My new Webley Junior – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This Webley Junior is in fantastic condition for a 60+ year-old air pistol.

Normally Part 3 would be an accuracy test; but if you’ve followed this report, you know that my Webley Junior was shooting very slow when I tested it for velocity. So, I told you I would disassemble it and have a look inside to learn what I could about the shape of the powerplant.

The first clue I had took no disassembly whatsoever. I simply looked through the cocking slot on top of the gun and noticed that the mainspring was bone dry. I’d lubricated the breech seal and piston seal before velocity testing, but I left the mainspring alone. I’m glad I did, because I learned that this gun was really too dry inside for proper operation. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Step one
The first step in the disassembly of any Webley classic pistol is to remove the barrel. One screw was removed, and the .177 smoothbore barrel came out, though not easily. From the appearance of the machined surfaces on the barrel lug, it was obvious that this pistol had not been apart many times in its 60+ years since leaving the factory. Perhaps never!

One screw — and the barrel comes off. The sliding shoe coupling on the end of the cocking link is extracted from a widened hole in the cocking slot.

Step two — the tricky part
The mainspring is held in place by a threaded end cap that also incorporates a spring guide. The cap threads are fine, and a pistol that hasn’t been apart presents a real challenge. The challenge is to get the cap off without disturbing the sharp edges around the slot in the cap.

I chucked up the handle of a big pair of channel lock pliers sticking straight up in my bench vice and inserted it into the end cap slot. Using the pistol grip as a handle to turn the gun, I broke the cap free. Once it was free, the threads were exposed in a couple places, so I squirted some Kroil penetrating oil on them to loosen the cap more. It came off with nary a mark left on the end cap.

The mainspring is under this much tension when the end cap is screwed in. Notice how dry the spring is.

Spring out
The mainspring is under a bit of compression, so when the last thread is out the end cap springs away from the pistol. I was surprised by how far this one moved, and I photographed it for you. It seems close to a brand-new mainspring, but the look of the parts inside tells me the gun probably hasn’t been apart since at least the late 1960s. I say that because of a pristine leather piston seal and spacer. Those items were changed to synthetic by Webley in 1965, so I think they’ve been in this gun a very long time.

The piston can then be removed by pulling the trigger to get the sear out of the way. A screwdriver through the cocking slot does the rest, and you slide the steel piston out the front of the gun. The piston and mainspring were both dry but quite dirty, as though some minimal oil had dried on their surfaces decades ago. A couple wipes with a rag removed the grime, leaving the parts sparkling. The piston seal was oily, which was to be expected.

The end cap and mainspring came out easily. You must pull the trigger to slide the steel piston out of the tube.

That completes all the disassembly I need to do. It took me half an hour for everything, but after I lubricate the parts and the end cap threads prior to assembly I’ll be able to tear it down next time in 15 minutes.

Now what?
I expected to find a bad piston seal in this gun and am stymied that it’s as nice as it is. I can’t honestly see one part that requires replacement. On the other hand, I seriously doubt lubrication alone will let the gun gain the 100+ f.p.s. that it lacks. That just hasn’t been my experience. However, I will now clean the powerplant and all parts, lubricate everything correctly and assemble the gun to test once more.

This photo shows the piston seal, which looks fine and the slot on the end cap that must be used to unscrew the cap. Notice that the edges are still sharp and free from gouges. This was a careful job!

My new Webley Junior – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Before I begin today, just a word about the upcoming Daisy Get Together in Michigan. It’s in Kalamazoo on Sunday, August 22. That’s a one-day show. Admission is $2 to see a room full of fine collectible BB guns. For a flyer and more information, contact Bill Duimstra (616-738-2425) or Wes Powers (517-423-4148).

Today, I’ll test the velocity of the new Webley Junior. These guns are supposed to be low-powered, so expect velocities in the 275 f.p.s.region.

One thing I know about older vintage airguns is that they have leather piston seals. The Webley pistols also have a leather breech seal connecting the air transfer port to the breech. It’s a hollow metal tube surrounded by leather that also needs to be oiled. So, the first order of business is to oil the seals.

As distorted as it looks, this breach seal is in pretty good shape. I may round out the metal center for a little more unifom air flow just to make a good job.

Since I didn’t know how long the gun had gone since its last oiling, I intentionally overdid it. The oil gets dropped into the transfer port with the piston retracted in the cocked position. That took care of both the piston seal and the breech seal. Then, I waited two full days before firing.

Cocking effort
Despite being made for younger shooters, the Junior is still quite a handful to cock. I doubt most 12-year-olds have the strength. As I cocked the pistol, I felt some scraping that I didn’t like. I’ve not felt that before in a Webley pistol.

RWS Hobbys
The first pellets I tried were RWS Hobbys, but they didn’t come out of the barrel when shot. Not a good start. The Hobby fits the bore fairly tight, but it should still fire okay, so I began to wonder if something might be wrong.

I tried JSB Exact RS pellets next. They exited the bore at an average of 146 f.p.s., with a spread from 144 to 150 f.p.s. That’s definitely slow. They should hit at least 250 f.p.s. with ease. They fit the breech loosely, which I think helped them to shoot at all.

Eley Wasp
Next, I tried some vintage Eley Wasp pellets. These are what might have been shot in the gun when it was fairly new. They fit relatively loosely and averaged 94 f.p.s., with a spread from 81 to 97 f.p.s. Egad! That told me there’s something wrong inside the powerplant. Maybe, under the circumstances, most people would be upset that a new gun needs repairs. Not me. That gives me the justification to disassemble the pistol and let everyone see what’s inside. Then, we’ll see just what’s needed.

Gamo Match
Just to double-check my numbers, I shot a string of Gamo Match pellets that averaged 56 f.p.s. with a spread from 52 to 59 f.p.s. So, there was no longer any doubt that the powerplant needs attention and may even be disintegrating as I shoot.

What’s the next step?
What’s next is to disassemble the pistol and see what’s inside. The breech seal looks good at this point, but I’ve had to replace them before, too. What ever happens, I’ll show you what I do and where I get any parts that may be needed. Like my FWB 124, this will be a voyage of exploration for us. Accuracy testing will wait until the gun is shooting properly.

My new Webley Junior – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

When I came home from the hospital, all my internet business was in disarray. Edith had been keeping up with my email, but she hadn’t known about the various accounts I have, nor did she have the time to look at them. One of these was the Texas Gun Trader, an online in-state trading place where I meet others to buy and sell firearms. I had over 1,400 guns to look at!

One of those listings was a Webley Junior pistol, which caught my eye. It was priced close to the top of the market, but it seemed to be in very nice condition. So, I contacted the seller down near Houston and we negotiated. Normally, I meet the seller face-to-face, but in my current condition that was impossible, so we worked out a deal to ship the gun. Being an airgun, this was entirely legal.

When the pistol arrived, I had the pleasant surprise that the gun was in better cosmetic condition than I had imagined. The seller had posted photos, but a Webley pistol is all black and difficult to show any detail. I did the deal on trust that they were telling me the truth, and I feel they understated the fine condition. That made me very happy, because a vintage gun in beautiful condition always retains its value.

Edith had reprinted my Webley Junior article from Airgun Revue #6 in the blog while I was in the hospital, but that report was based on my brief examination of a Junior more than 10 years ago. Now, I own one, and can test it any way that I like. I especially want to try it with darts, for which it is ideally suited.

My new air pistol is a post-war Junior, where the one reported in May was a pre-war gun. And it’s a very early version of the post-war gun, being made sometime between 1946 and about 1950.

My new Webley Junior is in fine condition. The book is all about Webley air pistols and essential to collectors. It’s out of print, so search the used book sites.

The clues to the age of my gun are the lack of an adjustable rear sight and the grips. From 1946 to ’51, the Junior grip had an extra 1/4″ projection at the top. Gordon Bruce thought it might have been a thumbrest, but there’s no proof. Also, the checkering was coarse at first and finer in the later versions.

The Junior grip had a quarter-inch projection at the top that served an unknown purpose. It was removed after 1951. Also, the checkering is coarse. It got finer in ’51.

The early post-war Juniors had a fixed rear sight. And of these, only the very earliest had a rounded notch like this. They squared the notch in the 1940s, so this is a very early post-war gun.

The book says the Junior is for children, but I will confirm that the “kids” are probably in their teens because it isn’t that easy to cock the gun, even for an adult. The price was the lowest of the Webley line, and most Juniors like mine have smoothbore barrels. Hence, my interest in shooting darts.

The frame is malleable cast iron, made outside the Webley plant but machined by Webley. That’s why the finish appears so different between the frame and the spring tube, which is high-quality steel.

This barrel latch keeps the barrel closed during firing. To open for cocking, just push it back.

I’ll enjoy getting to know this little (but heavy!) air pistol. I purposely have not yet fired it, so you and I will be only hours apart as I discover what kind of a gun I have.

Homecoming gift
When I returned from the hospital, a group of friends presented me with a fine single-action revolver. I hope to get to the range to shoot it one of these days, but I thought I’d share it with you today.

This beautiful Uberti single-action revolver was presented to me as a homecoming gift. I know you guys like fine firearms, too, so I wanted to share it with you.

Next time, we’ll test the Junior’s velocity.