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Well, I did it...

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by kcbrown, Feb 22, 2010.

  1. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    Not being content with the trivial problems I ran into with the Lee Pro 1000, I decided to go for the gold standard of problem reloading machines. :supergrin:

    Lee had a factory reconditioned Loadmaster for $180. I couldn't pass that kind of deal up!

    So I now have a Loadmaster.

    Mounting was trivial. The mounting hole locations are identical between the Loadmaster and the Pro 1000, so I didn't have to change a thing. The Pro 1000 (and now the Loadmaster) is mounted to my bench with a steel plate sandwiched between it and the bench to more evenly distribute the load. The bench is 1.5 inches thick and mounted solidly to the back wall, so the press doesn't move at all when I operate it.

    I was a little disappointed to find that the mounting plate used for the bin that holds the finished rounds is attached to the bench instead of being attached directly to the press. I was hopeful that the entire thing could be moved as a unit, but that's not the case. Oh, well...

    The bracket for mounting the casefeeder had sheared off either during or prior to shipment from the Lee factory, so I called them up. They sent another shellplate carrier immediately, no questions asked. It helps, though, that I ordered the press from them because they were able to look up my purchase order, and that may be why they didn't ask any questions (except "do you know how to replace the shellplate carrier?", to which I answered in the affirmative).

    In the meantime, while the replacement shellplate carrier was coming, I set up the press and started playing with it. After studying the indexing system I figured out exactly how and why it works, and therefore exactly how it should be set up. People complain that the indexing system doesn't have a positive locator, but they don't realize that the Loadmaster doesn't need it: the indexing rod is the locator and the shellplate locking mechanism all rolled into one. It's a much cleverer design than you'd expect, and certain small details (such as the fact that the bevel on the indexing rod needs to be to the right) are important.

    When I ran some spent primers through the priming system (after taking it apart and sanding some areas smooth), I had a couple wind up sideways/crushed and I did manage to break a primer slider (I bought 10 spares when I bought the press, so I'm set for a while) for reasons I still haven't determined, but they were used primers and as such a bit dirtier than usual.

    Getting the primer seating depth just right takes a bit of trial and error. It's one of the things spent primers are really good for.


    Once I received my replacement shellplate carrier, I removed the old one and put the new one into place. The instructions tell you to align the shellplate carrier to the turret via the indexing rod, and while that works well enough to get it approximately correct, I took it a step further and aligned it by locking the shellplate into place with the indexing rod, placing a case into station number 2, and running the case into the sizing die with the shellplate carrier slightly loose (enough that it could rotate a little if necessary). I then tightened the carrier up enough that it would stay put, lowered the assembly, and torqued the carrier retaining bolt to 11.6 ft-lbs (139.2 in-lbs) per the instructions.

    Of course, I had to readjust the primer seating depth from scratch at this point, since the new carrier had a new seating lever that probably has slightly different dimensions than on the other carrier.

    Setting up the casefeeder was an interesting experience but I managed it. I transplanted the case collator I modified for 9mm duty from the Pro 1000 to the Loadmaster. Once I tested the casefeeder's operation against a number of empty cases and had all my dies set up, I decided it was time to try the press for real.

    I managed to produce 200 rounds without any hiccups or issues whatesoever. Towards the end, though, the casefeeder was starting to exert a significant amount of pressure when lowering the ram, enough to cause the friction rod to start bending. It turns out that despite what others have done, in my case the casefeeder friction rod does require some lubrication. I've since lubed it with silicone oil and readjusted the friction slider tension screws and it now functions very smoothly and reliably (I've since run another couple of hundred cases through it without any primers or powder to test its functionality).

    A few observations:

    1. The shellplate locknut doesn't stay put worth beans. Lee's solution of using an o-ring to keep it in place doesn't work at all. I'm still working on a good solution to it, and will probably use something like a wave washer or some other type of spring washer to keep it in place.

    2. I've avoided the entire problem of the chain by using the spring return and "F" arm on the powder drop. This is the same solution I used on the Pro 1000 and it works flawlessly. I'm not concerned about a double charge because I peer into each case prior to seating the bullet to check for a proper powder charge, and I'm using the press for 9mm.

    3. It is much easier to seat the bullet with the Loadmaster than with the Pro 1000, because there isn't a support in the way.

    4. I get to use my Redding competition seating die (though for the first batch I used the standard Lee seating die for both seating and flare removal). I have both the FCD and the standard tapered crimp die, so I can use whichever proves more suitable. Since all the rounds I examined case gauged just fine, I will probably stick with the tapered crimp die for my 9mm setup.

    5. Making use of the last few primers in the system is easier with the Loadmaster than with the Pro 1000. With the Pro 1000, you have to use something (I use a tie wrap) to push on the primer stack with just the right amount of force as you're operating the handle of the press, so that the primer can slide into and then drop into position. With the Loadmaster, you still have to use something to push on the primer stack, but you can operate the primer slider by hand in order to arm the priming system for the next round, and you can do this with the ram all the way down, the shellplate locked into position, etc. The Loadmaster's priming system is better than the Pro 1000's, but it's still not tolerant of junk in it.

    6. Unlike the Pro 1000, I had absolutely no powder spillage on the shellplate or elsewhere as a result of powder jumping out of the cases or anything. I was surprised. Even my 650 has some problems with that.


    It'll be interesting to see how long I can run the press before I start having persistent problems, but if I do run into problems that are unresolvable, I've always got my Pro 1000 to fall back onto. :supergrin:
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
  2. BigTimer

    BigTimer

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    :popcorn::popcorn:

    Nice writeup. I too like my loadmasters
     

  3. coachg

    coachg

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    The only problem I've had is that once in a while the primer slider gets damaged. Like you, I bought some spares and sent the damaged ones back to Lee for a hassle free replacement.

    I did the same thing with the powder measure. If you don't like the chain, use the spring setup. Works very well.

    The station for seating the bullet is in a very good location. With a little LED flexible neck flashlight ($5 at Home Depot) you can see clearly into the case to check the powder drop. No fear of missed or double charges.

    I think it's a much better system than the 1000. You should be happy with it for a while and if something stops working, easy enough to get the new parts and fix it.

    Good luck.

    CG
     
  4. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    If you break a chain on a LM your being heavy handed and have bad setup. Chain is a good safety feature that never gave me a lick of trouble. I would use it myself. Never broke a chain, never had a issue with the casefeeder, no powder spillage, no indexing issues. Only issue was priming.
     
  5. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    I went with the spring mechanism for two reasons:

    1. It's at least as simple and is utterly reliable.

    2. It allows me to set the placement of the powder drop to my liking.
     
  6. bush pilot

    bush pilot

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    Your first sentence pretty much sums it up. You could probably sell both presses and get a 550 for just a few more dollars.
     
  7. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

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    :poke: say it ain't so... sorry OP but you did say in that thread:

     
  8. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    LOL!

    You guys who think I should get a Dillon really should read the background info I linked to.

    A couple of points:

    1. I already resolved the issues I was having with the Pro 1000. It now runs quite reliably. I got the Loadmaster because I wanted to see if I could get it running reliably as well and, if so, I wanted to compare it with the Pro 1000 to see which press I liked better. I have an engineering mindset and thought it would be fun to get the Lee "ultimate in unreliability" Loadmaster to be reliable for me.

    2. I currently own a Dillon 650 as well. So you don't need to tell me that I could have gotten a Dillon for the money, because that's not what all this is about at all.


    I suspect that Lee progressives require a solid understanding of their design and operation and the willingness to troubleshoot any problems that arise through to their conclusion -- to find the root cause of any problem that occurs, in other words. It takes time and effort.

    In C4W's defense, I don't believe he had a rock-solid fallback to work with at the time he had his Loadmaster, and he was shooting 1000 rounds a month or so, so he needed a reliable press and he needed it immediately. He probably had better things to do with his time than to figure out why his Loadmaster priming system was unreliable.

    I don't have those constraints on me. I have as rock-solid a fallback as one could ask for (my Dillon 650 with casefeeder), and I have the means and wherewithal to understand the Lee progressive presses and to take the time necessary to fix the problems that may occur.

    As for getting a Dillon 550 instead, why would I do that? It doesn't have a casefeeder, it doesn't have autoindexing, and even the lowly Lee Pro 1000 provides both of those. I've proved to my own satisfaction that the Pro 1000 can be made to run reliably with a sufficient investment of time, effort, understanding, and spare parts. :supergrin:

    I hope to prove the same is true of the Loadmaster.
     
  9. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    That was the OP in the other thread, not me. You'll notice that my link will (or should) take you to my first posting in that thread.
     
  10. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

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    OK...My bad... apologies extended to you...just couldn't resist, should have read it more closely...it's all if fun... good write-ups BTW :supergrin:
     
  11. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    Believe me, I LOLed just the same, and absolutely no harm done! :supergrin:

    So here's the real question: if I manage to conquer the Lee Loadmaster, should my next press be the RCBS Green Machine? :supergrin: :rofl:
     
  12. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    I tihnk you should go all out. Sell the Dillons. Switch to LEE. It's like riding a bike with training wheels having a nice safe Dillon to fall back on.
     
  13. creophus

    creophus Born Again

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    Dang, there are alot of words in this thread. Can I get the Cliffs?
     
  14. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    A while back he got a Lee Pro 1000. Had a 120+ post thread about fixing it and making it totally awesome. Now KC’s a cocky guy with his chest all puffed out so he bought Load Master. He's sure he's up to the challenge. He thinks it's no big deal to get it reliable. Bush Pilot told him to get a 550. He scoffs in Bush Pilots general direction as he already has a 650. 550 don't have a Casefeeder and doesn't autoindex so it's not as good as the much vaunted Pro 1000 never mind the even better Load Master. He is already running the LoadMaster with out the chain and the LM leaks less powder then KC's own over priced 650. Colorado4wheel thinks it’s just not wise running the press with out the chain as it's a safety feature. KCbrown don't need no stinkin safety features. KCBrown has already broken one slider but he has 10 so that should last him a good year or more. BigTime is just hanging out eating popcorn watching the drama. KC is being nice to me saying I just didn’t have time to fiddle with the LM that’s why I got the 550. I need my life simple and reliable. I think that’s about it.
     
  15. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    LOL!!! :rofl:

    Very nice summary. Couldn't have said it better myself. :supergrin:

    Actually, as far as the chain goes, I'll probably put together a rod assembly similar to what's on the Dillon and use that. While I like the simplicity of the spring return, it has the disadvantage that it adds to the amount of force needed to cycle the press. I may try the chain solution just to see how much I like or dislike it.
     
  16. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

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    :popcorn: The GT reloading forum is getting better than daytime soaps.... someone pour the koolaide.
     
  17. Cobra64

    Cobra64 Deals in Facts

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    [​IMG]





    He coulda gone with the Hornady and replaced the rubber band with a shim or two. :rofl:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    User a rubber band to fix your press and I promise to use it as my Avatar for at least a weekend.

    Cobra, Glad to see your press looking at least a little better. It seems to have "ring worm" of some sort now.
     
  19. Wash-ar15

    Wash-ar15

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    Make sure the screws on the cartridge arms are tight. make sure the arms hold the case into the shell plate. when you get a cocked primer,that hte first thing to check.

    Any like both the pro and lm,don't let the primers fall too low
     
  20. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    If you're sizing in station 2 on the LM, then the arm position should be of little consequence as long as the case can still properly go into the sizing die. For even 9mm, the case mouth will already be in the die by the time the priming pin raises the primer enough to make any contact with the case, which means by that time the case should be properly positioned to take the primer even if the case retention arm in station 2 was a little loose.

    This is why I use a sizing die sans decapper in station 2 and a universal decapper in station 1.

    Even so, your advice is sound. Getting everything adjusted properly is key to making these presses run smoothly and reliably.