Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dunbar Press

I had never heard of it until yesterday.  I then discovered that our gunsmith owns one, worked with the inventor to help produce them, and that one of the inventor's sons is a customer at the shop.

The Dunbar Press
What is the Dunbar Press?  Well I hope to find out more when the son, a regular, comes in at the same time I'm there.

Dunbar, West Virginia is just west of Charleston. Dunbar Glass began in 1923 with the formation of the Dunbar Flint Glass Corporation and produced glassware for nearly 30 years. Dunbar produced a variety of glass products starting with glass chimneys then specialized in glass pitcher and tumbler sets, kitchen items, vases, barware, and tumble ups. That they could survive the depression says a great deal about the popularity of their glass. Dunbar prospered and in 1932 they featured designs by John Held Jr. These were sold in both Bloomingdale's and Macy's. In the 1940s Dunbar was a major competitor. In the late 1940s Dunbar was producing lighting fixtures, private mold glassware, heat resisting cookware and vases for florists. By 1956 Dunbar was struggling. They were trying to find a profitable product. Competition from overseas made producing glassware difficult. The board of directors decided to concentrate on on machine drawn tubing development and cut back on the more expensive glassware they were noted for. Soon after this decision Dunbar closed its doors. It was about this time that the Dunbar Press was produced. The press was developed by a Mr. Thomas William Cook (1918-2001) of West View, VA, who sold the production rights to Dunbar Glass.

USS Rich after striking the magnetic mine off Normandy
Mr. Cook worked for Dupont before the war and had been moved from the valley to Wilmington, Delaware which he did to keep his job.  Knowing that the draft would eventually get him he chose to enlist to ensure he could do what he wanted and what he believed would be the best contribution to the war effort.  A Machinist's Mate 3rd in the U. S. Navy during WWII, Mr. Cook was on board the destroyer escort USS Rich (DE695), a Buckley class vessel, on D-Day+2 (June 8, 1944)  when it struck several mines and was severely damaged and sunk.  Mr. Cook was at his battle station on the fantail AA gun when the second mine detonated and he was blown approximately 150 feet into the water.  Although he survived he was disabled and nearly lost his legs.  Several years were needed for recovery and for the rest of his life the military provided him with special shoes but he did walk again. 

Finally on the mend and with a young family, Mr. Cook had his own shop and did precision, small scale, special work for many local companies and even NASA.  He continued to make some press parts in his shop for the press maker even after press production moved to Roanoke, Virginia.  Mr. Cook loved machine work and shooting so much that he built a single-action .22 LR revolver from scratch except for the barrel blank. 

His son, Benny, still has one of his dad's presses which is dated 1958 and on which he has loaded many thousands of rounds.  Former employee, Lewis Gough, also has a press.  It is said that the press made Mr. Cook some "good money".  Mr. Cook's son tells me that press production continued through at least 1960. 

Modern-Bond "Type D"
The press is very strong and threaded for the now standard 7/8-14 thread so it is compatible with current dies.  However, a shell holder adapter from CH Tool is required to use current shell holders.  This would be an excellent press for reloaders using 2-die sets for bottle-neck cartridges.

As I've been researching this press I've been curious about the value of these presses.  One recently sold on eBay for $242.00.  That would make it well worthwhile to restore one as Mr. Kevin Rohrer did.

There was an earlier and very similar press, the single-station Modern-Bond "Type D". Apparently this press was only produced from 1935 to 1938. It is likely that the depression and then WWII killed it off.

Herter's of Waseca, Minnesota apparently made/marketed the Herter's Super Model 9 press which is a "copy" of the Dunbar.  I'm not quite sure how long it was on the market but I seem to remember the press in the late 1960s although I can't be certain. There was also the Hollywood and Texan presses.  CH-Tool made the 333 press and now produces the 444 press (which does not require shell holder adapters).

I will be continuing my research...
Herter's Super Model 9

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have came across a herters model 9 press with a herters model 45 powder measure. Is there any info you can tell me about them, i am having problems finding anything.

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