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Need some help

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by vito, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. vito

    vito Well-Known Member

    I finally got some small primers and Unique powder and today had the time to try to start my first reloading. And BTW, I have new found admiration for those of you already reloading since I am having a heck of a time, with some real problems/questions. I was able to de-prime and set new primers without much problem, although I had to use the Lee hand primer since I could not get the self priming disk gadget to work. But so far, so good. Then I went to set up the auto feeder to flare the case and load the powder. I was reloading 38 special, 158 grain bullets, and the Lee book said to use 4.1 to 4.7 grains of Unique. Lee's book said that the disk to set was number 43 for this amount, which I set up. Just to make sure it was working I weighed the powder load, and consistently was getting only 3.1 or 3.2 grains and can't figure out what I am doing wrong. Also, how much flare is the right amount? How far should I be able to push the bullet into the case by hand to check for the flaring; should the blue line on the bullet be inside the case when I place the bullet in the case, or should just the very end of the bullet fit in? Maybe if I can get past these two issues I will actually get to load some ammunition. This seems to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Any helpful hints would be appreciated.
  2. noylj

    noylj Well-Known Member

    Have you read the manual?
    Then I went to set up the auto feeder to flare the case and load the powder. I was reloading 38 special, 158 grain bullets, and the Lee book said to use 4.1 to 4.7 grains of Unique. Lee's book said that the disk to set was number 43 for this amount, which I set up. Just to make sure it was working I weighed the powder load, and consistently was getting only 3.1 or 3.2 grains and can't figure out what I am doing wrong.
    You are doing nothing wrong. Each lot of powder varies in bulk density to some extent. Also, I am convinced the Lee set the bulk density numbers for the highest packing level possible. You will find that the disk you need will generally be 1 or 2 disk cavities larger.
    Also, Unique is a very "fluffy" powder. The 0.53cc cavity should give you 4.1gn and the 0.61cc cavity should give you 4.7gn. The 0.43cc cavity should be dropping 3.3gn. Did you run a primed case into the powder measure about 10 times to stabilize the reading?
    Also, how much flare is the right amount?
    For jacketed bullets, almost no flare at all. For lead bullets, just enough flare so the case mouth does not scrape any lead off during bullet seating.
    How far should I be able to push the bullet into the case by hand to check for the flaring; should the blue line on the bullet be inside the case when I place the bullet in the case, or should just the very end of the bullet fit in?
    The bullet should just sit on the case and not rock back-and-forth. The "blue line" is the bullet lube. Thus, the bullet should not be able to be pushed into the case hardly at all.
  3. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Thanks for asking our advice. Welcome to reloading. It is not really that hard, but it sounds as if you could use some study time before actually pressing components together.

    Pictures might help. What is the "self-priming disk gadget"?

    What press are you using? Are you using Lee Dies, RCBS, Lyman? Some of the die sets are different from different manufacturers.

    I had to think about that for a minute. I assume your are referring to the Auto-Disk Powder Measure that you have installed on top of the "Powder-Thru Case-Mouth Flaring Die".

    I suspect the "blue line" is a line of bullet lubricant. Lead bullets always have some type of lubricant. When you first seat the bullet on the case mouth with your fingers, the lubricant ring is still outside the case. If you can seat the bullet deeply by hand, your have seriously over-flared your case mouth and neck. The base of the bullet should just barely inside the case mouth, no more.

    Flaring the case (also called "belling" the case mouth, though I prefer the term "flare") should be only just barely enough that you can put the bullet into the case only enough that it does not fall out and the case mouth does not catch on the base of the bullet as it is seated into the case by the press. If the case mouth catches, the case will buckle and be rendered worse than useless.

    Lee's estimates of the charge weight delivered by its powder measure and by its dippers is notorious for being underweight. I ALWAYS check the weight of the powder delivered by any means of measure and regulate according to charge weight, not by cavity number or dipper size. In fact, I rarely even look at the volume-measure-density-weight chart.

    My Lee book (copyright 1996, reprint 1997) suggests 3.8 to 4.3 grains for 158 grain SWC. Is yours the second edition?

    Sorry I cannot be present to watch what you are doing and advise, but there are some good videos out there. But really, I think a few instruction manuals would be worth their weight in gold to you right now. or at least worth their weight in lead, or blood.

    If you are not SURE how the components go together, please go no further without making sure.

    Lost Sheep
  4. soonertoby

    soonertoby Member

  5. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Well-Known Member

    You were smart to check your powder drop with a scale. With powder measures that use discs or bushings, it is not uncommon to have to use one that is different from whats listed. Having additional discs to try until the desired amount of powder is obtained is virtually a must. Thats why I prefer a powder measure that uses a metering insert so you can manually adjust. You only want to expand the case mouth enough to let you sit the base of the bullet into the case mouth. Very little is needed for jacketed bullets while lead will need a bit more.
  6. wgaynor

    wgaynor Well-Known Member

    I really think a single stage press would have been easier for you to learn on. But you can't undo that now...

    I seriously encourage people to find a mentor.
  7. david_r

    david_r Well-Known Member

    He is using some type of newer Lee press with a safety prime.

    On your auto disk, pull a piece of fabric softener sheet through the holes. Cycle it and measure every 10 cycles until it settles down. The graphite on the powder needs to coat the pieces to get rid of the static cling. You are going to likely need to also go up a hole or two to get the proper amount of powder.

    You should flare just enough that the bullet will start into the case. For my use, that means that I cannot push the bullet in by hand and the bullet will even rock on the case if i don't get it centered. I guide it into the seating/crimping die and once it is in there, the die will guide the bullet. You can flare more but the more you flare/crimp, the sooner your brass will crack at the neck.

    Also, you will have a variable amount of flare. Different mfgs of cases have different thicknesses and heights. The flare is dependent on those two factors so it won't be exactly the same on each round.

    Since you have Lee Modern Reloading, please read the whole front section on reloading and Lee equipment. Your unique lexicon suggests that you have not done so. It really does make it easier when everyone is speaking the same language.
  8. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    First welcome to the wonderful world of reloading your own ammo. Agreed with the above------a mentor willing to help you for a couple hours will save you a weeks worth of aggravation playing around to get things set up alone.

    Those that say just get a progressive and be done with it should have to deal with teenagers driving 18 wheelers on learners permits. Works about the same way to me.:banghead: We all had to learn to reload at one time but some obviously have forgotten how many things that we needed to learn/can go bad on a single round to become successful reloaders IMHO. Bicycles before 18 wheelers is THE route to use when you to learn how to reload IMHO.

    I agree that the OP should at least reread the WHOLE first section of the Lee book again now so that his questions and our answers will actually help him start producing safe ammo faster.
  9. Searcher4851

    Searcher4851 Well-Known Member

    Vito- Welcome to reloading. It's really only as hard as you make it. A thorough understanding of your equipment and the various stages of reloading is a must. It would be much easier for us to help if you were a bit more specific about the problems you are having. If you could let us know what equipment you are attempting to use, we could probably be more help. The case mouth flaring is really just to allow the bullet to enter the case mouth straight, and without shaving lead if you're loading cast bullets. There should really be very little noticeable flare.
    Let us know and we'll help as much as we can.
    Where in Northern Illinois are you? There are members here in Northern Illinois, myself included, that may be able to help you directly.
  10. vito

    vito Well-Known Member

    I really appreciate all of the good advice. I took a reloading class last fall, and it seemed pretty straightforward then. I am using the Lee Classic Turret, but I have it set up to not progress so I can do multiple cartridges at one step at a time. For the charging of the case I am using the Lee Auto Disk; the issues I had with loading the primers was with the Lee Safety Primer Feed (I set it up just as it is pictured in the Lee video, and the enclosed instructions, but I can't get it to work. This may not really be a problem since I also have the Lee hand primer tool which works pretty well for me.) After reading some of the comments above I realize that maybe the problem was the powder I am using, Unique, which clearly is not a very fine granular material. I will be trying to use a larger hole in the disk than the #43 recommended in the Lee reloading book and will test weigh the charge until I have it right and then again every tenth cartridge. And I guess I was thinking that the flaring of the cartridge would be noticeable, but now I understand that if I can insert the bullet that is flare enough. I may not be able to get back to trying reloading until next weekend, and I will use the time between now and then to really read some more about what I am doing. Again, thanks to everyone for their helpful advice. I live in Rockford, IL. I wanted to try reloading to both save money, and possibly as a hobby for when I retire in the next several months.
  11. Speedster00

    Speedster00 Well-Known Member

    I went throught the exact same thing last week with my turret...

    Here is what I found with the lee primer..the white or black primer feed tool that spits the primer out, mine was not cleanly cut on the inside so the primer wasnt dropping into the bottom to be fed. I had to take mine apart and finish it with a dremmel so the primer would fit through the hole. Not a big deal but the plastic parts are molded and sometimes have some mold plastic left in the corners of the cut out that wont let the primer slide through. Easy fix...

    On the powder, the disk to us is of course a general guidline. Im using one hole bigger than what the manual says but Im checking loads ever 5 rounds or so to look for variation. The graphite in the powder will eventually have everything lubed but until then what for some variation.

    An experianced loader told me that the rubber ring thats used to slide over the powder hole is slightly tacky when its new. What he did is get some graphite powder from the hardware store and pull that gromet out and coat it in some graphite. This made the powder dump slide smooth over the disk and the loads became very precise. If you still cant dial it in the way you want, Lee also sells and addjustable Micrometer bar that replaces the disk that makes the powder infinetly adjustable. Midway has them for $9 I think.

    IN a nut shell, I have/had the same problems as you with my turret kit. Your primers arent feeding all the way in to the primer arm that drops it on the turret...so take a file or dremmel and carelfully smooth the hole so the primers feed on the inside. Second, measure your loads constantly while new becuase the graphite in the powder will eventually lube everything. Also get some graphite and put it on that ring that glides on the top of the disk..that will make for more precise and smoother operation on the powder dump.
  12. david_r

    david_r Well-Known Member

    I would seriously look at the alignment on the safety prime before I started grinding on it. :what: It should move in parallel to the primer arm. The primer arm should fold fully out and be at the top of the stroke. Also, your die should be adjusted so that the ram can get to the top of the stroke or the primer feed will have to be lowered by removing the black spacer and replacing it with a shorter stack of washers. However, that isn't the right way and should only be used if you can't get it to function with the ram all the way up.

    Seriously, it takes 100 cycles on an unused hole in my auto-disk before I am comfortable that none of the powder is sticking from static. I still check from time to time while loading to make sure it isn't drifting. Unique meters in an acceptable manner in my pro auto disk.
  13. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    David_r is right (post 12). The alignment of the Lee Safety Prime is CRITICAL, both left-right and height. You must also operate it gingerly (if you are pressing it to one side or the other or jamming it up against the priming arm things flex and don't work right). Once it is spot-on it will work well.

    Mine did not have to be polished or anything on the inside as Speedster00 describes. But accidents do happen. Lee Precision has "Precision" right in the name, and does TRY to live up to it. If it needs cleaning up on the inside, they will replace it. They are very good about that.

    Lost Sheep
  14. JerryND

    JerryND Well-Known Member

    Totally agree with the "read the book" approach, but be careful of the age of the book. I have several from the late 60's early 70's. When I got back in the game after several years of Muzzle Loading I found that a lot had changed. Bullets, powder, primers and even cases were different. I can't find the bullets I used. Techniques had also changed. Stay current and update.
  15. leadchucker

    leadchucker Well-Known Member

    You will likely drop a few primers getting that Lee Safety Prime set up and adjusted. Clean up a few dozen spent primers, and use them to check your adjustment and to practice with. That way if you drop a few it's not the hazard that live primers would be.
  16. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Personally, I would get my load data from the powder maker, not the maker of the press. They are the liable parties responsible for developing the safe load data and they keep it up to date. Check out the website for that data
  17. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    Yeah, any guide on any measuring device is at best suggestive, because different powders meter differently. I mostly guess, measure, and back it in a little bit at a time until I can throw three charges of powder and they at least average out to the weight I am looking for.

    And ditto on using the powder manufacturer's website as the default guide.

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