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Range report: 1885 in 32-40
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August 24, 2020 - 3:29 am
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Took the 1885 to the range again today. Been quite some time that 32-40 ammo has been riding around in my truck and I’m ready to resume this project! Trigger still a bit troublesome, seemed a lot creepier than on the early trips and still way too heavy. Lyman sight worked great but a gusty wind and the stout trigger didn’t let me get the best out of the rifle or load. Can’t believe I’ve had this rifle almost a year and today marks only the third range trip. I suppose I need to load up some of the new brass I scored last year and study up on the 1885 trigger. It acts like it’s just gunked up, I suppose after over 100 years that is possible.

 

Mike

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August 24, 2020 - 5:08 pm
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TXGunNut said
Trigger still a bit troublesome, seemed a lot creepier than on the early trips and still way too heavy.

  

That I couldn’t live with!  In fact, I find it’s almost impossible to shoot with such a trigger–I feel as if my finger is paralyzed.

Though it won’t take out the creep, you can at least reduce the weight by weakening the main spring–on most BP guns it’s far stronger than it needs to be.  (Because, I’ve read, BP primers were less sensitive than modern ones; but whether that’s true or not, the original spring is still unnecessarily strong.)  It can be weakened by grinding down the sides, a little at a time, trying it back in the action each time, until it feels right.  If you can find a replacement spring, work on that, & save the original.  (In my experience, replacement springs are even stronger than originals.)

First, however, liberally anoint the sear tip & full-cock notch with that super-slick red grease, & all the parts of the trigger mechanism should be well lubed; this alone should bring some improvement, though not enough if it’s as you describe.

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November 7, 2020 - 1:21 am
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Update-

Prepped 20 of the new Winchester 32-40 brass tonight to unwind from a disappointing week. The brass was very much undersize in the neck and a few mouths were bent so after running it thru the sizer (RCBS Cowboy dies) I ran it thru the neck expanding die. The neck expander would not expand the entire length of the neck so I wasn’t able to trim the cases to a uniform length. Furthermore, some of the cases seemed to have a bit of runout or were possibly bent. I was, however, able to de-burr the flash holes without difficulty. I suppose I’ll just have to fireform these cases (range trip!) before I get serious about load development. I’m wondering if I need to find a “shooter” 1894 or an 1885 with a #2 barrel in 32-40 for a “load test mule”. I’m too much of a wimp Wink to lug this 11.4# behemoth of a target rifle to the range just to form brass or do rough load development. (Where is that “tongue firmly planted in cheek” icon?)

I’d post pics but the cases are in the cleaner and I’ve poured some excellent bourbon over a few slivers of ice. My loading room is “off limits” for the night. Smile

All kidding aside I’m very disappointed in this Winchester brass. I’m thinking very seriously about re-purposing some Hornady 38-55 brass and sizing it down if they have no plans of making 32-40 brass. 

 

Mike

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November 7, 2020 - 9:58 pm
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Mike I am not a fan of Winchester brass.  I do use it only because it looks better to have Winchester brass for my Winchesters.  Too bad someone doesn’t make a 32-40 f/l bushing die.  With these you can control inside and outside diameters and how much of the neck gets sized. Sometimes you can straighten brass by proper alignment of the die.  Put a washer on the shell holder and raise the the ram.  Now tighten the die against the washer.  This sometimes will align the die and shell holder and give you a straighter case.

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November 7, 2020 - 10:07 pm
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Chuck said
Sometimes you can straighten brass by proper alignment of the die.  Put a washer on the shell holder and raise the the ram.  Now tighten the die against the washer.  This sometimes will align the die and shell holder and give you a straighter case.  

Or, buy a Forester Co-ax press, like the one I’ve been using for close to 50 yrs.  (Actually, mine is a Bonanza, the original maker Forester bought out.)

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November 7, 2020 - 10:13 pm
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This is the first time I’ve been disappointed with Winchester brass, Chuck. It’s not my favorite brass but they make a few less popular cases now and then. I bought several hundred pieces a few years back for 32 Spl, 32WCF, 38WCF and another that escapes my mind and other than destroying a few 32WCF cases in the sizer die I was pretty impressed. I like the RCBS Cowboy dies because they seem to only minimally resize the case, these were undersize from the factory. I think firing them will straighten them up and uniform the case volume.

I’m taking a break from casting; old Winchester mould is taking awhile to get up to temp or I’m not moving fast enough. 

 

Mike

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November 7, 2020 - 10:25 pm
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clarence said

Or, buy a Forester Co-ax press, like the one I’ve been using for close to 50 yrs.  (Actually, mine is a Bonanza, the original maker Forester bought out.)  

Never used a co ax.  I have several presses.  I have a Mec that the shell holder is allowed to move to self center.  Many new presses do this or allow the dies to self align.

Check out the Frankford Arsenal.  You don’t need to watch it all.

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November 7, 2020 - 11:43 pm
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clarence said

Or, buy a Forester Co-ax press, like the one I’ve been using for close to 50 yrs.  (Actually, mine is a Bonanza, the original maker Forester bought out.)  

Food for thought, thanks. I’ve been using a couple of nearly 40 year old RCBS presses and though I’d like to have a RockChucker or a Co-Ax press I’ve been pretty pleased with them. 

Brought that old Winchester mould out of retirement a few hours ago. Gave it a good scrubbing but the first session didn’t go well. Second session went much better once I figured out the old iron likes to go fast & hot. Melt was about 700, mould about 370 and I cut the dime-sized spruce as soon as it got frosty-about a 3-count. Had to keep a pretty brisk pace to keep the mould hot so bullets piled up pretty quick for a one-holder. Other pic is the undersize Winchester brass. May size a few bullets and stuff a few cases in the morning.

 

Mike

 

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November 8, 2020 - 1:28 am
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TXGunNut said

…though I’d like to have a RockChucker or a Co-Ax press 

I have both…no comparison.

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November 8, 2020 - 3:46 am
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clarence said

TXGunNut said
…though I’d like to have a RockChucker or a Co-Ax press 

I have both…no comparison.  

 I’m concerned about the universal shell holder. Does the Forster shell holder work on the oddball stuff we load? I really like the run-out tool, would be nice but I’d probably need some new dies.

 

Mike

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November 8, 2020 - 11:30 am
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I use a Forster Co-Ax as well- love it. I also use Hornady and RCBS presses but for small batch (100 rounds or less) or load development- I only use the Forster because I get better consistency.

It handles all diameters if you have both Shell Holder Jaws.

IIRC, standard with the press are the “S” jaws:  Small end- .343″-.422″ rim, Large end- .468″-.562″ rim

Then there’s “LS” jaws I purchased separately (of vice versa): Small end .312″-.375″, Large end- .531″-.635″

Finally you can also purchase an adapter plate to use standard shell holders and that doesn’t affect the ability of the dies to “float” and center itself over the case as you are sizing or seating bullets (or boolits). 

To keep my moulds at temp, I use an electric hot plate to set them on if I’ve got to take a break to adjust something or for whatever reason.  It’s particularly handy when casting from two different moulds.

Ron

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November 8, 2020 - 4:34 pm
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Thanks, Ron. Food for thought. I’ve been using the same RS press for nearly 40 years and the day I unbolt it from my bench will be a sad one.

I cast for a few years before I started using a hot plate and now it’s an integral part of the process. I’ll need to put in my notes the antique 32-40’s preference for a higher casting temp and possibly set it a little higher next time. 

Haven’t been to the CB site in awhile, neglected to participate in the last fund drive as well. I may drop in over there for some input on this project.

 

Mike

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November 9, 2020 - 12:26 am
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Here is a picture of my wife’s garage.  Sorry , no matter what I do the picture will not load right side up???  Every wall has a lot of stuff.  My loading and shooting items are stuffed where ever there is room. 

 

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Looks like home! I hope you use those levels more than I do. I inherited several from my dad, no idea why he had so many when he seldom used one. I’ve had so much fun in my loading room this weekend I may just stay home and play with my toys tomorrow. I have a range report but it will have to wait until my BP meds kick in. Wink

 

Mike

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November 9, 2020 - 4:52 am
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Range Report:

Nothing good to report. The rifle didn’t like the latest load but since I changed everything but the bullet lube I learned nothing. Actually “didn’t like” is a bit too optimistic a description. Two rounds didn’t even show up on the target at 100 yds. Pressure wasn’t high enough to fireform the undersize cases so it was almost a total bust. On top of that the next group over was constantly jabbering about a subject they obviously knew very little about. They’re going hunting next weekend and between the three of them they can’t sight in a modern scoped rifle. It was a member and two guests and the member was convinced he knew what he was doing. I’m all about educating the shooting public but I’ve learned to pick my battles. Since I was a bit cranky I elected to overlook a few safety violations but they really pushed the limit by asking more questions than a two-year old in a sex toy shop. I’ll admit they had a good eye for fine rifles but they had no idea why I was tapping on the front sight with a brass punch. 

Vent over. At least I got to shoot bullets made by a mould likely as old as my rifle and I got in some trigger time on a rifle I need to learn how to shoot. I’d like to stay home tomorrow and play with my toys but quite honestly I don’t know where to go from here. I’ll be going back to my original load but not sure what to change next. Maybe I need to flatten a OO buck pellet and slug the bore. Can’t recall doing it so I guess that’s next. I’m beginning to suspect the bullets dropped by the antique mould are too small for this rifle. 

 

Mike

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November 9, 2020 - 11:01 am
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I finally had to settle on .323″ bullet.  I haven’t cast the chamber to check for erosion yet but using smaller diameter bullets was disastrous. It is not one of the “Extra Steel” barrels though:

Distances from case mouth:

.321″ lands= 3.550″ 
.322″ lands= 2.077″
.323″ lands= .709″; go with this for bullet diameter
.324″ lands= .398″; too short to seat bullet in case

I gave up on this project but now I may get back on this horse…

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November 9, 2020 - 12:55 pm
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rwsem said
 I haven’t cast the chamber to check for erosion yet but using smaller diameter bullets was disastrous.

It usually is.  Best bullet to use is largest one that can be seated in an un-sized case mouth. 

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rwsem said
I finally had to settle on .323″ bullet.  I haven’t cast the chamber to check for erosion yet but using smaller diameter bullets was disastrous. It is not one of the “Extra Steel” barrels though:

Distances from case mouth:

.321″ lands= 3.550″ 
.322″ lands= 2.077″
.323″ lands= .709″; go with this for bullet diameter
.324″ lands= .398″; too short to seat bullet in case

I gave up on this project but now I may get back on this horse…  

Good information, thanks. I wish my bore camera was working, hadn’t considered erosion. I know it almost likes the .323 bullet I was using but was hoping the .320’s would work. 

 

Mike

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November 9, 2020 - 2:44 pm
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TXGunNut said

Good information, thanks. I wish my bore camera was working, hadn’t considered erosion. I know it almost likes the .323 bullet I was using but was hoping the .320’s would work. 

 

Mike  

Ever tried breech seating?  Not hard to do–glue a length of dowel rod in a fired case long enough to seat bullet in throat as far as it can be pushed; a bullet too large to fit case mouth can be seated this way.  Powder is held in case with some kind of wad like kapok, or various synthetic fibers, & I’ve used milkweed “down,” a tiny pinch is all it takes.

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November 9, 2020 - 6:04 pm
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rwsem said
I finally had to settle on .323″ bullet.  I haven’t cast the chamber to check for erosion yet but using smaller diameter bullets was disastrous. It is not one of the “Extra Steel” barrels though:

Distances from case mouth:

.321″ lands= 3.550″ 
.322″ lands= 2.077″
.323″ lands= .709″; go with this for bullet diameter
.324″ lands= .398″; too short to seat bullet in case

I gave up on this project but now I may get back on this horse…  

Ronald, sorry but I am a bit confused.  What are you measuring?   When you slug the barrel you need to measure the groove diameter of the slug.  If you are measuring the bullet jump/leade you need to get one of these.

https://www.hornady.com/reloading/precision-measuring/precision-tools-and-gauges/oal-gauges-modified-cases#!/

If this is what you are doing you have to tap and thread a FIRED piece of brass.  The opening at the mouth has to be expanded so a bullet will slide easily in and out.  DO NOT buy a piece of brass that has not been fire formed in your chamber.  The correct way to seat a bullet is to know the exact length from the base of your cartridge to the exact point (ogive) your bullet touches the lands.  You will need a micrometer and a bullet comparator.  Once you know this measurement you can then worry about how much jump, seating depth, and the max OAL that will cycle through your gun.  When seating your bullets use a bullet comparator on your calipers and seat the bullet at the desired ogive length.  Not from the base to the tip of the bullet.

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