Gary Wain

Gary trans­forms a rusty BSA Ul­tra, and plays hide and seek with a friend

Airgun World - - Contents -

Whilst chat­ting over some very nice real ale, a good friend of mine and fel­low shooter ‘CJ’ Fo­ran, known to many shoot­ers in Face­book­land by his shoot­ing blog ti­tle ‘617’, men­tioned that a very tired and ex­tremely rusty BSA Ul­tra multi-shot had been handed to him by an old friend, fol­low­ing the sad loss of her hus­band. As a re­sult of her hus­band’s in­ca­pac­ity, the ri­fle had been sit­ting unloved and un­used in a place that, through no fault of her own, wasn’t per­haps as dry as it should have been, and as a re­sult, most of the ex­posed metal, and es­pe­cially the blued ar­eas had suc­cumbed to the hor­rors of sur­face rust­ing. The wood­work though, aside from a few knocks and bat­tle scars from pre­vi­ous hunt­ing ex­cur­sions, was es­sen­tially fine and, most im­por­tantly, the in­tegrity of the air reser­voir wasn’t af­fected.

AIR OF MYS­TERY

It was clear that if this air ri­fle was to live again, it needed some se­ri­ous at­ten­tion. Not be­ing one to miss an op­por­tu­nity, I men­tioned to CJ that I’d been want­ing to paint a ri­fle for quite some time, and that if he were happy to lend it to me, I’d ‘do some­thing’ to it. When asked by CJ to de­fine what that some­thing was, I have to ad­mit that I was more than a lit­tle shifty, be­cause truth be known, whilst I wanted to in­ject an air of mys­tery, at that point I didn’t re­ally know my­self what I had planned. CJ is a trust­ing sort of fel­low so he placed the air ri­fle in my care, with only the prom­ise of ‘a sur­prise’ with re­gard to the de­scrip­tion of the end re­sult to con­sole him.

WHAT CAMO?

So, with the air ri­fle in my pos­ses­sion, I had some­how to stim­u­late the one or two dor­mant brain cells in the old nog­gin that are ca­pa­ble of artis­tic cre­ativ­ity. I dis­missed thoughts of try­ing to re­store the fin­ish with af­ter­mar­ket blue­ing prod­ucts, or per­haps sim­ply paint the whole thing black, or maybe cre­ate some kind of dodgy comedy day­glo zom­bie-themed gun, and set­tled down to more se­ri­ous con­tem­pla­tion.

I knew that CJ liked to get out into the field, and that he was look­ing to use the gun for rat­ting, so it seemed nat­u­ral then to cre­ate a cam­ou­flage ef­fect of some kind, and af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion, I alighted upon a sort of dig­i­tal camo look.

I’m an MRI ra­dio­g­ra­pher by trade, and as a re­sult, I hap­pen to know three things about the Stapes bone. Firstly, it is a bone of the in­ner ear; se­condly, it is the small­est bone in the hu­man body; and thirdly, it is where all of my artis­tic tal­ent re­sides. For­tu­nately, though, my good wife, Mar­i­anne, is a clas­si­cally trained artist, with a de­gree in fine art and art his­tory, and although this isn’t ex­actly the Sis­tine chapel, her abil­ity to vi­su­alise and cre­ate colour ef­fects would, I hoped, come in ex­tremely handy.

MA­TE­RI­ALS

Once de­cided on a dig­i­tal camo look, I then had to source the paint. Ob­vi­ously, if this gun was to be used in the field I’d need it to re­flect as lit­tle light as pos­si­ble, so I’d need matte paint, and that pretty much ruled out the whole plethora of colours avail­able at your lo­cal auto parts or DIY su­per­stores. OK, so I could have sim­ply or­dered some Kry­lon paint on line, but I hap­pen to be one of those old-fash­ioned types who be­lieves in sup­port­ing lo­cal busi­nesses.

Fol­low­ing a chat, and some good ad­vice from my good friends, Jenna and Ash, at MASS (Mil­i­tary Air­soft Sup­plies and Sur­plus), of Grimsby, and £24 later, I found my­self in pos­ses­sion of three cans of Fosco Army In­dus­trial Paint. Now, this stuff is used a lot within the air­soft com­mu­nity, and as air ri­fles don’t gen­er­ate heat in the same way that firearms do, it should be per­fect for paint­ing an air ri­fle. Af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion, I opted for Desert Tan (FDE), English Green, and Fleck­tarn Braun ¬– ba­si­cally, a slightly red­dish brown.

On my re­turn trip from Grimsby, and with the rat­tle cans se­cured in the boot, my mind

“it was more im­por­tant that the paint didn’t get into the mech­a­nism”

turned to sourc­ing ma­te­ri­als that I could use to cre­ate the geo­met­ric shapes I’d need to pro­duce the look I wanted. I had in my mind a mix of zig-zags, cir­cles and hexagons, but where would I find the ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate this look? Well, as it hap­pens, I’m the sort who tends not to throw stuff out. I wouldn’t call my­self a hoarder as such, but you get the idea. I spent a few min­utes rum­mag­ing around in the garage, and in the bot­tom of some least of­ten ex­plored draw­ers I found two old scrim scarves, a plas­tic mesh from around an old air bot­tle, and var­i­ous hexag­o­nal and cir­cu­lar metal cut-outs from back in my PC mod­ding days.

PREPA­RA­TION

On to the paint­ing: Don’t go think­ing I’m an ex­pert here, or that my tech­nique is any­thing re­motely close to a ‘gold stan­dard’, this is sim­ply how I went about it, and yes, I’m sure there are prob­a­bly bet­ter ways to do things. Any­way, I’m sure you all know that the first and most im­por­tant stage in any paint job is prepa­ra­tion. I doubted that I would never get rid of the sur­face blem­ishes com­pletely, but I set about the ri­fle with fine-grade sand­pa­per in an ef­fort to bring back the fin­ish as much as pos­si­ble.

The stock would also be painted, so I gave it a very light rub over with fine-grade sand­pa­per to give it a key for the spray paint to stick to, and with this all done, and be­lieve me it takes a lot less time to type it than it does to do it, it was time to mask off the ar­eas I wanted to keep paint free. I ap­pre­ci­ated that a few un­painted black ar­eas might de­tract from the over­all look, but felt it was more im­por­tant that the paint didn’t get into the mech­a­nism or the breech area, and so a few min­utes with some strate­gi­cally ap­plied masking tape saw the ri­fle ready for spray­ing.

CRE­ATIV­ITY MODE

Although it seemed coun­ter­in­tu­itive, I was in­formed by Mar­i­anne that the colour that you want to see the most of, should be the one that you ap­ply first. For me, this was the light tan colour, so on it went. When us­ing spray paint, the trick is to shake re­ally well be­fore use, and to keep the can mov­ing so that you don’t get drips and runs – less re­ally is more. Hang­ing the ri­fle from the wash­ing line is also a good idea be­cause it en­ables you to ac­cess all sides of the ri­fle with­out hav­ing to touch it to turn it over and risk ru­in­ing the paint job.

With the coat of Desert Tan ap­plied, I then laid down a zig-zag pat­tern of the brown on both sides of the ri­fle, mak­ing sure to wrap it round from one side to the other. This zig-zag would be the guide pat­tern for the rest of the paint­ing. Fol­low­ing this, I grabbed a cut-off sec­tion of the green scrim and stretched it ir­reg­u­larly over an area of the stock, then picked up the green paint and sprayed along the same zig-zag as the orig­i­nal brown pat­tern be­neath, mak­ing sure to cover both sides of the ri­fle, and en­sur­ing that the pat­tern

wrapped around, to flow con­tin­u­ously from one side to the other.

SWITCH CRAFT

Hav­ing laid down the ba­sic pat­tern, it was then just a mat­ter of switch­ing ma­te­ri­als and paints to pro­vide vary­ing colours and pat­terns within the orig­i­nal zig-zag. If you do this on a rea­son­ably warm day, and don’t lay the paint down too thickly, it dries al­most in­stantly, which in my case meant that the en­tire paint­ing job took less than 15 min­utes. Once the paint was touch-dry, I chose to leave it overnight to cure com­pletely and then, when fully dry, it was time to re­move the masking tape care­fully, and re-at­tach the rub­ber butt pad.

Paint has a habit of flak­ing off rub­ber, due to its elas­tic na­ture, so there was very lit­tle point in paint­ing that. I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the re­sult. Maybe a fourth colour would have looked a bit bet­ter, or should I per­haps have laid down the green first to give a more wood­land ap­pear­ance? Maybe, but then we all have 20/20 vi­sion when it comes to hind­sight. At the end of the day, I was pleased with the re­sult.

WHERE IS IT?

The proof of the pud­ding, though, is in the eat­ing. Would the ef­forts I had made to break up the lines of the ri­fle do their job? Would CJ be pleased with the re­sult? I de­cided to put both these ques­tions to the test at the same time and pray for a pos­i­tive out­come. I propped the gun against an old tree trunk and in­vited CJ and his good lady, Dawn, around for an af­ter­noon. Af­ter a few cups of tea, we went for a walk around the gar­den. I’d told CJ the ri­fle was out there some­where, but he didn’t know where it was ex­actly. How close would he get be­fore he spot­ted it?

CLOSE EN­COUNTER

Bear in mind that he was ac­tively look­ing for it, as op­posed to not be­ing aware it was even there. Well, he got to within ten feet of it be­fore his face lit up and he an­nounced that he’d seen it. I have to ad­mit I was more than a lit­tle ner­vous. Just be­cause I liked the ef­fect didn’t mean CJ would, and I had no way of know­ing whether or not CJ would like it, so I de­lib­er­ately left off the matte clear-coat fin­ish that it would so des­per­ately need if the paint job were to sur­vive in the field. That way, should CJ choose to re­move the paint, it would be a lot eas­ier to do. As it turned out, I needn’t have wor­ried. My prayers were an­swered and CJ was de­lighted, be­cause af­ter be­ing pre­sented with his ri­fle, and I’d ex­plained to him about the clear coat, one of CJ’s first ques­tions was, “So where do I get clear coat from then?” Job done!

There’s a whole host of paints avail­able, just make sure you buy matte fin­ish. Is rust in­fec­tious?

As it’s a nice sunny day, why not work out­side?

The stock would just need a light key­ing to en­able the paint to get a grip.

A few of the items I would use to cre­ate the ef­fect I was af­ter.

An ini­tial light coat of Desert Tan, and the ri­fle is al­ready look­ing worlds dif­fer­ent.

Look­ing bet­ter al­ready. The lay­ers are start­ing to build up quite nicely.

The ini­tial zig-zag pat­terns would pro­vide the pat­terns for the rest of the paint ef­fects.

The BSA will en­joy a sec­ond life with its new owner, my good friend CJ ‘617’ Fo­ran.

Hid­den in plain sight; can you see the air ri­fle?

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