Lee Classic Turret / Lee Pro Auto Disk


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CMV
October 17, 2013, 08:57 PM
I was getting a little frustrated with my reloading. I've been shooting more lately which means I'm loading more. But it seems loading is taking up too much time - taking away from other projects or range time.

I was about to pull the trigger on a Dillon 650. Watching the youtube videos of them in action - just really, really fast. It's not that I dislike loading, but sometimes it feels more like "work" than a hobby/recreation. I don't like being in that mindset when it comes to loading - it should feel "enjoyable" IMO. Anyway, looking at the Brian Enos pages of what to buy, everything pointed at a 550. That got me thinking about the auto index vs manual. That led me down the path that auto index is unimportant to me because I have a turret press now & I don't use the auto index.

I primarily load in batches & use my turret press as a single stage for the most part. Leaving a set of dies set up on an inexpensive ring & not fiddling around for caliber changes were pretty much the main advantages of the Classic Turret over a regular old single stage. Sometimes I'd use the seating die & then rotate the turret by hand & use the FCD which was a timesaver, but I really figured that was about it. For .223 I could crank out maybe 75 - 100 rds per hour dipping powder, less use the Hornady dispensing scale.

But I thought more about it after watching a bunch of Dillon videos - becoming more & more convinced I needed one after each video. I was also watching/reading comparison videos/articles of Dillon vs LNL vs Pro1000. I figured I should at least try to run my press as intended - even though the Lee progressive was dead last in most categories compared - I figured I'd try my turret & at least see what happened. So I needed a powder drop. Did some research & didn't want to spend a lot because the new Dillon would come with one. The $40 Pro Auto Disk has generally favorable reviews. I already had a double disk kit that I mistakenly bought when i bought the press thinking I needed it for some reason.

So after almost 2 yrs of loading on this press, I break out the clamp & bar for the auto index. Watch some vids of how to set up the powder drop, get it set up & verify it's throwing what i want, then have at it. After 50 rds figuring out a good process & what i was doing, I did 150 rds in under 30 min. That's a +300/hr pace on this little turret press 1st time using it as intended! I realize reloading isn't a race and that 30 min was a bit faster than a comfortable pace, but a very comfortable pace wasn't much slower. Stopping to check powder weight every 20 or so (on a fast digital scale), filling the tiny powder hopper as needed, clearing the occasional goof, etc, 250/hr rate was really comfortable.

I'm starting to think that although I'd be much faster overall with the Dillon, I might just be happy with what i have a while longer. 600 rds in what felt like no time this afternoon - and it was enjoyable. Didn't feel like work.

Disclaimer: I'm priming off the press. I use the Lee hand prime. I have a batch of 1000+ pieces of brass that I cleaned, trimmed, chamfer/deburred, and primed this past weekend. So I was only using 3 stations - powder drop with rifle charging die, seating die, FCD, half stroke to skip FL die, lather, rinse, repeat... I don't claim that I could size, prime, & load 250-300 hr on the turret press "from scratch". I'm saying compared to my old process which was also starting from prepped & primed cases that yielded maybe 100 rds/hr, I'm 3x faster (not counting prep/priming time) just from installing the auto index bar & a powder drop.

At first I was really amazed with the Lee Pro Auto Disk + Double Disk Kit. I had read that it will drop a little lighter than the table says on a single stage & a little heavier on a turret due to that additional motion packing the cavities more. That was pretty much spot on. Set at 24.4 gr of H335 without moving the turret - just dispensing into a shell over & over - it was giving me 24.4 gr 4/5 times pretty much. 1/5 time it was 24.5 gr. Pretty consistent and + .1 sometimes - no worse than my Hornady dispensing scale. then when spinning around it was throwing 24.6 gr with a lot more variation but still -.1 to +.2. A lot still right on 24.6. Far enough away from a max load & this is plinking ammo so good enough results & probably as good/better than i got dipping. It was neat & clean too. Didn't spill or leak powder. I was really impressed with it.

Then things kind of went down hill. 1st, my arm just decided that pulling the handle that much wasn't something that needed done for hrs at a time. But right around 600 rds, the dispenser started acting up. Leaking powder, and throwing heavy. Getting up to 24.9 - 25 gr & I'm seeing powder falling.

I didn't really change my pace - slowed down a touch maybe. Checked the nuts on the dispenser & still as hand tight as I could get them. Can't really figure out why it seemed to suddenly go to +.3 gr, messy throws. It didn't gradually get that way & "creep" up in weight. I put the charges on the 505 just to make sure my scale wasn't drifting because it had been turned on for a long time by that point. Took it apart, cleaned it, put it back together & will see what it does after a while.

What should I check on that dispenser? What causes them to get a wild hair like that? Is there a "break in" & now I need to recalibrate to a lower capacity combination now that it's worn in a little? Die is still tight, dispenser still screwed into die tight. I didn't bump it or drop it or anything out of the ordinary to "break" it.

Maybe it's a sign that I need to go ahead & get that Dillon after all....

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frankenstein406
October 17, 2013, 09:04 PM
Sometimes the hopper starts closing on its own so I tape it open. Also powder getting low or maybe a baffle would help.

Oh I missed that part, they do get seasoned after so many powder throws. Is it consistent now at 24.9? After ten throws?

AABEN
October 17, 2013, 09:41 PM
I have loaded over 8000 rounds this year on that Lee press. I have had no trouble with it changing charge. I am 73 and pulling the leaver does not bother me. I can not see that much money for the Dillon! That will take away from my shooting Less powder and the rest of the goody's!! You might load this winter to build up your stock for the summer. Good Luck

stavman11
October 19, 2013, 04:26 PM
A few things to Check

1.be sure the thumb screws stay Tight so no Powder Spills on the carrier
2.Be sure the Disk is Traveling all the way out to edge of Carrier..... if you addjust the depth of the case in the Die... be sure the Disk fully travel back and out for full load and fully dropped
3. I place a piece of scotch Tap on the backside of the 2 disks. this help keep them from shifting on each other and possible spilling powder on the carrier.
4. ya may try a dryer sheet and rub inside the dispenser and also up inside the drop chute... make sure no static cling is messing things up....

Slow down... tap the powder on load... tap the powder on drop... try that for 10 test rounds.... then just try tapping on drop... i found an ACCENTUATED handle thump on the Powder drop Stage helps with consistent drops.... i had some issues last week and found it was me more than anything

im sure its something simple....

Stav...

joecil
October 19, 2013, 05:03 PM
Two things I use an Inline Fabrication handle on my LCT and find it easier on the arm, shoulder and back I got at http://inlinefabrication.com/

Also there is a recommended break in with the Lee Pro powder system. I used graphite with mine however running a hopper full of powder thru it will also do it. However you have done that already based on the amount of powder so suggest at this point tapping it will help but also keep in mind especially if getting light charges to be sure the hopper is at least 1/4 filled.

stavman11
October 19, 2013, 06:26 PM
Two things I use an Inline Fabrication handle on my LCT and find it easier on the arm, shoulder and back I got at http://inlinefabrication.com/

Also there is a recommended break in with the Lee Pro powder system. I used graphite with mine however running a hopper full of powder thru it will also do it. However you have done that already based on the amount of powder so suggest at this point tapping it will help but also keep in mind especially if getting light charges to be sure the hopper is at least 1/4 filled.
Great call on Both joecil......

I have used some added foam... a pad from backpacking.. and wrapped it around the handle on the Lee pro arm... it isnt the Ball type, so it is more ergonomic and works Better

that said.... i did about 1000 brass in 2 days.... with multiple handeling and process... brobobly more like 2000.... and was wondering why my Wrist Hurt.... DUUUUUUUUUUUU:D

hazard of the hobby sometime.......... LOL

Frankl03
October 19, 2013, 08:02 PM
I had allot of the same problems with the Lee powder measure. I got the Lee Micrometer charge bar and after a while it wasn't consistent. I even used a Lyman powder measure which worked for a while and then it acted up.

I bought a Dillon 550B. Runs great! The powder measure is rock steady! Once you set it, it runs the same every time.

Good luck!

CMV
October 19, 2013, 10:02 PM
So I took it apart & cleaned it. Made a baffle from an 8 oz can lid but have no idea if i installed it correctly. Looks like the powder baffles on midway site - round, 90 bend, holes at each end. I installed it like ^ at the bottom. When I put it back together, I again finger-tightened the thumbscrews pretty tight, then held them & used a screwdriver to snug them a little more. Wanted to be careful not to break anything, but they're torqued pretty well. Never let the hopper go below 1/2 full (or 1/2 empty for the pessimists).

Proceeded to do about 500 more rounds. Without moving the turret & just charging & weighing the same shell over & over it stayed dead on 24.4 gr. Then cycling the turret, it stayed on 24.6gr about 8/10 throws & went up to 24.7 gr max. I don't think it leaked a sphere of powder.

I slowed down a touch too trying to keep the handle pull as consistent on every pull, not just the one dropping the powder.

One, all, or a combination of those things fixed it, so thanks a bunch guys!

Next big batch will be 9mm so I'll see how it does w/o the double disk kit & W231 powder which isn't as spherical.

I now have 2 .30 cal cans full of .223. Not counting case prep/priming time, I got that done over 3 days, 30-60 min at a time. In all, I'd say no more than 5 hrs total sitting behind the press. Would have taken much longer using my old method. Still not nearly as fast as a progressive, but much faster than what I was doing. If the 9mm (however much of that it takes to fill 2 .30 cal cans) goes as well, I think I'll be fine with this turret for a while longer & will hold off on the progressive. It would be nice to have but as long as I continue shooting under 1K/month (of everything combined) it's probably better to save the $.

So I'm happy that my little Lee classic turret runs so well. I'm kicking myself that I waited so long to run it the way it was intended (kind of at least - still not priming on it).

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