Privacy guaranteed - Your email is not shared with anyone.

My review of my new Lee 1000

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Reagan40, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. Reagan40


    May 6, 2007
    I got a new Lee 1000 progressive press the other day. I read a lot of review on line before I bought it. Half were positive, half were negetive. My decision to buy it was based on price. It cost me less than 200 bucks with .45 ACP dies included. I am also planning on using this press only for .45, so once I get it set it will never change. I shoot more .45 than anything, and for under 200 bucks, I felt it was worth it to keep it set up permanently.

    The instructions were pretty helpful in assembling the press and adjusting it. I got everything adjusted, and I loaded up the case feeder. The first 4 rounds went perfectly. After that, all hell broke loose. The case feeder malfunctioned, and once that happened it seemed to wreck everything. The indexing got screwed up, powder spilled into the primer feeder causing a jam. I got it all clened up, and adjusted. I fine tuned everything and started again. This happened a few times, until I got it adjusted perfectly. Now it seems to be working great. I would not dare try to change calibers or move anything. It seems that it is very tempermental until you get everything adjusted exactly right. Now that it is adjusted, I loaded 300 rounds very quickly.

    In short, I think it is a good cheap option for a single caliber set up. If you only want one press, and want a press that can easily be set up for various calibers, this may not be the one for you. It is also only good if you have a great deal of patience, mechanical know how, and the determination to keep working at it for a while to get it right.

    My next progressive press will be for multiple calibers. It will be a Dillon.
  2. Wash-ar15


    Sep 15, 2007
    you did great. now that you have an idea of how it works,it gets a lot easier. it will make ammo just as good as a Dillion.

    Keep the primer feed clean and it will just hum along.

  3. partsman


    Oct 5, 2008
    s.e. pa
    i have 3, one nine,38/357 and one in .45, like you said they are not bad for the money but you always have to tinker with them.
    like the other poster said keep your primer feed clean and that will save allot of headaches. get a can of the compressed air and blow out that station when you refill.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2009
  4. coachg


    Dec 7, 2007
    That is the truth! I almost sold mine once. Almost smashed it with a hammer another time out of frustration. Once you've worked with it enough, you start to anticipate where the problems can occur.

    I eliminated the chain setup and went back to the original powder dispenser. I like it much better.

    The best feeling in the world when you are using it is to have that primer set. A sigh of relief every time it goes in without a problem.


  5. fkenyon


    Jul 7, 2009
    I too bought one about 6 weeks ago for the same reasons. I'm only loading 9mm, and I couldn't see spending 3 times as much for the dillon.

    My experiences were similar. After feeling my way around the machine, it works like a champ. Take your time, adopt a smooth slow rhythm, figure what the disc charge REALLY is,and you can crank out 200+/hr easily.
  6. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Thats why people gravitate towards the Lee Classic turret. Simplier press, its a little slower, 4 station, more reliable but the same basic cost. I can see why people get the Pro 1000 but for me the reliability of the LCT is more alluring then the speed and "finicky nature" of the Pro 1000.

    Welcome to the reloading world. :wavey:
  7. G19lover


    Dec 20, 2009
    The Lee Pro is a great press for the money and when I had first got mine I also wanted to take the hammer to it. I actually had it boxed up ready to go back till I cooled down and decided to give it a second try. I have been reloading for 30 years and it was instantly frustrating. Having said that, after I remounted it and took my time with it I got it working after about a half hour, here are some experiences.

    Case feeding and using the collator : brilliant idea and works great, beats the snot out of the complicated power case feeder for the rcbs at a cost of almost nothing if you ever had to replace it. You can fill the tube feeder in about 30 seconds. Occasionally one will go in upside down and that generally happens from dumping them in. No problem just pull it out when it tries to feed it.

    Powder measure: Kind of cheaply made but it works pretty flawless. The method of preventing a charge with no case in is pretty ingenious. Almost impossible to double charge a case but it could happen if you are figgiding with the primer system and run the press up and down far enough to trigger it. I have had it occasionally drop a light load but overall is dependable. As said check the charge with the powder you are using to verify it drops the correct charge.

    Priming system: This is the trouble spot on the machine. Get it adjusted right and your in for a good time but get it out of whack and prepare to pick the pieces up after smashing it into a thousand pieces. The key here is clean the trough on a regular basis with compressed air as mentioned. Another key item is once the primer tray is empty and you have loaded enough to clear the throat, don't go any farther! Refill the tray! After this point there is not enough wieght pushing the primers down and I guarantee it will jam or malfunction. Normally it manages to flip a primer on its side and jam the shell plate. It's not unusually for this to throw the plate out of time and you may very well have to retime it using the screw in the bottom of the carrier. Key is to keep clean and full. When seating a primer on the down stroke, don't force it, gently begin the seating process and if it doesn't feel right STOP!
    Quite often what will cause a primer to not wanna seat is either it is a Lake City cartridge with the crimp not removed or powder or crap has gotten packed into the groove of the shell plate not allowing the shell to fit all the way back into the groove. If necessary, take a pin and clean the shell plate groove. Also keep an eye on the retainer spring that holds the shell into the groove. If not tensioned, bend it till it does.

    Bullet seating station: If your trying to use the bullet feeder system my suggestion is THROW IT AWAY! LOL, this is an epic fail and you will in my opinion spend more time trying to make this work than the reward for using it. The fingers get broken very easily and you have to be extra careful when there is not a shell in the station which is the first two rotations. If the bullet falls out of the feeder, you just broke the fingers! At $10 per set you will go broke in the next 10 minutes of trying to fix it! I hand load the bullet for reliability and also the ability to verify there is a powder charge in the shell casing before seating. Here is a caution if loading a shell with a full powder charge, the snap of the shellplate seating will bounce powder out of the casing and this will eventually find its way into the grooves of the shell plate increasing your chances of malfunction. I have gotten into the habit of as the shell casing comes around placing my finger over the top of the casing till it has snapped into place, I verify the charge looks right set the bullet and proceed.

    Using these guidelines I easily load a round every 12 seconds taking my time to ensure the primer is seating correctly. That is an easy 6 boxes an hour. I have done many more per hour but this is taking into consideration the occasional issues that arise.

    I have no issues using ANY primer, the key is DO NOT force a seating! IF it don't feel right STOP!

    If you want to do different calibers ( I do 4 different ones) its best to buy the complete shell plate carrier, a turret with the dies set up and a powder measure for each caliber so you don't have to switch it out. It does add up as each caliber will cost you about $100 each plus the dies but your probably already have those.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  8. kcbrown


    Nov 18, 2008
    I have a Dillon 650 with casefeeder that I've been using to produce 9mm, and it's done a good job of it for the most part (I've had to tighten up the primer punch assembly and adjust and tighten the casefeeder mechanism -- these things probably worked slightly loose during shipping or something and eventually started to cause operational issues). It has given me valuable experience with a progressive press.

    I've started shooting .40 and my LCT just isn't fast enough for my purposes. Since .40 is a more demanding round than 9mm, I decided I would switch the 650 to .40 production, but that left me with doing 9mm on the LCT which is too slow for my purposes (having a good progressive has spoiled me rotten!).

    Enter the Lee Pro 1000. I knew I wanted a progressive press, I wanted something relatively small, something dirt simple, and something I knew was possible to get operating properly (only half the reviews are negative, after all, so some people are getting it to work reliably). Having only 3 stations shouldn't be a problem.

    And, frankly, I was looking forward to the challenge of getting a press known for being finicky and making it rock-solid reliable. And the price made it a no-brainer.

    I knew going into it, as a result of much reading, that if I wanted it to produce ammo reliably, I would have to set everything up properly and perhaps even take steps to address any deficiencies I ran across. This is not the sort of press you just mount to the bench and start production with. You have to operate it and watch it to learn exactly how it does everything it does.

    So I started setting it up and playing with it last night.

    The first thing I did was to start running cases through it to get a feel for how the casefeeder slide mechanism worked, how the shellplate indexing worked, etc. I adjusted the shellplate indexing so that the casefeeder mechanism was as reliable as possible. But hmm...looks like to accomplish that, the indexing causes the case cutouts in the shellplate to travel slightly past the ideal point relative to the priming pin, so that the priming pin isn't centered within the case cutouts. Hmm...maybe that won't matter.

    There was only one way to find out! To experiment with and verify the operation of the priming system, I carefully placed a number of spent primers in the primer feed tray (oriented properly) and fed cases into the press by placing them individually in front of the case feeder pusher and letting it slide the cases into place. The priming system wasn't as reliable as I wanted: sometimes the primer could be pushed into place but other times it couldn't. When it couldn't, this left a primer sitting on the pin (at best! Sometimes the primer would tip sideways). So I reset the indexing such that the priming pin would be centered in the case cutout in the shellplate when it indexed.

    However, when the shellplate is set up to index in such a way as to maximize the reliability of the priming step (i.e., set up so that the primer punch is centered within the case cutout in the shellplate), the case feeder would often misfeed a case, by causing the case to be tipped slightly sideways in such a way that only one side of the case would engage the lip in the case cutout. The other side would be sitting above the lip.

    And so I had my first engineering challenge on my hands. How to arrange things so that both the casefeeder and the priming system worked reliably at the same time?

    What I noticed was that when the case pusher was located such that the case was just touching where the edge of the shellplate would be, the shellplate hadn't quite finished indexing. It was very close, but not quite there.

    Clearly, you really don't want the pusher to start pushing the case into the cutout in the shellplate until well after the shellplate has stopped moving. The current setup basically has the case pusher too close to the shellplate. It therefore needs to somehow be moved slightly further away.

    So what I did was to find the drill bit that matched the size of the hole in the case pusher into which the z-bar fits and to drill a hole next to the one that is already there, so the new hole is slightly closer to the front of the case pusher than the original hole.

    A picture is worth a thousand words:


    The slider as it came had the two leftmost holes. As you can see, I drilled a third hole. The only problem with that hole is that it doesn't have the additional reinforcing material on the inside the way the original (now middle) hole does. I'm tempted to put some sort of reinforcing material in there but the thickness of the surface into which I drilled the hole is sufficient for now.

    The location of the new hole is such that with the ram all the way down, a slight amount of tension is put on the casefeeder slide with the slide at the forward stop. It should be enough to ensure that cases get pushed all the way into the cutout but not so much as to bend or break anything if the case is stubborn and won't go in. But the difference it makes in the timing of when the case arrives at the shellplate is significant. At that point, the shellplate has easily stopped rotating and is in proper position to accept a new case. And it's also aligned such that the primer punch is located properly within the case cutout.

    I haven't loaded any real ammo with this setup yet. I've yet to set up the dies exactly the way I want them to be. It appears the factory did a decent job with the sizing die, at least.

    What I wonder is whether or not I should take the entire thing apart first. I'm tempted, but my tests show the press to be reliable at the moment, so maybe I should leave well enough alone...

    The next thing on my list of mods is to fix the case collator so that it reliably feeds 9mm brass right-side-up. Seems to me the most reliable answer would be to place inserts into the holes in the collator to reduce the effective diameter of the holes. Maybe it's possible to get PVC pipe or something that would be the right size for both the inside and the outside diameters...

    Merry Christmas, everyone!
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  9. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    WOW... I'd be tempted to fire the maid and hire an extra butler just to get the thing set up. Then again if I was going to dedicate it to just one caliber spent a few more bucks on a SDB or a 550B or a LNL.

    You sir are a far better man than I... I don't have that much patience, or mechanical inclination. Merry frustrating Christmas. :supergrin:

  10. 0-16


    Jan 14, 2007
    I bought a used lee pro 1000. When it works, it's great. Patience is very important when it's not working though. Like everyone else who has owned one, the primer system needs to stay clean and full. I use it only for 45s and my LCT for everything else.
  11. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Okay, the 1000 works. It needs tinkering. So does my fathers 650 and freakshow's 1050. That's not what matters. What matters is who does the tinkering, are they a good tinker? For instance, the poster had an issue with his cases feeding, so he drilled an extra hole in the feed shoe. That was a wrong turn. His z bar is off, his shell plate is out of time, his sheel plate is dirty, something, anything, but not the hole in the feed shoe. So he will now proceed to "fix" the rest of the press to fit the altered shoe. His entire press will be exactly the distance, center to center, of the two holes, OFF everywhere else.

    My 1000 is over 20 years old. Parts have worn out, curses on the Lee family have been uttered, but it still runs great and makes ammo all day long.

    Here are a couple of hints. The primer feed tray can only be so clean and so full. Yes it needs to be clean and full, but scrubbing it every ten minutes and topping off the feed tray is stupid. If it is clean and full and it doesn't work, LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE. I clean my 1000 about once a year. Crud builds under the shell plate and slows down the indexing. this causes primer feed problems. FOLLOW the DIRECTIONS for adjusting the indexing. Any deviation and you will be cleaning your primer feed chute for now reason and still not getting good primer feeding.

    Another cause of primer jams is OPERATOR ERROR. All the cleaning in the world will not make up for a ham-fisted operator. UP and DOWN. Just like that. Even speed thoughout the stroke.
  12. kcbrown


    Nov 18, 2008
    Well, certainly something's off. But the shell plate itself isn't out of time unless the indexing rod has its spiral section in the wrong location. It may be dirty but this is a brand new press, and the shellplate turns very freely when it's not engaging the spiral section of the center post (the only noticeable friction is from the ball that sits underneath it).

    Replacing relevant parts one at a time in the hope that it fixes the problem isn't the way I generally like to solve problems. I like to understand how the mechanism works and what steps I can take to address any problems with it.

    Drilling a hole in the feed shoe was the most direct way of adjusting the timing between it and the shellplate. Anything else almost certainly would have required that I order additional parts. Maybe you consider the modification I performed to be an incorrect solution. However, if it's an incorrect solution, why does the press in its entirety function perfectly with that modification?

    The only thing that would have improved this would either be a longer z bar, a shorter case pusher, or a center rod with the spiral section located higher.

    I plan to take the shellplate carrier apart, but if I find nothing wrong with it then I'll be left either with methodical replacement of parts or leaving the press as it is. If it works properly as it is, what would be the point of screwing with replacement parts? Not that it would be a horrible thing to have such parts on hand in any case...

    That turns out not to be the case, and if you examine the design of the casefeeder versus the indexing, you'll see that what you say here cannot be true. The casefeeder just pushes a case into the shellplate. As long as the shellplate has stopped before the case gets to it and the casefeeder shoe pushes the case completely into the shellplate, everything will work. All my modification did was to ensure that by the time the case got to the shellplate, the shellplate was guaranteed to have stopped and settled.

    I just finished loading 400 rounds with the press. The casefeeder functioned perfectly. There were a few instances where the indexing literally stopped in the middle of the rotation for no apparent reason (the shellplate moved freely at that point, so if something was binding it must have been very temporary). I may have to take the shellplate carrier apart to see if there's anything damaged in there and to learn exactly how the mechanism works, but whatever is going on, it is not consistent, occurring perhaps once every 70 rounds on average.

    Oh, and the priming system functioned perfectly as well, except when I let the primer supply run too low. I already knew it would give problems under those conditions and knew exactly what to expect and how to fix it.

    About how many rounds do you figure you load with it between cleanings?


    The feel of the priming mechanism is remarkably similar to that of the Dillon 650, actually. I use very smooth and relatively slow motions with these presses. I can feel when the primer contacts the pocket and when it bottoms out. Because I move the arm relatively slowly, I can feel when a primer is not seating properly and stop in time not only to fix the problem, but also, generally, without damage to the primer in question.

    Thus far, I'm rather pleased with the performance of my Pro 1000. The indexing mechanism does cause a tiny bit of powder to spill out of the cases when the shellplate rotates into position, thanks to the ball and spring that create a positive stop. My 650 does the same thing, so I'm not at all concerned about it. And getting through the last few primers is annoying but possible -- I use a tie wrap as a pusher. Doing this right is tricky: you have to use the right amount of pressure at the right time for the right duration. Too little and the primer won't locate itself above the priming pin. Too much and it'll flip the primer or something of that sort.

    The press could use a bit more leverage, but it works and that's what counts. The primer tray shaker mechanism induces a decent amount of friction. A very thin layer of grease along the path the shaker pin takes helps a bit. This looks to me like something that could use improvement but I'll have to give some thought about how to accomplish that.

    I'm actually looking forward to seeing what sort of progressive press based on the LCT Lee will come out with, if any. The LCT seems to have plenty of leverage. Whatever they come out with, I certainly hope it has a priming system that requires that you push forward like you do on the Pro 1000 and the Dillon 650, since it's the only way you're going to really feel the primer go into the pocket.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2009
  13. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Okay, I was just having a little fun with you on this part. I have seen things in my life "fixed" like this though. I've seen a guy put the track on the bottom of a drawer backwards. The drawer was then 1/2" to far to the left, so he hogged out the hole in the dresser for the drawer.

    There is a plastic gear in the shellplate that advances things. It is VERY easily damaged. Check that part out. One wrong move while setting the timing can wipe it out. So can reversing the shellplate at the wrong time. You don't need a pipe wrench to wreck it. Order a couple, they're cheap, and good to have around.

    It sounds to me like your plate is not indexing properly. That gear might be wiped out, or it might need another quarter turn on the adjusting screw. The screw should be turned until the plate locks into position, and then turned a little bit more.

    Also, look at the part Lee calls the "drive bolt". When he says to use finger pressure only to tighten, he really means it. It is so soft it feels like it's made out of lead. You can get into trouble with that thing while disassembling the shellplate. It's a reverse thread and if you forget, you will tighten it while trying tot take it off. Now it will be too tight and need pliers to remove, which WILL ruin it. Get a couple of those when you order the white plastic gear.

    You didn't damage anything with your extra hole, and I don't think you moved the entire universe 0.25" to the left, but I bet when you get this all figured out, you won't need the "extra" hole.
  14. kcbrown


    Nov 18, 2008
    Ah, okay. No worries. I certainly understand the concern you were expressing, it's just that it doesn't apply in this instance.

    I have something of an engineering mindset, so I don't like to fix something improperly. I like to understand how something actually works and to get at the root cause of any problem, and where that's not possible I like to fix the problem with minimal side effects. I arrived at my solution to the problem as a result of studying the press, and assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that it was possible for the press to have been manufactured slightly incorrectly or for the various tolerances to stack up in such a way that they caused the problem. Or something.

    When I ordered the press, I ordered spares of just about everything that Midway had available. One of those parts was an extra z bar. So I removed the z bar from my press and compared it against the spare. They are dimensionally identical.

    I then noticed that the tab towards the top of the press that the z bar fits into can move forwards and backwards slightly. So I put the z bar back into place in its original configuration (in the hole that is now the middle hole), pulled the tab as far to the rear as it would go, and ran a bunch of cases through the press (with the powder feed disabled and the sizing die removed).

    They all fed perfectly.

    I then moved the tab to the forwardmost position and ran a bunch more cases.

    They all fed perfectly.

    Whatever the original problem I had with the case feeder, it appears to be gone now.

    The advantage of the factory setup is that it is capable of placing more pressure on the case to push it into the shellplate, if that should prove necessary. I'll leave the press in that configuration for the next batch and we'll see how it goes.

    Is this the hex ratchet you speak of, or the gear itself? Sadly, Midway didn't seem to have the gear itself, else I would have ordered some. I presume Lee is the best source for these?

    The plate already locks into position. How can I tell whether the screw needs to be turned any more? How do I "reset" the indexing so that I can redo the procedure? By turning the screw counterclockwise until the shellplate will no longer quite make it to the proper position?

    Note that I ran into problems with the casefeeder with the shellplate indexing set properly as per the instructions.

    I see the problem with the shellplate rotating halfway only once every roughly 100 pulls of the handle. If there's a damaged part in there, wouldn't it cause more consistent problems than this?

    This is good to know. I haven't taken the shell carrier off and apart yet, but will certainly be mindful of this.

    If it take only finger pressure to tighten it, I presume it should only take finger pressure to loosen it?

    I'm a "minimum force" kinda guy. Things tend to last a very long time under my care.

    It appears I already don't, interestingly enough.

    I'll report back when I've taken the shellplate carrier apart. Somehow I suspect I won't find anything, but you never know...
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2009
  15. fkenyon


    Jul 7, 2009
    I see the problem with the shellplate rotating halfway only once every roughly 100 pulls of the handle. If there's a damaged part in there, wouldn't it cause more consistent problems than this?

    I can do this with mine on purpose,and don't think this is either a defect or a problem. In fact, it is very handy.

    The indexing screw is on a worm gear. You can turn it all you want. Just follow Lees directions. YOU READ THOSE, RIGHT?
  16. kcbrown


    Nov 18, 2008
    As I mentioned before, I loaded 400 rounds with my Pro 1000 last night. What I didn't mention was that I had modified the case collator to reliably drop 9mm cases.

    Here's what I did.

    I got some of these PVC elbows at Lowe's:


    One end (at the top of the picture above) has an OD (outside diameter) of 0.5 in, which is perfect for this application. They also had 0.5in OD PVC pipe, but I think the ID (inside diameter) was slightly too small.

    Anyway, you should be able to find something suitable like that.

    In my case, I cut the 0.5in OD sections off of four of the elbows and used them as inserts. They go in with a bit of resistance, but you can press them in by hand easily enough.

    Here's the end result:


    With the inserts in place, I get nearly flawless feeding of 9mm cases. I've had one upside down case in about 500.
  17. kcbrown


    Nov 18, 2008
    Yes, but I'm getting that occasionally with a full stroke. In other words, it's not indexing halfway as a result of any purposeful or accidental action I'm taking.

    Of course.

    What they don't make clear is whether or not it is safe to turn the screw the opposite direction (counterclockwise). <strike>But if it's on a worm gear, there should be no problem with turning it in either direction.</strike> ETA: As it turns out, Lee's FAQ makes it clear that it should be turned clockwise only, and that if you need to go past the current detent you can.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  18. VN350X10


    Apr 13, 2001
    McHenry, IL
    I have a Lee 1000, Dillon SDB, XL650, 1050 & a 550 all on my bench at the same time.
    That said, I have the Lee dedicated to 9mm ammo.
    I LIKE the idea of reducing the hole size on the case collomater & will do that.
    Now for my tip...
    Keep the priming system clean, BUT....lube it with powdered graphite, I use a lock type applicator & give the tray a "puff" of graphite every 2 boxes of primers (200 rds.)
    The system runs more smoothly, graphite won't hurt the powder if it gets in thru the flash hole, the primers seat a bit easier & the graphite will burnish into the plastic ramp of the feed system, making the primers slide easier as time goes on.
    Mine will run reliabily down to 8-10 primers ! But the best bet is to refill the tray as soon as the primers are down in the ramp by 1 or 2, it's just the way the system works.
    It's no Dillon, but I've loaded well over 20K rounds of 9mm on mine, & it still works fine.
    A few mods along the way, but nothing major except removing the "lamp chain" & replacing it with a governor return spring from a 5 hp Briggs & Stratton engine !
    More positive on the powder measure return.

    uncle albert
  19. kcbrown


    Nov 18, 2008
    It does seem to be effective...

    I got some graphite lube. I'll have to do this.

    Yep. Mine, being brand new, will also run until it's down to 8-10 primers. But I do try to keep an eye on it and to fill it back up unless I'm doing the last part of the batch (in which case I'll use a tie wrap to put a little bit of pressure on the primer stack to keep them moving along until there are none left).

    I simply pulled the powder measure from my LCT and put it on my Pro 1000. It is set up with the return spring, which seems to be plenty stout.

    I'm not worried about double charges in the case. I always peer into the case prior to seating the bullet to ensure there's a charge and that it's roughly at the right level. I do this with my Dillon, too, even though I'm using the RCBS lockout die with it.

    I think it pays, in terms of safety, to take this stuff seriously.
  20. Singlestack Wonder

    Singlestack Wonder

    Nov 15, 2003
    Drop the bucks and get Dillon. Spend your time producing quality loads, not fixing or re-engineering the Lee's.