Tuning up an older airgun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Lots of new airgunners
  • Time for the basics
  • Back to today
  • A joke
  • What’s up with the Gamo?
  • The solution
  • Tune in a Tube
  • Alternate method
  • Did it work?
  • Summary

One of the guys in my church asked me what to do about a scope that had gone bad on his Gamo rifle. He told me the reticle had tipped sideways inside the tube. After some discussion I learned that the scope had come bundled with the Gamo Whisper he had, and that told me most of what I needed to know. It was a bundled scope which means cheap. And it broke. I told him I had lots of extra scopes and I’d give him one — a better one than he had. But all that is for tomorrow’s report, so I’ll stop here,

Lots of new airgunners

Before I continue I was told by Pyramyd Air last week that they have bunches of brand new airgunners who have come on board only recently. I know why this is and therefore I know who these new airgunners are. They are firearms shooters who are having difficulty finding ammunition to shoot. That is one reason I started the “How to reload” report series. But not everybody wants to reload. For various reasons, many shooters just want to shoot and if they can’t get ammo for their firearms they turn to airguns. In their minds it’s better to shoot with something than to do nothing. I can understand that!

Time for the basics

With all these new airgunners, Pyramyd Air has asked me if I can write some reports about the basics again. Now, you long-time readers know that I have written volumes about the basics over the 17+ years this blog has been published. But what has happened is in recent times I have been concentrating on the 300 or so readers who regularly comment on the blog and I’ve unintentionally disregarded the 100,000+ registered readers and the who-knows-how-many unregistered readers we have. So I agreed to write about the basics each week, and tomorrow I’m going to start a report on how to mount a scope. Believe me — the firearms guys know a lot less than you airgunners about that subject! Not one in fifty AR-15 owners has a clue what barrel droop is, even though the AR-15 is the barrel-drooping queen of the firearms world.

Back to today

So my friend gave me his obsolete Gamo Whisper to mount his new scope. The rifle is the older Whisper that came with a coiled steel mainspring. It’s no longer offered that way but it’s still a nice air rifle. When he gave it to me we had a second longer conversation about his problem with it. It wasn’t holding zero! Well, that told me everything I needed to know, so I got to work and tomorrow you will see the result.

However — and this is a big “however” — when I shot his rifle I noticed that it buzzed like a bottle of honeybees! The buzz came at the end of the shot cycle and that told me what was happening. I will give you a little time to figure it out and then we will talk again.

A joke

This is to take up space while you are working out the problem with the Gamo Whisper.

An exercise for people who are out of shape: Begin with a five-pound potato bag in each hand. Extend your arms straight out from your sides, hold them there for a full minute, and then relax. After a few weeks, move up to ten-pound potato bags. Then try 50-pound potato bags, and eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-pound potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. Once you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.”

Ba-dump bump! (snare drum roll and rim shot, followed by a cymbal crash)

What’s up with the Gamo?

Why does my friend’s Gamo Whisper buzz so much? Well, the buzzing is caused by vibration. And what is causing the vibration? It can be one of two things. Either the parts in the Gamo powerplant have too much room or the mainspring has canted at one or both ends. It could even be both things. The question is — how do we solve the problem?

The solution

The best solution is to get rid of all the slop between the parts — just as I did when I tuned Johnny Hill’s RWS 45 springer. I used button bearings on the piston to suspend and quiet it, and I also used a super-tight spring guide to quiet the mainspring.

All well and good. But what if you don’t want to go inside the powerplant of the gun? What if you want an 85 percent solution with very little effort? Can you say Tune in a Tube (TIAT)?

Tune in a Tube

Back when I tuned Johnny Hill’s Diana 45 in 2015, I used black tar on the mainspring to quiet it completely. Black tar is a thick viscous grease that’s officially known as open gear lubricant. It sticks to the coils of mainsprings and doesn’t allow them to vibrate by stopping their movement. TIAT works just as well or better than black tar and doesn’t take as much velocity away from the airgun.

How it’s done

To get TIAT into the rifle’s powerplant you can do one of several things. The easiest and most precise way is to use a grease gun that has a small injector needle at the end of a flexible hose. 

grease needle
This needle can go deep inside the powerplant to place TIAT exactly where you want it.

Or you can just use the TIAT applicator, which is also a long thin needle that’s designed to do the same thing. It works well, but the applicator can’t be conveniently refilled. In the past 4 years I have used about 9 ounces of the TIAT grease to fix about 100 airguns, if that gives you any idea of how much I use.

Alternate method

Okay, you don’t have a grease gun to dedicate to TIAT. What else can you do? Get a small thin-bladed screwdriver to spread the grease deep inside the mainspring that is visible through the cocking slot. You have to remove the barreled action from the stock to do this.

screwdriver
Use the tip of a small screwdriver to spread TIAT inside the powerplant.

Gamo cocking slot
The stock has to come off to gain access to the mainspring.

This Gamo rifle is held together with Torx screws. I have a tool from Harbor Freight that has a cassette of Torx drivers and the number T 15 bit fits the Whisper screws.

Torx driver
This ratcheting driver has a cassette of various sizes of Torx bits.

Once the action is out the mainspring can easily be seen and accessed. Spread TIAT inside the powerplant, everywhere you can reach.

powereplant
With the screwdriver spread the TIAT deep inside the powerplant. It will spread around by cocking and firing the rifle.

I was pleased to see blue Locktite 242 on the threads of all the stock screws. I believe the factory put it there to keep the screws from backing out during firing.

Locktite
I was pleased to see Locktite on all the stock screws.

Did it work?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, or in this case the shooting. The first shot was slightly calmer, and by shot 20 the rifle was very calm. It’s not as good as it can get, but I never took the action apart and only spent a few minutes applying the grease. I’ve decided not to tell the rifle’s owner and see if he realizes what has been done.  If he does and says something about it I will be pleased.

Summary

This report was a freebie I got from mounting a scope on my friend’s air rifle. Tomorrow I will show you the second half.

60 thoughts on “Tuning up an older airgun


    • Steam
      It’s funny you say that. I already tryed a few known accurate barrels on the TR5 I had.

      Guess what. Those barrels were not as accurate on my TR5. There is more to the accuracy issue on the TR5 than the barrel.



        • Steam
          And there is more to it than that.

          The spring has to much preload and needed lubed better.

          And one of the big problems is look how the air tube is angled up compared to the barrel instead of being level. When you shoot the gun off a rest you can see the gun bump up and forward at the same time. The gun is not a hold friendly gun. Even with the famous artillery hold.


          • Artillery hold would be useless with this gun. It’s power could be tuned down tad bid, and it’ll fix the movement issue… So three wishes then, singleshot, better barrel, and a little weaker coil spring. There is no perfect gun. I just would love to see this gun become better than IZH60/61 one day.



              • I don’t own any of them, but I did have a chance to shoot TR5 and Izh60 hundreds of times – at ~10 meters using wadcutter pellets. I shot the 60 years ago, and I’ve recently played with a friend’s TR5. I don’t know about 61, but IMO, 60 was a better shooter than TR5; that’s why I’m stuck with the single shot TR5 theory. TR5 appears to be a cheap knockoff other than it’s surprisingly fun trigger.


                • Steam,

                  And therein lies the problem.

                  The Russians spent years developing and building the 60/61 air rifles. They were built in one of their top firearm factories and designed by the same engineers that also designed their Olympic airguns.

                  The TR5 is made by Wang Po Industries as cheaply as possible to increase the profit margin.

                  Sometimes you can take a mediocre airgun and turn it into a real gem, but you need something to start with. You would likely have much better results working with a QB 57.


                  • Agreed; greediness! GF1 is also certain that there are problems with TR5 from scratch. I think I’ll eventually have to agree with him. Probably, TR5 was not designed to fill an empty spot, it was designed to make a few quick bucks. Anyhow. I think Daisy 753 would be a way to go for what TR5 is intended to do. I believe its the same rifle as 853, and I liked what BB wrote about 853 back in time.


                    • Steam,

                      Well, it sorta kinda was supposed to fill an empty spot, but it did not do it so well. I was initially tempted as I would really like to have a nice 60/61, but am thankful there was not a chunk of change for me to drop on one immediately. I was also suspicious of it because it was made by Wang Po Industries.

                      Then I started “hearing” others talk about it and it was definitely off my list. I also have several nice antique air rifles in that power range.


                    • That’s just what I was thinking… I got my CMP 853 about 4 months ago and I love it. At about $100, it’s a great value. And it’s also a good platform for improving, it shoots well now, and if I do some well documented mods to the trigger, I’m confident it will be even better.


            • Steam,

              GF1 chopped a spring very substantially, a bit at a time, (like 2-3″ in the end) and lost no fps. That tells you how much “over-sprung” some springers can be. The Vortek kits can make a pretty good change too.

              While TIAT stops or reduces buzzing and makes the shot cycle smoother,.. I am not sure that it will do much for the increased thump/jolt of “too much” spring.

              Chris


              • Okay then, I give up; let’s keep on having a lower quality rifle than 60/61. What GF1 did on TR5 doesn’t mean anything. I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced that TR5 couldn’t be improved to become a better rifle than 60/61.


                • Steam,

                  I only brought that up as an (additional) fix/tune option. Most people will not be comfortable tearing into a gun and chopping a spring (multiple times). If done, a weaker spring and/or shorter spring can then be sourced. Keeping that last coil coil flat wound can be important. A fellow on another blog just cut his, got to where he wanted it, heated and bent the coil and did an factory equivalent flat grind.

                  Most are ok with pulling the action and squirting some grease into the spring area though.

                  Chris


                • Steam
                  What I did was everything with the TR5. You are the one that has done nothing.

                  Tell me something. You apparently think something could be made out of the TR5. If you haven’t done anything what your saying means nothing.

                  Anybody can talk. But doing is another thing. I have a feeling I will be waiting along time to see if you make a TR5 better than a 60/61. For that fact even equal one.

                  Clocks ticking. 😉



  1. Nice report, so, if the AR-15 is the barrel droop Queen, which firearm is your experience is the King?

    To all of the new Airgunners, Welcome!

    Look around, ask some questions, there are many people here from all walks of life, and Iike you, we were new to airgunning at one time.

    Suggestion for pistol shooters, buy a vintage Crosman MkI, or MKII, they replicate the ergonomics of the Ruger Mark .22 rimfire pistols, and for the Smith & Wesson 41 owners, buy a vintage 78G, or 79G, they were MADE by S&W, and replicate the ergonomics and lines of the 41 target pistol.

    Let me share a secret, there are more to airguns than big box store spring guns, and the dark side has cookies……

    Ian..



  2. B.B.,

    That potato bag joke is new to me.

    Siraniko

    PS: Section Alternate method 2nd paragraph 2nd sentence: “I have a tool from Harbor Freight that has a casett (cassette) of Torx drivers and the number T 15 bit fits the Whisper screws.”
    3rd illustration caption: “This ratcheting driver has a casett (cassette) of various sizes of Torx bits.”
    Unless casett is a word that I have not run across before.




  3. B.B.,

    So glad that you are doing these new (old) topics. Reloading and spring gun tuning both scratch itches that I’ve had for some time. This blog has been my classroom, either by your writing or from the posts by your readers. All good stuff.

    Very timely topics, thanks.
    Dan


  4. Hey Newbies! Come on in!

    Don’t pay any attention to me, I’m just a crotchety, old geezer who likes to flap his gums sometimes.

    There is a lot to learn here. Some here have many years of experience and are happy to share what they have learned along the way. Some may not have years of experience, but have learned to ask questions and dig through the gold mine of airgun information that is here. I myself learn something new here every day.




  5. To the new members and those just following , you need to check out the Categories section on the right side not too far from the top of the page. It is a wealth of information on ALL things air powered. After I found it , I spent countless hours learning.


  6. Based on what you said about everyone wanting to get into airguns now, think it is a good time to have the good old Crosman 38T .22 overhauled; believe Precision Pellet was one place you recommended for airgun overhaul, B.B.?

    For the newbies, whether new to firearms or airguns or both: also get involved in protecting your newly-exercised rights. Join gun and hunting rights organizations, and support legislators who are willing to protect your rights instead of demonizing gun owners and the shooting community. Take the opportunity to educate family, friends and neighbors on the enjoyment of shooting, collecting, and appreciating firearms and airguns. Years ago one of my friends criticized FM and another mutual friend for our interest in firearms and shooting. One day, we invited him to tag along on an informal outdoors target shoot. He had so much fun that day, there was no going back for him and since then has become one of the most fervent supporters of shooting sports I’ve ever known. He’s the proud owner of an AR-15 and other nice pieces.

    Don’t forget to vote November 3rd! That’s another precious right to protect. Exercise it!


  7. BB

    Great to hear about the new airgunners! Good for them and good for the airgun industry!

    Glad to read that you are revisiting the basics – I always like to review them. Excellent timing, my new optometrist is a PB shooter – got him curious about airguns and gave him a link to the blog.

    As a PB guy, my optometrist is aware of BB guns, break barrels and Co2 pistols but that was about it. The larger calibers (.25 and up) and the idea that an airgun could kill a bison really surprised him as did the fact that people were pesting birds and ground squirrels at ranges over 100 yards. With his thinking that “pellet guns” were limited to plinking tins at 30 feet he couldn’t believe that many airguns could shoot dime-sized groups at 50 yards.

    From my (many) discussions with PB shooters I think that “the basics” should start with a brief description of each type of airgun, the design advantages/disadvantages and their typical uses. Suggest that as a point of reference,
    a blog on the different diciplines (and the best airguns for them) would help new airgunners identify areas that might interest them.

    Told him what a great community we had here.

    Hank



    • Hank has good and worthy ideas on a series of columns for “newbies” to the airgun world. I’d add to his cogent suggestion about an “encyclopedic” introduction to airgun varieties a secondary footnote to each.
      The footnote is some commentary about the common and usual physical requirements of each variant.

      As a devoted springer shooter since at least ’89, and pump up guns going back to ’62/’63, I get somewhat annoyed by the persistence of complaints about cocking (not “caulking” force!) for different variants. People seem to disconnect the desire for muzzle energy and/or concurrent fps with the arm strength/force needed to provide that energy.

      Rather than have another “generation” of airgun new shooter complain about how demanding the cocking force is on their new airgun, maybe a bit of instruction (is that a “warning?”) of the physical effort required might be in order? Unfortunately, marketing folks don’t seem to add as a necessary and helpful statistic the cocking force required on the Specifications Chart along with the other information. That is just poor.

      I have an Hatsan .25 Cal 135 beast to cock and down the force scale to my venerable RWS Model 36 with its long barrel (lever arm). I have air pistols that range from the Browning (Hatan) 800 Mag that requires a cocking assist handle (provided) to my “gold standard” Beeman P-1 over lever. I have a number of short guns in between.

      If we have a kind of wave of new shooters coming from the PB world, maybe some commentary on what one can expect in terms of cocking effort would be very helpful? It is sad that such information isn’t part of the Specifications so people don’t buy what they later regret. As a springer shooter, I accept that the more powerful the arm the more powerful the arm must be! I don’t whine about the 800 Mag or the Hatsan 135 because I expected them to be demanding. I also knew to step out of the “horsepower” race when I purchased the underlever RWS 430L in .177 as a more tame target rifle for the basement range (also yielding less cheek weld annoyance).

      If we are to build our base of airgun enthusiasts, it would seem time to share with new customers what is demanded of various air arms. Obviously, it can range from finger torque to screw down a CO2 cartridge to a sometimes two armed cocking effort on a magnum springer with the butt on the ground between one’s feet. The old business adage is “Let the buyer beware!” Should we not help new users understand that in some of our sport some physical challenges exist and just how much that might be?

      BB, if you have influence on the marketing guys at P/A, I’d suggest to lean on them to consider, seriously, adding to the Specifications the usual force required for each arm as appropriate. Obviously, that’s usually a springer thing. It would fit right in with the weight of the arm itself.


  8. BB,

    Here’s a reloading question from yesterday that I just thought of. Does the Lee loader do a neck resize or a complete cartridge resize? If just a neck resize, how does it do it? Do you have to use a file to trim the excess neck material?

    Brent



  9. BB,
    I don’t go to church anymore, but I left a Pyramid air catalog with the security guards at the
    dispensary I go to. They can’t afford to to practice with their sidearms. I am hoping to learn of some safe
    urban rat pesting locations, maybe start to share some of the knowledge and benefits of lower powered
    air gun shooting as well.
    Something to do besides waiting for the apocalypse. Havn’t seen any zombies, yet.
    R


  10. B.B.,
    These types of blogs will be good refreshers for everyone. I am looking forward to more of them.
    Question, would “Red & Tacky” grease be similar to TIAT? I watched a video on the “Project Farm” channel where “Red & Tacky” grease was compared with a general purpose grease. “Red & Tacky” out performed the general purpose grease in all of the tests demonstrated. “Red & Tacky” can be found at Walmart and other retail stores.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMmSQSjraSE



    • Geo,

      As some know my memory is bad, but I think they are the same. I have been using red and tacky.

      If you want the opposite effect try, John Deere corn head grease. I use it in my old truck that has an enclosed drive line to lube the u joint. It is a grease that turns to liquid under a shear stress leaving the part of the grease not moving to act as a solid container for the liquid grease. Oil just leaks out. I have used it to lube irgun stickers/hammers with good results. I haven’t made any scientific tests though. If you want a grease that acts more like an oil give it a try. For extreme pressure metal to metal maybe not as good.

      Don


  11. Folks,

    One comment on springs for the newbies every spring has a range of compression that gives it a performance that is repeatable. Trigger springs, hammer springs, or piston springs it is all the same. Not enough compression or too much compression and their performance will be inconsistent. I have experienced this with triggers and hammer/stickers often. I am not a big spring piston airgunner but expect that to be the case also. That said adjusting spring preload and compression are great tools in getting the most of your airgun. Beware if you trim a spring too much you better have a spare or a spacer handy. The only way to learn is by experience. Think about what can go wrong and keep the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times.

    Sometimes using a weaker spring is better than trimming the original spring. Not always though. When a spring is in its sweet spot the change in force with distance is close to linear. That is were consistentsy is best controlled. This is where the spring follows Hooke’s law making it predictable.

    Over compressing a spring will definately decrease its lifespan.

    Enough ramboling.
    Don

    Do a search on springs in the blog and some good info comes up.


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