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Lee PPM swappable inserts

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by GLOOB, Nov 15, 2012.

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  1. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    How I modified a powder measure to have quick change inserts:

    So my brand new Lee PPM arrived in the mail, yesterday.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0222.jpg

    First thing I did was to take it to my trim saw and cut off the measuring part.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0223.jpg

    Then I could inspect and measure what was left - a 1/2" ID hollow aluminum tube.

    So I went to the hardware store to see what I could come up with. Thirty minutes later, I came home with a 1/2" dowel, some self tapping machine screws, some washers, and some nuts.

    A few hours later, had 5 of these:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0230.jpg
    One for each of my most common loads. I've just calibrated the first two for rifle loads; I have yet to calibrate the other three pistol inserts. They're held down over a steel surface with a little magnet on the head of each screw; conveniently, they hold down a little bit of index card for identification.

    Here's the breakdown:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0225.jpg
    The dowel screws up/down for adjustment. The nut locks it down. The washer is soldered to the head of the screw. I brought my calipers to the store to measure with. The dowel I chose was slightly oversize, so I could sand the inserts down for a perfect fit. The 1/4" nut just barely fits inside the tube, too. But since my holes weren't always perfectly centered, I had to grind off the corners on some of them.

    Installed in the measure:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0228.jpg
    The inserts just slide in/out. Just gotta make sure the arm is down before you try to swap an insert with a full powder hopper. :) Pretty convenient. Pop it out, adjust, pop it back in. When you are done, you can shut off the hopper, remove the plug, then dump the rest of the powder directly into the can on the upstroke, instead of working the measure a bunch of times on those small pistol charges.

    Picture with the insert removed:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0226.jpg
    A little rod magnet pulls on the washer, keeping the insert secure. The aluminum tube had fine machine marks all over it, so I figured I could just stick the magnet with epoxy, after degreasing. Worked. To allow a little wiggle room for washers with a little leftover burr, I stuck a piece of index card between the magnet and the washer while the epoxy cured. So there's a fraction of a millimeter air gap between the washer and the magnet.

    So... it works!:cool:
    The shortest insert in the third pic allows over 18 gr Unique, which equates to about 2.8 on the LEE PPM scale. That is more volume than I use for anything. And if I ever buy an uber magnum or a new bulkier powder, I could easily get up to maybe 5-6 on the Lee scale with the same insert design, using a shorter dowel and/or screw. I could pretty much get all the way to 8 with a simple, non adjustable insert, if necessary, or even make a super LONGER insert that extends out. So the options are there, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
  2. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    very clever.... I especially like the magnetic holder.
     
  3. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    I guess I don't get it. Why not just use the adjuster the PPM came with? What am I missing?
     
  4. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    The adjuster that comes with it works great. It's very repeatable and precise. But there's only one of them.

    Once I have it set up for a load, I tend to not wanna mess with it. You never have that problem? You want to load a few of X or Y, but the measure is set up just right for Z. So you wait until all your Z cases are loaded, first. Well, that's how I am, anyway. With the quick swap thingy, I can go back and forth between different loads without all the turning and squinting.

    Also, I go with actual weight when I'm working up a load, rather than the volumetric number. So if I'm working up a load, I'm using a scale, anyway. The number on the stick doesn't mean anything to me, until I find a load I want to repeat. And if I'm gonna repeat it, I'd just as well have it on speed dial. So if I wanna work up a new load, I'll make a new insert.

    This one doesn't apply to everyone, but I also don't like how far the measure sticks out the bottom. It hangs down so far on a rifle charge it can hit my hand when I'm charging the 4-5th row on a loading block. Since I've never gone above 2.5 on the scale, I reckon the stick juts out much farther than I'd ever need.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
  5. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    Ahhh... Now I get it. I guess I just don't find it that much of an inconvenience to change the adjuster on the PPM. I write the settings in my load log, so whenever I change loads, I just have to make a quick adjustment, and weigh a few powder drops to make sure they match my load data.

    But, I applaud your ingenuity. There's certainly more than one way to skin a cat. Maybe I just don't switch between loads as often as other people...?
     
  6. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Thanks.
    I don't like pulling out the scale unless I have to. If you use the little hundredths ring on the PPM, you shouldn't need to unless you change powder lots. I just find it a little fiddly and hard to read the correct line. I'm always second guessing if my eye is parallel or not, esp with the small pistol charges. The adjustments would be easier if the screw wasn't physically attached to the measure at an odd angle.

    And I guess, I really just like tinkering with things.

    Made a new "master" insert, today. I imagine this woulda been a lot easier if Ace had a solid 1/2" aluminum or brass rod for the plug. I coulda chucked it in the drill press to drill a hole, then tapped it.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0234.jpg

    After settling on a new load, I can clone it onto one of my quick and dirty inserts like so:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/SAM_0235.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
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