Last summer, 2013, I talked to Lori Wilcox, of Palmer’s Pursuit Shop, and earlier this year I talked to Dan DeBone, who was the service manager at Palmer’s from 1990 until 1997.
Both Wilcox and DeBone mentioned that Joel Kaufman was the paintballer associated with the first Palmer’s Rock Regulator.
I first met Joel in 2003 at a Mt Diablo Scenario game in 2003 that I attended with the Sac Pump day crew and in recent years he has been joining us for our annual pump game in Northern California so he was happy to provide what he remembered about the creation of the Palmer’s Rock reg.
Kaufman, who in the early 1990s played with Constant Pursuit, and the Dogs of War, adopted the Autococker from close to it’s introduction and immediately began modifying the platfrom to get the most out of it int he early 90s. But Joel found that his major limiting factor was, as he writes, “the stock Reg being so crappy” (which he explains this in detail further below).
And with the help of Dan DeBone, they integrated Palmer’s Pursuit Shops’ regulator design to make the Autococker, as Paintball Sports International writes, “Steady as a Rock.”
It’s important to note that Glenn had already been using regulators of the same design in his Hurricanes but the actual integration into Bud Orr’s Autococker was not until Kaufman and DeBone adapted an 1/8th npt male to male fitting onto a blem’d or scraped lpr project in the winter to spring of 1991-1992. And after that point as Joel writes, “Word got out, and PPS finally decided after around 6 months to start building them in production.”
DeBone also recalls the creation of the first Rock, pointing out that Hugo (Glenn Palmer’s 2nd dual air ram semi and first double barrel semi) was the inspiration for the design of the Rock:
“It was  when Joel from Constant Pursuit had joined the Dogs for a few tournaments that I created a more stable regulator out of scrap parts around the shop. We set the regulator and he sealed it with nail polish. Every week after he played and people saw he did not have to adjust it mid game, Glenn would get phone calls about when he was going to produce the regulator. So every week I would get fired because Glenn did not want to fix the autococker. That was the birth of the Rock regulator, based on the one on Hugo and adapted to the Cocker.”
Find a video of DeBone talking about the first Rock Regulator and more photos at:
A rough timeline of the Rock’s creation:
•March 1991 – The Ironmen premiere the Autococker at the Lone Star Open.
•September 1991 – Joel Kaufman aquires an Autococker and start noticing all the problems with the early stock models. Kaufman sees first hand that Glenn Palmer’s PPS markers lack many of these problems.
•Between Winter 1991-Spring 1992 -Kaufman and DeBone adapted the rock for a Cocker out of a scrap project at the Palmer’s shop.
Summer 1992 – Palmer’s Pursuit Shop starts building Rocks for other customers.
November-December 1992 – With a three month lead time the product is submitted for new products ads to publications.
February 1993 – The Rock appears in Paintball Sports International as a new product:
Joel Kaufman wrote up the following history on the Rock’s creation:
Background c. late 1991.
I’m pretty sure it was late 1991, or early 1992. By my recollection, it was the downtime between seasons and after the first season the ironmen were sponsored by Worr.
I had been on/off the first team for Constant Pursuit throughout the year, and for events where we didn’t have space, I Merc’d for Dogs of War.
I had picked up a semi (an F1 illustrator) at the NY world cup (I’m thinking it wasn’t the world cup… it was one of the series events that Jerry braun ran when competing with the lively series) to counter the VM68 and cockers that were starting to win everywhere, and it wasn’t cutting it.
I wound up acquiring a cocker that someone was frustrated with and wanted to get rid of.
I started playing with [the Autococker] and learning all about timing sleeves, and polishing sears, and so on, but the biggest problem was how hard it was to pull the trigger. This was caused by the stock Reg being so crappy on recharge that you had to set it very high to make sure that it would have enough pressure shot after shot to cock. It didn’t help that the hammer springs were really heavy. It caused other problems as well such as blowing out switch orings and hoses.
Dan DeBone and Joel tinker with scraps to create the 1st Rock
So I occasionally played with the Dogs of War, and then Dan [DeBone] and I started talking. (Side note: I also remember Glenn giving me crap about that “turd of a marker” I was playing with when I had the cocker and showed up at a few Dogs’ events; he listed all the reasons his [implementation of the pneumatic auto-cocking system] was better, and that might have given Dan and I the original thoughts [for the Rock]).
Dan and I connected since I had done some machining and had a common tinkering backround. I had already machined the back of the cocker to lighten it, machined the front block, polished the switch cups etc. I had come up to PPS several times over the course of that year to tweak the gun and because the typhoon was looking good since it had less of the problems described above. I don’t remember who had the inspiration first, but during that day, Dan grabbed the remains of a different experiment he had messed around with that turned out not to work, unsoldered the lower tube with an existing Reg in it, and then we cut it down and threaded and set the back with a 1/8”NPT.
The other bits I remember was that it was at least 7” long on the tube, and even longer with the 1/8NPT fitting, and that we had to add the reinforcement for the nipple to put a different nipple on since palmer used different sized tubing than Worr. I think they had the different nipples in stock since they were fixing cockers all the time. This thing was so long it stuck nearly 4” past the shroud. Oh yeah, and for the piston to clear the output hole, we needed to create a new piston with a longer nose on it. This turned out to be significant later.
The Rock turned out to solve a cascade of issues: the extra LP chamber space from the long nose helped create so much consistency on the output side along with the higher ratio of piston area to valve port diameter, that it could easily outflow the switch even running at 10+ per second on the trigger. By lowering the pressure, your trigger was much lighter, Switch O rings became reliable, and the most important thing of all: you could tune the pressure to the point where the ram would close softer coming forward. I remember showing a guy a trick where I put my finger in the feed and let the bolt close on my finger with no pain, and then close on a paintball and it didn’t chop. Word got out, and PPS finally decided after ~6 months to start building them in production.
So what happened to Rock #1?
A couple years later I had finished doing a ton of stuff to my Cocker (machined the heck out of it for lightness, copied someone and machined for Nelson Springs, custom bolt, different Ram, First wedgits ever[by accident happened same session that Dan built Rock #1, story for another time] etc.) and was realizing that the heaviest thing left was the Rock. (FYI, had never opened the rock up the entire time.)
By this time PPS had gotten it down to being all brass with the allen key adjuster and so it was nearly 3” shorter and weighed a lot less. I bought one, and I gave Rock #1 back to Glenn who a few years later told me he probably just threw it in the pile to be junked and used to make/fix other markers.
I sold the [Autococker around] 1994 when I got out of tournaments, so no idea where it is now.
A few more quesitons with Joel
After reading Joel’s write up on the creation of the first Rock reg, I asked him a few more questions:
Bacci – Do you remember anything else about the event where you purchased the F1 Illustrator and why you decided to move to the Cocker after that?
And Braun did run a NY World Cup in 1991- could be about September of 1991. It was likely labeled the PMI / RPS World Cup that year.
There is an article about it in this Paintball Sports International magazine:
Joel – I remember it like that because i was shooting my Carter [Comp] in NY, got pissed at the firepower overwhelming us and bought an F1 illustrator at the event. The F1’s accurracy was shit, so i also purchased a brass lined barrel from Renick Miller at the same event. [The F1] still wasn’t great [even after the barrel ], and after the ironmen cleaned house, I went and got a used Autococker from someone that didn’t like it.
Bacci – You write:
“I started playing with it and learning all about timing sleeves, and polishing sears, and so on…”
At the time you aquired your first autococker and were learning about it did you receive any assistance from Gerry Helwig?
Joel – Not that I remember. After i started really scrwwing around with stuff, Foxhuters was just a place to bounce ideas off of, buy paint and parts.
Bacci – Can you describe how your Rock differed from Debone’s early (longer) rock.
Photo of DeBone’s longer rock:
Joel – I think [the 1st Rock] was longer. By my memory, with a full size shroud on the front (neoprene style) [of the cocker], the front of the rock stuck almost 3″ out from the shroud. We used to joke that looked like an over-under shotgun since it was only a bit shorter than the 10″ barrel i used to run on [the Autococker].
Bacci – You write about having to add reinforcement for the nipple.
“…and that we had to add the reinforcement for the nipple to put a different nipple on since palmer used different sized tubing than Worr..”
Was that for the lp hose nipple on the side, similar to how DeBone’s is setup?
Did the 1st Rock regulator have a 90 degree fitting for the lp hose? Did it use a soldered on plate so the fitting could be threaded in or was the fitting soldered?
Joel – I remember [the 1st Rock used a] plate similar to Dan’s, don’t recall if it was a 90deg or straight [nipple].
Bacci – Do you remember any exact events where you used the Autococker with the 1st Rock? Or any specific events where you played with the Dogs of War?
Joel – I would have used it for most of the next year in tournaments except where i used my fugly “silk purse” Typhoon. I had both [during the next few seasons], so i interchanged a bit.
Thanks to Joel and Dan DeBone for the information in this article.