Lee Classic Turret Powder Checker Die


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Garage Dog
October 29, 2011, 02:39 PM
A few month ago thanks to help from this forum, I finally realized the Lee factory crimp die is not necessary. I began to think of a way to make a powder checker for the now extra hole in the turret. So here's what I did.

I took apart the FCD and removed the collar inside. Next I drilled a 25/64 hole in the top of the adjuster part of the die (this is for a 38 SP load) Then I took a 3/8" piece of brass rod that has been laying around for at least 50 years and cut off a piece and chucked it into my drill press. I drilled a hole for a 6-32 screw and tapped it. Next I turned on the drill press and with an old file, began to form the taper so the brass rod would fit into a 38 sp casing. This only took about 10 or 15 minutes! When that was done I got a 6-32 allan screw and a fender washer and installed them on the brass rod. The next step was to make a gizzmo that would indicate the correct height of a proper load. Again I dug into another box 'O junk left over from my Radio control airplane days and found a piece of threaded rod. It just so happend to be the same thread as the nut that holds on the powder measure which I think is 4-40. Then i grabbed a small piece of brass tubing and smashed it flat and made the little orange arrow that aligns with the washer on the brass rod. I even made it so can screw up or down depending on the load. I've loaded about 500 rounds with it and it really works well.

NOTE: This is NOT used as a substitute for a scale and weighing a load. I always weigh loads every now and then during each session. The load is weighed and THEN the powder checker is adjusted to that load volume.

Here's a few photos in case you anyone out there wants to build one.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v55/tiresmoke69/001-1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v55/tiresmoke69/002.jpg

No Charge
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v55/tiresmoke69/009.jpg

Correct Charge
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v55/tiresmoke69/007.jpg

Double charge
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v55/tiresmoke69/008.jpg

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kostner
October 29, 2011, 03:40 PM
Like your new project and will attempt to make one of my own. Retired and have plenty of time on my hands. Jim

Lost Sheep
October 30, 2011, 03:40 PM
Awfully nice device.

May I critique? Please don't take offense.

Your build requires that you have a FCD on hand.

Use of non-threaded and non-machined parts as much as possible would keep production costs down, particularly for those of us who don't have a stock of leftover parts from other projects and hobbies, or if you wanted to produce a bunch of these and sell them.

A simple cylindrical flanged bushing that slips into the die station with an inner diameter just a touch smaller than the cartridge case inner diameter would do as the body. Then just make a rod that slips down through the inner diameter of the bushing with a cotter pin or circlip at the point where the rod WOULD HIT the bottom of an empty cartridge case.

Slip the rod into the bushing and any empty case would be readily apparent by observing the lack of lift of the rod from its rest position.

I would put the orange arrow (lift indicator) onto a smaller diameter rod that would thread into the bushing. (A non-threaded rod and an alligator clip would do nicely, I think). That would dispense with the need to interface with the powder measure at all.

If you made the bushing of a non-conductive material and the rod (and the inner diameter of the bushing) a little smaller, you could put an LED and a small battery on the device. The rod, contacting the bottom of the case, would complete an electrical circuit and light the LED, alerting the operator of an uncharged case.

If you don't want to build and market them yourself, maybe LEE would buy the design from you.

Lost Sheep

rsrocket1
October 30, 2011, 06:30 PM
Also not to offend, but why do you need a powder check on a press that performs only one operation at a time? A lamp shining into the case is just as good. It's not as if you were performing 5 operations at once. It seems as if you are wasting a stroke.

Get one of these (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20169658/) for $10. You could also get one with a clamp instead of a table top base.

kelbro
October 30, 2011, 08:44 PM
Good job!

Lost Sheep
October 30, 2011, 10:29 PM
Also not to offend, but why do you need a powder check on a press that performs only one operation at a time? A lamp shining into the case is just as good. It's not as if you were performing 5 operations at once. It seems as if you are wasting a stroke.

Get one of these (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20169658/) for $10. You could also get one with a clamp instead of a table top base.
It is not easy to see down into a .357 magnum case if you are using a dense powder like Bullseye, even with a light. I have to get up out of my chair to see (I am not that lazy, but doing it every time interrupts my concentration and tends to wear out my chair.)

A small mirror and a your light (or another light I have seen that is like a penlight with an LED on a gooseneck) would also do, but they always take a lot of fiddling and adjustment.

To each their own. Some would prefer to look, others to have a feeler check for powder.

Lost Sheep

1KPerDay
October 31, 2011, 12:18 AM
That's cool.

1SOW
October 31, 2011, 01:04 AM
I love gizmos that work.

Lost Sheep, raise your seat or lower your press.

Lost Sheep
October 31, 2011, 01:47 AM
I love gizmos that work.

Lost Sheep, raise your seat or lower your press.
Tried that. Still can't see deep enough inside the case to see a small charge of bullseye in the bottom of a .357 case. If I want to be sure of seeing it, I actually have to take the case out of the press. Besides, my arm is not long enough to a full handle stroke if I am too far higher than the press.

Now, if I switched powders. But I just bought 8 lbs of Bullseye for my plinking loads.

I will just have to be very careful. and KEEP WATCHING.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Lost Sheep

skyfire1
October 31, 2011, 08:10 PM
Nice job

Garage Dog
November 3, 2011, 06:20 PM
Also not to offend, but why do you need a powder check on a press that performs only one operation at a time? A lamp shining into the case is just as good.

I now have proof positive that I have a charged case. I know the likelihood of the powder measure failing is very small BUT it could happen. I practice a lot of self defense shooting with rapid double or even triple taps and I do not want a squib to ruin my day. The light would do me no good because I can't see the powder in the case the way I sit at my press. The arrow is right in my site line.

It seems as if you are wasting a stroke.

After I found I didn't need the FCD to crimp I loaded a few rounds and did the "short stroke" as suggested by others here. Now to me that was a wasted stroke. That is when I decided to build the powder checker.

I did think about rigging it with a light, but with my electrical skills I thought it best not to have something that may spark around gun powder. I looked at the Dillon powder checker to see if I could convert or somehow make one, but I like to keep it simple.

Lost Sheep, I thank you for your suggestions. I was also thinking along the same lines but this was the quickest and easiest for me. If I ever want to use the FCD again I can just put the collar back in. I don't think the hole in the adjuster will affect it, but i could be wrong about that. Either way I'm getting use from the die and not wasting a stroke.:)

Bmac1949
November 3, 2011, 10:21 PM
Nice job on the powder check die

Hondo 60
November 3, 2011, 10:49 PM
Lost Sheep,
I, for one, absolutely LOVE it. For those who stand or perch on a high stool maybe it isn't necessary.
But for those of us who need a comfy desk chair (for whatever reason is no one's business)
the idea is a GREAT one.

Thanks for posting! :D

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