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Cold weather test for spools


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#1 Danny D

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 09:25 PM

Abstract:
Spool valves have a bad rep for cold weather preformance. This experiment aimed to solve the reason why this is the case or if this myth has any merit to it. The ion based platforms of the xe and sp-1 were used at temperatures of 18.8, -4 and -19 degrees celcius. No bolt stick issues were observed and the markers were functioning at all temperatures.

Introduction:
Cold weather is an issue to paintball players playing outdoors during winter months. Spool valve markers such as the extcy, g4, and g1/envy/vibe have been getting a bad reputation as failing to function properly in cold weather environments. In this experiment I aimed to solve the reason this myth is based on, if any, by isolating variables that might affect the marker from functioning properly. The main culprit blamed was bolt stick due to the larger surface area of the o-rings and the fact that it uses grease instead of oil which might congeal at lower temperatures,

Methods:
3 brand new duracel alkaline 9v batteries were bought and taken from the same box. A sp-1 blackheart was used, a stock sp1 and an ion xe with techt bolt were used. All were lubed with dow 33 as per manual. With adjustable boards, dwell was set as per instruction (5ms above critical)

First treatment - Each setup ( battery, marker and tank) were placed outdoors at a temperature of -4 degrees celcius for no less than 40 minutes. At the end of the cooling period the cold battery was connected and the marker was fired 10 times with paint with the eyes on (if present) and 10 times with eyes off.

Second treatment - Each setup was placed in the freezer fat a temperature of -19 degrees celcius for no less than 40 min. At the end of the cooling period the cold battery was connected and the marker was fired 10 times with paint with the eyes on (if present) and 10 times with eyes off.

Control: Each setup was fired at room temperature to assure proper funtion before and after treatments.

Battery isolation experiment: batteries were placed in freezers and tested with room temperature setups. These were regular 9v duracels from the experiment, as well as full and 3/4 discharged NiMh 9.6v 230 mah rechargable batteries.

Results:
All markers operated normally at all temperatures in each of the treatments. No bolt stick was observed and markers chronoed normally. It is to be noted that some leaking was observed at the banjos at -19 degrees for the ion xe, but the marker still operated correctly.

All batteries in the Battery isolation experiment worked with the exception of the 3/4 discharge Nimh 9.6 volt at -19C. This battery led to the bolt travelling half way every 2-3 shots. It is to be noted that this same battery operated normally under room temperature conditions.

Discussion:
The myth that spools dont operate well in cold weather sems unwarranted in light of the data above. Particularly the blame on the "bolt stick" due to the grease or the larger o-ring surface area. The grease is designed to operate effectively in temperatures as low as -73 degrees celcius, so it shouldnt congeal or not lubricate as designed. (1). In the experiment the markers operated with no evidence of bolt stick or bolt slow down under factory conditions with a new battery.

My original hypothesis was that the battery might be to blame for this phenomenon. So that is why I included the battery as part of the setup in each treatment, each battery getting to temperature. But still, each setup preforemed well. The only instance where the setup skipped shots was the 3/4 discharged 9.6 volt (may have been more discharged, 3/4 is conservative). And the marker was at room temperature. This suggests that it is the battery to blame.

In fact, batteries reduce power output in colder weather. Alkalines are more succeptable, and Li ion is the least to cold weather. If the battery is really drained, this may result in power starvation leading little current to operate the solenoid correctly.(2) This may result in the false diagnosis of bolt stick as the bolt might not make a full cycle.

But why spools? Wouldnt popits be affected by this too? Yes, popits can be affected the same way, but spools are slightly more succeptable as they have higher dwells on average than popits, and this required more power as the solenoid remains open for longer.

What can you do? Keep your batteries fresh and name brand during the cold, or keep them warm. As you can see, a fresh alkaline can operate well in -19C with no issues. A 3/4 or more discharged battery will have issues at that temerature so warming is neccisary if your running used batteries. I havent tested below -20C because It is unsafe to be outdoors in that temperature. Furthermore, one of these markers may fail to operate (board turns on, but solenoid does not trip) if the battery is too low in regular temperatures, so replacing you battery with a fresh one is essential.

Hope this helps for those who play in the winter.

References:
1. http://www.dowcornin...lt.aspx?R=388EN
2.http://chemistry.about.com/od/howthingsworkfaqs/f/coldbattery.htm

Edited by Danny D, 13 January 2012 - 10:31 PM.


#2 pwnthe2g

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 10:13 PM

this is the FIRST time ive ever heard a positive thing about cold weather and spools, its actually very interesting and kinda reinforced my desire for a geo 2.1 and living in new york i could have been a problem lol also ive been waiting forever for a sneaky first comment

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#3 obsidianjeff

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 10:33 PM

My thought is that all 3 guns used have the same bolt (essentially) and I have heard from others that the ion platform performs well in the cold, while the luxe/shocker platform does not work well and suffers from lots of bolt stick. just my thoughts.

#4 Danny D

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 10:44 PM

Yes, you are correct in that they use the same bolt and that the shockers are more succeptible to bolt stick and fsdo. If i still had my shocker I would have used it for the test, but I sold it a year ago.

Nonetheless, i have replicated the symptoms many have had using the ion based platform in the cold, and found it to be a battery issue. But a wider array of spools would be ideal for the test soooo....

If someone has a shocker or other spool, maybe they can replicate this test and post some results. Everyone has a freezer so winter weather is not necissary, and I outlined the procedure above so everyone should be able to do the experiment in the exact same way.



#5 Danny D

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:04 PM

So for those who want to try it at home follow these steps:

1. Set dwell to factory default, or 5ms above critical dwell. Lube the marker with dow33 grease. I used sl33k and molykote 33.

2. Buy 2 new fresh duracel 9v alkalines. No other brand, lets keep it consistent.

3. test the marker with balls at room temperature to assure its working. Chrono if possible.

4. Put marker with battery inside the marker (but unattached to board!!!) into the freezer. The bottom cools more quickly so place there. Note freezer temperature if possible. Put tank you are using in freezer too.

5. Leave for 40 min or more. Take it out, immidiately attach the battery and quickly atach the tank, and with eyes on fire 10 paintballs. Chrono if possible. Take another 10 shots with eyes off.

6. Note if the marker fails to fire. If it does fail to cycle the bolt completely, swap batteries with the other indoor 9v at room temperature. Try to fire again. If it still fails to fire, If you have a spare bolt, swap it, if not, up the dwell 2 ms at a time until it fires, Air up and Try firing again. If it still fails to fire, wait 40 min till the marker warms up and try again.

7. Post the results HERE!!

8. Get props for posting! :tup:

Edited by Danny D, 14 January 2012 - 12:07 AM.


#6 Troy

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:31 PM

Please clarify what you mean by "bolt stick," and how you tested for it, specifically.

I've got my own definition, but I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page.

Keep in mind, I'm also from down South and I pretty much don't play when the temp gets near 0 degrees C, so I may not be accustomed to the same magnitude of bolt stick that you might be.
\m/

#7 Danny D

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:01 AM

My definition of bolt stick is a delay of the bolt moving forward due to overcoming frictional forces. Usually this occurs after a spool isnt shot for a while and settles into place. After the first shot or two, this is overcome.

I did not test for fsdo. Bolt stick was tested as a cause for the bolt not fully cycling by lowering the temperature of the whole marker. If bolt stick was an issue at lower temperatures for these markers we would have seen incomplete cycling of the bolt, or lower fps indicative of drop off caused by bolt stick. In all tests that did not occur. The only way that temperature was able to make the bolt partially cycle or have low fps was with a cold 3/4 drained battery and room temp marker thus isolating the effect of cold batteries as the culprit.



#8 Danny D

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:06 AM

Please clarify what you mean by "bolt stick," and how you tested for it, specifically.

I've got my own definition, but I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page.

Keep in mind, I'm also from down South and I pretty much don't play when the temp gets near 0 degrees C, so I may not be accustomed to the same magnitude of bolt stick that you might be.



Hey, if you want to try out my test on your spool, use the steps above and toss your marker in the frezer! The more data we can get, the better!

#9 Rotozip2

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:24 AM

I put my G4 in the freezer for about 3 hours (I forgot about it). And after the o rings thawed out so it could seal, it functioned fine.

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#10 Danny D

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 12:51 AM

I put my G4 in the freezer for about 3 hours (I forgot about it). And after the o rings thawed out so it could seal, it functioned fine.



Awesome, and you had the battery in the freezer as well right?

:tup: Thumbs up to you sir.

#11 EgoPossum

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 02:55 PM

What I have found dealing with cold temps is that unbalanced spool valves (SLG, Ion, G4, Vibe, NT, Geo) work better in the cold weather (we have played in -30*) then balanced spool valves (shocker, DM, Droid).

The more dynamic seals that you have in the gun, the more you have to fight with the gun to get it to shoot properly. (that is what I have found living in Northern Ontario)
One of my teammates has a SFT shocker that works great in the cold but had to mess with it and buy parts and a new board to get it to work. He runs Hater sauce in the gun because it is the thinnest grease that he could get.

I would make sure to test to see the velocity that the gun is firing at.
Cycling is different then actually getting a usable velocity out of the gun in the cold.
Before we worked on the shocker it would cycle the bolt but would not fire a paintball past 150FPS for about 2 shots, after that the gun was good.
My old Ion would need to be fired once to make sure that it would shoot at full velocity (usually that first shot was about 200FPS then up to 270fps after that)

I can understand why a battery that is not at a 100% charge will be affected by the cold.
At the store i work at we sell PV panels and systems so that you can run your camp or cottage off solar power. One of the things that we tell everyone is that the lower that you draw the battery, the more chance that you will have to damage/freeze the battery.
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#12 Danny D

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 04:01 PM

I Chronod every shot. All were above 250. I did have fsdo on with the markers.

Again, if anyone has a balanced spool to test, that would be awesome.

#13 Rotozip2

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 06:43 PM


I put my G4 in the freezer for about 3 hours (I forgot about it). And after the o rings thawed out so it could seal, it functioned fine.



Awesome, and you had the battery in the freezer as well right?

:tup: Thumbs up to you sir.


Yes, they were energizers. I also used hater marmalade lube.

I never get wipers, blood is hard to wipe off.


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#14 oldnewb

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 05:17 PM

My thanks for running this test. I can appreciate the work that went into this.

Especially pertinent to me, as I have pretty much written off my IonXE (with TechT bolt, QEV, and Virtue board and eyes) for winter play, in favour of my DP Fusion FX. I've had some issues with my IonXE the past few times I've tried it in the cold, and I'm now considering giving it another try after your test.

My past experiences with it have been:

-Ion transported to field in warm-ish car.
-Ion chrono's fine, and often makes it through one game fine.
-Ion then refuses to fire properly at start of 2nd game (after it's been in the cold awhile). I can hear a soft chuff sound and notice a little bit of movement within when I press the trigger, but no paint is fired.
-I then proceed to try and barrel tag people until someone lights me up at point blank range.
-Not wanting to miss the next game, I don't bother messing with the IonXE... I just pull out the FusionFX and play (never fails to work).

At the recommendations of a friend (and tech), I've since raised the dwell significantly (up to 30 blinks on the Virtue board), cleaned the bolt and regreased with Sleek (thinned down by mixing it 50/50 with Extreme Rage oil), and replaced battery. Haven't had a chance to try it again, but maybe I will now.

Oh, and I used to own a DM6 (balanced spool). Would work great one day in the cold, but not on others. Of course, I found out later that I was overdoing the lube considerably, but still... for dummies like me, it seems I am cursed to rely on poppets.

Edited by oldnewb, 16 January 2012 - 05:23 PM.

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#15 Danny D

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 05:49 PM

My thanks for running this test. I can appreciate the work that went into this.

Especially pertinent to me, as I have pretty much written off my IonXE (with TechT bolt, QEV, and Virtue board and eyes) for winter play, in favour of my DP Fusion FX. I've had some issues with my IonXE the past few times I've tried it in the cold, and I'm now considering giving it another try after your test.

My past experiences with it have been:

-Ion transported to field in warm-ish car.
-Ion chrono's fine, and often makes it through one game fine.
-Ion then refuses to fire properly at start of 2nd game (after it's been in the cold awhile). I can hear a soft chuff sound and notice a little bit of movement within when I press the trigger, but no paint is fired.
-I then proceed to try and barrel tag people until someone lights me up at point blank range.
-Not wanting to miss the next game, I don't bother messing with the IonXE... I just pull out the FusionFX and play (never fails to work).

At the recommendations of a friend (and tech), I've since raised the dwell significantly (up to 30 blinks on the Virtue board), cleaned the bolt and regreased with Sleek (thinned down by mixing it 50/50 with Extreme Rage oil), and replaced battery. Haven't had a chance to try it again, but maybe I will now.

Oh, and I used to own a DM6 (balanced spool). Would work great one day in the cold, but not on others. Of course, I found out later that I was overdoing the lube considerably, but still... for dummies like me, it seems I am cursed to rely on poppets.


My xe i used is exactly the same as yours, board, bolt and all. Here are the settings I used for the test:

Dwell= 12ms (critical dwell =7 under room temp conditions)
FSDO= 2
ROF -uncapped semi
QEV = clippard
Psi= 150
Chrono = 272
Reg = aka sidewinder
Lube = molykote 33 medium (dow 33/sleek)

Try the test out! The only Issue I had with the xe was that it was leaking a tad, but fired correctly with the settings above at -19 C with new duracell.

Sounds by your timeline, that the battery is indeed getting cold and affecting your gun (going down on the second game). Lack of current/power will do funky things to the solenoid.

#16 oldnewb

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 06:51 PM

My xe i used is exactly the same as yours, board, bolt and all. Here are the settings I used for the test:

Dwell= 12ms (critical dwell =7 under room temp conditions)
FSDO= 2
ROF -uncapped semi
QEV = clippard
Psi= 150
Chrono = 272
Reg = aka sidewinder
Lube = molykote 33 medium (dow 33/sleek)

Try the test out! The only Issue I had with the xe was that it was leaking a tad, but fired correctly with the settings above at -19 C with new duracell.

Sounds by your timeline, that the battery is indeed getting cold and affecting your gun (going down on the second game). Lack of current/power will do funky things to the solenoid.


Hmmm... I'll give it another shot (literally). I can't believe you're running it at 12ms... everything I know about spoolies (which, admittedly, is very little) says you need to jack the dwell up like crazy for it to work in the cold. I figured that's why entry level spools like the Rail run at 40 or so... just so they would work no matter what, without any need for a beginning player to fuss with the settings.

Hmmm... everything else looks about the same for my IonXE (even my fps and psi)... I'll have to double check my FSDO to see what it's running at. And I've got a CP reg instead of a Sidewinder (don't know if that would make a difference). Using commercial Procell batteries (Duracell's commercial version that I buy cheap by the boxload). As for weather conditions, it's right about freezing here in Vancouver now, but crazy humid.

I have to say, I really love this marker, but I'm not the type of person to fiddle much with my markers while I'm at the field. With a wife, kid, and other committments, I rarely get out on the field anymore, so I'd rather go to my backup right away, than miss a game messing with my settings on my primary marker. That's why I really appreciate you doing this test. I would love to try experimenting more, but frankly, I'd rather play as much as I can instead.

Edited by oldnewb, 16 January 2012 - 06:52 PM.

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#17 hackdive

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:35 PM

My past experiences with it have been:

-Ion transported to field in warm-ish car.
-Ion chrono's fine, and often makes it through one game fine.
-Ion then refuses to fire properly at start of 2nd game (after it's been in the cold awhile). I can hear a soft chuff sound and notice a little bit of movement within when I press the trigger, but no paint is fired.
-I then proceed to try and barrel tag people until someone lights me up at point blank range.



This is exactly what happened to me the last day of last season. My Ion is an older version that has been pieced together from many sources...do you guys think age is a factor? Dirt, lube, etc built up in the internals?

#18 protofreak

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:04 PM

i tune my dm for hot weather but when it gets cold i just bump up the lpr if that doesnt work then i bump up the dwell
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#19 Danny D

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:14 PM

This is exactly what happened to me the last day of last season. My Ion is an older version that has been pieced together from many sources...do you guys think age is a factor? Dirt, lube, etc built up in the internals?



Age is not a factor if you clean your marker. Everything on the ion can be cleaned. bolt, breech, o-rings, and you can take apart the noid and do maintenance on that as well. The only thing that can get gunked and stop working is the qev, but if there is no leaks there, and the marker is functioning, it will operate well.

#20 oldnewb

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:17 PM

Age is not a factor if you clean your marker. Everything on the ion can be cleaned. bolt, breech, o-rings, and you can take apart the noid and do maintenance on that as well. The only thing that can get gunked and stop working is the qev, but if there is no leaks there, and the marker is functioning, it will operate well.


Hmm... I haven't touched the solenoid and the reg in awhile. I guess it's time to clean those out too. Gotta keep plugging away at all the different variables until this thing works, I guess.
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#21 hackdive

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:39 PM


This is exactly what happened to me the last day of last season. My Ion is an older version that has been pieced together from many sources...do you guys think age is a factor? Dirt, lube, etc built up in the internals?



Age is not a factor if you clean your marker. Everything on the ion can be cleaned. bolt, breech, o-rings, and you can take apart the noid and do maintenance on that as well. The only thing that can get gunked and stop working is the qev, but if there is no leaks there, and the marker is functioning, it will operate well.


Breech, bolt, can, and rings all cleaned/inspected after each day's play. Reg and 'noid are now the prime suspects as I don't dig into them often. Thx D.

#22 Eskimo

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 02:31 PM

.
Awesome experiments.

So hot paws shoved inside your Grip frames?

Edited by Eskimo, 18 January 2012 - 02:32 PM.

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#23 PBFez

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 08:56 PM

Nice testing... Wish I still had my luxe to try it out and post. I might borrow a buddy's to help.

My only concern is this:

How much does prolonged (I.E. a Whole day's play) exposure to cold temps affect the "cold weather durability" of a marker?

Also, is there any difference from freezer cooled to naturally cooled?

Just a couple things I'd thought about while reading.

#24 sqyire

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 09:01 PM

Yep.. I have used my dm6 in sub zero weather a few times and in 20-30s many many times. Just need to use thicker lube when it gets too cold. Thanks for the proof to point too :)

Edited by sqyire, 19 January 2012 - 09:01 PM.


#25 Danny D

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 09:36 PM

Nice testing... Wish I still had my luxe to try it out and post. I might borrow a buddy's to help.

My only concern is this:

How much does prolonged (I.E. a Whole day's play) exposure to cold temps affect the "cold weather durability" of a marker?

Also, is there any difference from freezer cooled to naturally cooled?

Just a couple things I'd thought about while reading.


How much does prolonged (I.E. a Whole day's play) exposure to cold temps affect the "cold weather durability" of a marker?
Cold will affect o-rings I believe in terms of durability. A few leaks have been observed while at -19, which could have been the o-rings contracting in the banjo, or other areas in the marker. After it thawed a tad, it returned to normal. I find buna o-rings dont fair as good as urithane. A small buna o-ring on a banjo on a vibe failed in the cold a year ago. This is not proof, but just speculation.

http://www.ableseala...tomers/466.html
This link shows that urithane is better than buna for cold, but both should theoretically work at -20C. Quality of o-rings might be a factor too. Nothing else should wear any more in the cold. In fact the solenoid life will be prolonged if used in the cold.

Also, is there any difference from freezer cooled to naturally cooled?
Not really. Temperature is temperature. I did test the -4C outdoors (naturally). The freezer is meant to simulate bringing the marker to temperature. I wanted to know how the marker preformed at -19C, so as long as it wasnt flash freezed with Liquid nitrogen, the difference in rate of cooling between outdoor and freezer is negligable. In fact, the freezer may have slightly lower rate of temp change than outdoors.

Just a couple things I'd thought about while reading.
Thanks for the input, I encourage critical thinking of tests. Gets us in the community thinking. And that is what science is all about. You got me thinking about o-rings in the cold.

#26 oldnewb

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 11:41 AM

Yep.. I have used my dm6 in sub zero weather a few times and in 20-30s many many times. Just need to use thicker lube when it gets too cold. Thanks for the proof to point too :)


Hmmm... that goes counter to conventional "wisdom". Usually people recommend THINNER lubes in the cold, to compensate for lube's tendency to congeal (thicken) in the cold.

Is there a thicker form of lube that you're running that might actually be more resistant to cold weather congealing?

That might actually be worth testing... set out a few petrie(sp?) dishes of different brands of lube, and see which one congeals the least.
Techpb Mike doesn't use Trojan Magnum extra large condoms 'cause he doesn't believe in underboring.

Techpb Mike doesn't hide behind cover. Instead, he shoots down incoming paintballs.

#27 elraido

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 02:36 PM

I havent tested below -20C because It is unsafe to be outdoors in that temperature.


Not to sounds like a jerk, but what are you talking about? It is perfectly fine to be out doors at that temp, that is only -4F. I think that is about our high for today. Personally, I think it is when it hits around -30F that it becomes dangerous to be outside without the proper clothing. Even then, if you do have the proper clothing it isn't bad at all. Where I live, most of the time January is around -30F over nights with day temps hitting 0. I have seen -60F (no windchill) personally....that is when it becomes dangerous to go outside, even with proper clothing. Exposed skin can freeze in about 5 min time.

#28 Danny D

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 11:49 PM


I havent tested below -20C because It is unsafe to be outdoors in that temperature.


Not to sounds like a jerk, but what are you talking about? It is perfectly fine to be out doors at that temp, that is only -4F. I think that is about our high for today. Personally, I think it is when it hits around -30F that it becomes dangerous to be outside without the proper clothing. Even then, if you do have the proper clothing it isn't bad at all. Where I live, most of the time January is around -30F over nights with day temps hitting 0. I have seen -60F (no windchill) personally....that is when it becomes dangerous to go outside, even with proper clothing. Exposed skin can freeze in about 5 min time.



I am not allowed to take my students outside at that temperature. Deemed unsafe by the board of education here. Seeing that most paintballers are kids on this forum, I would advise the same to them.

If thats normal for your local conditions like you have mentioned, then you know the proper precautions necissary to prevent excess sweating and to dress properly. The sweating in particular is the most dangerous aspect IMHO. I can be outside at -25, but playing in it and sweating takes its toll, and once you have your first break, the cold sets in much quicker and hypothermia is worrysome.
Personally I cannot use huge gloves with my markers, which is a limitation for me. I have tried to play in temperatures of -22 plus windchill and couldnt play for more than 15 min. But to each their own.




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