1st reloading session! :) (Some good, some bad ...)


PDA






yhtomit
March 14, 2008, 04:08 AM
I finally got off my duff and did it -- I spent the last several hours painstakingly loading what turns out to be not all that many cartridges (more below). I enjoyed the process overall, but there were a few moments which inspired some naughty language.

I am using a Lee Classic Cast press, but have removed the indexing rod, so it's operating like a single-stage, so I could deprime (actually, that I'd already done), prime, bell, charge, load bullet -- wanted to concentrate on each phase.

It took something near forever, but it was a good test of my jerry-rigged reloading bench. I was pretty nervous about loading the primers, but that wasn't too bad.

I weighed ammo one load at a time -- set the scale for 6gr (which Lee lists as both the Starting Load *and* the do-not-exceed load!), and added powder, trickling it in by hand until the scale wavered at the zero line, then added to each cartridge (through the resizing die).

The good: I made some ammo that looks good, weighs what it should, measures as it should, and I'm pretty sure will work.

The bad: I made a whole lot of rejects, and I don't understand why.

The rejects are of the rumpled, crumped case variety -- they make me nervous just to look at 'em. Everything went fine up until the bullet-seating phase. At that point, I got slightly frustrated, because the bullets did not cleanly slip into place as they seem to in reloading videos. Instead, they just-barely-sorta-kinda entered the rim of the case, and I tried to hold them straight between thumb and forefinger as they entered the bullet-seating die, but ... liking my fingers just as they are, I couldn't assist all the way -- and way too many cartridges (about 15 -- so, just under 1/3 of the batch) got turned into ugly, useless, dangerous-looking messes.

Maybe I'm not belling the cases enough? Or does it sound like I'm missing out on something obvious?

Perhaps tomorrow I shall try another batch and increase the belling by a notch. It feels dumb to have wasted primers, powder, and bullets to create such little ... well, I'll call them "pieces of modern art."

What's the smartest way for me to dispose of them?

Sigh -- I hope the good ones cheer me up about the bad ones! :) I'll be shooting them out of my S&W 625, since I think it's my strongest gun, and because there's no action through which the cartridges must cycle.

timothy

If you enjoyed reading about "1st reloading session! :) (Some good, some bad ...)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
GSDFAN
March 14, 2008, 06:27 AM
You might consider buying a bullett puller (ex.Frankfort, etc.) and then be able to re-use your uh, less than desireable cases and bullets. I'm still pulling bullets from my first couple of weeks of reloading!
Ofcourse, there's a place for modern art, but shooting is much more enjoyable. Congratulations and good luck!

Oh, I forgot to add, it does seem that you need to flare your cases a little more. I don't know what caliber you are working with but in .45, I like to be able to see a slight bell before seating. The crimp die should smooth the bell out making it unnoticable after seating the bullet.

Urbana John
March 14, 2008, 07:37 AM
+1 on pulling the bullets,,,saving the powder,,,,and you can deprime live primers,,,,,SLOWLY!!!

Depending on how bad the brass is, you "might"be able to save some of it.

UJ

IDriveB5
March 14, 2008, 07:55 AM
What bullets/brass were you using? Got your dies tightened?

Only thing I can figure is that some of your brass is shorter than the rest and the case mouth didnt get belled out as much as the others. I havent had this problem, and .45ACP brass is usually pretty consistent as its a low pressure round and doesnt grow like high pressure brass does.

Measure some and see. Check your dies.

I would also suggest getting a maximum case gauge (midway has wilsons) to check your cartridges and a set of check weights to make sure or scale is on.

RecoilRob
March 14, 2008, 08:03 AM
It does sound like you aren't belling enough. I like to be able to press the bullet into the case with my fingers and have it stick enough to hold upside down if the case were inverted. Press the bullet in and you won't have to worry about the case crumpling again. Loading is FUN, ain't it!!

evan price
March 14, 2008, 08:04 AM
I would say, you need to expand the cases more, that is what is probably causing your crushed cases. The new bullet should start into the case and sit there without needing held until you press it in the case.

Next you need a powder-through expander and powder measure setup0- which if you are using Lee eqpt should already be there for you. The Lee autodisc, set it up once, and you will be OK for throws ever after. variances of .1 grain of standard powder won't be a big issue as long as you are not loading over max, so don't be too anal about throw weights.

Once you get the dies setup OK start loading progressive and watch how fast you get the ammo done.

Dumpster Baby
March 14, 2008, 10:12 AM
LOL

Reminds me of my first reloading session - .30 carbine ammo reloaded in a mallet driven Lee Loader. Whack-pow! whack-pow! Found out about crimped military primer pockets that day.

:D:D:D:D

chbrow10
March 14, 2008, 01:25 PM
are you using a lee factory crimp die? If no, and seating and crimping are done in one step, you might want to ease up on the crimping setting, as you may be trying to crimp before the bullet is seated and the cases buckle...

zxcvbob
March 14, 2008, 01:38 PM
Pull the bullets. Deprime carefully and save the primers (keep them separate from your good primers, these may not be reliable, but I've never had a problem reusing pulled primers.) You should be able to salvage everything except the brass, and maybe some of it.

Pulling bullets is good for you. It teaches you not to make the same mistake again :) (don't ask me how I know this)

SASS#23149
March 14, 2008, 01:48 PM
Get yourself a bullet puller like this one.You will need it.
don'g ask me how I know this.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v30/Throckmorton/bulletpuller.gif

If you have an empty hole in your turret,I highly suggest you seat and crimp in 2 operations.It makes die adjusting soooooo much simpler.

jfh
March 14, 2008, 01:49 PM
1. Buy the bullet puller / inertial hammer.

Other than the really-damaged cases (nicks in the rim), everything is reusable.

2. Your PTED (powder-through Expander Die) is not adjusted properly.

Your "crumpled" cases are probably caused by having the PTED expander too low.

Make sure you have the #1 / sizer decapper adjusted properly--i.e., +1/4 turn from firm contact when the ram is at the top.

Then, advance the turret to the # 2 / PTED. Lift the turret out, remove the indexing rod, and replace the turret. this will convert the press to a single stage, and you can stay at the #2 die for repeated strokes / adjustments.

Follow the Lee video directions for setting the PTED--e.g., with ram up, screw the die body down to firm contact, then back up about 3/4 turn. Lock the die down with the locknut, and make sure the "funnel adapter" is in place, not a measure.


Try a (sized) case--doesn't need to have a primer in it. Stroke the press and remove the brass.

Can you see a small flare in it? If so, try seating one of your bullets on top of it. If it sits gently in the flare, you're probably good to go.

Now, advance to the #3 / seater die. Follow the Lee directions--e.g., screw the die body down to contact with your case, and make sure the center knob / seater stem is screwed up a lot--maybe five turns.

Try seating a bullet. Check the LOA--it should be too long. Now, screw down the seater stem until you get the LOA you want for your cartridge / bullet combination.

At this point, the bullet should be seated to the correct depth, but the case should still have a flare in it. If you do NOT still have the flare, the seater die is too low, and needs to be raised.

Advance to die #4--and try applying the factory crimp.

Try building a few dummy rounds first (no primer, no powder) to get the physical assembly down with the correct dimensions.

Jim H.

yhtomit
March 14, 2008, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the great responses here!

GSDFAN:
"You might consider buying a bullett puller (ex.Frankfort, etc.) and then be able to re-use your uh, less than desireable cases and bullets. I'm still pulling bullets from my first couple of weeks of reloading!"


Sounds good. I noticed that some of the bullets (ones which I caught early enough to be able to wiggle them out with my fingers) got slightly squished on the bottom, leaving a trace of a sharp edge. I'm worried about sticking those into different cases, wondering if they'd cause trauma to the case. I want my cases *un*traumatized.

"Oh, I forgot to add, it does seem that you need to flare your cases a little more. I don't know what caliber you are working with but in .45, I like to be able to see a slight bell before seating. The crimp die should smooth the bell out making it unnoticable after seating the bullet."

I know the die was making contact, in that the walls of the case went from (to the best I can tell) totally straight to feeling just a bit radiused. (And I could feel the contact, too.) I held 'em up to the light to check, and (squinting) at least convinced myself that I could now see a tiny lip. The manuals say the radius should be (paraphrased) "just enough that the case will easily accept a bullet," and that excess belling weakens the case, so I was trying to stray on the smaller side, guess I pushed that too far.

-----------------------------
Urbana John:
"Depending on how bad the brass is, you "might"be able to save some of it."

If you saw it, you'd just chuckle at that thought. It would be like refurbishing the Hindenburg with a little paint and some curtains. These cases are toast toast toast, just ripped. It's a nice thought, though :)

"and you can deprime live primers,,,,,SLOWLY!!!"

Or, apparently, completely by accident ;) Only once, but after looking everywhere, I realized that I had repeated the stroke, with the decapping die in place. I was trying to concentrate on smooth, gentle operation of the press, but didn't think as hard about the physics of the situation. No bang, though, which would have been a bad (or even worse) omen. Eventually found the primer in the spent-primer-ejection tube. Happily, I had just cleaned it.

----------------------

IDriveB5:

"What bullets/brass were you using? Got your dies tightened?"


Brass: once-fired (by me) brass, Remington's cheap(er) stuff. (Why does no one call it Remington Green Box?) Most fired from my S&W 625, some from XD or P345. It was cleaned and polished, neither excessively, looked shiny enough to look new from a distance.

I sorted by headstamp (since I also have brass from Speer, Winchester, etc -- plenty to choose from) -- Remington's just the first one I came up with 50. I directly compared some of the brass, but I did not put the calipers to each one. Instead, I measured several representatives with the calipers, and then checked level against adjecent ones, and did a lot of eyeballing down rows / columns / diagonals. Now I wish I *had* measured each one.

Bullets: Speer Gold Dots, 230 gr. (Gander Mountain had sent me a card with $10 value, which took the sting out of that purchase.)

Dies: Well ... I'm sure that my inexperience means that the dies are a good bet as culprit -- but I have them adjusted (as best I can) according to the instructions. I wish that there was a uniform seating method, rather than each die having a different technique ("touch shellholder" vs. "touch shellholder, back out three turns, put your left foot in, put your left foot out ...")

[Aside: Compared to most instructions in the world for any product more complicated than yogurt (the kind where the fruit is already mixed), I would say the Lee instructions are above par. But they are not written with sufficient clarity to address every question of first-time reloaders. One very small example that sticks out in my head: for one die, to get the right depth the instruction is to back it out "three turns" after touching the shell holder, while for another, the instruction is to back it out "one complete turn." That difference bothered me a bit, because of a common difference in the way we use the word "turn" for objects that can rotate about an axis, to mean (depending on context) either a 180 turn or a full 360. However, it only seemed to make sense that "three turns" means three complete turns. So, back to wondering why that word was used in one case and not the other ... I'm an expert at finding ambiguity where none is intended, rarely to my benefit :)]

"Only thing I can figure is that some of your brass is shorter than the rest and the case mouth didnt get belled out as much as the others. I havent had this problem, and .45ACP brass is usually pretty consistent as its a low pressure round and doesnt grow like high pressure brass does."

My uncertain mechanical skills are one reason I'm trying to do everything slowly -- sounds like you agree with others that the case bell should have been wider. I really could not see or feel any difference between cases, and the ones I measured all varied only in the 2d decimal point (measuring millimeters) but clearly it doesn't take much between Fits In Smooth and the Gong Show.


"I would also suggest getting a maximum case gauge (midway has wilsons) to check your cartridges and a set of check weights to make sure or scale is on."

That's a good idea. I did check the scale with several objects of known weight (clean coins, factory produced bullets, etc.), both to familiarize myself with how to use it and to check accuracy, and they were all spot-on. However, you're right -- I'd like to get check weights, esp. for the smaller quanities like that of gunpowder.

---------------------------

RecoilBob:

"It does sound like you aren't belling enough. I like to be able to press the bullet into the case with my fingers and have it stick enough to hold upside down if the case were inverted. Press the bullet in and you won't have to worry about the case crumpling again."

Well, it sounds like there's a consensus! The instructions caution against overbelling, but I guess I found an even quicker way to shorten case life ;)

"Loading is FUN, ain't it!!"

Yes. Despite my unhappiness about the wrecked cases (each time I put one in the bag marked "REJECTS!", I winced at the price of components, and saw my equipment amortization fantasies slip further away), it is fun and satisfying. As an officially not-handy person, the gun hobby appeals in large part because of the physicality it helps me develop -- reloading even more so, since it has me doing things like building my makeshift loading bench, and needing to learn how to work the various components.

------------------------------
even price:


I would say, you need to expand the cases more, that is what is probably causing your crushed cases. The new bullet should start into the case and sit there without needing held until you press it in the case.

In this realm, I'm very glad to find such unanimity! I should have done this by live webcam, with comments -- could have saved myself some components ;) Now I have a better idea what to look for.

Next you need a powder-through expander and powder measure setup0- which if you are using Lee eqpt should already be there for you. The Lee autodisc, set it up once, and you will be OK for throws ever after. variances of .1 grain of standard powder won't be a big issue as long as you are not loading over max, so don't be too anal about throw weights.

Yes, the die set I'm using has the powder-through expander, which is great -- I'm glad not to need to put powder straight into a case mouth, certainly.

The autodisk is for the next phase of my familiarity :) I do have it, but it seemed like one more thing to feed the demon of uncertainty. If everything had gone perfectly smoothly, I might now regret not hooking it up, but for now I am glad.

The die set also came with a Lee powder dipper (0.5cc), but I used this only to transfer powder to the scale, rather than as a measure in itself; the load information that came with the dies lists (for some loads) a measure for the dipper, but for 230gr jacketed bullet and Unique, that column reads only "N/A."

Once you get the dies setup OK start loading progressive and watch how fast you get the ammo done.

All in time :) Maybe in June -- almost certain not before that.

-------------------

Dumpster Baby (what an image!):

"Reminds me of my first reloading session - .30 carbine ammo reloaded in a mallet driven Lee Loader. Whack-pow! whack-pow! Found out about crimped military primer pockets that day."

Hey, I feel brave enough loading on what is evidently a well-liked press. No mallet-whacking for me!

----------------------------

I do have some more questions / uncertainties / reservations about operating the press, reloading in general, etc, but as of today, I intend to shoot the ones that look, weigh, and feel correct, and (so long as me and the gun are intact that point) refine with another batch.

timothy

yhtomit
March 14, 2008, 02:13 PM
chbro10:
"are you using a lee factory crimp die? If no, and seating and crimping are done in one step, you might want to ease up on the crimping setting, as you may be trying to crimp before the bullet is seated and the cases buckle..."

Yes, I am -- sounds like this may be on my list of problems! Thanks.

zxcvbob and SASS#23149 (What's SASS -- military org?):

Bullet puller: Noted, and added to shopping list. Perhaps will get one at gun show tomorrow. Thanks!

jfh:

Wow -- thanks for the detailed response, much appreciated. I shall print out your tips for reference!

Re: flare -- I *thought* I was making enough flare, but reality and what I can see is popular opinion seems to prove otherwise. I'm trying to cut back on my fighting with reality, too.


"Now, advance to the #3 / seater die. Follow the Lee directions--e.g., screw the die body down to contact with your case, and make sure the center knob / seater stem is screwed up a lot--maybe five turns."

The Lee directions are a little hazy on this, actually -- they say something equivalent to "add sugar to taste" ;) I didn't even have the time to apologize / explain about the FIRST round I tried, in fact, not understanding quite how much extension was needed on the seater stem. It ... does not look good, bullet seated so deep (and case bulged) that I don't think that anyone's going to get it out without cutting the case apart with a scalpel. Embarrassing -- but I didn't know with that first round that the effort I was exerting on the ram was way too much for anything good to be going on.

"Try seating a bullet. Check the LOA--it should be too long. Now, screw down the seater stem until you get the LOA you want for your cartridge / bullet combination."

You should perhaps get a job helping Lee write more helpful instructions :)

I find reloading is a lot of like other things of even slightly technical nature -- it's very hard for people, even companies which try to cater to new users -- to understand how confusing terminology can be, and how valuable clear, numerous pictures are. Throughout Lee's instructions (which, again, are better than many directions in the world) there are terms which aren't obvious to someone who doesn't already know them, but used as if familiar.

At this point, the bullet should be seated to the correct depth, but the case should still have a flare in it. If you do NOT still have the flare, the seater die is too low, and needs to be raised.

I will have to work better on making sure I have a flare at all first, it seems.


Try building a few dummy rounds first (no primer, no powder) to get the physical assembly down with the correct dimensions.

Hindsight says, Yep, I should have done that. Everything seemed to look so good, though, and I thought "don't want to waste any of these expensive bits!" Lesson learned. I will be making some dummy rounds as I go about trying the listed suggestions.

Much appreciated!

timothy

MilsurpShooter
March 14, 2008, 02:54 PM
I was loading cast bullets for a .45-70 when I learned the hard way about Flare. Too much and you'll look at the case and say "That's just not right" My First case for the .45-70 looked more like a copper pipe fitting end. Then I learned that too little will really mess up your bullet, IE brass cut into the bullet and the grooves somehow found their way around the brass casing instead of inside. I now use this method for telling the flare:

If I can sit a tiny back end of the bullet into the case, push it down and have it hold itself there by it's own accord, I should be ok. I can understand about not overstressing the brass, but there's a point where it really does just make it easier on yourself lol

dave from mesa
March 14, 2008, 03:30 PM
If you are going to use an inertial puller make sure it is really clean inside if you want to keep the powder.
I use one if I don't have many to do but you will find that by the time you do 15 it isn't easy on the hand.
I have a bullet puller that mounts on a press if I have too many (how would I know that?).
One more thing. If they brass is a bad as you say then I would toss the case w/ the primer. Certainly wouldn't run them thru a sizing die to get a primer out.
good luck and enjoy the world (and expense) of relaoding

yhtomit
March 14, 2008, 03:55 PM
dave from mesa:

Right -- the cases are not worth exposing any part of the press to again :)

Press-mounted puller, eh? Well, I want to see if my success rate improves at all first ;)

Cheers,

timothy

1911NM
March 14, 2008, 06:22 PM
15 cases too many for an inertial puller? oh pshaw. I hammered out 35 last Thursday night, and almost have use of my right hand again. :D
That said, I believe you have hinted at one of the most important aspects of setting up your dies. Dummy rounds. Figure a small number of dummys you can use to set and check each die setting with. Flare one, check the fit, reset flare, check again. Same with seating, seat long, and you can use the same dummy round to reset die, check depth again. While I use the Hornady taper crimp die, I do also suggest the FCD or one like it to seat and taper crimp in two operations.
Yeah, it's fun, isn't it. Particularly when one is up against a time limit like procrastinating till the night before a pistol match, and need 200 rounds like, now! :banghead:

Dumpster Baby
March 14, 2008, 06:28 PM
15 cases too many for an inertial puller? oh pshaw. I hammered out 35 last Thursday night, and almost have use of my right hand again.


I hammered the bullets out of several hundred funky .303 British that were given to me ..... crimped bullets ...... seal with tar ........ most with Cordite propellant. Didn't know you weren't supposed to do that with Cordite. Lucky I didn't stagger out of the garage trying to hold my entrails in.

:what:

jenrob
March 14, 2008, 10:01 PM
I would say flare but that isn't what is on the top of my list.

What powder are you useing. If that 6gr is the max you need to back off the powder and work up to that. Not start at it and work down (bad ju-ju).

If it states 6gr as max. Start at 5.4gr and work from that point.

Never start at max charge work up and watch for pressure signs.

yhtomit
March 14, 2008, 10:46 PM
jenrob: No, 6gr is listed in the Lee die's instructions as *both* the "starting load" AND the "do not exceed load." Typo? Perhaps. But 6 gr of Unique with a 230gr bullet seems to be typical of the loads I've found.

(Alliant's site recommends 6.4, too -- as I mentioned in a different post, they don't give a range, though, just that single recipe.)

What I put in is as close to 6 as I could measure, less 3-5 flakes (not grains! :)) of powder. It fills quite a bit of the case -- there's no way I think to double charge with Unique at this load!

timothy

chbrow10
March 14, 2008, 11:10 PM
I use a press mounted puller and highly recommend it. Not nearly as violent.

Well Regulated
March 14, 2008, 11:39 PM
If it were me, I would put the turret press back to the way it is supposed to work and check to make sure you have the dies in the right order. Even the powder charging die will seat the bullet and pour powder at the same time if you get the dies out of sequence. You need to eliminate the variables and the first variable is to get the machine to work as intended.

yhtomit
March 15, 2008, 12:18 AM
"If it were me, I would put the turret press back to the way it is supposed to work and check to make sure you have the dies in the right order."

I actually only used one die in at a time, to eliminate out-of-orderness. And I've not seen any reason to think the Classic Cast should work any worse as a single stage than would any other single stage -- a lot of people have recommended using it this way. Are there counterarguments I should know of?

Cheers,

timothy

If you enjoyed reading about "1st reloading session! :) (Some good, some bad ...)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!