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My dillon 550 is driving me nuts

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by chutestrate, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. chutestrate

    chutestrate Well-Known Member

    I have to stop every few rounds to adjust something.

    I am using lee dies with the press. Everything is misaligned. I have to guide the case into the resizer, before I complete the stroke I have to make sure the case expander is centered. The bullet seater and crimping stations go ok. I don't complete a full 100 rds without at least 10% loss of either a case, primer, or bullet.

    I might as well go back to a single stage press. I'll get more done.

    I'm tired of calling dillon with questions about all these little problems. The damn thing should just work after a few adjustments.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 27, 2011
  2. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    The sizing die should have an extra wide mouth/flare for a progressive. I know Dillon and Redding did this years ago. Dont know about current production of Lee/others. Edit: make sure when having these problems, that the correct amount of powder is in each case before seating a bullet.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  3. chutestrate

    chutestrate Well-Known Member

    Lee doesn't. I was told to loosen my shell plate run a case into the lee sizing die and then tighten everything down. That's supposed to help align the cases with the dies. Nope, doesn't work.
  4. DesertFox

    DesertFox Well-Known Member

    I use mostly Dillon dies and a few RCBS carbide and one Forster Match die. I can't say I have similar problems with my 550. I usually am able to crank out around 500/hr of 9mm, 10mm, most pistol calibers.
  5. Otto

    Otto Well-Known Member

    Refer to the instructions about adjusting the paper clip thing. It should put tension on the case when the case is in the station but not drag on the shellplate when it rotates. Also, raise the ram with a case in the station, loosen the sizing die lock ring and tighten it with a case in the station/die.

    If that doesn't work, Dillon will provide you with an alignment tool with instructions on it's use.

    On more thing, Dillon works best with Dillon dies.
  6. Ditchtiger

    Ditchtiger Well-Known Member

    If all else fails, call Dillon.
    They have good tech. support and they don't want anyone unhappy with their
  7. kelbro

    kelbro Well-Known Member

    Good advice above. First try this. Loosen the shellplate bolt. Loosen the lock nuts on your sizer and seater. Run one case up into the sizing die and one into the seater at the same time. Tighten down the shellplate to just snug and tighten the set screw. Now tighten the lock rings on your dies.

    Dillon dies may be expensive but they do eliminate the issues that you are describing.
  8. tlen

    tlen Well-Known Member

    If the "paper clip" [Cartridge Spring] is adjusted properly, if might be that the shell plate is too loose and not tightened up enough. There should be very little movement when the shell plate falls into the index ball.
    Dillon dies are expensive but they do have a larger case mouth chamfer allowing cases that are no exactly in the right place in the shell holder to line up without damaging the case. They also disassemble easily for cleaning without loosing adjustments. This is especially helpful when loading lead bullets. However, the larger case mouth chamfer can prevent sufficient sizing in cases shot from partially unsupported chambers, aka Glock .40 S&W.
  9. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    Quit messing around with Lee dies and get some decent Dillon dies. I did after having a few alignment problems many years ago and the Dillon dies ironed out everything. I wouldn't part with any of my Dillons for anything.
  10. Uniquedot

    Uniquedot Well-Known Member

    The opening on the dies that help guide the cartridge or case into the die is not going to solve your problem since it will only aid in producing ammunition with cases sized crooked and bullets shoved in the cases crooked. This feature is to help with the occasional case that would otherwise catch on the die and slow your session down. Take the advice that was given in post #5 and get the alignment tool from Dillon.
  11. MrM4

    MrM4 Well-Known Member

    I have a 550 with thousands and thousands of round threw it, step one get rid of those Lee Dies, a good set of Dillions will go a long way. The shell plate should not be lose, the ball bearing should allow it roll but snap into the correct spot each time. That "paperclip" should not be touching the case once its all the way onto the shell plate. It takes alittle bit to get one set right but once you do they work like a dream.
  12. northark147

    northark147 Well-Known Member

    I can't say for the Lee dies other than FCD which works fine, but I use mostly RCBS dies on my Dillon with no issues, so I see little use in paying more for Dillon dies. Might try that alignment tool, or Send press into dillon for refurb?
  13. dmazur

    dmazur Well-Known Member

    I have a 550B and I also use Dillon dies, for .44 Mag and .45 ACP. The design feature that permits cleaning the die without removing it from the tool head is really a neat thing if you shoot lead bullets.

    However, I use Hornady dies for 2 bottleneck cartridges. I'm not sure I can see much of a flare at the die mouth, but it may not be important for bottleneck cases, as the neck tends to help center it on entry. Dillon doesn't make a wide selection of rifle dies, so if you want something for .243 Winchester, for example, you have to look at another manufacturer.

    +1 to setting up the shell plate to be as tight as possible without actually binding. On my initial setup, several years ago, I wound up with crooked primers due to a loose shell plate. Not enough to not be flush, but one side was a couple thousandths deeper than the other. A tighter shell plate fixed this.
  14. Wildbillz

    Wildbillz Well-Known Member

    I have loaded 38spl, 357mag, 9mm, 45acp, 223rem and a hand full of 308win on two differant 550Bs. With the revolver case I found my cartridege spring (AkA Paper clip thingie) was miss set and pushing the case over at an agle. I got that fixed. Then I found that my shell plate was to loose. Case would wobble as I moved the ram up. Once I got it all trued up it ran fine. I did find that every thousand or so rounds you need to do a little maintenance on it. Blow out the primer dust, clean the primer feed parts that sort of thing.

    Now with rifle cartridges? Thats one I am going to have to work on. I get powder sticking to the necks, falls all over the shell plate jamming it up. I am going to try processing all my brass and totaly cleaning off all the lube. This will make the process slower but hopfuly make for better ammo.

  15. Hit_Factor

    Hit_Factor Well-Known Member

    Dillon presses are the best. I have two and use Lee dies for several calibers without a problem.

    My suggestion is get the manual out and start over with the setup. Look for missing parts at each step. Keep an open mind. Learn the name of each part for the next step.

    If that fails, call Dillon again, when you have time. They will stay on the line with you until it's fixed. They advertise die compatibility so don't let the Lee dies be the problem if they pass careful inspection.
  16. Hit_Factor

    Hit_Factor Well-Known Member

    Try tapping the powder measure before lowering the ram. Your powder is bridging. This happens with stick powders like varget. Try ball powder like h335 or aa2230 for the 223, it meters very well.
  17. Hit_Factor

    Hit_Factor Well-Known Member

    Tighten the shellplate, add empty cases, raise into the dies, then tighten dies. Have a case in each position. Also you can shim the toolhead with aluminum foil to reduce it's movement.

    Shellplate bearing kits allow a really tight shellplate.
  18. Wildbillz

    Wildbillz Well-Known Member

    I will give it a try. I was using Win748. But I have tryed AA2230 and WC486 (or some thing like that) surplus powder. I think I may have had to much lube on the case necks.

  19. One78Shovel

    One78Shovel Well-Known Member

    +1 on tighten the shell plate.- Are you locking down the shell plate bolt with the lock down set screw in the ram?

    I had the same issue when loading 223 initially. I did not have the shell plate tight enough as the case would wobble. As others have said, install the shell plate (BTW- make sure the lock down set screw on the ram is loose) and screw it down until the shell plate binds, i.e, will not rotate. Then back to off a RCH until it rotates while firmly locking into position at each station. Then lock down the set screw on the ram. This prevents the shell plate bolt from loosening as you rotate the shell plate during reloading.

    Good luck.

  20. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    I've loaded maybe 20 different calibers on my 550. All work pretty much flawlessly once it's set up correctly. I mainly use Lee dies as many of my calibers aren't offered by Dillon. They work fine. I prefer Lee over all others.

    If there's a measure that gives true metering with large stick powders, I haven't found it. And yes, I have a Hornady that sits on my bench as a stand alone.

    I used AA2230 for a PD hunt in my AR. It metered so well in my Dillon that I quit individually weighing after maybe 20 rounds. I checked maybe every 20 or so, and they were all+/- .1, probably 90% spot on.

    I'd remove the shell plate and clean the area around the detent ball. If it has powder granules imbedded, the plate won't turn. I clean it with a spray gun cleaner/lube. Next, make sure the ball and bottom of the plate have a light coat of lube, and lube the pivot bolt. I use a teflon based product. Tighten the plate so that it is pretty snug but will still turn.

    Adjust the paper clip thing to hold the empty in tightly. If your case neck is catching on the side of the die, something is mis-adjusted. If it's on a station other than #1, you probably have the wrong locator buttons or the shell plate is not moving smoothly. It should click into place.

    Just remember, the cause of any issues are probably 99% operator error. I'd strongly suspect that the detent ball needs cleaned and lubed, then the shell plate tightened correctly. If you've spilled ANY powder into it, that can affect smooth operation.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011

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