Ideal No. 2 Duplex Powder Measures
My first Duplex Powder Measure was bought from Ed Curtis way back in the 1970's. I lived in West Texas, right in the middle of what was once the range of the Southern Buffalo Herd. Living in this Historic area caused me to develop a strong interest in Buffalo Rifles. I studied all I could and talked to the "Old Timers." I wanted to learn to reload and shoot them. Ed suggested I get an Ideal No.2 measure. He said they held lots of powder and were very accurate. Perfect for a Buffalo Rifle enthusiast.
Of course, Ed "Just Happened" to have one he was willing to sell. It was missing the small funnel but was otherwise complete. I bought it and immediately made a tapered funnel. I could not reproduce the rolled top edge but otherwise it looked great. Ed also "Just Happened" to have a nice Remington Rolling Block Sporting Rifle in 50-70. I bought that too.
Ed was right. I set out to reload 50-70 cartridges. I could dump a whole pound of black powder into that large tube and load away! They may hold two pounds but I never tried. I used 4759 as a priming charge and my 50-70 Remington would shoot clean and was super accurate.
We were mostly muzzle loader shooters back then, but there was some interest in Cartridge rifles. At the Annual State Muzzle Loading Match in Brady Texas that year, they "Allowed" us to have a Beef shoot on the last day. Firing off crossed sticks and sitting down like a Buffalo Hunter, I shot an open sight group of ten shots, at 200 yards, that measured 5 1/2 inches tall and 2 3/4 inches wide. ( I was young and could see the sights.) I won that match!
Naturally I was "Sold" on the rifle, the cartridge, and that Dandy No. 2 powder measure! Since then I have always had one or two or three of these measures in my collection. Sometimes I would sell one to an interested new shooter, but I always had one on hand.
These Measures were much too late to have been used by Buffalo Hunters. By 1892 the Buffalo were long gone. These were made for Hunters and Target Shooters.
It was not unusual even back in the Muzzle Loading Cap Lock era to combine two different charges of powder. An expert Rifleman might drop a small charge of 3 or 4 F Black powder in the bottom of cartridge case, then fill it up with 2 F. The rifle might then shoot cleaner. The main charge might burn hotter. Basically, try Anything for Accuracy.
When smokeless powders came along, Riflemen continued experimenting with these small priming charges.
As smaller cartridges became popular, Ideal designed the No. 6 measure. It was small and handy. It worked better for carrying to the Schuetzen range in a shooting box. The No. 2 was dropped from the line.
I continue to use the No. 2 measure. It is just as accurate as the number 6. With the No. 2, I can load any size cartridge without peeking in the hopper to see if I am running low on powder. If I want a straight Black powder charge, I don't put anything in the small funnel. The No. 2 will do it all.
There are many variations of these tools. I would suggest taking a look at Reloading Tools, Volume 2, by Rowe and Curtis, starting on page 158. If you are a Black powder shooter, it does not really matter which variation you have. They all work great.
Through the years, I combined shooting with collecting. (A little gun making thrown in.) It is impossible to know and understand Antique guns unless you do it all. Then you can appreciate the importance of the Reloading tools and their relationship to the rifles and history.
When Black Powder Silhouette shooting became popular for a while, Lyman offered a Measure with a big hopper. It was for big Black Powder cartridges. Those guys only use black powder, no smokeless. These threw only one charge.
With my No.2 measure, I could load a duplex charge of fine and coarse black powder. I think that might be legal, though I never follow fads.
I have been called a "Snob" by some modern Black powder shooters. I just smile. Why waste your time shooting a Spaghetti gun when you can own and shoot the Real Thing. Get an original powder measure. They are out there. Try it, you might like it!
I have always been curious about how these tools work. Illustrating a tool, in a book, gives little or no insight into what they do or how they work. Some tools are highly specialized. The Schoyen Powder Measure is a good example. They were made for a particular rifle in a particular caliber. They were not very adaptable and not many were made.
These Ideal powder measures were well designed. They could adapt to many different uses and calibers. This made them popular and successful.
These first pictures show an earlier style of powder adjustment. The main powder charge was adjusted by moving the nickel plated barrel in and out. There were no small brass bars like the later models to throw small charges. For small charges, that might not work well. The charge would have to drop into a thin slot. This possibility was covered easily by the small hopper. The charge there was adjustable from 1 to 15 grains of 2F black powder, according to the catalog.
The adjustment was easy to do. It required trial and error, but that is true of any setting on any measure. When using Black Powder, you fill the cartridge case. The idea is to fill it to the same level each time, and fill it to support the base of the bullet. You decide where you want the base of the bullet to rest, and adjust the charge accordingly.
To the left you can see the large nickel plated barrel that is graduated from 0 to 140 grains of black powder. It works in a straight forward way.
On the left side of the body of the measure you can see a small hole. This is where you adjust the small powder charges. You rotate the handle to expose the slot in the adjusting screw. Loosen the knurled screw on the end of the barrel. Then you turn the screw in and out to adjust the charge. The catalog says one turn of the fine thread screw is approximately 1 grain of 2F Black Powder.
This is a clever design. Without this hole you would have to disassemble the charging barrel to adjust the screw. I have found it very easy to adjust the small powder charges. I always drop a charge into a dish and weigh it so I can keep a record of what I load. That is normal practice no matter what you are loading.
If you decide to take these apart, watch out. There is a spring loaded pin that bears on the back of the handle. If you lose it, you will be sad. The pin is .220 diameter and 13/16 long if you messed up! The spring can fall out too!
To the left you can see that pesky little pin. A lot of these measures are missing this little part. The diameter is not a standard size so you will have to turn one down in a lathe.
There is a detent in the back of the handle that gives you a stopping point. It also holds the handle in any position. The measure works much better with the pin.
In the following pictures you can see the internal parts of the early measure. The added little brass plate and screw are delicate parts. I did not try to remove them.
The knob on the end of the barrel pushes out a ball shaped lock to hold the settings you choose.
You can just see the hole for the ball peeking out on the photo just to the left. The markings on this measure are pretty clear. They do not intend for you to set the large side below 10 grains of 2F Black powder. To set an approximate charge you slide the barrel in to the charge you want. the end of the brass tube just by the handle is the opposite index mark. If you want 50 grains, just slide the barrel in and line up the 50 mark with the edge of the brass. Then tighten the knob .
The July 18, 1899 Patent
These pictures are the next step in the evolution of the Ideal No. 2 Powder Measures. I have never seen any other type, though it may be possible to take the later type nickel plated barrel with two brass slides and switch them out. I have not tried it, but beware! Some parts are easily changed and work much the same.
These pictures of the 1899 patent will give you an idea of the relationship between all the parts on the No.2 Measure. Recently, I did see a really funny ad on one of the gun auction websites. A fellow had a basic No.1 Ideal measure for sale, with just the one large powder hopper. It was a later measure that had the same body casting as the No.2 duplex measure. He said, "It would be easy to change the No.1 to a No. 2 with a little machine work." I had to really laugh at that one. I am a heck of an old time machinist. I can make anything. I would never take the time and spend the money to make all the parts, tools and jigs necessary to change a No.1 to a No. 2 measure. It would be a lot of work. It would cost more than just buying a nice No. 2. I would love to see his botched up attempt! That was a funny ad!
The photo above left shows the fine thread screw used to adjust the priming charge. One grain per turn as I mentioned before. Under the locking screw on the end of the barrel is a brass pad. When you lock the fine thread, it is not damaged. If you mess with the pad, you will have a hard time getting it back in there! In the bottom of the hole you can see the inside of the brass tube. This is a blind hole.
Above right, you can see the bottom of the drop tube. Yes, it is short. I did make a longer drop tube to go on these, but it did not seem to make much difference. The hole through it goes down to .315. That is plenty small enough for a 32-40 and up. For smaller calibers you could drop a charge into a pan, then pour into a small funnel. Or, you could make a drop tube with a smaller hole. I'm sure the master machinist guy, who can easily change a No. 1 to a No. 2 could do it!
If you are into reloading, you may notice these do not have a clapper, clicker, or shaking device. When I am using these, I raise the handle all the way, then tap it all the way back, gently, twice. Then I lower it all the way and tap, gently, twice. That settles the powder in the measure and cartridge case nicely.
Ed Curtis sent this Ideal ad. It is a photo from an original so I am blowing it up so you can see it. Zoom to get a closer look.