550B Almost Here: Tell Me ALL The Tricks


January 20, 2004, 09:43 PM
A Dillon 550B is at the UPS center waiting for me to pick it up. After reading the thread on Brian Enos' forum (I got it from BE, too), I'd love to hear what you folks have come up with to make this puppy hum. (I'll be using it as a dedicated .45 ACP press, BTW).



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January 20, 2004, 10:38 PM
That makes two of us--I'm also waiting for my new 550b, and will be loading 45 acp. I'm getting a bit nervous, and need all the hints, tips, tricks, and common sense that's out there. Any others?

January 20, 2004, 10:57 PM
Search for:

550 OR 550B

in the TITLES of threads here and you will be richly rewarded. ;)

January 20, 2004, 11:23 PM
Hrmm ...
If you've ever reloaded before, it'll be a cinch. If not, take things slow and figure each stage out.

There are a couple small things that could be improved about the press. One of them you can do yourself.
When you've got your press set up, look here:
The standard nylon snap piece (above the spring) isn't too hard to get off, but it bugged me. So I made this:
Basically, it is a magnet with a hole in it that takes place of the nylon snap to hold the rod to the plate. The nut is loose on the rod and serves as a washer to keep the spring from grinding at the magnet.

It slips easily off when I'm ready to change and holds securely enough to use the press heavily. I know Mr. Dillon says not to try to improve on his design, but this was an easy fix.

Now if I could just figure out an easy way to make a quick-change primer system ...

January 21, 2004, 12:57 AM
You ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE a rigid bench. If your bench wobbles or hops or rocks or leans or anything else it will be a PITA. You will fight priming problems and crushing cases until you get a rigid setup. Make it STRONG and SOLID!!!

I also hope you ordered the roller handle, I can't imaging going back to the ball.....

Also buy the spare parts kit. Like all before you, you will mangle a component and odds are VERY good it will be in the spare parts kit. You keep going, call Dillon in the morning and they send the replacement for your spare parts bag and all is well. If you don't buy it you wait the 3 days it takes for the parts to arrive from Dillon.

January 21, 2004, 10:20 PM
A few observations.

As HSMITH said, GET THE SPARE PARTS KIT! After about 150 rounds I started crushing primers. Some how the primer bar got out of allignment. While trying to correct the problem A couple of parts get mangled. I would still be out of buisness if I hadn't bought the spare parts.

If you get stuck somewhere don't hesitate to call Dillon. I called 3 time while I was setting up and when I had the primer problem. Not once to the tech make me feel stupid or act like I was wasting his time. This is what customer service is supposed to be.

It may not be true for everyone but the video really helped me. It was $6 well spent. Help make the set up easier.

Said before but I'll say it again. Good sturdy bench.

Once all is set up and alligned properly you will be amazed at how fast you will be cranking out finished rounds. I still am. It is nice to see all that ammo on the shelf where there was an empty smace only 2 days ago.

The powder measure so far has been dead on accutate. Just take a few seconds check every so often.

Pay attention to what your doing and don't let yourself get distracted.

The 550 is one awesome press.

January 22, 2004, 09:06 AM
Got mine in 2 weeks ago. Set it up and love it. I'd get the video. As much as I love it, the setup instruction could use some help. I got the strong moubnts and really love them. Make it so much better. I didn't get the roller handle and so don't know if I would like it better. Bullet tray is nice.

Eskimo Jim
January 23, 2004, 11:07 AM
I bought the Dillon 550B a little more than a year ago. I have found that the powder measure is very accurate for measuring powder.

I did have some primer problems, but I think that was cause more by dust and such. I pulled the area apart, cleaned it and put it back together without a problem.

So far I've reloaded quite a few rounds and haven't had any other hiccups.

I don' thave the roller handle.

Have fun.


January 23, 2004, 07:40 PM
I clean primer arm ever 1000 rounds to keep it running up to speed. I have
found that after that many rounds dirt starts to build up and the primer
arm does not want to move like it should. Also put powdered graphite
on it to help it slide. Don't over tighten the two screws that hold the primer
assembly to the press. They can be stripped out over time if you over
tighten them.

Navy joe
January 23, 2004, 07:58 PM
Put the empty .45 case on the end of the primer follower rod, solves more problems.

I like the half coil clip on the shell plate detent spring, it makes the index less jerky, spilling less powder.

Here's a tip, secure the powder measure to the funnel with the two allen screw clamp BEFORE you stroke the first dummy case to check powder charge. I reversed this sequence, and the cascade of powder was pretty entertaining. Luckily I only spilled about 1/4 lb. :fire:

Steve Smith
January 23, 2004, 11:08 PM
Those of you loading for rifle may get help from this. Try putting a heacy rubber band around the powder measure and out to the tap on the powder bar. Evaluate whether this increases or decreases your powder measure's accuracy. YMMV.

January 23, 2004, 11:28 PM
My first problems came from thinking I'd sit down and load - didn't work and I had many rounds with no primers. Now I stand, have gotten much better at having a "feel" for how things work and don't have primer problems anymore. I should also say that I have the strong mount so I think the height it's at is made for standing.

Home Depot sells a plastic cap that fits over the powder adjustment nut and makes it so you can turn it by hand - works great and costs like 80 cents. Go HERE (http://www.1911forum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45235) to read about it.

I also think the video is worth getting and it helped me alot. I wish they'd just include it with the press - I think it does that much good.

Make sure the little clip is in the full primer tube BEFORE you turn it over to pour into the primer magazine - I know one idiot who did that and primers went flying everywhere! :o

January 25, 2004, 02:55 PM
I know two. :p

The powder measure is very consistent, but mine will throw a slightly lighter charge when station one (size/de-prime) is empty. I keep an empty case in station one while I'm throwing test charges of powder at station two and dialing in the amount. Don't seat the primer while doing this, it'll just get popped out by the decapping pin when you drop the next powder charge.

Dillon recommends cleaning the slide plate that the primer bar sits on with Scotchbrite or similar to scrub off primer residue.

Rust is a problem for me. I cleaned and rust-protected the press handle and primer tube, then wrapped them with electrical tape. Johnson Paste Wax protects most everything else.

January 25, 2004, 04:49 PM
anytime I change to a new set-up, I run the first 10 or so cases thru the full cycle one station and one case at a time. It's a lot easier to catch problems if you're not messing with 4 different cases/stations

Keep the powder measure at least 1/3 full with ball powder and 1/2 full with flake

Keep an air hose or vacuum cleaner handy to keep the residue cleaned up. There's always going to be a little powder leakage or brass shavings and they end up jamming the primer feed or get on the ram and make it hard to move up and down

Get some silicone lube for the ram. Mine binds after maybe 500-1000 rounds. Keep paper towels handy to wipe off the extra.

Get AT LEAST 4 extra of each of the locator pins you use. You'll lose them...trust me on this

Write your loads on 3x5 cards and keep them on your bench while your doing that load. Include powder, primer, and particularly crimp and OAL. Saves from going back to the book if you do more than one caliber. More importantly, if you keep going back to the book it's easy to look in the wrong place and get the wrong info.

I always leave the powder canister and empty primer box on the bench. If you go away and end up being gone for a day, week, or whatever, you come back and know exactly what's in the hopper and primer feed. Sounds silly maybe, but load for 4 different calibers and come back after a week and tell me exactly what your set-up was.

January 25, 2004, 06:02 PM
Put a piece of masking tape on the powder measure also when you leave for the day that includes powder type and charge weight it is set for.

I typically load several thousand rounds at a time, this week 38's next week it will be 40's etc. Loading over several days time is common for me and I DO forget details if they are not written down. I also use the same charge of the same powder in several cartridges, if the measure is set up for that logistically it makes more sense to not have to adjust the measure. You can change calibers with only one powder measure in less than 30 seconds sometimes as long as the primer size is the same.

January 25, 2004, 10:06 PM
I will repeat what has been said and strongly recommend the video. Much easier than the book. If there is a weakness, it is in the priming. Pay attention to small/large and keep the area clean. I use a toothbrush. Also, make sure that it is mounted solidly.

January 27, 2004, 04:20 PM
My modus operadi:

Grab the next bullet with the left hand while the right is on the handle's downstroke.

During the downstroke, listen for: the sound of the next primer dropping into the feed arm.
the proper sounds of the powder bar dropping a charge,
and the sound of the spent primer dropping into the catch thingy.

Glance to confirm the powder bar went all the way (and that you still HAVE powder).

On the upstroke, look between the primer tube and the press to confirm that the primer bar picked up a primer. Listen for the proper re-set of the powder bar. Look, too. If you're lucky, you can also see into the just-charged case and verify powder drop and generally the right level. I STRONGLY suggest you adjust your lighting to allow this. Don't forget to push forward and seat the primer.

Boat-tail bullets get put on the charged case before advancing the shellplate. Do that. If you can't plug the case mouth with a bullet, put your finger on the case mouth of auto pistol cases to prevent powder jumping out like a goldfish escaping the bowl (this is not always a problem, especially with .357 Mags and rifle cases). Look to verify that the primer you saw get picked up is no longer there--it should now be seated in the case you just advanced to the powder station.

Don't try to overload the bin with your reloads. It's a drag to watch them slide off the heap and land on the floor. Empty it out.

Listen to the rhythm of the machine and it will help you know when all is well.

January 27, 2004, 05:36 PM
> Boat-tail bullets get put on the charged case before advancing the shellplate. Do that

I never thought about that before but it makes a lot of sense - keeps powder from poppin out, eh?

January 27, 2004, 06:40 PM
U-betcha! When pistol cases get flared, there's just enough for that trick even with flat-base lead bullets.

Trick from the single-stage days: Pick up the bullet, pop on casemouth, slide your fingers down a bit and pick up the case to put it in the shellholder.

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