Modular mounting systems--size?


December 22, 2007, 02:51 PM
I've come across several sets of pics of modular mounting systems for presses--probably some 'em belonging to THR-ers. The one I am most interested in implementing is pretty much this one:

Each press is mounted to a board and the board then slides into a fitted slot on the bench. I think I can handle the building, and it looks like a much cleaner system than c-clamping each press in place.

My question is how big should each mounting board (and corresponding slot) be? I'll be starting out in January with (most likely) a MEC 650 and a Lee
Classic Cast. If I can find a good one used, I just get a MEC 9000 right away.

Is there a point where the presses just get too big and unwieldy for a modular system? If not, how big should I make the boards for mounting, so that I can be pretty sure of not getting a press too big for the mounting board?

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December 22, 2007, 03:03 PM
When I had a modular system at my last house, I made all the bases 10" x 10" and everything I had mounted to them. I made the bases in 3 layers, with the middel layer 3/4" wider than the top and bottom layers, with a corresponding slot in each place on my bench, which was also made in 3 layers. Mine were pretty thick, with the middle layer being 3/4" plywood. The bottom layer was 1/2" plywood and the top was 5/8" fine grain, high quality particle board. I had two bolt holes in each base that aligned with holes in the bench and used 3/8" bolts and wing nuts to hold the bases to the bench, once seated in the slots. You just have to make sure that where you drill the bolt holes will clear the tools that will be mounted on the bases.

The whole system worked good, but when I moved, I wasn't able to take the bench with me, so I left it behind with enough blank bases to fill the slots for the guy who bought my house.

Hope this helps.


December 22, 2007, 03:06 PM
It sure does Fred, and it answers several questions I was pondering but hadn't asked. Thanks!

December 22, 2007, 03:38 PM
My first impression was WOW, thats great. After cogitating, I have two reservations.

Some cartridges require a lot of pressure to size and then remove from the sizing die. This pressure would probably be magnified at the rear of the mounting plate on the down stoke, and at the front of the plate during upstroke.

First, bolting the press to the thin plate may cause the bolt / plate interface to be weak. In order to slide freely into the slot, the bolts would have to be recessed into the plate and the bolts may eventually pull thru. Not recessing the bolts would require the bench under the plate to be slotted.

Second, I fear the repeated up and down preasures will eventually work the plate lose or even fatigue the notch edges to the point that they will eventually fail.

I think that building a sturdy double thick plate to bolt each press to would be better. Also, the plates could be bolted directly to the bench top with 4 easily removable wing nut bolts, and each plate having the same bolt pattern for the 4 wing nuts bolts, doing away with the slots entirely.

December 22, 2007, 03:57 PM
Yep, those were my reservations as well. Both clearance for bolts and the dovetailed edges wearing out and causing movement.

Fred's system sounds much better.

I dunno. I've got about eight feet of space for reloading, plus another six feet or so for related stuff like case prep and sorting. I may just ditch the modular idea all together for. It seems like the material costs of making a sturdy enough modular system could really skyrocket.

December 22, 2007, 04:04 PM
delta9: What I described is modular. Instead of slots, you have bolt holes and use wing nuts for the plate.

The presses could then be stored in a slot on the top of the shelving. That slot would be squared off, to facilitate quick storage by sliding it in the storage slot when not in use.

December 22, 2007, 04:14 PM
These are old pictures but the bench hasn't changed. I now have 4 progrssive presses and 4 single stage presses. The modular system was the only way to go fo me, plus it allows me to clear everything off the bench to do firearm cleaning or minor gunsmithing. I think the pictures are self explanatory but if you have any questions let me know.

December 22, 2007, 05:05 PM
I used my system for about 8 years of heavy use, and they never worked loose. The bolts that actually held the equipment to the bases were special flathead bolts that I bought from military surplus. The head is about 3/16" thick and about an inch in diameter. These were recessed into the bottom of the mounting plate, so the plate would slide in and out of the recess in the bench. The nuts were on top, where they went through the mounting holes in the actual equipment. The key is using washers strong enough to take the strain on the top side, where the nuts tighten.

The through bolts, that held the bases into the recess, were placed at a midpoint, near the centerline of the bases, and close enough to the outer edges to clear the base of the press, etc., but not so near to the edge to be a weak fastener. You have to work this out for your own needs. You could always use more bolts, but that's something each person needs to work out for themselves and for their own needs.

I load everything from .380 auto to .45-120 Sharps (27 calibers in all), and full length size everything. My bench was very heavy and I never had a problem with it. It was a great bench, and I hated to leave it behind, but circumstances prevented me from taking it with me. This particular bench was 3.5' wide and 7' long, and I could work all around it. I had three slots on one side, two on the other and one on each end. It was a really handy setup and I sometimes miss it, but I don't have room for it now.

Hope this helps.


December 22, 2007, 06:59 PM
delta9: What I described is modular. Instead of slots, you have bolt holes and use wing nuts for the plate.

Yeah, I know. I'm just thinking of different alternatives. A sturdier modular system like yours would have higher materials costs, and that is a potential barrier.

A modular system sounds really cool, but I already have a four foot or so general bench that is currently set up up gun cleaning, and will have a ten foot reloading bunch.

Just trying to figure if a modular system is worth the trouble.

December 22, 2007, 09:32 PM
I've made this from mild steel plate, Thus far it's proven to be more solid the the press directly mounted to the desk. So far I haven't need to use the modular feature. But it does allow for a quick release to allow access to my desks other drawers or removal for out of the way storage.

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