Lyman #55 powder measure help


April 1, 2009, 10:46 PM
I'm new to reloading and having a problem with my Lyman powder measure. It's throwing VERY inconsistant charges. Anything from 14.1 down to 2.3, back up to 9.5 and so on and so forth. They are all over the scale, with no discernable pattern.
I undertstand with these powder measures that you need to be consistant in how you operate the handle, and I have tried, but still getting the same results. I'm not ruling out operator error just yet. Is there THAT much of a learning curve to using this measure correctly? Or, do you guys think it might be something faulty?
A little background.. This measure is almost as old as I am. It was my dads and he stopped using it a long time ago. It's been packed away, moved around, re packed, moved from California to Arizona and who knows what else. Dad's not around to ask about it's past.
I'm not averse to buying a new measure, but before I spend money I'd like to know this one is, in fact, broke and it's just not the guy throwing the leverLOL
Any thought's or idea's would really be appreciated, thanks for reading!

BTW, I should add I'm using Unique powder 3/4 full in the hopper (?) and testing each charge with a reliable digital scale. I'm sure it's not the scale.


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D. Manley
April 1, 2009, 11:37 PM
The Lyman 55 is actually a very accurate measure. A bit dated nowadays but still good, nonetheless. I just dug my old one out, took it apart & cleaned up up nice...still good going on 40 years. I suspect you may have some mis-alignment in the slides, maybe the top plate is covering the others. In case some instructions might help, see the .PDF file below.

April 1, 2009, 11:45 PM
The key to using a 55 measure with lighter loads of powder is to take advantage of the upper brass slides in a stepped sequence. Take the large steel plunger and close it tight so it's not part of the drop and lock that screw. Open the larger brass slide until you are very near the desired charge and finalize the charge with the small brass slide and set that screw. Throw a couple charges, and each time use the clacker after the drop and check for proper load and adjust if necessary. Use the same motion, with the clacker when dropping charges, and I guarantee you'll see the consistency you wanted. On rare occasions, you only need the top slide for real light loads.
New users make the mistake of using the large chamber with light loads.
With larger charges for rifles, use the large chamber and the brass slides in a stepped pattern.
My own 55 will drop charges to about .1 grain using this method.
This all contingent on your measure being in good condition of course.


April 2, 2009, 09:47 AM
NCsmitty has given you excellent advice in the operation of your Lyman 55 Powder Measure. I used one when I first started reloading and found mine to be extremley accurate also. However if his advice doesn't clear up your problem, I would box it up and mail it to Lyman for refurbishing. I have found them to very good with this. Good luck. :)

April 2, 2009, 10:09 AM
I have one i been using for over 30 years, I finely took it all apart and cleaned it up. the handle would turn hard, smooth as silk now.

But I would, as i have done more then once take all the powder out. put it back in the right container.Now slide all the adjustments back to ZERO.and make sure, that all the slides are at ZERO. and when using the flake powder.use the top brass slide. you'll see how sweet it puts the right amount of powder out,I always use the knocker on ever handle pull. Get into a sytem pull the handle. finger up on the knocker.every pull.

April 2, 2009, 10:26 AM
It souns like maybe the screw that cinches down the lower,larger slide is not tight,allowing the large barrel to move in and out .

April 2, 2009, 11:59 AM
Ok, a lot of responces here! LOL Thanks guys, I really appreciate it.
A few things that stand out... I'm not sure it's working completely correctly. I was fiddling with it again this morning after reading the posts and the user manual and cant get the slides to completely close and set back to zero. I think I might have to take it apart and clean it thoroughly and really inspect it.
As NCSmitty said, I was trying to keep everything consistant in the way I was using it, but I was also trying for over three hours and could have lapsed a little LOL
Oh and SASS, it seems obvious now that you mentioned it, but i'm not entirely sure I had everything locked down tight before experimentingLOL I'll be sure to check that too. If that turns out to be the promblem I'm gonna feel REAL stupidLOL
Once again, thank you guys!


April 2, 2009, 12:09 PM
That's all it can be.

As already noted, take the complete drum assembly out and clean it really well of packed powder, etc.

Then close the black steel drum completely, and lock it down,

You only use it for large charges of rifle powder.

Use the middle brass slider for medium charges of pistol powder.

Use the little one only for fine tuning.

The object is to create the smallest measuring space possible possible to cut down on powder shearing & packing when the drum rotates.

But not by using the big steel drum for a tiny crack for the powder to fall into.


April 4, 2009, 05:10 PM
And if you take the drum out, make sure you put the slider bars on the peg before you put together.

April 5, 2009, 10:07 AM
I'm in the same boat as the OP. I finally just gave up on the gosh-darn thing as it just won't throw a consistent charge weight. And yes, I have the instructions and yes, all of the slides will completely close. And yes, I'm also using Unique, but I've tried Bullseye as well with no luck either. I wish someone had a video somewhere of using this darn thing as I wish it worked! And I acquired mine the same way the OP did. In fact, his story is eerily similiar to mine! :scrutiny:

April 5, 2009, 11:45 AM
I have an old one also...........owned it for over forty years and it still works as good as when I got it.....used!

The single issue that wasn't mentioned throughout all the good instructions herein was the use of the knocker..........if you want consistency in dropping a charge you MUST develop the technique of activating it EVERY time you do particular, flake powders such as BE/Unique/Blue dot etc. will, in my experience ,not lay precise amounts if that use is omitted.

Sorry .280.....just re-read the posts & saw your comment!

April 8, 2009, 11:48 AM
Borg said: And if you take the drum out, make sure you put the slider bars on the peg before you put together.

Ok,sorry it's taken me so long to get back, got sidetracked with doing my taxes, bleh.
I took the whole thing apart and gave it a thorough cleaning. There was a LOT of powder residue and even a little rust, not sure how the rust happened. The main reason I took it apart was I noticed, as others ponted out, it wasnt staying adjusted very well. I could set it for a particular charge, throw a few tests and all the adjustment screws would be loose again. It's back together now and I think it should work better now. I should be testing it here in a few days. Just fiddling with it after it's together and it seems to be holding everything correctly, and it certainly works MUCH smoother!
Oh and Borg, thanks for the advice!


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