Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Lock-N-Load Report #3: Feeding the addiction even faster

In the Lock-N-Load Report 1 post, I unboxed, setup, and tested my new Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive press. I initially ordered the press and one shell plate, just to see if I was happy with it.

In "the first 150 rounds", I decide that I was indeed quite happy with the LnL, and that it was a keeper; so I ordered the case feeder, and the remainder of the shellplates I needed to load for all my major chamberings.

They arrive last Thursday, and I thought I'd share the setup here with you.

Well, first, the condition on arrival, in it's rather large box:

UPS definitely munged it up a bit; thankfully when I opened it up nothing was damaged; probably in part because the huge box was mostly filled with cardboard buffering:

After taking out said cardboard, the box was mostly empty space, except the feeder bin and parts boxes.

Oh and here's the rest of the stuff that wasn't in the big box:

Laid out, here's what all the parts and pieces looked like... something of a mess of little pieces there:

Assembly was a bit of a pain. The first step involved unmounting the whole press; taking that plate/bracket assembly you see on the lower left corner, and sliding it in under the press, and then remounting it on top of the plate:

Above you can see the old cartridge bin bracket which the new mounting plate replaces; but honestly the new plate doesn't do very much... nothing that would structurally require having that large stable surface bolted under the press.

Not that I'm complaining about strong hardware, it's just a pain to have to install it when the only thing it does that the old bracjet doesn't, is provide a locating reference for the case bin strut which is bolted to the frame of the press here:

and a mounting tab for the cam rod pictured here:

The cam rod actuated the case pusher slide along the ram subplate extension, as pictured here:

That pice is what picks up the cartridge from the feeder tube, and pushes it into the shell plate. It has interchangeable v-blocks on the face for different sized cartridges; and at the top of it's stroke it hits the case drop actuating rod as shown here, in the case drop escutcheon (a small plastic guide piece that holds the cam rod in place is missing here):

Fully assembled, there is the case drop escutcheon, which has the drop tube installed in the bottom, and the drop cam block on top.

The feed tube (the clear tube above) drops cases from the feeder bin into the drop cam block, which is actuated by the case drop rod when the case pusher slide (both shown above, with vblock installed on the pusher) pushes up on the rod the bottom of the actuating levers stroke:

It's all actually simpler than it sounds. Here's a close up of the case drop assembly with a .45acp casing in it to illustrate:

You can see that the feed tube has dropped a case into the cam block. It is held there because the cam block isn't aligned with the drop tube. When you pull the loading lever, the case pusher block moves up and slides back on the sub plate (along the cam rod). At the bottom of the stroke, the pusher slide hits the drop rod, which pushes on the cam block, rotating it into position over the drop tube, and the case drops into the vblock at the front of the pusher slide.

Again, it's all straightforward when you actually see it in person.

Here's a picture of the assembled feeder and press:

So how does it work?


It's very fiddly. Much more so than the Dillon casefeeder, and that's saying something. I have to really slow down and carefully control my stroke or I get a misfeed. The case drops just fine, but it won't seat properly in the shell plate.

The whole thing also has to be very carefully adjusted to work properly; and that may just be my problem, I may not have it completely adjusted just right. I'm still working the bugs out.

I got it set up and adjusted to the point where I was only getting a misfeed every 20 cases or so, then I loaded up 100 rounds as a test. Overall, I had about twice as many stoppages with the case feeder as without it; but I was still about 30% faster.

I figure once I get the adjustment down fully, and I figure out the right rhythm and speed (and I rig up a bullet tray); that I'll end up consistently increasing my speed over loading without the feeder by somewhere around 50%. That means going from between the appx 450-550 rounds per hour I can maintain now, to between 675 and 825 rounds per hour... realistically I think 650 to 750 is a good and achievable goal.

Next week I'll be doing a run of 500 to 1000 9mm for a friend of mine (well, 500 for my friend, and whatever I have left over in components, which will be somewhat less than 500, for me) and I'll let you know how it goes.