how inaccurate can the LEE 100 grain beam scale get


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1858rem
June 28, 2009, 10:06 PM
has anyone here ever gotten the cheap lee 100 grain scale and later found it to be off by a half grain or more or had it some how go bad? i need a little history on failures with this scale please

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Sport45
June 28, 2009, 10:11 PM
I don't use mime much any more but don't see how it could become innacurate. All beam scales should last forever as long as you keep them clean.

Bush Pilot
June 28, 2009, 10:14 PM
Lee scales make great targets.

1858rem
June 28, 2009, 10:23 PM
Lee scales make great targets.


target loads.......

....or actually shoot them?

Birdmang
June 28, 2009, 10:25 PM
Targets, as in something being shot at. Thats how I read it ha ha

rfwobbly
June 28, 2009, 10:26 PM
On any balance beam type scale you have to clean the pivot points and keep the fulcrums rust-free. Before beginning a loading session you should always set the weights to 0 and make sure the beam balances.

On most scales the pivot points are made of gem stones, but some of the Lee scales don't do this. So those cheaper ones would be highly susceptible to being dropped or misused.

1858rem
June 28, 2009, 10:35 PM
i think the lee scale relies on a razor edge as the pivot point.


there is a brass weight that you can use to set the scale to zero.......... so if you zero the scale every time, is there any way (short of breaking the razor or the body itself) the scale can read zero, but actually weigh a charge of half a grain or more than what the scale is set to weigh?

1SOW
June 28, 2009, 10:38 PM
I've got the Lee Safety Powder Scale cheapie too. Magnetically dampened and uses a stainless razor edge to pivot on. I made a small box to protect it from dirt/dust because I reload in the garage.

If yours is like mine with the little sliding plastic .1 gr set-up, it takes some pretty careful adjusting AND reading to set it to zero. The instructions say zero is set so that the little .1 gr marks are visible on both ends of the scale reading. For me, it takes some really careful adjusting to get that set just right.


Has anyone got a 4.2 gr precision weight they want to sell?? ;)

1858rem
June 28, 2009, 10:43 PM
anyone know a friends friend or any case you ever heard of with one of these things failing? first hand is not necessary but i want to know there has been a incident with the scale failing at all and if possible how it happened?

1858rem
June 28, 2009, 11:13 PM
The instructions say zero is set so that the little .1 gr marks are visible on both ends of the scale reading. this may be my problem, i zero by first pushing the plastic slide totally to the right, lock, zero, unlock and proceed to load..... something wrong there?

1858rem
June 28, 2009, 11:19 PM
HOTDAMN YER A GENIUS! ok so the way i zeroed it put it consistently on the .5 grain past the zero, so i think i have been loading .5 over this whole time from improper zero.


thanks everyone

jfh
June 28, 2009, 11:26 PM
and I find the Lee scale can work just fine. Personally, it is my preferred scale at my bench, but mostly because of its smaller size. However: I had one Lee scale go bad after some years because that SS razor pivot did get damaged. (I suspect it was handled carelessly during a household move.)

Other foibles of the Lee scale include:

1. Not setting the beam correctly on the balance point;
2. Having the ball-bearing counterbalance jump a bin--thereby changing the setting by 10 grains;
3. Not using the vernier scale correctly;
4. excessive fluctuation if the charge weight is significantly different from the scale setting.

Many find it cumbersome to set and use; I don't.

Here's a tip for setting the charge weight accurately and 'easily:'

Pick up the beam and hold it with both hands. Leaving the 'friction pin' in so there is drag, now put your thumbs on either side of the vernier slide, and adjust it to your chosen weight by pushing with either thumb. The friction pin maintains the setting you've chosen, without fumbling to push in the pin after setting the chosen charge weight.

A related advantage to this technique is that you can get it "in front of you" to accurately read the scale--IOW, a real benefit for those of us with "older eyes."

The disadvantage is that 1) the ball bearing counterweight can jump a bin (or more), and 2) you have to ensure that you set the beam back on the balance point correctly. (Usually, but not always, if it is not on the point correctly, the magnetic dampening will 'drag' / be off-center.

Is it the best scale? No, not by a long shot (so to speak), but it will work accurately if you know how to use it.

Jim H.

1SOW
June 28, 2009, 11:28 PM
Genius? I should ask for a pay raise!

R.W.Dale
June 29, 2009, 02:37 AM
I have no Idea as mine would never stop fluctuating long enough to measure charge one

Remo-99
June 29, 2009, 05:59 AM
LEE make many good products at a reasonable price, imo their beam scale is not one of them.

editingfx
June 29, 2009, 07:38 AM
i zero by first pushing the plastic slide totally to the right, lock, zero, unlock and proceed to load..... something wrong there?

Yeah, there is! You've got to use the verniers, even at zero. For zero, there should be lines in both the 1 & 9 vernier openings, as well as 0. Any other weight, the target 10th is flanked by the two vernier lines, and 3rd exactly on the weight.

Nate1778
June 29, 2009, 07:48 AM
Mine has been fairly accurate and repeatable, what is scary is how much difference between the scale and the bushings. With some loads of Unique I have to go up 2-3 bushings to get the weight intended.

Marlin 45 carbine
June 29, 2009, 07:56 AM
I carefully check mine for zero every time I'm makeing up a dipper - usually I do this by pressing in punched out stiff paper discs into the dipper to drop the volume it holds.
I haven't had any problem but IMO yes this scale is fragile.

Spencer Hart
June 29, 2009, 09:52 AM
I had the same problem as Nate1778. Had to go up two bushing sizes. this made me concerned about the scale. I bought the adjustable powder dispenser, and a small digital scale. No more removing the powder bin. The digital came with a 20 gram weight. Used the weight on the beam scale and found it to be accurate.

ranger335v
June 29, 2009, 02:05 PM
"...so i think i have been loading .5 over this whole time from improper zero."

Don't feel too bad. Most of the problems Lee Safety Scale owners experience is themselves, not the tool!

Any scale sensitive enough to differentiate weights within maybe half of 1/70,000th of a pound can be damaged by mishandling, easily. The little Lee is perhaps slightly more susceptible to physical damage than others but not by a whole lot. But then, for the difference in cost for anything noticably better, you could buy what, five to eight Lee's? Keep it clean, zero it when starting and don't drop hammers on it. All should be well.

The Lee scale certainly isn't my favorite but I wouldn't feel handicapped if that were all I had to reload with.

1858rem
June 29, 2009, 02:16 PM
i would have thought the zero would be on the very far right of the slide, but apparently it is just a little short of the end consequently making it a little different to zero than i thought, now i can get back to safe accurate reloads.

atblis
June 29, 2009, 02:23 PM
Never had a problem with the Lee scale. Agreed exactly with my RCBS and Dillon scale (both made by Ohaus).

ljnowell
June 29, 2009, 02:28 PM
That will explain those hot bullseye loads. 5.5 is a little different than 5.0

1858rem
June 29, 2009, 02:32 PM
That will explain those hot bullseye loads. 5.5 is a little different than 5.0

yup, i started this thread to help figure out what i was doing wrong..... i was just glad to find out that i was not over max, or at least not +P loadings

D. Manley
June 29, 2009, 09:46 PM
LEE make many good products at a reasonable price, imo their beam scale is not one of them.

I agree...horrible excuse for a scale. While I have no doubt it "can" weigh accurately, the light plastic construction make it far too "touchy" and don't even mention how difficult it is to actually read those faint little in-between lines accurately. I still have one somewhere used no more than 3 minutes. I'd have given it away but think too much of my friends.

1SOW
June 29, 2009, 11:41 PM
For my 9mm load, I'm spoiled by how repeatable the Lee Powder Disk system is. I struggled with the LEE scale enough times to know that the powder I'm using is totally consistent in the Disk system. Unless I change something (like a new powder batch or different load/disk hole), I trust the disks.

If I had to vary loads often, I agree, get a better scale.

1SOW
June 29, 2009, 11:47 PM
OOPS, DUPLICATE---more or less.For my 9mm loads,

I struggled with the Lee scale to work up my load and found the disk system was 'right on'. I've been spoiled by the Lee disk system.

Right or wrong, I only reweigh if I change something including a different batch of the same powder.

Koos Custodiet
June 29, 2009, 11:50 PM
I have a Lee, a Lyman and an RCBS. The Lee is new, the other two have some miles on them. I suspect I need to change the pivot blocks on the RCBS, it gives me inconsistent readings (which is much worse than consistently slightly wrong readings).

Anyway, in my opinion they're equivalent, but I need repeatability, I'm not much concerned with absolute accuracy.

Not to hijack the thread, but any recommendations on a good electronic scale? My Frankfort Arsenal is also +- half a grain inaccurate.

Blakenzy
June 30, 2009, 08:03 AM
The Lee safety scale is very accurate in my experience, but it is difficult to use. It is slow and can be confusing when you first start using it. You have to read the instructions quite a few times. Any errors are most likely human in nature. Note that dust accumulating on it may cause the zero to change.

woodwrkr
June 30, 2009, 09:33 AM
Lee scales make great targets.
I had a cell phone once I wanted to take to the range and.....:fire:

Mine hasn't been "inaccurate" but I did work up some loads once when the zero was way off. But then again any scale can be that way. Don't ask me to tell you about this, lets just say I flattened a couple of primers and extruded and sheared a couple more.

benzuncle
June 30, 2009, 09:59 AM
I've been using the Lee Scale for 18 months. I weigh charges until I know they are consistent, usually 3 to 5 charges. Then I load up ammo and check the last of every 50 loads. I can live with a tenth of a grain variance. I have a magnifying glass and I wear a pair of cheaters; reading the scale is not a problem. As for it being plastic and chincy, I give a rat's butt. I don't move mine. I resides at eye level on a leveled shelf; small wooden pegs drilled into the shelf keep it from moving. As for the Lee Disks, I could care less what the number is on the disk hole. When I find the one that throws the load I need I write it down.

ljnowell
June 30, 2009, 10:06 AM
I had a cell phone once I wanted to take to the range and.....

Not to veer too far off topic, but I had a friend that was having a bad day. We were shooting at some clays and doing a little 25 yard handgun competing. After about the 25th phone call from the same person he was having problems with, he turned to me and said "shoot it!" while throwing it into the air. To make things interesting we had been using a .410 bolt action with an adjustable choke on it, cranked to full. Well, you can guess the rest, he got a new phone.

huntsman
June 30, 2009, 10:26 AM
The LEE scale works for me but then I only load shotshells. I'd get something more efficient if I was loading metallic cartridges.

woodwrkr
June 30, 2009, 10:26 AM
The only thing that kept me from drawing a bead on my cell phone is my secretary needed a new cell phone and I had just bought a new one.

As far as the Lee scale goes, I now have two scales, the Lee beam type and a RCBS Rangemaster 750 and I don't begin throwing powder charges until I can get the two scales to agree with one another within +/- .1 gr. And I also zero both at the beginning of each reloading session.:o

weekender823
June 30, 2009, 11:53 PM
I didn't trust my Lee scale before, and now I don't have to worry. A chem lab where I work has digital balance that weighs grams to 4 decimal places. I converted a couple of my favorite loads from grains to grams, and then timmed pieces of shim stock until they were within a few thousandths of a gram. Now I always know if the balance is right.

If you or a buddy has access to a lab balance at work, or if the local high school chem teacher will grant you a favor, you can have a lot more confidence about what goes into your loads.

fireflyfather
July 1, 2009, 12:18 AM
I had the same problem as Nate1778. Had to go up two bushing sizes. this made me concerned about the scale. I bought the adjustable powder dispenser, and a small digital scale. No more removing the powder bin. The digital came with a 20 gram weight. Used the weight on the beam scale and found it to be accurate.


Two things can be going on here, maybe more.

First of all, the bushings are intentionally meant to throw a little under, for safety's sake.

Secondly, any given batch of powder may be a little more or less dense than any other batch, so make sure you calibrate new batches of powder, EVERY TIME you crack open a new can/bottle/jug.

Third, things like humidity can actually affect density even with the same can (Florida summers versus a New Mexico summer might mean a bit of charge weight variance, for example). If you are pushing hot loads, need to weigh each charge anyway.

I'm sure there are more variables.

Phil A
July 1, 2009, 09:48 AM
I only use the LEE for trickling up a charge and use a digital scale for everything else. I always verify a scale with checkweights before using it. - Phil

moooose102
July 1, 2009, 10:19 AM
i used mine for a while, then it started sticking, and i way overloaded some rounds. i found out the hard way. fortuneatly, there was no real damage to the gun, or me. i sent it back to lee, and they replaced it. but it is still in the box, brand new. because i bought a hornady model m scale. this is one area that that you do not want to skimp on. i do not have to much faith in electronic stuff, there is no way of knowing when it is going to fail. the good tried and true balance beam scales of high quality are as reliable as a chunk of granite. buy a good one, and never look back!

SSN Vet
July 1, 2009, 10:35 AM
nothing wrong with the Lee scale....

I do it exactly like JFH described....

is it the best... no
does it work... yes
is it accurate... yes
does it require careful operation...yes
is it easy to misread...yes
is it less than half of the price of the competition... yes

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