HomeClassic Paintball ScansColin Thompson on the Invention of the Bottomline ASA

Colin Thompson on the Invention of the Bottomline ASA

I had been trying to find contact information for Colin Thompson of Lapco for a couple years but he actually contact me to correct a Stan Russell stock I had listed.  I met up with him in early March while Paul Schreck and I drove down to San Diego for the day.  We recorded a couple short videos on my cell phone and I had planned to go and visit him again around the 20 or 30th of this month (April 2014) for a more in depth interview session.

Colin Thompson, the perfectionist
Scanned from Paintcheck September, 1989

Unfortunately, Colin passed away on the 14th April 2014.  I am glad I had the chance to meet him and I did take notes on many portions of his history in paintball when we met. He wasn’t as much of a player as he was a tinkerer and a perfectionist.  He was constantly innovating for his line of nelson pumps.

One innovation, that I didn’t even realize Colin came up with was the Bottomline Duckbill Air Source Adapter (ASA).

Colin's prototype bottomline
Colin’s prototype bottomline Air Source Adapter Duckbill

Around 1987/88 Quest in Malibu, California transitioned to Conquest under the ownership of Dave Bassman. Colin Thompson, who was a friend of Bassman, ventured out to the field and shortly after began working for Bassman, tinkering and modifying markers.

Jessica Sparks emailed with some memories on Colin, “I remember Colin’s first day at Conquest…Colin and I talked a long while that day.  He said he didn’t know much about paintball — yet– but he knew a lot about RC cars. Soon Colin turned his talents to paintball.”

Jessica also gave some insight into Colin’s mind, thinking back to conversations they had before Colin moved to San Diego (1990?). She writes, “I often visited Colin at his apartment/house where we’d talk for hours about IPPA issues, paintball’s future, physics, designs, air systems, etc. Colin had theorized a special power system concept that he couldn’t quite make work.
I still have the Grey Ghost Colin built for me.”

Conquest’s fleet of rentals at the time was mostly Nelson based pumps and Colin spent his weekend innovating around these paintguns. He first developed parts, as Los Angeles Paintball Company, for the 007 then upgraded these 007s to Colin guns with new barrels and changing the air source from 12 grams to constant air through a thermo tank.

After developing all the parts for a nelson based pump paintball marker Colin integrated together his improvements and sold them as an entire paintgun, named the Grey Ghost and later Spirits, Wraiths, Specters and many more.

Left side view of Grey Spirit
Left Side view of Grey Spirit
right side of Lapco Grey Spirit
Right Side of Lapco Grey Spirit

When the Tippmann SMG 60 was first released (from what I’ve researched, October 1987) , Tippmann’s Soda Pin valve, with standard asa threads, began to take off and nelson pump manufacturers were quick to incorporate the asa valve into a backbottle.
But as Colin explains in the video, the back bottle was not the correct placement of the tank for shouldering. Plus it would also add stress on the nelson rear valve assembly causing the screws to loosen.

Colin in March 1991 Paintcheck
Colin holding a Grey Spirit with bottomline. From the March 1991 issue of Paintcheck, scan courtesy of Colin’s facebook.

Constantly adapting and innovating, Colin felt the correct position for the tank would be coming off the grips so he developed the Bottomline ASA (Air Source Adapter) Duckbill around 1987 using Tippmann’s valves which quickly became the new standard tank for paintball.

colins-bottom-line-02 Side view of Colin's prototype asa

Colin added 1.25 inch bottomline spacing holes to his Duckbill since this spacing was starting to appear, already drilled and tapped on the base of many grip frames.  This spacing was previously being used to mount stocks and thermo tanks,

Lapco Blue ghost with bottomline
Later Blue ghost with bottomline asa, left side.
Blue ghost, right side
Right side of later blue ghost.

A couple details about this particular prototype asa Colin is holding in this video:
•This is the first bottomline Duck Bill ASA Colin Built. He machined it at Stan Russell’s Shop.
•Erick Lambarri reminded me, this asa is actually three pieces, the outer piece, the brass angle inside and an interior asa thread piece which Erick recalls Colin loctited into inside of the ASA. The inner piece was created from a turned out female to female Thermo fitting (I believe).

Back view of Colin's asa Straight back view of Colin's asa

In the video Colin says 1986 but I don’t think the pin valve start seeing use until October 1987. From what I’ve been able to tell, and according to David Freeman, president of Tippmann at the time, the SMG 60 was introduced in the second half of 1987. David told me October 1987 in a phone conversation several years ago (and I’ve just emailed him now to confirm) so I think Colin developed this prototype around that time as well.

I’ll have more articles on Colin eventually with photos he sent me and the notes I took but I wanted to get this video up today.  I recorded it with my cellphone and had to really tweak the audio to make it audible so there are a few awkward cuts between my voice and his but it’s still packed with information.

Thanks to Colin for meeting with Paul and I, Erick Lambarri for calling and talking on the phone about Colin tonight, and Paul, for having the patience to listen to Colin and I babble for a couple hours. I’m glad I was able to meet Colin before he passed away, he really was a Legend of Paintball.

Updated on April, 26th 2019:
Added information from Jessica Sparks on when Colin got into paintball.

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  1. Hi Dan
    Sorry to bother you but I recently acquired what I was told is an early original LAPCO Grey Ghost, possibly even a ‘one off’ / prototype according to the guy I bought it from.
    I just wondered if I could send you some photo’s and dimensions etc in the hope that you could shed more light on it.
    Best Regards
    (Yorkshire, UK)


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