Saturday, April 02, 2016

19th Century Reloading Tools

As mentioned in my earlier post, I won an eBay auction for a Winchester Model 1882 reloading tool and matching bullet mold. Winchester made these tools between 1882 and 1914, so they are bonafide antiques.

After getting them I found them to be in good condition, but they had a solid covering of dirt and surface rust, including some minor rust in the mold's cavity. This is what the reloading tool looked like after soaking in Kroil and being scrubbed with some fine steel wool.

Still rather grungy, and I wanted to stop the rust, which otherwise would eventually severely damage the tool. So, I soaked both it and the mold sans wooden handles in Evapo-Rust. This removed what little remained of the original blueing but it got rid of the rust.

I may reblue the reloading tool, but the mold will probably take on a blue color with use. The screw retaining the sprue plate is frozen in place, so I may take the handles off again and soak the whole thing for a week in a penetrant to try to free it.

Today I made another score at a gun show. I found an Ideal Number 4 reloading tool for .44-40, for $80. Like the Winchester set it's missing the decapping pin and powder measure but still has some of the original nickel plating over the steel. I was able to remove the sprue plate screw without much effort.

This design was made from the mid-1880s up until the 1930s. It is the ancestor of the Lyman 310 tong tool, which is still manufactured to this day.

I gave it a wipe down with some WD40, Kroil, and steel wool and got off some of the rust. The mold cavity had a little rust inside but it seems to have wiped out.

Combining the reloading tool and mold into one unit makes sense for a tool that will see use on the frontier. The tool also incorporates a bullet sizer. The large pin sticking out from the inside on the handle is used to push a bullet through a properly-sized hole in the opposite handle.

The bullets cast in both the Winchester and Ideal molds look to be virtually identical. This makes sense, since they both are designed to duplicate the original factory bullet used in .44-40 cartridges. Lyman, which purchased the Ideal Tool Company, sells molds for the same design today, as their #427098.

One thing to note with the original bullet design is that is lacks a good crimping groove. It was designed to be supported on a case full of black powder, to prevent it from being forced back into the case when loaded in a tubular magazine rifle. The bullet doesn't get that support when loaded over less-bulky smokeless powder.

Another thing to note is that neither the Winchester nor the Ideal tool resize spent brass. So, while cartridges loaded in one of these will work in the same gun in which they were fired, they may not fit easily into the chamber of another rifle.

Both of these tools are somewhat limited, in that because the bullet seating/crimping chamber is nonadjustable, you can use them to load ammunition only with bullets cast in their molds. Also, they are cartridge-specific, unlike the Lyman 310 tool or modern reloading presses, in which you can get different dies for different calibers.

On YouTube, Joe Russo posted a good video on how to reload ammunition with the Winchester tool:

And Capandball posted one for the Ideal tool:

These tools are interesting pieces of history that can still be used. I do plan to try reloading with them, and will post follow up reports when I do.

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