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Old 11-11-2012, 09:17 PM   #31 (permalink)
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What a fascinating thread. Do tell more.

A thought- couldn't someone adapt current style Dye detents into a twist lock barrel with relative ease?
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Old 11-11-2012, 10:23 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Karnokr View Post
What a fascinating thread. Do tell more.

A thought- couldn't someone adapt current style Dye detents into a twist lock barrel with relative ease?
If it were breech drop instead of bore drop it should be no problem.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:34 PM   #33 (permalink)
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On a related note, wasnt this also the reason that SP switched to 2pc barrels?
-SP switched to 2 piece barrels for ease of manufacturing and cost-cutting.

As I noted earlier, SP started out buying factory barrels straight from the manufacturers. That wasn't going to keep working forever (IE, what if Bud decided to stop selling them to SP, and decided to start drilling them himself?) so SP started setting up to make their own.

Now, keep in mind I'm only speculating here, but I'm making kind of an informed speculation. Anyway, SP almost certainly found out that making barrels is actually pretty tricky. You either drill from solid bar stock, or you have tubing custom-extruded to the dimensions you want, and just finish-machine the surfaces.

I suspect they started with bar stock, at least early on, because you have to make huge purchases for custom extrusions- like committing to buy 5,000 feet or more.

As an aside, this is part of the reason Bob Long developed the Intimidator- he'd set up to make fancy aftermarket milled bodies for the Spyder, and bought a huge run of custom extrusion to do it. But it turned out nobody wanted to put a $250 body on $150 blowback, so he wound up stuck with thousands of feet of custom extrusion. But, a little fiddling and inventing later, they fitted it with electro guts and called it the Intimidator.

Anyway, whether SP used solid bar or custom extrusion, they probably found out that boring them accurately much past 5" or 6" was difficult- and, I suspect, they started out early on with used machinery that couldn't hold tolerances that well, and got worse the deeper the bore went.

Now, the other side of that coin is that the existing SP barrels had started to get a nasty reputation of being very hard to clean. The ports essentially "stored" paint, so even after multiple squeegeeings, it'd still shoot like it had a wet bore.

SP had already put a bunch or marketing into the "rifled" concept- including the famous "high speed" photos from the ad- so they couldn't just drop the porting. That was the whole and only reason anyone bought the darn things.

So somewhere along the line, somebody at SP had a bright idea: Make the barrels in two parts. That let them to several things: One, make tips in bulk. Rather than setting up for a complete barrel, one machine could be set up to do nothing but tips, while others did back halves of various threads.

That way, each half of the barrel was relatively short, and thus easy to machine. (In part the same reason so many makers today produce two-piece barrels instead of full-length one piece. Even with today's high-end machines, it's tricky to make a good, smooth, accurate-diameter bore that deep.)

Second, the tip section could be made larger in bore diameter, so that broken paint wasn't as hard on accuracy as it was for the straight-bores. Chances are SP found an off-the-shelf tubing size, and just used it rather than going with a more expensive custom extrusion.

Third, the tips could now be custom-anodized and assembled separately. Instead of having (just as an example) five different barrel threads and five different colors of anno (meaning you'd have to keep 25 different barrels on hand to fill any one color/thread combo order) you could just have a bin of back and a bin of tips- somebody wants a 'Cocker barrel with a purple tip, you just grab an appropriate back and a matching tip. Glue 'em together and ship 'em off.

This is one of the things that really helped SP early on; they not only had custom barrels, they had custom barrels for damn near everything. Other makers (and there were damn few early on) might have had 'Mag, 'Cocker and VM barrels, but SP had those three plus Illustrator and Z1 and Bushmaster and Storm, etc. etc. and so on.

They could do that because it was a trivial exercise to reprogram a machine to make a slightly different thread, then jam a tip in to finish 'em off.

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The story I've always heard was that SP discovered it was cheaper to use 3/4" tube stock to make the barrels, then use 1" bar stock to make the "backs"
-As above, probably. It all comes down to cost: Making short pieces and joining them is cheaper than boring a single piece (accurately) in the same length, and using off-the-shelf tubing is cheaper than buying custom-size extrusions.

And as far as cost goes, note how early SP barrels had tight spirals of very closely-spaced holes. Many of the very earliest (hand drilled factory barrels) had the holes damn near touching.

Later mass production barrels, however, used a shallower spiral and considerably looser hole spacing. So instead of (again, just to throw a number out) 100 holes in a line, there might only be 30. Less drilling means reduced cycle time, means more made per machine hour, which of course means more profit. And I don't begrudge 'em that a bit, except for all the early advertising about the rifling and ball physics...

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Then.... market this as being better then 1pc. Because of magic fairies or whatever.
-Actually, SP was selling the 2-piece barrels for years before it got to be common knowledge they even were 2-piece. The early marketing was all about the "rifling"- making the ball spin, "disconnecting" the ball from the gas column allowing to "regain it's shape" after firing, etc. etc.

I mean, people did know they were 2-piece (the tip would sometimes fall out) but that fact wasn't mentioned in the advertising 'til several years down the road.

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Old 11-12-2012, 01:13 PM   #34 (permalink)
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nevermind!
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Last edited by GoatBoy; 11-12-2012 at 01:15 PM. Reason: oop nevermind, someone already covered it.
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:19 PM   #35 (permalink)
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-Any decision for or against the widespread use of the 'Mag twist-lock took place long before the advent of eyes. Detents weren't an issue back then either- as long as the gun had 'em, nobody cared if they were wire, balls, clips, nubbins or fingers. The only time a detent became an issue was if or when it broke.

The wear issue may have had some small influence though, but I suspect it was more the "looseness" you mentioned more than the actual wear. Even a shiny new 'Mag has a small bit of slop in the barrel fit- it kind of has to just to have the clearance for the barrel to slide in without jamming.

That probably wasn't as important as the cost/manufacturing issues I mentioned above, but probably was considered.

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I cannot recall the timing of twist-lock vs. mainstream electros, but even AGD themselves switched to Cocker threading basically because of incompatibility with electronic eyes. Not sure if the timing of that decision is particularly relevant, just the motivation.

Best barrel system IMO is what Palmer did with the Blazer.
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:27 PM   #36 (permalink)
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What surprises me about paintball is how long it was fairly small shops or people working out of garages. Even AGD was outsourcing a lot of what they made to machine shops in the area and effectively just assembling and tuning IIRC.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:13 PM   #37 (permalink)
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I cannot recall the timing of twist-lock vs. mainstream electros, but even AGD themselves switched to Cocker threading basically because of incompatibility with electronic eyes. Not sure if the timing of that decision is particularly relevant, just the motivation.
-The 'Mag hit the fields in late '89 to early 1990. The first electro didn't appear 'til 1996, and the first eyes came out in '99 or so.

In that decade between the Mag and the eye, AGD made over 150,000 Automags in various flavors, so the twist-lock barrel was well and firmly established.

But you are right, when making the aluminum-bodied X-Mag they used 'Cocker threads in part to more easily accommodate the built-in eye. But also in no small part for ease of manufacture and weight (the XM was already a chunk because of the giant battery pack) but most of all because it was going to be center feed.

CF was rapidly becoming the style at the time, to the point where nobody even wanted right/left feeds anymore. The X-Mag was supposed to be AGD's premier flagship tourney marker, and tourney players demanded center feed.

Since CF twist-lock barrels basically didn't exist (there's a few out there, but they're almost as rare as Satco 700s) the decision was made to go with far more common 'Cocker threaded barrels.

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Old 11-12-2012, 05:49 PM   #38 (permalink)
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\But, a little fiddling and inventing later, they fitted it with electro guts and called it the Intimidator..
Curious how that worked out. They were already selling the BL Defiant, which was made by ICD, and basically a rebadged Bushmaster.

Who knows if BL simply ripped off the existing Defiant design, and shoved it into the Millenium bodies? Truth is, that kind of thing is pretty common in paintball.

A good example is the Palmer blazer. It had a very long development of 4 years. The reason was that Palmer was having Sterling UK do all the research, development, prototyping, testing, and eventual building. In exchange, Palmer was going to help Sterling UK develop an autococking kit for the stelring that that could sell as an upgrade kit.

Sterling UK dragged there feet very, very slowely. After years, and years, Palmer called them out, and the deal fell apart. He felt that he was getting screwed over. He demanded all the extrusions, and other parts back to have someone else do the work.

Truth was Sterling UK was using the blazer prototype design to make the Soveriegn. (The Sov was originally a completely different gun, but it never worked)

Paintball is a tough business sometimes.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:27 PM   #39 (permalink)
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-The 'Mag hit the fields in late '89 to early 1990. The first electro didn't appear 'til 1996, and the first eyes came out in '99 or so.

In that decade between the Mag and the eye, AGD made over 150,000 Automags in various flavors, so the twist-lock barrel was well and firmly established.

But you are right, when making the aluminum-bodied X-Mag they used 'Cocker threads in part to more easily accommodate the built-in eye. But also in no small part for ease of manufacture and weight (the XM was already a chunk because of the giant battery pack) but most of all because it was going to be center feed.

CF was rapidly becoming the style at the time, to the point where nobody even wanted right/left feeds anymore. The X-Mag was supposed to be AGD's premier flagship tourney marker, and tourney players demanded center feed.

Since CF twist-lock barrels basically didn't exist (there's a few out there, but they're almost as rare as Satco 700s) the decision was made to go with far more common 'Cocker threaded barrels.

I think stating that the twist-lock system was well and firmly established in answering a question as to why it didn’t catch on is kind of a contradiction.

It was only established for one marker manufacturer, and that was AGD. It only took one player to kill the twist-lock off: AGD.

The problem I have with timing/manufacturing being a motivating factor for AGD was that they were still using the twist-lock as of 2000, when the E-Mag came out. I’d bet they would have happily continued using the twist lock if the main drawback was indeed just pain of manufacturing. (Not saying “pain of manufacturing” doesn’t make a difference; I’m just saying that AGD didn’t seem like the type to care about such things.)

They were really just pushing the pain off to someone else anyways if you think about it -- a twist lock barrel might be a pain to make, but the body itself is probably made easier. So why stop continuing to push that pain onto the barrel manufacturers (and the customer for that matter)?

I can totally see AGD saying, “Oh, our barrels are harder to make? Too bad, because our gun is awesome, twist lock is awesome, and by the way twist lock makes our bodies easier to make, so screw you. You guys better get to work on those CF barrels.”

Right up until they realize... oh crap, we need to fit eyes in this thing. OK, let’s switch barrels.

Yes, I know, I’m very cynical.
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:59 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Eyes would not be a problem. As twist lock barrels line up in only one spot they could have the eye holes milled into them (probably more slots) and the eyes could be set into the body some to avoid contact. No reason there could not be a couple eye "slots" in a twist lock barrel - you know where everything lines up - just a pain in manufacturing.

However the spring loaded "bullet" style detents... those would be an issue.
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