by B.B. Pelletier

Earlier this week, we discovered an unpublished two-part guest blog that Vince wrote…last March! He’s been busy with personal things and hopes to get back to this blog some time soon. This guest blog has all the neat things we’ve come to expect from Vince’s handiwork of fixing and working on vintage airguns.

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

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them) and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Peeping Tom – Part 1

by Vince

Well, I had to think of a catchy name for this one, and “Peeping Diana” or “Peeping Wayne” didn’t quite cut it. And writing about “Peeping Wayne” might not have the, uh, best impact on the poor man’s reputation. So, since this is Tom’s blog, this is my title and I’m sticking with it.

OK. Enough filler. Wayne likes peeping… er, I mean peep sights. So, naturally, he wanted a peep mounted on a gun that has absolutely no provision for it whatsoever. And on a gun that has some gen-u-wine collector’s value, a prewar Diana 27, which means that I can’t (well, don’t want to) do anything that can’t be easily undone and leave the gun relatively unscathed.

When Wayne first asked me about mounting a peep on this thing, I automatically thought of copying Diana’s later method of putting a scope rail on a gun, which would then give us something to mount the peep sight to. I’d get a rail and fasten it to the top of the tube with small machine screws, grind down the protruding threads on the inside, and be done with it. But a PRE-WAR Diana? Naaaahhhhhh….I briefly kicked around the idea of soldering a rail onto it, but that would have required buffing the top of the tube clean, thus removing any finish that remained. Even though that’s not as invasive as drilling holes in the tube, I still didn’t like that idea, so out it went.

The next idea was to glue on the scope rail on. After all, we used to use Goop (or something similar) to secure the laughably mounted rails on the old B4-2 series Chinese underlever, and this 27 is probably in the same general power range. But on the Chinese rifle, the glue served merely to keep the rail from shifting from side to side; on this gun, it would be expected to do all the work of holding it on. This idea fell further out of favor when I thought about the glue possibly damaging the remainder of the finish if the rail was ever removed.

Finally, I concluded that the best idea might be an adapter that wraps around the tube like a hose clamp. I could go really simple and have the peep sight base clamp actually hold the whole thing together, and there’s no way it oughta come apart during use. This is what I’m figuring on when Wayne’s gun shows up.

Wayne warned me that it was gonna be a bit rough, and he was right. Mechanically, it was pretty good. Apparently, it had been overhauled shortly before he got it, but the finish is almost non-existent on the tube. No matter. First, I’ve got to figure out if my idea is even gonna work. I’ll need some space along the tube near the rear where I can position the strap, so I pop the action out of the stock.

Perfect spot for positioning the strap.

Bingo! I’ve got just about 1″ behind the cocking slot to work with.

Essentially, I’m going to be making a very short strap-on dovetail mount. The first thing I did was make the actual dovetail pieces. The old table saw I got from my dad allows me to angle the blade at 60 deg. from horizontal, which matches the angle on the Mendoza peep sight clamp.

This saw is older than me, but not older than Tom or Wayne. ‘Nuff said.

I cut some .75″x.1″ bar stock at the required angle. I ground the plating from what will be the bottom side of the end piece and cut it to a length of about .22″.

The angle is cut.

The bottom side plating is ground off.

And the piece cut off.

I repeated the above steps, and now I’ve got the two halves of my mount.

Short for a dovetail mount, but it’ll work.

Like it was made for it! Well, actually, it was.

And they fit very nicely into the Mendoza peep.

Next step is to make the strap that’s going to hold the whole thing together. At first, I was going to make it out of brass, but I decided against that for two reasons. First, because that would force me to solder the end pieces onto it instead of brazing them, and I wasn’t sure that soldering would be as strong as I wanted. Second, I didn’t have any brass, and the one store I checked didn’t have any either. Instead, Wayne is getting his adapter made from the highest grade of coffee can stock.

I figure on making the strap .75″ wide to match the dovetail length, so I dug out a coffee can and started cutting.

I couldn’t use a decaf can, it wouldn’t be strong enough!

Turns out that the .010″ thickness of the coffee can works out about perfect. I wrapped the metal strip around the action and popped it back into the stock.

Test-fitting the strap.

The metal is snug without unduly impacting the fit between the stock and the action. Which is, of course, just what I wanted. Now, I can proceed as planned.

The metal strap with one of the end pieces.

I used part of a tri-square to make sure I positioned the end piece perpendicular to the strap and used a small (Chinese knockoff) vise-grip to clamp it in place.

Chinese vise-grips, Chinese tri-square, nothing but the cheapest!

The end piece is brazed on, I did some careful measuring and marking (the details of which I will spare you), cut the strap and brazed the second piece in place. Wrapping it around the tube again shows that I seem to have measured and cut pretty accurately, and (I think!) it’s good to go!

Looks pretty much like what I had in mind all along.

It’s a bit of a hassle, but I finally got the whole thing wrapped around the tube AND the sight clamped over it. The base clamp on the sight pulls the end pieces together and tightens the strap just as I had planned.

Yep, it fits like a glove.

Since this is steel, I’ve still got some concerns about damaging the gun, so I take it apart and put a layer of cellophane tape on the inside of the strap where it contacts the surface of the gun.

Cellophane tape is very thin–less than .002″–so it won’t interfere with the fit.

I remount the adapter with the sight and reassemble the gun.

The mount works just as it should!

After cleaning up the outside of the strap with my cheap Dremel knock-off, I noticed something unexpected. After brazing, the strap metal took on a yellowish patina that doesn’t look terribly out of place on the aged finish of the rest of the gun. The photograph shows a bit more contrast than is apparent to the naked eye, and it might stand out more if I blacken it. So, I’m leaving it as is.

Wayne’s old 27 now has a rear peep sight mounted. Of course, the stock front sight is so low that it’d shoot about a yard high at 10 yards if I tried using it with the relatively high peep. So, I’ve gotta do something about the front. And I’ve gotta do it with old toilet paper tubes, broken shoe laces, used gum wrappers and anything else I’ve got laying around…because I’m cheap and don’t like spending Wayne’s money!