Blog Archive

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Muscle powered re-cocking! Part 1.

Today I was going to start a series about one of my latest WIP projects; a pump!
My initial idea was to go with something extremely inexpensive and mod the living crap out of it, so I bought this:

PMI Trracer.

The PMI Trracer was very common back in the day, and a lot of the external components are made of plastic, so I thought it would make an ideal base for modding.

As it turns out, you simply cannot get nice barrels for it nowadays. I guess the Trracer was more of an entry level marker, and instead of upgrading it, people generally moved on to more expensive gear. Adding insult to injury, today's paint is so small it keeps rolling out, and the stock barrel is simply too thin to be Freak bored. So this project quickly went:

Shame, because I have 45 grips that fit it, with a duck bill and a GT-stock. And for those thinking that a Trracer isn't a worthy project, i beg to differ. I used to play with a guy that had a Trracer with an AA barrel and a home made diffuser mod in the bolt. You usually never noticed him until it was too late...
For now the Trracer stays in the box in the attic. It would be fun to use it for a lever-operated First Strike mod sometime later. You never know.

So, looking around for another pump project, I came across this:

Sterling Bronze.

The Sterling used to be the pump gun to have in Europe (next to the Phantom, of course). They had the smoothest pump stroke ever, and to get something smoother today, you'd have to go for a Phantom Revolution, or an MQ2 Sniper.

However, to be cool you had to have the Sterling STP. Not the cheaper "Silver" model, or the rental version pictured here. Yep, this is the lowest of the Sterlings - but although it is utterly lacking in bling, the internals are basically the same as in the more expensive models.

The plan I formulated for this project, was to make a really nice, super-smooth, open class pumper. That could shoot today's tiny paint. So, what am I going to change?
  1. The barrel. Because of the roll-outs, AND because I prefer a ported barrel. Woosh woosh.
  2. The grip. Those hollow plastic grips are horrible.
  3. The bolt. Although the stock bolt is very good as it is, it has nothing on a modern Delrin bolt when it comes to low friction. Since there are no delrin bolts currently available for the Sterling (as far as I know), this will have to be a home-made mod.
  4. The valve. The valve in this particular marker is made kinda goofy, since it sends the bulk of the blast down towards the grip frame. Not optimal - especially since there is a hole in the grip frame right there! The rest of the gas has to go around the valve body before it reaches the bolt. I can think of a more efficient design than that - i.e. How about sending the air blast UP into the bolt? Yeah.
  5. The pump handle. There's actually nothing wrong with the pump handle, but I would like to try and undercocking solution with dual arms and a Hitman mod. I think the Sterling would ROCK with such a setup.
  6. A dot sight. It's a pump - it needs a nice dot sight to facilitate snapshooting. Especially if we're going to be up against semis and dildo-guns.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Trilly - the tale of an orphaned Autococker.

Last year, when I decided to pick up Paintball again, I knew exactly what i wanted for a "daily shooter" - an Autococker. There is nothing like the clatter of a backblock right next to your face! :D

Video is not mine. Credit where credit is due.
But I'm pretty sure I would shoot faster. ;)

I finally located one that was for sale and brought her home. It was a "WGP Trilogy Sport". This marker didn't look much like I was used to see 'Cockers back in the day; square bodies with right hand feed, sliding triggers and pneumatics on a front block? Nope! The Trilogy has a rather sleek body with a vertical feed, a hinged trigger in a strange oddball frame, and most of the pneumatics are integrated with the body. Not sure I like all the changes, but I can live with them.

Trilly, as I received her from the previous owner.
Ugly Tippmann hopper is gone. Drop forward cradle
and contoured rubber grips are nice though.

It had two flaws when it arrived; a missing bolt pin and a bent ram shaft. The gun did shoot great after these were fixed, but there were a few things I wanted to change:

  • A ported barrel. One; I like ported barrels, as they are a lot quieter than non-ported barrels. Two; paintballs vary a lot in size between brands, so getting a barrel collection going will be good.
  • A smoother cycle: Out of the box, the cycling is sort of violent. I wanted the pneumatics to operate at a lower pressure, so the gun would be gentler on paint. It is otherwise easy to make an Autococker chew paint instead of firing it.
  • A shorter trigger pull. For me, a shorter pull means faster and more accurate shooting.
As for barrels; they have undergone a strange evolution while I was away, but I'm afraid I'll have to save the barrel rant for another post (it could take all day...).

Upgrades so far:

  • Smart Parts two-piece 14" Freak barrel.
  • Deadlywind Fibur 14" (Freaked).
  • Lapco Tightstick 14" .681.
  • ANS GenX inline regulator.
  • Pressure gauge.
  • Checkit delrin bolt.
  • Techt adjustable timing rod.
  • Adjustable trigger stop.
I'm still looking for a good one-piece .675 barrel, but I'm not sure where I'm supposed to find one.

Pressure came down from around 850 to 300 psi. Nice!

I'm considering replacing the entire grip frame, since the current one is a really weird 1½ finger trigger. It's bigger than a single finger trigger, and not quite big enough for two fingers. I'm using my middle finger on the trigger, like back in the old days. Question is - should I go for a single-trigger slider frame, or a double-trigger hinge frame? This is my first hinged Autococker, but although it feels unfamiliar, it works really well.

One other upgrade I'm considering is an on/off ASA - but at the moment I'm unsure if I'm going to keep the air tank on the gun, or run it off a remote.

For being an entry level Autococker, I'm very happy with it.
You can't find more bang for the buck than this in a 'Cocker.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Reviving the Vents Predator (re-inVents)

It is time I revealed one of my more enjoyable paintball related projects; building a "faux" Vents Predator mask! This mask was all the rage in the early 90's. I remember always wanting one, but I already had a JT Snapper mask, and I couldn't afford to get another one just beacause it pleased me - and by the time I had cash to swing, Vents had gone to the grave.

Vents Predator.

As far as I understand Vents was doing just fine, but they were bought out by rival mask manufacturer Scott, who then promptly discontinued the Predator. An era came to an end. It wasn't long before retailers ran out of replacement lenses and other parts, forcing people to go to other brands. ( this the reason that nobody uses Scott masks at all? They are still produced afaik. But on the other hand, they were never that great. Even before Scott destroyed Vents, I though of their masks as uncomfortable, foggy and ugly.)

One evening as I sat contemplating the fate of the Predator, I came up with the idea of building a "faux" Vents; to rebuild the mask around a fresh goggle frame. After spending a few moments with a popular search engine, I realised I wasn't the first one to have had this idea. People call them "Re-Vents", and some poeple are even building them to order.

I found out that Re-Vents masks usually are built around JT Spectra goggle frames, and since I already have a plentiful stash of old Spectras, the project was basically afoot before I knew it. I put up a WTB thread in a popular forum, and it wasn't long before I was the owner of a well used Vents Predator!

The Predator taken apart. The frame and the lens
were basically finito, and unfortunately it was
missing large parts of the head armour.

These are the parts that were fit to use.
The decoration was done by a previous owner.

The Vents straps in a Spectra frame.

I'm really stoked that the straps were in such good condition, and that they fitted the Spectra without modification! I really dig their construction with the buckle in the back.

The big problem I was facing was head armour. I attempted to buy neoprene sheets to make new head armour for it, but finding a retailer of neoprene that was able to answer e-mail was harder than I expected. I still haven't heard from any of them, so fuck that.

The saviour came in the shape of a horrible rental mask that I'd bought for next to nothing. I butchered this uncomfortable thing and made a head armour out of it.

JT Elite rental mask. The goggle foam
was the WORST I've ever experienced.

Time to work that plastic! Bringing out a snap-off knife, hot glue and super glue, I was slowly making progress:

Learning by doing; having to glue back
bits that you are too hasty in removing.

The faceplate of the Pred doesn't fit the JT-frame perfectly, but the fit is good enough. The frame needs a couple of tiny incisions to accept the faceplate. Once it is fitted, it actually takes considerable force to remove it - more than what the Spectra faceplate rquires!

Once I was happy with the fit, it was time to paint! Yaaaaay!
One word of hard earned advice here: before painting anything, make sure it is clean and dry. I used rubbing alcohol to wipe everything down prior to opening the paint tins.

I prefer to use paint for RPG miniatures (Citadel). It is water soluable, dries quickly and will hold up really well. The biggest drawbacks are that it comes in tiny bottles and that it is on the expensive side. I think any matte acrylic hobby paint should work. The more layers you put on, the better it will last, so start with a base coat, covering everything that should be painted. I use professional water color brushes with synthetic bristles.

The mask recieved a dark green splinter pattern (note that I didn't paint the goggle frame; the abuse it will go through when changing lenses will strip the paintwork in no time). When it all was dry I just had to pop in a new lens and assemble the whole thing!

Hi thar!

The side pieces are fastned to the goggles using cable
ties, and to the faceplate using small key rings.

The chin strap from the rental mask got to stay.

The piece attached to the chin flap was cut
from the rental mask as well. Cable ties hold
it in place. I thought it was cool looking.

I love this piece of kit. BADASS!