DAVE BARHAM

A trou­ble­some tooth in­spires Dave Barham to treat him­self to a top-of-the-range air bot­tle, hose and gauge

Airgun World - - Contents -

... comes up for air!

Well, what a month it has been. I had ev­ery in­ten­tion of get­ting out on a new perm with a friend, to stock up on wood­pi­geon, but some­thing inside my mouth said ‘No!’.

I awoke one morn­ing to ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain and the left side of my face re­sem­bling John Mer­rick on a good day, so I made an emer­gency ap­point­ment with my den­tist.

I was pre­scribed a course of an­tibi­otics and af­ter bit of a false start, mainly be­cause the anaes­thetic in­jec­tions didn’t work and I could feel ev­ery ag­o­nis­ing tweak, a tor­tu­ous bat­tle in the den­tist’s chair left a lump of tooth still em­bed­ded in my jaw­bone. A fol­low-up pro­ce­dure was re­quired and a sur­geon even­tu­ally evicted the root by cut­ting away a piece of my jaw­bone. Trust me, it was all far worse than I’m de­scrib­ing it, but I’m sure it was all en­tirely nec­es­sary. That was ten days ago as I’m writ­ing this, and the wound is still ten­der.

AIR WE GO

I de­cided to treat my­self to a ‘get well soon’ present. I’d been sav­ing for months since pur­chas­ing my beloved BSA R10 ri­fle, with the sole aim of buy­ing an air bot­tle, hose and gauge.

My trusty Mk4 Hill air pump had served me well, but it was now time to break free from the man­ual labour and go fully pre-charged!

I had time to do my research, with a pain rou­tine of roughly two hours sleep then four hours awake, for best part of a week, so I scoured the In­ter­net to see what was avail­able. The first web­site I looked at hap­pened to be one of the best, and with a name like ‘Best Fit­tings’ who was I to dis­agree?

SU­PERB SER­VICE

Af­ter trawl­ing through their com­pre­hen­sive web­site, I set­tled on Best Fit­tings’ 7-Litre, 300Bar bot­tle, with the ‘Top Spec’ start-up kit.

This kit is all singing all danc­ing, and it comes with a quick-de­tach, a 600mm Ul­tima hose, a cylin­der carry strap, an anti-roll kit for trans­port­ing, and a mag­netic ‘Haz­ard’ la­bel to at­tach to the car.

As if this were not ‘bling’ enough, I then opted for their ‘Push But­ton Bleed’ valve up­grade. The whole lot came to less than £250, a real bar­gain. Yet an­other of my airgunning am­bi­tions was fi­nally com­ing to fruition. No more hec­tic pump­ing for me!

TOP QUAL­ITY

The bot­tle and gub­bins were de­liv­ered to me the fol­low­ing day, and the folks at Best Fit­tings

had al­ready as­sem­bled the quick-change kit and push-but­ton bleed onto the valve for me – now that’s what I call ser­vice. All I had to do was screw in the pres­sure gauge and then screw my BSA adapter into the end of the hose. Sim­ples.

Ev­ery air cylin­der de­liv­ered through the post has to be sold empty, by law, so my next mis­sion was find­ing some­where lo­cal that could fill it for me – a job that proved to be rather more dif­fi­cult that I’d first thought.

GOOD OLD DIVE SHOPS

I rang four very large gun shops within a 30-mile ra­dius of where I live, only to be told than none of them had a com­pres­sor, even though three of them stocked a huge va­ri­ety of PCP air­guns.

I then called my lo­cal dive centre, just four miles away, and they told me that I’d have to wait un­til Satur­day morn­ing, be­cause that’s the only day they do cylin­der re­fills. Even then, they couldn’t guar­an­tee that they could fill mine – it depended on how busy they were with divers.

I had a brain wave. When I’d first moved up to this neck of the woods, some 25 years ago, I lived in a place called Whit­tle­sey, and just out­side the vil­lage was one of the UK’s premier and most es­tab­lished, deep-wa­ter, lake-div­ing venues – Gilden­burgh Wa­ter. It meant a near 60-mile round trip, but I was itch­ing to get my cylin­der fully op­er­a­tional, so off I went.

I was greeted by one of the own­ers, the lovely Pauline Forster, who told me to take the cylin­der round the back of the dive centre to see Carl, who would fill it for me. I paid the rather mod­est fee of £2.60 for a com­plete charge, then went in search of Carl.

The whole fill­ing process took about 20 min­utes in to­tal. Carl ex­plained that it took so long be­cause it was a new bot­tle, and com­pletely empty. He hooked it up to the charg­ing unit and then placed the bot­tle in a tank of cold wa­ter. The ac­tion of com­press­ing air into the cylin­der pro­duces a lot of heat, far more than I thought it would.

I was ex­pect­ing the noisy rat­tle and hum of an air com­pres­sor, but as Carl be­gan to fill the cylin­der it was quiet. I then no­ticed the ‘unmissable’ bank of huge com­pressed air cylin­ders right in front of me, and re­alised that Carl was fill­ing my cylin­der from them.

He ex­plained that it was a far eas­ier way of do­ing things, be­cause through­out most of the year the de­mand for air was of­ten high, so they adopted this sys­tem, re­fill­ing the cylin­der bank by night, and dish­ing out air by day.

Carl be­gan fill­ing the bot­tle to about 250Bar, which took a fair few min­utes, then he turned off the charg­ing unit and told me to go for a cup of tea.

“Come back in ten min­utes, mate. I need to let this cool down be­fore I fill it any more,” he ex­plained.

When I went back, he be­gan fill­ing again. The pres­sure had dropped to around 220Bar, be­cause of the heat ex­pan­sion and cool­ing process, so on went the charg­ing unit again. An­other three min­utes later and the dial was read­ing 300Bar.

“We need to give it an­other five min­utes mate, and let it cool down again,” said Carl.

I went for a wan­der around the lake, then re­turned to see Carl, who was hold­ing my filled cylin­der ready for me.

“I just gave it an­other top up, it had dropped to 290Bar, but it should be fine now,” he said.

A quick ‘thank you’ and hand­shake later, and I set off back home, ready to fill up my R10.

SO MUCH EAS­IER

Af­ter dis­con­nect­ing the quick-re­lease pro­tec­tor and then con­nect­ing the hose, it was sim­ply a case of plug­ging the other end of the hose into the fill port on my ri­fle. A gen­tle turn of the valve re­lease knob on top of the cylin­der soon had air rush­ing into the cylin­der on the ri­fle. I stopped the air­flow by tight­en­ing the valve re­lease knob as soon as the gauge on the ri­fle read 200Bar, then pressed the push- but­ton bleed to purge the air from the hose. Job done, sav­ing me a whole lot of time and ef­fort with the Hill pump!

Now I’ve got my­self all set up, it’s time to look into up­grad­ing my scope. I’ve found that be­cause this R10 is so ac­cu­rate, I re­ally need some slightly higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tion on top of her to get a clearer pic­ture of how my shoot­ing is pro­gress­ing, but more on that next month.

The com­plete kit ar­rived the next day, along with the anti-roll trans­port gizmo.

It’s very easy to do. Sim­ply push the lug back, in­sert the hose and pull the lug back to se­cure in place.

Carl con­nected up Dave’s cylin­der – note the ‘unmissable’ bank of air cylin­ders be­hind him.

It took a mat­ter of sec­onds to fill the ri­fle to 200Bar. The BSA R10 SE, filled to 200Bar, fill­ing port plugged and ready to go.

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