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Lee Auto Drum problems

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by JamieC, Feb 15, 2020.

  1. JamieC

    JamieC Member

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Location:
    PSL, Florida
    I just had my second Auto Drum screw up on me. At the bottom, the two metal 'ends' that sort of capture the thumb wheel spread enough that when loading powder into a cartridge, one climbs up a bit onto the thumb wheel, cocks, jams and doesn't let the drum return to get another charge of powder. The first time this happened, I wasn't paying enough attention, about 20 rounds got through, spread fairly evenly over two different boxes of ammo. I didn't realize it had happened intermittently before, ended up with several hundred reloads I couldn't trust for anything other than range use. Needless to say, my brass 'squib rod' got lots of use. Sent it to Lee, they sent me a new one. In the mean time, I used a second one I have, it just screwed up, same issue. I have the new one they sent, there is a lot of play between the thumb wheel and the 'legs'. I made a spacer out of a strand of .035" safety wire placed between one leg and the thumb wheel which keeps it from moving far enough to climb up onto the thumb wheel. It tends to push towards one side while loading, the internal spring of the Auto Drum has some tension to it. Of course this happened on the weekend, no way to contact Lee till Monday. Wonder if I'm the only one this has happened to?
     
  2. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    Hard to understand written description, a photo will GREATLY help.
     
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  3. Brian Rusk

    Brian Rusk Member

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    Feb 9, 2020
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    I swapped out the c-clip and added this clip to hold the gears and cap together when dropping powder seemed to help on mine
     
  4. drband

    drband Member

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    Pics???
     
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  5. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    I think I have a similar issue like JamieC does, but a picture will help to know for sure.
     
  6. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    Putting a small hose clamp over/around those 2 tabs/ears keeps them from spreading.
    What I did,
    A common problem of 1st issue measures but has modified on since my Lee.
    The mod might be just a bigger diameter thump wheel.
    A phone call to Lee might get you a new/updated replacement measure for free...at the least some parts.:uhoh:
    :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
  7. drband

    drband Member

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    I had a similar issue with an early model. Lee replaced the unit.
     
  8. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    2,805
    Interesting.

    Knows what safety wire is.

    Lists hometown as an ICAO airport code.

    Huh.

    Must be an aircraft mechanic.
     
  9. BiknSwans

    BiknSwans Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    My first Lee Auto Drum powder measure lasted 3 years and 30,000 rounds. I noticed that the measure would increasingly lean and flop around when rotating the turret, but I couldn't figure out what was going on. The first picture shows how the shim had worn down the right ear. Finally the drum failed to rotate enough to drop all the powder. I bent the 'ear' back and the measure worked great again, but then the housing cracked, picture 2.

    I bought a new one and this time I installed a hose clamp (picture 3) to prevent this from happening again. The two ears carry the entire load, including compressing the spring and friction in turning the drum, until the flaring of the case mouth begins. I'm sure I had overtightened the drum at times, which put an excessive load on the ears.

    The new measure is working perfectly. There is very little play or tilt in the new measure, less that 1/4 inch at the top of the hopper.

    IMG_0958.jpeg IMG_6843.jpeg IMG_0969.jpeg
     
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  10. JamieC

    JamieC Member

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    Location:
    PSL, Florida
    I guess pics would have helped a bit, thankfully others had the same issue and MUCH better pics. The first pic shows the two ends, the second the bent end. When operating, the body tended to shift to one side, I put the folded piece of safety wire in that side so it couldn't move all the way over and allow the other side to climb up the thumb wheel. Should work unless it spreads more, the hose clamp idea sounds good. I thought of that first, wasn't sure if a hose clamp would work without interference, then the safety wire 'idea' popped up. I looked at the new one Lee sent, doesn't look much, if at all different, spacing wise. I'll contact them Monday.
     
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  11. drband

    drband Member

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    One hint: When installing the Lee Auto Drum, be sure to screw it down just far enough to cause the drop tube to cycle the drum for full travel when you complete the stroke with the press handle. If screwed so far the drop tube bangs into the housing at the end of travel, you will get spreading of the tabs that contain the thumb wheel. The installation instructions do not make this point very clear. As long as the drum cycles fully (enough to drop all the powder), the AutoDrum is screwed in far enough. You may have to experiment with your unit a bit to see how it works.
     
  12. BiknSwans

    BiknSwans Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
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    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL
    I never screwed in the die far enough to allow the tab to hit the housing, but the tab/ear still spread out and eventually failed. I think that screwing in the die too far puts an unnatural load on the plastic linkage that turns the drum that could break the plastic.
     
    drband likes this.
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