Posts Tagged ‘junior’
by B.B. Pelletier
Normally Part 3 would be an accuracy test; but if you’ve followed this report, you know that my Webley Junior was shooting very slow when I tested it for velocity. So, I told you I would disassemble it and have a look inside to learn what I could about the shape of the powerplant.
The first clue I had took no disassembly whatsoever. I simply looked through the cocking slot on top of the gun and noticed that the mainspring was bone dry. I’d lubricated the breech seal and piston seal before velocity testing, but I left the mainspring alone. I’m glad I did, because I learned that this gun was really too dry inside for proper operation. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first step in the disassembly of any Webley classic pistol is to remove the barrel. One screw was removed, and the .177 smoothbore barrel came out, though not easily. From the appearance of the machined surfaces on the barrel lug, it was obvious that this pistol had not been apart many times in its 60+ years since leaving the factory. Perhaps never!
Step two — the tricky part
The mainspring is held in place by a threaded end cap that also incorporates a spring guide. The cap threads are fine, and a pistol that hasn’t been apart presents a real challenge. The challenge is to get the cap off without disturbing the sharp edges around the slot in the cap.
I chucked up the handle of a big pair of channel lock pliers sticking straight up in my bench vice and inserted it into the end cap slot. Using the pistol grip as a handle to turn the gun, I broke the cap free. Once it was free, the threads were exposed in a couple places, so I squirted some Kroil penetrating oil on them to loosen the cap more. It came off with nary a mark left on the end cap.
The mainspring is under a bit of compression, so when the last thread is out the end cap springs away from the pistol. I was surprised by how far this one moved, and I photographed it for you. It seems close to a brand-new mainspring, but the look of the parts inside tells me the gun probably hasn’t been apart since at least the late 1960s. I say that because of a pristine leather piston seal and spacer. Those items were changed to synthetic by Webley in 1965, so I think they’ve been in this gun a very long time.
The piston can then be removed by pulling the trigger to get the sear out of the way. A screwdriver through the cocking slot does the rest, and you slide the steel piston out the front of the gun. The piston and mainspring were both dry but quite dirty, as though some minimal oil had dried on their surfaces decades ago. A couple wipes with a rag removed the grime, leaving the parts sparkling. The piston seal was oily, which was to be expected.
That completes all the disassembly I need to do. It took me half an hour for everything, but after I lubricate the parts and the end cap threads prior to assembly I’ll be able to tear it down next time in 15 minutes.
I expected to find a bad piston seal in this gun and am stymied that it’s as nice as it is. I can’t honestly see one part that requires replacement. On the other hand, I seriously doubt lubrication alone will let the gun gain the 100+ f.p.s. that it lacks. That just hasn’t been my experience. However, I will now clean the powerplant and all parts, lubricate everything correctly and assemble the gun to test once more.
by B.B. Pelletier
Before I begin today, just a word about the upcoming Daisy Get Together in Michigan. It’s in Kalamazoo on Sunday, August 22. That’s a one-day show. Admission is $2 to see a room full of fine collectible BB guns. For a flyer and more information, contact Bill Duimstra (616-738-2425) or Wes Powers (517-423-4148).
Today, I’ll test the velocity of the new Webley Junior. These guns are supposed to be low-powered, so expect velocities in the 275 f.p.s.region.
One thing I know about older vintage airguns is that they have leather piston seals. The Webley pistols also have a leather breech seal connecting the air transfer port to the breech. It’s a hollow metal tube surrounded by leather that also needs to be oiled. So, the first order of business is to oil the seals.
Since I didn’t know how long the gun had gone since its last oiling, I intentionally overdid it. The oil gets dropped into the transfer port with the piston retracted in the cocked position. That took care of both the piston seal and the breech seal. Then, I waited two full days before firing.
Despite being made for younger shooters, the Junior is still quite a handful to cock. I doubt most 12-year-olds have the strength. As I cocked the pistol, I felt some scraping that I didn’t like. I’ve not felt that before in a Webley pistol.
The first pellets I tried were RWS Hobbys, but they didn’t come out of the barrel when shot. Not a good start. The Hobby fits the bore fairly tight, but it should still fire okay, so I began to wonder if something might be wrong.
I tried JSB Exact RS pellets next. They exited the bore at an average of 146 f.p.s., with a spread from 144 to 150 f.p.s. That’s definitely slow. They should hit at least 250 f.p.s. with ease. They fit the breech loosely, which I think helped them to shoot at all.
Next, I tried some vintage Eley Wasp pellets. These are what might have been shot in the gun when it was fairly new. They fit relatively loosely and averaged 94 f.p.s., with a spread from 81 to 97 f.p.s. Egad! That told me there’s something wrong inside the powerplant. Maybe, under the circumstances, most people would be upset that a new gun needs repairs. Not me. That gives me the justification to disassemble the pistol and let everyone see what’s inside. Then, we’ll see just what’s needed.
Just to double-check my numbers, I shot a string of Gamo Match pellets that averaged 56 f.p.s. with a spread from 52 to 59 f.p.s. So, there was no longer any doubt that the powerplant needs attention and may even be disintegrating as I shoot.
What’s the next step?
What’s next is to disassemble the pistol and see what’s inside. The breech seal looks good at this point, but I’ve had to replace them before, too. What ever happens, I’ll show you what I do and where I get any parts that may be needed. Like my FWB 124, this will be a voyage of exploration for us. Accuracy testing will wait until the gun is shooting properly.
by B.B. Pelletier
When I came home from the hospital, all my internet business was in disarray. Edith had been keeping up with my email, but she hadn’t known about the various accounts I have, nor did she have the time to look at them. One of these was the Texas Gun Trader, an online in-state trading place where I meet others to buy and sell firearms. I had over 1,400 guns to look at!
One of those listings was a Webley Junior pistol, which caught my eye. It was priced close to the top of the market, but it seemed to be in very nice condition. So, I contacted the seller down near Houston and we negotiated. Normally, I meet the seller face-to-face, but in my current condition that was impossible, so we worked out a deal to ship the gun. Being an airgun, this was entirely legal.
When the pistol arrived, I had the pleasant surprise that the gun was in better cosmetic condition than I had imagined. The seller had posted photos, but a Webley pistol is all black and difficult to show any detail. I did the deal on trust that they were telling me the truth, and I feel they understated the fine condition. That made me very happy, because a vintage gun in beautiful condition always retains its value.
Edith had reprinted my Webley Junior article from Airgun Revue #6 in the blog while I was in the hospital, but that report was based on my brief examination of a Junior more than 10 years ago. Now, I own one, and can test it any way that I like. I especially want to try it with darts, for which it is ideally suited.
My new air pistol is a post-war Junior, where the one reported in May was a pre-war gun. And it’s a very early version of the post-war gun, being made sometime between 1946 and about 1950.
The clues to the age of my gun are the lack of an adjustable rear sight and the grips. From 1946 to ’51, the Junior grip had an extra 1/4″ projection at the top. Gordon Bruce thought it might have been a thumbrest, but there’s no proof. Also, the checkering was coarse at first and finer in the later versions.
The book says the Junior is for children, but I will confirm that the “kids” are probably in their teens because it isn’t that easy to cock the gun, even for an adult. The price was the lowest of the Webley line, and most Juniors like mine have smoothbore barrels. Hence, my interest in shooting darts.
The frame is malleable cast iron, made outside the Webley plant but machined by Webley. That’s why the finish appears so different between the frame and the spring tube, which is high-quality steel.
I’ll enjoy getting to know this little (but heavy!) air pistol. I purposely have not yet fired it, so you and I will be only hours apart as I discover what kind of a gun I have.
When I returned from the hospital, a group of friends presented me with a fine single-action revolver. I hope to get to the range to shoot it one of these days, but I thought I’d share it with you today.
Next time, we’ll test the Junior’s velocity.
by B.B. Pelletier
Update on Tom/B.B.: When I visited him Monday afternoon, we discovered that he’d lost 50 lbs. of water in less than a week. All vital signs are stable and things look quite good!
Today’s blog was written by B.B., but we have an announcement first.
Pyramyd Air is having its 3rd Annual Airgun Garage Sale on June 5. As in previous years, there will be a mountain of guns and accessories with slashed prices and dented pellet tins at huge discounts. Come early, bring cash or credit cards, and shop til you drop!
Now, on to today’s blog.
Here’s another subject I’ve hit before: Darts in airguns. Back in the 1600s, darts were the most accurate ammunition available for airguns. They were considered for target use only, were very low-powered and were shot from smoothbore guns of approximately .40 caliber. When airgunners see these old guns, they imagine things that just aren’t true, such as shooting them with lead balls, bullets or pellets. The truth is that darts were at one time a very popular airgun ammo.
The progression: from then to now
The early darts were very carefully made with metal bodies and animal hair fletching. Accuracy was controlled by removing hairs from the tail of the dart…one at a time. One hair was always a dark one, and that one never got removed. It was the way you oriented the dart in the barrel of the gun each time you loaded (e.g., always put the dark hair at the 12 o’clock position in the breech).
In the 19th century, they started producing darts with machines. This made them cheaper to buy but considerably less precise. They were still the ammunition of favor until the late 1870s.
Henry Marcus Quackenbush
When H.M. Quackenbush brought out his popular line of airguns, he also made darts for them, and that was considered their best ammunition. Later, he brought out several different types of ammo for the same guns. Cat slugs were solid lead cylinders with felt glued to the tail. The felt acted like a modern diabolo waist and flared skirt, creating high drag that kept the slug on track. Later still, some H.M.Q. guns were made to fire modern diabolo pellets and lead balls. Once, again, they were never very fast because of their roots in a dart gun design.
After WWI, the popularity of darts faded quickly. Webley kept them alive for their smoothbore pistols, most notably the Junior model, on which I reported recently. By the 1950s, the concept of the airgun dart was not very well understood in the USA. Benjamin made and sold them for their smoothbore guns that were also BB guns. But, most owners paid no attention and shot the metal body darts in their guns with rifled brass barrels!
You can still buy darts, but not many people do. A good dart gun is very low-powered and a very smooth shooter. Anything else defeats the purpose. They’re not, as some airgunners believe, super-penetration hunting ammunition.
Before I sign off today, I have another announcement.
Oehler 35P now available again
Most of us are more than happy with our Shooting Chronys, but a few of you have asked me for years about getting an Oehler 35P printing chronograph. I’m not here to sell an Oehler to you, but there’s no substitute if that’s what you really want.
The new package includes 3 skyscreens, a skyscreen bar, tripod, chronograph with built-in printer, and diffusers…all packaged in a hard rifle case. The Oehler is the only chronograph I know of that has a second proof channel that constantly compares to the output of the main chronograph channel. Both channels print out on the built-in printer. The price for this package is $575 with shipping (which is an introductory offer). At that price, this product isn’t for everyone. For 95% of my testing for Pyramyd Air, I use a Shooting Chrony.
by B.B. Pelletier
Update on Tom/B.B.: I spent several hours with Tom on Monday evening. He continues to make nice progress. Happy days are here!
On to today’s blog about the Webley Junior’s accuracy and velocity tests.
Although most Juniors are smoothbores, the barrel on our gun looked like it was rifled. To check, I pushed a pellet through the barrel. The rifling would have engraved itself on the thin skirt, enabling me to count the lands and grooves and check their pattern. But to my surprise, the pellet showed no signs of any rifling. Another look through the bore revealed that it was, indeed, a smoothbore, but when there was oil present, it tended to look like it was rifled. Maybe the barrel was originally rifled and the factory reamed them smooth because they were earmarked for Juniors. Or, maybe the appearance of the rifling is simply an optical illusion.
Webley Junior pre-war model
72-deg. F – 10 shots – Muzzle at start screen
Chinese blue label wadcutter, 7.6 grains
Extreme spread……28 fps
Standard deviation….8 fps
Muzzle energy……….1.91 ft-lbs.
RWS Hobby, 6.9 grains
Extreme spread……49 fps
Standard deviation….16 fps
Muzzle energy……….1.68 ft-lbs.
Accuracy has never been the Junior’s strong suit, nor even Webley’s for that matter. A Senior or Premier will group inside an inch or just a little larger at 25 feet, and our Junior did the same at 15 feet. Because of the lack of rifling plus the relatively slow velocity, a pellet with a pronounced diabolo shape is preferred. You need all the stability you can get from the high drag of a flared skirt for any semblance of accuracy.
A real find!
To American collectors, the most desirable Webleys are those imported and sold by the A.F. Stoeger firm. Better known for their publication Shooter’s Bible, Stoeger was a big importer of quality Europeanguns like the famous Luger, whose name they eventually purchased the rights to. When it came to airguns, they sold the best, and, of course, this included Webley.
A Stoeger gun will be marked with the company name, as this Junior is. It will also command a premium when it sells, much the same as a Winchester-marked Diana airgun. It’s not any more scarce than other Webleys, but it’s more desirable because of the recognized American name associated with it.
As far as condition goes, it’s hard to locate a steel-gripped Junior that doesn’t have a trace of rust or pits somewhere on the thin grip panels, or at the very least the blueing will have turned plum. This example is no exception to the rule. Collectors should take this into account when grading a gun, much as they do for early 1950s Daisys that have warped and shrunken plastic stocks.
You can still find this air pistol at reasonable prices by attending one of the better airgun shows. Expect to pay top dollar for the pre-war gun in excellent condition and with the Stoeger name. Juniors usually go for about half what Seniors bring in the same condition, so let that be your guide.
The Webley Junior is as well made, if not as expensive, as its larger siblings. If you want to collect the brand, you can’t overlook the smallest member. But, even if you have no desire to get them all, there might be room for this one in your gun cabinet.