Repost of old Sheridan Experimental Pellets article

Joined: 11:02 PM - May 26, 2005

9:22 PM - May 06, 2012 #1

This is another repost/update of an article first written several years ago (but since lost to the ether due to circumstances beyond my control). I must beg the moderator's indulgence to update the broken links in the library.

Ken Walker

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More Sheridan Pellet Tins
Experimental Variations
by Ken Walker
updated 25 July 2009
updated 6 May 2012



As mentioned in a previous article, various tins of experimental pellets were obtained at the same Kraus family estate sale as the Quality Control (QC) pellets detailed in that article.

Presented here are the pellet tins (and pellets) that fall into what I deem the experimental category; they are again presented in probable chronological order.


I believe this first example, although not dated, is indeed the earliest of the experimental samples due to the fact that both a brown lid tin and blue DyeKem are used. These are titled "PATON HOT". As with the previously shown QC tins, the relevant data is scribed on the bottom.



In comparing the driving band dimension (.060) to earlier QC samples, it can be seen that it is from two or three times as large--this would likely be the guiding specification that makes these 'Hot'.



Mr. Kraus also recorded the information on file labels attached to the sides of the tins. The diameter spec is an average.



From this randomly selected group of seven pellets, you can see that the driving band is indeed the single most significant feature that differentiates these pellets from the rest. The profile, rear cavity, and nose are fairly similar to standard Sheridan configuration.



This tin is full; the tape label on the lid reads "PATON HOT", and the relevant data is also scribed onto the lid itself.


The next sample is also not dated, but the use of a white lid and blue DyeKem lead me to believe that this occurs next in the timeline.



These are called "FLYING Ts", and are the "FIRST 1000 PCS - HAND MADE WITH SMALL PRESS". The other relevant specs can be seen above.



The green file label again cites the name and the (average) body diameter.



The 'unusual' nose profile and the wall thickness at the bottom of the driving band are the notable features of this experimental variation.



The tin is approximately half-full; if the initial run was 1000 pieces, there must be a lot more of these samples out there somewhere. The tape on the lid reads "1ST 1000 FLYING T'S". "FLYING T'S" is scribed onto the lid itself, underneath the tape.



You can surmise for yourself where Mr. Kraus came up with the name; his Danish sense of humor is readily evident.

The next sample goes against the previous labeling system; it is labeled #7866, but it is clearly not the same sample as the #7866 presented in the page on the QC tins.



While it has had red Dye-Kem applied to the bottom of the tin, no data was ever scribed onto it. It is instead written on the labels applied to the side of the tin.



The label reads: #7866
#6 die
12/64

and .1948
.1947 / .1948
10 = 156.8

I believe the 12/64 means December of 1964, so obviously the #7866 does not signify July 8th, 1966 (but what does it signify?) The measured specifications are written on a piece of a plain white label which is pasted over the last half of the original green-edged label, so it was added at a later time. I've never peeled it up to see what the original label says. The driving band spec is not noted.



These pellets can truly be considered experimental!! A flat nosed cylinder with a minimal rear cavity--these don't strike me as very aerodynamic, although I have never shot a group for accuracy testing.



There are barely enough of these pellets to cover the bottom of the tin in a single layer.

The next example is a pair of tins from October 2nd, 1966; they are called "HIGH LIMIT" pellets.



The body diameter spec is noted "(AIR)" (I assume these were air-gauged); the driving band specification is not noted on the bottoms of these samples.



These tins actually have two tape labels overlain on each other to allow Mr. Kraus to write completely around the tin. He notes the code number, the body diameter specs and the name of the sample.



There is nothing particularly remarkable about the pellets themselves (at least, not to me)--they appear to be fairly standard Sheridan pellets.



One tin is full, with one missing about a layers worth of pellets. The tape strips on the lids both read "10-2-66"; one of the lids has the technical specs scribed on it, and it includes the note "BAND .028", so the driving band specification is provided after all.


The next sample is dated 1968; this is likely refers to 1968 in general, not January 9th, 1968 specifically.



The lack of Dye-Kem makes this difficult to photograph; it reads "BRITISH CHAMPION PELLETS FOR SHERIDAN" and "1968".



The tape label merely reads "BRITISH CHAMPION 1968"; no pellet specs are cited.



These appear to be garden variety domed diabolos, of typical European design.



There are barely enough pellets to cover a quarter of the bottom of the tin.



I am sure that the samples in the Sheridan tin are from the larger screw top tin shown above. There are "SPECIAL PELLETS FOR U.S. SHERIDAN PUMP GUN" and are made by the British manufacturer Champion.

The only manuscript on the paper label is the "11.3 GR." notation. Since this was a Champion production tin, perhaps Mr. Kraus was merely keeping an eye on the competition?

As if it wasn't troubling enough previously that two obviously different samples both had the same reference number, #7866, this number turns up yet again. Here is a tin that contains a test lot of sample pellets from the famous German maker Haendler & Natermann.



The label merely reads "H & N 505 (TRIAL TEST LOT)", while the bottom of the tin includes the mysterious "7866" reference in marker.



These are clearly what the label states they are, and the tin is about half full.



The H & N tin from which they came was also included in the original box lot of tins.



In the center of the paper label is a very faint stamping which reads "505"; there is also a notation in pen which reads "25000 TEST".

An interesting note is included on the bottom of this tin, written in marker: "GAVE RAY KATT SOME FROM THIS LOT 5/10/79". The Benjamin Air Rifle Company acquired Sheridan Products Inc. in 1977; Ray Katt was the President and Chairman of the Board of the Benjamin Air Rifle Company. It would appear that Mr. Kraus was still significantly involved with Sheridan's engineering efforts, and was keeping his boss in the loop!



The next group of containers includes both an actual tin and the then-new plastic bricks. These are very special because of their reference to the 'other half' of Sheridan, co-founder Ed Wackerhagen (Ed was in charge of the 'business' aspect of Sheridan, while Bob Kraus was the engineer and in charge of the 'production' side). These pellets are called "Wack's Return".



The bottom reads:
WACK'S RETURN
FLASH REMOVED
15.538 GR. AV. WGT
TUMBLED '70
19484 / 19435
DIA. OVAL
IN SECTION

Mr. Kraus' green label supply is still going strong; the label repeats some of the technical specs and includes the name.



The pellets themselves have a dull matte appearance, but otherwise appear fairly standard.



The tin is almost full; the tape on the lid reads, "TUMBLED & RETURNED BY WACK" (how cool is that?).



I've chosen to include the following two containers with the above tin since they also contain "WACK'S SPECIAL TUMBLED" pellets.



No other notes or specifications are included on these packs. Both bricks are full and their contents appear the same as that of the tin: standard pellets with a matte appearance.



At this point, I offer this container, not really any kind of 'official' container, just an apparently convenient one.



This taped-up jar has the notation 'AN EARLY LOT OF TUMBLED PELLETS' and the specification 'DIA. .1946± .00015'. These are not the same size as those contained in the tin above.



The pellets again appear unremarkable, although it is difficult to see too much since I have never opened this jar to examine the pellets more closely.

The next tin is similar to the previous tin in that it too contains tumbled pellets.



The bottom reads:
15.7 GRS. AV. WT.
TUMBLED '70
.19475 / .19460 DIA.

The paper label repeats the information.



These are also matte in appearance; the tin remains full. The tape strip on the lid reads 'TUMBLED 1970'.



The next set of containers originally presented a bit of a conundrum. The samples in the plastic brick are from the mid-1970's, but the same pellets also appear in an early 1950's era brown lid tin!



These are called 'Belted' or 'Banded' pellets and are pretty remarkable. The plastic brick is labeled 'Belted / FROM HIGH LIMIT PELLETS'. Im not sure if there is a connection to the High Limit pellets shown as sample #10266 before. The brown tin merely has a yellow label (that looks suspiciously like it was cut from a Post It label, similar to that used on the H&N test lot, i.e. the third 7866 tin above), which is taped over on the side and says, 'BANDED' with a small diagrammatic icon of the profile.

This is the reverse of the brick. The date code 81876 clearly shows that this sample is from August 18th, 1976.



The '1ST PACK' of 'HANDMADE BELTED PELLETS'! How exactly does one hand-make pellets? Certainly not in individual molds; more likely they were swaged, but then you would need dies, correct? I wonder if these dies still lie in some dusty basement corner in Racine.



These pellets have multiple bands (or belts) which all serve as driving bands! Its very interesting that Mr. Kraus is still involved in this kind of experimentation with pellets, and continues to use his engineer's mind to come up with a better pellet. [As an aside, I have given several of these pellets to various acquaintances over the years, and saw that a group of these belted pellets were once sold on eBay. Those pellets came from a collector I knew who lived in Sun City, Arizona; he evidently passed on and somehow the pellets wound up with someone who knew that they were not your everyday Sheridan pellets, and auctioned them off. Whoever eventually wound up with that group can now finally learn what they are and where they came from. P.S. to that purchaser: It was my collector friend who put them into the TicTac container and labeled them, not Mr. Kraus!!]

The sample pellets in the 'Banded' tin are from the 1950s when the early brown lid tins were in production; they appear the same as the 81876 'Belted' batch of pellets in the plastic brick. Collector Don Ellis (who had been collaborating with the late Ted Osborn on an investigation into the sequence of Sheridan pellet tins, among other things) recently provided me with this Sheridan engineering drawing that documents these specific pellets.





You can see in the lower left corner that while the drawing was created on Aug. 20th, 1976 (just two days after the date of the plastic brick sample above), the invention date in the lower right corner reads July 8, 1961! This would seem to reconcile the fact that the same experimental version pellet is contained in both an early brown lid tin and in a much later plastic brick. As to why the pellet was created in July of 1961, and then subsequently re-created and documented in August of 1976, I am at a loss to explain this. It is very interesting nonetheless, and I thank Don very much for providing me with this rare piece of documentation.


This last Sheridan tin is undated, but is included at this point (as a late version solid red tin with red DyeKem). These are called 'PATON TOP SHELF' pellets. I am not sure how these relate to the Paton Hot pellets shown in the beginning of this article.



Both the bottom and top are scribed with the appropriate data for these pellets. Interestingly, these pellets are SORTED FOR DAMAGE.



Another interesting detail of this tin is the care that Mr. Kraus spent in writing the name 'PATON'you can see the dimensional quality he added to the name



The ever-present green label lists the name and the (rounded-off) body diameter.



The pellets themselves have a driving band of .030, compared with the .060 band of the Paton Hot pellets. While the diameter is smaller than the Paton Hots (.1944 vs .1952), these Paton Top Shelf pellets are heavier (16.4 gr vs 15.1 gr for the Paton Hots).


The following tin was also part of the original box lot. The tin is from a Korean manufacturer and is for 4.5 mm pellets; the sticker on the bottom however clearly shows this to be a sample lot.



The label reads,
Sample No. R50
Air Rifle Pellets 5 m/m
About 270 grs
350 pellets/tin

I wonder if the Special Supplies Dept. still has any records of this lot?



This tin remains full.

The last container is simply a sealed plastic bag.



The only marking reads MADE IN JAPAN.



I have never opened the bag, but the pellets appear to be garden-variety diabolos, and having mic'ed one through the plastic bag, they are indeed 5 m/m caliber.

Another interesting item is a taped cardboard box of STAINLESS LOADING PINS.





The box is full; do any Sheridan buffs recognize these? These are the bolt nose pins from when Sheridan tried a two-piece bolt assembly. The design was a failure, as the pin would sometimes separate from the bolt and either get shot out the barrel or get caught in the exhaust transfer port. A rifle that is missing the pin will not shoot a pellet, as the pellet does not get pushed past the exhaust port when the bolt is closed.

Finally, here is the end-roll of some Sheridan-marked packing tape, the stuff they used when shipping rifle boxes. This is what the above box of bolt pins is wrapped in.



Beyond the tins presented in both this and my previous page, I know that there is another group of tins from the Kraus family estate sale out there somewhere, as there were several more tins from the same estate sale. Perhaps the owner of those will someday present the information on those tins--I certainly hope that if it wasn't an air gun collector who acquired these that the tins will someday come to be found by a collector who realizes their uniqueness and their direct ties to one of the most successful designers in air gun history, Bob Kraus!

As an aside, there were also several factory mule rifles that were part of the estate sale: Four Model Cs and one Model F (at least). It is believed all are accounted for in known collections (I have the F; I believe Ted Osborn had at least one of the C's, although it is unknown what has happened to all of Ted's research/data/collection since his passing--he once told me it was all stored in an air-conditioned storage locker in the upstate New York area. The collecting community can only hope that this priceless trove will surface at some point).

If anyone has any more information on these tins specifically, or just on Sheridan tins in general, I would be grateful for the knowledge. I can be reached at kwalker50@cox.net.

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