by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today we have another guest blog by reader Ian McKee who goes by the handle 45Bravo. He tells us about fixing some vintage Crosman plastic grips and some other tips he has for us.

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

Take it away, 45Bravo.

Crosman 38T
Crosman 38T.

Grips & tips

This report covers:

  • The grips
  • Now for some useful tips
  • Barrel alignment
  • Velocity adjustment
  • Leaks
  • Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

Judging by the interest in B.B’s Crosman 38T blog, this is a very popular vintage CO2 revolver that seems to have flown under some people’s radar.  Since I have one on my workbench at the moment, I thought I would share a few helpful tips from the Crosman Factory Service manual, and some things I have learned from working on one. 

The grips

I’ll start with the grips. Unlike the Crosman Mark I & II pistols that have a metal tube in the grip frame to house the CO2 cartridge , the 38T is different. In this model you have to remove the left grip panel to change a cartridge. The grip panel is held in place by a metal clip that is attached to the grip and clamps onto the CO2 cartridge when it is installed in the gun. The grip then aligns to the frame by two locator pins on the pistol’s grip frame.

Since the grip is held in place by a CO2 cartridge, people sometimes left a cartridge in place thereby shortening the life of the CO2 face seal.  

TIP: If you decide to leave a cartridge in the gun, tighten the piercing screw just enough to hold the cartridge in place, not enough to compress the face seal. 

The plastic grips are now over 40 years old, and may have become brittle. On this pistol, the lower grip alignment post is broken and the top one is deformed from repeated use.

Crosman 38T left grip bottom
The locating pin hole at the bottom of the left grip panel is broken. Where the metal spring clip attaches there is also a hairline crack on both sides.

Crosman 38T left grip top
The locating pin hole at the top of the left grip panel is deformed from use.

All of these faults should be repaired. They will only get worse in time, so now is the time to fix them.

[Editor’s note: I discovered when searching for Crosman 38Ts, that damage to the left grip panel is a common problem with these guns. Several guns are being sold with either a damaged panel or even a missing left grip. There are no replacements other than from donor guns, so fixing the panel is the only way to go, unless you plan to make custom grips.]

I chose to use superglue and baking soda for the repair. When mixed these materials create a chemical reaction that hardens instantly. I don’t know the science behind it, but I remember some readers discussing the science after I used it on the Beeman P17 sight fill in blog.

To give the plastic post some extra support I wound part of a ballpoint pen spring around the damaged part. I then used the superglue and baking soda to build up the area in layers. Once it had hardened, I used small files to shape it to the approximate size, and shape.

Crosman 38T spring repair
This section of ballpoint pen spring reinforces the location pin hole, so the superglue and baking soda has something to shape it.

Crosman 38T locating hole repair
The baking soda/superglue mixture hardens right away. The next step is to file it flush or just below flush.

When you finish the posts need to be either flush with the grip level, or just a smidgen below level. 

Crosman 38T locating hole repair 2
Here I am cleaning up the repair of the bottom locating hole.

I used a drill press with a Dremel tool round ball bit to make the dimples for drilling the alignment pin holes. That allowed me more precision than if I had just tried to drill them out freehand.

Another reason I chose the superglue/baking soda repair is, as you can see, the white repair area stands out like a sore thumb. 

When both locating holes were repaired I used a Minwax stain marker that’s used to cover scratches in wood furniture, as the baking soda/super glue absorbs the color readily. The red mahogany color is a perfect match for the grips on this pistol.  

(Note: the color and pattern of the grips vary from pistol to pistol, no two are identical).

Crosman 38T wood stain
Minwax 225 Red Mahogany stain marker blended the two repairs very well.

Now for some useful tips

According to the new Blue Book of Airguns, the Phase I pistol has a metal rear sight and cylinder as mentioned in Part 1 of the 38T blog. The Crosman Factory Service Manual shows that it also has a 1-piece cylinder base pin and screw that the cylinder rotates on, and holds the outer barrel in place. 

The Phase II pistol has a plastic rear sight, a plastic cylinder, a 2 piece cylinder base pin, and a screw that holds the outer barrel on. Like Tom, I have no clue how the Phase III model differs.

[Editor’s note: one of our readers said that in Phase III only .177 caliber was available. But no other differences were mentioned.]

Barrel alignment

Sometimes the sights may not have enough adjustment to get your point of impact to meet your point of aim. The manual says to remove the outer barrel, and then loosen the grub screw on the top strap (38-050). Then you can rotate the inner barrel to a different position to adjust your point of impact.

Crosman 38T parts

Shop PCP Rifles

Velocity adjustment

The manual says there may be two reasons for a low velocity, first improper lubrication of the moving parts. Or, the velocity adjuster is either missing, or not in the correct place. Yes that’s right, this pistol has a velocity adjustment! It is a small spool-shaped spacer between the frame and flat hammer spring, shown as part # 38-104 in the exploded parts view above. If yours is missing, you can use a small nut, or plastic spacer

Crosman 38T power adjust
That spacer (arrow) puts variable tension on the hammer spring to vary the power of the gun.

For best results, the service manual suggests it be placed about 1 ¼ inch from the bottom of the spring, but since we don’t know the diameter of the original, it will be trial and error. 

Leaks

If the pistol is leaking from somewhere other than the CO2 piercing seal, you will have to remove the left side cover to locate them. 

DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER WHILE THE GUN IS PRESSURIZED!

The piercing block is under 800 psi or more when there is gas in the gun, and the block is held in place by the side cover only.

Once the gun is degassed, remove the sear spring and plunger (38-89 & 38-39), and the ball detent and spring (600-079 & 38-064) so they don’t get lost.

You have to hold the piercing block in place while you pressurize the gun. Use a parallel clamp or something similar, do not use vice grips, or other sharp-jawed tool that will damage the softer pot metal of the gun’s frame.

Crosman 38T clamp
Use a clamp to hold the piercing assembly in place when you pressurize the gun to check for leaks.

Put a several drops of Pellgun oil on the indicated areas (three arrows) to see if any bubbles form from leaks. If there are leaks, you can try tightening the connections just a little, if that does not stop the leaks, put your small parts back in and just wait until your seal kit comes in the mail. 

Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

I have been using Renaissance Wax for a while on my airguns, and for others I have worked on for friends. It is a brand of microcrystalline wax polish used in antique restoration and museum conservation. It cleans and protects the surface; so far I am quite pleased with the product. 

Crosman 38T Renaissance Wax
After repairs I use Renaissance Wax to protect the surface of the guns.

So there you have it, a quick repair, and hopefully some insights into a very neat vintage CO2 pistol. 

Take care, and be safe.

Ian