L&L Powder Measure Changes Over Past 14 Years


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David Wile
March 27, 2012, 01:02 AM
Hey folks,

In the most recent several, or more, years now, I have been reading what folks have been discussing about the Hornady powder measure on their L&L AP presses. These folks have been talking about buying a new L&L press and having to buy a second rotor drum for their powder measure.

When I look at the online PDF Instruction Manual for the powder measure, the rotor drum and micrometer adjustable plunger that goes in the drum do not look like the drum and plungers that are in my Hornady powder measure.

My L&L AP was one of the first presses out of the factory, and the serial number is 1525. My powder measure came with one rotor drum and two metering plungers - one for small charges and the other for big charges. The plunger faces on both plungers are the same size and fit perfectly into the cylinder bore of the rotor drum.

On the plunger for large charges, the plunger face itself is directly attached to the micrometer adjuster, and it moves in and out the cylinder bore to change adjustments for large charges.

The plunger for small charges is completely different. On it, the plunger face is fixed in place and fills the drum cylinder fully. Inside the plunger face body, is a smaller plunger face that is connected to the micrometer adjuster, and it is the part that moves in and out of the small cylinder within the larger plunger body, and it allows the smaller charges to be adjusted.

I am certain my description may be lacking in my ability to explain the working of the two plungers, but I am hoping some of the folks may have an idea of what I have described.

It seems obvious to me that Hornady made some changes to the powder measure somwhere along the the years of production. That is not surprising; they have made a few other changes to accomodate a case feeder, change the case eject system, and some changes to the primer system. My press remains in stock condition as it was issued, and it works like a charm.

My questions on the subject have to do with when the changes were made to the powder measure rotor drum and metering plungers. Also, am I correct in my understanding that presses are issued today with only one size rotor drum metering system? If so, I cannot understand how they would go from initially selling a press outfitted for both large and small charge throwing capability and then start selling a press where you have to buy the other size metering system. Any ideas on that?

Do not misunderstand my questions as a problem with the L&L. I am not knocking the L&L AP at all. I have been using mine for 14 years now, and it is a truly fine machine. My powder measure throws very consistent charges when using ball and flake powders - it does not meter extruded powders well at all, however. This is also true for my RCBS and Lyman powder measures concerning extruded powders. The case activated system is absolutely reliable as long as I take my time to devote all my attention to the reloading process. I would simply like to get an idea of when Hornady changed the powder drum/plunger system and their policy to only include one charge size. I would also like to know if anyone has any idea of why they made the changes.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

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thump_rrr
March 27, 2012, 04:24 AM
I bought my press a little over a year ago and it came with 2 rotors and an insert for each.
The inserts are not interchangeable.

777TRUTH
March 27, 2012, 05:54 AM
I bought my press a little over a year ago and it came with 2 rotors and an insert for each.
The inserts are not interchangeable.

Same here.

cfullgraf
March 27, 2012, 07:19 AM
My Hornady progressive is from late 2009. It came with two rotor drums, large and small.

The printed literature at the time about the press, primarily in catalogs and vendor web sites, indicated it came with only one drum so I ordered a pistol drum with the press. I now have two pistol rotors.

So, maybe the change was not too long before my press was made.

David Wile
March 27, 2012, 11:14 AM
Hey Folks,

After reading what Thump and Truth said I was beginning to wonder if I was missing the barn by 12 yards, but then Chuck did confirm that at one time Hornady was selling the press with only one rotor drum for large charges. I am glad to hear they are now selling the press capable of throwing both large and small charges.

Now allow me to ask if anyone knows why they switched from the original single rotor drum with two metering plungers to the new two rotor drum system? My powder measure works perfectly with ball and flake powders, and changing from large to small charges is very easily done simply by removing one meter plunger and putting the other one in the rotor drum. I do not have to remove the rotor drum at all. Any ideas why a change was made? Also, were there any other changes to the powder measure between the original like I have and what they use now?

I know over the years they changed the shell plate base to accomodate the new EZ-Ject case eject system and case feeder; they changed the primer system somewhat; and the change to the powder measure I have been discussing. Are there any other changes I may have missed? Again, I would point out that my original with all original parts works perfectly for me.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

kbeck76
March 27, 2012, 03:19 PM
My LNL from 2004 came with only one rotor as you describe. I had problems with small charges of powder (2.8 - 3.2 grains of Clays) with that setup. I recently converted to the newer style powder measure system and am getting much more consistent results.

It's a little aggravating trying to keep up with Hornady's changes to the LNL but I can't fault them for working to improve the press.

Kevin

cfullgraf
March 27, 2012, 05:16 PM
David,

i have a now discontinued Midway Indispensable powder measure (mid to late nineties vintage) whose small cavity is similar to the one you described for the Hornady. It has an insert that fills the large cavity with the small cavity machined in the middle.

I never liked changing it over to pistol and it took a little fiddling to get the insert positioned correctly. As a result, the micrometer readings were not very repeatable.

This may not be the same as the Hornady though. Maybe Hornady figured out how to make the change and have the micrometer reading be repeatable.

If the Hornady and the Midway are similar in that respect, I could see that Hornady adjusted to meet it's customers' wants and desires.

The Midway is great for larger rifle cartridges, 30-06 and 308 Winchester, so I keep it around and it stays et up for rifle. I have a Redding 10-X for handgun. Apologizes for getting the thread off point.

Blue68f100
March 27, 2012, 05:48 PM
My 2008 press only came with the Rifle cylinder. I had to purchase the pistol one.

nofishbob
March 27, 2012, 06:53 PM
My LNL AP came with only the rifle rotor in about mid 2008.

I have had no problems dispensing loads down to 5.0 grains of W231, but it gets very fussy with the big rotor at these small charge weights.

A pistol rotor is definitely on my "list".

Bob

David Wile
March 27, 2012, 08:24 PM
Hey Chuck,

From what you described, it seems we might be in the same church but different pews. At the end of your first paragraph, I thought you were describing my small charge meter plunger exactly. Then your description in your second paragraph made it seem completely different from mine.

I may be adding 2 + 2 and coming up with 5 here, but from what you described, it seems like you have one micrometer system that interchanged the two different sized plungers which fit in one rotor drum. My powder measure uses one rotor drum and two completely different meter plungers, and each plunger includes its own micrometer adjuster. Both plungers are interchangeable in the one cylinder hole in the one rotor drum. The large plunger face fills the rotor drum cylinder and moves in and out by its own micrometer adjuster. My small plunger unit seems to be very much as you described yours in your first paragaph. When the small charge unit is in place, the plunger completely fills the rotor drum cylinder, and the part that moves in and out is a smaller diameter insert in the plunger face. That insert is attached to its own integral micrometer adjuster, and there is no changing of micrometer adjuster from large charge to small charge. Changing from large charge to small charge simply means taking one micrometer adjuster/plunger unit out and putting the other micrometer adjuster/plunger unit in its place. One a plunger unit is in placed in the drum rotor, a simple hex head set screw keeps it solidly in place.

Accordingly, both plunger units throw very consistent drops. My L&L press is mounted on a half inch thick 12" X 16" steel plate which is mounted on a bench made of 2x4 framework covered with a bench top that is made up of 2x10 boards covered with a 1" plywood layer, and finished with a 1/4 inch layer of finish plywoood. Other than the finish layer of plywood which is glued on, all the other pieces are screwed together rather than nailed together. I mention the bench construction to give the reader an idea of how solid the bench is and note what that does to insure the press itself is as solid as can be. The biggest part in a powder measure throwing consistent charges has to do with how solidly it is mounted.

When you put a powder measure on top of a progressive press, and then you raise it up even higher by adding a case activated mechanism, you are compounding any amount of shakiness that is inherent in whatever type of platform to which the press is mounted. It is this dynamic that makes me wonder how anyone can expect any kind of consistent powder drops when a progressive press is mounted on a small, flimsy platform as was discussed on another thread concerning the use of a progressive press in an apartment.

From your descriptions in your two posts, it seems your two rotor drums each come with its own meter plunger unit, and I am guessing the two meter plunger units are two different sizes to fit in two different cylinder sizes - one for each of the two rotor drums. Does that sound like I understand the the two rotor drum system Hornady is using today? Also, given what I have described about my powder measure rotor drum system, does it make sense to you?

I can't believe there are not more folks with older L&L presses like my own. They obviously have to be out there, but they seem to be non-existing here on the forum. I know a lot of folks reported they switched from the old wire eject system to the EZ-Ject system, but there must be a lot of others like myself who are still using the old original systems. I wish I could hear some of their experiences, but I certainly thank you for your responses.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

David Wile
March 27, 2012, 08:37 PM
Hey Kevin,

Your press is in the 8,000 serial number range, and you bought it in 2004. From what you just posted about your 2004 press, are you saying it came with one rotor drum and two different sized micrometer meter plungers like mine, or are you saying it came with one rotor drum and only one micrometer meter plunger?

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

cfullgraf
March 27, 2012, 09:15 PM
David,

Here is the pistol insert for the Midway measure. It fits in the hole in the drum after the rifle insert is removed.

David Wile
March 27, 2012, 09:49 PM
Hey Chuck,

My small charge meter-plunger looks pretty much like that except for the screw or bolt or whatever that comes out of the side at an angle. In addition to the plunger you have shown, I have a second plunger that is the full bore size and is used for large charges. I wonder if I can figure out how to post photos of mine as you have done? If I get some pics, I will try to post them.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

cfullgraf
March 27, 2012, 10:02 PM
Hey Chuck,

My small charge meter-plunger looks pretty much like that except for the screw or bolt or whatever that comes out of the side at an angle.

That screw locks the micrometer.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In the reply to thread window, go to "Go Advanced" features. Below the text window is an option to attach files. Photo files are acceptable attachment but the file cannot be too big, Hope this helps.

kbeck76
March 27, 2012, 10:09 PM
One rotor, two inserts. Like you described I think.

WRONG!!!

Went and checked, and took pictures. See below, one rotor, one insert (rifle only). Easy to see why light charges might be an issue.

Kevin

David Wile
March 27, 2012, 10:47 PM
Hey Kevin,

I would suspect we have the same rotor drum and dual insert system in our powder measures.

In your earlier post, I think you indicated you seemed to have problems with dropping small charges in your small charge insert. If I read your words correctly, I am surprised to hear that. My small charge plunger insert works well with Bulleye in pistol cases. I just read on another thread where one fellow intends to replace his Hornady powder measure on his L&L AP with a Lee powder measure. I simply cannot imagine what problems one might have with their Hornady powder measure. I also have had an RCBS powder measure for over 40 years, and it works really well with ball and flake powders like the Hornady. None of them will throw consistent charges with extruded powders.

What does the new Hornady system do differently than the old system that came with our presses? What makes the new system drop smaller charges better do you think?

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

kbeck76
March 27, 2012, 11:05 PM
These are the powder measure inserts you are talking about I think?

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-V6hw0UlzGPY/T3J-t25jVuI/AAAAAAAABJk/jeXriTQ8-5Q/w500-h333-k/DSC_5925.JPG

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-gXL2g0S8lB0/T3J-usf1D2I/AAAAAAAABJs/LkEPg3wbq2k/w500-h333-k/DSC_5926.JPG

The two on the left are from an earlier Hornady powder measure I bought with an 007 in the late 1980's. The one on the right is what came with my LNL.

These are not interchangeable. The micrometer type from the earlier measure will not fit in the new measure (they're held by a set screw) and the new inserts won't fit in the old measure (they're held in place by a pin).

There are more pictures at: https://plus.google.com/photos/101379071907870471009/albums/5724776195414862529?authkey=CK6v7sLwpML_Yw

Hope this helps and shows why small powder drops might be a problem.

Kevin

David Wile
March 28, 2012, 02:16 AM
Hey Kevin,

I sure don't have to worry about taking pictures of the two rotor drum plunger inserts used on my Hornady powder measure. The two bright shiny inserts on the left in your picture are the same as the inserts in my powder measure. This is the first time I ever saw anything like the third insert in your pics that looks a bit discolored.

It looks like you changed your earlier post, and it now seems like you are saying it was the discolored rifle insert that was causing you problems with your small charges. If that is the case, I can certainly understand that giving you a problem.

How do the two micrometer inserts work for you as far as throwing consistent charges? In your pics, those two inserts look exactly like mine, and I have found them to be very consistent as long as I am using ball or flake powder.

I sure do thank you for posting your pics. I tried my best to describe how my rotor drum accepted two interchangeable inserts, but I am afraid I did not do a good enough job. With your pics, I think most people will be able to understand what I was trying to describe.

I don't know why Hornady went away from the original inserts as shown in your pictures. Since you bought your press in 2004 with a single rotor drum and single insert, apparently Hornady changed from the single rotor drum with two inserts sometime before your 2004 purchase. Then based on Chucks 2009 purchase with two rotor drums with two new type inserts, Hornady made another change to include two inserts for large and small charges again. Cannot understand the change from the original single drum and two micrometer adjustable inserts used in the powder measure of my original press. Did they really come up with a better mousetrap with their newer system?

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

cfullgraf
March 28, 2012, 08:05 AM
Cannot understand the change from the original single drum and two micrometer adjustable inserts used in the powder measure of my original press. Did they really come up with a better mousetrap with their newer system?


Dave,

From your description and Kevin's post, it looks like the Hornady single drum/two insert system works the same way as my Midway powder measure. There is a set screw in the side of the drum to hold the insert in place but there is not positive locater for the insert.

With the Midway, I found it not really simple to change the inserts and get them set giving repeatable results. Not difficult but not really user friendly in my opinion.

Some folks find the system great.

The change over feature of the Midway measure is one of the reasons I have set mine for rifle and left it that way.

The current Hornady L-N-L powder measure drums have a locking pins that positively locate the metering insert. A much better system, in my opinion, although requires a drum change to convert from one size to the other size drum. This is probably a bigger issue with the progressive presses since you have to change the case activated powder drop linkage as well.

But, the upside to the current system is you can have metering inserts for set for different cartridges. Change out the insert instead of moving the insert.

In my opinion, Hornady probably got a number of complaints on the old single drum/two metering insert system that they developed a better mouse trap. My Midway measure has long since been discontinued, I bought mine on close out. I can only assume that the metering change system was one of the reason.

I have not seen the details of the RCBS quick change Uniflow but it will be interesting to see how well it does in the market.

A couple other notes, I am a fan of baffles in my powder measure. I have actually added a second baffle to my Hornady L-N-L measure located about 1" or so above the lower baffle and turned 90 degrees. It seems to help with the variability of the powder measure when used on the progressive but I really have not done exhaustive testing.

The micrometer head on the metering insert, of itself, does not improve the accuracy of the powder measure in the class powder measure of the Hornady L-N-L. It does improve the ability to quickly zero in on a powder charge and to return to a past powder charge assuming the setting was recorded. I do like micrometer adjusters on my powder measures although i have switched back and forth with the L-N-L on the progressive.

David Wile
March 28, 2012, 12:48 PM
Hey Chuck,

While Midway powder measure inserts look similar to the inserts that were used in my and Kevin's Hornady powder measures, they are not the same. The Hornady micrometer insert adjusters work differently. If you look at Kevin's second picture furnished above, you will notice a small black round hump or dome on the top of each of the two shiney micrometer inserts. That rounded dome is actually a hex wrench set screw which provides a positive hold to the micrometer once it has been dialed in to a desired setting.

When you place one of the inserts fully into the rotor drum, it is held firmly in place by a hex head set screw in the side of the rotor drum. Then you adjust your micrometer setting to get your desired drop, and the micrometer is then locked in place by tightening the hex head screw on the top or outward end of the micrometer. As I noted, this hex screw looks like a small dark and round dome on the end of the two inserts in Kevin's second picture. Once you tighten, that hex head set screw on the micrometer, the charge volume is set and will not change until you loosen the screw and adjust the micrometer once again. It is a very good system and certainly does throw consistent drops when mounted on a stable platform.

The micrometers have graduation markings on them, so you can actually change the micrometer from one recorded setting to another recorded setting. I would not however, suggest that when you dial in a recorded setting that you are going to get the exact same weight you had previously. I find I change my micrometer to a particular setting, and then I weigh several drops to then fine tune the micrometer to the exact weight before tightening the micrometer set screw. I does not take much of a change in the micrometer dial to change your drops a tenth of a grain. To me, the advantage of the adjustable micrometer insert showing graduation markings is to dial the insert to a desired setting, and then quickly fine tune your drops to exactly what you want. I would never want to just plug an insert into the drum and start loading without checking several drops to make sure of the powder weight. Those inserts are really very good, but they are not good enough to interchange without checking the powder weight it is dropping.

I don't know what the current locking pin system is or how it works, but I would think the old system I have would also furnish the same positive insert location results. You simply put the insert in the rotor drum and slide it in to where it bottoms out and then set the set screw on the drum. There is no need to change rotor drums with the old system.

You certainly are right about the need for changing the case activated powder drop (CAPD), and that can include changes to the insert in the CAPD, the depth of the measure in the CAPD, as well as the linkage on the CAPD. If I change from rifle to pistol, the whole CAPD has to be completely readjusted, and I would guess it would take me perhaps five minutes. If I change from 9mm to 10mm, I would still have to make some changes in the CAPD. I might not have to change the insert in the CAPD, but I would still have to make changes and adjustments to the depth or height of the measure as well as the linkage. Again, I would guess it would take about five minutes. There are probably other who could do it in so many seconds, but I am not in a race, and it takes me longer. It is not difficult to do, but I like to be precise in my adjustment and have the powder measure turned a certain direction when finished so I can see exactly what is happening when operating the press.

In any case, my old Hornady system is very consistent in its drops, and the micrometer inserts do allow for quickly changing to a previously recorded setting and locking the final setting in.

I have had an RCBS powder measure for well over 40 years, and I guess it may have been called a Uniflow, but I am not sure about that. It has a single drum and a long threaded crowned measuring screw with graduation markings for recording charge settings. Like the Hornady measure, the RCBS works like a charm with consistent drops when using ball and flake powders. If I am using extruded powders, however, I throw charges underweight and bring them up to desired weight on a scale with a powder trickler. If I want accurate drop weights with extruded powders, I have to weigh each charge.

I also have an even older Lyman 55 powder measure that uses a drum with adjustable slides inside the cylinder to change powder volume. When I first bought it, it replaced an old Belding & Mull measure I bought used when I was still a teenager. I liked the Lyman better than the B&M, but there were a lot of folks back then who would disagree with me. A few years later when I tried the RCBS, I really liked it and bought one right away. For years I had both the RCBS and the Lyman measures set up on my reloading benches, but the reality was that I was always using the RCBS instead of the Lyman. It is only since 2005 when we moved and I built a new bench that I put the Lyman measure on the shelf and do not even set it up on the bench.

Like you, I would think baffles are a good idea, and I use them in my progressive shotshell presses. I do not, however, use them in my other measures. Not that I do not agree with their use, I simply fill the powder hopper when starting and refill it as soon as it gets half empty. I suppose I could do the same thing with my progressive shotshell hoppers, but they came with baffles in them, and I continued to use them.

I don't like adding a lot of extra stuff if I do not need it. I do not use a powder cop die because I eyeball every charge (including bottlenecks with a light) before placing a bullet in place for seating. No case feeder or bullet feeders for me also. A friend has a case feeder on his press, and when I load on his press, the case feeder does nothing for me. I am much slower in my progressive loading practices, so a casefeeder does nothing to improve things for me. It really is a distracting nuisance for me because of all the noise it makes. A bullet feeder would interfere with my visual inspections of powder charges and make me go to a powder cop die that I really do not want to use. My L&L AP has five stations, but I only ever use either three stations for bottleneck cartridges or four for pistol cartridges.

I am much slower than my progressive press, but when I can get a finished cartridge with every cycle of the press handle, I am most content to give the operation all my attention and make sure everything is right. Even at my slow speed, I can load a finished round every five seconds or so, and that is light speed for me.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

kbeck76
March 28, 2012, 02:41 PM
Hey Kevin,

I sure don't have to worry about taking pictures of the two rotor drum plunger inserts used on my Hornady powder measure. The two bright shiny inserts on the left in your picture are the same as the inserts in my powder measure. This is the first time I ever saw anything like the third insert in your pics that looks a bit discolored.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

That discoloration is rust. I got super busy with work and didn't reload (or even look at my stuff) for about 4 years. After 4 years in my humid Central-Florida garage I had a mess when I started reloading again. I have a pistol rotor now and a new rifle insert so the one in the picture isn't used anymore.

I never had any problem with the older Hornady powder measure and small charges. The rifle only system I got with my LNL definitely had issues with small charges.

Kevin

cfullgraf
March 28, 2012, 09:53 PM
The micrometers have graduation markings on them, so you can actually change the micrometer from one recorded setting to another recorded setting. I would not however, suggest that when you dial in a recorded setting that you are going to get the exact same weight you had previously. I find I change my micrometer to a particular setting, and then I weigh several drops to then fine tune the micrometer to the exact weight before tightening the micrometer set screw. I does not take much of a change in the micrometer dial to change your drops a tenth of a grain. To me, the advantage of the adjustable micrometer insert showing graduation markings is to dial the insert to a desired setting, and then quickly fine tune your drops to exactly what you want. I would never want to just plug an insert into the drum and start loading without checking several drops to make sure of the powder weight. Those inserts are really very good, but they are not good enough to interchange without checking the powder weight it is dropping.

Right. The graduations on the micrometer makes things easier. It gives you an idea of how much a change is needed.

I record the settings and go back to them the next time I use that load. But I always have to fine tune the adjustment. The charge weight rarely ends up at the same setting as the previous session.

Particularly with the L-N-L, but also with the Uniflow, the inside of the metering chamber is the same whether there is an unmarked screw or a micrometer on the end of it. Once the unmarked screw is throwing the desired charge, it will have the same accuracy and precision as the micrometer version. It is just more difficult to dial in the unmarked screw.


I don't know what the current locking pin system is or how it works, but I would think the old system I have would also furnish the same positive insert location results. You simply put the insert in the rotor drum and slide it in to where it bottoms out and then set the set screw on the drum. There is no need to change rotor drums with the old system.



The current L-N-L drums have a spring loaded cross pin that fits in a groove of the metering insert. The groove shows in the shiny part of Kevin's photo of the new metering insert.

Push the pin ,slide the metering insert in and release the pin. The insert is always at the same position when inserted.

To remove the insert, push the pin, pull on the insert to remove it.

If you want to change from handgun to rifle or vice versa, you have to change drums then install the appropriate metering insert.

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