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Using original Winchester reloading tools and bullet molds
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December 14, 2021 - 4:25 pm
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I have the original loading tools and bullet molds for both my 1876 “Short Rifle” in 40/60 WCF and my 1873 rifle in 32/20 WCF. My question to all is this, has anyone out there used the original tools to reload Black Powder cartridges for their Winchesters? I would like to use the same methods that were used back in the day, but wonder what if any problems I might run into.

Thank you all in advance, Apache (ya ta hey)ConfusedConfused

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December 14, 2021 - 6:56 pm
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I have never used the old tools but I’m sure it would be fun.  Just make sure the tool has all of the pieces. 

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December 14, 2021 - 8:13 pm
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A long time ago I tried 38-55 with an 1894 tool for fun and took a series of photos about its use.

Alles.jpgImage Enlarger

 

Stefan

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December 14, 2021 - 8:28 pm
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Apache, good to hear from you!  I, as well, have the tools and the moulds for many of my early models 1873 and 1876.  The closest I have come to using them tho is casting the .45 caliber bullets in the mould marked for the .45-75.  I used Rapine mould prep on the mould as it had some roughness.  The deposited graphite from the prep assured ready release from the mould and good looking bullets.  I digressed from the “old” ways as well when I lubed and sized them in my Lyman Lubrisizer.  I would be glad to hear your reports on loading the cases, then, and the results of shooting them.  But I don’t see any unusual problems using the tools in relatively good condition.  My opinion only.  Tim

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December 14, 2021 - 8:54 pm
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 I use the original tools and molds. What has worked the best is the threaded portion of a 1894 tool threaded in a Lee turret . Re-cut the Treads on a Lee turret to except the threads on the 1894 tool. I have used the tools as is and it works but takes time. I only buy a die set if I’m going to load a lot of that caliber. I already have tools in my collection and the tools do as good as dies. The 1880 type tools are alright on pistol calibers but can be hard to size rifle cartridges. 45-75 and 50-95 (bottle neck) are hard unless cases are pre-sized. T/R

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December 14, 2021 - 11:20 pm
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There is plenty that could be said that to most is obvious but to some may not be.

Make sure your brass is clean when you start. I would also just make sure the die is Clean without any dirt or rust. Also just like with modern dies use a very slight amount of oil on the outside of the case to lube for ease of movement. 

If your casting your own lead, it never hurts to preheat your mold. Most re-loaders will purge their first castings back into the melt until the mold and lead are casting good balls. A lot of guys like to quench in anti-freeze nowadays. Other than plain water I don’t know of a 1880s equivalent. By all means please don’t hit the mold blocks with a hard metal object when trying to free a ball from a stuck mold. Plenty of molds have been ruined by using anything other than wood. Same goes for removing cartridges from dies. Just give it time and some patience. 

They’re are some limitations to exactly how period correct you could make a reloaded cartridge, from a purist standpoint. Modern brass has a solid head and won’t hold as much powder as the old brass. Lubing bullets also would be a chore from a purist standpoint. Even using Beef Tallow or Japan Wax is difficult enough. Any natural material will go bad eventually. I’d recommend using a modern bullet lube from one of the reloading companies. A real purist will be hard pressed to find the old bees wax mixed with sperm whale oil recipe. I’ve been told the sperm oil is hard to come by these days! Supposedly Pope experimented with sperm whale oil but settled on steam cylinder oil instead.

Have fun with it, for the most part there is not much in the way to screw up loading with black powder. So long as your using your head.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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December 14, 2021 - 11:23 pm
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I don’t use my original tools for the ’73 and ’92 calibers, but I do use them exclusively for my .45-75 and .50-95.   Both of these calibers I reload with model 1880 spoon handle tools and cast bullets from the original molds.   I make all of my brass for these two calibers with reformed .348 Winchester brass, so I cap and de-cap with an RCBS #31 shell holder in my press.  Doing this is much easier and faster than using the Winchester tools.   I can then resize and seat the bullet with the original tools.  I have both RCBS and C&H dies in both calibers, but I’ve found that very little effort is needed in resizing, if using black powder and the crimp is better, in my opinion, with the original tools.  Have fun!

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December 15, 2021 - 1:11 am
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I’ve given it some serious thought, Apache. I’m dabbling with the 32-40 some these days and have an excellent mould in addition to the 1880 and 1894 tools. The mould drops a pretty good bullet. Neither tool has a recapping pin extant but I’ll cheat with my universal decapper if no one’s looking. Both tools have seen a fair bit of use so I’m pretty sure they work, they appear to be in excellent shape other than a few decade’s worth of dust and grime. I’m just a little hesitant to clean them out but I suppose it won’t hurt if I’m gentle. I’ve also been fondling an 1882 tool for the 32WCF cartridge and the 32WCF mould seems to be in excellent condition. Might as well see how they clean up, could be interesting!

SPG bullet lube works great for BP if you decide to go that way, bullets dropped from Winchester moulds generally don’t need sizing so you should be able to pan-lube them to good effect. I keep SPG lube in one of my sizers so I’ll probably cheat in that area too if I decide to shoot some Holy Black as part of this project.

 

Mike

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December 15, 2021 - 11:38 pm
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apache said
I have the original loading tools and bullet molds for both my 1876 “Short Rifle” in 40/60 WCF and my 1873 rifle in 32/20 WCF. My question to all is this, has anyone out there used the original tools to reload Black Powder cartridges for their Winchesters? I would like to use the same methods that were used back in the day, but wonder what if any problems I might run into.

Thank you all in advance, Apache (ya ta hey)ConfusedConfused  

If the tools are in good shape you should not have any trouble at all . In fact it’s real easy . I have loaded all four of the 1876 Winchester calibers using the original tools and of course Bp. along with the 38wcf 44wcf and a few others . No problem . In the 40-60 wcf with modern cases I am able to get around 55 Gr. of ffg Bp. Search my name and 40-60 my loading of that one may come up . Good luck Apache .

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December 16, 2021 - 12:52 am
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Apache,  

What Win4575 wrote applies to me as well.  I loaded some .40-60 WCF cartridges for an 1876 rifle using an original 1880 tool and bullets from an original 1878 iron mold.  I used resized and trimmed W-W .45-70 brass.  I find that the W-W brass has thinner neck walls than Federal or Starline so it is easier to seat bullets.  Winchester Large Rifle Magnum primer.

For the .40-60 I find about 50 grains of Goex FFG is all that fits in the modern cases.  Bullet is not sized but is hand lubed with SPG and seated in the case.  No wad.  I use the 1880 tool to seat the bullet and crimp the case.  The bullet is seated at exactly the correct length so the cartridge feeds and loads correctly in my 1876.  

They are good enough so that the old smokepole can show her stuff.  Here are some photos that include an original cartridge and one I loaded as well as the tools.

Let us know your results

 

IMG_3731-1.JPGImage EnlargerIMG_3732-1.JPGImage Enlarger40-60-1878-type4-mold-01-1.JPGImage Enlarger40-60-1878-type4-mold-05-1.JPGImage Enlarger40-60-1880-tool-type-2-02-1.JPGImage Enlarger

I call myself a collector as it sounds better than hoarder

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December 16, 2021 - 9:20 pm
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As some suggest using cut-down 45-70 brass in the 40-60 wcf, yes it can be done . Just remember the rim thickness of the 45-70 case runs about .070 in . with a rim Dia. of .608 The 40-60 wcf rim thickness is about .059 and the rim is about .628  just a tad thinner and a tad wider ! These cartridges headspace on the rim , if your bolt will close ? on the standard 45-70 rim without thinning it down to spec . then your rifle has out of spec. headspace . The other thing is often the smaller in  Dia. rim of the 45-70 cut-down case may not allow the extractor enough rim to purchase / catch . I have seen cut-down 45-70 cases feed and extract with the out of spec. sizes . And if it does you know your rifle is a bit sloppy on headspace . If you can get Jamison brass try it as it is much closer ( not exact ) but much closer than cut-down 45-70 brass , and it will hold 55 grn. of ffg Bp. Note the original 40-60 wcf loading was 61 -62 grn. of Bp. In the seven or eight 1876 Winchester 40-60 wcf rifles I have loaded for the best results was obtained by using the the Jamison cases loaded with the powder charge described .   Try it its all fun . ,,,DT 

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December 16, 2021 - 10:05 pm
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dusty texian said
Note the original 40-60 wcf loading was 61 -62 grn. of Bp. In the seven or eight 1876 Winchester 40-60 wcf rifles I have loaded for the best results was obtained by using the the Jamison cases loaded with the powder charge described .   Try it its all fun . ,,,DT   

On the Reloading Tool Instruction sheets .40-60 Winchester is noted at 62 Grains of either American Powder Mills’ “Rifle Cartridge No.3”, Hazard Powder’s “Kentucky Rifle F.G.,” E.I. Dupont’s “DuPoint Rifle F.G.”, or Laflin and Rand’s “Orange Rifle Extra F.G.”.

Kind of amazing we went from four major U.S. black powder companies down to zero.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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December 17, 2021 - 6:11 pm
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Does anyone have information on what the proper headspace range is for our older guns that headspace on the rim?  SAMMI specs are always given in a range. 

 

I just looked up the SAMMI spec for the 45-70 rim thickness.  .070″ minimum and .077 maximum.

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December 17, 2021 - 6:45 pm
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Here is the page for the 45-70.

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December 17, 2021 - 7:49 pm
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I went through the SAMMI specs looking for any of the Winchester cartridges.  There are 14 from the 218 Bee to the 45-70.  In each case the dimension from the bolt face to the muzzle side of the rim is + .007″ max. from the min.   218 Bee, 22 Hornet, 25-20, 25-35, 30-30, 30-40, 32 WSPL, 32-20, 348, 38-40, 38-55, 405, 44-40 and the 45-70.

I have no idea if this trend occurs in the obsolete cartridges?????

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December 18, 2021 - 12:28 am
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Chuck said
I went through the SAMMI specs looking for any of the Winchester cartridges.  There are 14 from the 218 Bee to the 45-70.  In each case the dimension from the bolt face to the muzzle side of the rim is + .007″ max. from the min.   218 Bee, 22 Hornet, 25-20, 25-35, 30-30, 30-40, 32 WSPL, 32-20, 348, 38-40, 38-55, 405, 44-40 and the 45-70.

I have no idea if this trend occurs in the obsolete cartridges?????  

In referring to Obsolete Cartridges or how they were originally manufactured. I think possibly that the Winchester Factory would of had a even tighter tolerance than modern SAMMI tolerances. The SAMMI wasn’t formed until 1926, well after Winchester had their own standards for production. Also they made SAMMI applicable across all firearm ammunition manufacturers. So I think this maybe why there is a larger tolerance than what may have been used by the Winchester factory. 

I think the specific topic would need much more research but as an example here is a Winchester factory cartridge gauge for the 7.65m/m Mauser Marina Argentina that gauges shell length, head diameter and head thickness. It has a tolerance of .005.

7.65mmMauser-CartridgeGauge.jpgImage Enlarger

Sincerely,

Maverick

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December 18, 2021 - 10:38 pm
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dusty texian said
As some suggest using cut-down 45-70 brass in the 40-60 wcf, yes it can be done . Just remember the rim thickness of the 45-70 case runs about .070 in . with a rim Dia. of .608 The 40-60 wcf rim thickness is about .059 and the rim is about .628  just a tad thinner and a tad wider ! These cartridges headspace on the rim , if your bolt will close ? on the standard 45-70 rim without thinning it down to spec . then your rifle has out of spec. headspace . The other thing is often the smaller in  Dia. rim of the 45-70 cut-down case may not allow the extractor enough rim to purchase / catch . I have seen cut-down 45-70 cases feed and extract with the out of spec. sizes . And if it does you know your rifle is a bit sloppy on headspace . If you can get Jamison brass try it as it is much closer ( not exact ) but much closer than cut-down 45-70 brass , and it will hold 55 grn. of ffg Bp. Note the original 40-60 wcf loading was 61 -62 grn. of Bp. In the seven or eight 1876 Winchester 40-60 wcf rifles I have loaded for the best results was obtained by using the the Jamison cases loaded with the powder charge described .   Try it its all fun . ,,,DT   

You are right on about sometimes having to thin the rim.  In Donnelly’s book it says that the rim of the 45-70 may have to be thinned to about .050″ when using this brass for the 40-60.  He says the rim thickness is .049″.  So if you assume this to be the minimum maybe the maximum is .056″????

I bet you could make the 40-60 from the 40-65 case.  The rim thickness of the 40-65 is .060″.

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