Reloading Automation

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Ammo's difficult to find and usually expensive so any thoughts on taking a progressive press and making it as automatic as practical?
I saw some interesting videos online of presses, some homemade case feeders, bullet feeders, etc. Some you only had to pull the handle, some had the handle attached to a gear motor crank.
Any thoughts on suitable presses to start with?
I've been looking at Lee load masters, they are cheaper but maybe fore a reason. Can you use a better quality powder measure with the Lee load master?
Or would I be better off starting with the Hornady Lock N Load or a Dillon?
My goal is to reload for now and further automate (case & bullet feeders(homemade?)) later.
RogerN
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RogerN wrote:

No point to automating really, a standard progressive press is plenty fast (~30 rds/min, 1,800 rds/hr) unless you are reloading many thousands of rounds at a time at which point you really need a completely different type of progressive press.
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It IS an interesting question for any shooter, tho.
I have my new cowboy assault rifle to feed. (Eddie Likes!) So I'm interested in rifle rounds (of the 30.30 Winchester flavor)
How does one get started reloading? What is the basic equipment requirement? Obvious mistakes not to make?
Assuming a minimum cost startup. Buy bullets vs cast? Gas seals? Metal work on brass? Primers? Assembly? Lube?
All that stuff?
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Richard wrote:

Press, dies, shell plate, primers, powder, bullets, brass to reload (or new), case/sizing lube, reloading data book. Once setup your press cycle should be around 2-3 seconds.
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    What I currently have

    I started with this

    Never even heard of the one below. :-)

    Yep!

    Very. I've gotten extras to upgrade my setup from hamfests and eBay. (In particular, going for the carbide sizing dies for revolver rounds.

    Agreed. I've never felt the need for that, actually.

    And -- somewhere between factory jacketed bullets and ones with gas checks are the ones made with a swaging press. A top-end RCBS could handle both that and the normal reloading tasks.
    For cast bullets -- you want an alloy which is harder than plain lead. Find things like old linotype metal or used wheel weights -- though I understand that they are now lead-free thanks to the worry-warts. :-)
    For swaged bullets, you start with soft plain lead.
    I don't remember seeing swaging tools being pushed these days.

    Interesting.
    I tend to prefer (for revolvers) half jacketed semi-wadcutters. And soft-point 3/4 jacketed bullets for the .22 Jet (no semi-wadcutters for that caliber, and I'm n to sure how they would like the velocity from the .22 Jet anyway. :-)

    Including tuning the alloy.

    Hmm ... my RCBS A2 was closer to 1970 or so.

    *Very* good tools.

    I passed mine on to a friend who was getting started.

    :-)

    Or -- for swaged bullets, you need the swaging dies, a more powerful and rigid press, but you don't need the mold, melting pot, and lubricator.
    [ ... ]

    However -- if you use this, be *sure* to wear safety glasses. I started with one of these (.38 Special, FWIW). Fine-tuning the force generated by the hammer is tricky, and you will pop a certain number of primers. (Maybe having just the right weight hammer would help, but I did not have a variety to try back then. :-) My eyes never got hit, but I got primer blast on my forehead a few times, and a lot more often on my fingers holding the rod. :-)

    Agreed.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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On 3/30/2013 9:01 PM, DoN. Nichols wrote:

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Here's a Lee Load Master with a homemade case feeder and homemade bullet feeder.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9C3ru3FKV0

I found one of these presses in stock for .223 for $243 and ordered it yesterday. https://fsreloading.com/lee-precision-load-master-.223-remington-90922.html
RogerN
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Anyone have or use one of those electronic automatic powder weighing systems? The ones I've seen have something like a motorized powder dispenser that dispenses powder on the scale until the set weight is reached.
I have heard these things work good but are slow, I was wondering if they would work in addition to a regular powder measure. Say for example if you wanted 50 grains, you could set your powder measure to throw maybe 48 grains and let the automatic dispenser finish to the correct weight. Just wondering if it would work that way, thought it might compensate for powder errors.
I'm thinking a little on automating the reloading process, my progressive press should be here tomorrow. I have an Allen Bradley PLC5 with a high resolution card that can work with load cells. I could weigh powder out to a specified tolerance and "Out of tolerance" charges could go back to the powder supply. The PLC could also be used to monitor for mistakes that an operator might not catch. Maybe someday we'll get ammo back on store shelves, until then....
RogerN
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The automated scale bit is a solution in search of a problem. Just not needed. The benchrest guys use measures and they're looking for caliber-hole-sized groups. So minor weight variations in powder isn't the main cause of group expansion. But if you've got the money to blow, the equipment guys will thank you for your donation. All factory ammo is made using powder measured by volume as well.
The other, really big, problem with those progressive presses is the primer feed. All I've seen in production right now use stacks of primers in a tube, anvil to face. If one goes off, you've got a grenade. The manufacturers usually supply a chunk of pipe to mount on the feeder so that if that happens, the blast goes up and not out. Doesn't help at all if you drop the tube or fumble it outside that shield. Guys have gotten skewered when that happens. The primer dust needs to be removed from the working parts frequently. Priming is the most dangerous part of handloading. One reason I like using the RCBS hand primer is the blast shutter between the priming punch area and the primer tray. Haven't popped one yet, but have mangled a few. The trays are light plastic and the primers aren't stacked, not going to generate a lot of shrapnel if they do go off. You'll be working with little bits of primary explosive and they CAN bite!
Stan
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On 4/3/2013 3:09 PM, Stanley Schaefer wrote:

Thank you for the note, Stanley. Sounds like experience talking there.
I picked up the new Hornady reload book today. Read the front section already and learned a lot of new stuff. The proprietor at the local ammo shop offered to help, and also suggested finding a local NRA instructor for the personal touch.
I'm ready to get started now. My biggest concern is where to set up the bench...
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On 4/3/2013 4:42 PM, Richard wrote:
Also, just because of TMT, I renewed my NRA membership today.
But of course, he doesn't read any of this...
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On Wed, 03 Apr 2013 16:42:06 -0500
<snip>

This thread got me poking around in reloading stuff again, haven't messed with it for years... but I came across this portable bench:
http://leeprecision.com/lee-reloading-stand.html
Thought it might give you some ideas, other options to explore...
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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wrote:

http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e3/buffybr/Misc/Reloading_bench.jpg
http://www.ehow.com/how_5221731_make-reloading-press-portable.html
http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2008/11/portable-reloading-bench-built-on-bd-workmate/
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t
n
e
The

I worked off a Workmate for years when I had a small apartment, the press got tee-nutted to a chunk of plywood, that got clamped to the Workmate. It all broke down and fit in a closet between sessions. Had both shotshell and metallic presses fitted up that way. When I built a more permanent bench, I kept the plywood mounts and bolted those down to the benchtop. Lee has a somewhat similar idea, although it isn't as fancy as my bench(or as cheap). I have the lubri-sizers, one powder measure and a case trimmer all set up the same. For hunting trips, I've got one of the Lee hand presses plus a full outfit of stuff that fits in an HF tool box, handles .44, .223 and .204 as currently packed. So you don't HAVE to have a giant loading bench to get going.
Stan
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On 4/4/2013 3:57 PM, Stanley Schaefer wrote:

Well, Stan, Leon, you've given me an idea of how to set up.
As a kid I built a model box for my rubber band flyers. It was a storage box, but opened up to be a work table as well.
So maybe a storage box/reloading station on a Workmate would be worth thinking about? Thanks.
I'm only doing 30.30 and .380 (Holy Cow - a buck a bang?) So I won't need a lot of stuff.
Richard
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On Thu, 04 Apr 2013 16:36:12 -0500
<snip>

A Lee Loader:
http://leeprecision.com/reloading-kits/lee-loader-pistol/
that came with a used gun purchase wet my appetite years ago. I didn't realize reloading could be done so easily. But I didn't care at all for the hammering needed to work a Lee Loader. Started using a large vise to manipulate the Lee Loader, that was a lot better. Then I decided that a Lee Turret Press:
http://leeprecision.com/classic-turret-press/
wasn't all that expensive and I moved on to that. I had the press mounted to a narrow piece of plywood which in turn could be C-clamped to the kitchen table (when the boss wasn't looking :) Lee sells extra turrets which you can leave your dies set up in and they used to come with a plastic case to enclose them when not in use.
I have a worktable similar to one of these now:
http://www.menards.com/main/tools-hardware/power-tools/work-support/multi-purpose-workbench/p-1497903-c-10164.htm
that always has another piece of plywood clamped in it via a 2x4 piece screwed to the latter (table clamps to the 2x4). I would probably do the same as Stanley nowadays and clamp the press to that table somehow.
Lee may not be the best stuff but I haven't had any trouble with it. But I haven't loaded thousands of rounds either. Just oddball combinations that you couldn't buy commercially back then. Like .44 mag shot shells:
http://www.speer-bullets.com/products/components/empty_shot_capsules.aspx
or 180 gr SP for the .44 mag...
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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On 4/5/2013 2:33 PM, Leon Fisk wrote:

http://www.menards.com/main/tools-hardware/power-tools/work-support/multi-purpose-workbench/p-1497903-c-10164.htm

Onlyest problem now - is finding the dies.
No 30.30 tools to be had anywhere...
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On Fri, 05 Apr 2013 15:32:36 -0500
<snip>

Just looked, Midway had some odds and ends:
http://www.midwayusa.com/find?usersearchquery=dies&itemsperpage $&newcategorydimensionid965
Lee Pacesetter 3-Die Set 30-30 Winchester $30.49 - Available - Add to Cart
I noticed yesterday while looking for/downloading new reloading catalogs that LOTS of stuff was out-of-stock, back-ordered, sloow-boat... Good luck finding what your looking for, you need it ;-)
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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On 4/5/2013 4:21 PM, Leon Fisk wrote:

http://www.midwayusa.com/find?usersearchquery=dies&itemsperpage $&newcategorydimensionid965

Bless you, Leon! But you cost me a bunch of money today... :)
I called and spoke with a very knowledgeable young lady named Britney. They did indeed have the dies - in stock! Lee dies, but ok, that's what we'll start off with.
So I ordered those and added a small starter kit (that was also in stock!). <http://www.midwayusa.com/product/937051/rcbs-rock-chucker-supreme-master-single-stage-press-kit
I think I can get brass, bullets and primers locally. At least they were on the shelf here yesterday. 500 rounds of brass seems like a reasonable supply to keep on hand?
I read the Hornady book the other day and came to understand that this really isn't rocket science. Good engineering attitude will pay off, but it's not all that difficult.
I'm still curious how the necking works out, but have a local guy who says he'll be glad to help me learn the ropes here.
I want to thank all of you guys who have added your knowledge, and occasionally wisdom, to this thread. It would have been a lot more intimidating otherwise.
Thanks
Richard
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wrote:

If you are not loading to get the nth degree of muzzle velocity than it is a pretty routine procedure. Remember that millions, of "rounds" were hand loaded routinely before the advent of cartridge weapons :-)
--
Cheers,

John B.
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