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Bulldog
02-18-2009, 04:22 PM
Upgrades, and What They Do

The first thing we are going to cover is what this article is really about. It is not going to tell you what parts are best, or what parts you should buy. That choice is yours, not mine. Every tech in the world has their own opinion, some of them well founded, others not.
This article will tell you what to expect when you install a new part. I have seen a lot of people trying to figure out why their gun isnít doing what they thought it would after they installed an upgrade. The problem wasnít the installation, or the part, it was the buyer. They simply didnít understand what the part was intended to do, or how it worked,
To get the most for your money, and to be happy with your purchase, you have to know what you are buying, and how it works.
Randomly buying parts is one of the stupidest things you can do.

In this article you will see a lot of ďStock is fineĒ or ďNo reason to change itĒ. That is because WGP has slowly improved the cocker over the years. Way back in 96, when you bought an Autococker, it would work out of the box. It wouldnít work smoothly, or very quickly, but it would work. That is the reason for the huge after market support for Autocockers. People realized the potential of the guns, and made parts to improve on them. Since the 2K model, many of those previously after market parts have become stock parts installed at the factory.


Air Source Adapter (ASA):
This is the mounting point for your high pressure, or in-line regulator. Some of the after market ASAís have a few nice features, like a set screw to guide the timing rod, or an angled port to put the in-line reg at a more comfortable angle. None of those features are a must have, so this is a mostly cosmetic upgrade.
Get one if you want to change the color, or if you like the feel of the 15 degree ASA. There is no real performance improvement.

Banjo Bolt:
This the large bolt that holds the front block to the body of the gun. In older cockers, the air passages were rather small, and could restrict air flow into the front block. Since 2000, WGP has included a banjo bolt with better air flow, and more volume.
If you want to buy an after market banjo bolt, it will be a cosmetic upgrade only.

Back Block:
Using a lighter back block on electronic cockers can improve the rate of fire by decreasing the reciprocating mass, but there will be little noticeable change with a mechanical cocker.
One thing to watch out for is back blocks with thin walls on the side of them. If too much metal is taken off the side with the pump arm threads, then the threads can distort, and rip out of the block.
You will see little or no change with a mechanical cocker, and a slight increase in performance if you use a lighter back block on an electronic cocker.

Beaver Tail:
This is an anti-cheating device, and if itís not on your gun, it should be.
The stock tail works just fine, so an upgrade will be cosmetic only.

Body:
The topics of bodies is one of the tar pits of paintball. Ask some people if anything but a WGP body is good, and they will tell you they are all junk. Ask someone shooting a Merlin, and they will tell that not all of them are junk. Same question to someone using one of the few Spanky Fish Bone bodies that didnít leak, and they wonít see a problem with using any body.
There are a few companies making bodies for Autocockers* from scratch. Some of them are damn good, like the AKA Merlin, and Jackal RDL bodies. Some of them are sloppy junk, like the old Spanky bodies, or, in my opinion at least, like the System X bodies.
The safest route to take is to use a WGP or other well respected companyís body. Most cheap bodies are cheap for a reason. Machine time costs money. Keeping everything lined up takes time on the machines, and thus costs money. As long as the body has the correct holes in the correct places, it will work. Of course, it isnít exactly easy to take a block of aluminum, bore holes all the way through it, and keep them perfectly straight all the time, and itís even harder to do when you are trying to do it so you can sell them cheaply.
Nothing in life is free, and most times, if the price is low, there is a reason for it.
There is another twist to this issue also. There are companies, like DYE, that take a WGP body, and mill the hell out of it, and build guns with them. It is a WGP body, but with cosmetic changes from the company that is selling them. The only advantage to this is the gun will be lighter, and look different. Know what you are buying and why.

*Because of trademarks, no one but WGP can call their products an ďAutocockerĒ or ďíCockerĒ, but they are the same thing for the most part.

Cocking Rod:
For the most part, this is a cosmetic upgrade. There are cocking knobs with some nice features though. KAPP and Shocktech cocking rods have a 3/16Ē hex cut into the back of the knob, so you can use the velocity wrench to loosen and tighten the cocking rod when you adjust the velocity. Nice feature if you donít have a hammer with nyloc set screws to hold the rod in place.
There is a cocking rod out now with a hex key built into the end of it. Yes, it may be more convenient, but donít even thing about getting one. The reason itís more convenient also makes it easier to cheat. If I find someone on a field with one of these, and Iím reffing, well, you just earned a penalty for bringing a tool that can adjust your velocity onto the field.

Feed Adapter:
Some cocker bodies now have threaded feed tubes instead of the press fit tubes. The advantage of this is that they can be changed. If you have a stock cocker, or an Outkast, sorry, your feed tube is not threaded, DONíT TRY TO REMOVE IT! If you have an STO, Black Magik or other high end cocker, you can replace the feed tube.
The question is what to replace it with.......
The only upgrade even worth looking at is a clamping feed neck. Because of Brass Eagle changing the OD of the tubes on Revolutions a few years ago, some loaders will fit perfectly in the stock tube, while some will be very loose. A clamping feed neck solves this by giving you a way to lock the loader neck into the feed tube.

Front Block:
It holds parts, thatís it. There are only two reasons to change your front block. Cosmetics, and you have a mini-cocker. If your gun is a full sized cocker, this should be one of the last things you even think about upgrading.
.If you have a mini, you can get a front block with the ASA built right into it. The advantage is that the ASA will be stronger than a ďscrew into the bottom of the blockĒ ASA, and you can get them with 15* ASAís.

Grip Frame:
Another tar pit.
Choices, choices, choices. First you have to find the type of frame you prefer. You can get a mechanical sliding frame, a mechanical hinge frame, or an electronic frame, so each one will get itís own run down.
There are a few things that effect all trigger frames. One is the geometry of the parts, or where things are located on and inside the frame. Moving the pivot point on a hinge frame even a little will change how soft or stiff the trigger will feel. Change the slope on the back of a sliding frameís trigger plate will do the same thing.

Sliding frames: These break down into two basic styles: Frames that use pre-98 style trigger plates, and frames that use post-98 style trigger plates. If you are buying a sliding frame, make sure you are getting the correct trigger plate to go with it. A post-98 plate will not fit in a pre-98 frame, but a pre-98 plate will give you a very sloppy fit in a post-98 frame.
Once you know what style of frame you want, you will have to choose the producer. Most sliding frames are basically the same internally, but the feel of the frame is different. DYE frames for instance have a square corner at the back where the web of your thumb rests. That drives me nuts, other people donít even notice it. Find the frame you are thinking of buying, and try it out. Thatís the only way to know if you will like it.

Hinge frames: So many choices theses days..... All I can say is to try as many as you can. Some frames have extra trigger stops which can be used to limit the trigger travel, others have a different pivot point, so the trigger pull feels different.
Try them all, find what you like.

Electronic Frames: They all do the same thing, fire the gun when a signal is sent to a circuit board. Check all the features, try them if you can, and pick the one you like.
hammer

Hammer:
There are a couple of things to look at when you are buying a hammer. Weight is the one most people focus on, and it is important, but it isnít the only thing to look for.
Features like nyloc set screws on the hammer lug and cocking rod are must have items. Some hammers have other ways of holding the lug and rod that work just as well, but the nyloc screws are the easiest to see.
After that, look at the finish of the hammer. A rough hammer will have more drag, and use a stiffer main spring than a hammer with the same weight and a polished surface.
You should know that if you replace your hammer, you will have to rebalance the main and valve springs to compensate. Itís useless to throw a heavy hammer in, then use the same springs without taking advantage of the weight of the new hammer.
On electronic cocker, heavier hammers can actually slow down the max. ROF of the gun. When you are using a heavier hammer, you need to use a lighter main spring with it to keep the springs in balance. Now, with the lighter main spring, it takes slightly longer to get the hammer moving to open the valve. This can give the gun a sluggish feel to the firing cycle.
With a mechanical cocker, where there is no eye to prevent you from chopping or pinching paint, and you want the lightest main spring you can use, you never hit the ROF where this can have an effect, so it isnít important. On an electronic cocker, the eye will take care of the chopping, and there is no reason to slow down the cycle of the gun with a super heavy hammer, and a light main spring.

Inline Regulator, or High Pressure Regulator:
A good reg can make or break a gun. Three things determine if itís a good reg: Recharge rate, consistency, and durability.
Recharge rate is how fast a reg can refill the air chamber after the shot. A slow recharge rate means the valve chamber wonít be back up to pressure when the gun fires again, causing a lower velocity.
Consistency is how close to the setting the reg comes to with each cycle. The more consistent the reg is the more consistent the gun will be. The best recharge rate in the world means crap if the reg isnít delivering consistent pressures.
Durability is how long the seals last. The more often a reg needs to be cleaned and rebuilt, the more often you will have problems with it on the field. The reg with the most consistent pressure, and best recharge rate means dick if the seals are crapping out on you in the middle of a game.
Now, looking at the WGP regs, they are some of the best regs on the market. Little or no wear issues, very steady output, and rock solid recharge rate. The only drawback is they don't perform as well at pressures below 200 psi, and stock WGP regs are harder to adjust. Before you dump the stock reg, run some paint through it, break it in a little, as see how it performs.

Internal Velocity Governor (IVG):
This can be one of the most useless upgrades ever. First off, no one sees it, so itís not really a cosmetic upgrade. If you are looking for an easier way to adjust the spring tension in your gun, look at the Rex kit from Belsales. They allow you to adjust the velocity without taking the cocking rod out.

Jam Nut:
Unless it has an o-ring, donít waste your money. Jam nuts with o-rings compress the o-ring when they are installed, making them much less likely to wiggle loose and cause damage to the body of the gun.

Low Pressure Regulator (LPR):
These have the same criteria as the inline reg, recharge rate, consistency, and durability. The larger the air chamber inside the reg, the easier it will be for the reg to recharge completely with each shot. Now, since we are talking about the front end, itís not as important to have a dead even consistency, but wild pressure swings are bad also.
The faster the recharge rate, the lower you can set the reg. If you set your LPR, and then have to turn it up when you shoot fast to prevent burping, then your reg isnít recharging as fast as it should.

Pump Arm:
Mostly cosmetic. They all do the same work. On electro cockers, a Ti pump arm can slightly, and boy do I mean slightly, lower the reciprocating mass in the cocking cycle, and speed up the gun a tiny bit.

Quick Exhaust Valve (QEV):
QEVs work by bleeding pressure in the ram more quickly. This lowers the resistance to the ram cycling, and thus increases the speed of the ram, or lowers the pressure needed to cock the gun. On electro cockers, it can make a world of difference in the maximum rate of fire, but on mechanical guns, it will have less of an effect. With mechanical guns, the cycle of the gun will feel smoother, and faster, but the rate of fire will still be limited by the finger pulling the trigger.

Ram:
The more resistance your ram has, the slower the ram will cycle, and the more pressure it will require to cycle. Smoother rams with a larger bore will lower the pressure needed to cock the gun, since the ram will do the work more efficiently.
Another thing to look at is the piston shaft of the ram. Rams close with less force than they open with because the pressure in the ram canít effect the area taken up by the piston shaft. The larger the piston shaft, the larger the difference between the opening and closing forces of the ram. The larger the piston shaft, the better.

Sear:
These break down to two basic types: Plain and roller sears.
Plain sears are a plain sear with one exception, AKA. The AKA sears are laser cut, polished and hardened. The stronger the surface of the sear is, the longer it will last, and the smoother the sear release will feel.
Roller sears have a roller bearing at the trigger plate contact point to make the trigger feel smoother.
With a sliding frame, the difference is rather dramatic, but with a hinge frame, you will see little if any change in the trigger feel. This is because of the way the different frames work. A sliding frame forces the sear to slide up a slanted plane, and that lowers the other end of the sear to release the hammer. With the roller sear installed, the drag on the trigger plate is all but eliminated.
Hinge frames on the other hand push the end of the sear almost straight up, with little forward or back movement. The roller just rides up and down, and does little but drain your wallet.

Spring Kit:
This is a tricky one. If you know what you are doing, this can be one of the best upgrades you can buy. If you donít know what you are doing, you can completely screw up the consistency and efficiency of your gun. Know what you are getting into before you try playing with the spring balance of your cocker.

Three Way:
Shorter is better, right? Not always. A short three way is useless unless the trigger stops in the frame are used. A three way will not change your trigger pull, it will allow a shorter trigger pull the be set up. After market three ways can also be smoother than stock. This allows for a lighter trigger return spring, and a softer trigger pull.

Timing Rod:
Not much of an improvement for hinge frames. As long as they are straight, a timing rod is a timing rod. On sliding frames, the timing rod can make a difference, depending on the trigger plate. If you are using one of the older style plates with an oval slot for the timing rod, then a flattened timing rod will tighten up the cycle of the gun, and limit the length of the trigger pull.

Trigger Plate:
For hinge frames, they are all about the same, which on you want all depends on which one you like the feel of.
For sliding frames, it has a little more impact on the trigger feel. Solid steel plates are the best choice, hands down. AKA, ANS, and Shocktech all come to mind. Make sure you get the correct plate for the year of your frame. The plate design was changed in 98, and the old and new plates are not interchangeable in the old and new frames.

Valve:
The last in the line. A valve can do wonderful things for a gun, but the springs are what make the difference. A stock valve with a good spring set up will out perform or at least match almost all of the after market valves out there. Pay more attention to the springs, and to the hammer weight than to the valve itís self.
Some after market valves will allow for the lower operating pressure, while others claim insane shot counts. Ignore the hype from the manufactures, AND from other players. If they canít tell you one single drawback to a product, well, then they arenít being honest.