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worn press ?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by moooose102, Nov 2, 2009.

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  1. moooose102

    moooose102 Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    West Michigan
    so, i was claning my press up, after spilling powder everywhere by being clumbsy with my big club like fingers. after i got everything clean, i went to put a few drops of stp on the ram like usual. when i got the ram to the top of the stroke, i notice it seemed to have quite a bit of play in it. any idea how loose a ram can be in a press before it is considered scrap? i am thinking this one has reached about the end of its useful life as a reloading press, and that i should probably retire it to just depriming or maybe a few other things. there is .022" of wobble at the very top of the stroke. it is a lee cast aluminum press. i knew it wouldn't last forever. it is about 2 1/2 years old, so it is out of warranty. i do not load for bench rest or competition. just for recreation and hunting. i e-mailed lee, but they did not return my e-mail.

    BADUNAME37 Member

    Aug 10, 2008
    My RCBS Rock Chucker IV that is about two years old has about .002" play when the ram is at the top of the stroke and when pushing pretty hard laterally against the side of the top of the ram.

    Without my pushing on it, it really wouldn't move at all, I would think, as I need to exert about ten pounds minimum in order to move it.
  3. loadedround

    loadedround Member

    Feb 18, 2006
    Valley Forge, Pa
    Sounds like your press is starting to wear heavily and it probably would cost you more to send it to Lee for repair considering their charges and transportation costs. Time for a new "lifetime" press like an RCBS or Redding...my first choice is a Redding "Boss" for its overall quality. JMHO! :)
  4. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    "any idea how loose a ram can be in a press before it is considered scrap?"

    When it won't push a case into the die without your fingers guiding it, it's time to replace. Otherwise, forget it. A round case WILL enter a round die hole precisely unless it's prevented from doing so. Thus, a bit of slack - and 20 thou is only a bit - is actually an asset to precision loading. A firmly fitted ram and die hole that is ever so slightly missaligned can easily bend long cases during sizing.

    Notice the BR guys use non-threaded dies and arbor presses. That means the case alignment is TOTALLY controlled by entering free from any exterior forces. A slightly loose ram goes a long way towards duplicating that.

    Notice that the most highly praised press for "accuracy" is the Forster Co-Ax. It has a totally free floating die holder system, no threads for a hard mounting at all. And no precision gunsmith chambers a barrel with a hard mounted reamer, they use free-floating reamer holders that allow the reamer to enter and follow the barrel's bore freely. And that works really good with pressess too!

    Your press is just getting to be properly "broken -in". Keep it clean of primer grit and oiled, it has a long life ahead. But, it you just have the hots for a new single stage press get the best currently available, the Lee Classic Cast. And I say that as a Rock Chucker II owner who wishes he had the bigger, stronger and more user friendly CC instead!
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  5. Johnnu

    Johnnu Member

    Feb 28, 2008
    I have one single stage RCBS Jr. press that I bought and have been using since 1971 approx. Never even thought about checking it for play.........I still load my for Rem. 788's and get under an inch at 100 yds....Life can't get better ......
  6. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hopewell Big Woods
    The FLRSing is controled by the die in bottle necks, so not a problem there. Bullet seating is where i would worry about it. If the ram moves forward or back out of alignment, your not seating the bullets straight, to much slop in a seating die. For pistol, it may not be a problem at all.
  7. mallc

    mallc Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    FFL in Muscatine, Iowa 52761
    Agree with Ranger

    The dies do the work for 99% of reloaders. As long as the brass gets into the dies you're still good to go. Some types of shell holders have almost that much slop.

    Hope this helps.
  8. oldreloader

    oldreloader Member

    Apr 24, 2009
    Magnolia AR
    Ranger covered

    Ranger coverd it pretty well.I wouldn't worry about it If I were you. Like Ranger I have a RCII but I'm not too sure that the Classic Cast isn't a better press.At least like Ranger said,more user friendly.
  9. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Arlington TX
    Lateral play in the shell holder or die retention is a good thing; it lets the cartridge and die self-align in the absence of any lateral, de-centering forces.

    The problem with play in the ram is there are significant lateral, de-centering forces, applied at the bottom of the ram by the handle/linkage, trying to shove the case off center in the die. While you are operating it, there is substantial pressure that works with friction to keep play in the shell holder and die from re-centering the brass in the die. This can be alleviated somewhat by pausing at several intervals on the way into and out of the die, so that the relief in pressure allows friction to subside, and the shell holder/case/die to float and realign.

    Hand dies and arbor presses work well because the arbor is not trying to shove the case off center to the die, it is just pressing down in a straight line. A conventional press with play in the ram advances in a banana shaped path.

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