Posts Tagged ‘mainspring compressor’

El Gamo 68/68-XP — A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

I last reported on this rifle on August 8 of last year. And that was Part 5! I had just tuned the rifle with a new mainspring and proper lubricants and was wondering what the changes would be. I was ready to report on it several months ago when I discovered that it wouldn’t cock. After fiddling with the trigger adjustments awhile with no success, I set it aside and moved on — thinking that the gun would need to be disassembled.

I disassembled it last week and discovered there was nothing wrong! The sear was working properly, or at least it seemed to be when I played with it as the gun was disassembled. I relubricated everything and put it all back together and was going to write Monday’s report on it. But the trigger still didn’t work! ARRGH!

This time, I remembered that when I got the gun the trigger was also a bit iffy, so I fiddled with the adjustments WAY outside the normal realm and, presto! I got it working again. Oh, it took a couple hours and there were some accidental discharges when the barrel was closed (direct sear!), but I solved all that by giving the sear way more contact than it needs.

Now the trigger releases at about 12 lbs., but at least it’s safe. Today, I’ll share with you how the tuned gun does at 25 yards — heavy trigger and all.

One other thing I did to the rifle was lubricate the leather piston seal with 10 drops of 3-in-One oil, leaving the rifle standing on its butt for two days afterward. The oil was allowed to slowly soak into the leather, which it did, but to protect the carpet and walls (Edith–Are you listening?) I put a long drop cloth in front of the rifle when I shot it.

Today’s test is a deviation from my normal pattern. I’ve tuned this gun and not yet reported the new velocities, and yet here I am shooting for accuracy. I decided to do it that way; and if I got good results, I would test the velocity next. I’m not changing the usual way of doing things — this is just an exception.

RWS Hobby
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. I chose it for its light weight and because it’s often accurate in lower-powered spring rifles and pistols. Sitting 25 yards from the target, I have to admit that I was wondering if the rifle had enough power to hit that target — let alone shoot a decent group.

Five of the first 10 pellets were detonations from the oiled piston seal. And the smell of burning oil was in the air. The Hobbys landed in a vertical group that was pleasingly tight from side to side. I was prepared to blame the verticality on the dieseling, but the truth is, that wasn’t the problem. The gun just doesn’t want to shoot Hobbys at 25 yards. That’s not too surprising since 25 yards is about the maximum distance for any wadcutter pellets, in my experience.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle RWS Hobby target
Ten Hobbys made this 2.151-inch group at 25 yards.

Air Arms Falcon
The second pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon, a 7.3-grain dome that’s often accurate in spring rifles. I used the spotting scope only on the first shot, which was a detonation, to make sure it was on the paper. There were 4 detonations in the 10 shots. I didn’t look at the target again until I walked down to change it. Boy, was I surprised by what I saw! To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, “Now, THAT’S a group!” For open sights at 25 yards and 65-year-old-eyes, it ain’t too bad!

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle Air Arms Falcon target
Ten Air Arms Falcons went into 0.898 inches between their two widest centers. This is an acceptable group for this rifle at 25 yards.

Remember, I’m shooting 10 shots — not 5. So this kind of group really proves the rifle can shoot. It also proves this old man can still hit things when the rifle does its part! So much for the problems of the droopers and gas springs! I needed this validation after some of the disappointing tests I’ve done recently.

The heavy trigger apparently is not causing much of a problem for me. I think that’s because the rifle is rested. If I were shooting offhand, I’d want a lighter trigger-pull.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried JSB Exact RS pellets. This is another 7.3-grain dome from JSB (JSB also makes Air Arms Pellets) and is very often accurate in many different airguns. And this is one of them. The group is slightly larger than the Falcon group, but the two are so similar that I would call it a tie.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle JSB Exact RS target
Ten JSB Exact RS domes went into 1.028 inches. Though not quite as small as the Falcon group, I would rate both pellets about equal in this rifle.

RWS Superdome
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which often does well in lower-powered spring rifles. This time, however, it didn’t. Ten pellets produced a 1.765-inch group. It didn’t disappoint me, though, because the Falcon and JSB RS groups looked that much better. It showed that the earlier Hobby group wasn’t just a fluke of bad luck — the gun simply likes what it likes.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle RWS Superdome target
Ten RWS Superdomes made this 1.765-inch group.

Evaluation
This test was calming for me. It was slower than many of the tests I’ve run in the past month, and the results were more based on me as a shooter rather than on the equipment. I find that I like that a lot!

The El Gamo 68 XP is operating well right now, except for the heavy trigger that I’ll probably keep just as it is for a while. The tuned powerplant is now smoother with less of a jolt. I noticed in this test that each pellet has a firing characteristic of its own. The two JSB pellets were definitely the smoothest of the four tested, and the Hobbys were the roughest.

This is such an odd airgun, with the fat heavy butt and no forearm to hold. Yet, it shoots like a thoroughbred. With the new tune, it cocks smoothly and just feels good to shoot — I don’t have any better way of describing it. I wish you could all try one, but since you can’t, I will, again, recommend the Air Venturi Bronco, which is the closest thing still being made today.

El Gamo 68/68-XP – A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

I’m sure many of you imagine that I’m immersed in airguns all the time, which is true. That my office is filled with all sorts of models (it is) and that my workshop bench is strewn with parts of projects in process. There’s just one problem with that view. I don’t have a workshop. When I really need a lot of room, such as for today’s report, I usually move to the kitchen, where I do my work on that time-honored bench — the kitchen table!

The other thing most readers don’t appreciate is how whipsawed I am with time. I can’t afford to spend a week or even two days on a project anymore. Back in the days of The Airgun Letter, I had one month to crank out the stories that are now written in about four days! If I spend more than three hours on a project before starting to write about it, I’m working on a 12-hour day because the writing and photography take so much more time than the actual testing. And so it was with some trepidation that I approached today’s report, which is a disassembly, evaluation, cleaning and lubrication of my Gamo 68 breakbarrel air rifle.

I wanted to do this because the 68 shoots very suddenly. It doesn’t vibrate like many spring guns, but the thump when it fires is very heavy — way out of proportion with the power of the gun. The trigger is very heavy, and I wanted to see what might be involved in bringing it down. It’s crisp enough, just too heavy for the release.

Because of the potential time element and the fact that I have no room for another disassembled airgun, I studied the rifle carefully for two months — the way a diamond cutter examines an important stone. And with all that study, I still did not recognize the way the gun is assembled. But one look at a schematic sent by David Enoch showed me what to do.

Only three screws have to be removed to take the action out of the stock. That’s no different than any other breakbarrel, but the location of the third screw is certainly different! It’s at the back of the spring tube.


This photo shows the action out of the stock. One extra screw was removed. The one below the triggerguard does not hold the action in the stock. It’s one of two screws that hold the trigger unit to the stock, and it doesn’t have to be removed to get the action out of the stock.

With the action out of the stock, you have access to disassemble the mechanism and do what I ended up doing to the rifle. The trigger is really a complex bullpup unit that’s entirely separate from the barreled action. By “bullpup,” I mean that the trigger blade does not directly contact the sear. It’s located many inches forward of the true sear and is connected by a long lever inside the trigger unit. If I want to improve the trigger-pull beyond what simple adjustment can do, I need to remove this unit from the stock to get access to the pins and levers.

I decided to leave that task for another day, as working on the powerplant was all I had time to do in this session.


You’re looking down into the aluminum stock that holds the spring tube. The trigger unit runs from almost all the way on top, where the trigger blade is located, to all the way on the bottom, where the true sear releases the piston. It’s a complex bullpup unit that must be removed as a unit for work. You can see the steel channel that holds all the trigger parts.

Because of the way the Gamo action is designed, I could set the trigger aside and go to work on the powerplant. The end cap is held in the spring tube by a single large pin that must be drifted out. The action was installed in a mainspring compressor for this next step.


Here you see the barreled action in the mainspring compressor with the large pin drifted out. The pin is on the table, next to the hammer handle. The spring tube is ready to come apart.

Moment of truth
Taking a spring-piston powerplant apart for the first time is always a surprise. You never know how much compression the mainspring is under, even when relaxed, and how far it will come out of the gun before it’s fully relaxed and the gun can be removed from the mainspring compressor. It was a real surprise this time, for the spring came out several inches before fully relaxing. If I had just drifted the pin and tried to hope I could hold the end cap with my body, I could have broken bones!


Like a python that swallowed a telephone pole, the mainspring just kept coming out of the spring tube until it was this far! As you can see, I didn’t have much more room on my adjustment screw.

Once tension is off the mainspring, the rifle can be removed from the compressor. The end cap, spring guide and mainspring can now be removed. The piston, though, is still held in the rifle by the cocking link. You must disconnect the link from the piston before it will slide out of the gun.

The 68 has an articulated cocking link, and I noticed a spot at the front of the cocking slot that was enlarged for the removal of the cocking link. That told me that I did not need to remove the barrel from the action to disconnect the link from the piston. Just line up the link end with the enlarged hole, and the end pops right out.


The cocking link is two pieces.


The end of the link can be removed from the spring tube through the enlarged hole at the end of the cocking slot. The two-piece cocking linkage helps you do this.

The mainspring and piston both told me this gun had probably never been apart before. The grease looked like factory grease, and there were many years of accumulated dirt and grime on all the parts.

The piston has a leather seal that looks brand new. It was a bit on the dry side. After I assembled the rifle, I lubricated it heavily. I’ll continue to do that many times over the next few months, until I’m satisfied that the leather is oily and supple once more.


Leather piston seal looks good.

The piston itself is a very strange duck. It has to be, because the trigger is autonomous from the powerplant. There’s a window on the side of the piston at the rear where the sear catches it when the gun is cocked.


Here you see the entire piston, which is a machined steel part. The rectangular window at the end of the piston skirt is where the sear catches and holds it when the gun is cocked. Only the piston seal and the machined section at the rear touch the inside of the spring tube, so that’s where the moly lubrication goes.

The inside of the spring tube was as dirty as the piston and mainspring. I put paper towels over the end of a long-bladed screwdriver, dipped the paper in alcohol, and cleaned the inside of the spring tube and compression chamber. This would also be the time to remove any burrs from the cocking slot, but there weren’t any on this one.

After the entire powerplant was cleaned, I examined that long mainspring. After all those years, I thought it had to be canted — and it was, though not as much as I’d imagined. Rolling it on a flat surface revealed a wobble at one end, which translated to a jolt during firing. Hopefully, I had a suitable replacement.

I found several possibilities, but the best one proved to be a replacement spring for a TX200, of all things. It’s a special spring Jim Maccari made some years ago and it has collapsed coils in the center and at one end. As you can see in the picture, it’s a lot shorter than the spring that was in the 68. The wire is thicker, but there are so many fewer coils that I knew it would fit. The fit inside the piston was about the same as the factory spring, and the fit on the spring guide was tighter. So, this is a good replacement.


Factory spring above, replacement below. The new spring will certainly be under less compression when the gun is not cocked!

I coated the new spring with a thin layer of black tar and inserted it back into the piston. The front and rear of the piston were then coated with a heavy layer of moly grease and installed back into the spring tube. The cocking link was inserted back into the enlarged hole, where it contacted the piston for cocking.

The spring guide was coated with moly and slid inside the mainspring as far as it would go. The end cap was placed over the end of the spring guide, and the barreled action was installed in the mainspring compressor, once again. This time, the amount the spring stuck out was drastically reduced.


The spring guide is steel. It was coated with moly and slid back inside the mainspring.


The new mainspring has just begun to compress. It’s a lot shorter than the old one!

The gun went together without a hitch! And that was when I noticed for the first time that the entire job from start to finish had taken me only one hour — including photos! That’s as fast as I could tune a TX200 (assuming I would, which would never happen), and it doesn’t require a mainspring compressor. This wasn’t the time-killer I thought it was going to be.

How does it shoot?
The rifle cocked with 22 lbs. of force before this tune. Now it takes 28 lbs. to cock it, and the final sear lockup takes a final crunch that wasn’t there before.

The gun fires with 70 percent less jolting than before, but its just as quick as it was before the tune. The feel of firing is atypical of a lower-powered breakbarrel, just as it used to be. I can now feel a little vibration in the powerplant that I think was previously masked by the heavy firing jolt.

I still don’t know the gun. It will take a session of velocity testing and shooting for accuracy before I can finish this report. Since I’ve already tested the gun extensively before, I’ll combine both of those things in the next report.

A shrine built for a Feinwerkbau 124 – Part 6

by B.B. Pelletier
Tuning by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

The saga of tuning the FWB 124 continues. While he was here, Mac replaced the Mongoose tune in my 124 with a fresh Maccari Old School kit, which consists of a Blizzard piston seal, a short mainspring and a spacer that slides inside the piston ahead of the mainspring. This he cheerfully did.

You may recall that my 124 was giving an average of 800 f.p.s. with the Mongoose kit. I felt that was too slow and wanted just a little more — perhaps 840 with Crosman Premier lites. The words on Maccari’s website seemed to indicate that the Old School tune was the ultimate way to go, so I ordered one.

The kit arrived, and I was going to install it when the hospital adventure began. So, when Mac arrived, he had the time and I asked him to do it for me. He certainly knows how.

He had to use my mainspring compressor to get the rifle apart but was able to put it together with the Old School kit without using the compressor. No Black Tar dampening compound was used with this tune because the Old School kit is supposed to fit so well it doesn’t need it. Mac put some moly grease on the outside of the mainspring and buttoned up the rifle.

In the hospital, I waited with great anticipation for the results, which came the next day. According to Mac, the new tune averaged around 740 f.p.s. with Premier lites. Seven forty! I was devastated! Well, maybe Mac was reading the chronograph wrong. I vowed when I got home that I would check it.

I asked Mac to remove the hump on the piston seal, thinking it might be the cause of the lower compression. He used a Dremel tool rasp to cut the crown smooth, as I requested, but no change in velocity. So much for my theory of the wasted compression space caused by the high crown.

My check
I shot Premier lites and got the following velocities:

770
763
762
764
764

The shots were accompanied by a burning oil smell, so the powerplant may be over-lubricated at some point. I will disassemble it to determine what to do next. On some guns, I might suspect the compression chamber.

I’ve examined the 124′s compression chamber and know that it is in good condition, but allow me to show you one that is not. Remember the Slavia 622 rifles I tested for you a while back? If not, read this.


Forty miles of rough road! This Slavia 622 compression chamber is so rough as to be worthy of a 1970′s Chinese airgun. You can’t see the entire chamber here, just the beginning through the enlarged disassembly hole; but trust me, it looks like that all the way to the end. This will rob hundreds of fps of velocity through loss of compression.

What to do?
My next step will be a teardown to check what’s going on inside this gun. I may be able to refresh the tune and get it up to snuff from there. If not, I may install another type of piston seal left over from 124 testing years ago. The journey continues….

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

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