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Thread: Loadin' the oldies

  1. #1
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    Default Loadin' the oldies

    Does anybody load for any of the old calibers of the black powder or early smokeless era? Calibers such as;

    32-40, 35 WCF, 38-55, 40-65, 40-70, 40-72,405 WCF,44-77, 45-70, 45-90 or 45-2 7/8". I am particularly interested in loading these with smokeless, not black. Cast bullets, what alloy, what lube, etc? What guns? Winchester Models 73, 76, 85, 86, 92, 94, 95, etc. Marlin Model 1881, 89,91,93,94, 95, etc. Sharps or High walls, rolling blocks, falling blocks, trapdoors or leverguns. Looking for tips and takes on these old ones.


    Thanks,
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    The only one you have listed that I load for is the 45-70(Ruger #1, Marlin 1895, Winchester 1886, T/C Encore, T/C Contender pistol). I also do the 50-110 WCF. The 50-110 is in an Encore. I'm not a bullet maker but I would probably use the Lyman #2 alloy if I were. SPG Lube as I don't think that the Lube that was at one time used by Marshall Stanton is available from Veral Smith any longer.


    I do have a 1878 Springfield Trapdoor but I haven't been able to bring myself to do some loads for it. I guess it is the only wall hanger I own.

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    New member George's Avatar
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    Default oldies

    Well let's see,
    I load and shoot FF blackpowder (not substitute) in: 45-70 Shiloh Sharps- 430 gr paper patched bullet, swaged, pure lead. 45-110 C Sharps- 520 gr paper patched bullet, swaged, pure lead. 40-70 Sharps Straight original 1885 Win high wall with original Sharps barrel- 300 gr #2 allow bullet or 350 gr #2 alloy bullet. (2) 32-40 original 1885 Win high walls- 190 gr hard cast bullet with gas check or 200 gr #2 alloy cast bullet. (2) 45-70 originals, 1886 Win- 300 gr hard cast with gas check or 350 gr hard cast with gas check. (2) 45-70 Trapdoors (84 & 88)- 400 gr #2 alloy bullet. In the #2 alloy loads I use a fiber over powder wad or card. In the paper patch, pure lead loads I use a .030 over powder card with grease cookie topped by another .030 card. And in the case of the paper patched bullets for the single shots, the bullets are seated into the lands about .1". All are very accurate, very educational and lots of fun.

  4. #4
    New member George's Avatar
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    Default oldie design or modern ammo

    Really, since the originals are somewhat valuable I only load low pressure(blackpowder or blackpowder equivalent) cartridges for them. With the 45-70 Shiloh Sharps the pressure can be upped some (the 45-110, by design, is not so forgiving so only BP is loaded even though it's a modern gun). The 45-70 Sh. Sharps gets excellent accuracy combined with some reasonable velocity using such powders as IMR 3031, IMR 4198 or Varget behind the classic 405 gr jacketed bullet. It also does reasonably well with smokeless behind a gas checked, hard cast 350 gr. For accuracy AND low pressure, blackpowder equivalent loads SR 4759 or AA 5744 work very well! The secret to them is loading to enough pressure to get a clean burn but not so high as to run pressures up. For the single shots the bullets are left un-crimped or a very light taper crimp is applied depending upon the situation. In the original Trapdoors, 86s, 94s, and 85 High Walls chambered for blackpowder era cartridges or if pre-1900 then I almost exclusively use cast bullets with either the 4759 or 5744 in the smokeless loads... if not loading the blackpowder. In the 86s and 94s where a crimp is necessary I've found the Lee Factory Crimp die to be very useful. Also, the original Winchester 92's in 25-20 really like the Rem 86 gr jacketed with a small quantity of H 4227 but with the small case capacity and nature of the cartridge not too much worry about over-pressurizing.

    Overall, if the gun is older than about 1900-1905... low pressure, lead bullets are the way to go. If later with "smokeless or nickel steel" markings then more modern powders/pressures/bullets can be used to advantage. Hard cast, gas checked bullets generally shoot more accurately with the smokeless loads as do the jacketed bullets. Types of lubes don't seem to matter much with the hard cast and /or gas checked bullets in the smokeless loads but become more important with the softer alloys. I use SPG Lube with the blackpowder loads and softer alloys. I still prefer blackpowder in the original or oldie designs.

  5. #5

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    None on your list, but I'm loading 38-56, 50-140, 33 Win, 25-35, 25-20, 30-40 Krag.

  6. #6
    New member George's Avatar
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    Default more oldies

    Murphy,
    I remember you working on a 35 WCF load for an original Win 1895 a few months ago. And, you listed, in the original post, the 33 Win but didn't mention the 348. I shoot all these in original Winchesters- 95, 86 and 71. So my loads are not hot-rodded but each have proven to be very accurate and very "huntable'. The biggest problem with these older almost obsolete if not obsolete cartridges is availability of brass and with the 33 especially, the best bullets. All of the guns I have in these calibers are "smokeless" era originals so have shot smokeless loads with jacketed bullets. Each cartridge- 35, 33, 348 are all either forgotten or very under-rated. The 86, 92 and 71 actions are my favorites in the Winchester lever guns- very reliable and smooth... and, as one writer put it, "feeding a round into an early model 71 feels like stuffing a greasy sausage into the chamber", or something to that effect! I've found that statement also applies to the 92s and 86s.

    For the 35 WCF brass, I think only one headstamped source exists and that is Bertram. Not the best, but works fine for a few reloadings. Have not tried to reform 405 since Hornady now makes it but will try that at some time. Reforming 30-40 to 35 WCF is a waste of time since the brass ends up being too short. The 33 WCF is another obsolete type so I just buy the reformed stuff from Buff. Arms- works fine. Luckily, Winchester/Browning put out a second generation of the model 71 a few years back- so for a while, they made up some brass and ammo for the 348- brass is available although getting tougher to find now.
    Oldies, all good stuff!

  7. #7

    Default Oldies ... but Goodies

    Murphy:

    I've done a fair amount of loading and shooting some of the old timers: low wall, hi wall, Sharp's carbine, Ballard, rolling block, Hepburn, '86 and '95 Winchester, Peabody, etc. 32-40, 33-37, 38-72, 40-70 (Sharps Straight), 45-70 (of course), 50-70. I shot a little NMLRA and ASSRA a long time ago.

    For bullets, go with something soft -- a tin:lead mixture -- something between 1:16 and 1:40. 1:32 is probably a good place to start. For serious single shot target work with low pressure loads, I'd front-seat a tapered bullet into the throat, just ahead of the chamber, and then load the charged cartridge behind it. This is not uncommon on the ASSRA circuit, but may be quite shocking for some readers. This is NOT an acceptable practice for general shooting.

    For lube with smokeless powders, I used a mixture of parafin and vaseline, with a little (very little) ARCO graphite motor oil for good luck. I don't recall the proportions, but I may be able to find it in my notes somewhere. With black powder or duplex loads, I used a deer tallow and beeswax concoction.

    For smokeless powders, I used IMR 4227 and SR 4759. I'll have to check my notes for amounts. You may or may not have to use a dacron or cotton filler in the case or cork wad in the case mouth. The small amount of smokeless powder in those big cases requires care in loading; you have to keep the powder close to the bottom of the case for consistent ignition, or get vertical stringing (thanks for the info BTW).

    Questions?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    For accuracy AND low pressure, blackpowder equivalent loads SR 4759 or AA 5744 work very well! The secret to them is loading to enough pressure to get a clean burn but not so high as to run pressures up. .....I almost exclusively use cast bullets with either the 4759 or 5744 in the smokeless loads... if not loading the blackpowder.

    .... if the gun is older than about 1900-1905... low pressure, lead bullets are the way to go. If later with "smokeless or nickel steel" markings then more modern powders/pressures/bullets can be used to advantage. Hard cast, gas checked bullets generally shoot more accurately with the smokeless loads as do the jacketed bullets. Types of lubes don't seem to matter much with the hard cast and /or gas checked bullets in the smokeless loads but become more important with the softer alloys. I use SPG Lube with the blackpowder loads and softer alloys. I still prefer blackpowder in the original or oldie designs.
    George,

    That's where I'm at. Loading with smokeless for BP equivalent loads or thereabouts. I have a 100 year Marlin '93 in 38-55, made in 1906, in very nice condition. I have a Shiloh Saddle rifle 26" standard half & half in 40-70 Sharps straight, on order, to arrive one of these days. Never loaded the 40-70 at all but loaded for a rebarrelled No. 3 Carbine, an old Savage 99 and a late model Marlin 336 in 38-55. I want to load for the old 93 with smokeless and cast bullets. I have some Barnes "O"s in.377" diameter and may use those as well.

    The rifle is here in town and I've seen it, just came in today but I'm waiting to pick it up as there is another rifle behind it and will get them together to save paperwork. It appears to have a very good bore as advertised but I haven't slugged the barrel yet and I'm told there is some concern about bore diameter in the old Marlins. It is stamped "Special Smokeless Steel" and is sound but I want to stay at about 1500-1600 fps with the 255-265 bullets. I have some cast bullets from Cast Performance but they are hard and sized .380" they may or may not work. I may have to buy a mold and a sizer die for the Saeco lube-sizer and go to work.

    My questions will be forth coming. I understand the powder burning vs pressure. Must stay inside the envelope yet try for a clean burn. Will SR 4759 and AA 5744 be the way to go? I think loads are going to be at about 30,000psi limit. This will still take some research and I look forward to input from you, BB, Forestar and others with experience with this endeavor.

    I have dies, brass some bullets, and RL-7 powder. I think it will also work for moderate loads. I have my notes from ammo for stronger guns, but will need to check that closely. Anyway, thanks all, for your help.

    This is one of my winter projects so I have plenty of time as winter here is about 11 months long. This week was autumn.
    Last edited by Murphy; 09-28-2006 at 20:26.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  9. #9
    New member George's Avatar
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    Murphy, sounds like good stuff.
    With the Shiloh... 3-5 year wait for those now? Anyway, I think they used and still use Badger barrels?- good barrels! You'll have more leeway with the Shiloh and I think you'll like the 40-70 Sharps cartridge. Since my 40-70 is 125 years old with a flawless bore I haven't had the urge to experiment with the smokeless loads. Rel 7 would be one of the powders to try. I've found AA 5744 to be a little more predictable than the SR 4759 but the difference is small. I know that Lyman and some older references list loads that use the poly or dacron filler over the powder to help the ignition and burn consistency but I've found, across the board, that adding the filler will increase pressure so take that into consideration when working up loads. Watching for classic pressure signs, using the limited data available, experience and using the chrony and watching the SDs will all be handy with the load development. As far as bullets... there are quite a few available, especially in .408 which is probably the groove diameter of the Shiloh. Wouldn't hurt to slug it to confirm, though. Mine is .406 but with the softer alloys in the BP loads .407 and .408 shoot well. Another thing with the Shiloh... to realize the full accuracy potential of the gun, a good tang sight and globe front may be needed- more money and may defeat the purpose of the slick saddle gun setup?
    I have no experience with any of the older Marlins including the 93, but since it is a "smokeless" vintage should be ok with the reduced pressure loads. Slugging the bore as you mentioned would be a good idea. In my original Win 86s in 45-70 the hard Cast Performance bullets shoot very well with the smokeless, BP equivalent loads. Now, getting it to shoot accurately??? Probably like the original Win lever guns- every one is an entity unto itself. So many parts, bedding? what bedding!...
    good shootin

  10. #10
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    Default Loading the 38-55..

    Well the components are stacking up on my bench. I have a box of Hornady 220 grain flat points, .375", the Barnes "O's" at 255 grains, .377", and the C/P's LFNGC's of 265 grains. RL-7, AA's XMP 5744 and H4227. Winchester brass, the cheapest and most available and not too bad to work with. The first step is partially size and expand them then trim to uniform length and clean up the case mouth. I had to test fire this thing in the back yard today. 28.0 grains of RL-7, behind the 265 grain cast went through about 12" of birch log. I split it open and found the bullet with indentifiable rifling marks and the nose sort of expanded and deformed and the gas check missing. It weighed 179.2 grains. The nose was actually gone down past the crimp groove. It traveled straight down through the log diagonally crossing the grain of the wood. Pretty good performance, I'd say. I don't know the velocity, but would guess about 1450 fps. I'll check that later.

    About a hundred years ago, this would be quite a rifle to carry around iand be ready for just about anything. It is a hard hitting 6 pound rifle. I think I could make it do anything I would need if it was my only rifle. I could get supper or get rid of a problem . Sort of a "Bring home the bacon or save your bacon" kind of rifle. This might be fun...
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  11. #11

    Default Oldies . . . more info

    Murphy:

    Here are a couple references I would recommend: Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook and Modern American Rifles by A.C. Gould (for whom the Gould .45-330 hollow point bullet is named).

    I'm still digging around through my notes and found several lube recipes, but need to check a few fine points before posting.

    Forestar

  12. #12

    Default Lube recipes

    M:

    You might read some of the discussion in the Muzzeloading Hunting Forum re: lubes for conicals. But note, those lubes are for blackpowder loads (although they could also be used with blackpowder/smokeless duplex loads).

    For smokeless powder loads (in the "old timers") I use a 1:1 mixture (by weight) of vaseline and parafin with a little (a tablespoon or two) Arco graphite motor oil. I don't know if you can even buy Arco graphite motor oil any more, but any colloidal graphite should suffice (if you can find it). Another recipe calls for a mixture of 40% vaseline and 60% beeswax.

    Of course, there's also the commercial preparations of Alox (containing Alox and beeswax). THese are what most folks use to lube cast pistol bullets, but would also be appropriate for cast, gas checked bullets in modern calibers.

    F

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