Vintage Garden Syringe Sprayers    

Back Barrel Problems

It probably never going to be worth it, but it would be possible to repair a dent by drilling it out and patching the resulting hole.


Sometimes splits have been repaired by soldering, but this is never effective. Corrosion can also be a problem and can eat right through the walls causing holes. I would suggest that it isn’t worth repairing holes and splits unless the syringe is of sentimental value. The best solution is to solder a patch on the outside. Patches can be made from a spare barrel, or a piece of brass or copper pipe and soldered in the same way as copper plumbing, using the same flux and solders,


In addition to dents and splits the barrel can be bent. This causes more problems with the cotton reel type of piston, as these are not as flexible as the cup washers type. Take care when removing spray heads or end caps from barrels as it is easy to bend or dent the barrels when doing this.

Plunger Rod - If these are made of steel not brass they can rust. Treatment can consist simply of oiling, or cleaning with wire wool may be necessary. Future care is important to prevent further rusting.


Plunger Rod springs if present often rust, but are not essential so do not need to be replaced. Replacements springs can be found easily on Ebay. How easy they are to fit depends on the way the piston assembly is constructed. (see piston assembly) .


Sometimes there is rubber buffer washer fitted around the plunger rod next to the handle ferrule. This is designed to absorb the shock when the plunger is pushed in. Replacement is optional, but if required standard tap washer of appropriate size can be adapted for the purpose .


Handles - My personal preference is to do the minimum to the handles. This usually involves a clean at the very least. Wood hardener can be used to prevent further deterioration if the wood is going soft and woodworm treatment is sometimes required. Wood filler and new paint (varnish) can be applied if considered appropriate. Replacement is sometimes to only option. The plastic handles are difficult to remove in one piece and are best left alone.


New ferrules can be bought on Ebay  - 18mm and 21mm  will normally be about right. I am content with using Araldite to hold together slightly damaged ferrules. Brass rivets of the 2-3 mm. diameter required seem hard to find at the required length, but you can make something which will work from scrap brass.

Plunger Rod Problems

Fibre, rubber or leather washers are used in a number of places. In most cases I find it easier to replace these with leather washers. They can be made with a leather punch set, but sets which include the larger sizes are expensive. Smaller washers can sometimes be replaced with modern fibre washers which may not be a perfect fit, but will be OK. Larger sizes can be made from leather by cutting them out with a craft knife or using a inexpensive cutting compass (see tools). Plastic pillar washers for taps come in imperials sizes and can have the right internal diameter.  

Washer - Replacement

These are usually packed with string or sometimes there is a special fibre ring. Replace faulty packing with string.

Stuffing Box