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.