Makeing pretty cartridges, but lots of start up problems

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by stev32k, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    Loaded my first 10 cartridges yesterday. They chambered, fired, and ejected with no problem and they seem more accurate than I can shoot The recoil seemed about like the Winchester 9mm rounds that I shot before and after.

    These first 10 were done one station at a time with checking after every operation. Case sizing, primer loading, expansion, powder charge, and bullet feeding & seating were checked every time.

    So today I think I'm going to get in operation and load my first full 50 round box - wrong! The first problem is an RCBS bullet feeder. Yesterday it worked just like it was designed. Dropped a bullet every time a case was raised and there was no case the bullet didn't drop. The only problem was the last one or two bullets might not feed. So I got a 1/4" wood dowel pin and put that in the feeder on top of the bullets. Problem solved - that worked like a charm.

    Today I get ready to start loading and put bullets in the feeder, but they won't stay in the feeder. Drop one in the top and it goes all the way though the feeder and lands on the shell plate. Hmmm! that didn't yesterday - so what's up? Tried loading the bullets in the holder and gently placing the holder in the die - that gave me 25 bullets on the shell plate - none of them stayed in the feeder. So I call RCBS for a little TLC and they don't work on Fridays.

    Oh well, I can feed the bullets by hand so I'll just load this batch and give RCBS a call on Monday. So I start loading and putting the bullets in by hand. After about 5 or 6 rounds fell into the collection box I noticed a bunch of black specks on the shell plate. Turns out only two of six cartridges had primers inserted and the black specks were gun powder that ran out the empty primer holes. Doing some more checking it looks like about every fourth of fifth primer will not feed. Called Hornady and made the recommended modifications, but that didn't work - so no reloading this weekend,
  2. Clipper

    Clipper Member

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    You NEVER have that much trouble with a single stage..

    I use my Rockchucker to deprime and resize, hand prime with either a RCBS or LEE hand primer, use a RCBS powder flask, and then use a cheap LEE 4 stage press to bell, seat and crimp. Yes, I do have to set each bullet on the case, but I NEVER have the troubles you are experiencing. Oh, I can load over 100 rounds per hour when I get started. Yes it can be a bit time consuming, but I do this for therapy and enjoyment, not speed.
  3. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    Sounds like you have a setup you like and I'm happy for you. Hope I'll like mine as much as you do yours' when I get the problems worked out.
  4. Clipper

    Clipper Member

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    You certainly seem to know what you are doing, and will pursue until it is right, go for it...I do hope you enjoy the craft as much as I do.
  5. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    single or progressive aside. I like to handprime my brass.... ( rcbs hand primer tool )

    after I clean brass.. I generally bag it back up according to batch, and prime a good bit of it while I'm at it. all if I can.

    thus I keep baggies ( batches / age / specific rifle ).. of 50-250 rds with celaned, sized, trimmed, primed brass.. just ready to charge and seat and go..
  6. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    stev32k:

    So its a RCBS Progressive press? Some of these progressives (not the Dillon RL550B) are so complicated that it is hard to keep all of their "systems" working. But...

    Is it a used press that may need to be more thoroughly cleaned?

    You need to look at each process done by the press and figure out how it is suppose to work. Then analyze how it is working and fix it. Don't try to reload on it until the press works perfectly.

    RCBS claims excellent service and a good help center. Put it all aside until you can talk with them.

    Many here advocate starting with a single stage. I don't, but instead advocate starting with a Dillion RL550B which has no auto indexing or bullet feed systems or case freed systems. It is a simple progressive unlike most others. It is easy to use as a single stage or turret press or full progressive. It is a bit more expensive and going this way means you are really committed to reloading and not just testing the waters, so to speak.

    I suspect your choice of an RCBS progressive might have been too big of a step. But you'll survive IF you figure out how to fix it one system at a time. This is all similar to "How do you eat an Elephant?....One bite at a time". I'm sure RCBS will be helpful in this effort but it appears to me you'll have to figure out how it all works one system at a time and fix it yourself. This effort will only enhance your ability to keep the press going in the future.

    If it was a used press it may need to be cycled back to RCBS to be re-conditioned if you can not fix it your self. Dillon offers this for free (RCBS????). My RL550B has been completely re-furburished twice in the last 25 years because it has been so heavily used.

    If you are at all mechanically inclined you'll get this press fixed and enjoy all the time you'll be saving doing your reloading tasks. The same applies if you have to cycle it back through RCBS for reconditioning.

    LDBennett
  7. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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    LD - It's a Hornady LNL with RCBS bullet feeder. Should be able to work just fine with some tweaking.


    Stev - How many dummy rounds have you loaded? If the answer is none, then I would suggest making at least a dozen or so. Yes, this will send a few bullets and cases to the scrap bin, but it is well worth it to get the set-up correct prior to throwing charges. I mark mine with a black sharpie and keep them for future set-ups.

    Which RCBS bullet feeder are you using? Double check your bullet diameter and size of the "fingers" in the die to make sure you've got the right one.

    Primer adjustment should be a small adjustment; just make sure it's very clean.

    Hope you get it rolling smoothly soon!
  8. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    ..
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  9. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    Re: Making pretty cartridges, but lots of start up problems

    The press is a new Hornady Lock N Load AP. The bullet feeder made by RCBS is very simple to set up and use. I had it set up and working like designed one day the next day it didn't work at all. The problem has to be a small plastic inset with fingers that expand to let a bullet drop when a case is inserted. The fingers are kept closed by a small rubber band and I suspect the rubber band is broken. I can't get the insert out to look at the rubber band because it is held in place by a small metal retaining ring that I can't remove.

    I think I know how to fix the primer feed problem and will work on that today.

    The dies were easy to set up and are doing a good consistent job. The powder measure/feeder was also easy to set up and is putting out a very repeatable powder weight each time.
  10. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    I loaded 25 dummy rounds Thursday getting everything set up. Loaded 10 live rounds and fired them yesterday. They worked good.

    The bullet feeder is a simple die with an inset and a plastic tube to hold the bullets. It looks pretty easy to set up and should work well. If I can just figure out how get that dang retaining ring out I could fix the problem.

    P.S. here is the feeder:http://www.midwayusa.com/product/56...38-special-357-magnum-90-to-158-grain-bullets
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  11. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    stev32K:

    OK... so the problem is the RCBS accessory. I don't subscribe to auto bullet feeding but if you get it working that's fine, I suppose. On my Dillion I guide the bullet into he case by hand and don't release it until the bullet is in the mouth of the seating die. I suspect that the RCBS tool just places the bullet on the top of the case and the seating die is in the next station, which I would think would allow the bullet to move out of position and attempt a sideways installation on occasion. But maybe it works better than that.

    What is the problem with the primer installation process? You said you got several cases with no primer in your testing of the press? It all has to work perfectly to do progressive reloading. Fix that priming stage before you attempt any more progressive reloading. The Hornady press has a good reputation with those that use it here. I think it too automatic but that's just me and 25+ years using my Dillion RL550B successfully.

    Until you get some experience on this press only use it as a turret press so you can watch every station in detail to see that all is OK. I would think you should load several hundred rounds in the turret press mode before going full progressive and do pay attention to every stage. Other wise you are going to get a whole bunch of duds or poorly made ammo, some of which might be dangerous.

    It is a big step from zero to progressive reloading but you'll be fine if you spend more time in the turret press mode and pay close attention to exactly what the press is doing to catch any problems early.

    Here's to fun and good reloading!

    LDBennett
  12. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    Re: Making pretty cartridges, but lots of start up problems

    The problem with the primer installation was the primer slide. The slide moves back on the down stroke, picks up a primer, then moves forward into position to seat the primer on the up stroke. The slide travel is controlled by a cam rod (or wire). In my case the cam rod did not give the slide enough backward travel to pick up a primer.

    A bracket holds the cam rod in place and has a slotted screw hole that allows some movement. I first adjusted the cam to the max allowed by the bracket slot but that was not enough. It picked up a primer about every third stroke. So then I removed the bracket and used my trusty dremel to lengthen the slot. It took two tries before I got the slot long enough to reliably pick up a primer.

    I view the primer feed system as something that needs improvement. If there is a case in every position on the shell holder plate there is no way to confirm a case has been primed except by removing it and looking. If a case is not primed powder runs out and gets all over shell holder and floor.

    I've modified my operating procedure to allow inspection of the primer feed for every case. I will load every other shell plate slot. That way an open slot will pass over the primer feed station each time and I can see if a primer is in position.

    I'm going to suggest to Hornady that they make the primer feed tube from a clear plastic so one can at least see if the column of primers moves when it should and will show when you are about to run out. They now provide a white stick to put on top of the primer column that helps indicate when the primer supply is low, but it's hard to detect it moving or not moving when a primer is fed or not fed.

    The real answer is to come up with a way to lock the press if a primer is not in position to be seated. This could be a small spring loaded roll pin on the bottom of the shell plate that would drop into the primer hole if a primer was missing. That would lock the press.

    Another problem was pointed out to me by 76highboy and that is the shell plate holder can be rotated in reverse by hand. This can (and apparently has) led to a double charge of powder.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  13. LDBennett

    LDBennett Active Member

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    stev32k:

    That (missed a primer seating) has happened on occasion on my Dillion. But I know immediately that there is a problem as the cup that holds the primer tries to enter the primer pocket and/ or the feel of the seating stroke is not right. Once you get use to the Hornady press you may be able to tell there is a primer feeding problem by feel alone.

    But.... many people own these presses. The problems you are having are not normal at all based on all the people who come here regularly. No one has complained about any of this (broken ratchet for auto indexing, primer feed problems). They both may be related to a common fault in the machine, like something installed wrong at the factory... a bracket backwards or????

    I think you need to figure out if this press is assembled right. Trust nothing. Figure out how everything is suppose to work and verify that it does. Use the parts schematic to make sure the orientation of every piece is correct. I understand one ratchet claw is broken and the primer feed was short on travel. See how all of that is related to insufficient travel of the primer bar.

    It makes no sense to me to handicap yourself by only loading every other station on the shell plate. The press should not require that. There is something wrong with your press as no one else has ever raised any of your issues here before. If all were as bad as yours no one be buying them as the word gets out quickly. It must be your specific press has a problem, not all of them.

    Everyone gets to choose the press they think will do their reloading job but, just to be clear and not as an attack on you, I do not like any of these complicated mechanism for auto indexing. It is too easy for them to fail and create a big mess or incorrectly load a cartridge (double charge as you suggested). I had the Dillion SQ Deal and it had auto indexing and auto indexing was more trouble than is was worth The Dillion RL550B is dead simple. You advance the table yourself with your thumb and forefinger and it has a spring loaded detent ball (large) to assure complete and accurate alignment of the table to the rest of the press. The primer bar is similar to what you describe and admittedly it has been the biggest problem with my Dillion. The problem comes when the ejected and used primer falls onto the bar instead of going in to the little bucket provided to catch it and that keeps the bar from going full travel. But the failure is only once per reloading session if even that often. Getting the powder bar in correct alignment with the shell plate can be bit frustrating but achievable.

    The bottom line is I do not see the draw of the auto indexing. I can operate my press by hand just as fast as any auto mechanism (motor-less press). I can advance the table, place the bullet on the powdered up case, put a new case in the first station and pull the handle in one easy operation . I use both hands. Adding the complexity of the auto indexing seems dumb to me but again, we all get to choose.

    Its too bad we don't live close to each other. I could look at the press and help you figure out what is wrong with it. It is hard to figure out via the internet.

    LDBennett
  14. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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    have you got the retainer ring out yet? I agree that the problem is with the fingers not holding proper tension on the bullet. Make sure when you put the feed insert back in the die, that the taper points down. ( probably already know this, but posting for others out there that may not realize that it's tapered)

    If you're having problems with the retainer ring, try two dental picks and put the die in a small soft jaw vise.
  15. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    I did finally get the retainer ring out - not easy, but I did get it out without ruining the insert. It turns out a part of one of the fingers on the insert had broken off. RCBS had sent two inserts and the second one worked just fine. Hope this one lasts longer than the first.

    P.S. I got to try it out before the pawl on the press broke and it works good if the case has enough bell. It does have trouble with the last two or three bullets not being dispensed so I cut a 5/16" wood dowel pin and put it on top of the bullet column. That seems to have cured the problem. The feeder will hold 35, 115 gr, 9mm bullets so that should speed up the loading and it eliminates one hand operation.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  16. ozo

    ozo Active Member

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    What a friggin' bummer !
    I'm not even gonna mention how much I love my 550B.
    Friends have the LNL and like it....it must be attainable
    to get her back working.....frustrating I am sure....
    BUT, one thing crossed my mind Stev......you are REALLY
    gaining some knowledge from this, you would have to be.
    As usual, Mr. Bennett is full of it......and fortunate for us
    that he takes the time to share his knowledge....he doesn't have
    to give us his time, yet he willingly always shows up with the cavalry.
    [Full of help...LDB...and caring...not....]
  17. 312shooter

    312shooter Active Member

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    Stev,

    Lets rewind a bit on the primer issue, several things should be addressed and function tested before diagnosing this as simply a bad design and re-engineering a brand new press with a dremel tool.

    First, did you degrease the primer feed tubes with Hornady gun cleaner and dry lube? Did you check them for obstructions or burs? Is the feed tube shoulder end down AND seated properly into the hole of the primer tube housing? Are you using the appropriate tube diameter for small or large primers?

    Next, remove the primer tube housing, primer tube and support. Now cycle your press handle while simultaneoulsy looking down into the primer tube housing and watch to see the hole in the primer slide assembly. Is this hole moving fully into view? If the slide is moving rearward enough to align with a primer dropping from the tube your aligment is correct, at this point your primer slide assembly may tested. Assemble your primer system add some primers, MAKE SURE to use the white, fiberglass primer follower on top of the primers. If you are using small primers, simply install the large primer slide and test the function of primers. If thus far everything checks out you need a new small primer slide, the hole may be too small. Using the white primer follower and loosening the primer tube housing just a touch should do the trick. Let us know if you make any progress learning your machine.
  18. stev32k

    stev32k Active Member

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    Yes, I did every bit of that mostly with Hornady on the phone while it was being done. The root cause appears to be the cam wire is out of spec. They are sending a new one to see if it will work without modifying the support bracket.
  19. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    sounds like amonday morning or friday afternoon built machine... :(
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