Q3. What maintenance & prep items are necessary as opposed to what are nice to have?
A3.Required - powder flask, nipple tool, powder measure Nice to have - capper, bag for all the stuff
A3. Nipple wrench (for revolver nipples), nipple pick, grease or wonder wads, powder measure.
A3. The Ruger comes with a nipple wrench and I used a paper clip for a nipple prick
A3. Probably the only absolutely necessary tool needed with a Ruger is the nipple wrench that comes with the gun (unique hex head design.) Some people use things like plastic mustard squeeze bottles, etc. to hold and dispense powder! (Not too period, mind you.) Also a recycled margarine tub for their lube, applied with a popsicle stick (one of the best tools for that purpose, actually.) As others pointed out before, the gun comes with a built-in loading press, and does without brass!
Q4. Does the powder measure come with the flask?
A4. You can purchase a spout for the flask with the given volume desired. I suggest using a separate powder measure. It is faintly possible for a glowing ember in the chamber to set off a charge being poured in. Best not to have the flask too close if this happens. Many folks do not worry about it.
A4. You may have to buy a larger spout for your powder flask most seem to only throw 30 g. or you can buy a powder measure and fill it from the flask
A4. Pretty well all metal flasks come with a measuring tube/spout (block with finger, upend, press lever and release: a volume measure of powder is isolated in the spout.) However, you have to alter or change the spout to vary the charge. There are some adjustable flask spouts available, but IMHO save your money: it is considered very unsafe to dispense powder from a bulk container (i.e. flask or horn) directly into the BP firearm: lingering sparks from a previous round could turn that flask into a bomb in your hand. It is much safer to dispense into a separate measure, then pour it into the chamber. Adjustable powder measures (eg. 0 to 120 grains) are available at fairly modest cost anywhere BP supplies are sold. THEN there's the old poorboy homemade measure: determine what charge is right, and file down a cartridge case to hold exactly that charge when filled level and, voila, instant powder measure!
A4. flasks usually come with a specific grain nipple- if too high it can be cut to size, if too low larger ones can be purchased (try cabella's). Also helpfull to have an adjustable measure for occasional checking
Q9. Are there specific .45 wads, or are the .44 wads ok?
A9. The same size Wonder Wads cover both 44 and 45.
Q12. How often do you usually replace nipples (how many extra should I have on hand)?
A12. Don't dry fire and clean them after every day of shooting and they will last for several thousand rounds. I would keep a half dozen on hand.
A12. My 23 year old Old Army still has the original nipples and has had several thousand rounds though it.
A12. A: The stainless steel nipples on a Ruger are pretty tough and should last a couple of years anyway, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a spare set on hand. They are small little devils, and if you drop one when cleaning (in the grass or such), a replacement is nice. (I recently replaced all my nipples, only because I lost one and Ruger nipples only come in sets of six. The ones I had were not showing any appreciable wear or battering. Just tonight, the lost nipple turned up, so I have a full set of six replacements!)
A12. try uncle mikes stainless nipples