Webley Whiting - The making of a reproduction
With thanks to John G for permission to repost this remarkable story of a man on a mission. First published in instalments in the Collectables section of www.airgunbbs.com
My 2015 New Year's resolution was to attempt to make a reproduction Webley Whiting (two in fact), following the original patent drawings. Well, to my surprise I have been making reasonable progress so I thought some of you might be interested seeing how things have gone up to now. I also intend to keep updating this thread periodically until (hopefully) the gun is completed. I have to say though that I soon abandoned the idea of making two guns as there was far more hacksawing, filing and general fiddling about than I anticipated and I didn’t fancy going through all that twice.
For those of you who don’t know, the Whiting pistol was patented in 1910 by William Whiting, who was then a director of Webley & Scott. Although the pistol never went into production, one original prototype does still exist, and in recent years copies have been made by those engineering maestros Mac Evans in the UK and Grant Stace in New Zealand.
Here are the patent drawings
and a picture of Whiting’s prototype.
It is easy to see why the gun was never commercialised, as the low swept volume would inevitably make the gun underpowered, however strong the spring, and it is unlikely to have had any more power than the average gat. Even so, the pistol has great historical interest and any Webley collector would like to own an example, even if it was only a modern copy.
Mac Evans very kindly sent me full size copies of the patent drawings he used when he made his guns, and these saved me a lot of time. The starting point was to get suitably sized mild steel bars and cut out the main frame and cylinder block.
This meant a lot of metal removal and the old lathe had to work hard, and it also called for some heavy duty hacksawing.
The cylinder block was then bored to produce the cylinder, and the end threaded to receive a cylinder plug.
The cylinder block was then bored to produce the cylinder, and the end threaded to receive a cylinder plug.
The pivot point on the main frame was then shaped and drilled,
and the cylinder plug was milled to accommodate this when the cylinder block and main frame were assembled together.
Fitting the cylinder block to the main frame was very time consuming as a very close fit of the mating surfaces was required where the air transfer port was located
while at the same time the hinged action had to operate smoothly.
The piston was turned to size from round steel bar and bored to receive the spring. Careful honing and lapping ensured that the piston head was a smooth sliding fit in the cylinder, while at the same time it gave a good air tight seal with the cylinder sides.
The piston then had to be fitted with the bracket which engages with the cocking lever
After milling the end of the piston the bracket was then brazed on to it
So I am happy with progress so far, but there is still a long way to go. The next phase of the project will involve the milling of various slots in the cylinder block and the main frame to accept the various moving components, and then cutting out the steel frame for the grip frame. Watch this space.
After completing the cylinder block and main frame assembly, the next phase was to mill out the various slots in the assembly that had to accommodate the piston slide bracket, sear, trigger mechanism, cocking arm and trigger guard. This needed some very close consideration of the patent drawings, and some careful milling – something I am still learning about, and end mills are too expensive for me to dive in feet first. Anyway, everything went well and here are the results:
This picture shows the piston fitted into the cylinder, with the piston bracket sliding in its slot:
The next step was to make the sear that engages with the shoulder turned into the end of the piston.
The sear was made from carbon steel bar so that it can eventually be hardened and tempered. Note that it has been drilled for its pivot pin. The piston itself had been previously case hardened before brazing the bracket onto it, as it will also be heat hardened so that the load bearing shoulder will resist wear and tear from the sear. This picture shows the sear in place, with the piston and a very light spring inserted in the cylinder:
To my great relief when the piston was pulled fully back the sear engaged smoothly and the gun could then be fired by pushing the front of the sear upwards.
So far so good, but the whole thing still didn’t look much like a gun. Things improved when I made the grip frame. Unfortunately the frame needed to be 7/16 inches thick and I had a steel plate that was quite a bit thicker, but was too good to pass up. So after a lot of heavy hacksawing the frame was cut out in profile
It was shaped by filing and then several millimetres of excess steel milled off to give the correct thickness
Not something I would recommend if you can get the right thickness from the outset.
With the grip frame loosely pinned to the rest of the gun, it did start to look like the beginnings of a pistol:
The grip will be brazed to the main frame at a later stage when all the internals are in place and are functioning properly.
Well that’s all for now, and the next phase will involve making the trigger mechanism and the barrel.
If all this sounds as though I am having an easy time of it, I should say that this is far from the truth. I am no gifted engineer and in fact I knew little or nothing about lathes or milling a few years ago. With the aid of books, lots of trial and error, and many mistakes, I have become only just about competent with the basic principles. But for me the fun of these projects is the learning process itself – and when you have only very basic equipment (a very mature lathe, a vertical slide, hacksaw, files and a good vice) there is always something new to challenge you and to make you think and improvise. It also gets you from under the wife’s feet when you are retired like me. So anybody can have a go at projects like this if you have the patience and the time.
Since I last posted I have been working on the trigger unit and the barrel of the Whiting. The trigger is interesting as it is made up of two parts – the trigger itself which rotates on a pivot pin in the usual way, and a secondary pressure transfer arm which is separately pivoted inside a slot in the trigger. When the trigger is pulled back the secondary arm, which is held back by a pin and is under spring pressure, is made to rotate upwards, so pressing on the sear and releasing the piston. The tricky part is getting the location of the pins just right so that everything functions smoothly within the confined space of the frame. This picture shows the two components separated,
and here are the two assembled together
Luckily making the two parts went without hitch and when the trigger unit was inserted into the frame and secured by the pins it worked fine first time and I was able to cock and fire the gun with no problem – although you have to remember I am only using a very weak main spring at this stage, as nothing has been hardened and tempered yet.
Giving a big sigh of relief that the rather fiddly trigger project had gone without mishap I then turned to the barrel project. For this I had already decided not to attempt to deep drill my own barrel from steel bar as I doubt very much I could do it with any chance of success.
I have bored out a short barrel from scratch before. I didn’t have access to special long drill bits and fancy pumped cutting fluids that the professionals use, and I was only able to achieve boring the hole by drilling halfway from both ends and keeping my fingers crossed that the two holes met in the middle. This was a slow process but exciting at the break through stage, and at that point I knew how the channel tunnel diggers must have felt.
Although that particular exercise worked well, the Whiting barrel is longer and beyond the range of my longest drills. So I decided to use an old .177 air rifle barrel that I had and to cut it to size and taper it slightly as in the Whiting patent drawings. Luckily quite a few years ago I picked up a bunch of old barrels for a song from Nottingham Arms Fair ( does anyone remember that fair? – it was always good for airguns and it was a sad day when it ceased to be). They were pretty battered and rusty and I had no idea at the time what I was going to use them for but it seemed too good an offer to pass up.
So I was in the fortunate position to be able to select one of the better ones for the Whiting without having to dig into my pocket. Here is the barrel concerned, from an HW35 and stamped “LINCOLN”. After cutting it to a few inches longer than the final size needed to be
I then taper turned it in my lathe. Taper turning is something else I had never done before so it was back to the books for a while and then I was ready to give it a go.
Fortunately the tapering went OK and I was then able to turn down two stepped shoulders on the end of the barrel, one for the barrel securing thread and the smaller one to receive the barrel sealing washer.
The end of the main frame was then drilled and threaded to receive the barrel. This picture shows the breech after fitting the barrel and shows the annular recess which will eventually take the leather sealing washer.
So this is the current state of play, with all the components that I have made to date loosely placed together.
At last it is beginning to look a bit like the Whiting pistol and the main things left to do on the engineering side are the trigger guard, the sights and last but not least the detent closure system. Something tells me that the detent is going to be the biggest challenge yet, as one false move could spoil the main frame. You can see the holes for the detent already drilled into the frame in the third picture back. It might be a while before the next update if things go badly, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Last time I posted I said that the main structural jobs remaining to be done were the detent breech closure, the trigger guard and the sights. I have been pretty busy off and on but progress has been made and I can now update the record as far as these tasks are concerned.
I predicted that the detent mechanism was going to give me the biggest headache and I was not wrong. After making several attempts and many minor modifications I concluded that I was never going to be able to make the system shown in the patent drawings work, probably because it required a higher degree of machining precision than I was capable of. The patent system involved two rods moving at right angles to each other, one rod having a fixed peg that rode in an angled channel in the second rod. When the second rod was pushed inwards the first rod was then forced backwards so releasing the locked cylinder housing. The whole system was spring loaded so that it returned to its original state on releasing the pressure. What tended to happen in reality was that the rods could rotate very slightly in their holes and from time to time this would make the peg dig into the channel sides and no amount of pressure would get things moving again. This resulted in total lock-up of the cylinder housing – not something you could live with. After wracking my brains for a long time I decided to abandon the “peg in a channel” idea and have inclined shoulders on both rods so that they slid over each other. That way any rotation of the rods would not cause a digging in problem. You can see the two rods here:
To my relief this worked well, and the final detent system
gave a firm lock-up on snapping the cylinder housing closed, but was easily released by a slight pressure on the release button. More importantly it worked every time.
I then turned my attention to the trigger guard. Ideally this would have been made by cutting the basic shape from a steel plate but unfortunately I didn’t have any suitably sized plate so I decide to cut it from a thin piece of scrap as here
and bend it to the appropriate curved shape with heat
Along with milling the appropriate locating points this took quite a while, so I was not very pleased when I finally cut the curved piece to length and then found that I had somehow or other cut off too much. Into the bin it went, along with some choice word of farewell. Next day I had to repeat the whole process again, and I made sure this time that I stuck to old saying “measure twice and cut once” and finally got it right:
I decided to do something easy next to reduce my stress levels so I had a go at crowning the barrel. As there were no sights or other protrusions on the barrel I was able to clamp it in the lathe chuck (using copper foil to prevent the jaws marking the barrel), and then it was easy to shape the end using a file and emery paper:
The rear sight plate was also straight forward with its simple V-notch, and this was screwed directly into the cylinder plug:
The original patent drawings suggested that the sight plate and cylinder plug were machined as one piece, which would have presented considerable difficulties, so I adopted the route of making them as two separate entities. Apart from a countersunk screw in the sight plate there is no evidence that the two are not just one unit.
The front sight was bit trickier as it required a 2 mm channel to be milled into the end of the barrel. I am always wary about using small diameter end mills in steel as they are easy to break and not exactly cheap to replace. So I took the milling very slowly and luckily all went well and the end mill survived to be used another day:
The sight plate was a snug fit in the slot and will be brazed in place permanently at the final assembly stage:
So all the functional components of the gun are now made, although there will still be some heat hardening of parts to be done, as well as the brazing the grip to the main frame.
It is interesting to compare the gun at this stage with the original prototype, as here:
You can see that the original looks sleeker and this is because of the curved contours of the frame, something that I will have to do next. There is also the scalloping to consider, and this is a bit of a problem as I have no idea how to go about this. Any suggestions? Then there will be the lettering to consider, the chequered grips , and the final blueing. Should keep me busy for a bit longer.
Various distractions due to the warmer weather have slowed down work on the Whiting, but now at last I can report on some progress. The main structural jobs to be done when I last posted were (a) to “scallop” the frame to produce the thumbholes, (b) braze the grip frame to the main frame, and (c) make and chequer the walnut grip plates.
The scalloping posed more than a few problems, as any mistake would spoil the look of the gun and would not be reversible. Also if the scalloping went too deep the air chamber would be pierced, and there was little room for error in this respect. In the end I ground down the end of an old large drill to give the required profile for the depression, and then sharpened it. To help the drilling process the depression was first roughed out in steps using end mills, and then the shaped drill bit was used to smoothly finish off the hole.
The process was then repeated on the other side of the frame.
Brazing (hard silver soldering) the grip frame to the main frame was successfully achieved at a dull red heat, using the method I outlined earlier in this thread. Precise location of the grip to the frame was facilitated by first making two small locating pins, which helped to hold the grip in place during the brazing process. By applying pressure to the joint during the process a very close fit was produced with virtually no braze showing round the joint.
With the grip permanently in place I was able to fine tune the length of the cocking hook lever and the shape of the hook to ensure that it worked correctly.
The grip plates were going to be made from two thin slabs of walnut that I had cut down from a block of the same, but I was not relishing the chequering of these. I have done some chequering before, and although this was successful it was a very slow process and was not good for the arthritis I am prone to get in my hands. So I looked for a short cut. After a lot of consideration I made a grooving tool from a ground down tap, using the thread profile to provide the necessary grooves. With this revolving in the lathe I could pass a piece of wood under the cutter and produce several grooves of the correct depth in one pass. Then repeating the process with the blank turned around gave the required diamond pattern.
This method of course only works on a flat surface. The final shaped grip plates have curved edges so it is still necessary to do some hand chequering round the curves to complete the pattern. This is not very difficult however, as the existing grooves act as guides for the cutting.
Before making the grip plates, I experimented with other thread sizes, using ground down bolts, and you can see here that all worked well, giving me a choice of chequering size.
I was able to match that used on the original Whiting prototype by using a fine threaded bolt, but I did not like the pattern very much and decided that I would use poetic licence and go for a more attractive larger size, as here
After all, I have never claimed to be trying to produce a perfect copy of the original gun. I also did not like the idea of the grip retaining screws bedding down directly into wood, so I made some countersunk brass inserts as bit of personalised bling.
With all the structural work completed I was now in a position to shape the rounded contours of the pistol and finally to polish out the numerous milling and filing marks.
The gun was then fitted together for the first time in a mechanically complete state, with a cut down Diana 2 spring in the cylinder.
To my amazement it cocked and fired first time, although the trigger pull was excessive. This was easily remedied by removing some metal from the sear contact point.
This shot of the gun shows the shaped fore-end
The screw you can see allows access to the spring loaded detent.
The gun itself is here compared with the original
This is the gun in the cocked state.
The gun is currently “in the white” and needs bluing, but first the lettering has to be sorted out. As I have no access to an engraving system, and the thickness of the metal between the frame surface and the underlying air chamber is too thin to take the hammering of metal stamps, I will be using a photoresist etching process. This is going to be fiddly work, as will be the bluing, and it might be a while before I get these finished. I will report again when these jobs have been completed, and I will also report details on the power and performance, and the design plusses and minuses of the pistol, as to the best of my knowledge such information has never been reported.
Webley Whiting project. Finishing touches done at last!
Almost a year ago I started a thread on a project to make a copy of the Webley Whiting air pistol and got as far as showing pictures of the almost completed gun, with only the lettering a bluing to do.
I promised to report on these final finishing steps but for various reasons I kept putting off the work and now nearly a year has gone by. Where does the time go? A few weeks ago I unexpectedly found that I had a bit of time on my hands so I decided to grasp the nettle and tackle these jobs. As this will be my 500th post it seems an appropriate point at which to report on thse final steps.
The lettering obviously had to come first, and I used a photoresist method based on photosensitive plastic film used for making printed circuit boards. This clear blue film is available off the internet. It took a lot of experimentation before I could get everything to work well, as no one seems to have applied this film to gun etching before, as least as far as a search of books and the internet showed. The first problem was to get the film to stick firmly to the metalwork of the gun’s frame. Once this had been sorted out I copied the correct lettering from photographs of the original Whiting prototype and printed this onto clear film. This was then placed on top of the blue film stuck on the gun frame and exposed to weak ultraviolet light (sunlight will do if you can find any) giving an impression of the lettering on the blue film. The correct exposure time was very critical.
When the exposed gun frame/blue film was then immersed in a wash-off sodium carbonate (washing soda) solution, the lettering areas were removed, so exposing bare metal. The assembly could then be etched with weak acid and steel removed to a reasonable depth to give an exact engraved copy of the original lettering. The etching process needed some development work, and I found that best results were obtained using an applied voltage to speed up the etching process, which gave good depth with sharp edges within 15 minutes.
It was important to use the right acid, otherwise you got a lot of bubbling which made the etching process very non-uniform. Once etching had been completed, the remains of the blue film could be washed off with acetone, giving the final product. This is how it looked at this stage:
I decided to add some concealed lettering to the gun, so that at some date in the distant future there would be no doubt as to its identity. This was placed under the grips, and included not only details of the original patent but also my name and the place and date when this copy was made.
When it came to the bluing I had two options: rust bluing or hot salt bluing. I have dabbled with both so it was tricky decision. Rust bluing gives a more “vintage” look but is a bit unpredictable and time consuming. Hot salt bluing is much more consistent but tends to give a deeper black which is definitely not vintage looking. As my intention was not to make an exact copy of the original prototype with the same degree of aging, I decided on hot salt bluing. This was pretty straightforward and I decided to give the parts a shorter immersion in the bluing bath than usual, so as to avoid a really deep ebony black. This gave what I think was an acceptable result:
The blued parts were reassembled and the gun checked to make sure it still cocked and fired. Here are a few pictures showing the final pistol.
Webley Whiting performance. A sheep in wolf's clothing.
Having got my chrono fixed I have now been able to have a closer look at how my Whiting replica performs.
The first thing to mention is the spring. According to the original patent drawings this should have 45 coils, with an outside diameter of about 11mm and a wire diameter of about 1.8mm.
I managed to locate a spring with an OD of 11.3mm and a wire diameter of 1.7 mm, which fitted nicely inside the piston. However, it soon became clear that 45 coils would be nigh on impossible to use and so I had to look more closely at reducing the number to a practical level. Anything over 30 coils made cocking the gun a nightmare, mainly because when the spring was still under a lot of tension in the uncocked state, opening the action to the point where one could get ones fingers under the cylinder for a proper grip to cock the gun was almost impossible. Possibly this was a fault with my gun, and some fine tuning of the shape of the cocking hook and the piston length might have helped ease the initial opening stage. However, this was not something I wanted to explore so I concentrated on the spring instead. When the number of coils was reduced to 25 the spring was under no tension in the uncocked state and it was then easy to snap the action open and cock the gun with a reasonable amount of effort. So this was what I stayed with for testing the performance of the pistol.
It is generally accepted that the power of the Whiting pistol was always going to be low, principally because of the small swept volume of air and the excessively long barrel. TomK, who has also made a very nice Whiting copy, told me that with a spring much stronger than mine, and requiring a considerable cocking effort, he was able to get a muzzle velocity of 300 feet per second with a 7.0 grain pellet (more or less the weight of a typical waisted .177 pellet) .
Elanmac has mentioned in the previous thead that he got 1.5 ft lbs with a short barrelled modification to the Whiting, which for a 7 grain pellet would also correspond to a muzzle velocity of around 300 fps. So it seems that the Whiting pistol can produce around 300 fps with a typical .177 pellet, and this is somewhat better power than the 300 fps muzzle velocity I found for a Harrington Gat pistol using a 5.7 grain slug. As the swept volume of a Gat is 12.9 cubic cm and that for the Whiting is 10.9 cc, this shows that the Whiting has the capability of greater efficiency, but it has to be admitted that the Gat would be much easier to cock at these power levels.
My own gun, with the 25 coil spring, was easy to cock and could be fired several times in quick succession without it making you tired. I think for the Whiting to ever have been commercialised, this was the sort of level of cocking effort that would have been needed. However, chrono testing showed that the power level was significantly lowered because of the weaker spring.
To provide a comparison with other pistols of similar swept volume I used a minty Tell 2 and an as-new Harrington Gat pistol. You can see from this picture how the springs from the three pistols compare.
The Whiting spring was obviously very much weaker than the other two.
(The Gat spring shown is from an older gun).
These were the chrono results for the three guns, averaged over 10 consecutive shots in each case , using 5.7 grain slugs:
Whiting: swept volume 10.9 cm3 Muzzle velocity 175 fps
Tell 2: swept volume 8.5 cm3 Muzzle velocity 190 fps
Gat: swept volume 12.9 cm3 Muzzle velocity 300 fps
So with my weaker spring, the Whiting was marginally less powerful than the Tell 2, even though it had a larger swept volume. However, the Whiting was much the easier of the two to cock. The consistency of the Whiting was significantly better ( 171-176 fps over 10 shots) than the Tell 2 (174 – 212 fps over 10 shots), and also better than the Gat ( 284-304 fps over 10 shots). Considering the size and strength of the Whiting spring compared to the Tell 2, the muzzle velocity was much better than expected.
I then decided to have a look at the accuracy of the Whiting, and for this I shot over a range of 6 yards with the gun firmly fixed in a bench clamp. As it seemed to be appropriate, I used some old Webley 6-yard targets to shoot at. This picture shows the results for 10 consecutive shots of (a) 5.7 grain vintage Prince slugs (b) 7 grain vintage Caledonian waisted pellets (resized), and (c) darts.
The grouping for the slugs was fair for this type of relatively crude ammunition. The waisted pellets gave a narrower grouping in the horizontal plane, but a much wider grouping in the vertical plane, suggesting that the waisted pellets gave a more stable left-to right flight than slugs, but the velocity was more variable, probably due to barrel drag and small variations in pellet size. The heavier darts gave the poorest grouping, probably due to their even lower velocity.
Fortunately when using slugs, the sights (which are non-adjustable) were found to be correctly aligned for 6 yard range.
So these are my overall conclusions about the pistol:
1. It is very pleasant to shoot and the trigger action is comfortable.
2. At an acceptable cocking effort, the power is low, slightly less than a Tell 2.
3. At this power level the gun was best suited to use with slugs rather than waisted pellets.
4. It makes a good plinker using slugs, but at this power level it is not suitable as a serious target pistol.
5. Dart shooting would only be suitable at shorter ranges than 6 yards.
6. With slugs the muzzle velocity was very consistent over consecutive shots. However it was found that after about 40 shots the leather breech sealing washer became very compressed and velocity began to fall off. Application of a little grease to the washer restored the velocity. This then had to be reapplied every so often to maintain velocity.
7. The long barrel does not do the gun any favours power-wise, and probably does little to improve accuracy.
8. The poor mechanical advantage of the cocking action does not lend itself to the use of a powerful spring.
9. When placing a firm hand grip on the cylinder during the cocking stroke, it is easy for the fingers to press on the sear and disengage it. At best this prevents the gun from cocking, at worst it could result in the gun firing at full stroke and squashing one fingers.
10. Loading the gun is a bit scary, as it has to be done with the action cocked and fully open.
So all in all, the Whiting is an attractive powerful-looking gun, but appearances are deceptive and it could never have achieved power levels much more than the average Gat pistol. Although it has many novel design features, it has too many negatives for it to have ever been commercialised. Nevertheless it represents an interesting chapter in the history of Webley airguns, and I think it was worth the effort to make one. I certainly enjoyed it.
Webley-Whiting - Yet another reproduction build.
Courtesy of Leonardj.
Originally posted in 2015.
Earlier this year, John Griffiths began a thread over on the Airgun BBS which documented his building of a Webley-Whiting air pistol. I followed his thread with great interest, and as his project progressed, I found myself inspired to build my own rendition of this unique and rare air pistol. The 1910 Webley-Whiting was to have been Webley's first air pistol, but for reasons unknown, only one prototype was ever made by Webley. Those who have built replicas of the gun speculate that the relative complexity of the design, along with it's inability to provide adequate acceptable velocities due to the limitations of it's powerplant, were the major contributing factors for the decision to not proceed in producing it commercially.
John also kindly put me in touch with a couple other individuals that had built their own replicas of the pistol, and between the three of them, a great deal of information was provided to assist in my build. Many thanks to John, Tom, and Mac for the drawings, pictures, and for sharing your experiences of your own builds.
As with any journey, it all begins with the first step, and this picture pretty much illustrates that point. A scaled up copy of the original 1910 patent drawings, and four blocks of steel to begin the four major components of the gun - the frame, the compression chamber, the piston, and the rear end plug.
Appropriately sized holes are drilled in the locations that result in the required radius at key points on the frame. The excess material is then bandsawed away.
The edges are then milled to size, and the thickness of both the upper portion of the frame, as well as the grip area of the frame are cut to the proper width.
The steel for the compression chamber is then set up in the lathe, and that long, rather small compression chamber is bored. The threads for the rear end plug are also cut. As can be seen in the second picture below, there is not a lot of "wiggle room" when machining this piece.
The inletting for the sear and piston lug access are then milled into the underside of the compression chamber, and it is then fitted to the main frame.
The one piece piston is machined to size, and the sear engagement groove has been cut.
The cocking link lugs are then milled to size, the radius cut on the leading and trailing edges, and the hole for the cocking link engagement pin drilled.
The piston skirt opposite the cocking link lugs is then cut to size. Just a matter of setting up in the lathe to bore the hole in the piston, and it will be done.
The piston is then fitted to the compression chamber so that it moves freely, but with no excess slop.
The compression chamber is then fitted to the lower frame, and the hinge bolt hole is drilled, tapped and counterbored for the fastening screw. The inletting for the trigger mechanism and cocking link operation has already been milled into the lower frame.
I went with a one-piece rear plug, spring guide, and rear sight arangement. The relief radius for the action hinge has to be cut into the underside of the threaded portion, and the rear sight has to have a few finishing touches done as well.
I managed to find a suitable candidate for the barrel in my stash of barrel cut-offs - a length of Walther barrel with a 17 mm OD (0.6693"). The breech end was cut to size, threaded, and the shoulder for the breech seal cut. The muzzle end was then crowned.
An improvised drive dog is made up to fit the thread on the breech, and the taper is cut using the offset tailstock method. The barrel is 0.500" OD at the muzzle.
The finished barrel is trial fitted to the frame, and all looks good.
The gun is really taking shape.
A quick rummage through my wood scraps was rewarded with a very nice piece of black walnut, large enough to produce a pair of grip blanks, with enough left over to allow for my learning how to checker, and to allow for me to practice that skill on the very same wood used for the grips.
The radius has been cut on the top of the compression chamber, the dimples on the sides for grasping the compression chamber for cocking have been cut, the hole for the compression chamber latch mechanism finished, and the holes drilled for the trigger component fixing pins. The machining marks have been polished out on the sides of the frame and the compression chamber, but there is still much polishing of other detail areas to do. The grip blanks have been fitted for the pics.
Next items to machine are the more fiddly little bits - the trigger parts, the sear, the compression chamber latch parts, the cocking link, the trigger guard, and the front sight.
The sear was the first of the small parts to be made.
In this pic, the sear has been fitted to the compression chamber, and is engaged with the piston in the cocked position. The small set-screw was a small refinement that I added, to allow adjustment of the sear engagement.
Next, the trigger assembly was fabricated. This consists of four parts - the trigger, the intermediate sear bar, a small tensioning spring for the intermediate sear bar, and a short pin to hold the assembly together.
The cocking link was then fitted. It has to lay against the back of the trigger's intermediate sear bar, at just the right height to be able to engage the piston for cocking, yet fall away from the piston as the compression chamber is closed for firing. This pic shows the cocking link at a point where the sear has just engaged the piston.
The trigger guard was then machined, cold formed on a mandrel, and cut to length where it meets the grip. Once the trigger guard has been fitted and it's fastening pin driven into the frame, the trigger guard is then milled to it's finihed width of 7/16". A ball end cutter is used to form a fillet at each point where the trigger guard meets the frame.
Now it was time to tackle the latch mechanism. Having received prior warning that this little detail could be the cause of some frustration, I took my time and managed to get a working latch on the first try - but - while it worked just fine, I was not satisfied with it. A second iteration of the parts was made, making adjustments to the areas that I was not happy with, and the result was a smooth operating latch mechanism, with no slop or over-travel.
I chose to go with a press-fit plug to fill the front of the latch mechanism hole, rather than to fit a screw. Once the face of the plug has been blended with the front face of the frame, the plug becomes pretty much invisible, and effectively mimics the blind hole shown on the 1910 patent drawings.
Last but not least, the fitting of the front sight.
I chose to go with a press fit of the front sight element into the barrel slot, which resulted in a clean looking, and solid assembly.
The gun has been tested for funtionality, and everything is working great.
Still much left to do though:
- harden those parts that require it.
- fit the proper, full power mainspring.
- disassemble and polish out all the machining marks.
- engrave the appropriate markings into the side of the compression chamber.
- checkering and finishing of the grips.
After a much-too-long break from working on this project, I finally got back to it.
One of the hurdles that I ran into was how to go about applying the "Webley & Scott Ltd." markings on the side of the compression chamber. I do not have access to a pantograph, and not one of the many local trophy engravers were willing to even try cutting lettering in steel - even if I supplied the needed cutters. I was hesitant to try using an etching process due to my unfamiliarity with the chemicals and the process itself. That left the option of perhaps purchasing a set of 1/16" letter stamps with a gang punch capable of doing each line of text in one blow, but after pricing them, that idea was dropped. That left but two options open to me - try buying a set of individual 1/16" letter punches and trying not to make a mess stamping one letter at a time, or just forgo the markings on the gun, and perhaps print the details on the lid of the storage box I intend to build for the gun. I decided on the latter.
The next obstacle I ran into was the bluing. I had hoped to have the gun hot-salts blued, but was unable to locate any shop locally that was willing to do the job. I also wasn't too keen on shipping the gun to some shop whose best estimate on turn-around time was "whenever we get enough guns to make a run worth while". As a result, I reluctantly decided to try bluing the gun myself using one of the cold blue formulas available.
The cold blue job finished up nicer than I had expected, but not as nice as I would have liked.
You will notice as well, that the grips have not yet been checkered. I am not yet satisfied with my checkering skills, and will not tackle these grips until I am confident that I will be able to do a job that I will be happy with.
Testing and Performance:
The mainspring that I chose for my build is the center spring from the two spring set found in the Anschutz LG380, cut down to 37 coils. Initial testing with this mainspring was very encouraging, resulting in a ten shot average velocity of 299.24 FPS with JSB RS pellets (7.33 gr), for a muzzle energy of 1.46 FPE. The gun was then disassembled for bluing.
During re-assembly after the bluing, I burnished moly paste into certain key areas, in addition to the light oil that I had used in my earlier, initial test. The piston seemed to slide much smoother than before, so I was wondering if any improvement might be realized in the gun's performance. After a few test shots to allow things to work in a bit, it was time to run a few shots over the chrony.
Once again, I was pleasantly surprized.
Using JSB RS pellets (7.33 gr), a ten shot average of 312.84 FPS was recorded, for a muzzle energy of 1.59 FPE. I decided to try some heavier pellets to see what the results might be.
Using JSB Exact Express pellets (7.9 gr), the ten shot average was 304.42 FPS, for a muzzle energy of 1.63 FPE.
Next, I tried the JSB Exact pellets (8.44 gr), and recorded a ten shot average of 293.35 FPS, and 1.61 FPE muzzle energy.
Due to the length of the barrel, the pistol is muzzle heavy, and this imbalance is exacerbated during the shot cycle, making the gun a bit of a challenge to shoot well. After plenty of practice shots, I decided to try shooting some targets.
The first target was shot at 5 yards, using the JSB RS pellets, from a standing, offfhand position, using a two hand hold. I was able to keep 10 shots within about a one inch +/- group, with the best of the targets shot at this distance measuring 0.937" CTC.
Next, I tried shooting a few targets at 10 yards, using the same pellets and shooting position as before. Well, I don't know if I was just tiring, or if it was because my poor old eyes were having difficulties with focusing on the targets and sight picture at the increased distance, or what, but the 10 shot groups were now averaging around three inches, with the best target of the bunch measuring 2.687" CTC.
All-in-all, a very enjoyable project, with a satisfying outcome, and an excellent addition to my Webley collection.
Webley Whiting-type air pistols
With thanks to John G for posting these pics on the BBS, which were given to him courtesy of a German collector friend. He said:
"Unfortunately there is not much information to go on. Both pistols are apparently Czech in origin, but have no markings, and as they came from two completely different sources they do not seem to be related. The first pistol, which has its rear sight missing, looks like a manufactured product and given its rarity if it was retailed it would have been only for a short time. The second pistol resides in a Czech museum and is most probably a prototype. The name “Brno” is written on its museum label , so the gun could have been made by the same company that makes Slavia airguns.
"Interestingly some thought has gone into overcoming a few of the problems of the basic Whiting design. For example, both pistols have the cylinder pivot pin located farther forward compared to the Whiting, and so the cylinder can be pulled back much further in a larger arc than the Whiting when cocking. This makes for a longer piston stroke and so presumably more power. The cylinders, being wider, also provide a bigger swept volume, and equally important, give you something much more positive to grip when cocking the gun...
"There was a gap of at least 70 years between the registering of Whiting’s patent and the appearance of these two versions of his design. The Webley Whiting patent was “lost” for many years as it was believed to have been taken out in 1911, and searches for that year turned nothing up. It was not until 1979 that Dennis Commins discovered the patent, and found that it was actually registered in 1910. He published his findings in Guns Review that year, so most probably these two versions of the Whiting were made some time after 1979."