Restoration Project – FB Record Champion – Part 1

Here’s something a bit different for a change. I have had this FB Record Champion for quite some time. It’s what you would call a project pistol as it was non-functional with broken or missing parts.

The pistol is very unique in that it has an oval piston and piston seal, it is concentric, i.e. the barrel passes through the center of the piston, and, it also uses a stick magazine! That’s a lot of features for a spring powered air pistol! Oh, I almost forgot to say that it is side lever cocking too. So, considering the rarity of this pistol, I thought I would try to restore it to working condition at the very least.

The broken and new pellet probe

The pistol uses a plastic pellet probe to load each pellet, one by one, into the barrel from the magazine. Unfortunately this probe was broken. It’s quite a common failure with this pistol when the magazine is incorrectly inserted into the pistol. It is important to cock the pistol, leave the side lever in the extended open position and then insert the magazine. When the side lever is fully extended, the pellet probe is moved rearwards to allow the next pellet to rise to the top of the magazine. If a loaded magazine is inserted without cocking the pistol and leaving the lever in the open position, the pellet at the top of the magazine will force the plastic pellet probe upwards and snap it!

The pellet probe, along with the oval piston seal, is the achilles heel of this air pistol and probably explains why the FB Record Champion is quite rare to find today!

Luckily the piston seal of this Champion is intact and so it only required a replacement pellet probe and a screw to replace one that is missing. The screw was easy to source. However the probe would have to be made. This is probably where a 3D printer could be very useful! However, I am very lucky to have a friend who not only is quite the collector of airguns himself, but is also a very skilled machinist. As you can see, he made a perfect replacement pellet probe.

On the left the pivot pin fashioned from an allen bolt. On the right, a new steel pivot pin.

During the strip down process, I noticed that the pivot pin that is part of the cocking linkage and pellet probe lever system was far from original. I suspect that someone had tried to repair the pistol and in doing so, lost the pivot pin and manufactured a replacement from an allen bolt. I asked my friend to make a proper pin whilst he was making the pellet probe.

The final job was to clean up the barrel nut. This is a key item that centralises the barrel and helps to securely fix the upper casing to the internal frame of the pistol. The correct way to remove it is to use a tool that securely locates onto the holes of the barrel nut and then unscrew it. However, the nut is often thread-locked in place making it very difficult to remove. In this case, someone had used some grips to loosen it which left marks on the soft aluminium nut. Again, my friend cleaned this up using his lathe. Incidentally, we tried to remove the barrel nut of my other Champion. It was also firmly thread-locked in place. In the end we held it firmly in a lathe with a collet and then turned the pistol the unscrew it from the nut!

The barrel nut with teeth marks removed!

Now that all the broken and incorrect parts have been replaced and manufactured, I reassembled the pistol and tested it to ensure it was working correctly. Afterall, there is no point moving on to the next stage of restoration if the pistol doesn’t work!

The next stage is to refinish the pistol. I think you will agree that the finish is quite worn and faded and it has clearly seen better days. On inspection, I found that the finish of this pistol is neither paint nor anodized as it is an alloy rather than aluminium. Therefore I have decided to try a “cerakote” finish. This is a very durable ceramic coating that has become a very popular choice for firearms. Almost any colour is available with matt, satin or gloss finishes. It is important to me to try to restore airguns as close to the original factory finish as possible and therefore I have chosen matt black cerakote. Any steel parts such as screws and the side lever will be blued.

Now it’s time to completely strip the pistol once again and send it away to the refinisher. Hopefully it will return in a couple of weeks and I will update you all with the results. You can read more about the FB Record Champion here.
 

Until next time, happy shooting!

Jimmie Dee

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