Vintage Garden Syringe Sprayers    

Back Fault Finder

Can not fill sprayer

Check piston. If ‘cotton reel’ type then replace the packing with new string. For cup washers try changing them around. It is the back washer which does the work when filling the syringe and this is often the most worn. If this doesn’t help then both washers will need replacing. If there is suction, but the sprayer fills slowly or not at all check that the quick fill valve is not stuck, or if using a rose that the perforations are clear. Also double check that nut holding on the washers is tight, otherwise water will get through around the plunger rod.

The first thing to do with a newly acquired sprayer is to give it a clean. Wear rubber gloves and soapy water to make sure that there is no residue left. Some of the old chemicals would not be considered safe to use today. Next check the piston. For the ‘cotton reel’ type if the packing is in reasonable condition, but loose then wind some thick cotton thread over the top of the existing packing, until you get a reasonable fit. For cup washers check to see what condition they are in. Soak the piston for a short while, then try to splay the washers out a little. If they don’t split or crumble, reinsert the plunger and see if it works. If they aren’t any good they will need replacing before you can go any further. Once you have some sort of suction you can carry out further checks.


Does not spray properly

If water is getting past the piston then this will be a fault in the packing on a ‘cotton reel’ type. This type of piston is prone to this problem and some loss is to be expected. On the cup washer type the problem could be with the front cup washer. Also double check that nut holding on the washers is tight, otherwise water will get through around the plunger rod. Dents in the barrel will cause the washers to distort and also cause this problem. Slight leaks can probably be ignored.


Water sprays from quick fill valve

Check that there is a ball or cone present and that it is free to move. Clean out the valve. If the ball is corroded then it will need replacing. A small amount of water may come from the valve in normal operation. For cone type valves, try adding a small washer if there is a leak around the valve.

Plunger stutter in use (and dents)

On a ‘cotton reel’ piston check that the packing is neat and has no lumps, then repack if required. On a cup washer piston this can be caused by the cup washers used being too compressed. Otherwise check for dents. There is nothing much you can do about dents. You can drill out the dent and then put an external patch on the outside, but this would only be worth doing if the sprayer had some special meaning and you really wanted to get it working.  

Holes and splits  in barrel

Look for splits, which may only open up under pressure. As with dents, holes are only worth fixing if there is some special reason to do so. Using an external patch is the best option .