Reader Re­furb

Part one of reader Steve Fran­cis’ at­tempt to re­store a se­verely ne­glected BSA Air­sporter

Airgun World - - Contents -

Al­ways up for a chal­lenge – reader, Steve Fran­cis, res­cues a sick BSA Air­sporter

In 2012, at the age of 51, I wanted to get back into air­gun­ning, so I joined my lo­cal club –Nor­wich Air Ri­fle and Hunter Field Target Club. I bought a new HW100, and this was soon fol­lowed by a se­cond-hand HW97 and an HW80 that need­ing tun­ing, so after a bit of re­search I fit­ted a V-mach kit and the fet­tling seed was sown.

A year or so later, a friend called me to say he knew a chap who wanted to get rid of a MK2 HW77 his daugh­ter had owned. It had been in his loft for 15 years and was in need of restora­tion, so the deal was done. This ri­fle had been se­ri­ously abused and needed a lot of work; the bar­rel was bent and loose in the breech, and it needed a to­tal re-blue – to list just a few re­quire­ments.

Dur­ing my hunt for some­one to do the re-blue­ing, I was put in touch with a re­tired gen­tle­man – Trevor – who lives not five min­utes from me, and he agreed to do the job after I’d done the ma­jor­ity of the prep work re­quired. I was full of ques­tions for Trevor. He uses the tra­di­tional method of ‘rust blu­ing’, and he told me that his first at­tempt had been at the age of 15. Since then he has been per­fect­ing this method and has un­der­taken ex­ten­sive re­search on the sub­ject. Any­way, Trevor asked if I would be in­ter­ested in learn­ing this tech­nique be­cause he wanted to pass on some of his knowl­edge, and so I have be­come his ap­pren­tice, so to speak, prac­tis­ing on bits of steel with vary­ing re­sults.


In the spring of last year, I was do­ing some plumb­ing work for some­one I know. I’d fin­ished the work and was try­ing to find him out­side when I wan­dered into an old out­build­ing and there, leaning against the wall, was a very rusty and sorry-look­ing air ri­fle that I didn’t recog­nise. I asked my friend if he wanted it, and he told me that it had been there for sev­eral years, so I was wel­come to take it. It was an Air­sporter, and had def­i­nitely seen bet­ter days.

I started the process of strip­ping down the ri­fle; the stock was past sav­ing and had to be cut away to re­veal the rear stock bolt which needed sev­eral soak­ings with pen­e­trat­ing oil in the at­tempt to get it free, and I ended up heat­ing it to re­move it.

I vis­ited Trevor to get his thoughts on what I had taken on. He told me that he def­i­nitely wouldn’t want to tackle this as a project, and that if I did, I was in for a lot of hard work, time and ef­fort to get any re­sult. I wasn’t de­terred in any way and was up for the chal­lenge.


Re­moval of the trig­ger block was rel­a­tively easy, thanks to a suit­ably sized bar and a few clouts with ham­mer. Thank­fully, the in­ter­nals were caked in grease and in rea­son­able con­di­tion given the state of the ri­fle’s ex­te­rior. This was prob­a­bly helped by the muz­zle be­ing blocked by de­bris and bird drop­pings!

Next was the tap re­moval and this re­quired sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions of heat and a lot of care­ful ham­mer blows, but even­tu­ally it came free and sur­pris­ingly, the in­ter­nal sur­faces were in pretty good con­di­tion.

On to the rear sight; this was in very poor con­di­tion, but again, with heat and per­se­ver­ance I did even­tu­ally man­age to get it to flip up and down – fol­lowed by re­moval once I worked out which way it came out of the dove­tail hous­ing.

The back block was next and this is where I came to the first prob­lem that stopped my progress. I’d ap­plied plenty of heat whilst un­suc­cess­fully try­ing to re­move the trig­ger ad­just­ment screw and I was out of ideas for

“sur­pris­ingly, the se­rial num­ber has sur­vived; ‘GE1070’ dates it as 1965-67”

what to try next. As luck would have it, I was talk­ing to one of the mem­bers of my HFT club and he told me to ring a chap he knew. Roger Moy had years of ex­pe­ri­ence of fix­ing air ri­fles, and he could find a so­lu­tion to most prob­lems.


A few days later, I was on my to Roger’s house, only a 15 minute drive away from mine. Roger is semi-re­tired, but still works part-time fet­tling and re­pair­ing air ri­fles for a nearby shop. I had taken along the com­plete stripped ri­fle and ex­plained my prob­lem with the trig­ger screw. He had a good look and after ap­ply­ing sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions of oil, he man­aged to get the screw mov­ing, but was un­able to wind it out. He ex­plained that the heat I’d ap­plied had most prob­a­bly melted a lit­tle ny­lon strand that pre­vents the screw from mov­ing dur­ing use. I saw his vast ex­pe­ri­ence come for­ward for the first time as he took out a box full of dif­fer­ent sized Allen keys, pur­chased from car boot sales.

Allen keys are made from high-qual­ity steel. Roger cut the bent part off a cho­sen key and ground the end into a blade to fit the screw head per­fectly. He then fit­ted this hand-made tool into the chuck of his pil­lar drill. The back block was se­cured into a drill vice, with the screw head fac­ing up­ward, and as I held the vice, Roger low­ered the drill head un­til the tool blade en­gaged into the screw slot. By hand, with a clock­wise/anti-clock­wise mo­tion on the chuck, he gen­tly worked the screw back­ward and for­ward un­til it started to move freely. With a smile on his face, he then wound it out of the block with­out dam­age to the screw or the block. “How’s that boy? I never give up,” he said.

I spent a cou­ple of hours talk­ing with Roger, gain­ing in­valu­able ad­vice and he showed me how to re­move and re­set the back block, bush and cup as­sem­bly so that ev­ery­thing lines up cor­rectly when re­assem­bled.

The back block was made of alu­minium and had suf­fered from ex­ten­sive wa­ter dam­age, but I was able to bring the top, ex­posed part to a rea­son­able fin­ish – I left the re­minder un­touched be­cause I sent it off for bead blast­ing, fol­lowed by pow­der coat­ing which I hoped would dis­guise some of the blem­ishes. The fin­ish achieved was as I ex­pected; some of the pit­ting on the trig­ger guard was still vis­i­ble, but I was happy with the re­sult over­all, and sur­pris­ingly, the se­rial num­ber has sur­vived; ‘GE1070’ dates it as 1965-67 and .22 cal­i­bre.

I couldn’t wait to get on with the re­assem­bly. See how it went next month!

The stock was be­yond sav­ing, but I was de­ter­mined to res­cue this ri­fle.

Ba­sic tools, plus a ton of el­bow grease, ver­sus years of ne­glect.

Would it even be pos­si­ble to get this work­ing again?

Parts after first rust­ing. The restora­tion pro­gram was work­ing. Now for the re­buid.

‘In a bit of a state’? Yes, you could say that!

Weld re­pair to deep pit prior to re­fin­ish­ing

It took an in­cred­i­ble amount of work to get to this stage.

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