Weihrauch Barakuda 54 EL.
This report covers:
- Controlled detonation
- Is it worthwhile?
- More about the ether injection unit
- Fix the original trigger blade?
- The Rekord trigger
- The Barakuda works well
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Roamin Greco mentioned the chisel point detent but didn’t show a picture of it. Here you go.
The Barakuda detent.
The Barakuda works well
The Barakuda is now back together and working fine. So testing can begin soon.
This Weihrauch Barakuda is a left-handed way of getting into a series on the HW 35. It should be a good one.