Basic Upkeep of your Spyder

So, you got yourself a Spyder. It is exciting to walk into your local shop and purchase one off the shelf. Or, maybe you surfed the web looking for the best priced one from cyber-space. Either way, it is an investment that will provide you with many fun games. Though, if you neglect this investment, you may have spent your money better by sticking with the field rentals.

The Spyder is an excellent beginner’s marker. There are many configurations to choose from. From the basic Spyder 2000 to the newest Spyder Xtra or MR Series of Kingman markers. I will not be covering any of the electros like the AMG, Flash, or the EM1. This article is just for the mechanical markers. These are more user friendly and perfect for tinkering without spending a lot of cash on a marker. However, I must also say that the Kingman electros are the same internally as the mechanical counter parts. And so this article can very well be used in maintaining any of the Kingman brand markers. There is a huge amount of upgrades available. But this article is not on upgrades. For that, look at my Upgrades – F.A.Q. for a wealth of information on what and what not to upgrade. Also, not a bad idea to review how a Spyder works.

What I will be going over is the following…

* Most important! – Please make sure that the marker is completely degassed and empty before doing any modifications or upkeep. Some devices like check valves and regulators can keep the marker gassed even when the tank is removed. When working on your marker, please do not have your hopper or air tank attached to the marker. I also suggest that you remove the barrel as a paintball could be stuck inside from the last time you shot the marker. If you do need you barrel on, use the many safety devices such as barrel socks and barrel plugs available to keep paintballs from accidently being fired out of the barrel. Before working on your marker, make sure there is no tank or hopper on the marker. Cock and pull the trigger, pointing the paintball marker in a safe direction away from people and pets. This will make sure that the marker is degassed. Since the Spyder is closed bolt, this may require you to pull back on the bolt and look in the breech to see if a paintball is loaded; Do this after you are positive that the marker is degased.

Keeping your Spyder in good condition will ensure good operation during a game. There are simple steps that should be taken seriously. They are not time consuming and will greatly extend the life of your marker if done correctly. I will go over several things. From the right oil to use to keeping a tool kit. Keep that diagram that you got with your Spyder so that you can refer to it when you take it apart. If you don’t have one, log onto the Tech section on the Kingman site. They have diagrams there. Not all the Spyders are represented on the Tech section. If you have a marker that is no listed for a diagram, choose the next closest Spyder that has a diagram and print it out. The internal layout of the Spyders is close to being the same no matter what model.

So, if you’re ready, let’s get started. Remember to take out any paintballs and to de-gas your marker before working on your marker.

The Toolbox

I suggest going to either a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or other similar store and invest in a simple, small toolbox. This doesn’t have to be a huge, two-handed toolbox. I use a fishing lure kit that has adjustable compartments. In this toolbox, you will need room to carry a set of screwdrivers (flat and philips head), teflon tape (also known as plumbers tape), blue lock tite, an adjustable wrench or pliers, and hex head or allen wrenches (3mm, 2mm, 1.5mm Metric and 3/32″ English). Don’t forget a rag to wipe off paint splatter after the game. I also have a towel to set down on a table to do my work on. Not only does it keep what is underneath clean, but also keeps a screw from bouncing or rolling away. I used to use a huge 50cal. amunition can that I had picked up from an Army/Navy store. It is large enough to carry my tools and other spare parts that I may need during the game or tournament (drop forward, bolts, screws, etc…). Was also able to fit a 68cu 3,000psi tank in it. Worked out fine.

Another useful item to have if you have the money is a chronograph. I am not talking about the large ones that the field uses and costs $250. I am talking about the Hand Held Radar Chronograph. I have found these very useful. And inexpensive, about $50 – $100. It would not take place of the official registration before the game at the fields and tourneys. But if you’re tuning your marker the night before, or cannot wait for the line-up at the staging area chronograph to die down, it comes in pretty handy.

Along with the above tools to have on hand, have some spare parts on hand incase something breaks. I recommend having lots of spare O-Rings and a Cup Seal or two. You never know what is going to bust and leak air. I keep these o-rings in individual zip lock bags that you can get from a jewelry store. I keep them by size with a note on the bag noting the size and what they are for so I do not go fumbling through and have to guess what o-ring to use for my striker. I also suggest getting a spring kit. They always come in handy. I carry a Madman, a 32degree, and a Chameleon spring kit with me. Why do I have so many? I have 3 Spyders to take care of. You can get away with either a Madman or a 32-degree spring kit. Screws is another that I keep around along with a spare ball detent and detent cover. A fishing lure box with adjustable compartments is very handy to carry these small items.

Having the right tools and parts will help in correcting any Trouble Shooting – F.A.Q. that you may have to do to your marker.

Air Tank Tips

Was not sure where to put this tip, so I thought I would place it here. When you unscrew your marker, you may have experienced a burst of gas escaping. Don’t worry. This is normal. It really is not coming from the tank. By the time you unscrew your tank 1/2 to 1 1/2 turns, the tank valve is closed. The air that is rushing out is what is “resting” between the valve and the tank. Since this air is under pressure, it is constantly trying to find a way out. As you unscrew the tank, you’re giving it a way out. Thus, it rushes out as you unscrew the tank. For those that have CO2, this rush of air will cool the o-ring very quickly. Sometimes damaging it.

There are two solutions to keeping the air from rushing out. The first one is to buy a one-way valve. This let’s air travel in one direction when installed somewhere in the air route. This works well, but may be restrictive to some markers. This should only be considered if you have small tanks or have long games where you can see yourself changing tanks in game. This will enable you to fully unscrew your tank and replace it with a new one without air escaping. The best way to save those tank o-rings is to hold your marker upside down and make sure there are no paintballs in the breech. Rotate the power feed plug to stop the flow of paintballs and to avoid accidental feeding. Turn the tank about 1/2 to 1 full turn, or just before you think the gas will exit. Point in a safe direction as there may be a paintball in the breech or barrel that you may not see and shoot the marker until it starts to sputter and doesn’t re-cock. Cock it once more and fire it to make sure it doesn’t re-cock or sputter. If it still fires, twist the tank off 1/4 turn and repeat. This will empty the air that may be “stuck” inside. Take off the tank.

While we are on the subject of air tanks, like to add this. It is a good idea to get a thread protector for your tank. CO2 tank threads are made of brass. Brass is a soft material that can damage easily. A thread protector screws on to the threads to protect them. The protector also keeps dirt from the valve that could enter the marker if not cleaned off. Any dirt that does enter the marker could cause lots of damage. For those that have nitro tanks, in addition to the thread protector, get a fill nipple cap. This fits over the fill nipple on the tank and keeps dirt from entering the tank when filling.

Cup Seal

Cup seals is a common problem for leaks. Especially if they are stock cup seals. Always keep at least 2 spares with you. A cup seal will seal off the route the air travels from one side of the valve into the valve body where it goes into the bolt and into the striker area. These seals will slam against the valve every time the marker is fired. These seals are made of a hard nylon material that can scratch easily. I would consider investing in a Lapco cup seal. These are made of a softer material. If it happens to get scratched, it may seal itself better than the stock cup seal because of the softness.

O-Rings

O-rings are another consumable. The o-rings are an important item in any paintball marker. It seals passages so that the air travels in certain directions from the tank/regulator to the back of the paintball. There are 3 different areas that o-rings exist in a Spyder that need to be oiled and taken care of. They are 2 valve o-rings, 2 bolt o-rings (more if you have certain aftermarket bolts), and a striker o-ring. Many of the o-rings are interchangeable. Especially with the newer markers with slim strikers.

The bolt and valve o-rings are the same size and are interchangeable. They are #009 on Spyder diagrams. Then there is the striker. This is size #19 (fat strikers in older Spyders) or #19A(for the newer models) depending on the striker size. There are parts kits that are available that has the o-rings. But for some, it may come with other stuff that you do not need. Go to your local hardware store and get bulk o-rings that you need. This is simple and cheaper than having to buy 2 Spyder First aide kits. 50 o-rings for $10 may be a better deal. Especially if you have friends that have Spyders.

The Kingman designations on their diagrams of o-rings are not the size you need to ask for when going to the hardware store. These are simply the Kingman part numbers. The chart below shows what o-ring designation to ask for and what material.

Part

Dimensions

Material

Fat Striker (Older Spyders)

5/8″x3/4″x1/16″

Polyurethane

Slim Striker (Newer Spyders, Red in color)

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Polyurethane

ESP Striker

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Polyurethane

Valve

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Nitrile or Buna-N

Bolt

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Polyurethane

Barrel

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Nitrile or Buna-N

Vertical Adapter

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Nitrile or Buna-N

Gas through grip or Expansion chamber

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Polyurethane

Tank

9/16″x11/16″x1/16″

Polyurethane

 

Wondering if you have a fat or a slim striker? Take out the striker and measure it. A fat striker is about 1 7/8″ long and 3/4″ round. A thin striker is 2 1/8″ long and about 5/8″ round. The picture above shows the thin striker (left), a fat striker (right), and an ESP striker in the middle. On a side note, you could put in all polyurethane o-rings inside your marker when it is time to replace them.

There are several Spyder repair kits available that are out on the market that you can purchase. They have at least one of each o-ring and a cup seal. You can use this information in the chart above and get yourself bulk rings at a hardware store, which could be cheaper than getting a number of first aid kits.

If you have an o-ring and want to know what size it is, measure the inside diameter, the outside diameter, and the thickness of the ring. Use these measurements to get the right o-ring size from a chart at a good hardware store. These measurements can be specific down to 1/32″. It is also important to get an o-ring that is the right material. Polyurethane that are on the bolt and striker will slip better than Nitrile.

Is it a good o-ring, or is it bad?

O-rings over time will get brittle and crack. Dirt may actually embed itself and start to form cracks in the o-ring or even cause friction. Black, rubber o-rings are hard to tell if they are old. Close eye examination is needed. The polyurethane rings are white material visually. Easier to see how old they are. If the o-rings are starting to form cracks, replace them. Do they look harder than usual or even shrunk in size? Maybe they are not as flexible as they once were. Again, replace them.

Oil

Oil is an important thing for reducing friction of the moving parts internally. May even help reduce the noise internally. Sometimes, leaks can be fixed that have o-rings and can be sealed by adding some oil. There are paintball specific oils that many of the paintball shops sell. A typical name sold is ‘Gold Cup’. Most all paintball shops will have this in 1oz. or 2oz. size containers. You could use any pneumatic oil. Try and invest in paintball specific oil like Gold Cup. Oil can change its consistency when the weather changes. Could gum up the operation of the marker. If you cannot find any, you could use Hoppes #9 gun oil found at gun shops and retail stores like K-Mart. Even better yet, your local grocery store may have 3-in-1 oil for household lubrication needs. I have found this superior to all of the above mentioned oils. Another new lubrication that mose electros require is DOW 33. This is preferred for these type of markers. Oil could damage the electronics. But electro or not, DOW is a good lubrication. I do not recommend WD-40 or Vaseline. This is a totally different type of lubricant that can eventually damage your marker or dissolve o-rings over time. Besides, it smells bad!!

What to oil when I do oil?

The most common item to oil is the o-rings. This is simple to do. Remove the striker and the bolt and wipe off any dirt and paint from both the bolt and striker. Examine the o-rings. Are they pretty old looking or looks like they shrank? If so, replace them. Better to replace them now then to call yourself out during a game because an old o-ring broke.

Oil sparingly! Oil is not only a lubricant, but also a dirt magnet! No need to have your parts look like you dunked them in oil. I will physically oil the o-rings on the bolt and striker. Take out the rear portion of the marker. Clean off any dirt and old oil that may be present. Also, I will clean out the inside of the body where these items came from. Add a drop or two of oil onto each o-ring and spread it around with my finger or q-tip. Important thing is to have the o-ring moist looking. If you feel it necessary, you can add a thin film of oil to the metal of the bolt and striker. Replace the bolt assembly.

You may have trouble replacing the bolt with the trigger frame installed. It seems to get stuck on something when you try and install the bolt assembly. The sear on the trigger frame is what is catching it, preventing it from falling into place. You can do one of two things to “fix” this small problem. One, remove the trigger frame and install the bolt assembly. Then replace the trigger frame. Or, two, push down on the bolt. Give it a constant pressure. As you are pushing down, pull the trigger a few times. The assembly should pop into place.

You do not need to remove the valve for general, routine maintenance. Here is a little trick to oil the valve (and other internals like a regulator or expansion chamber). With your marker together and without a barrel or paintballs, add 2 to 4 drops inside that little hole where you screw your tank in. Gas up your marker and shoot 15 to 20 times. This distributes the oil through out the entire insides of the marker. Be sure to do this outside. This will produce some oil spray. You only need to do this after every 3 to 4 cases of paint (6,000 to 8,000 paintballs).

You may notice that your instructions, or on a gauge, it may say “No Oil”. This warning is for the gauge. Adding oil to the gauge will hinder the gauge from registering the correct PSI. By doing the ASA/Oil trick, this will add oil to the internals of regulator and valve. This will not harm the regulator at all, unless you flood the ASA with oil. I have heard people say to add oil down the power feed. I do not know how this concept got started. Could be from the guy that was too lazy to take apart his marker to oil it properly. Doing this will not get the oil to all the locations needed.

A Cleaning Routine

So, now you know what o-rings are and what type of oil to use, but when should you do it. There are three maintenance routines that I use in the upkeep of my marker. There is the before game routine, the after game routine, and storage cleaning. Here are the basics.

  • Before Game Routine

The before the game routine is easy. It is a simple process to make sure everything is working properly. Not really fun to go to a game, gas up your just filled marker with paint and things are not working. That is where my Trouble Shooting – F.A.Q. comes into play. It is possible to avoid referring to it by doing a quick and simple check over the night before. You will have the time to fix anything that may come up rather than trying to fix something 2 minutes before your game starts. You could do it in the morning, but there may be no time for a good healthy breakfast.

Take apart your marker to examine the bolt, striker, and trigger frame. Check inside of your barrel and make sure it is clean. There may be broken paint inside that you forgot about from the last game. Look inside of the body of the marker. Any paint shell or paint? Clean it out. Don’t forget about the power feed. Check the main and the valve springs. If they are in real bad condition, replace them with the spring kits you should have in your toolbox. Look over the striker and bolt. How are the o-rings? If they are in bad shape, replace them as I described above. Severe scratches on the outside of the bolt? You can sand it a little bit and add some polish. Bolt scratches are a common problem and do not hinder the operation of the marker. Don’t forget to oil as I mentioned above. Lastly, make sure all of your screws are tightly secure. If you have had a history of loosening screws, add a very small dab of liquid thread lock. Check for leaks in the airlines and fittings. Fix them with teflon tape.

If you are adding a new addition to your marker, like a new valve, make sure you test it. You will look pretty silly installing this item and you have leaks the day of the game.

  • After Game Routine

The after game routine is a little bit more involved than the before game routine. Take a rag and wipe off any dirt, paint, and anything else that should not be on the outside. Have a spare rag just for your hands incase you get called away for some reason and don’t leave finger print trails. Get all the goop that may be in the cracks. Take out the bolt and striker. Clean out any dirt and/or paint that has accumulated on these items. For the inside of the body, you could run your squeegee from back to front of the body. I will use twisted up paper towels and save my squeegee for barrel cleaning. Run the paper towels through a few times until clean.

For really badly soiled internals, it may be needed to remove the valve from the body to do a better clean job. Only in extreme cases should you need to remove the valve. If you see or suspect paint has gone into the valve is a good reason to clean the valve area. Remember that the valve is a very important part of your marker. It can scratch easily. When pushing the valve out, use a pencil with the eraser portion towards the valve. Insert the pencil from the velocity adjuster end and push. Remember to unscrew the brass valve screw from under the body. When replacing the valve, make sure the larger hole is facing forward. Also, make sure that there is a hole facing up so that the gas can travel from the valve into the bolt chamber. Use the pencil eraser to push.

  • Storage Cleaning

This is practically a major overhaul of your marker prior (or for some, after) storage. For those lucky enough to play year round, this overhaul should be done at least once a year. This involves taking your marker completely apart and cleaning everything.

Start off by taking off your bottom line and trigger frame. Then you’re bolt assembly in the back and finally, your valve assembly in the front. Be careful not to scratch the bolt. Use a pencil eraser to push the valve out. Place little items inside a Dixie cup or mug so you do not loose these items.

Clean everything with a clean rag. I will take some paper towels and twist some up and push them through the body until they come out clean. Get all the excess oil and any dirt that are inside the body. Wipe down the valve and valve pin. Also, the bolt and striker until the rag or paper towel are clean. As you reassemble your marker, add oil to all of your o-rings. Store where ever you can that is not in severe temperatures for long periods of time. A garage that is not weather proofed can get really cold at night. Your marker will be fine if it has to be banished in the garage. You could possibly wrap the marker in some foam or your summer clothes for insulation. A better place to store is under your bed or in the closet. Also, empty out your tank before you pack everything away. The seals will wear out quicker if it is full or is a partially empty tank. Besides, it is a hazard incase the tank topples from a shelf and falls on the valve. You got yourself a rocket.

If you are brining your marker out from storage, do the same thing you did when you stored it. Except, replace all the o-rings (tank included). Even if they look like there in good condition. That way you know their fresh, new o-rings for the season. Clean off the old oil as it may have started to partially solidify depending on how long it has been in storage without use. Add some fresh oil and test for leaks.


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