Motor Driven Lee Zip Trim


October 22, 2011, 08:52 PM
The electric case trimmers and case prep tools look really nice, but way out of my budget, especially for my low quantity of reloads. It would never make "economic sense" to spend that kind of money. I purchased a Lee Zip Trim a few months ago and have really like it. However, I started looking for ways to hook a motor up to one online and didn't find anything. I found some other DIY motor driven case trimmer, but when all was said and done it was nearly $200. I asked my father in law for a small motor and he delivered from his garage stash. I mounted it to my table aligned with my Zip Trim and used a vacuum cleaner belt to move the power. The belt is loose, but if its tight it doesn't run. However, it doesn't slip off either. No modifications were made to the Zip Trim, I can remove the belt and run it as it came.

Here is a link to the video of a 223 case trim, chamfer and deburr:

All comments and suggestions are welcome. I didn't have a mentor for my reloading or anyone to show me first hand. Just read a lot here and in the books and watched a lot of other videos on youtube. If I'm doing something wrong or something I can improve please let me know.

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October 22, 2011, 08:57 PM
Wonder how much high speed power the Zip Trim housing will take before it melts or something??

But anyway, I just use the Lee trimmer pilot and depth stop in my drill press.

I don't use the shell holder.
The ground iron drill press table is the depth stop on hand held cases.


October 22, 2011, 09:13 PM
Fantastic idea, great job!

October 23, 2011, 09:04 AM
You might have started a new Lee modification thread here.:D It looks like it works great. Got to agree with RC with how long that Zip trim will work before it has a problem as the speed will be in excess of design parameters. Well they are cheap enough to just get a new one every so often if they don't last. I find that the reloaders here are an inventive bunch as a whole and that is refreshing.:cool:

Jeff H
October 23, 2011, 09:46 AM
IMHO, chuck the shell holder in a battery drill. It is much more convienent and faster, although you idea is pretty interesting.

I do like RCs idea though, it seems very fast but I am a little leary of holding teh case. I'll have to try it some day.

October 23, 2011, 09:48 AM
Nice rig. That's a LOT of chamfering though.

October 23, 2011, 10:33 AM

It seems to take longer than what I'm used to with my RCBS trimmer even hand powered.

With the carbide cutter it only takes a couple of turns to trim to length. With the 3-way cutter I am also able to chamfer and de-burr in the same operation as the trimming.

How long does it take you to do let's say 20 rounds? It seems like the starting and stopping of the motor would add considerable time over the whole process.

October 23, 2011, 11:48 AM
nosmr2, are you a descendant of Rube Goldberg? You know, the guy that over-complicated everything?:neener: While that rig works, it's running at too high a RPM, especially for the chamfering stage. A cordless drill is usually a variable speed which allows you to trim at higher RPM, then slow it down to chamfer.

You do NOT need to SHARPEN the mouth of the case. Your chamfer should be 1/8 as much as you're doing. All that's needed is to remove the burrs left by the trimmer cutter, then create a bevel on the inside of the mouth.

The lee system is very adaptable to various ways to spin the case. Like RC says, a drill press works without a shell holder, just use the DP table as a stop for the pilot. That means you chuck the cutter in the drill press, spinning the cutter and pilot.

October 23, 2011, 06:23 PM
Thanks for the input. I had no idea it was spinning too fast and too fast to chamfer correctly and that I was chamfering too long. I will fix that for all future case preparation.

Back to the drawing board. Going along the lines of my Rube Goldberg engineering I may look at a foot pedal, similar to a sewing machine, to control the speed as well as save time from turning it on and off at a switch. As long as it can be had on the cheap. So far I am into this project for $2.48 the cost of two belts. The rest was free. I will monitor the Zip Trim for potential wear for speeds it was not designed for. If it does go down, I'm only out $16. So no more chamfering until I get it to run at slower speeds.

More than likely I will chuck it in a drill, just sold my drill press, and go that route eventually. I believe it is more than likely the best and easiest way. And will not cost any more since I already have a drill. However, how much fun is that assuming it can be done correctly and safely.

November 1, 2011, 10:39 AM
I think I'm going to try a manual light dimmer switch this weekend mounted on the bench. That should slow and speed as desired and should remove the on/off delay. I have used light dimmers in the past for several projects.

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