Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Common PCP leaks and some common fixes

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

I’m still in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, as I write this, so please excuse the brevity of the report. A while ago, I wrote down this idea as a possible report topic. Those who haven’t yet come over to PCPs often wonder how reliable they are, and those who already have the guns sometimes encounter things that are common problems but new to them. Let’s talk about that today.

WARNING: The procedures I am about to describe are for those who know what they are doing. In every case, there are proper safety steps to be taken so accidents don’t happen. I cannot possibly describe all of those steps, so the following procedures are presented only for your education — not to train you as an airgunsmith. Safety with pressurized air and airguns should always be the No. 1 concern.

I can’t fill this airgun!
Boy, have I ever heard this one! It can come to you in a variety of ways, such as, “This airgun is broken — how do I return it?” I used to get at least one of those calls every month while I was the technical director at AirForce Airguns. The first few times I heard it, I was worried; but I got so used to hearing it that I would start telling them the cure before the problem had been fully stated.

The guy would tell me that he couldn’t fill his old-style Condor tank. I asked him how he was trying to fill it — from a scuba tank or with a hand pump — and a lot of times that made the guy mad. He wanted to know why that mattered because he should be able to fill the gun from a scuba tank or from a hand pump. Right? When this call came in, I knew he was filling with a hand pump, and I also knew he was trying to fill an empty tank.

The answer to “can it be done” is both yes and no. Yes, you can fill this kind of tank from a hand pump if there’s already some air inside it, and no, you can’t fill the tank if you start with it empty. That would really anger some people until I explained that the air inlet valve on an old-style Condor tank is also the exhaust valve. It’s a door that swings both ways. If there’s no air inside the tank, the valve will not recognize the small puff of air from a hand pump and will escape, again.

The valve will not close because it also uses internal air pressure to help it close tight. If you fill the tank from a scuba tank, the incoming air is under so much pressure that it will fill the tank quickly, and the internal air pressure will help close the valve when the filling stops.

A hand pump cannot fill some pneumatic airguns (not just Condors) unless they already have some air pressure inside to hold the inlet valve closed. We would ship tanks out with what we called a maintenance air charge in them — just enough pressure to hold the valve shut. But if the guy received the gun and then proceeded to shoot all that air out, as some of them did, they then had a gun that could only be filled from a scuba tank. It’s not funny when it happens to you.

This phenomenon is not just confined to AirForce guns, either. Almost all of the powerful Korean airguns work in a similar way. But the Korean guns can accept a charge by simply cocking the bolt — sometimes. In that case, taking the pressure of the bolt off the valve allows it to close and seal completely.

The newer style of Condor (as well as all other AirForce sporting PCP rifles) has a Spin-Loc tank with a separate inlet valve and firing valve. I’m not certain, but I believe this has solved the problem I just discussed. If I had a tank and pump here with me, I would check it right now. I’ll look into it when I get home.

Now you know two things about PCP “leaks” that are both very common problems and often misunderstood. First, they aren’t really leaks. They’re part of the gun’s design. Second, some guns must first be cocked to be filled.

Before you go all — “They shouldn’t design them that way!” on me, remember, the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane leaks fuel until it flies fast enough to heat and expand the airplane’s skin. Only then do all the leaks stop. Sometimes, a product can have a quirk that isn’t a flaw — it’s just the way it works. The Sheridan Supergrade rifle is one that cannot be pumped up unless the bolt is cocked first.

Use a hammer!
I probably shouldn’t tell you guys this next one; because when some of you get a hammer in your hands, every problem looks like a nail. But in the world of pneumatics, there are times when a big rubber mallet is exactly the right tool to use. When is that time? When a pneumatic that has been performing well all along suddenly develops a fast leak. It’s probably due to a piece of dirt that’s gotten onto a soft seal and is allowing air to pass through. To get it off the seal, it sometimes works to tap the end of the valve with a soft hammer. It opens the valve, and the blast of air will probably blow the dirt past the seal.

When I built valves at AirForce, I tested each by pressurizing them in a fixture and tapping the valve stem with a rubber hammer. I had racks of 100 valves at a time, and I went through and did this to each one in turn. That process seated the valve and created a small ring of contact between the synthetic valve and its seat. Sometimes, the valve needed to be hit several times to seat it properly, but it always worked. And it also worked if a valve had a small piece of dirt anywhere in the seals.

When customers would call with a gun that leaked and I determined the leak was a fast one that had popped up all of a sudden, I told them to try this procedure before sending the tank back for repairs. It fixed probably over 75 percent of all such leaks.

But this isn’t magic. If your gun has been a slow leaker the whole time you’ve owned it, this isn’t going to change a thing. It’s just for those all-of-a-sudden leaks that crop up sometimes. It will work for all guns, but most of them don’t allow direct access to the valve head like the AirForce tanks do. For those, you can do the next best thing — dry-fire the gun several times. That usually fixes the problem unless you’re timid about it. I sometimes had to get a timid owner to dry-fire his gun by telling him to fill it full and then dry-fire it 20 times in rapid succession. All that was doing is getting him to dry-fire the gun repeatedly without pausing to see if it was fixed yet. When there’s a piece of grit on a seal, it takes a lot of air flowing past to dislodge it, and a couple tries are often not enough. Twenty shots is probably overkill in all situations, but it saved me time from having to explain in detail just what the guy was doing — as I have now done for you!

You now know a genuine airgunsmith procedure! It isn’t as fascinating as it sounded, is it?

Okay, let’s go back to 1960, when cars had points and copper spark plug wires with (sometimes) poor insulation. Mechanics had a genuine stethoscope in their toolboxes. Or if they were shade-tree mechanics, like me, they had a 4-foot length of small rubber hose. We would put one end of the tube to our ear (the ear that worked best) and move the other end around the engine compartment while the motor was idling. You could quickly zero in on an arcing sparkplug wire or an exhaust manifold leak. It also works for precharged airguns!

You don’t need a hose because the barrel is the pipe that transmits the sound. Cock the gun but don’t load it. The sound you’re listening for is an air leak at the exhaust valve. But here’s an important safety tip — never put your ear directly over the muzzle and never do this if the gun is loaded! Listen from the side of the muzzle; so if the gun were to fire, the air would blast past your ear instead of into it! You can use a piece of paper to direct the sound, if needed. That keeps you safe and still lets you hear the smallest sounds.

I’ve found a number of valve leaks this way. This is just a diagnostic tool — it doesn’t do anything to fix the valve.

If your ears aren’t that good, or if you just don’t want to do it this way, you can also put a few drops of soapy water down the muzzle of a cocked gun. Bubble-blowing solution that you can buy at a dollar store works perfectly for this! If any air is escaping the valve, there will be bubbles at the muzzle. I always had a small bottle of bubble-blowing solution next to me when I worked on guns at AirForce. Of course, you have to clean the barrel and wipe it with an oily patch after doing this.

These little procedures have proven very valuable over the course of time. If the situation is right, they’ll fix the problem more often than not. While they seem simple to the point of being somewhat ridiculous, they do work.

The Relum Telly: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, we’ll finish Vince’s report on his new Relum Telly.

If you’d like to write a guest blog, please email us.

Over to you, Vince!

The Relum Telly: Part 2
by Vince

When we last saw the Telly, I’d just reduced the cocking effort by repairing the cocking linkage and smoothing the outside of the spring tube. Then I set about to fix the other things that were wrong with my new airgun. I had just fixed the stripped stock screw holes and was about to go into the gun’s innards. So, today join me on a tour of the Telly’s belly.

The piston is basic enough, and the fact that the leather piston seal was still in passable condition saved me a fair bit of hassle. It’s riveted in, so replacement wouldn’t have been very straightforward:

Relum Telly piston seal
The leather piston seal looks good.

Relum Telly piston body
Looking inside the piston reveals the rivet that holds the piston seal to the body.

So, a soaking in 30 weight oil is all it gets before reassembly.

I mentioned the concentric springs earlier. This is what they look like:

Relum Telly springs
The inner and outer mainspring. The inner spring shows a bit of “snakeiness” from its long life.

The thinner inner spring has about 1/3 the spring rate of the outer, which means that it does indeed contribute significantly to the powerplant energy.

The trigger is a linked direct sear. Oddly enough, it’s sorta similar to the linkage in the el-cheapo Industry Brand S2 pistol. The trigger blade pops right out but the actual sear pin is peened in place so I can’t remove the sear block. I’ve sketched in what it sorta looks like, sorta (yellow area).

Relum Telly trigger
The trigger blade came out easily. The sear is held in by a heavily peened pin, so I didn’t remove it. The yellow area is approximately what the sear looks like in profile.

As the blade is pulled back, it rotates the sear block clockwise (downward in back), which releases the piston. Here’s where I discovered something. Remember that goofy lockscrew I noticed in the front triggerguard bolt? It wasn’t a lockscrew at all. The bolt itself threads into the hole identified by the yellow arrow (above picture), and the concentric screw (which is both smaller in diameter and longer) pushes up on the sear block opposite of the trigger. This can be used to reduce the sear engagement and adjust the trigger. In fact, you can adjust it to the point of not even working. I don’t like messing too much with direct sears of any type, so I run the gun with the screw all the way out.

Relum Telly trigger adjustment
What I thought was a lockscrew turned out to be the trigger adjustment screw. It controls the amount of sear engagement area.

All the innards look usable, so after proper cleaning and relubing I reassemble the gun and get ready to shoot.

This is not going to be a super-comprehensive shooting test. Considering how few of these things that are around, the Relum Telly is not exactly a vintage gun you’re gonna want to use as a routine shooter. If you want a nice, usable vintage gun for a youth, get them something like a Diana 25. We just want to see what sort of performance the Telly was capable of.

The gun didn’t like Daisy Precision-Max or Crosman Wadcutters, but (surprise, surprise) it thrives on 7-grain RWS Diabolo Basic pellets. This 5-shot group shows what the gun is capable of at 10 meters:

Relum Telly target
Five RWS Diabolo Basic wadcutters made this 0.35-inch group at 10 meters.

That’s 0.35 inches, center-to-center, with rotten open sights. The rear blade has a “V” notch, while the front post tapers to a point on top — which means to my eyes, the top of the post sorta fades in and out like Captain Kirk stuck in a malfunctioning transporter. It’s very hard to make sure I’m getting a consistent aim point, which makes me think the gun is capable of even better.

Next up is the velocity — and laziness dictates that I only bother testing the pellets that shot well. Or, in this case, the one pellet. After 5 warm-up shots, the gun laid down this string:


The average was 617 f.p.s. This is just shy of 6 foot-pounds of energy…which, for the size of the rifle, really isn’t bad. On the OTHER hand, it’s HORRIBLE for a gun that requires as much as or more cocking force than a Diana 350 or a Baikal 513, while delivering less than 1/3 of the energy.

Anyway, it’s at this point that I decided to snap a quick picture of the breech with a pellet loaded to show you how loose it fits:

Relum Telly pellet in breech
See how deep into the breech the pellet falls?

See? It drops right in with no fuss or fighting. But then I get to thinking that SOMEbody’s going to carp about that ancient leather breech seal! So, should I replace it? The gun is probably doing as well as it can, so I have no reason to. In fact, I can even hear that little voice in my head saying, “LEAVE IT ALONE!”

So, naturally I popped it out, destroying it in the process. To my delight, it seems to be the same size as a Diana seal, which means I can use a #109 o-ring. But wait — there’s something funny about the groove it sat in.

Relum Telly breech seal groove
The groove is cut parallel to the bore, but not to the slanted breech. As a result, it’s deeper on the top than on the bottom.

Dang. The breech face is slanted on this gun (like on a lot of Dianas), and the groove is cut parallel to the barrel bore, not parallel to the breech face. This means that the top of the grove is a lot deeper than the bottom.

At first, I tried to see if I can “split the difference” by shimming it just right, but obviously that won’t work:

Relum Telly new breech seal 1
The shimmed breech seal obviously isn’t going to work.

Eventually, the obvious solution hit me, and I cut a wedge-shaped washer out of semi-rigid tubing:

Relum Telly wedge washer
By cutting this washer on a bias, I got a wedge shape to lie under the new o-ring breech seal.

…and VOILA!

Relum Telly new breech seal 2
The wedge-shaped washer raised the new o-ring to be level with the slanted breech.

One final note: the gun shoots no faster with the new seal.

So there you have it, the Relum Telly in a nutshell. Cocking effort aside, it’s a decent little plinker. I’d say it’s easily the equal of a small Diana or Slavia in accuracy but superior in power. Granted, this pup ain’t gonna get shot very much — but at least in looks at home in my airgun rack:

Relum Telly airgun rack
The new Telly is near the right side of the top rack.

My New Relum Telly!
Not such a bad little felleee,
At least with the right pelleee…
My New Relum Telly!

And so, both my Telly review and brief poetical foray draw to a long-overdue conclusion.

The Relum Telly: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today, we have a guest blog from our blog’s master mechanic — Vince. For those who don’t know him yet, Vince is our “go-to” guy for fixing all sorts of strange vintage airguns, including my Falke 90 that I’ll tell you more about tomorrow. Not only does he fix airguns, he also tells great stories, so I’ll leave that to him.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Take it away, Vince!

The Relum Telly: Part 1

by Vince

My new Relum Telly!
Like a bowl full of jelly,
You gimme an ache in my belly.
But at least you’re not smelly,
My new Relum Telly!

(And it’s all downhill from here.)

I was perusing the Gun Broker auctions for no particular (good) reason when I saw a listing for something called a “Relum Telly.” Thinking it sounded like some sort of early British video receiver, I couldn’t help but look it up and, well, in fairly short order, I wound up owning my first Hungarian air rifle.

 Hungarian! Old Europe! Old World craftsmanship! But wait! Post-war Hungary. Commies! Oppressed workers! Poor quality! WHAT exactly was I gonna find?

I was to find out soon enough, as the gun arrived a week after the auction ended. First order of business, of course, is the initial grand tour. It’s intact — sort of — let’s just say it’s been “rode hard and hung up wet.” All the pieces are there (including the sights, thank heaven!); and even though there’s a lot of superficial damage to the bluing, rust doesn’t seem to be a big problem. But let’s take a closer look, unravel the ravages of time and try to get a feel for what this rifle must have been like back when it was originally used to swell the coffers with capitalist cash.

Relum Telly
You never know what you’ll get from an online auction. This Relum Telly came to me.

The rifle is virtually identical in size to a Diana 25, which places firmly in the medium-sized proletariat range of shooters. But (unusually for this period and demographic) the gun seems to be trying to lift itself a notch or two higher in some respects.

The most obvious thing I see is that pronounced, raised cheekpiece. It may seem like no big deal now; but back when this gun was new (1960′s?), manufacturers didn’t tend to do a lot of sculpting on their air rifle stocks. Look at a contemporary Diana 25, and you’ll see what I mean. To make sure the cheekpiece is noticed you’ll see a “Telly” inscribed into it.

Relum Telly cheekpiece inscription
Not only is there a raised cheekpiece — they even thought enough of the gun to put the model name on it!

As we start looking more closely at the gun, I find that there IS something missing, at the bottom of the pistol grip.

Relum Telly pistol grip
Yep — something’s missing.

The triggerguard (surrounding a trigger of an as-of-yet-unknown type) is held in place by a normal wood screw at the rear…and something kinda funky at the front.

Relum Telly triggerguard locking screw
Funny way to do a lock screw, I thought. The triggerguard screw on the left has a locking screw in its center!

Anyway, moving to the breech, we see an integral sling mount, an articulated cocking link, a dovetail-mounted rear sight with elevation adjustment and a six-position locking-breech pivot bolt. That sling mount is positioned well. It’s so close to the pivot that there’s little chance that tugging on the sling will pop the action open (as it would on a Slavia 619 of the same period).

The front of the cocking link, if you notice, is also secured by a small machine screw. I DO notice something a bit curious, though — the cocking link seems to want to hang down from the action rather than sitting up tight. I wonder why that is?

Relum Telly breech area
We see a lot of nice features in the breech area. But why does the cocking linkage hang down?

No matter! Continuing on with our tour — the front sight is also dovetail-mounted, and I imagine it had a hood around it at one point.

Relum Telly muzzle
The front sight also sits in a dovetail. And the grooves in the barrel on either side are an indication there was once a hood over the sight.

So, we seem to have a fairly well thought out junior air rifle here. Since the Gun Broker listing stipulated that the gun “shot good,” the next logical step is, of course, to actually shoot it.

But obviously that’s wrong. It’s odd how we often take shortcuts in our use of language, with the result that our descriptions are technically inaccurate. As we all know, the next step is not to shoot the gun. The next step is to cock the gun — and what a formidable step it turned out to be!

The first attempt resulted in my giving up about 90% the way through the cocking stroke. Something was seriously wrong. The way the effort stacked up exponentially at the end of its travel, I first thought I had cocked it all the way and the sear simply didn’t catch. But that didn’t seem to be it. I tried again and got the barrel a little further back, but still no sear catching. Finally, with a rather Herculean effort (if I say so myself), I got the barrel all the way back and got it to latch. This little rifle required more than 60 lbs. of effort to cock!

Then, it’s pellet in, pull trigger, pellet hits trap. Rather anticlimactic, really. After all that effort, I was expecting at least a small mushroom cloud at the point of impact.

The worst part was the feel of the cocking stroke. It felt like metal-on-metal galling. In retrospect, I should have quit as soon as I noticed something wrong. Doesn’t matter now. I sure ain’t gonna try THAT again!

Apart comes the action. Immediately, I stumbled across problem No. 1: The front stock screws are stripped out.

Relum Telly stripped holes
Great! Both front stock screw holes are stripped out.

Just great, but that’s the least of my problems right now. Why on Earth does a 6 foot-pound gun cock with over 60 lbs. of grunt? So, I pulled apart the action and found…a big, fat nothing. Piston looks fine. Tube looks fine. Springs look fine. Seal looks — wait! SPRINGS?

Yes, another Hungarian eccentricity. Mainspring-S — as in plural. And not counter-wound springs mounted end-to-end like in Wacky Wayne’s old BSA underlever (oh WHY did I let him have that back?), but concentric springs — still counter-wound. One was inside the other. Could they be binding? A quick reassembly with only the outer spring proves that they’re not. Cocking is nearly as bad. Side note: The outer spring wasn’t happy being cocked with the inner spring removed. Apparently, that inner spring (which contributes, maybe, 25% of the energy) works together with that outer spring, and they keep each other straight without a rear spring guide.

Well, now my attention turns to the cocking link. Could it be binding where it slides in the slot? There’s a lot of wear in the cocking slot area that leads me to believe it is.

Relum Telly slot area
Heavy wear in the cocking slot of the spring tube.

I remember how the cocking link didn’t want to sit up tight against the spring tube. Upon closer inspection I find that it’s bent.

Relum Telly bent link
The cocking link is actually bent!

I straightened it, reinstalled it and — not much better.

I reconsider my probable causes and keep coming back to friction. A quick check on the scale shows that the effort to cock the gun is about 20 lbs. higher than the effort needed to merely hold the barrel in place. That’s a 20-lb. friction load — quite a bit — and a much more powerful Gamo 220 (which also has an articulated link) only has about a 5-lb. friction load.

Back to that cocking link. I noticed some wear. Because this linkage is articulated, the rear link that connects to the piston passes through a guide that’s attached to the spring tube. The link is sitting crooked in the guide and rubs up against the side of it when cocking the gun – THAT can’t be good!

Relum Telly wear on link
That shiny stripe is where the link has worn from rubbing against the guide.

I straightened it out, reinstalled it and — I can’t tell the difference.

At this point, I’m almost ready to believe that the gun is just jinxed. But upon closer inspection, I noticed this:

Relum Telly tube wear
The cocking link has made a deep groove in the spring tube.

The thing about articulated links is that the rear link is pushed hard into the spring tube during cocking. There has to be some sort of nylon or Teflon pad, or a roller or SOMETHING to mitigate that friction. If friction is, indeed, mitigated, you don’t get galling like that. So, there’s something seriously wrong here.

In a moment, you’ll see the rubbing pad that the factory installed in the rear link. Could that be the problem? To find out, I did two things. First, I polished up the rubbing surface on the tube — but that one scratch was WAAAYYYY too deep to remove. The next picture is very revealing.

Relum Telly tube polish
This picture shows how deep the scratch is. I polished the metal around it, but that scratch can’t be polished out. I know it looks like a folded metal tube, but it’s really solid. The cocking link has dug that deep trench through many cocking efforts.

Next, I popped out the rubbing pad that came with the gun and made a new one out of some nylon stock.

Relum Telly old rubbing pad 1
The anti-friction pad, or what I’m calling the rubbing pad, that came on the Telly is not very slick.

Relum Telly old rubbing pad 2
Here, I have popped out the old rubbing pad from the cocking link. The replacement has to fit in that cutout.

Relum Telly replacement rubbing pad
The replacement rubbing pad is made from nylon.

I can’t quite identify the original pad material, but it sure doesn’t seem all that slick. Put it all back together, and — success! Well, relatively speaking, anyway. The cocking effort is now just 45 lbs. instead of 60, and the static friction is down to about 8 lbs. That, I think, is probably about as good as it’s going to get. From what I can see, the link geometry just stinks and the mechanical advantage takes a nose-dive in the last part of the cocking stroke.

Next problem: Those stripped holes! My first inclination was to drill them oversize and install a threaded insert. But after checking the OD of inserts and the Heli-Coils that are available, I don’t think there’s enough meat to work with. That leaves me with one option: the cheapest but also the messiest — weld up the existing holes, grind down the welds, redrill, retap.

Despite the severe heat that this sort of welding puts into the work, I decide to weld up the holes with an oxy-acetelyne torch rather than a stick welder. I’ll spare you the ugly pictures — mainly because I forgot to take any. Once I got everything ready for redrilling, I installed the spring tube in the stock and used the existing screw holes in the stock as a drill guide.

Relum Telly drill guide
I used the stock screw holes as a guide for drilling the new holes, which will be threaded to receive the stock screws.

Soon, I had a pair of nicely aligned holes with good, clean threads that I can properly tighten up. Now that all the curveballs have been batted away — well, save one, but I’m not going there just yet — let’s poke around the rest of the gun.

Editor’s note
And that is where we’ll leave this report for today. The next installment will finish the story, and there are many more pictures to come. Thanks, Vince, for an insight into an airgun that many of us will never get to see.

Is it appropriate?

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Stephen Carolyn Donahue is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

BSOTW winner Stephen Carolyn Donahue says this about his winning picture: “Most of our children, posing with air rifles purchased from Pyramyd Air, three years ago. Please note that none of these weapons were loaded in this picture.”

I am attending the NRA Annual Meetings in St. Louis today, so I’m asking the veteran readers to watch out for new readers who need their questions answered before I can get to it. I’ll be back in the office on Tuesday.

Today, I want to talk about mixing airgun features that don’t go well together. I see this in two main ways. One is a thread on a forum in which someone touts a certain feature, such as a 24-inch barrel on a CO2 rifle. The thread that follows looks like a line of lemmings stepping off the same cliff as the originator of the thread. What if 24-inch barrels don’t do well on CO2 guns? No matter! Off they go in a race to change over all their CO2 rifles to 24-inch barrels, and someone wonders aloud where he can get a 30-inch barrel.

The other way I see this is in questions. They never come out and say what’s really on their mind, but a careful reader can usually see it just below the surface. “Where can I get a 6,000 psi nitrogen tank?” [ I can fill my PCP rifle to 6,000 psi so it will shoot faster, flatter and straighter -- won't it?] Or they ask where they can get something “repaired.” I have a Sheridan Blue Streak that needs the barrel attached.” [...because when I mounted a 24x scope on the gun it cracked the solder joint and the barrel fell off.]

I gave you all a good look at what happens when someone acts on an idea they have without thinking it through. Remember Steel Dreams? That was an oversized Beeman R1 through which the builder planned to shoot .22 pellets as fast as a .177 R1. In other words — break the sound barrier. If you recall, the rifle weighed over 11 lbs., cocked with 75 lbs. of effort, had an Anschütz match barrel and was no more powerful than a normal R1.

And so it goes
But these stories don’t dampen the passions of the armchair tinkerer, because in his world all it takes to invent something is to imagine it. No metal is required, no machine time, no need to test whether that longer spring will even fit into that “underpowered” spring gun. Just the knowledge that he is right sends him off to the races.

Writer Ladd Fanta once wrote of a reader of his who “invented” the perfect airgun. It had to be fully automatic, have a plastic body so all the parts could be seen and cost less than a hundred dollars. He wasn’t talking about an airsoft gun, either. No, sir! he wanted a full-blown accurate and powerful pellet rifle with all those features.

More power!
Comedian Tim Allen got it right when he recognized the male need for more power in everything. What he missed entirely was the male resistance to doing work to get it! I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard something like the following. I bought the new Dragon Spittle Extreeeeme because I thought it was the most powerful air rifle made. But I can’t cock it! I am a healthy 15 year-old and large for my age, but my father can’t even cock this rifle more than once. Why do you sell such a powerful rifle that is impossible to cock? He might as well have asked why sports car seats are so small or why 180-lb. beer kegs weigh so much!

You meet this same guy on a double diamond ski slope with his face planted firmly in the snow.

Price rules!
I want the most accurate, most powerful pellet rifle made, and I don’t want anything made in China or Turkey. And it has to cost $125 or less. Well, start working, Bunky, because you will be the first to build one, if you can!

Why don’t they…
… make barrels longer? Because everybody knows that longer barrels are more accurate. Oh, really? Then why, pray tell, are Olympic target rifle barrels 16 inches long, when the barrel shrouds that house them are 25 inches long?

… make better hunting air pistols? Could it be because it takes a long barrel to produce the power needed for a hunting airgun? And what’s wrong with the TalonP?

… make PCPs that sell for under $100? I’m actually working on that one.

… turn 10-meter target rifles into more powerful rifles for field target? Everyone knows 10-meter rifles are the most accurate in the world. Actually, Walther did just that about a decade ago. I worked on it through Smith & Wesson. They called it the Dominator, and it was supposed to sweep the field of all the prizes. The other competitors didn’t get the memo in time, I guess.

… make a BB gun that’s accurate? They did and they still do. The Diana model 30 was such a gun and is still sold in Europe, but the thousand-dollar price scared away American buyers. The Daisy Avanti Champion 499 is still a very accurate gun, though it competes at just five meters.

I’m as guilty as anyone
Many years ago, I had an “idea” that it would be nice to own a reloadable .22 cartridge that performed like the long rifle, but one for which I could cast bullets. So, I set out to build it. First, I ordered an E.R. Shaw .22 barrel with a 1:10 inch twist and forced them to chamber it in .22 Hornet. They balked because the Hornet twist is supposed to be 1:14 inch, but I knew better. They did what I asked and afterward they announced they would lo longer make .22 Hornet barrels!

I envisioned driving a 50-grain lead bullet at 1,200 f.p.s. and having the equivalent of the .22 WRF (or better still, the much older 22/45/10 single-shot from which the .22 Hornet was derived). Twenty-two ammo was up to $20 a brick and this was a chance to stick it to The Man. I never checked the availability of .22-caliber bullet molds (there aren’t many) or of custom mold makers who make .22 molds (there are next to none who do). I just assumed all the molds I needed would be there when the time came.

What I ended up with was an inaccurate .22 Hornet that didn’t like cast bullets or jacketed bullets, either. I had the barrel rechambered for .219 Donaldson Wasp — another cartridge that is supposed to have a 1:14 inch twist. I’m still playing with that one — trying to get it to work, because underneath everything there is a fine custom E.R. Shaw .22 barrel.

So, what gives?
Why do people want things that are impossible? I think I know. I think they read a few “facts” and become fixated on them to the exclusion of everything else. You can’t tell them anything because it’s way too loud inside their heads. They “know” they’re right and that others have simply missed the wonderful thing of which they’ve dreamed. Until they attempt to do something about it, they will never know the truth. They sit back and view the airgun world as one large buffet, putting things from every dish on their imaginary plate. From this, we get requests for pocket-sized air pistols with 50 foot-pound power and minute-of-angle accuracy. Or 30 foot-pound spring rifles that cock with 20 pounds effort and cost less than $150.

I’m just ranting now; I don’t expect an answer or think this will ever change. It must be part of human nature.

Does glass-bedding your air rifle improve accuracy? Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Today, we’ll look at the final part of Fred’s glass-bedding article about the Benjamin Trail NP XL. I held back on this part last week because that’s how Fred experienced it. In other words, the solution wasn’t instantaneous for him, and I wanted to separate the work from the final inspiration. Over to you, Fred!

by Fred of the People’s Republik of New Jersey

Benjamin Trail NP XL air rifle.

Let’s begin with a little review of the last report. After the bedding project was complete on the Benjamin Trail NP XL air rifle, I had to wait a week to get to my local shooting range so I could test the rifle at 30 yards. As I mentioned in the last report, it was a major disappointment for me, as the best group I could manage was 1.50 inches. There was no improvement whatsoever.

So tantalizing – 4 pellets within .875″ of each other…and then #5.

Like Mac in his review of this rifle, I was getting 3 or 4 pellets almost in a single hole or very close together, and then one or two pellets would ruin the group. On numerous occasions, my first pellet from this rifle would go right into the X-ring — and then the point of impact would shift from my point of aim. I felt it was a result of some part of the rifle shifting — the scope, the action in the stock or, as I’ve often wondered, the barrel pivot having some lateral play, allowing a different barrel position relative to the action every time the rifle was cocked. But I didn’t know for sure this contributed to this rifle’s inaccuracy.

This was achieved after the recrowning project, and it’s a representative target of what I would get with this rifle at that point in time. One shot dead on and then a shift of impact. This is a 28-foot target.

Then, after publication of the first part of this series, duskwight, our Russian blog reader, mentioned that he didn’t really trust breakbarrel rifles because of the pivot bolt potentially being a loose fit and destroying accuracy. It isn’t a problem when using fixed sights since the rear sight is mounted on the barrel along with the front sight, but a scope that mounts on the action does not maintain any sort of relationship with the barrel.

Out came my screwdriver, and I removed the action from the stock. I was rewarded with a bit of resistance as the action was now a tight fit. For the first time since I owned this rifle, I put the screwdriver onto the pivot bolt and found it to be moderately snug but not tight. Testing the barrel fit as I tightened the screw, I was able to turn the screw another three-quarter turn before reaching a point of not being able to turn it more without damaging the screw slot. While the cocking effort was now higher, it was still smooth and well within what I could handle.

At 28 feet, I put 4 pellets into a single hole measuring .4375 inches. The center-to-center dimension worked out to 0.218 inches, the best I’d ever achieved with this rifle. True, this was only 4 pellets, but I was running very low on the best pellets for this rifle.

Now, I had to go back to the range and test this final improvement at 30 yards. Since I was running out of H&N pellets, which were the most accurate pellets for this rifle, I had to use the last of them for the 30-yard test.

With only seven pellets remaining, I used one for sighting and then the rest. This is what I got:

Six pellets fit into a 1.125-inch group with the seventh pellet dismissed as a flyer — I pulled the trigger before I was ready. On a center-to-center basis, we’re talking 0.813 inches for the six pellets. I feel I’ve achieved my goal of getting this rifle to a point where it will hunt. I’m also confident that a better shooter could obtain a smaller group than I have.

Was it worth it?
Looking back on this entire project, it was obvious that the recrowning was a major improvement and definitely needed but more importantly, it reinforced in my mind that whenever I reach for a spring-piston or gas-spring rifle, my screwdriver needs to be at the ready so I can check all stock screws — and now the pivot screw for the barrel — before I start shooting.

Did the bedding and/or pillaring make a difference in this rifle? It’s impossible to say. Certainly, the proper procedure for making any type of changes is to make one change at a time and then an analysis of the results. I’m sure the bedding only helped and didn’t hurt. I’ll be on the lookout for the next inaccurate rifle and try my hand again as I readily enjoyed this entire episode. I learned a few things, and I hope you did, too.

Does glass-bedding your air rifle improve accuracy? Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, we’ll look at Part 2 of Fred’s glass-bedding article of the Benjamin Trail NP XL.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Guest bloggers must know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Over to you, Fred!

by Fred of the Peoples’ Republik of New Jersey

Benjamin Trail NP XL

When we left off in Part 1, I had made an aluminum pillar for my Nitro-Piston rifle stock and glued it into the stock. With my pillar installed, it was time to turn my attention to the bedding. Reading the kit instructions revealed something none of my research on YouTube brought up. First, there are three areas recommended for bedding – just behind the barrel where it connects to the action, by the trigger, and also at the tang or rear of the action.

The Battenfeld instructions said these are the principle areas to bed and would return the best results. They also recommended not doing the entire length of the action initially for another very important reason – you need the rifle to sit in the stock at the same height as it was designed to sit. If you tried to bed the entire length at the same time, you would need to remove material from the entire length of the stock. The action could then sit lower in the stock and could even sit unevenly, providing a tilt to the action. The kit instructions suggested going back after the initial bedding to modify the rest of the stock if desired.

You need to remove the finish from the stock so the bedding compound has optimum adhesion and build up a strong layer. With a marking pen, I drew lines where I would remove material from the inside of the stock. Kit instructions recommended removing at least one-sixteenth inch of wood.

This is perhaps the handiest tool I own. A rotary tool used for sanding, grinding, carving and cutting.
[Note from B.B.: I don't find it that handy, except for making firewood out of perfectly good stocks :)]

I used a Dremel with a sanding drum for the work. This really made short work of removing materials from the Chinese mystery wood from which the stock is made.

The three areas are now carved out of the stock and ready to receive the resin. The closest bare wood is where the stock forearm screws are located, the next area is just forward of the trigger, and the area that’s farthest away is the tang or very rear of the action.

Some adhesive tape was applied to the exterior of the stock near the areas that would receive the resin. This prevents any of the resin that might flow out from adhering to the stock.

Next was the preparation of the action. All fittings and trigger openings and other holes on the action were taped up with electrical tape. I could have used the modeling clay that was included in the kit, but this might have entailed more of a clean-up. The kit states that either precaution is fine. Following the masking, the action was entirely coated with a releasing agent.

The releasing agent and applicator in the plastic cup. In the exact center is the recoil lug that fits around the rear action bolt and slides into the rear of the stock.

Then, I mixed the two-part resin. While the kit gives an approximation of how much each part of the stock should take, I mixed a teaspoon full of resin and hardener and still had mixture left in the cup when the whole job was done. It took less than the estimate.

The kit itself contains enough resin for several more rifles, should you decide to bed another rifle. Another ingredient in the kit are microscopic glass beads that are mixed into the resin. This is used to thicken the resin. The recommended viscosity is similar to warm peanut butter. I needed this thickness because the mixture was being applied to vertical surfaces, and I didn’t want it running down into the cocking lever chamber.

It’s recommended you use a dust mask when handling the glass beads because you don’t want to inhale this stuff. It probably wouldn’t ever come out of your lungs! The kit also provides dye for the resin, and I found that a single eyedropper-sized drop of resin provided a dark brown color.

Here, you can see the measuring spoons provided with the kit and the resin mixed, dyed brown and ready to apply to the stock. The kit even contained the wooden mixing stick. Action openings were all sealed with electrical tape and coated with releasing agent, as mentioned in the text.

With the mixture applied, the action was inserted into the stock and the three stock screws were replaced and tightened. The assembly was then stored in a horizontal position and left for 8 hours. At the end of this time, the stock screws were loosened and then tightened again, drawing the stock firmly against the action. Now, the rifle was left for 16 more hours.

Action resting comfortably in the stock with the stock screws tightened. Duct tape has been applied to the stock to keep any oozing resin from contacting the stock.

If you look closely, you’ll see some resin peaking out between the action and stock.

The moment of truth
Now, the moment of truth had arrived. Would I be able to remove the action from the stock or would I need hammer, chisel and a phone call to Crosman for a new stock?

I removed all three screws; grabbing the action in one hand and the stock in the other, I pulled against the two. Nothing happened. The action was stuck tight in the stock! This is the very fear everyone imagines when starting a glass-bedding project for the first time.

After several minutes of pulling along different parts of the stock and action, I grabbed one of the forearms of the stock and pulled it away from the action. I was rewarded with a loud crack. It wasn’t the stock cracking, but the bond between the stock and the fiberglass giving way. I grabbed the other forearm with the same result. A bit more pulling and tugging and out popped my action! With the exception of the recoil plate which wasn’t coming out without some work with the Dremel and pliers, everything looked good.

Look how the resin flowed down the inside of the stock. That lug did not want to come out and seeing no reason it had to, I left it in place.

The action slid right back into the stock and, even without screws, did not move around. After cleaning off the little fiberglass compound that had adhered to the action, I assembled the rifle and tightened the screws. But I had to wait until the following Sunday to get to the local range.

After the bedding, I had to wait a whole week to get to my local shooting range, where I could test the rifle again from 30 yards. Once I got there, the results were a major disappointment, as the best group I could manage was 1.50 inches. That was no improvement whatsoever!

So tantalizing – 4 pellets within .875 inches of each other — and then #5.

Like Mac in his review of this rifle, I was getting 3 or 4 pellets almost in a single hole or very close together, and then one or two pellets would ruin the group. I thought perhaps I had reached the limit of what this inexpensive Chinese made rifle can produce but I’ll explore a bit more. I’ll remove the shroud again to see if I have better groups with it off.

I’m wondering if the barrel pivot may have some play allowing a different barrel position to the action every time the rifle is cocked? Perhaps some shims might help?

I’ll let you all know if anything changes. What this has shown me, at least with this rifle, is that the action was already well-secured in the stock. While the glass bedding kit was an education and can be used again on other rifles with accuracy problems, it was no help with this particular rifle.

More to come
That was all Fred originally wrote for this report, but since then he’s done some additional exploring and has more to tell. Part 3 is coming!

Does glass-bedding your air rifle improve accuracy? Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Pyramyd Air’s facebook site was running a special Father’s Day Edition of the Big Shot of the Week contest. The winner is Holly Thoman Hearn, who posted the following, which we assume is her husband and son. Holly will receive a $100 gift eCard from Pyramyd Air.

With the above photo, Holly Thoman Hearn won the 2011 Father’s Day Special Edition of the Big Shot of  Week contest.

Today’s guest blogger is Fred. If you’ve spent any time at all reading this blog and the comments, you already know that Fred is deeply involved in airgunning and loves to modify and improve his guns to get the most out of them. This time, Fred’s going to show you how he glass-bedded one of his Nitro Piston rifles.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Guest bloggers must know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Take it away, Fred!

by Fred of the Peoples’ Republik of New Jersey

Benjamin Trail NP XL

In my last blog, I detailed how I did a recrowning job on my Benjamin Trail NP XL. This is a gas-spring rifle made in China for the Benjamin Company. I was able to reduce a 5-shot group from .80 inches to .40 inches. That was at 28 feet and was considered a successful modification by many who read the blog. However, at 30 yards, I was getting 1.50-inch groups. Not quite good enough for hunting at this distance.

A representative target of what I was getting with the Benjamin Trail NP XL at 30 yards.

Our favorite Russian blog reader, duskwight, who has designed his own air rifle and is hoping a manufacturer will decide to take his design and bring it to life, suggested that my next step should be to glass-bed the rifle to prevent any movement between the action and the stock. Due to manufacturing tolerances, there’s normally ample room for play between the action and stock. The cheaper the rifle, the less care is taken in holding manufacturing tolerances to the engineers’ specifications and the less accurate the rifle. The process involves introducing a liquified fiberglass compound to the rifle stock and allowing the action to bed in as the compound flows around it and hardens, creating a custom fit that prevents the action from moving within the stock.

I started my research by going to YouTube and watching different gunsmiths – some pros, some amateurs, glass-bed their rifles. Next, I researched the glass bedding kits. After reading product reviews and the product manuals, I decided on  Miles Gilbert Bedrock kit from Battenfeld Industries. I selected it mainly because of the claim that their kit contained “the most comprehensive, illustrated instructions ever offered to take you from start to finish with your bedding project.” I was sold on this kit when I read that their kit included everything I could possibly need to bed my rifle.

To remove the Trail’s action from the stock, I have to remove 3 screws, one on either side of the stock, plus the rear triggerguard screw. With the screws out, the action fell out of the stock and my first confusion arose. When glass-bedding a centerfire rifle, all the YouTube videos showed the action typically resting on the bottom of the stock. There were no moving parts to be concerned with. Not so with the Trail. As with any breakbarrel rifle, you have a cocking lever and a guide for the lever moving within a channel carved into the bottom of the stock. In the Trail’s case, there was an additional lever connected from the end of the cocking link to the trigger assembly, which serves as the anti-beartrap device. The stock has a semi-circle inlet above this channel, and that’s where the action rests.

The curved part of the stock where the action rests. Below that is the channel for the cocking lever.

Most centerfire rifles have a recoil lug on the action that fits into the stock. This air rifle doesn’t, as there’s no place to put it due to the cocking linkage. Benjamin put a removable recoil lug at the end of the stock. The trigger lug fits into the stock just below the compression tube.

The rear of the triggerguard screws into the bolt that is holding the trigger unit in the rifle, drawing the action down to the stock. The recoil lug fits very loosely around the bolt and within the stock. This looseness could allow the action to move around within the stock and affect accuracy.

The rear of the action with the bolt that secures the trigger group. Foreground is the recoil lug that fits around that bolt and then slides into the rear of the stock.

A closer look, front to rear, at the inlet for the cocking lever.

Where to put the bedding compound?
Another question. Many of the YouTube videos talked about pillaring the action. What this entails is drilling out the screw holes and inserting a piece of aluminum roundstock with a pre-drilled hole in it, with the end curved to fit against the rifle action. If you look again at the screw holes, only one — the rear trigger hole — has any potential for this improvement. The forearm screw holes are too thin for a useful pillar.

That rear screw hole is the only place to put an aluminum pillar.

First, I drilled a half-inch hole to enlarge that screw hole. Of course, the wooden piece forming the right (forward) part of the hole fell out. Next, I cut a piece of half-inch aluminum round stock using a mitre box to keep the cut end as square to the length as possible.

Aluminum round stock cut with hacksaw.

Using my handy dandy mill file and a T-square, I filed the end as flat as possible…at least within my set of skills.

I actually got pretty close to making this surface perfectly perpendicular to the axis of the round stock.

Finally, I drilled an off-center hole (not by design), and my pillar for the rifle was complete. Using some epoxy, I glued the pillar into the enlarged screw hole in the stock. I figured I could always make another pillar and this time drill that hole centered — but wonder of wonders, everything fit!

I used JB Weld to hold the pillar in the stock. Darned thing worked. Notice on either side of the pillar and toward the rear of the rifle is a slot for the recoil lug to slide into.

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