Any Ideas for a Primer Checker on a Progressive

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Caneman, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    anyone use/invent a way to check if a primer seated when using a progressive press? i got a few ideas i am working on that involve a small light and mirror, just wondered if anyone has done something like this...

    i use a Hornady LnL AP, and there is no way to know if the primer seated (by feel of course, but sometimes and i can't tell that way) before the powder drop...

    i was going to play around with mounting a small led light underneath the station right after the primer station and use a mirror... not sure if it will work but i am looking for some way to do this
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  2. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Active Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2010
    Medina, Ohio
    I can't speak about the LNL. But w/ a Dillon, if you inspect the primer arm after it has loaded a primer into itself, and felt the resistance of the primer being seated to the depth of your choice, then look at the now empty primer arm when it retracts, that is enough to satisfy anyone a primer is seated.

  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    +1 on Kevin Rohrer response.

    But even with all of that, if I feel something different then I pull the case out and look. If I don't, then the powder at the next station streams though the primer hole and onto the press table which requires a cleanup. So I go by feel and error to the side of caution. This works for the Dillon (checking by removing the supposedly just primered case and inspecting it) but I don't know if it is that easy on the Hornady (auto-indexing table ??).

    If I have even one case miss a primer in a reloading session there is something wrong with my Dillon RL550B press (it can happen even to a Dillon press!) and it needs investigating and fixing. It is very rare for a case to miss a primer on the Dillon RL550B. What does happen is the table gets shaken too much from trying to move the ram too quickly causing the primer to flip sideways in the cup and be seated sideways. I get about one of those per reloading session until I settle down and concentrate on being smooth with the operation of the press. The other problem I see is an used primer falling onto the priming bar and keeping it from going through it full travel and picking up a new primer. That happens maybe every third or fourth reloading session.

    Progressive presses are complicated machines and no machine is perfect because it was designed and made by man. In general, I have not found the Dillon RL550B to be troublesome. On the contrary, screwups on the machine can usually be traced back to me. I suspect the Hornady LnL to be as trouble free as a Dillon.

  4. The Duke

    The Duke New Member

    Mar 11, 2006
    NW Louisiana
    If it doesnt 'feel' right, I take the round out and check visually...I do manage to set one or two upside down or cross ways from time to time...:D But that is due more to operator error than the machine.,

    Dillions low primer warning system has saved me dumping powder into an unprimed case more than once.,
  5. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    I rigged up my primer checker tonight...

    I drilled a 1/4" hole in the sub plate at the station right after the primer seating station...

    I hot glued a small LED that fits the hole perfectly, it shines up through the hole and right up to the powder measure...

    Then I setup a small inspection mirror so that I could easily see the bottom of the powder drop, right where the shell enters...

    If the case primers properly no light shines on the powder drop, if a primer doesn't seat then the light comes through and it can be seen in the mirror...

    The mirror is in the same field of vision as the case is when I seat a bullet, so it is very natural to glance across at the mirror, then if the light is not visible seat the bullet and continue...

    I'll try to get a pic up later, but I am very pleased with the small mod...
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  6. 312shooter

    312shooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Las Vegas NV
    It's simple enough, if the primer is above flush the shellplate does not want to advance due to the dragging of the partial seated primer on the subplate - this should be clear as day. A good primer seat = the shellplate advances normally and correct indexing occurs. If no primer there is powder all over the shellplate! No tools needed here. I can't imagine drilling my press!!
  7. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    OK you Dillon smurfs :D, uploaded a few pics... i zoomed with the camera in on the inspection mirror while standing over the bullet seating station and this is a pic with a shell that primered successfully with no light visible around the opening of the powder drop:


    here is a case that did not primer, and you can see the blue light on the opening of the powder drop:


    very simple to look across at the mirror (1" diameter), if there is a blue light something screwed up [like how i picked blue for the screw up color?! :) ] and it is easy to remove the shell and prevent a mess, if there is no light all is good to let the powder drop in... why do i like this? no powder spills to worry about and clean up...

    yes, i drilled a hole in my press sub plate to do this, and it was fun! had to take the press apart 100% but i learned what makes it tick and that was fun as well... the light cost me $8 for a pack of 3 at Pep Boys, the daughter had the hot glue gun for me to use, and I had a 12v ac adapter laying around.

    next project is to make a low primer alarm with a simple micro switch and a small buzzer...
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  8. noylj

    noylj Active Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    This is one reason I liked the earlier Hornady priming system.
    An arm swung around to pick up a primer. You could see the primer in seater as the arm swung back to under the case. When the primer arm swung back out, you could see the absence of a primer.
    I never had any problem feeling a primer being seated on my L-N-L. That is the only operation going on and it is in the weak-mode of raising the handle and lowering the shellplate.
    Now, on my Dillon 1050s I feel nothing. Even if there is one case in the shellplate and it is being primed--nothing.
  9. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    that works fine if the the primer doesn't seat all the way in or is seated crooked/sideways, etc, as you say you can feel the shell plate lock up... but if the case doesn't primer at all you may not notice it and the spilled powder all over the well lubricated shell plate is the only thing to let you know this!

    with the light it is easy to prevent the powder spill before it happens... you don't have to worry about what happened upstream, just take out the unprimered case and resolve the problem and then start cranking the handle again
  10. cpttango30

    cpttango30 Guest

    Seams like a lot of work to fix something that is not broke.

    Like 312 said if you don't seat the primer fully on my dillon you can't advanced the shell plate.
  11. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    it was easy to do, nothing broke so it wasn't a matter of fixing anything, it is just preventing a problem...

    with my press there are times when the primer will not seat at all (as opposed to it seating crooked, not seating fully, etc.)... if either the primer shuttle hangs or the shell plate is not centered properly this will happen... this usually happens when i go too fast or if i dont clean out the primer area before loading... glad to hear the Dillon's won't do this :eek:

    the situation you are referring to happens with my LnL as well, if i don't properly feel with the primer seating stroke the primer can seat improperly, in which case i cant advance the shell plate just like with a dillon
  12. 312shooter

    312shooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Las Vegas NV

    Props to your ingenuity for your idea and design. My immediate thoughts lie with the reason why you would do this to your press in the first place, could it be is that you are having abnormal amounts of mis-primed cartriges in your reloading process? Maybe there are other LNL users that can chime in here but in my experience I have one incorrectly primed cartrige at most once every 200-300 rounds, and this is usually due to a crimped primer pocket that I didn't catch during inspection. My curiosity has been captured by this thread, maybe you have engineering traits and like to design and tinker but If you are having a plethora of priming problems maybe we could offer up some help.
  13. cpttango30

    cpttango30 Guest

    Sorry didn't mean to come off as a jerk.

    If you have this problem it looks like a great way to check.

    I too am wondering if you are having too many maybe a call to honrady.
  14. V509

    V509 Active Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    Buckeye State
    I have been using Hornady Progressive presses for 20+ years. The feel is how I can tell when I miss a primer. I have added a rod on top of the primers so now I can see if I need to refill
  15. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

    Oct 22, 2010
    no worries gents, its not so much the machine as the operator for me :rolleyes: auto progressive realoading is new to me and i just need to learn the feel better...
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