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Man, What a Deal I Got!!

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by dhgeyer, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    I bought a Lee progressive reloader back in '96. I used it for 9mm for quite a while without any issue. Then I kind of decided I wanted to go back to single stage. Never had any trouble with the progressive, but it made me nervous.

    This past Summer a guy at my club was getting rid of a Dillon RL550 and some other stuff. On a whim I bought it for $400.00. It sat in 4 boxes for several months until yesterday.

    Starting with knowing nothing about Dillon, I spent yesterday and today sorting through all this stuff, figuring out what it all was, how it worked, and getting it up and running. I took the press all apart including all the pivot pins and the ram. Cleaned it all up, relubed according to Dillon specs, and got it all back together and loaded 3 boxes of 9mm.

    So what I got for $400.00, all in good working order:

    The RL550 press

    The vibrating primer filler, set up with everything needed for small or large primers.

    The power case trimmer that fits on a special sizing die, with dies for .308 and .223/5.56

    3 toolheads complete with powder measure die bodies

    4 powder bars: 2 small, 2 large

    Several unopened packages of primer tubes, large and small

    The tool for aligning the shellplate platform

    The tall stand for the press

    The tray on the left for bullets

    Several output trays of various sizes

    Enough spare parts and spare parts kits to keep the press running for hundreds of years

    Wrenches and tools for all this stuff


    4 conversion kits - all calibers I load

    One set of dies - 45 Colt

    A bunch of other stuff that I haven't figured out yet.

    I reloaded the 3 boxes of 9mm using the RCBS dies I already had, but just bought the Dillon set this afternoon.

    So, I'm back to progressive, and just realizing how well I did on that deal. And a lot of this stuff is in unopened plastic bags - never used.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  2. All you need now is the case feeder.

  3. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    Looks like you got a great deal.
    Does the powder measures have the springs to return the powder bar or is it the new Fail Safe system? If they have the springs I would suggest getting the upgrade to the Fail Safe.
  4. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    Fail safe. The parts kits have the old springs in them, and it took me a while to figure out what they're for. I found an old parts diagram online. I'm sure I'll find a use for them.
  5. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    Oh, I am sure there's lots of stuff I "need". For now I think I'll just get thoroughly used to, and comfortable with, running it as is. Good suggestion, though!
  6. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    Good deal. Enjoy the rebirth of your reloading hobby.
  7. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
    In my opinion, the last thing you need, is a case feeder on the 550b. There's plenty of posts/threads out there of people having a helluva time getting the case feeder running properly with a 550.

    Sounds like a great deal... Congrats!

  8. birda40

    birda40 Woody

    Nov 19, 2011
    Chicago, Ill.
  9. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    I just searched Google Images for pictures of the Dillon Case Feeder. I don't think it would fit under the ceiling where I have my press set up. It also seems like an awful lot of machinery to solve a very small problem. Of course my frame of reference right now is reloading with a single stage press, and the Dillon is much faster and easier than that. I don't know if I need to build an ammunition factory in my basement. I don't shoot thousands of rounds a week. The setup I have seems fine for me for now.
  10. I love my Dillon 550 casefeeder.
    FYI, I just measured mine. From the base of the strong mount to the top of the feeder is approx. 45 inches.
  11. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    Yup, not enough space for it. I have the press mounted on a fairly tall workbench, and it's under a fluorescent light fixture which hangs from the joists. Lots of light right where I need it.

    My shop is primarily set up for woodworking, which I did as a home business for ten years or so. I have tools and jigs hanging from the joists all over the place in addition to light fixtures.

    Of course if I really wanted the case feeder I could rearrange things and make space for it. But for the amount of reloading I do I think it would be more trouble than it's worth.

    After I've run this thing for a while and really get used to it I might start wanting improvements. Right now I'm more interested in really getting comfortable with what I have, which is many times faster than what I had up till now.

    Thanks for the idea, though. I'm glad you like yours.
  12. Beanie-Bean


    Apr 23, 2011
    Central Texas
    Congrats on the excellent deal! Now you can really load up some 9x19 to put that Apex extractor to the test :) enjoy the new rig!
  13. SJ 40

    SJ 40

    Jan 17, 2011
    You did very well and it will serve you well also. I'll be willing to bet you find it a night and day improvement over the Lee. SJ 40
  14. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    Thanks! I have the Apex in the G17, which is mostly what I'm shooting right now. It's getting tested pretty well, but I have a long way to go before it gets to a couple of thousand rounds. That's when we can be pretty sure it's not going to start acting up. But with reloading so easy now, I probably will shoot more.

    Well, it was 16 years ago, so it's hard to make a direct comparison. My memory is that the Lee progressive served me very well for what I was doing with it. It was actually more automatic than the 550, as the shell plate rotated with strokes of the operating handle. I think that where people get in trouble with the Lee progressive press is when they try to use it for applications that are beyond it's design parameters. Mine said in the instructions that the only rifle cartridge it was designed to load was the .223. It's really designed for pistol cartridges, at least mine was.

    My impression of Lee equipment generally is that it's inexpensive but not necessarily cheap. Some of it is cheap. But, for example, I like the Lee Autoprime much better than the comparable RCBS tool, which I also have. I think the Lee is a better design, more comfortable to use. I've been using it for years, and it's not wearing out.

    As I said, I had no complaints with the Lee progressive press I had. I just didn't want/need to do progressive at some point, so I stopped. I've used several Lee single stage presses, both "C" and "O" types over the years, and have never had a problem with any of them. I still have one, although I'm not using it right now. And the Lee stuff is USA made. RCBS is China made. Dillon is USA.

    I am impressed with the Dillon ruggedness, flexibility, and precision. I am sure it will give me many years of service. It's hard to compare features and ease of operation with my old Lee, as it's just been so long that I don't remember it all that well.
  15. That Primer Filler alone, with large and small setups, would be nearly $400.
  16. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    I will assume that it is a Vibra prime. Not a Dillon.
  17. Oh... that changes everything. I got the impression this was generally all Dillon stuff.
  18. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    It is all Dillon stuff, including the RF 100 Primer Filler, which came with everything needed for large and small primers, along with replacement tubes, tips, and spare parts for anything that might break or wear out. It's even got a little spacer gizmo (actually 2 of them) to help with the fairly sensitive setting of the stabilizer plate. I used the word vibrating in my initial description because that's how it works. Please bear with me, as I am still learning some of the terminology.

    The only non-Dillon thing in the whole lot is a set of .45 Colt dies, which I will probably throw away as I already have a better set.

    I've loaded a couple of hundred more 9mm. I'm taking it slow. I don't want to make any mistakes. I'm still tweaking a few things. I replaced my 9mm RCBS dies with Dillon ones. There was a little roughness in the sliding action of the rod through the plates on the fail safe part of the powder measure, which I smoothed out. And after I reassembled the press using the alignment tool, the primer cup wasn't quite perfect. There's a simple screw adjustment for that. Now everything is as smooth as butter.

    I'm going to load a few hundred more 9mm, and then get a set of Dillon .38 Special dies. The conversion kit came with the stuff I bought. It came with conversion kits for .45 Colt and .223/5.56 also. I also discovered a couple of conversion kits in there that I don't need: .45 ACP and .44 Mag/Special.

    I started with the 9mm dies I had - RCBS. I won't do that with the .45 Colt and .38 Special. I only want to set those toolheads up once. I'll buy the Dillon dies first. It came with 3 toolheads. I'll have to buy one more if I want to have all 4 calibers I load permanently set up. It came with 4 powder bars, so moving the powder measure around is no problem. I'll just leave one powder bar set for each cartridge.

    I'm not sure if I'll replace my .223/5.56 RCBS dies. I haven't researched enough to know if there is any big advantage to that. With the pistol/revolver dies I like the easier feed into the resizing die and the separate seating and crimping. Anyone have any thoughts on the .223/5.56 dies? Any big advantage to replacing them?
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  19. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    Boy did you kiss him on the way out the door? :supergrin: You didn't get a good deal you stole it.:wave:
  20. dhgeyer


    Jul 15, 2011
    And the funny thing is it's not like he didn't know what he had. This guy is retired and in his 70's, but his whole professional and recreational life has been centered around guns and ammunition. He was a sales rep for one of the major ammunition companies for 30 some odd years. He's been in my club since Christ was a corporal, and is one of its primary officers. He is involved in several of the club's organized/competitive shooting disciplines. He's shot everything from 600 yard high power to cowboy action to black powder. He's a walking encyclopedia of anything to do with guns and shooting.

    Now that I know what he did, I'm going to have to ask him why he didn't ask for more. My guess is he wanted a quick sale to buy some other new shooting related toy, and, having been a high level sales person, sized up what I, in my total ignorance, would pay. That's just a guess. I'm going to ask him when I see him.