After much consternation over whether to go Lee, Hornady, RCBS, or Dillon, I finally landed on the Load Master (the setup videos on Youtube helped allay my fears!).
Ordered a crap load of stuff with it, came with a 45 kit w/ dies and the Pro auto-disk powder measure w/ 4 disks, and ordered extra the auto brass/bullet feeders, case collator, powder scale, Hornady tumbler, RCBS media separator, cleaning media, brass, bullets, Lee reload manual, cartridge guage, RCBS bullet puller, trimmer, etc, etc.
Ended up laying down $600! Would have been a LOT more if I went Hornady or Dillon for a 5-stage setup. Didn't order any primers or powder as I didn't want to get hit the hazmat fees. Going to a gunshow next weekend anyway!
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December 30, 2007, 12:07 AM
Congradulations on your new Loadmaster.
January 12, 2008, 12:30 PM
Now that you have had it for a couple of weeks, did you end up buying any of the "extras" that you realize now you didn't need to get? If you had to do the purchase over again, would there be any changes in your "buy" list?
January 12, 2008, 12:35 PM
Dont get discouraged, alot of learning curve with the loadmaster. I luv mine when it works. Ive had it over a year and Im still having problems...
January 12, 2008, 03:19 PM
I've got it setup, but still waiting on powder to arrive and took me a week to refinish an old bench I wanted to move into the house to mount it to. Made a couple of sample rounds to check length and crimp with no primers. Watched the youtube setup videos many times and adjusted dies, etc.
The brass feeder and bullet feeder seem to function well without much fiddling. Don't really like the o-ring friction locks on the dies, so I'll probably swap them out for the bolt-down style. Got the powder dispenser on, but haven't figured it out yet. Need to do some reading still.
Pretty much bought everything at once, in fact I bought some things I didn't need that already came with the press, like the large primer feeder and finished round catcher. For some reason I thought the large primer feeder was bigger than the one that came with the 45 ACP kit, didn't get the Large Primer/Small Primer thing at first. Never really looked at my 40 vs 45 rounds to see the primers are different sizes! :p
I bought a separate tumbler and media separator, but I'll probably send them back for a Lyman with the automatic media drain. One less piece to store.
After more reading, I'm glad I got the Lee, as I don't think I like the primer tubes used by the others. Seems more dangerous if one blows. Got the primer blast guard for the Lee just in case.
I'm using separate depriming and sizing dies per the youtube videos, so the brass is held in place while priming. Also not using the crimp on the seating die and using a factory crimp die, so my system is fully tricked out with brass/bullet feeders, brass collator, and all 5 dies filled!
One of the videos looked like they had a small LED light or similar wired up to the left side of the frame up to the turret. Looked pretty neat for maybe checking powder or bullet seating. Couldn't see if it was plugged in or battery powered. The wires ran down to the base area though.
January 12, 2008, 04:49 PM
You don't need to get rid of the O-ring nuts. Just remove the O ring and flip the nut over so the flat side is down. This will lock those dies in tight with a wrench.
January 12, 2008, 07:00 PM
Still like the bolt down better. You can take the dies on/off if needed and the setting never changes! Although the Hornady lockdown nuts I got don't fit the Lee turret very well. The bolt and/or nut itself can jam against an adjacent nut, depending on the angle. The OD is just slightly larger it seems.
Broke my darn powder chain already fiddling around. My fault though. I may try to do the solid rod-mod from the youtube videos when I get a chance
January 12, 2008, 09:22 PM
I used use Hornady lock down nuts for my Loadmaster. It's easier to simply buy more turrets and swap them out by caliber. I use a universal decapping die in one turret, and all other calibers (including factory crimp) in seperate turrets.
January 12, 2008, 11:09 PM
I also took the o-rings off of the lock nuts and turned them over. You can tighten the dies down with a wrench really good this way. I also made a die wrench by turning down a 1-1/8 impact socket so that it fit between the die nuts then silver soldered a handle onto it. This makes adjusting the dies a breeze because a regular wrench does not fit that well.
Making the wrenches on the Lathe is not cost efficient since each tool starts out as a store bought socket. If someone has a setup to cast copies I can send them my wrench as a master.
DarwinTe mounted a LED onto his press; I copied his excellent idea but did not mount it onto the press. I just bought one of those flexible neck LED flashlights from lowes and sit the body on top of the turret and snake the neck between the seating die and the factory crimp die then I point the light directly into the case at station #4.
Enjoy that new press and if you have any questions be sure to ask.
January 12, 2008, 11:36 PM
Shadow500, are you THE Shadowdog500 of YouTube fame? If so, your videos rock! Those and Darwinte's made my loading press choice easy.
January 13, 2008, 02:20 AM
Youtube fame??? My head is swelling! Yes that is me.
January 13, 2008, 07:17 AM
Hats off to you guys who are actually ambitious enough to take the time to film things like this. I think about it all the time, but I never drag the camera out.
January 13, 2008, 01:32 PM
Funny thing about lock rings...
I replaced all of mine with Lee rings.! I have them all in seperate turrets,and the ease of adjustability is really nice.
fwiw,trying to get at adjoining lock rings that are nearly touching each other is a pain in the but.Life is soooo much easier with extra turrets.
January 13, 2008, 03:04 PM
Shadow500, where did you get the thumbscrew ferrule for your chain-to-rod conversion on the powder throw? Looked at Lowes and found nothing but a lifting cable clamp. Too crude looking! They had no springs either.
January 13, 2008, 04:22 PM
I made it from whatever I had laying around. From what I remember the piece of plastic was cut down from a scrap piece of plastic and a thumb screw was fished out of my bolt and screw bin. The spring is the one that normal goes on the chain.
If I really wanted it to look slick I would probably get a pair of dice and use one of those. Just drill it and tap it in the appropriate places.
January 13, 2008, 05:39 PM
Cool, might try that. I thought it was metal not plastic!
January 13, 2008, 10:45 PM
The Loadmaster is the finest reloader made.
January 14, 2008, 12:29 AM
I really like mine. I've got it set up for 44mag. But I'm now ready to buy the dies, shellplates and turrets for .357mag, 45acp, 9x18mak, and 32 H&R mag. :D
Not to mention the rifles....
January 14, 2008, 03:02 PM
Don't forget to buy the small primer assembly .
I hate it when you order stuff and forget something !
January 14, 2008, 08:28 PM
It came with one.
January 14, 2008, 08:50 PM
Almost ready to rock! Just waiting on primer & powder. Should get here Wed. Need to add a few shelves under the bench, make the whole area messier, etc.
I don't want to tell you your business, but I just started reloading a couple years ago and have some advice for you based on my own mistakes and learning curve. Before you ever pull a lever, read at least 2 reloading manuals cover to cover. I like the ABC's of reloading and that Lyman manual on the table.
Once you are done, do it again. Both of them. Cover to cover. Then Start simple and slow with straight walled pistol cartridges. This learning curve will help you when you get into bottlenecked cartridges a lot! If you have a brass tumbler, put it outside or in the garage or somewhere... it will create a really fine, fine dust that is just a pain to keep cleaned up. They are noisy anyway.
As far as your set up, I don't know if that is a small room or just in the corner of a bigger room or what but you may need some things:
Lights.. you cannot have too many, no bulb lamps on the table though! Overhead and fluorescent lighting
2 or 3 different sizes of small paint brushes to clean everything off
A hand held broom and dust pan to clean up from the paint brushes
A bare floor - part of reloading is spilling. Spilling primers and powder into a carpet that can create static (and all carpets can) is bad joo joo. Either cover the entire area with a large rubber/antistatic matt that has a lip or pull that carpet up.
Clutter - get rid of the picture on the back wall and that CD rack. You will need all the room you can get. There is a bare minimum of room on that table to work on just what you are reloading at the moment, let alone any supplies stored. I try to keep my worktop clean of everything possible.
Make some racks on the back wall - even the strips that you can put plastic boxes on for hardware and such - will give you a lot of easy storage. Keep your powder up and locked if possible if you have kids. If not, keep them away from all energy & heat sources. Have a fire extinguisher attached to the wall within easy reach.
There are a ton of other little things, but you didn't ask and I don't want to just dump too much inrequested information on you.
Good luck with your new hobby!
January 14, 2008, 10:04 PM
Yes, I'm starting small, only loading 45 ACP right now. Just to the left is a large metal filing cabinet I will use for some storage, and will put shelves under the table. Notice the 40mm ammo can? I'll use those for storing as well. Thought of the carpet and probably will get a plastic desk thing for the floor. Static is pretty rare here in central Florida, but I'm sure it can happen! Ultimately I'd like to get rid of the carpet and go with wood. This is just a small corner of my den to get started. I don't plan on going nuts yet, but when I do, it may have to move to the garage. I've got a desk lamp up high on the filing cabinet. Throws pretty good light, better than the photo shows. I was also going to try and mount a flex light right to the press. There's more clearance to the DVD rack than it looks due to the angle, about 18" to the press handle. If I need it, I have room to slide the whole table to the left.
Already made it through 2 loading books, focusing on the pistol loads since that's all I'm doing now. Did wet cleaning of my first batch of fired brass. Getting a Lyman 1200 Auto-flo soon. I've heard of the dust problem and will keep it in the garage. Got some cob, walnut, and ceramic media to try. Thanks for the pointers! I'm sure I'll need more as I go along. I'm still in setup mode, so all that stuff on the table top will get stored, except for the scale!
January 14, 2008, 11:37 PM
Congrats on your new loader
January 15, 2008, 01:56 AM
Looks Good !
Looking forward to hearing how it goes !
You said messier I want to see what it looks Like nnext month .
Stuff sure seems to multiply fast .
And to Koski
Its killing you being nice on THR Aint it ?
January 15, 2008, 03:50 AM
Custom die wrenches?
Why not just use an RCBS die wrench? Its pretty cheap and works well on Lee lockrings.
ps - in the pic, the handle is swiveled the wrong way, the hex end should be facing out
January 15, 2008, 10:22 AM
I was going to get one of those but I read some complaints about the swiveling handle. I had a couple of impact sockets laying around so I made a set of wrenches. It may be cheaper to get one of the RCBS wrenches, and if the handle is as bad as I have heard you could silver solder or weld a hande on, like I do to mine.
Here are a couple of photos of my wrench
January 15, 2008, 03:40 PM
Man, I am cheap! I just use the Craftsman open end/box end wrenches I already had!
January 15, 2008, 06:35 PM
How do you fit your open/closed end wrench between the die nuts?
None of mine would fit.
January 15, 2008, 07:57 PM
Keep in mind I have a Lyman Turret press. There is a lot more room around the dies. I use the open end on the dies (which is not too often since I keep separate turrest preloaded) and I don't take up all 7 holes so there is enough room to get to the bolt or usually I just grab a ratchet and socket.
January 15, 2008, 09:22 PM
Shadow, you need to make some up and sell them! Not everyone has the tools to slice a socket and weld on the handle. Guess I could hack one together with my dremel and MAP torch!
January 18, 2008, 12:39 PM
How is it Going with the Loadmaster ?
January 18, 2008, 12:58 PM
"How do you fit your open/closed end wrench between the die nuts? None of mine would fit."
You gotta make 'em, Chris--I just beaver along with my Craftsman Adjustable / Monkey wrench, and it's an awful routine.
January 18, 2008, 01:48 PM
I am new to reloading and have been reading this thread with great interest as I am looking at the Lee Load-Master Press. Right now I have loaded about 200 rounds with the little Lee Classic Loader, but recently saw a single press being used in person and saw all the pluses to that over my hand kit.
I saw this http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=536731&t=11082005 and was wondering what else I would need to get started. Right now only will be doing 357 mags for my revolver, have the powder and bullets, brass and primers, calipers and bullet puller, plastic mallet, case lube and 357 reload manual. Need scale, vibrator or tumbler, not sure if there is a difference, cleaning media and just about everything else.
Any other pointers or tips, or maybe things I don't need to buy, would be much appreciated
January 18, 2008, 07:43 PM
Well FINALLY got my powder and primers in. Took a few extra days as no one was around to sign! In the meantime been fiddling with adjustments, checking powder throw amounts, changing out lock nuts, making Shadowdog's chain-to-rod mod, etc., etc. Planning on cranking out 50-100 test rounds tomorrow. 5-grns of 231 sure doesn't look like much in the case though! (45 acp)
Shadowdog, I did the rod mod, but due to the powder dispenser being free swinging, it seems like the rod would end up binding on something. Tried messing with different bends, but never got it just right. Ended up back with the chain. Are you still on the rod?
January 18, 2008, 08:37 PM
"...due to the powder dispenser being free swinging...."
Something is wrong here--the Pro...Measure is not free swinging. Are you using the swivel adapter and the riser? My guess is that you do not have the swivel tightened down--or if it is tightened down, loosen it and realign the measure for the chain to work properly.
If you don't have a swivel adapter installed, you will need to get one, OR you can adjust the die body on the turret so that everything lines up correctly. Adjusting the die body will mean changing your case belling slightly--so, if you can, try to make it work with less bell, rather than more.
January 18, 2008, 11:18 PM
With all this 'chain talk' and rods, i called lee today to ask why the pro measure will work with the spring only on my classic turret, and why i couldn't use the same setup on my loadmaster instead of fooling around with the chain. I was told it was for safety so you can't get a double charge.
Well, i figured that if i'm concheiuos????(careful) enough not to double charge on the turret, i ought to be able to do the same thing with the loadmaster. His reply was - I certainly could.
Now my loadmaster is running just fine with only the spring return and no damm breaking chain.
I also have a small led light tywrapped to the front post so i can see the powder level before i insert the bullet;
The most foolproof method i use is always use a powder that at least 1/2 fills the case so it will be real obvious it a double charge.
January 18, 2008, 11:43 PM
I'm a bit of a 'reluctant advocate' of the chain / pullback system on the powder measure. I loaded 1000s of rounds on my early turret and Pro 1000, neither of which had a provision for manual return--the spring return was the only one available.
While the exact reason(s) remain a mystery, the spring return very rarely "hangs"--it does not return to recharge the disk. Long-time Lee users know that, I think. On the Turret, such a hang is typically readily spotted--the measure is right in front of you when it happens. On a Progressive, there's so many more things happening at once with three-to-five cases being worked on that you can miss that empty case and end up with a squib load--I know I did: They were extremely rare, but they would happen. I have a hunch that they happened about once every 5K-10K rounds--and I never blew up a gun, but I would rather it didn't ever happen again.
So, this year when I broke out Load-Master again, I did update one of the measures and installed the chain return kit, if only to "try it out." After setting it up successfully, I have come to appreciate it, simply because I worry less about that part of the reloading process. Because of its positive return action, that leaves monitoring the powder amount in the hopper to ensure reliable dispensing of the charge.
The chain-and-spring solution is ingenious, if cheap, but it does work and is really part of the Lee approach. The rod is a better idea, I think--and would probably lead to less maintenance stops for a broken chain. OTOH, if the chain breaks, it should be heeded as a warning to check out the dispensing system for a bind that caused it to break.
I've only loaded perhaps 2K of rounds with the chain return in place, but nothing has broken, stretched, or whatever. I do have to conscientiously remember to not leave the ram at full bottom in order to not stress the spring and chain, but I'm getting used to that now.
January 19, 2008, 12:00 AM
The powder dispenser does not free swing on mine so that is not an issue. I did have the rod for a short while then went back to the chain because i figured tht it was the fusable link in the system. Recently I had the chain loosten up by one bead si i am thinking about going back to the rod. I havent loaded in a few weeks so I didn't switch back yet.
Hope everything works out starting with the case and bullet feed hooked up at the beginning. I started out manually feeding the cases and cycling one case through the press at a time until I knew everything was set up correctly. The I added the case feeder and loaded a bunch. Then I added the bullet feed.
January 19, 2008, 12:07 AM
I've been thinking about buying the bullet feeder. How well does it work?
January 19, 2008, 01:27 AM
I got the bullet feeder working just fine with my 10mm setup. "Just fine" means about three drops / failures in one set of tubes, or about 100 bullets. When I tried to do it last week (another feeder kit) on my 357 set, I couldn't get it to work worth a ****, and gave up.
Even if it works fine, the reality is that it is not a timesaver, like the case feeder tubes and collator are on that side of the process. You will spend as much time filling tubes as you just sitting there dropping the bullets on. IMO, dannyabear, don't bother.
Shadow500's approach is the way to getting a Load-Master running smoothly, I think. As I was going through the case-feeder tweaking, I tried the 5-die setup and found that simply eliminated the primer seating headaches, so I've stayed with that.
I also spent a fair amount of time getting the right height for 10mm case feeds--and now I have found that the 10mm height works pretty well for 357 Magnum.
Meanwhile, I generated a fair number of primed cases as I tweaked the case feeder and let them run over to the PTE belling. When I set up the seater crimper and the FCD dies, I left the bullet feeder out of the equation, to add later.
With the five-die configuration, I went back through and varied the dies as needed to get uniform pressure on the shell plate from the #1 & #2 dies as a set, and from the #4 & #5 dies as a set--that was the key to more uniform LOAs, or for the LOA not significantly shrinking as a run ended. That pressure is quite minimal; I keyed it off the "plus 1/4-turn down of #1 and #2. IOW, without precise measuring, the #4 and #5 dies are set the same way...kind of.
The first time I did a primer feed switchout, I also had to go back and spend a bit of time tweaking the primer depth adjustment so both large and small primers seated the same way.
After using your videos, Chris, I had the case feeder running smoothly just as soon as I lubed with STP. I had to tweak it when I put the tubes on, and adjusted the height--but that was just adjusting the drag screws.
January 19, 2008, 10:17 AM
Yes, the black knob on the Pro was not fully tight. Doesn't really matter with the chain as it functioned fine with it loose. Still, even with it finger tight, it's easy to loosen if the powder mech. is bumped. or if the rod binds, etc. I think the chain is the elegant solution!
January 19, 2008, 02:13 PM
The bullet feed works good for me. I was using it to load 240gr swc for 44 mag. I recently read a post from someone who loaded round nose bullets had a probem with all of the bullets comming out together. Maby the flat nose of the swc helped me.
When I started reloading for multiple calibers I wound up taking the case feeder and bullet feeder off of the press atogether. I can easily load over 500 rounds an hour without either, and I figure I can load a bunch of rounds in the same time it would take to set everything up after a caliber change. If I went back to having a one caliber dedicated machine I would leave the auto case feed and buet feed on.
January 19, 2008, 02:34 PM
The 10mm bullet feeder seems to work OK with my 180-to-200 LTCs or LRNFPs--i.e., flat-nose, like you say, Chris.
I think the problem with the 38/357 feeder is that the bullet I am using (a 140 LTC) is just .04 too long for one base, so I have to go to the longer base. And, for some reason, the bracket flexes laterally too much, and I chewed off a couple of fingers--so I set it aside until I finish tweaking the new 38 Special turret setup.
Any ideas on the lateral flexing?
January 19, 2008, 06:05 PM
Just something to add to your setup If that desk isn't mounted to the wall I would bolt it screw it or fix it to the wall some how. and as above talking about light I just rebuilt my bench a while back. It is 6+ long X a little over 3ft deep I have a flourescent light above it to architect lights mounted to the back wall with halogen bulbs and plan on 2 more one for each end. you setup does look pretty cozy though. I want to see picture in a couple of month after you really get going :-). Good luck Looks good.
January 19, 2008, 08:55 PM
It is cozy but workable. I already had the bench just setting in the garage so I used it. In the process of building shelves to attach to the legs. "Should" keep the top clean! For a second or two.
January 19, 2008, 10:29 PM
What I was saying about the bench is you are going to want to attach it to the frame of your house. You want it rock solid. Once you really get it up and going you will see how much it move if not. I didn't mean any thing neg about being cozy. I've seen picture or reloading benches setup in a closet. Now thats a little to cozy. Good looking setup but like you said after a while you will fiend yourself in the garge and the car in the driveway.
January 20, 2008, 09:44 AM
Yes I was thinking of lagging it to a stud. Nothing really moves though unless I really crank on it at the bottom after its bottomed out. As stated, the front feet of the bench jut out further than the table top. Reduces the overturning moment. I designed the bench this way as a work bench for when I might clamp a vise to it or something.
January 20, 2008, 03:54 PM
Looks real good. I'min the process of settin up my permanant loading bench I just built a couple of weeks ago from the HammerZone plans that were posted her in another thread awhile back. I too am going to be using a LoadMaster along with the Classic press I've been using for the past few months. Prior to that I had the Classic press and Powder thrower mounted on a 2x4 that I C-clamped to my computer table to reload with.
I too live in Central Florida and know all about how the static can sneak up on you but it is a pretty rare creature. Get one of those Office mats and you'll be fine.
January 20, 2008, 05:15 PM
Office mat is trimmed to size and in place now! Putting the finish on my shelves and need to think about putting holes in the wall for lag bolts!
January 20, 2008, 06:41 PM
I guess we will see pic updates when you get the shelves in?
January 20, 2008, 07:38 PM
Sure! Shelves aren't going to be anything pretty, just functional, and only under the table. Don't want to mess the wall up any. Went ahead and lagged the bench to the wall. Does feel a lot more stable now. As luck would have it, I only had one stud the whole length of the bench, smack in the middle though. Got a beefy angle bracket with two large lag bolts into the wall. Shouldn't go anywhere.
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