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Indian Creek 'Cats

Tuning and Troubleshooting

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Updated: 12 Nov 1999

The most common problems with a 'Cat are that it has poor velocity, doesn't recock, or both. These can be due to several conditions that should be checked in this order:

  1. Is your tank full, and at normal temperature?
  2. Are your settings in-range and balanced?
  3. Is your gun clean and properly lubed (especially the hammer slide chamber)?
  4. Is the bolt securely fastened to the hammer?
  5. Do all of the bolt/hammer components move freely?
  6. Is the mainspring weak?
  7. Is the hammer ring damaged or worn?
  8. Is the valve seal worn or the valve damaged?
  9. Mid '98 ACII's only

Any of these things, or a combination of them, can make a 'Cat misbehave.

Other issues (besides velocity and recock problems) are addressed below the following list.

Before attempting any of these solutions, familiarize yourself with the 'Cat schematic either in your owner's manual or at ICD's Site. I'll try to use the "real" names for parts as much as possible.

Solutions:

Recock/Velocity Problems

Tank Pressure
First, check to be sure the tank is screwed in all of the way. When in doubt, try a different tank. It sounds stupid, but I have at least one tank that WILL NOT WORK on one particular ACII.

The 'Cats require a relatively high input pressure compared to some other markers. The first troubleshooting step should always be sure to use a tank that has enough pressure to operate the gun. When in doubt, get the tank filled or use one that you know is full to test the gun with. Also remember that a freshly filled CO2 tank will NOT have enough pressure to work properly until it has had time to warm up some.

Tank pressure in cold weather.
In cold weather a CO2 system might not give the pressure you need. The best solution is to use HPA/N2, but that can be VERY expensive. Failing that, you can either use liquid CO2, or try to keep your bottle warm enough to deliver sufficient pressure. An expansion chamber and/or regulator can help greatly if you decide to stick with standard CO2.
For information on using liquid CO2, look at Doc Nickel's Liquid FAQ. To keep the tank warm you can try chemical hand warmers or an electric sock around the bottle.

Velocity, Recock, and Mainspring settings
The tuning of a 'Cat lies somewhere between a science and a black art. I won't even begin to cover what has already been said on every owners' page and discussion group. I will only suggest that you start either in your owner's manual, or at the official Indian Creek 'Cat Tuning Page. Beyond what is said there, I should add that each adjustment affects the others. That is, when you open the velocity jet you lose recock pressure, and vice versa.
I can't get an Alley Cat II to work right with the settings in the manual.
Some Alley Cat II manuals apparently have some errors. Follow the instructions at the Indian Creek 'Cat Tuning Page. The most notable difference is that the starting recock setting is One FULL turn counter-clockwise.

Cleaning and Lubrication
After every day of play you should at least remove the bolt/hammer, swab the slide chamber, clean the bolt/hammer, oil everything, and put it back together. It's best to do this just AFTER the games, not right before the next time. Once the paint sits for a while it becomes very hard to clean. You should also regularly remove the upper receiver and clean/oil the valve, ball detent, and trigger parts.

According to an ICD tech, Gold Cup oil is what is shipped with the guns, and Tri-Flow is also a good lube to use.
Many people report success with 3-in-1, KC Trouble Free, Hoppes #9, and air tool oil. A more involved approach is to use silicone grease or thick Teflon lube on less active parts like stationary o-rings, threads, and pivot points, and then use a light oil (such as Gold Cup) on the fast moving bolt/hammer parts.
Above all, avoid ANYTHING petroleum based. That means stay away from motor oil (synthetic might be okay) and Vaseline. WD-40 should also be avoided due to the way it attacks seals and leaves a sticky mess after its solvents evaporate.


Loose Bolt
The nylon bolt tip is head to the hammer with a single cap screw from inside the hollow center of the hammer. If this screw comes loose, the gun will "chop balls and spew paint everywhere." Remove the bolt assembly and try to wiggle the bolt end. If it moves in and out or side to side easily, it's too loose.
The first step is to try simply tightening the screw with a 5/32" hex key until it is snug again. If the threads in the bolt are getting sloppy, it may not tighten enough or stay tight long enough. If the screw is only a little loose, you can wrap a single layer of PTFE tape (Teflon pipe tape) around the threads of the screw and put it back in. If that doesn't help, the threads in the bolt may be stripped too badly and you may need to buy a new bolt. Don't Loctite the screw, since the solvent may attack the nylon bolt end.
Note that if you wrap too much tape on the screw, or tighten it too much, the bolt stem can expand and cause problems.

Bolt and Bushing binding
If the Center Bushing (black plastic ring) doesn't move freely along the bolt shaft the gun won't work right, or just use way too much gas. Check this by removing the bolt assembly and sliding the bushing all the way up and down the bolt. If it sticks or rubs excessively at any point, that's a problem. Dirt or lack of lube can cause this, as can over tightening the Bolt Screw. The hammer roller (part that pushes the valve pin) could also have mushroomed the end of the nylon bolt. Eventually you get a tiny little burr right where the bolt touches the roller, and the bushing catches on it. A little sandpaper or a nail file can take this burr off.
Again, if this part has been damaged too badly, it may need to be replaced.
Swollen Rear Bumper (Recock problems only)
The rubber bumper at the back (holds in the spring guide, in the mainspring adjust knob) could be swollen. Too much oil can do this, especially combined with heat/humidity. First push the bumper in as far as it will go and try again. If it is still difficult to cock the gun manually, it probably has this problem. Just cut off a sliver of the bumper with a sharp knife, until the hammer just hits it as it recocks. If you cut too much off you could end up with the hammer hitting the End Plug, so take it easy.

Weak Mainpring.
If you're still having problems, it could be a weak mainspring. The bad news is that there is no good way to test this other than replacing it and hoping that the gun starts working again. The good news is that it's a $2 part. Call up ICD or Paintball CyberMall and you shouldn't have any problem getting one. While you're at it, you might as well order a parts kit or at least some o-rings and seals just in case.
I wouldn't bother trying to get this spring at a hardware store. You can find it, but it'll cost you almost as much as the factory spring, and it's tough to be SURE it's the right one.

Worn or damaged Hammer Ring
The o-ring between the hammer and hammer roller can wear down and cause the gun to lose too much gas to operate properly. Earlier models used a hard white nylon(?) ring. These were specifically fitted to the gun and had to be installed by a shop, or at least someone who really knew what he/she was doing. It was usually easy to see damage to these rings since there would be uneven edges and possibly scores or gouges in the surface of the ring.
Sometime in 1998 ICD switched to a different type of ring. It's now a more common Teflon o-ring that may be availble from hardware or plumbing stores. This new ring can be used IN PLACE of the older plastic ring when the original wears out, and every rebuild kit comes with one.

Worn or damaged Valve Seal
Gas flow problems can be caused by a worn Cup Seal in the Valve Assembly, or damaged valve parts. Here is the procedure for inspecting and replacing it.

Alley Cat II's from mid 1998
Some time in '98 a handful of defective center bushings found their way into some ACIIs. This only affected a small batch of guns, but it will prevent them from working right under almost any condition.
I have been told by an ICD tech that almost every affected 'gun has already been serviced. If you really think your 'gun has this problem, go ahead and contact ICD while it's still under warranty and, if necessary, they'll fix it for you. By this point though it's likely that any affected guns have been fixed or are out of warranty.

Other Problems

'Cat double feeds, or half feeds and chops balls
Check your ball detent, the little spring-loaded lever that holds a ball in the chamber until it's fired. If this is stuck with paint or shell fragments, the balls will roll into the breech and allow double or half loading. It's best to disassemble and fully clean this part when it gets paint in it.
Be careful when disassembling to not lose the spring under this lever. (Or any small parts for that matter.) If you DO lose this spring it can be obtained from any OEM parts supplier (buy a whole spring kit while you're at it), or a spring from a click pen, cut to the right length, can be used in its place.

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