View Full Version : Looking at a gift horse

01-13-2006, 04:34 PM
I was given this press and I am trying to get some info on it. It is a Herters press, but who made it and how old is it? Has anyone else seen one like this?

45 2.1
01-13-2006, 06:44 PM
I've seen these in the Herters catalogs. The Herters press I have is marked Herters, Waseca, WI. with no other markings. Yours looks very nice. Mine has served me well, enjoy yours.

01-13-2006, 06:52 PM
Herters useed to be the Cabellas/Bass Pro of today. They sold just about anything that was related to the out doors; guns, bows, reloading equipment, fly tying.... They went out of business some time in the 70's. I have a Herters "single stage" press, it is one large hunk of cast iron!! I think it is called over enginered- should last several lifetimes. The Herters presses will accept standard dies, but takes a different shell holder. I once saw somewhere that they are still made though I will have to look through my "library" to see if I can find who.

I hope this was of some help

45 2.1
01-13-2006, 07:01 PM
RCBS makes an adapter for the herters ram to take standard shellholders.

01-13-2006, 07:13 PM
Here's the place to get an adaptor:



01-13-2006, 10:44 PM
I have a 1970 Handloader's Digest which has this press:

"In effect two Model 3 Herter tools combined. Strong enough fo all resizing or swaging; will resize two cases at once. With two shell holders and priming arm."

And thats all they have on it. I thought when I first saw one of these that it was for rifle only but they're saying,resizing two at once? Interesting! Sorry I didn't have more!

Bent Ramrod
01-13-2006, 11:09 PM

You have a Herter's Model 81 Super Reloading Tool. It was designed for "the reloader who really knows his loading tools" entirely by Herter's, being "the loading tool the experienced reloader has been hoping someone would build." The press is essentially two of the Herter's Model 3 Super Reloading Tools cast together with an extra third's worth of webbing included for even more strength. Both dies of the standard 2-die set could be mounted and the operations performed simultaneously. I'd surmise the sizing and bullet seating would be a little cumbrous because the cases would have to be removed for powder charging, rather than simply moved from one shell holder to the next. Alternately, two other operations such as sizing two cases or two stages of case forming could be done simultaneously, and the press certainly should be strong enough for the latter if the operator can supply enough oomph in the absence of a compound linkage. There is supposed to be some kind of variable leverage linkage in the handle for more power or more distance, as wished. The handle has a patent pending spring loaded ball bearing that automatically keeps the handle in the upright position when not in use.

You should be able to unscrew the 7/8 x 14 bushings at the top and screw in Herter's Shotshell Reloading Dies in the 1-1/4 x 18 size (if you have them), and supposedly there were other bushings available for the 5/8 x 30 Lyman tong tool dies.

It certainly ought to do any reloading job if you have the room and the shell holders or adaptors. The frame is made of "heavy SAE Approved Semi-Alloyed Steel."

Herter's catalog advised the reader to "ask a machinist friend and he will tell you why this loading tool is the best." Certainly, having the press implies a lot of nice things about the knowledgable owner, as certified by Herter's catalog. Have fun!

01-13-2006, 11:56 PM
I have the same single stage Herter's Model 3 that I started reloading with in 1960. Split that Model 81 down the middle and change the color to dark brown and you've got an idea what it looks like. It's a super strong press...plenty of leverage for any resizing(likely bullet swaging also). I now use mine mainly with Lee sizing dies for bullet sizing.

As already pointed out, unless you've already got the Herter's shell holders, you'll need to get a shellholder adapter. New reloading dies will fit. About 5 years ago, I ordered the Vegatool adapter that Starmetal provided the link for. Seems to me that the current price is what I paid for it. Its a well made adapter. In your case, you obviously would need two if you really want to use the press as a double ram.

Another problem not mentioned is the priming arm. Once the adapter is in place, the priming arm on the press is too short to insert primers. You'll have to use a different means of priming.

01-14-2006, 12:33 PM
I have used a Herter’s press for over forty years. I’ve found them to be about as good as advertised, which is very good indeed. Remove the priming arm (they don’t give a good feel when setting primers) and buy a hand-priming tool. Install shellholder adapters and you will have a fine press.

I haven’t used the double ram press like you have, but the singles are built to last several lifetimes. Just don’t drop it on your foot!

01-15-2006, 11:25 PM
I got together with the owner this weekend and got the same low down. Thanks to all for the info, the former owner still had all the paperwork for the press ($34.95 in 1968) and the powder measure (a #67 Perfect tip off). The press came with 8 shell holders and two vega adapters. I may just mount this on the bench next to my Tru Line Junior for comic relief.

01-16-2006, 02:44 AM
Impressive looking. Then again, anything beats single stage presses for anything less than pure accuracy work.



01-17-2006, 08:57 PM
Now in the bottom of the box I find a Pacific powder scale. I started loading in the 60's and I have never seen one of these. The beam has no markings and is a threaded rod. The scale is set using a tin of sample weights. The scale has no dampening and is a cast iron base with no leveling screw. The tin of weights is half tin and a cardboard top and is marked PACIFIC (DURALUNIN) WEIGHTS. there are two tins and each has 1 2 3 6 6 20 20 and a small tube with five 1/10 weights. I assume that the reason for two tins was that the owner loaded charges larger than 60 grains. I havent used a non dampened scale for many years and couldn't believe that I use to have that kind off patience.

01-18-2006, 12:58 AM

Hang on to that spare weight set. I got an old Pacific several years ago in its box, but with an incomplete set of weights, and I ended up buying and swapping into three more of the scales until I was able to make up one complete set in that cardboard / tin box. (A Lyman or RCBS check weight set would have worked fine, but I wanted an ORIGINAL set; WHO's compulsive???) Someone will really WANT that second set someday! Yeah, they are slow to use ,but had a reputaion for good accuracy, and if you jam the nuts together tight, they won't shift on you. Had one scale where the owner had SOLDERED his adjusting nuts, I guess at his favorite load.

Took you long enough to get to the bottom of that box, if that's the same one you got last Fall. Musta been a DEEP one!


01-24-2006, 09:59 PM
I used to read those gigantic Herter's catalogs cover-to-cover as a kid. Bought a set of their magnum duck decoys and boy were they nice. IN my next lifetime, I am going back in time and be born as Jaques Herter. (The guy who tested every one of their products).

02-06-2008, 04:28 AM
Do a search for Herter's, their name is still good, some other outfit owns them I think. I was getting catalogs just a yr or two ago with the decoys in them. No shooting, or reloading stuff though. can't think of the name of the company now though.

I've got several sets of dies, #3 C press, POS powder measure and balance scale that was NEVER accurate, neither one of them!

About 1960 I paid a huge price for an Ohaus scale and still use it. Same as the $135 RCBS job now. That replaced the herters scale and measure and solved the problems I had.

Never saw the double press mentioned. Wish the picture would come up for me, I'd like to see it.

02-07-2008, 03:46 PM
Georgld, here is the pic you asked for. I have to finish cleaning this monster up and painting it. I am hoping to swag .45 lead pills to paper patch. The effort to swag a test boolit was substantial.



I hope these come up directly, if not past them into an address line and you will ge there.


02-07-2008, 04:01 PM
JBMauser, if you have any trouble swaging with the model 81, you might do like I did to my No. 3 Herter press. The model 81 is the same as having two No. 3's.

There is a linkage bar connecting the handle to the ram's piston base. This could be shortend, or just make a replacement that is 1/2 inch shorter. Then the ram and shell holder will top out at the right height area to have a break-free point.

That way you don't have to put much stress on the press to do swaging.


02-07-2008, 05:27 PM
Do I have to find a specific type / Grade of steel to fabricate these new shorter connecting rods? I have read that some regular presses fail to swage because the pins are not hard enough, would these rods egg shape their holes if not the correct strength? I have heard you say to shorten the stroke before but it just clicked what that will mean. Just remove the existing linkage and fabricate a replacement set with the pivit holes shortened 1/2 in. center to center. Now to find a source for bar stock of that size, not a Home Depot item. JB

02-07-2008, 06:43 PM
All I can tell you is, I was able to cut off a 1/2 inch and drill a new pin hole, thus using the old original pin.

So, the steel couldn't have been too hard if I could cut it with a hacksaw and drill out a pin hole.

But, to be on the safe side I'd make a duplicate link and keep the original. I don't even know for sure if the model 81 Herter's press has the same size link as the No. 3 press.


02-07-2008, 07:05 PM
Well I would have to make two links but then again the other ram would be of no real use I think, I do not want to bubba up a neat press. Seems like No. 3 s show up on ebay every day. I will look for metal and fabricate up a shorter linkage and use the solid ram for swaging and let the notched ram ride alongside for balance. I don't understand how the handle will cam over. if the ram is full down with the handle at 2:00 and full up at 5:00 now and with a shorter connection rod. the handle will still be full down at 5:00 when it cams over but the ram will just be lower in the press. Don't I have to move the pivit point in the handle (God Forbid) to move the dwell of the cam action? seems like I will only be shortening travel by 1/2 inch. which does not yield a mechanical advantage. I guess I really don't understand. I may need to kick this around some more. JB

02-07-2008, 08:36 PM
I would recommend trying some swaging without the press being altered, then if it causes too much grief of the ram pushing the bullet too far up into the swaging die, then cut a half inch off or make another link that will lower the bullet position in the die to a break away point.


02-07-2008, 10:49 PM
Great. Thank you for posting those. Press came up, other one had to be opened. But, got a good look at the massive casting. Nope, never seen that one advertized, wonder why.

For pins I 'd recommend you get a length of Drill rod and once they're fit and cleaned up nice enough to use. Temper them. Just bake in the wife's oven on a cookie sheet for 1 1/2hr @ 500 degree's, then dump into a bucket of cold water. They'll be hard enough you can't touch 'em with a file and tougher than H. Much better than standard hot rolled rod. PM me with the size's, I might have a piece since it's only two short pins. With material, could you make them up yourself??

I'm looking for tool steel in flat bar but haven't found it yet.
Wonder why Herter's didn't set that linkage for a more powerful stroke since they went so massive on every other part of it.