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blue Vintage Rene Cavalero Marseille Arbalete Champion Speargun

Mitch77

Mitch77

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Nov 17, 2022
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Hi,
I have been left a blue Vintage Rene Cavalero Marseille Arbalete Champion Speargun.
It has a grey pistol grip and a sort of 'winglet' on the front end. I'm guessing this is a footrest for cocking?
I've looked all over the internet and can not find another picture of a Champion with this 'winglet' thing.
I'd like to get some info on the year it was made and why it seems so rare.
thanks for your help.
 
Bill McIntyre

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
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I owned a couple of those guns in the early 1950s and they didn't have the winglets.I don't recall ever seeing one.

IN case you wonder, the reel is a Penn Senator full of stainless cable and attached to the barrel with hose clamps.
 

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Mitch77

Mitch77

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Nov 17, 2022
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DSCN4140

I owned a couple of those guns in the early 1950s and they didn't have the winglets.I don't recall ever seeing one.

IN case you wonder, the reel is a Penn Senator full of stainless cable and attached to the barrel with hose clamps.
Here is a pic.
 
Bill McIntyre

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
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That's weird. I guess it must be a foot rest but it seems like overkill and would make the gun hard to handle. Maybe popgun pete could shed some light on it. He's our speargun historian.
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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I have one of those, there is a screw in the boss at the centre of the "wing" that fixes the element at a certain position on the barrel and if you look there should be a dent in the tubing where it was originally located. As you suspect it for loading by pushing with your feet while you drag the band wishbone back with both hands. I don’t think this idea lasted very long as the cross bar would catch on seaweed in a kelp forest or other marine vegetation obstructed environment and the possibility of a snag on the shooting line in some situations.

Note that very early spearfishermen did not wear swim fins because they were not available.
Champion Arbalete cross bar R

Champion Arbalete with wing cross bar
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Champion 1946 catalogue page 4  5

The 1946 catalogue entry for the Champion Arbalete, the first "modern" speargun powered by bands.

What made the gun was the two-piece trigger mechanism borrowed from the one used in the spring guns of the time, however the sear lever was much shorter and had an angled tooth to prevent pulling the trigger sending the spear rearwards against the band pull. It still did, but the movement was miniscule.
Champion Cavalero trigger mechanism
 
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Mitch77

Mitch77

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Nov 17, 2022
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OK, thanks Pete.
So you are saying it was a generic add-on from a 3rd party?

One more question:
Is there any chance one could find a replacement thumb lever for the safety switch?
It is there and still works but the lever is gone.
thnx
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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OK, thanks Pete.
So you are saying it was a generic add-on from a 3rd party?

One more question:
Is there any chance one could find a replacement thumb lever for the safety switch?
It is there and still works but the lever is gone.
thnx
No, it was just something Rene Cavalero tried and was most likely not that popular, so they stopped producing it. Euroguns are chest loaded, so it may have been an attempt to avoid having to do that and brace against your feet instead. Unlike the rear handgrip and muzzle the “wing” appears to be sand cast rather than done in a die cast injection mould as there is a small non-fill flaw in mine near the central boss. The front grip handle on the longer models is two halves pressed up out of aluminium sheet and anodized blue like the barrel tubing, the halves held together by two screws and nuts.

The lever is a short rod that screws in, you could have one made or find an old gun and use that part. At one time Champion Arbalete guns often showed up on eBay and sometimes just the alloy muzzles or rear handles after the barrels had corroded out. Many years ago Beuchat which took over Cavalero had spare parts for many models, but they never went back that far only being for the alloy Polynesia and Canon handled guns.
 
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Bill McIntyre

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
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Pete, you mentioned early spearfishermen not wearing fins. When did find come along? I think it was around 1952 when I started swimming around under docks with my home made Hawaiian sling and i think I was wearing Churchill duck feet.
 
Mitch77

Mitch77

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Nov 17, 2022
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I'm sure I can thread a rod for the lever if I can figure out the right thread size.
How much rod is out of the hole?.... !/2"?
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Pete, you mentioned early spearfishermen not wearing fins. When did find come along? I think it was around 1952 when I started swimming around under docks with my home made Hawaiian sling and i think I was wearing Churchill duck feet.
Louis de Corlieu is credited as the inventor for swim fins, but his earliest efforts have metal sheet blades covered in crepe rubber. They were the subject of his 1933 patent.

In 1940 Owen Churchill improved on Louis de Corlieu’s fin using a moulded rubber construction and the popularity of swim fins grew after that, but their availability would have decided who used them. Once WWII was over and the recovering world got back to normal that is when diving gear takes off in the fifties after a whole bunch of ideas had previously been put on hold and there was now a market that had money and the leisure time to use them.
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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I'm sure I can thread a rod for the lever if I can figure out the right thread size.
How much rod is out of the hole?.... !/2"?
The rod that forms the lever is 4mm in diameter and about 12mm long in terms of how far it protrudes from the boss that it screws into. Being European any thread will be metric. I think they are plated brass, probably nickel plated as they don't look shiny enough for chrome. The lever will not screw out in my gun as it must have been in place since the gun was made and probably minor corrosion has welded it in.
 
Mitch77

Mitch77

New Member
Nov 17, 2022
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Thanks again Pete:
@ final questions and I'll quit bothering you:
Will these fit my Champion?

lastly;
What is its approximate value?
Should I baby it or treat it like the rest of my junk?

thanks again.
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Thanks again Pete:
@ final questions and I'll quit bothering you:
Will these fit my Champion?

lastly;
What is its approximate value?
Should I baby it or treat it like the rest of my junk?

thanks again.
They would, but it looks like they are unavailable. Unfortunately bands deteriorate over time, so old stock bands are not much use even if you could find them. The bands can be replaced in the metal ferrules, but it takes a bit of work to do it. There are adaptors that screw in which convert the ferrules to a ball on stem type where you tie the bands using surgical rubber and a cord tie behind the ball.

These guns complete sell for about 200 bucks in good condition, in fact someone has one on eBay right now. This one however has stripped threads in the handle casting and is also missing its safety lever, so personally I don’t think it is worth that much.


The guns were good in their day, but guns have improved a lot in the last 60 years and really they are now just something to hang on the wall. The “wing” might be worth something to a collector who wanted to add it to a gun in their collection as they would be rare these days. One reason for owners taking them off is it makes the gun a sinker after the shot.
 
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DRW

DRW

Vintage snorkeller
Jan 5, 2007
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Pete, you mentioned early spearfishermen not wearing fins. When did find come along? I think it was around 1952 when I started swimming around under docks with my home made Hawaiian sling and i think I was wearing Churchill duck feet.
The Franco-Mauritian Pulvénis brothers, who pioneered spearfishing in the Mediterranean during the 1930s, had heard about the first modern swim fins invented by Louis de Corlieu, but this technical advance had no immediate appeal to them. According to the very first underwater hunting book in the French-speaking world, La Chasse aux Poissons, published in 1940 by one of the brothers, Raymond Pulvénis, such foot appendages were cumbersome and limited in use. They preferred to wear espadrilles instead to protect their feet when landing their catches. Fins for greater speed when chasing startled game and exposure suits to battle the cold were mentioned in the second edition of the book (1945) as potential accessories untried by the author, however.

Fin use by underwater hunters in the late 1930s was not unknown. By way of example, see imagery and article below from the July 1939 issue of Popular Science Monthly showing spearfisher equipped with diving goggles, swim fins and hosepipe snorkel.
120 121 50
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Early spearfishermen were a DIY bunch and often made or improvised their own gear. Depending on how far you had to swim and the type of terrain you departed from would have played a part in whether you thought fins were worthwhile or not. Pristine spots which had never been spearfished before meant that a diver would be greeted by fish swimming in to look at them, including some big ones, so there was not far to swim. I have certainly noticed that on the rare occasions I entered a spot after going down a rough track which few had entered before, but after 3 years it was just like everywhere else once the way in was improved.
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Here are some photos of the Champion Arbalete safety lever.
Champion Arbalete safety lever 1

Champion Arbalete safety lever 2
 
Mitch77

Mitch77

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Nov 17, 2022
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Pete,
I'm confused: You said, "They would, but it looks like they are unavailable."
This link shows every size in stock: https://amzn.to/3ENUUS4
Which size fits the Champion?
thnx
 
popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Pete,
I'm confused: You said, "They would, but it looks like they are unavailable."
This link shows every size in stock: https://amzn.to/3ENUUS4
Which size fits the Champion?
thnx
This is what I am seeing on that link.
Bands screw in type


As a guide the blue barrel tube on my gun is 103 cm long, the length of the bands measured from the back of the hex nuts is 26 cm, so you can work the lengths out based on those proportions.

Available here though https://www.spearfishingworld.com/euro-universal-speargun-bands-w-16mm-threads-pair.html
 
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