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.