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Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

This area is for the discussion of BB or airsoft sub machine guns, and or other small arms such as pellets.
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Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:58 am

So I bought myself a bit of an antique, an Apache Fireball pump-up rifle from the late 1940s:

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0.24" caliber made for #4 lead shot but also featuring a 0.175" smoothbore insert to fire steel BBs. Fairly good condition but it loses a bit of air while pumping. The plan is to get it shooting hard again, because of its vintage I won't be modifying any of the original parts but I do intend on machining a new chamber/valve unit with a different design.

First step is to take it down, I have to say what a joy it is to handle something from the age of "iron and wood", it's a cliché but they really don't make 'em like they used to, modern air rifles with their emphasis on synthetic materials don't exude the same feeling of solidity. Here's some detail shots of the different components, most of which appear to be original:

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Bolt, hammer and trigger assembly. The hammer is not linked to the bolt and needs to be cocked separately. There is also no seal on the bolt so I will probably make a new one with an o-ring.

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Closer view of the trigger assembly which is a simple lever with a return spring. You can also see the threaded section on the right where the stock bolt attaches to the action.

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Valve and chamber unit which is of a conventional design, with the check valve opposite the firing valve held shut by the same spring. The chamber and valve head are held together by a plug threaded inside the pump tube, while a set screw keeps the exit port aligned with the barrel.

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Valve head and chamber assembled with retaining plug on the right.

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Synthetic pump head in good condition.

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Pump lever pivot detail.

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Pump lever handle.

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Channel stamped in the pump tube at the end of the piston head travel to enable the pump cylinder to refill rapidly.

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Muzzle endcap with pump lever retaining pin along with rear iron sight.

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Muzzle detail with partially unscrewed 0.175" BB insert.

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Breech end of the insert.

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View down the rifled 0.24" barrel.

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Breech end of the action showing the loading port.

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There is evidence of something having been engraved on the action that was subsequently filed off, the research I've done so far indicates that they were not marked at the factory so it's a little odd.

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Stock detail with stock bolt, the wood has seen better days but I will not be refinishing it. One of the butt plate screws is not original.

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Evidence of a repair to the stock where it attaches to the action.

Next step is to measure the insides and think of a more efficient valve setup, likely along the lines of a balanced spool. Watch this space.
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: Gippeto » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:00 am

Didn't take you long to get that one apart. :lol: Looks and sounds like a fun project. :headbang:
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:24 am

Gippeto wrote:Didn't take you long to get that one apart.


To make things better you must first make them more sparse :)
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:03 am

You know, beyond the obvious parameter of construction method and materials, it's pretty amazing to see how little things have changed in the past 70+ years of airgun design (at least for the conventional multi-pump pneumatic).

It would be interesting to see this dinosaur with something more efficient like a spool valve... possibly with a CO₂ or PCP upgrade if portability isn't an issue? :wink:

Fantastic post as always.
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:29 am

Pretty much, there is literally zero difference in the operating principle between this and a Crosman 1377 you could buy today, right down to the single spring holding both check valve and firing valve.

It would be interesting to see this dinosaur with something more efficient like a spool valve... possibly with a CO₂ or PCP upgrade if portability isn't an issue? :wink:


While I was briefly tempted to use it as the basis for a PCP autoloader (the fact that it's meant for lead shot would have made a tube magazine easy...) it's just too old for that - not exactly a rarity or expensive collector's item but I still want it to look stock from the outside, so spool valve and general leak prevention (ie o-ringed exit port, stem support, bolt) it will be.
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: jakethebeast » Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:32 am

That stock would be pretty to look at if the old lacquer was removed, woods sanded to 2500 grit and then oiled/waxed....
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Mon Aug 29, 2016 6:37 am

You're probably right, I believe it's walnut so I suppose it will be worth the effort. Still, worky bits first :)
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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

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Re: Apache Fireball Project [picture heavy]

Unread postAuthor: jakethebeast » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:06 am

It IS worth the effort! Few years back I restored an old Sako hunting rifle stock which was walnut and looked a lot like that stock. It was very satisfying to reveal the beautiful fresh wood grain under the old and cloudy lacquer!
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