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