by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- I started out as a kid…
- Time to cowboy up
- Today’s report
- 138 pieces
- Plastic parts and steel screws
- Special tips
- Parts go in one way, only
- It worked!
- Last tip
When Val Gamerman, president of Pyramyd Air, asked me if I wanted to put a Paper Shooters Zombie Slayer Kit together and report on it, I jumped at the chance! I think that surprised him, but he didn’t know my history.
I started out as a kid…
I have been interested in how things work all my life. When I was given a watch for my 10th birthday and told it was waterproof, I promptly held it under the faucet. It wasn’t waterproof, by the way. When I was told that the way to carve an elephant from a block of wood was to remove everything that doesn’t look like an elephant, I set about with a jack knife to find the pachyderm. Looked in lots of wood blocks — no elephant yet. Lots of stuff that doesn’t look like one, though.
I took apart clocks, radios, bicycle hubs — you name it and I disassembled it. Only one problem. I never put anything together again. Once, when I was a teen, I helped a buddy assemble a 327 Chevy engine, but I don’t think my help was appreciated. I think my real contribution was that Dan worked at record speed to get the engine finished before I could give him any more help.
Time to cowboy up
Then I became a writer. Edith convinced me to start writing a newsletter about airguns in 1994, and for a short while it was fun. But eventually the day came when I had to disassemble an air rifle to tune it for an article. Up to this point I had always watched others. There was no problem with the disassembly — I had that nailed. This time, though, things had to go back together, and, even worse, they had to work!
Many foul words were uttered as I learned my new skill. And perhaps skill is too strong a word. What did Hippocrates say? “I will take care that they suffer no hurt or harm.” Time passed and if this was television there would have been a couple commercial breaks. During that period I “learned” how to work on airguns.
Which brings me to today’s report. The Paper Shooters Zombie Slayer kit is a thirty-dollar advanced lesson in how airguns work. Actually, it is a lesson in how airsoft guns work, for that is exactly what you are building — an airsoft gun that shoots spitwads. Oops! Did I just say that? I meant handmade paper projectiles. This kit provides what you need to create the projectiles, and it also comes with a bag of them ready-made. I’ll cover that in a later report. Today I want to discuss putting this thing together.
That’s what it says on the box. There are 138 pieces inside that have to go together before this thing will work. Actually, since many of those “pieces” are stickers for the camoflage finish, the actual number needed to get things working is less. Set aside about 2-4 hours for the job. Technically it should take 30 minutes, but even the guy on the You Tube video demonstration flubbed it a couple times.
Plastic parts and steel screws
If you have ever assembled a kit like this you know how daunting plastic parts and steel screws can be. If you haven’t — relax. You are about to be educated, and this lesson only costs $30. Heck — that’s cheaper than an extension course at the local community college!
Steel screws are very hard. Plastic parts are relatively soft. When the screws bottom out there is virtually no feedback. You can keep right on turning the screwdriver ’til you are blue in the face. The guy on the assembly video on You Tube uses an electric screwdriver. Unless you are an orthopedic surgeon who replaces joints all day, I recommend you use a manual driver. Using a power driver with this kit is like putting jars of nitroglycerin on a vibration table to make sure the tops are on tight!
But the kitmakers must have thought they were being too easy, because they also did NOT use self-tapping screws — or even screws with a point. The screws have flat tips that barely fit into the plastic sockets they go into. So watch the orientation of each screw shaft. In plastic is it real easy to install a steel screw on an angle.
Remember what I said about turning the screws indefinitely? I did that on the magazine release and I twisted the screw head off the screw shank! There is no way to extract a steel screw shank from a plastic part, so I used Gorilla Glue to cement the two pieces together. This part has to move in operation, so every 10 minutes while the glue was setting up I had to move the parts back and forth to keep them from getting glued in place. It worked! Don’t you try it, though. You be smart, instead, and check how far each set of parts is supposed to go together before you assemble them.
After doing the above I started holding the parts in one hand while screwing them together with the other. To stop the bleeding of a finger that has been punctured deeply by the sharp tip of a Phillips screwdriver, use copious amounts of Hydrogen Peroxide. Swearing loudly as you do this also seems to help. I found it impossible not to.
Parts go in one way, only
Besides the plastic parts and steel screws, the next most frustrating aspect of this assembly is those parts that will fit together several ways but only operate one way. The instructions are just line drawings and they do not show many of the critical details. So mistakes are possible. And, with a refined skill set like mine, they are practically guaranteed!
I assembled the gun and it didn’t work! Sure I had installed the butt upside-down (two ways and of course I chose the wrong one), but that wasn’t the problem. When I pulled the charging handle back to cock the gun, nothing happened. It was the Hammerli trainer all over again!
Then I watched the You Tube assembly instructions — Part One — and the guy casually mentions that you had better install the piston with the cocking notch pointing down or the gun will not cock!
Oh, no! My worst nightmare! I now had to disassemble a plastic gun by removing many steel screws! Do you think the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel could use a second coat of paint?
But for you, dear readers, I did it. Well, for you and also the fact that I did not want to contact Val Gamerman and ask for a second kit because I had destroyed the first one through my ineptitude.
I was able to disassemble the gun and correct the assembly. Yes, the piston rod was upside-down, making it impossible to cock.
I also discovered that I had installed the magazine follower the wrong way, naturally, and the cartridges that hold the wads will not feed. I knew from many years of playing with Mauser rifles that the follower was backwards. But that was only after assembly.
The assembly drawings lack some of these critical details, so either listen to me or watch You Tube. When the gun was assembled again, the screws still held, so it was a success.
The gun now cocks and shoots. A paper wad comes out of the muzzle with good velocity. I still have to put the camo stickers on, but before I do I want to make certain the gun’s function is flawless, because once the stickers go on the screws will be hidden.
I noted that the wads exit the muzzle with good velocity. I estimate 80-120 f.p.s. They are cone-shaped and have hit the target 10 feet away on their side, so stability is not as good as a 6mm airsoft ball. I will test that for you and show you how to load the gun in a future report.
Silicone grease and oil are good lubricants for a gun like this. Oil the piston seal, which is an o-ring. Oil the trigger mechanism. Oil anything else that needs to move smoothly. This is one time you can forgo the $15-a-bottle silicone chamber oil and use the cheap spray from the hardware store.
I will have a lot more for you, because I really do think this kit is a wonderful training tool. Some of the reviews critcise the gun for being made of plastic, but I look at it a different way. This is not an heirloom airgun. It is an inexpensive way to learn a lot about how a spring-piston airgun works.