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Old June 15, 2016, 07:57 PM   #1
mikemyers
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Dillon 550b and Powder Disperser

Two questions about the Dillon 550b.

First, is there any reason why it can't be used to make a single bullet at a time? If so, and I don't see any reason why it's not possible, my relative can pay attention to a single bullet as it makes its way through the machine.

(I thought of this, because it's what I plan to do with my RCBS Pro2000; for a while, loading one bullet at a time, and getting a feel for the press.)


Second question.
My relative bought two die plates, so he can switch back and forth. He also bought two powder dispensers, so they can be set for the specific bullet to be made with those dies.

In his words:
I need to learn the PROPER method of disengaging it, so changing to the 2nd set of dies is easy.


As i recall, there was a linkage with springs, etc., that looked like it could be removed as an assembly very easily, but we couldn't figure out a way to do so, other than taking the bottom end of the rod completely apart. Can this be done more easily? Anyone know of a video that shows how to do it?
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Old June 15, 2016, 10:18 PM   #2
kelbro
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Yes, that is a key feature of the 550.Single stage loading capability.

The rod comes off the bottom... Pull the handle down a little and pop the nylon collar out of the fork.
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Old June 15, 2016, 10:22 PM   #3
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You can use the 550 to make a single round at a time, use it as a turret machine to run a batch of brass through one step, or use as a full progressive. The machine doesn't care.

The white plastic bushing above the plastic wingnut on the failsafe mechanism rod can be pulled down through the notch in the arm extending from the ram if the ram is moved up an inch or so from its rest position. With this disengaged, the failsafe rod can be easily removed from its connection to the powder measure.

At this point just remove the two pins and slide the toolhead out of the press.
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Old June 15, 2016, 10:51 PM   #4
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Thanks. My memory was that we had to take everything apart - there was a plastic piece that looked like it should have slid out from the "fork", but didn't. Next time I'm there, I'll check this out.
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Old June 16, 2016, 07:01 AM   #5
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UniqueTek has a kit that turns the Dillon 550b into a single stage press.

It gets some of the whiz-bang stuff out of the way that might get confusing for some.

See here.

http://www.uniquetek.com/site/696296/product/T1553
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Old June 16, 2016, 07:24 AM   #6
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I use mine all the time as a single stage. All you do is remove the brass pins, insert brass, pull handle and remove brass. I will prime rifle brass, remove and put in a container, weigh and trickle powder charge one piece of brass at a time and when I get enough with powder, I then seat bullet.
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Old June 16, 2016, 08:01 AM   #7
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Removing the tool head with the Dillon power drop mounted isn't instantaneous; the rod has to be disengaged and I find that I can't snap the plastic rod guide out of the shellplate holder easily nor can you simply pull the rod out from the top without wiggling around a bit.

For this reason, I use a Lee Pro disk powder drop for all of my pistol and intermediate rifle chamberings, and save the Dillon powder drop for the larger rifle chamberings only.
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Old June 16, 2016, 08:43 AM   #8
bobinoregon
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When I change tool heads on mine I just loosen up the screws that hold the hopper in place. Pull down a little on the handle while lifting hopper up and the rod comes right out of the fail safe mechanism.
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Old June 16, 2016, 09:34 AM   #9
mikemyers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfullgraf View Post
UniqueTek has a kit that turns the Dillon 550b into a single stage press.......
Thanks for posting - that's not what i was looking for, but until I saw your post, I would have thought this was impossible.

In my case, while I would have preferred for my relative to learn on a single station press, it seems like the same learning can be accomplished by loading bullets one at a time, paying attention to what is happening at each station. He could check the powder weight manually for each bullet, and learn what is happening, one operation at a time.

I might even suggest he put a little lube on the cases, so things will be a little bit smoother.
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Old June 16, 2016, 09:42 AM   #10
mikemyers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbernie View Post
Removing the tool head with the Dillon power drop mounted isn't instantaneous; the rod has to be disengaged and I find that I can't snap the plastic rod guide out of the shellplate holder easily nor can you simply pull the rod out from the top without wiggling around a bit........

What we wanted to do, was slide out the die plate with the dies and powder hopper, and slide the long rod out of the "fork" at the bottom, without changing any of the adjustments. To my eyes, it looked like this should be possible, but the only way we found that worked was to remove the parts at the end of the rod first. It isn't that big a deal - maybe what I tried to do is not possible.

In his case, he will only be loading 38 Special, and maybe in the future 45 ACP.
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Old June 16, 2016, 03:06 PM   #11
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I assume you are talking about the RL550B? Makes no difference but yeah, you can run one bullet at a time through. No problem. That is how you set up each station when setting it up.

The powder measure will not dispense powder unless there is a case under it (case activated). The primer will just stay in the little cup until there is a case over it and you press the handle up to prime it.

Probably after about 3 or 4 rounds, you will say the heck with this and start to reload progressive.

The very best thing you can do, if not done already, is to get the video that Dillon puts out on setup and operation. It cost about $20.00 but is priceless.

You can also buy complete caliber conversion kits. I have one for 9mm, 38/357 Mag, 40S&W, 45ACP, and 5.56. Simple and fast to change out once you get the hang of it. But, pretty fast and easy to reconfigure from scratch too. So not an absolute necessity.

I love my RL550B!

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Old June 16, 2016, 08:48 PM   #12
mikemyers
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Originally Posted by Woolecox View Post
I assume you are talking about the RL550B? .......The very best thing you can do, if not done already, is to get the video that Dillon puts out on setup and operation. It cost about $20.00 but is priceless. .........You can also buy complete caliber conversion kits. .......

Yes, 550B I guess. I think he bought the caliber conversion kit, but it didn't come with a second powder measure, which he wants.

I think he has all the videos that are available - please send me a link to the one you're referring to, and if he doesn't yet have it, I'll suggest he buy one.
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Old June 16, 2016, 09:00 PM   #13
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I thought this would slide right off towards the front....

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Old June 16, 2016, 09:14 PM   #14
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No raise the ram a little and pop the plastic grommet down out of the bracket then you can tilt the rod out the front and take the rod off. Pull two pins and slide the whole die block and hopper off of the machine and reverse to install. Takes all of about 30 seconds to change. Takes another couple minutes or so to change the shell plate. If you don't have to change from large to small primer you can change calibers in less than five minutes if you have separate setups.
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Old June 16, 2016, 09:20 PM   #15
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I must have an older one. Mine doesn't have a cutout to slide the rod out - you have to unscrew the whole thing every time. I went to older style measures for exactly that reason.
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Old June 16, 2016, 10:14 PM   #16
mikemyers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowhide Cliff View Post
No raise the ram a little and pop the plastic grommet down out of the bracket then you can tilt the rod out the front and take the rod off..........
That might be what we didn't do - maybe raising the ram will allow it to work as you describe. I'll be back there in a month or so, and can try again.
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Old June 17, 2016, 05:10 AM   #17
RPegram
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If you have a tool head for each caliber, once the dies are set for that caliber, you'll never touch them again. Now, if you only have one tool head, changing calibers will take a while. I have a tool head for every caliber I reload, dies always stay in that head and changing calibers takes only 2-3 minutes. The only thing that takes time is adjusting powder drop. I made me a "wrench" to fit the 7/16" bolt head and adjusting is very easy for me. I routinely remove the powder dispenser just to empty and find it very easy. Keep in mind that once you start loading progressive you have to drop powder every pull of the handle. If for some reason you pull the handle and there is no shell to cause powder to drop and then the next time there is, that one will have more powder. Every move must be the same, same speed, same bump at end of stroke and up stroke when seating the primer. Any variance will cause powder weight fluctuations. Dillon has a good powder dispenser, but just as with any that dispense by volume, anything that causes a little more powder to compact in that space will cause varying drops. I love my Dillon RL550B and wouldn't trade it for any other, but the attention you have to pay to detail increases by at least five times over a single stage. You have to pay attention to five different actions happening every stroke. One single time of not paying attention could easily result in a double charge which could be catastrophic and cause serious injury or worse.
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Old June 17, 2016, 06:04 AM   #18
Havok7416
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPegram View Post
Keep in mind that once you start loading progressive you have to drop powder every pull of the handle. If for some reason you pull the handle and there is no shell to cause powder to drop and then the next time there is, that one will have more powder.
The Dillon (and most other presses) use case-activated powder drop. You simply can't drop powder with no case in that position.
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Old June 17, 2016, 06:32 AM   #19
Pete D.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemyers View Post
I thought this would slide right off towards the front....

Hmmmm. What is all that? I have a 550B an it does not use that linkage at all. Everything needed to drop powder is contained in the powder measure base. I keep a tool head for each type of cartridge that I load (.45 ACP, .30-06, 45 Colt, 44 Mag.) The .30-06 uses the original Dillon powder assembly; the others are on separate toolheads and use Lee Powder measures.
Pete
PS - terminology....."is there any reason why it can't be used to make a single bullet at a time?" Cartridge. It "makes" cartridges. The bullet is what you put into the mouth of the case. Primer+case+powder+bullet = cartridge.
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Old June 17, 2016, 07:35 AM   #20
RPegram
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Havok7416 View Post
The Dillon (and most other presses) use case-activated powder drop. You simply can't drop powder with no case in that position.
That is what causes the problem. When no case is present to drop powder and you pull the handle to perform a step at another station, this causes the machine to have a little extra movement which causes the powder to settle just a little bit and therefore drop a touch more powder the next drop. There are times even when loading progressive, you'll not have a case present at the powder drop station and if aware, you simply throw out the next charge and keep on going after that. If you weigh the charge before discarding, you'll see it is little more than what it normally is due to the extra settling. This has been my experience and is why being extremely consistent with all motion is so critical.
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Old June 17, 2016, 08:52 AM   #21
mikemyers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPegram View Post
.........Keep in mind that once you start loading progressive you have to drop powder every pull of the handle. If for some reason you pull the handle and there is no shell to cause powder to drop and then the next time there is, that one will have more powder. Every move must be the same, same speed, same bump at end of stroke and up stroke when seating the primer. Any variance will cause powder weight fluctuations. Dillon has a good powder dispenser, but just as with any that dispense by volume, anything that causes a little more powder to compact in that space will cause varying drops. I love my Dillon RL550B and wouldn't trade it for any other, but the attention you have to pay to detail increases by at least five times over a single stage. You have to pay attention to five different actions happening every stroke. One single time of not paying attention could easily result in a double charge which could be catastrophic and cause serious injury or worse.

I don't know much about the Dillon. I do know from experience with the RCBS powder measure, if I set the device for 5.2 grains of Unique powder, I can expect it "almost always" to be within 5.1 to 5.3 grains ( +/- 0.1 grain) and every so often, but rarely, 5.0 to 5.3. There doesn't seem to be any "pattern" - if I fill the powder hopper half way, it doesn't "change" over time as the powder runs out, but it's always in the same range. I have no experience yet with doing this on the Pro2000; I haven't finished setting the loader up. I'm waiting for a lockout die, and a seater/crimp die.

Also, the last thing you wrote sounds scary. People are only human, and there eventually are "errors" even in the best trained professionals. To me, it seems like a visual inspection of every shell before the bullet is seated is mandatory, and this is the reason why I ordered a "lockout die". I wish the lockout die could be used on the Dillon.....
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Old June 17, 2016, 09:08 AM   #22
Havok7416
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A lapse to n attention on ANY press can lead to critical errors, no different from a lack of attention while driving or anything else.
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Old June 17, 2016, 12:46 PM   #23
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The part in the pic is simply the "fail safe" mechanism that ensures the powder drop fully cycles to return when the ram is fully down. Yes, you can easily just pop it out of the fork at the bottom. Note with the ram at down rest there is some tension on it (wing nut and spring at the bottom). That is why you thought you had to disassemble but it is easier to just lower the handle enough to remove the tension and pop it out.
Don't take offense, but it seems to me you are trying to make this whole Dillon experience harder than it needs to be. It doesn't do anything different than a single stage, it just does several things at the same time.
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Old June 17, 2016, 02:51 PM   #24
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A little silicon on the plastic bushing will reduce the force needed to push the bushing down and out of the "Return Bracket" (thats Dillon's name for the bracket that holds the bushing. I sometimes grasp the bushing with some needle nose pliers and tap the pliers to pop the bushing out. The pliers are held horizontally and grasp the bushing just above the wide base of the part.
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Old June 17, 2016, 09:57 PM   #25
Woolecox
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Quote:
Yes, 550B I guess. I think he bought the caliber conversion kit, but it didn't come with a second powder measure, which he wants.

I think he has all the videos that are available - please send me a link to the one you're referring to, and if he doesn't yet have it, I'll suggest he buy one.
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This one. Follow this link.

DILLON'S INSTRUCTIONAL DVDS FOR RELOADING MACHINES

and this along with a caliber conversion kit and die set.

RL 550B DELUXE QUICK CHANGE ASSEMBLY

If you look at the photo I posted in #11, you can see the complete Quick Change/Conversion Kits in the background. Includes powder measure.

Last edited by Woolecox; June 17, 2016 at 10:31 PM.
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