Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
Pete Evans checks out a few accessories from Best Fittings that helped him overcome some common issues around the use and transport of air cylinders.
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Even if our air cylinders are kept static, there are times when they must be moved, even if it’s just moving them to the gun shop to get them filled. Even an average 7-litre cylinder weighing 10kg, is a cumbersome object, with components such as gauges that are easily damaged if they are dropped or rolled around in the boot of a car.
I was faced recently with some cylinder-related issues which led me to purchasing a few items from Best Fittings. Many of you will be acquainted with this Dorset-based company, which seems to have a solution for any air related problem and their comprehensive, ever-growing on-line catalogue and speedy mail order service has become my ‘go to’ source for any air-charging challenge. Following my recent purchase of a few of their best-selling products, I’m sharing my experience because it could help others faced with similar problems.
If you were around in the 1970s, you might remember the Weebles – little plastic egg-shaped figures that had an internal weight at the base. The figure wobbled on the rounded base, but couldn’t fall over due the counter-balancing weight. This led to the marketing tagline, ‘Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down’ – funny how things stick in your mind, and you might be wondering what that’s got to do with anything.
Well, I bought a 3-litre air bottle recently, which I thought would be useful to carry about as needed. The problem was that this bottle had a convex bottom, which meant that if stood upright it not only wobbled, but fell down, so laying it on its side was the only real solution, but that made it somewhat vulnerable.
What I needed was a flat-bottomed, plastic boot to grip the base firmly, allowing the bottle to be stored upright. Measuring the cylinder diameter confirmed that Best had a rubber boot that fitted my cylinder and it was a simple, slip-on fit, so I had it fitted in minutes, ensuring that the cylinder didn’t wobble or fall down.
The other thing with cylinders is that they don’t have a convenient handle by which to grasp them and many people take hold under the valve, which probably isn’t the best solution. I’d seen D-shaped clamps that fix around the neck of the bottle, and always thought that they looked like an effective handle, so I got one for my new bottle. Easily fitted with the aid of two hex-head screws, this robust handle provides an excellent carry aid, far more secure than a couple of fingers under the valve. Constructed from a semi-flexible plastic, they are suitable for steel bottles 7-litre size, or less.
Any cylinder is going to roll about when subjected to lateral forces, case in point being the boot of the car. It’s not the best idea to have a cylinder storing air at circa 300 bar, rolling around unfettered in the car, so it’s just as well that I found another solution. Simple solutions are always the best, and this storage cradle I have here is deliciously so. Comprising heavy-duty webbing, with adjustable straps, and a pair of dense foam tubes, this cradle effectively blocks fore and aft or sideways movement, dependent on the cylinder’s position. No moving parts, nothing to go wrong, just adjust to your size and you’re ready to roll – or not, as the case may be.
One other issue concerning the movement of high-pressure gases, is letting other road users and emergency personnel know that you have them on board. This can have particular significance if you are involved in a road traffic incident, where emergency services may have to treat your vehicle differently. Whilst not law, it makes sense to have some form of safety signal on your car. When I bought my cylinder handling kit, I was supplied with a 100mm magnetic green triangle badge, which details the fact that compressed gas is being carried. It’s become my habit to use it, as my extra contribution to road safety.
We’ve considered the neck clamp fitted to my ‘stumpy’ 3-litre bottle, although I have another type fitted to my 7-litre bottles. To my larger bottles I have fitted a double-strap handle, which has a strong plastic grip. The two adjustable straps have Velcro patches that can be snugged up tight to belt the bottle, both being connected by the webbing handle with anatomical plastic grip. This means that the cylinder can be carried in full security as you carry a bag. It certainly makes carrying a whole lot easier, and can be left on whilst the cylinder is in use.
If you do want the ultimate in cylinder control, you could add a neck handle as well; the only limitation is that this webbing handle can’t be used on the ‘stumpy’ 3-litre bottles because they are not long enough to accommodate the straps.
The transport kit and carry strap are available as separate items, although they can be bought as a full handling kit, including the warning sign, which will give you better value for money.
These products have been in use for some time now, and honestly, I wonder how I managed without them. So, if you’re struggling with your cylinder, make peace with it by fitting a grip – it could save you a broken toe, or worse!
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