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Hurricane "Carabine", the early pneumatic gun's rival

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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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My planned tests are to find the shooting range and that will not require any video work. I have used spring guns before and they are not long distance shooters unless the gun is very long and even then at 2 meters overall gun length the spear is only powered for half that length. A pneumatic gun with a working course of the piston of 1 meter would be much more powerful than any spring gun even if the loading effort was the same due to frictional losses in the spring gun that absorb and dissipate energy that is never transferred to the spear. When the Hurricane "Carabine" guns were first marketed the diving public would be ignorant of such things and very few would know of pneumatic spearguns such as the French "Pneumatic" guns made by Rene Salles.
Salles advert RR.jpg

Although Rene Salles never changed his pneumatic spearguns much, these 1965 plus versions are very similar to his earlier models, in fact his first 1946 model was more of a "string bean" than the guns depicted in the advert are. Early pneumatic guns were seldom pressure tight and consequently were fitted with built-in hand pumps in order to keep topping up the shooting pressure and that in turn required a small volume reservoir to achieve a high pressure relatively quickly.

Spearfishermen could not assume that the next shot was going to be like the last one as pumping air in meant a trip back to shore or finding a reef to stand on, thus the pneumatic gun was not yet at a stage of perfection where it would wipe the floor so to speak with the spring gun. Hence it is in this brief “window of opportunity” that the Hurricane “Carabine” appeared, with all the reliability of a spring gun it also promised more power by having an air pump just like the new-fangled pneumatic guns had. Hurricane owner Pierre Martineau intentionally misled his customers about exactly what that pump achieved and it certainly did not add to the power of the spring, if anything it minimized its losses and not by a huge amount. However in physical appearance the Hurricane "Carabine" looked way more business-like and purposeful than the often ramshackle looking pneumatic spearguns of that early period, but that was to turn around in less than a decade and divers soon began to understand the large leap in efficiency.of pneumatic "spring" power over metal coil spring power.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Airtight pneumatic spearguns took some years to develop and in the interim guns continued with hand pumps built into the gun at the rear end, such as Nemrod from Spain used in their early large models, while others had inner barrels that could be employed as a pump once a switching device was operated.

One such gun was the Pirelli "Aries" from Italy that had a spear with one end (basically a tube spanner) that could be used as a switch to rotate a valve buried in the rear end of the gun for going from pumping to shooting mode and the other end of the spear was for the speartip. The gun was a subject of an Italian patent by Draganti in 1956 and the patent diagram is shown here. Note that the spring gun mid-handle layout still dominated pneumatic speargun thinking. This particular patent diagram is from the US patent filed for in the following year.
Dante Draganti patent RR.jpg
Pirelli Aries.jpg
Pirelli Aries muzzle.JPG
Pirelli Aries butt.JPG

Note the gun has lost its rear rubber line release finger which disintegrated long ago, but the step in the tail cone shows where its support ring sat as is indicated in the patent drawing. The "Aries" gun is one of the few spearguns that looks just like its patent diagram!
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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You can see some of Rene Salles' pneumatic guns here: https://madnat.jimdo.com/pneumatiques/

Now known as "Sallematic" guns they use an "outrigger trigger" which directly controls a finger or pawl that acts as the sear, thus in effect they are single-piece trigger guns. Rene's brother John lived in the USA and he made a very similar gun to the French guns, however his "Airmatic" gun was slightly larger boned than its French equivalent and he also had a US patent that outlined future developments which included a "folded" concentric air reservoir. Unfortunately this never eventuated and like the Sallematic guns the spear loads for half the gun length, just like a compression spring gun.
Airmatic red handle.jpg

John Salles Airmatic.jpg
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Here by way of contrast are the diagrams from Rene Salles' 1946 French patent. At this stage the design is not fully resolved as there are some options shown for the triggers, but his production gun used the same type of "outrigger trigger" as his brother John's "Airmatic" except that the cam in the "Airmatic" gun was replaced by a long pawl, however it was still a single-piece trigger. Contrast this with the advanced two-piece trigger used in the Hurricane "Carabine", so these early pneumatic guns were still very primitive and the spring gun, having been around since 1937 in numerous forms was still seen as the gun to beat..
Rene Salles 1.jpg
Rene Salles 2.jpg

Note that Rene Salles originally thought that to keep the piston in the gun it was to be secured by a cord to the interior of the gun, but in the event he used a muzzle restriction just as has been done ever since. This and a few other loopy ideas (the shooting line on the spear tail goes down into the inner barrel!) indicate that in 1946 he still had some design issues to resolve.
 
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Crispin

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Historic gold - thanks for sharing Pete! I'd also be keen to see a video review of the example that you get sent, what a seriously wonderful overengineered piece of kit it is!
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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The Hurricane "Carabine" arrived today and it is actually a "le Baby" model which has a claimed range of 6 meters, but I am sure that it does not. The spear was loaded in the gun (!!), but was not under any spring pressure and I pulled it straight out of the barrel. The external trigger is jammed back and I don't know whether the gun has a propulsion spring or not and possibly the spear is not the right one as the spear tail has no mushroom head, so it looks like I am going to have to pull the gun apart. The gun was sold as a working weapon, but that now remains to be seen. Overall the appearance is pretty good for such an old gun and confirms my suspicions that disappointed owners soon put their "Carabine" guns aside when far less expensive guns arrived on the diving scene that made their guns look like they were seriously underpowered despite their "tank buster" looks.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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I cannot do anything with the gun as the new owner is having discussions with the seller as to whether it works or not, it was sold with the assertion that it did (for a stratospheric price), however a cursory look at the gun tells me that the pointy piece sticking out of the muzzle is actually the spear tail and what is missing is the spear tip as there is a threaded end at the "rear" of the spear. That means the gun was transported "cocked to shoot" with the spear loaded in the barrel the wrong way around if my suspicions are correct. Despite its many engineering innovations the "Carabine" has no safety that I can see, plus the gun weighs a ton, so thank goodness he only bought the smaller one and not the "Rafale'. I have used spring guns before, but the "Carabine" is so heavy that the "air bubble" principle better work or this gun is just not really a very convenient underwater weapon. I will weigh it when I find something suitable to weigh it on, but right now I expect it is heavier than that boat anchor of a gun for its size, the Seabear AK and MAK series gun (all alloy construction and a thick stainless steel barrel running from one end of the gun to the other with zero plastic parts)..
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Now I have to figure out how to release the compression spring, if there is one, as the trigger is pulled right back, so why is the trigger mechanism holding the sliding piston back? Seems that rather than the seller finding the gun at an estate sale, or a car boot sale, etc. it comes from a collector who decided to sell it on eBay via an intermediary. If the gun has been misrepresented as a working gun then it may be returned, hence I cannot damage it which makes any dismantling problematic. This gun is from an era when some parts were "sweated" together by forcing one part at room temperature into another which was slightly preheated, such as a tubular steel barrel being pushed into a long overlap socket in an alloy grip section. That is how some early pneumatic spearguns were made (e.g. the French Salles guns) and that is why they are not airtight as air can creep out through the body joins which have no seals, just a super tight shrink fit. Those parts cannot be dismantled as they were never intended to come apart in the first place.

The Hurricane "Carabine" needs to be airtight and yet open to atmospheric/ambient pressure, so the various joins in the gun body need to stop water trickling in and air bubbling out at any particular depth. Diving down will force water in via the muzzle opening, there is nothing that will stop that, so it occurs to me that the gun is really a surface shooter, i.e. the spearfisherman shoots at fish below and at an angle to him rather than swim down and level off and shoot. Maybe that is where the extravagant range claims stem from, i.e. shooting downwards at an angle at fish near the bottom. In his book the “Compleat Goggler”, the pole-spear wielding Guy Gilpatric complained that with the advent of Kramarenko's 1937 spring gun people could go spearfishing without getting the back of their head wet! That may be a clue as to how the Hurricane '"Carabine" was used, in which case it would be a very limiting speargun. Cocking it in Ihe water with the muzzle pointed upwards the “Carabine” must flood, in which case the user would feel the full weight of the gun as the offsetting air bubble would be gone until the gun could be inverted and the water pumped out using the rear mounted hand pump.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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I have the "Carabine" marinating in WD40 and light oil where appropriate as bar the muzzle outer nut nothing unscrews. The intention of the designer, Pierre Martineau, was that these guns were serviced and lubricated regularly to ward off corrosion and stop the numerous screw threads seizing up, but right now I think that form of maintenance was not done and the gun has sat for decades without any attention, bar people looking at it and wondering how someone swam around with that big hunk of metal. Spring gun users, if they were diligent spring gun maintainers, were members of the league of the greasy hand.

https://spearfishing.world/thread/4488-spring-gun-maintenance-the-world-of-grease-oily-rags-and-patience/
container confines springs.JPG

on handling a clean spring!.JPG

Saetta and supplies.JPG
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Here is a Hurricane brochure for the "Simoun" model which shows the staggered flopper spear tip that is missing on the "le Baby". Note the length of the spear relative to the length of the gun. The "Simoun" is depicted with its rear air pump handle pushed inwards which is probably maintained during swimming by friction of the oiled leather hand pump seal. The hammerhead shark seems an interesting touch given that I expect few Hurricane users would want to pull the trigger on such a creature with their "Carabine" spring guns. Particularly if the rapidly departing shark spooled them and then their guns headed off for parts unknown, or worse, the shark came in for a spot of retaliation after not being sufficiently skewered.
Hurricane brochure Simoun.jpg
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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The "Carabine" spear shaft is 10 mm diameter with an 8 mm diameter thread which is not unusual for a spring gun, however the shaft is solid when usually spring guns shoot tubular steel shafts. The use of tubular shafts allows the spear in other spring guns to be guided by the barrel tube without being too heavy, as the guns need the shaft diameter to be close to the barrel tube's inner diameter and that also applies to the compression spring’s outer diameter. The "Carabine" has a large inner diameter barrel tube and uses a piston on the nose of the similar outer diameter compression spring to push a smaller diameter spear from the gun. The Cressi-Sub "Saetta" spring gun also uses a similar arrangement with a captive piston on the nose of its propulsion spring as the “Saetta” also shoots a spear that is smaller in diameter than the inner diameter of its barrel tube, but they are tubular steel spears. Shooting a heavy shaft is asking a lot of a spring gun which in the distant past was avoided by using tubular steel or aluminium spear shafts in the guns, the latter being for attaining higher shaft speed when shaft durability could be sacrificed in order for the shafts to intercept long and slim fast swimming fish, as distinct from more bulky body reef fish.

I have the piston measurements provided by Mel B that indicate that the "Carabine" barrel ID is 19 or 20 mm and the hole in the face of the piston is 10 mm diameter which agrees with the diameter of the spear, the spear tail having a short, slightly larger diameter rear collar that serves as the shaft stop diameter and also allows the spear to be trapped by the sear tooth against the face of the piston when the gun is cocked ready to shoot.
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Just as an aside while I wait for the oil to do its work, check out this old French magazine cover and see what the well-equipped underwater hunter in those days was going to be using while stalking their prey. Note the January 1937 date, the same year as Alexandre Kramarenko was testing his spring gun which was to dominate the spearfishing world for a decade and more due to the intervening Second World War. These divers are using the open circuit, free flow Scaphandre diving gear developed by Yves Le Prieur and blazing away with their Nautilus guns which were also developed by Le Prieur. All the scene lacks is that great submarine of speculative fiction looming in the background as for sure the Leyden rifles described in that book propelled the concept of shooting fish underwater with mechanical weapons of the “latest pattern”.
Epopea2 R.jpg

https://museedumas.wordpress.com/le-scaphandre-le-prieur/
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
2,645
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Australia
The Hurricane "Carabine" is guzzling a lot of oil and as I don't want it to be too greasy I am using my fast dwindling supply of fork oil as being light it can both evaporate away and float away when the gun goes in the water. Using something thicker like motor engine oil would be much easier as I have plenty of that, but I don’t want to be swimming in an oil slick when I eventually take the gun into the water, especially as thick oil would get all over my wetsuit. Things are still very tight to turn when they should be finger pressure to remove nuts due to the use of knurling on their outer surfaces as otherwise the nuts should be the usual type with flats on the sides for a spanner.

The rubber muzzle seal is like a big vacuum cuff, but has no discernible running lip and has gone very hard with fracture chips out of the rubber at the nose end of the cuff. The spear went in reversed when the gun was delivered, it was actually shipped that way! Anyway it has its muzzle shock absorber spring and behind that must be the propulsion spring, but I cannot see the piston through the muzzle entrance even with the outer nut removed. The propulsion spring must be under pre-tension like a Cressi-Sub Saetta spring gun of years ago, so that is why the screw end that contains it is still under pressure and will not undo, besides a general lack of lubrication.

Right now that is being remedied as after drinking a third of a bottle of fork oil it is cooking in our current heatwave hot sun, but under a slightly shady spot as I want to be able to pick it up as otherwise it would get very hot and I also don’t want to cook out the remaining rubber sealing element hidden inside the gun too much.

I don’t think the gun can be shot with that front rubber seal so hard due to aging as it is, so I will need to replace it with something else or make something do the same job. The spear is a whopping 10 mm OD and appears to be solid, most spring guns use tubular spears so their inefficient spring drive can get some velocity out of them. The stop diameter on the spear tail would have originally pushed through the muzzle cuff by stretching it out, but not now.

The biggest "Carabine Rafale" gun would have been a heavy thing to cart around as I even get tired carrying the “Baby” version!
Hurricane muzzle and forwad barrel.jpg
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Phew, 43 degrees Celsius outside after a stinking hot night, the Hurricane “Carabine” must be baking, but I am not going out to retrieve it as like a blast furnace outside. Praying for a cool change!
 
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popgun pete

popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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I recently bought an electronic weighing scale with a hook (from China, where else these days) and the Hurricane Carabine “Le Baby” dangling freely from the scale weighs 2.135 kg without the spear. In the old scale that is 4.7 pounds. The longer models would weigh even more, but the guns all have the same centre section, so the extra weight will be in the longer springs and barrels, plus the longer air pump barrel for evacuating the gun of water while you work the pump on the surface.