Frustrating day at the bench leading to a question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Epicurean, Jan 20, 2020.

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  1. Epicurean

    Epicurean Member

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    I've been away from shooting and reloading for several years (health issues) but I'm back in the saddle now. My press (LCT) and associated gear have been sitting idle in a less than ideal environment.

    About a week ago I forced 100 rounds of of 38 spl. through the press, loading as a single stage (what a struggle) just to make sure my old powder and primers would ignite. Fortunately they all went boom. Yesterday I stripped everything down and polished and lubed all contact surfaces and after much ado everything seemed to cycle smoothly. I reset all the dies and the merry-go-round circled smooth as glass. So today was my return to loading in earnest. Everything seemed to go haywire. I know loss of muscle memory is a large part of it, but that has nothing to do with primers rolling over in or being ejected from the primer arm. As has always been the case, powder (Bullseye) was dripping everywhere. On one occasion something didn't feel right with the charging stroke; it started dropping very light charges. Turns out the disc wasn't traveling all the way over the charging hole. I stripped the entire station down but I could not get it corrected. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, it straightened itself out. All confidence in what I was doing was gone. I wound up checking about every fifth round out of paranoia. In about five hours I produced less that 400 rounds.

    My LCT has always been temperamental (I understand all presses have their quirks) but it's very important to me that I can trust the machine not to produce a catastrophic failure. I'm seriously considering a move to a LnL; or maybe blue, but proprietary dies and long change overs tell me otherwise. So here's the question: for those of you that have made an upgrade from a LCT, do you feel that you are now making more consistent, and therefore more safe, ammo? I'd love the improved productivity but more important is safety.
     
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  2. carbine85

    carbine85 Member

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    Glad to hear your back in the saddle. I have for the most part stop progressive reloading for similar reasons.
    I set up my progressive press for 9mm and left it that way. I got fed up with changing things around and switching from one caliber to another.
    I have a Rock Chucker set up for progressive reloading in 9mm but I don't do all the stages at one time.
    I have another Rock Chucker set up with quick-change adaptors for the dies.
    I also have a small Lee press for miscellaneous needs.
     
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  3. Bosn Ski

    Bosn Ski Member

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    I loaded on an LCT for about 5 years. I never experienced the discs, I went to the charge bar and then onto the drum measure. I loaded quite a bit of 9mm with the help of Inline Fabrications Case Ejector System. I started shooting a whole lot more and needed to ramp up my production. I looked at all the progressives and went to Lee's Auto Breech Lock Pro...but it didn't last long. I won't get into that here...

    I looked long and hard at the LnL and the XL650. I looked so long that Dillon came out with the 750. I started researching the 750, but it was so new there wasn't a whole lot out there. Reviews were coming in drips and drabs...but hey, it's a Dillon, it will be good. Right? I even held off a few months until my semi annual visit to see my folks in Phoenix. Pop and I spent just over an hour at the Dillon store while I went over the press with a sales person and a list of questions.

    Armed with enough knowledge, I patiently explained to my wife what I wanted and the choice of the two presses. She didn't really understand what I was saying, but she is pretty smart and offers very sage advice, and most of the time it's: "Go big, or go home!"

    I can't comment on the long change overs, but Dillon advertises them as pretty short.
    I bought the Dillon dies, but I wasn't digging the seating die (a process to adjust/change compared to the Lee die). So I installed my Lee Seating Die and the Lee Crimp Die about 700 rounds ago. No issues.

    The 750 is all that AND and a bag of chips. I can make safe ammo in a short amount of time, including quality assurance stops every 20 rounds. (Started at 10 and moved to 20 because everything was consistent every time.)

    Good Luck!
    Ski
     
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  4. Erief0g

    Erief0g Member

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    I've been on a 650 since day one. My production requirements just wouldn't allow for single stage. After five years of saving money and brass I finally bought back when Brian enos was drop shipping them.

    I've done all the mods that helped make it run super smooth. I enjoy the heck out of it. Caliber swaps don't seem time consuming as I have a tool head with dies and powder drop installed with the blank powder check die ready to go. Two pins and swap whole head. Then a brass bushing set for the case feeder and maybe lift and swap the collater plate on the case feeder.
    Quick shellplate swap and done.

    I spend more time cleaning the machine during caliber swap than swapping the equipment... why? Because I've cranked out 3000-5000 rounds before swapping calibers.

    I can't even give you the reasons I chose Dillon when I did. I assume it's mostly due to peers and forums helping set me on my way.

    Don't take my word for it though as it being the best as I said it's all I've ever known

    I wish you luck and with this forum and some time I expect total success regardless of color of press
     
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  5. Skgreen

    Skgreen Member

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    It sounds like your LCT met the end of the road,,, Perhaps, even before you dug it out of storage and tried to resuscitate it!

    The GOOD part is, you are shopping for a new/new to you press!!!!

    RE:
    IMHO, just about any press in good working order is capable of loading safe ammo. Likewise, any press that isn't,,, isn't.

    I've learned a lot using my LNL AP, and the consistency of my reloads today is better than ever. Things can, and still do, go wrong though.

    If anyone's keeping score, The LNL AP is the best (and only) Progressive I've ever owned. Put one down for the Red Team!

    (And be vigilant, regardless of what team you're on!)
     
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  6. Epicurean

    Epicurean Member

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    You can use Lee dies in a 750 Dillon?
     
  7. Epicurean

    Epicurean Member

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    Yep. If I was gonna make 3 to 5 thousand a pop, change over is no biggie. But I generally shoot 2 to 4 calibers per range trip then try to top off my inventory in a couple of days, so I'm loading 200/300 then changing out. Maybe I need to rethink my how I inventory - but that would require quite an investment.
     
  8. blue32

    blue32 Member

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    No proprietary dies. It's all 7/8"-14 unless you get into large cartridges.
     
  9. Eddietruett

    Eddietruett Member

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    Best move I've ever made in reloading was buying a Dillon 650. Customer service is unbelievable. Mine has worked flawless ever since the purchase and set up except for one time that I did something stupid. (Details in an earlier post) Even after telling the CS at Dillon it was my fault and tried to buy the replacement parts, they were sent free and one guy spend probably an hour on the phone walking me through the installation and re set up of everything. Powder measure is spot on all the time with the powders I use and I can't say enough about the quality. I still use a Lee CT for calibers I don't shoot much and have several turrets set up and will continue to use it for short run situations, but for the bulk of my loading, it goes through the 650. Guess today I would get a 750 but if they had any left over 650's cheaper, I would look into that as well. I did add an aftermarket primer catcher that has a tube running into a jug and I do use Lee seating and crimping dies instead of Dillon, but I'm a Blue fan forever
     
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  10. Soonerpesek

    Soonerpesek Member

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    Good evening, Sir.
    I load on a Dillon 550, buy extra toolheads and a powder die and can leave everything set up to swap calibers in about 5 minutes. I currently have 13 toolheads ready at my convenience.
    Good luck on the machine change you choose, and welcome back.
    Also, it is manually indexed, so it can be used like a single stage if needed.
    Roger
     
  11. Bosn Ski

    Bosn Ski Member

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    Yes you can. I had to use the Dillon lock rings. There isn't enough space on the tool head for the Lee Lock Rings.
     
  12. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    I'm going to buck the trend and tell you to keep what you have and fix it.

    That press is as simple as it gets and if you are worried about consistent reliable safe ammo then keep it simple stupid (K.I.S.S.) Same goes for the powder measure which I am assuming is a Auto Disk. It too may need to be taken apart and cleaned. I would suggest the first thing to do is either go to Lee's web page or to Youtube and find a video on how to time the index rod. It's not hard and all that is needed is a small adjustable wrench. It also may be that you need a new plastic ratchet on the index shaft.

    So first things first. Get the press you have working correctly, re-educate yourself on the process and "muscle memory" and rebuild your confidence. You should easily be able to turn out 150 an hour on the Turret press w/o even breaking a sweat.

    But seriously, if you are struggling with a turret press a full blown progressive isn't going to make this easier.
     
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  13. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Almost forget, check and make sure you are using the correct primer arm holder, there is a large and a small. If using small primers in the large one they will flip, jump and cause all sorts of trouble
     
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  14. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    There’s the machine, and then there’s the carbon based life form behind the machine. Best to figure out which one is in charge.
    When I decided to jump to a progressive, it was either a LNL or 650. The coin toss landed me a LNL, and, it’ll turn out quality ammo if I do my part. Quirks? Yes. Am I sorry I bought it? No. Am I looking at blue? Yes. I’ve been loading so much 9 and 45 I want separate presses since the primer swap is a bit more of a pain then I want. The caliber swaps aren’t too bad IMHO, and what I’m thinking of for the future is Dillon set up for 9 and using the LNL for those small runs. When I’m feeling rich enough, it’ll be two Dillons, one for each primer size.
     
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  15. Erief0g

    Erief0g Member

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    Before your that rich.. you can purchase a complete primer system for the other size so it's two bolts and swapped, then change the seating stem that unscrews from below.
     
  16. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    Yes, but, I want a complete spare machine!
     
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  17. Epicurean

    Epicurean Member

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    I spent the entire evening and night yesterday scouring You Tube and this forum checking out the operation and issues of LnL and various Dillon. What I discovered is that these machines are orders of magnitude more complex than my LCT. I've come to the conclusion, and wholeheartedly agree, that a progressive is not going to simplify the process. I've always been a disciple of KISS. So i'll show my LCT some TLC and hopefully return to my old form.

    At the risk of being overly whimsical, I had a bad reunion with my press yesterday. If I had ignored my wife for several years, she'd be a little contrary too.

    P.S. I've never gotten close to 150/hr. I inspect every round I make - another argument against a progressive.
     
  18. D Rock

    D Rock Member

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    Epicurean, I think you've made a good choice for now. You may decide later, once you're up and running, that you'd like a progressive. Who knows;

    For the time being, there are plenty of members here using the LCT that can help you. Problems with a simple press are easier to isolate and I'm sure folks here can help.

    Dave
     
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  19. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    I have two different progressive presses. One I've had for a long time and I am very familiar with it. That press could very easily make 250 per hour but like you I am in no hurry and I weigh check my powder drops probably much more than I need to. Also as they come off the press I pick them up and give a quick inspection and then put them into the plastic ammo box. I don't pile them up in a catch bin. So honestly I am doing about 100 per hour at a very leisurely pace. I use the progressive press to reduce strokes and work load not to go fast and make a million bullets.

    Take your time, find a nice routine that works for you and is repeatable and enjoy yourself. When I'm struggling and get frustrated I quit and go do something else for a bit. Even if it's just to get a snack and something to drink.

    Let us know how the next session goes!!!
     
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  20. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    There’s no law you have to go fast on a progressive. Go at your pace, whatever that is. For me, the progressive helps the drudgery of otherwise swapping dies and stacking reloading trays. Even if a press is rated for 1K/hour, you don’t need to push it that fast. Good luck with your press and keep cranking out quality ammo!
     
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  21. Bill M.

    Bill M. Member

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    Why not dump the turret and get a single stage with quick change dies and absolutely no quirks or issues?
     
  22. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I use my LCT as a single stage by taking the plastic index thing off when loading hot loads indexing by hand and weighing each rnd using the turret to make die changes easy. I have an old 3 hole turret and a newer 4 hole that works great, I try to clean them and lube them before a reloading day. I think if you clean and lube it you will be ready to go. For longer rifle rounds I still like a RCBS single stage. I'm not trying to reload 1000s of rnds a day usually 1 or 2 hundred at a time.
     
  23. TRX

    TRX Member

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    I recently resumed reloading after more than 20 years. My equipment wasn't happy about that either.

    My suggestion: take everything that disassembles apart, clean it, lube it, and put it back together. Clean all the dies and bits. Then treat the whole thing as "learning all over as a beginner."

    No, seriously. It's a good time to not pick up any bad habits you might have had before. Work slowly and carefully, look up what you need to, and when things start getting difficult or annoying, either back up and tray again or turn out the lights and try again tomorrow.

    As a retread beginner you have some major advantages, not the least of which is you know a bunch of things *not* to do, and you know when something doesn't look right.

    I was getting pretty frustrated before I pulled my old copy of Dean Grennell's "ABC's of Reloading" from the shelf, blew the dust off, and re-familiarized myself with the basic steps again. I'm still slow, but there's no burning need to set any speed records.
     
  24. Zendude

    Zendude Member

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    The LCT is typically one of the more trouble free presses. If you have the original style auto disk, maybe just upgrade to the Pro Auto Disk or Auto Drum.
     
  25. Farmer Dave

    Farmer Dave Member

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    I went with Dillon, but kept to a manual advance instead of automatic, i.e., The RL550. I liked the first one so much that I now have two of them, one for large primers and one for small. That significantly cuts change over time to less than 2-minutes. I use a combination of RCBS and Dillon dies, depending on caliber and what I already had on hand. In every case I finish my cartridges off with a Lee Factory Crimp Die. The big time save in caliber change overs has been to buy multiple toolheads, one for each caliber or configuration.

    I still have my old RCBS Reloader Special setup for those little odd-jobs, but the heavy lifting is all done on my pair of Dillons. FYI; I'm loading 6 different pistol calibers (one bottleneck and 4 straight wall) and 4 different rifle calibers (3 bottlenecks and one straight wall). Change over is quick and failures are few...except for those occasional flipped primers...that still happens occasionally and the powder drops aren't 100% perfectly identical every time, but they're close enough to be safe, sufficiently accurate and (most importantly) puts out a lot of ammo for the time spent cranking the handle.
     
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