08 Mar 2015

There’s a Story Here Somewhere

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Texas Loadmaster Loading Press

I used to reload ammunition, decades ago, when I was young and poor and keen. Like many people, over the years I became busier and more prosperous. I never reloaded anything, and I finally gave away all my tools and supplies. Farewell, Herter’s powder measure and scale and Pacific press!

I got outbid back in the 1980s, in the auction of John Amber’s gun collection, for a Krag customized by A.O. Neidner, and I’ve had a hankering for a Neidner custom rifle ever since.

Last Fall, I ran into a Neidner-built Mauser with a special barrel by the legendary old-time Tucson barrel-maker Bill Sukalle on Gun Broker. It was of unknown chambering, but it was a Neidner with extra Sukalle on the side, so I just had to buy it.

Of course, it turned out that the rifle had been made before 1930 and chambered in a wildcat cartridge invented by Major Ned Roberts, the .25 Roberts, that was modified slightly* and commercialized by Remington in 1934 as the .257 Roberts.

So I’ve been studying on how to modify 7×57 Mauser brass and gradually picking up loading tools and supplies in order to feed that Neidner rifle.

My acquisition agenda has me looking at used loading tools on Ebay, and (as everybody knows) Ebay thoughtfully arranges for items similar to those you have been looking at to pop up to tempt you.

Recently, via that Ebay policy, I came across the strangest thing.


It was Ebay item number 121584408509 (this link will only function for for so many weeks, until Ebay gets rid of the expired listing).

Here is a restored Texan loadmaster turret reloading press. This is circa early 1960’s and in excellent overall condition. The shafts have been re-blued as has the top turret cap by Turnbull restoration and the turret has been color case hardened. The main driving tumbler has also been re-blued and the body has been sand blasted and re-painted with VHT wrinkle paint to simulate the original finish. The decal too is a new reproduction that is smaller than the originals. Finally, the handle has been turned out of stainless steel as the originals were prone to bending. It does NOT come with the priming system normally available with these. It also has no shell holders and only one priming arm. This was rebuilt to reload – or you can just sit there and look at it. It’s up to you. No international shipping – and no returns.


Ebay shoved in front of my nose a massive old turreted loading press from the 1960s by a completely unheard of manufacturer. I used to load when I was in high school in the 1960s, so I’m basically familiar with the standard companies which made loading gear, Lyman and Lee, Reddding and RCBS, Hornaday, Pacific and Herter’s (both now gone). But I never heard of a Texas Loadmaster.

The bid was already up to $214.50, with a few days to go, which I thought extraordinary for an ancient 1960s model loading press. You can buy brand-new top end turret presses all day for that kind of money.

But what was really bizarre was the seller’s statement that this press had been painstakingly restored by Turnbull Restoration. Turnbull Restoration, of course, is a really high-end company, renowned for their unequaled case hardening, which produces extremely beautiful and extremely expensive replica Winchester Model 1886s and Colt 1911s.

What could possibly have possessed somebody to ship off some obscure 1960s loading press to Turnbull for a top-quality restoration? That kind of work by Turnbull undoubtedly costs roughly all the tea in China. For what that must have cost you could buy a large pile of brand-new, 50-years-improved current presses and still have change for a beer.

I was tempted to bid on it. The winner would obviously be getting thousands of dollars of restoration work for some hundreds of dollars, but… When I Googled “Texas Loadmaster”, I couldn’t find anything. All that came up was a new “Loadmaster” press by Lee. I had to search under “Sovereign Instruments Texas Loadmaster”, and I still found only minimal information.

Upon reflection, I concluded that this press was certainly missing parts. I felt sure I could never locate a manual or any parts for it, so what would I do if it needed special shell holders or die bushings?

Bidding ended where it was yesterday, at $214.50. Did someone get the bargain of the century? I doubt it, but who knows?

Anyway, I thought I would write all this up, and throw the mystery out there. The Internet being what it is, you never know. Somebody may come along who can supply the answer to the question of why would anyone restore that press?

*Remington saved work by skipping the original shortening of the 7×57 Mauser case by 1/16″, moved forward the shoulder angle and changed the angle from 15 degrees to a sharper 20 degrees.

Sovereign Instruments, Dallas decal

12 Feedbacks on "There’s a Story Here Somewhere"



My opinion :
In any case, and more especially when it comes to rifle cartridges, I would rather look for an RCBS with a “O” shaped frame (avoid “C” frames at all costs since they bend under pressure). Very reliable and regular stuff, even with iron made military cases and when subsequently using carbide tungsten tools. The trouble that often arises with a turret press is an imperceptible but true bending of the axle, which is not really a problem with pistol cartridges but an annoying one with rifle’s, especially when you reload in quest of maximum accuracy and regularity.

Overall, reloading is not necessarily a matter of saving money. The extensive tests I did with various brands of ammunitions (with bench rest and sniper rifles at 100 and 200 yards) proved that the best accuracy and regularity were systematically obtained with those I made by my own. Even good quality and rather expensive brands (such as Norma and Hirtenberger) couldn’t challenge my own cartridges in regularity and precision; and I’m not splitting hairs!
For think that all ammunition brands use big machines that assembly cartridges at the speed of a machine gun, so not with all the care you take when you do it by yourself for a bench rest test tomorrow morning.
In my case, I went as far as to weight my cases one by one so as to group them by distinct sets (it would be a bit long to explain why, but I’ll do it in a nexte answer if ever you are curious to know). No need to control the weight of each bullet with a good brand such as Sierra, in revenge; I never found any noticeable difference from one bullet to another, remarkably.
Beside, reloading allow you to choose your own powder (faster or slower) and to reduce or raise the power of your ammunition sets. Les powder if you are looking for greater accuracy; or more if you favor maximum power; or else and more exotic, still less powder when you want to make subsonic ammunitions.

Also, note that the brass thickness may be very different at the neck from one case manufacturer to another (one more good reason to weight your cases before reloading them). For example, I experienced some trouble with Norma cases (in spite of their superior quality) such as repeatedly jamming a US M1 .30 carbine because the brass was too thick at the neck.

You said: “So I’ve been studying on how to modify 7×57 Mauser brass and gradually picking up loading tools and supplies in order to feed that Neidner rifle.”
When you will order a tool set in .25 Roberts (some brands do this kind of special order), ask for a carbide tungsten one (yes, the special order and the carbide tungsten will mean a significant extra cost). Once you’ll get this, put the case on the base of the tool, and heat gently the neck and the shoulder with an ordinary blow torch you will find for a cheap price in any Home Depot; then press (not too fast, not too slowly, but firmly). You won’t get the right result at the first try, probably; but that’s the way you could get what you want. The very best would be, additionally, to find or to make lathe a little iron rod (about 57 to 60 mm long and .25 in diameter) you’ll slip in the case before pressing (not a single chance to damage the tool if it is carbide tungsten made). Then you’ll simply extract the rod from the case with pliers; or (perhaps) with a bullet extractor.


You asked a really relevant question…Why did he send this off to Turnbull? The costs would be crazy….I have an informed opinion since I own several of their pistols.

The only thing I can think of is if he had a weapon in an obscure caliber and wanted Turnbull to tweak the set-up to fit the weapon.


…or the guy had a relative who worked for Turnbull. :-)


@Dominique… Good point. Very good point.

Dave J

Been hand loading since the mid 70s but have never seen that press or a similar design. Without shellholders I do not see how that press functions unless there is a part/component not shown in the pic.


Paul asks “Why did he send this off to Turnbull?” Maybe he didn’t, he could be just making that up. I’m sure Turnbull could tell you if they restored it.


Shell holders are not a problem. I have several old pacific press’s. Took one of the one piece ram style shaft plunger thingys with built in shell holders to machine shop. They milled a dove tail slot into it to accept simple rcbs shell holder. Now I can load anything.


Yes I am not sure, but I got the bid on that press. and like you I helped my Dad back in the days, he also had one of these press’s. Yes they were made to last a life time. if this press was rebuilt, I found a pin that was not put in wright, have not found one to fit it yet, 11/64 by 1.25 long. This press just mite find its way back on e-bay…I will be looking back for comments Thanks

Herman Oberkrom

I have this press. I bought it in 1962. I have loaded well over 10,000 rounds of rifle and revolver ammo.
I have worn my primer arms out and would like to buy new ones. large and small,
I can answer most questions on this press.

Eugene Waybright

I wanted to know if you have the two deprimer rods and the 2 primer rods. I have the same unit.


I did not buy it.


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