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Thread: Benjamin 397P Phase 1

  1. #1
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    Benjamin 397P Phase 1





    I need to say a big thank you to member -Ped-, he is one of our airgunbbs legends and without his knowledge on these old guns I would have had a hard time importing parts from the US especially during this pandemic.
    My go to garden plinker has been my Crosman Backpacker/1322, ideal for my small garden where power can be varied. I have spent 15 years tinkering with this gun and it’s given me a lot of enjoyment, so I thought I’d look out for a full length Benjamin, Sheridan or Crosman pumper.

    I didn’t have much luck with my search, ideally I wanted a Crosman C9a which has a cartridge valve type they don’t require a special tool and are easier to re-seal. These are also available in the more popular .177 and .22 calibres, although now the variety of .20 pellets are pretty good. Eventually I found this one on Guntrader for 80, not quite what I was after with the soldered in valve but I was happy when I received it as the quality feels more like an older Sheridan Blue streak than the new Crosman’s with lots of plastic parts.

    It’s a Benjamin 397P made in USA, Racine, Wisconsin which is the old Sheridan factory before Crosman moved production in the 1990’s. From what I have researched this model was made between 1991-1993. The serial number begins with the letter I which is probably 1991. This means it was made by Benjamin Sheridan before Crosman bought them out in 1992.
    It is in quite good condition, there is no barrel separation where its soldered to the tube but it does have a few marks on the stock and wear on the receiver from where the hand is meant to grasp during pumping. I quite like this wear has it reveals the bronze metalwork. Mechanically it was okay and it held air but I noticed it would take 3 shots to expel all the air, so I thought I’d open it up and see what may need refreshing. Some owners of the old 1960’s Sheridan's have never even had to re-seals theirs, so they can last a long time.

    The hammer was very gunked up with solidified grease which was probably slowing the hammer so I cleaned it out and polished up the surfaces, spring and guide. It already had the Sheridan type inlet seal carrier but the rubber seal was flattened so I put the polyurethane seal on from Ped’s kit. Surprisingly, the pump cup seal was intact, but I replaced it anyway. It was very dirty inside the pump tube with old grease and probably sucked in contaminants, so I spent a lot of time cleaning it out, carburettor cleaner and 12bore cleaning rods were particularly good for this.

    The valve was heavily oxidised which apparently occurs if it’s not shot for a long time, the previous owner said it was always stored with one pump of air, but I don’t think it was properly lubricated. The valve rubber seal was again very squashed, this indentation can make it harder for the valve to move off the seal face so I replaced it with a new Benjamin Discovery valve, a Crosman King Ratcatcher also works. The old lead seals were replaced with synthetic which is easier to fit the only other seal needing replacement was a bolt probe seal. When the bolts beds in, you can adjust the lug, this one was quite loose so moving it closer to the allen head bolt helped get a tighter fit at the breech and this should give a few FPS increase.

    The trigger is very basic it was quite gritty and odd to pull so I polished up the sear and greased the contact points and it feels much smoother. I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning and polishing internals before re-assembly. Ped made me up some new soldi pivot pins with e clips, so I don’t have to bash in any roll pins and these fitted perfectly.
    It seems to be holding air fine and its dumping all its air after 2 shots instead of 3, after more research it seems the UK variants had their hammer springs cut to keep the power within the legal limits. I have a new full length spring but to be safe I’ll leave the old one in until I have chronographed it.

    I put 4 pumps in tonight and at 15 yards standing I shot a nice cluster with just some Gamo pellets and I was amazed that the sights were spot on. I am looking forward to testing the accuracy, I think its going to be a very accurate rifle.
    I’ve added some felt furniture pads to quieten the clapping pump arm but at least the neighbours just think I’m in the garden clapping for NHS workers. I have ordered some Benjamin barrel mounts, I may just put small red dot on to test the accuracy. I have noticed this model is also pre-tapped to fit a Williams peep sight, which means I can remove the original rear sight, which can be a culprit for barrel separation.











    Last edited by ratbuster2240; 07-07-2020 at 08:35 PM. Reason: pic
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

  2. #2
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    you've made a grand job of rebuilding her and the transitional 397's are far better gun than the later cartridge valve guns

  3. #3
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    Looks good... just need to blue those circlips now
    I'm currently looking for: pair of scope low/med 25mm mounts to suit a 13mm BSA rail, any thin drinking straw barrels (any cal), and any cheap, interesting, knackered project guns. Thanks, JB.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Ped I'm really happy with it and its held air over night. Hopefully it will work for another 30 years now.

    Shed tuner, the silver e clips and new pins are the best thing on this old girl.
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shed tuner View Post
    Looks good... just need to blue those circlips now
    I was thinking same thing
    Custom BSA S10 .22 PAX Phoenix Mk 2 .22 Custom Titan Manitou .22 (JB BP) HW77 .22 FWB Sport Mk1 .22 Crossman 600 .22 Berretta 92 .20

  6. #6
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    sadly due to kung flu my supplier is shut and they were the only e clips i had (for silver streaks really)but rest assured i'll be getting some and will forward some on as they stand out like a dogs digit

  7. #7
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    Talking

    How about that for a service! Tbh I wouldn't care if they were fluorescent pink, well worth swapping the old roll pins for these, almost impossible to damage the pump arm and tube.
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

  8. #8
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    those will possibly the last i'll do as no real demand for them -i may do a few for myself as i have around 10-12 sheridan/benji's
    i'm doing a different style for my 13xx pins and just need to make the 8-32 round nuts

  9. #9
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    Sep 2011
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    Scarborough
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    Nice job ratbuster.
    I have a similar Sheridan C9A made in March 2011 (serial no 31170456) -- does it have a cartridge type valve?

  10. #10
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    Very grateful you could make me a set.
    Quote Originally Posted by --ped-- View Post
    those will possibly the last i'll do as no real demand for them -i may do a few for myself as i have around 10-12 sheridan/benji's
    i'm doing a different style for my 13xx pins and just need to make the 8-32 round nuts
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

  11. #11
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    That's a keeper AllanM, the new equivalent versions now have plastic stocks.

    I believe yours has the cartridge valve, so in the unlikely event it ever needs new seals you won't need any special tools other than a phillips screwdriver.

    Quote Originally Posted by AllanM View Post
    Nice job ratbuster.I have a similar Sheridan C9A made in March 2011 (serial no 31170456) -- does it have a cartridge type valve?
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

  12. #12
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    Lovely refresh; thank you for sharing. May it give you many years of sterling service and happy memories.

    Great assistance from ped.
    THE BOINGER BASH AT QUIGLEY HOLLOW. MAKING GREAT MEMORIES SINCE 15th JUNE, 2013.
    NEXT EVENT :- Spring (sic!) 2021..BOING!!

  13. #13
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    Thanks TonyL, it's kept me busy. It's a cheaper hobby than tinkering with cars and takes up less space.

    Waiting for a silencer adaptor and barrel scope mount now for some serious garden plinking.
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

  14. #14
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    the streak ones i supply don't really fit the benji short barrels as well as the streaks (post 77)
    i may have an eb one i can alter to fit

  15. #15
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    You need website Ped, I didn't know you did these as well. I just ordered one from the auction site.
    Marlin 70PSS, AA S410 TDR Tench reggd, BSA Lightning (Brum) Logun-ated S-16 MK2, Gunpower Stealth .177 & .22, Modified Crosman Ratcatcher .& Crosman Backpacker, Hatsan 900x Breaker .22

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