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Ammo Weihrauch Barakuda EL 54 ether-injected breakbarrel: Part One

Weihrauch Barakuda EL 54 ether-injected breakbarrel: Part One

Barakuda 54 EL
Weihrauch Barakuda 54 EL.


Repairing a Rekord trigger
Weihrauch Barakuda Model EL 54 guest blog

This report covers:

  • Controlled detonation
  • Is it worthwhile?
  • More about the ether injection unit
  • Fix the original trigger blade?
  • The Rekord trigger
  • Detent
  • The Barakuda works well
  • Summary

Today’s report is one you readers forced me to write. So many of you have questions about the Weihrauch Barakuda 54 EL breakbarrel air rifle that I felt compelled to address them. I had planned to test the rifle for velocity in this report, but there are too many questions to answer and issues to address. I will save the velocity report for the future.

Controlled detonation

I’ll address the biggest question first — controlled detonation. The ether injector injects a small charge of ether gas into the compression chamber to cause an intentional detonation when the gun fires. Does it work? Yes, if the question is — does ether explode when compressed. The HW 54 EL system does do that.

Is it worthwhile?

No, it is not worthwhile for several reasons. The biggest reason is the explosions will degrade the seals in short order. In his book, Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World, author W.H.B. Smith experimented extensively with a Barakuda and blew out the breech seal, leaving a lead ball stuck in the bore.

In his velocity and power tests Smith reported that the Barakuda was not as fast nor as accurate as other high-end pellet rifles of the time (1956). The Sheridan Supergrade exceeded it for both accuracy and power.

Smith used three separate chronographs to record the rifle’s velocity. Of course in his day three chronographs were not as accurate as just one is today. He recorded wide velocity variations when the ether injector was used. In one string he got a low of 550 and a high of 790 f.p.s. That’s a 240 f.p.s. variation!

In accuracy tests, both with and without ether, Smith reported 50-foot ten-shot groups that ranged from 0.937-inches to 1.625-inches when no ether was used. When ether was used the groups ranged from 2-inches to 2.250-inches. In both cases an H&N round ball was used.

Smith also reports that the heads were sometimes blown off regular diabolo pellets, leaving the pellets stuck in the barrel. And he makes the remark that, despite the loudness of the discharge, the ether-injected rifle was in no way as powerful as a .22 short. 

The bottom line is — why subject the rifle to the possibility of damage, for mediocre results?

Can the ether-injection system be installed by an owner?

No. Unless the owner is a master machinist, this is a factory-only modification. The good thing is that without the ether the rifle still operates like the base HW 35 that it is.

The reason the ether-injection system cannot be installed at home is the alignment of four holes. Three are for the screws that hold the ether injector to the rifle’s spring tube and the fourth is for the transfer port hole the ether gas flows through to get into the compression chamber.

Barakuda ether injector transfer
The front half of the ether injector tube shows the single forward screw mounting hole on the left and the ether transfer port in the center.

Barakuda ether injector mounted
The ether injector is mounted. Do you see that the screw holes and transfer port hole must be precisely aligned?

More about the ether injection unit

Reader Hank asked the following, “The ether injection module is a curiosity I’d like to know more about. I’ve known about “deliberate dieseling” and experimented with that as a kid. Quickly came to the conclusion that power is nothing without accuracy and abandoned that line of thinking. Judging by the amount of YouTube attention it gets it seem that the dangerous and destructive practice of deliberate dieseling is still in vogue.

I’m surprised at a commercial attempt at deliberate dieseling and even more so at the choice of something as volatile as ether as the propellant. Getting a consistent ratio of air/propellant would be difficult with something that evaporated as fast as ether. I had the best results with a thin smear of petroleum grease in the skirt of the pellet.”

Barakuda ether injector inside
Looking at the inside of the ether injector from the back end. The inner tube is the tube the bolt moves against spring pressure. As you can see, there is no technology inside.

Barakuda ether injector front
The front of the ether injector where the ether ampule is inserted. If you were to use car engine starter spray, this is where you would spray it.

Hank, every couple years I get on a rant about this subject. Usually I talk about people using blanks and percussion caps and primers to power pellets, but sometimes I also talk about intentional detonations. Please remember, most spring-piston guns diesel on every shot. It’s the detonations (explosions) that the Barakuda unit was designed to create.

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Fix the original trigger blade?

Reader Fawlty Manuel posted the following comment, “Don’t suppose it would be worth – if it is even possible – fixing the original trigger blade? Just to have as a backup, though it seems the replacement part won’t break in our lifetimes.” This trigger is made from some sort of low-melting-point metal like zinc. It has almost no strength, but for the trigger blade job it is good. Because it is so soft there are two hardened steel pins sitting on top that contact the sear.

A replacement Rekord trigger blade costs about $15 shipped to the US, so why bother trying to repair the broken one? I do have the TR Robb setback trigger blade that is solid steel, but after feeling it in the rifle I have to say I’m unimpressed. No doubt such a trigger blade feels good to some folks, but the standard Rekord blade feels best to me.

The Rekord trigger

I said I would repair the Rekord trigger that came in the Barakuda and show you, and I will. Please bear in mind that the problem is more than just the broken trigger blade. I will devote at least one report to just that. Right now I am considering the best actions to take to repair this trigger. I don’t want to say more than that now because that will spoil the future report.

At this time I will tell you that reader Kevin sent me a complete Rekord trigger that I swapped with the broken one and got the Baracuda operational again. That will allow us to examine the rifle without needing to fix the broken trigger first.

Barakuda Rekord triggers
Kevin sent me the Rekord trigger on the right. The trigger on the left is the one from the Baracuda.

Kevin also sent me an additional Rekord trigger blade, so I can replace the setback blade in the Barakuda with an original Rekord blade.

Detent

Roamin Greco mentioned the chisel point detent but didn’t show a picture of it. Here you go.

Barakuda detent
The Barakuda detent.

The Barakuda works well

The Barakuda is now back together and working fine. So testing can begin soon.

Summary

This Weihrauch Barakuda is a left-handed way of getting into a series on the HW 35. It should be a good one.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

29 thoughts on “Weihrauch Barakuda EL 54 ether-injected breakbarrel: Part One”

  1. Unintentional detonation from excess oil is an acceptable situation we don’t have too much control over but should try to avoid at all costs. Now think about this, what’s the difference between adding gunpowder or another explosive element? You have just intentionally created a firearm or at least fired it as one.
    Just something to think about.
    This airgun, with the ether attachment, or anything that utilized exploding material would probably not be approved for sale in the U.S. today without being classified as a firearm. or some kind of rocket propelled pellet rifle

    I’m kind of surprised they did not provide some sort of protection for the piston seal when they designed it.
    Could it be they simply overlooked it? Some kind of metal protection plate, copper or something in front of the seal may have helped save it. So would some kind of one-way check valve.

    Surprised they even bothered making it without any advantage over some others. But heck, it was something new, and probably wonderful at the time.

  2. Hi everybody,

    “In his velocity and power tests Smith reported that the Barakuda was not as fast nor as accurate as other high-end pellet rifles of the time (1956). The Sheridan Supergrade exceeded it for both accuracy and power.”

    This makes the Barakuda even more pointless, I suppose.

    There was an article in German Visier magazine in 1993:
    https://vsmedien-shop.de/visier-digital/visier-artikel-downloads/1585/visier-1993/10-turbo-lader?c=2228

    They cite Hans-Herrmann Weihrauch saying the thing “never really worked”. The original Barakuda company apparently folded in the late 50s, but Weihrauch kept making these rifles for “special requests” until the 80s.

    It seems that zoos and vets used these things to fire tranquilizer darts which I find baffling. It’s not really an application where it seems to be a good idea to use an unreliable gun with fluctuating power.

    Here’s an idea: I wonder if Visier would give us permission to translate the article and publish it here. If you are interested and they agree, I would do it…

    Stephan

  3. How does one have extra rekord triggers and blades laying around? I’m curious, Kevin, if you have a period correct rear sight for a vintage Beeman R7 (San Rafael) that you would be willing to sell.

  4. I have experienced unintentional detonation before when I sent my Gamo CFX to PA to have a gas spring installed. Very shortly after it was returned to me, I was shooting it and there was a loud bang. A large cloud of smoke emanated from the end of the barrel and around the breech. Also, the handle to the breech was gone. Every seal in that CFX had been blown out.

    Fortunately for me, PA was kind enough to replace all of the seals and replace the gas spring with my original spring and refund me. I have been a PA devoted fan ever since.

    Needless to say, I do NOT recommend anyone intentionally causing a sproinger to experience a detonation. With the exception of being a rare “collector” piece, this was a bad idea.

  5. Thanks for the explanation BB!

    Yeah, dieseling was a concern when I got my FWB 124.

    I had a heck of a time sourcing “chamber oil” as it was never in stock at ARH. I contacted Dow Corning for help and tech support suggested one of their products which, unfortunately, was only sold in 55 gallon drums! When I explained that I only needed a couple of ounces they were happy to send me quart sized samples in several viscosities. That was 40 years ago and I still have lots left!

    Looking forward to the rest of the series on this airgun!

    Hank

  6. Agree that if you can get a replacement part for the right price, it beats spending irreplaceable time repairing one, sez the guy who fixed the home coffee maker with $15 worth of parts from Amazon, yet stubbornly attempted to repair the broken ones and, to his amazement, succeeded. So now we have replacement parts for replacement parts.

  7. Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier),

    thank you for today’s article with really good illustrations. As is frequently the case, I found myself wanting more all too soon. 🙂

    Today is the first time I’ve seen the reason for the bite out of the front left stock, ie the barrel lock lever situated in the forearm cutout (last picture, “The Barakuda detent.”).

    • hihihi
      That cut out for the locking lever needs care when I put the HW 35E aside. On the contrary the locking lever of the Walther LGV is in the middle of the stock, so no detent and ambidextrous use. Such a pity that its production stopped after a few years. A mechanically perfect springer, better than any Wheirauch out of the box. I suppose it was a victim of accountants, just like the Sig ASP.

      • Bill,

        yes, that tongue hanging out of the front of the forarm is Walther’s more elegant barrel locking lever.

        Would you please elaborate on what kind of care your Weihrauch HW 35E (export model) requires. For example, are you referring to the locking lever that protrudes and can catch on it’s gun rack neighbour?

        How about the stubby little one, fitted 96 years ago on the Haenel Model III D.R.P. (GermanEmpirePatent), ie the one in the picture? 🙂

  8. Some standard terms for acceptable combustion and unacceptable combustion would be helpful, to me at least. Springers that surpass the popgun range (where no combustion happens) burn small amounts of residual oil present after each shot. I think BB calls this acceptable combustion dieseling. Combustion that exceeds this and is harmful to airguns he calls detonation.

    Someone please correct me if I need it.

    Deck

    • Deck: I think you are totally correct. TG has often used the terms “dieseling” and “detonation” to discern and define the difference between a minimal burning of hydrocarbons from the air chamber or barrel and the violent explosion of them (obviously in far greater percentage in the air volume).

      The former is normal the latter is destructive. That explains the caution to only use high flash point silicone lubricants in the air chamber and not regular petroleum-based lubricants.

      I am a springer guy and once a year, or so, dependent upon shot consistency, I will give my barrels a really thorough cleaning, usually with felt pellets PUSHED through the bores. I use Birchwood Casey Barrier fluid/oil on a number of pellets in spaced intervals and then DRY pellets when the oiled ones come out “clean” – meaning there is no color change from the freshly oiled state. The DRY pellets are important to remove the Barrier product from the bore so that it does not become fuel and detonate.

      When cycling season starts, and I leave the basement range to ride, I will often take a well soaked felt pellet and run it through the bore and leave the Sheath film on the lands and grooves. The seals out the oxidation, but I have to then do a cleaning before resuming shooting when the bicycles are back on the racks in the garage in the latter part of the fall.

      All my springers diesel ever, ever so slightly, after a cleaning, but that quickly becomes unnoticeable with continued shooting. I think that’s how it is supposed to work! With modern synthetic piston seals, not much, if any, lubrication is needed, in the air chambers.

    • Vana2,

      Yup! Looks like a really nice Hunter with more traditional wood furniture. Comes in almost any caliber a small to mid size plus hunter would want. Low 900’s even in .357 with bullets (slugs) and some outrageous shot counts.

      I guess you don’t need Ether to make the FX King a shooter ;^)

      Maybe PAir will send one to Tom to test and then go hunting!

      shootski

  9. No combustion here.
    Just received the Barra 1858 Cowboy BB Pistol. Seems to operate the same as the Crosman Fortify however it is much larger. Looks like it came from the same manufacturer in Taiwan as far as quality goes. The safety has been removed from the cylinder loading gate area to under the pistol in front of the trigger guard. Much gooder!

    They appear to be two entirely different designs, not just a cosmetic change on the surface, with not much being interchangeable. Including the grip. The 1858 has a bigger and much wider one but a bit more slippery. Almost too much, it moves around in your hand very easily, but it is comfortable.

    The imitation shell ejector / BB loading follower has been replaced with a small fingernail sliding nub. Not sure if it’s better. Certainly, harder to use but it does not stick out from the pistol. The barrel is wider on this one and it may have made it too wide to holster easily.

    I really enjoyed shooting the Fortify and this 1858 should be just as nice with an occasional fan fire capability although it is not recommended and could do harm. It’s just too tempting for plinking fun. I’m sure it has the same power if not more, as claimed, 400+ FPM possible.

    “Well, ya gonna stand there and talk or ya gonna shoot pardner?” “Grab your … ah … Plastic?”
    Both are a very sturdy, realistic looking, synthetic.

    • That receiver top strap looks flat, but it’s not. Grooved sight, So, don’t plan on mounting a rail there and installing a 4-16×50 scope on it. 🙁 Wait a second, there is a curved base Mosberg Shotgun rail out there 🙂

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