gunner can take, and you absolutely cannot overdo it.
So, what happens when an airgun is not oiled enough? It makes noises to tell you. Spring-piston guns will honk like a goose when they’re cocked if there isn’t enough oil on the piston seal. Mainsprings will crack and crinch when cocked as they slip their coils when they don’t have enough oil. And the fork that the breech sits in will become shiny if there isn’t enough grease between it and the breech. Also, the cocking effort will increase dramatically.
CO2 and pneumatic guns will develop slow leaks when they need oil. Their seals cannot do the job without a thin film of oil on all their surfaces. But if the gun is holding air, stop with the oil — except in the case of CO2 guns, as noted before.
This fault is as old as the hills and is a classic mistake a newcomer will make. If 10 pump strokes give X amount of power, shouldn’t 15 pump strokes give 1.5X? No! In fact, they do just the opposite. Over-pump a pneumatic or overfill it from a scuba tank, and the velocity takes a nosedive. It will drop all the way to zero, at which point the valve is locked shut by the excessive pressure in the gun. Imagine a door being held shut by several strong people. No amount of pushing will open it. You have to wait for some of the people to leave or, in the case of the gun, for some of the internal pressure to drop. That can take weeks and even months!
A pneumatic gun is designed to work within a certain pressure margin. Too little pressure and the power drops. Too much pressure and the power drops. Remember it this way — putting more gas into a car’s tank will not make it go any faster.
With CO2, you don’t have to add pressure; and in fact, there’s no straightforward way to do it. If you were to increase the gas pressure somehow, all that would happen is more gas would condense to liquid. The pressure would remain the same. But if the outside temperature should go up, the gas pressure will increase as well because the gas pressure is dependent on temperature. Operate your CO2 guns when the temperature is between about 60 degrees and 90 degrees F. And don’t leave a CO2 gun lying in the direct sun, even on a relatively cool day, because the gun will absorb the sun’s heat and will go into valve lock.
There you go — 5 simple things to remember about airguns and their operation. Perhaps our readers can suggest more?
by B.B. Pelletier
Last week, our new reader, Cantec, mentioned that several gentlemen were advising the use of corn oil for lubricating the compression chambers of spring-piston airguns. I know exactly where this recommendation came from and how it should be viewed, and I wanted to share this with you today.
Yes, I’m talking about common corn-based cooking oil. Wesson oil is the most popular brand here in the U.S. Why would anyone recommend using corn oil in a spring-piston airgun? I want you to know the entire truth so you don’t make any serious mistakes with your guns.
Good old corn oil that’s most often used for cooking has also been used to lubricate some spring-piston airguns.
In my role as a firearms enthusiast, I used to put WD-40 on all my guns. It smells so good and guns always look so nice after they have been wiped down with it. So, when the Army sent me to Germany for four years, I sprayed WD-40 on all my guns before storing them in my mother’s attic, thinking I was protecting them against the ravages of time. What happened, instead, was that the WD-40 dried out and left every gun covered with a thick coating of yellowish residue that proved nearly impossible to remove. Only more WD-40 would dissolve it, and in one case the silver plating on my collectible second generation Colt 1851 Navy cap and ball revolver was destroyed! Each gun took weeks to clean, because the residue had gotten into all the cracks and tight places and had to be scraped out with tools.
Several years after that experience, I joined an horology club and attended their meetings for about a year. These are guys who fix watches and clocks, and they had one thing to say about WD-40. Don’t ever use it on a clock! They knew all about the yellow coating it leaves, and several members had horror stories about removing it from clock gears. Apparently, not even ultrasound tanks can remove all of it.
Before you rise up to defend WD-40, know that I use it, too. For certain jobs, it can’t be beat. But not for protecting the finish of a gun. Use Ballistol for that.
What does WD-40 have to do with corn oil? Everything. Like WD-40, corn oil dries and leaves a waxy film on anything it comes in contact with. And that’s why it was originally recommended for spring-piston airguns. Not all spring-piston guns, you understand. Just the ones from China.
Duane Sorenson, who used to work at Compasseco in the 1990s, recommended corn oil for all his Chinese guns because of the waxy buildup. He reasoned that the wax filled in the rough machining marks left inside the cheap Chinese compression chambers, eventually building up to the point that compression increased. He was an active proponent of corn oil in spring guns, and I think many thousands of shooters were told by him to use it.
Duane also said the flashpoint of corn oil was very high, so using it would stop dangerous detonations. As far as I was able to test for that, it did seem to work. But — and this is the point of today’s report — corn oil is not recommended for a sophisticated spring-piston airgun powerplant. The current crop of Tech Force guns do not have compression chambers rough enough to benefit from its use.
Time is the criterion
Duane was advising corn oil for airguns like the B3 underlever and the TS45 sidelever. Those guns really did have rough compression chambers that could benefit from a product that infilled their machining marks. But at the same time he was recommending corn oil, Sorenson was also pushing their Chinese manufacturing partner to better finish the insides of their compression chambers. The result was the Tech Force 36 underlever, which was very smooth inside, and later the Tech Force 99, which was even better.
But while this improvement was happening, Duane was still selling lots of the older and less expensive Chinese spring guns that were still very rough. So, he continued advocating corn oil, even as the many of the guns he sold were getting better and had less need for it.
I tested it
Duane was so insistent on corn oil being a miracle-product that I bought a quart of the stuff and began experimenting with it. That was how I learned that it doesn’t detonate. While I was testing it, I was unaware of why corn oil was being recommended and the fact that many of the more modern chinese airguns didn’t need it.
I conducted several tests using corn oil for The Airgun Letter, but frankly I never got the kind of results Duane told me to expect. Part of that was because I was probably testing it on the wrong guns and part was because I wasn’t using it as much as Duane did. I never saw the long-term effects he told me about.
I expected to see an increase in velocity and a decrease in the total velocity variance. The velocity never increased as much as I had thought, but the shot-to-shot variation did decrease somewhat.
What about corn oil today?
This is the reason I wrote today’s report. Do not use corn oil in any modern spring-piston airgun! Corn oil is meant to solve a level of manufacturing crudeness no longer seen in modern airguns. Like many other things, time has changed the game. We no longer put oatmeal in our car radiators to patch small leaks, and we certainly no longer lubricate spring-piston compression chamber with corn oil.
Just as you don’t want a buildup of hard yellow film on the outside of your airguns from dried WD-40, you also don’t want the waxy buildup from corn oil on the inside. Use the products that are recommended for the job, like a proper grade of silicone chamber oil for the compression chamber of your airguns.
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’ll report on the cleaning of Jose’s Crosman 160 and the adjustment of the trigger. This rifle was quite rusty when I got it, so today it came out of the stock for a thorough cleaning. The barreled action comes out of the stock by removing one nut on the bottom of the forearm and by removing the safety switch. To remove the switch, it must be turned toward SAFE while you push it out of the triggerguard. It will pop right out when you get it in the right position.
The broken safety has been pushed out, and the nut removed from the stock. That’s a new safety to the left of the broken one. The barreled action is now ready to come out of the stock.
Once the action was out of the stock, I could see that it was far rustier than I originally thought. The rust that could be seen when the rifle was intact was just surface rust, but the stock was hiding deep active rust that had to be removed.
This was under the stock — heavy, active rust that must be dealt with!
I used Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I bought at a recent gun show. A friend of mine says this pad looks like a stainless steel pot scrubber. All I know is that it removes all the rust and doesn’t harm the blue.
I used Balistol in a spray bottle and a special metal scrubber to remove the rust.
I was surprised at how fast the rust was removed. In all, it probably took no longer than 15 minutes to completely clean all the metal parts.
With the gun finally clean, it was time to address the trigger. I mentioned in Part 1 that this trigger is one of the finest ever put on an inexpensive air rifle, and it can be adjusted to a very light, crisp pull. When I got the gun, the single-stage trigger had lots of creep and was breaking at 5 lbs., even. Something had to be done about that.
The Crosman 160 trigger is an adaptation of a 15th century crossbow trigger, where a rotating piece called a nut forms the sear that releases the hammer — in the case of the pellet rifle. The nut is a lever that’s shaped like a circle. It allows a small force (the sear) to overcome a greater force (the hammer spring) through leverage. No filing or stoning of the trigger contact surfaces is necessary, because the trigger doesn’t work like a conventional one.
From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, “The Crossbow,” (published in 1903) this illustration of a 15th century crossbow nut shows how a great force can be overcome by a smaller one.
But the Crosman 160 trigger is more sophisticated than the crossbow trigger. It allows the adjustment of the sear contact area and also the point at which the trigger stops. This gives the shooter a safe trigger that breaks cleanly, yet feels like an expensive precision target trigger.
The trigger in the subject rifle was about as filthy as I’ve ever seen. This trigger has a sideplate that allows the user to watch the adjustments of the parts and even to cock and fire the trigger with the parts exposed. Normally, this sideplate keeps the parts inside pretty clean, but you can see from the photo what I saw inside this one.
I’ve removed the trigger unit from the action here. It isn’t necessary to do this, and in fact you must be able to cock the rifle when you adjust the trigger, so leave it connected. I did this for cleaning purposes.
Compare this photo to the previous graphic, and you’ll see all the important trigger parts. This is before cleaning. The rusty red part at the upper right is the nut that’s the sear.
I removed the trigger blade from the trigger assembly and cleaned it outside the trigger box, but all other parts were cleaned where they were situated. Ballistol on cotton swabs worked wonders at removing the rust, dust and dirt. And it left all the parts with a lubricated surface.
The two trigger adjustment screws were stuck in place by dried grease, so Ballistol had to dissolve that before I could clean the threads. The final touch was to apply moly grease to the mating surfaces of the trigger blade and the rotating nut that serves as the sear. Then it was time to adjust the trigger.
The first step was to back off the trigger return spring, which is located at the bottom rear of the trigger box. With this spring relaxed, you can feel the engagement of the sear much better.
Next, I adjusted the top screw, which adjusts the trigger/sear contact area. I set it very quickly because I’ve adjusted dozens of these triggers over the years and I know what they need. You may have to adjust the screw then cock the rifle and fire it several times to get the engagement you want. The engagement needed is very narrow, and it looks like the trigger is about to slip off the sear; so I always give the cocked rifle a bump test after adjusting the trigger, just to be safe. If I can’t jar the trigger off the sear, it’s safe.
The final screw to adjust is the trigger stop or overtravel screw. It stops the trigger blade after the sear has released, and the closer this is to the release point without impeding the trigger-pull, the better the trigger feels. Once the engagement area is okay, it’s easy to set this screw to stop the trigger immediately following trigger release.
With that done, I put the cover plate back on the trigger and shifted my attention to the S331 sight. By the way, Robert of Arcade explained in a comment that the S331 sight was actually made by Mossberg and not by Williams, as I originally said in Part 1. I changed the maker to Mossberg in Part 1, and now I’m telling you.
The rear sight on this rifle was loose when I examined it, so I removed it from the rifle and disassembled it for cleaning. Most of the parts are aluminum, but a couple are blued steel and suffered from rust to the point that there were pits left on their surfaces after the rust was removed. The detents are very crisp and easy to feel as you make the adjustments. This is a simple peep sight assembly, but it works very well and adjusts precisely, which is all you can ask of a sight.
Once the sight was clean and back on the rifle, I put the barreled action back into the stock. I had to use the old broken safety switch because the replacement I have is slightly too large to fit the hole. I’ll trim it down in a separate session so the gun has a complete safety switch. For now, I’ll just keep the rifle off safe.
How does it look?
Because the bulk of the deep rust lies below the stock line, the deep pits that appeared from cleaning do not show. What was above the stock line was mostly just surface rust that’s now completely gone. The metal on this rifle now appears to be 80 percent or better. The stock finish is still flaky and needs to be taken down all the way with sandpaper and reapplied, but it doesn’t detract from the rifle’s appearance.
And the trigger?
The trigger now breaks at one pound, even. It’s glass-crisp, and you would swear that it releases at just a couple ounces if you didn’t see the trigger-pull gauge. I think the owner will be amazed at the transformation this rifle has undergone.
Yet to come
I won’t bore you with the other mundane jobs like the safety and the stock finish, but I’ll test this rifle for accuracy. So, there’s one more report yet to come. We already know the velocity is in the right ballpark — 656 f.p.s. for a 14.2-grain Daisy pellet on a 90-degree day. But I want to show you the accuracy these old rifles can give with modern pellets.
by B.B. Pelletier
We get requests all the time for basic maintenance articles and fundamental articles about how to diagnose an airgun and make it shoot better. Often, I refer readers to blog reports I’ve done in the past, but today (and tomorrow!) is a blog report with something for almost everyone. It started out as a simple test of my Air Venturi Bronco rifle with different sights, but it blossomed in several different directions — answering many questions and raising issues about which many readers have indicated an interest in the past.
I didn’t plan on this report turning out the way it did. This special two-part report (today and tomorrow) is a serendipitous journey of airgun discovery. It began when I mounted the optional Bronco Target Sight kit on my rifle and thought I would be demonstrating just how accurate a Bronco can be. (The Bronco is also sold with the target sight kit installed.)
Heck (I thought), there’s no risk here. I’ve shot this same Bronco before and I know how accurate it is. What could possibly go wrong?
What, indeed. If you click on the link to Part 1 of this report provided above, you’ll see that the first groups I shot with the Bronco and its new target sights were anything but encouraging. If this had been a different rifle I might have been tempted to write it off as inaccurate (I said tempted — not a sure thing), but because I’ve shot this exact same Bronco several times in the past with great results, I knew it was something other than the rifle’s inherent accuracy at fault.
You readers guessed what the problem could be, and Mac and I conversed at the same time. Mac owns a Bronco, too, and he knows how accurate it is.
One early theory was that the new longer front sight mounting screws might be protruding into the rifled barrel and clipping the pellet just before it leaves the muzzle. I had noticed when mounting the four front sight riser plates that the screw holes are drilled deep, so I checked them and discovered they are drilled all the way through the barrel. The kit has two longer screws that are needed because of the four riser plates, so was it possible that one of those screws was hitting the pellet as it passed through the bore?
But Mac told me the barrel was back-bored. The muzzle is not where you think it is, but it’s about seven inches deep inside the barrel — behind the front sight. Back-bored means that instead of being crowned at the end of the barrel, the muzzle is sunk deep inside the barrel with a deep-hole drill. Doing this protects the muzzle from damage and preserves accuracy longer. It can also restore accuracy to rifles that have been cleaned from the front instead of the breech. When cleaning rods scrape against the sides of the muzzle they wear the metal and cause accuracy loss. Mosin Nagant rifles are often found with back-bored muzzles.
Look inside the barrel
Once I confirmed where the true muzzle was, it was obvious the front sight screws could not be interfering with the pellets before they left the muzzle. But what about after they left? Could a pellet still be touching the edge of a screw after it exited the muzzle?
This time, the answer was less exact. From what I could see with an endoscopic light down the bore, the screws were probably not protruding deeply enough to touch the pellets in flight unless the pellets were yawing wildly. And if they were yawing wildly, they were never going to be accurate anyway. So I stopped looking at that and checked the cleanliness of the barrel next.
The barrel had a constriction right at the muzzle! A brass bore brush passed from breech to muzzle (the true muzzle — not the end of the barrel) stopped abruptly at the muzzle. Something was constricting the barrel right at the point the pellet exited. The barrel needed to be cleaned, but this constriction was so abrupt that it felt like a large burr had been raised right at the muzzle. But the muzzle is seven inches deep inside the barrel, so that’s next to impossible!
The only solution was to clean the barrel, and I started with a clean brass bore brush. Don’t waste your time with a nylon brush. It isn’t stiff enough to remove the metal if there’s any. As long as the barrel is made of steel, like the Bronco’s barrel is, you cannot damage it with a brass brush.
After 20-30 passes the brush was meeting no resistance, so I then cleaned the barrel with Otis bore solvent until the patches came out clean. Now, the barrel was ready to perform at its best!
On to shooting
After all of this, I felt ready to shoot the rifle and expected it to do well. A quick read of Part 1 showed me that I tested it with H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets and JSB Exact RS pellets. Those were the first two pellets I shot. The range was 10 meters, and each group got 10 shots.
I would have loved to have shot two beautiful targets and ended this test right there, but that didn’t happen. Yes, the groups were somewhat smaller than those shot in part 1, but they were not good groups — not for a Bronco, anyway. The H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets grouped 10 in 1.059 inches — compared to the group in Part 1 of 1.668 inches. And the JSB Exact RS pellets grouped 10 into 0.82 inches this time –compared to 1.169 inches in Part 1. Yes, these are smaller groups, but they aren’t small enough for the Bronco at 10 meters. Something else had to happen.
I found the secret
This is where I’m going to end the report today. Tomorrow, I’m going to tell you what happened to change the outcome of the test. Yes, a different pellet was used, but that wasn’t the big news. In fact I’m convinced that I’ve found the secret to increasing accuracy with any Air Venturi Bronco — shooting any pellet!
You have a day to wonder, ponder, guess and discuss. Let’s see how smart you guys are.
What did I do that was different? A hint — I’ve done it before with similar results.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from our favorite Russian reader, duskwight. Some of you know that he’s fabricating a dual-opposed recoilless piston air rifle for himself that will function similar to a Whiscombe. He jokingly calls it the duskcombe.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Take it away, duskwight!
Oiling and greasing your springer
This report only concerns springers and is meant for those who perform their own service. This is a collection of things taught to me by other very experienced airgunners, and things I learned from my own experience with springers.
Every springer is an air-compressing mechanism made mostly of steel. This is the key that defines everything about your springer’s need for lubrication. So, there are three areas to be addressed:
1. Your springer must be airtight everywhere except for the barrel channel.
2. Your springer works under a significant amount of load and its parts are prone to mechanical abrasion.
3. Your springer is made of a metal that’s prone to corrosion if it contacts water, acids or humidity.
Proper lubrication will address all of these concerns.
Zen monks say, “Forget what you have learned and learn again.” To lube your springer correctly, you need to remove all the grease first, especially if your gun is new.
Airgun makers prefer to be on the safe side and usually put lots of grease on guns to make their products corrosion-proof for storage. Sometimes, they think that their customers are a bit irresponsible and will never again service their springers. This holds true for every airgun maker – IZH, Gamo, Air Arms, RWS/Diana rifles, as well as the makers of Chinese and Turkish guns.
But the simple truth of this is that no matter why they do it, you need to correct it. Be your own gunsmith. I also noticed that production means reduction, or simplifying things. Makers prefer to cut their expenses even on grease, so they use the same cheap grease for the whole rifle. Not only is that wrong, but it’s also where you can gain the advantage by doing it right.
Things you’re going to need
Tools to disassemble/assemble your airgun.
A cleaning rod, a set of brushes, and cotton wads or patches.
A wooden stick — 1/2-inch thick 1-1/2 feet long, or something similar that’s not made of steel.
Lots of cloth (cotton is the best, nylon is the worst).
Solvent: Here you must be careful to not use anything that will dissolve the synthetic seals in your springer. Many modern gun solvents are made expressly for synthetics because of the proliferation of synthetic gun parts these days, so take some time to acquire a safe solvent.
[Editor's note: The next step involves disassembly of your airgun. Do not attempt this unless you know what you are doing. Disassembly can be dangerous and can also void any warranty on your airgun, so know what you are doing before taking this step.]
What comes next?
Time to disassemble your rifle. I hope you know what to do and how to do this, and remember that springs are springy and steel is a bit harder than the flesh. Here’s a tip: Place all the parts on the same surface in the order that you have removed them. That will ease the assembly process.
Inspect every part. In most cases, you’ll see a thick cover of grease or a thick film of oil on each of them. That’s when the cloth comes in. Wipe every part. Do not try to wipe it dry, just wipe it. That will leave the right amount of oil on the surface and in the pores of the metal. That’s more than enough lubrication. You’ll probably see an oily shine on the surface of the metal parts.
Pay special attention to the trigger assembly. Sometimes, manufacturers fill it with grease. That’s not proper. Wipe all the parts, and what’s left would be enough for a very long time. Some users just dump it into acetone assembled. Well, that’s also a solution, but then you have the problem of lubricating it properly afterward.
A price on Mr. Diesel’s head
The piston and compression chamber that the piston rides in are a completely different matter. They must be as close to greaseless as possible.
You probably know the German surname Diesel — that’s the guy who invented piston engines where the fuel/air mixture ignites when pressure goes very high. It’s the simple physics of the fuel/air mixture igniting from the heat of compression. The diesel effect is good under your car’s hood, but not inside your rifle. Oil fumes and dispersed oil are an excellent fuel for dieseling. All it brings is trouble — burnt seals; deafening sound; overstressed and broken springs, mounts and sights; even damaged barrels, not to mention lots of smoke, bad smell and soot. In short, diesel is a killer.
[Editor's note: By dieseling, I believe the author refers to detonation, which certainly does all the bad things he says. All spring-piston airguns that shoot over about 600 f.p.s. will diesel to a certain extent; but if you aren't hearing any explosions and see only a little smoke, the diesel effect won't destroy your gun.]
Take the piston and remove the seal. Space between the piston head (“mushroom”) and the seal is an excellent reservoir for oil. And the most common place where this nasty guy diesel lives. You’ll probably see that seal’s surface is covered with grey/black oily residue. This is due to your rifle being dry-fired or test-fired at the factory. Check the seal. It must not be cut or melted. If it is, install a new one and take care of all the edges around its circumference. A very fine file or scraper will remove any burrs or extra material.
Take a fresh piece of cloth and thoroughly wipe the piston and the seal with solvent to dry it. If the seal material allows it, wipe it with a cloth wetted with solvent. Then wipe the piston. I prefer acetone; it dries very quickly and leaves no spots.
Now for some inside work. Take a long wooden stick and wrap some cloth on its end. You can use your cleaning rod, but a stick is less prone to bending. Apply a few drops of solvent and use it to clean the inside of the cylinder. The compression chamber must be dry metal — oil and grease have no place inside (for now).
And some finishing touches if you have a rifle with a fixed barrel that cannot be removed. If you’ve got a cleaning rod long enough, use it to clean the barrel by accessing it through the cylinder. Some manufacturers put grease into the barrel, some sort of technical petroleum jelly most times. The barrel also deserves a solvent wash, as the diesel effect can happen inside the barrel, as well.
Alright, the gun is clean. Now we’re ready to lube.
Dos and don’ts of lubricating
Use petroleum-based oils and greases for this lubrication. Do not use silicone-based lubricants for metal parts. Silicone-based lubes are for plastic parts that have low levels of load. Steel lubricated with silicone allows a hard steel part to eat into a softer steel part.
There are also reports that silicone-based lubes can decompose inside the compression chamber and give you a fine SiO2 (silicon dioxide) on the inside walls. SiO2 is basically sand. I don’t know if these reports are credible, but I prefer to stay on the safe side.
Do not listen to the hype about “Teflon coating” or “liquid Teflon” or “contains Teflon.” From a chemist’s and physicist’s point of view, they’re nearly worthless. Stick to tested lubricants, and you’ll be okay.
Do not use organic (vegetable- or animal fat-based) lubes. They tend to decompose and produce weak acids.
Placing the lubricant
Things you’ll need:
Cloth (cotton is the best, nylon is the worst).
Toothpicks to apply the lubricant. I use small flat screwdrivers; they work like little shovels .
A cleaning rod and set of brushes and patches.
Three different types of lubricant are all you need to keep your springer going.
First, some oil for the seal and piston. By “some,” I mean a single drop. I would say that full synthetic motor oil (the real stuff now, not just petroleum that has synthetic oil added) is the best among those most easily available. A quart will last for tens of thousands of jobs. Take an assembled piston. Put one drop of full synthetic motor oil on your fingertip and just rub it over the seal and piston front. That will do the job for years.
Now install the piston in the cylinder. If your rifle is properly tuned, it might give a very light diesel with very light white smoke on the first one or two test shots but no more. Always load the gun for test shots and shoot it into a pellet trap. It’s very convenient to store and apply this kind of oil in a single-use syringe.
Let’s use something for the mechanical parts. This is the second type of lubricant we’ll be using. I’d say the best for this purpose is oil jellified with lithium salts. I’m not sure if there are the same markings and names in the U.S., so let’s describe it. It’s somewhere between jelly and soft butter spread, yellow-orange semi-transparent, with a distinctive petroleum smell. In case it’s doped with MoS2 (molybdenum disulfide), it’s often deep blue with a greenish hue. MoS2 is great, as it reduces friction but simple lithium jelly is more than enough to maintain your rifle. Use it wherever friction occurs. Apply a thin (very thin!) coat onto any joints (cocking lever assembly, barrel joint, etc.) rails and cogs (Whiscombe and IZH-60/61 rifles).
[Editor's note. In the U.S., we have white lithium grease, which the U.S. Army recommended for lubricating guns like the M1 Garand. It has many automotive applications, where there's heavy metal-to-metal contact and wear, so I think this will serve the author's intended purpose. There's also red lithium grease and general-purpose lithium grease. I would go with the white lithium grease for this purpose.]
I’m not among those who cover mainsprings with heavy tar-like grease. This substance is an invitation to Mr. Diesel, as well as a dust trap. A good plastic (e.g., Coke bottle side) piston shim to reduce the space between the piston and mainspring and a properly fitted spring guide will kill the twang, and wiping the spring with a lithium grease cloth is more than enough.
You can now finish assembling your gun. Check if everything is correct and check for 2-3 “spare” parts on your table. Test how it cocks and then make some test shots…of course, no dry-firing. Your airgun now works as it should, plus all the internal parts are lubricated with the correct substances.
But what about the third type of lubricant? What’s that used for? That’s easy. The third type is the preservative oil you’ll use to clean and wipe your beauty after you use it. I like using Ballistol. It should be applied only outside and for the barrel’s interior. Some people also use Ballistol spray to wash trigger assembly parts when degreasing. Well, that doesn’t do any harm, plus it lubricates the parts at the same time.
How often should I lubricate?
You should not lubricate your springer very often. It mostly depends on how you use your rifle. Hunters and outdoorsmen must clean and lube their rifles more often than backyard shooters. Pistons and seals should be lubed only once in 4-5 thousand shots, together with mainspring maintenance.
[Editor's final comment. Duskwight wrote a much longer report than what you see here. I condensed it and removed references to certain things that are not accepted in the U.S., such as using gasoline for cleaning parts. I also removed a couple references to types of materials that our readers probably are not familiar with.
Bear in mind that duskwight is in the middle of building a recoilless dual-opposed spring-piston air rifle that will work on the same principle as the Whiscombe, but will be entirely different in design. He's contracting for each part to be made to his specifications -- so this man is light-years ahead of most of us when it comes to spring-piston airguns. He's also writing from the viewpoint of a different country, and he isn't even writing in his native tongue!
I don't know about you, but I learned something in today's report. The bit about using pure synthetic automotive oil as a piston seal lube was brand new to me. I think we owe duskwight our thanks for sharing his experience with us.]