1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Press Mounting: Lee Bench Plate, Pat Marlin's ROCKDock?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Jumping Frog, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Well-Known Member

    I am planning on building a new reloading bench, and want more flexibility on mounting presses or other accessories to the workbench.

    The Lee Bench Plate system started me thinking along these lines, but I am not sold on their product because I am concerned about a wooden base blank cracking (I have cracked a workbench top before). Actually, I should say that I am not even considering the Lee, but I am looking for alternatives.


    Then I stumbled across the Pat Marlin ROCKDock system.


    It seems far more solid, will also work with non-Lee products, and is only about $20 more than the Lee.

    Anyone have real-world experience with a docking-style press mount system have recommendations regarding these two -- or any similar -- products?
  2. greyling22

    greyling22 Well-Known Member

    I actually came across pat's 2 days ago and it got me thinking about just making my own. looks like you could do it pretty easy with some steel plate. but I would choose it over lee myself.
  3. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    I use a Rockdock for my two presses, a Lee turret and an old C-H single stage. Works great...
  4. David Wile

    David Wile Well-Known Member

    Hey Jumping,

    I cannot tell you how many benches I have made in the last 50 years considering how many times we have moved. Every time I made a new bench I seemed to make it bigger and stronger. It kept getting bigger because I kept getting more presses. My last home was on ten acres of farmland, the basement was over 100 feet long, and I had an indoor shooting range adjacent to my loading bench. That bench was about 20 feet long, and I found I had still run out of room after mounting six shotshell presses and four metallic presses.

    We moved in 2005 to our present home in 2005, and I did not have as much room to make a new bench. I figured I was pretty good at making strong benches, but I had never done anything to make better use of limited bench space. I had priviously mounted my Hornady L&L progressive press on a 1/4 inch steel plate bolted to the bench to make it more solid. Then I got the idea of using two steel plates to mount all my presses. The idea was that I would only ever have two presses mounted on the bench at a time, and I would keep all the other presses sitting closely together on a wall shelf to the side of the bench. Any two presses being used on the steel plates on the bench would have ample room for working comfortably.

    A friend of mine gave me two pieces of half inch steel plate, each 12" deep and 16" wide, and I used a file to smooth off all the sharp edges to keep from getting cuts on the fingers. I bolted each corner of the plates solidly into the under frame using 3" 3/8 lag bolts. Those four lag bolts held each half inch steel plate as solid as can be, and I now had two steel plates which could be used to mount all my presses. How? It took a little time, but it really was pretty easy. I simply set a press on the first steel plate, marked the plate for mounting holes and then drilled holes completely through the plate and into the bench top. I then tapped the holes for 3/8" bolts which would then solidly hold the press to the steel plate. I drilled and tapped mounting holes for each press, and I did the same thing for each steel plate. That way, I can mount any press on either steel plate.

    Some of the presses used four holes and bolts, and other presses used two hole and bolts. I used 3/8" bolts for the big two hole mounted presses, but I used smaller holes and bolts for my Hornady 366 presses which had four holes. For my MEC Sizemaster machines, I only needed 1/4" bolts for their four holes. I have three shelves mounted above the length of the bench. At each steel plate, I have a set of each size bolts which are stored closely together in holes drilled into the wood face strip of the lower shelf. I can put a press on a steel plate, get two bolts from the shelf face behind the press, screw them into the plate, and tighten them with a socket wrench I keep there all the time. When I am done with that press and want to put another in its place, I take the bolts out and put the press back on the wood shelf where they are held safely with smaller lag screws instead of bolts.

    I can assure you that 1/2 inch steel plate makes any press rock solid - especially when it is secured with steel bolts directly into the steel plate. I do use a lock washer and flat washer between the bolt head and the press body. It only takes a few minutes to switch presses on a steel plate, and I do not need to get adapter plates for each press. It also saves a lot of room on the bench rather than mounting all you presses side by side. When designing the bench, I had enough room to use three steel plate mounts, but I thought I really could get by quite well with just two, and I would then have more room for other loading work. The half inch steel plate is also a lot more solid than the aluminium unit you found elsewhere, and it is a whole lot cheaper. You just have to spend a little time drilling and tapping your holes exactly where you prefer them to be.

    I should have thought of the steel plate idea many years ago. I just kept making bigger benches for more presses every time I moved to a new home. With this place, my bench is down to 12 feet in length, but I now have more working room than ever before.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile
  5. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Well-Known Member

    Interesting idea, Dave. . . .
  6. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    The rock dock works great. I have 4 presses mounted to them and I find the manufacturer very easy to work with. No problems and I highly recommend it.
  7. Eazmo

    Eazmo Active Member

    Or you can make your own setup with T-track and you still have a totally flat bench top when press is removed. I used 3/8 track and is rock solid
    My press plates are made from two 3/4" hard wood plywood glued together then trimmed and router-ed. very strong
    I guess you could make the press plates from steel or aluminum if wanted
  8. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Well-Known Member

    Man, I never knew this product was out there. What a great idea.
  9. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Well-Known Member

    I've been pondering this. I think it would be difficult for me to mark the holes, drill and tap them accurately enough without a drill press.

    Before, when I was simply mounting bolts drilled though wood, my holes were a little bigger than the bolt dia. to give me a little "slop" to have everything fit together.
  10. 1in9twist

    1in9twist Well-Known Member

    That's a fine lookin roller lever there Eazmo! :D
  11. Eazmo

    Eazmo Active Member

    YES IT IS!
    My back was thanking you again this afternoon:D
  12. David Wile

    David Wile Well-Known Member

    Hey Bob,

    It really is not difficult at all. Put the press where you want it to go, put a dot in the center of where you want your hold down holes with a felt tip pen, take the press away, drill your first hole with an 1/8 inch bit, then your full size hole, and finally use a tap and WD-40 to cut your threads into the hole. I did them all with a 3/8" variable speed hand held drill, and I did not break one bit nor one tap, and that is pretty good for me. Normally I would break a few 1/8" bits. It does work best if you drill through the bench as well as the steel plate. That way the cuttings fall through.

    I will try to take some pictures in the next few days and see if I can figure out how to post them on the thread. It really makes it easy to switch presses out without taking up bench space, and I also mount my Lubrisizer on the plate. With a half inch steel plate that big, you do not have to worry about your progressive presses being mounted solidly. They do not move.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile
  13. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Well-Known Member

    I made my own steel overkill quick detach years ago.



    posted via tapatalk using android.
  14. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Well-Known Member

    Well, I wanted to follow up by thanking you for the idea. That is what I ended up doing.

    I countersunk the press mount bolts so that the plate sits flush on the bench. It is a 1/16 steel plate backed by 3/4 inch oak plywood.



  15. Shrinkmd

    Shrinkmd Well-Known Member

    Are there any issues with concentricity by using the press in something like the Rock Dock vs just bolting it to the bench? I am intrigued by the possibilities. Does the Rock Dock hold up over time?
  16. kelbro

    kelbro Well-Known Member

    I've used the RockDock on 4 presses for several years. No issues!
  17. Nanook

    Nanook Well-Known Member

    I haven't noticed any issues with the RockDock. I use it on several items.

    Normally my turret press sits in it, but I remove it on occasion for a single stage or a bullet sizer.

    You can crank it down pretty snug if you like. The press doesn't move at all.
  18. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Well-Known Member

    Since I originally posted my above pictures, I replaced that thin steel sheet with a 3/8 inch aluminum plate with the same wood backing.

    In general, a progressive press puts more average stress on a press mount than a simple single stage press. This has been absolutely rock solid and a real pleasure to use.

    If a progressive press is not absolutely solid, with any rocking or movement during cycling, then it can be at risk for the on-press priming to be less reliable. Flipped or crushed primers can be the symptom.

    Thankfully, my priming has been very reliable with this solid press mount.



  19. 119er

    119er Well-Known Member

    I use the Lee Bench Plate, but in a modified form. I had endless problems with the wood plates working loose, especially during heavy duty resizing and not allowing my presses to mount deeply enough. Lee supplies a thicker gauge bent metal plate, but my LNL AP would not fit any of the pre-drilled holes as it is drilled for Lee press bolt patterns. I mounted to the wood, but it did not support the press very well because it was hanging so far out.

    First, I went to socket head screws to get more torque over the phillips head screws that were included. This marginally improved the situation as I was tightening the screws less frequently. But it still came loose.

    Next, I decided to make the plates out of 3/4" carbon steel plate. I drilled and tapped the plates for the required patterns and installed studs with lock nuts or lock washers to mount the presses. I used tack welds at the front of the plates to prevent them from slipping past the Z-brackets if it came loose. I ground the brackets a little to clear the welds when installed. On the plate for the LNL AP, I made a little shelf that came out to support the press at the point Hornady states in their instructions.

    Now it works great. All I had to do was change nearly everything!

    If I do one more thing, it would be to mill the area that the brackets clamp down on a little/ It looks like the full 3/4" plate is a little thick but it never comes loose.

    ETA: I dovetailed a slot in my bench top to change out accessories on different blanks and it has worked well for me. It can be seen in the bottom left of some of the photos.

    Attached Files:

  20. photosaurus

    photosaurus Active Member

    Bench top flex much?

Share This Page