Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A little trouble with the press

Sorry about the general lack of inspiration displayed lately; I've just been a bit busy this past few days. I've got a bunch of content I need to finish up and post, but first I have to load up a couple thousand rounds.

And therein lies the rub. Actually the title above is a bit inaccurate; the problem isn't with the press, it's actually with the case feeder.

Normally, caliber changes on the Lock-n-load are pretty quick; just three twists out, three twists in, and reset the powder charge, and there you go. It's another 30 seconds to change out the shell plate if necessary. If you've got the powder charge pre-set, it's a minute, tops.

Where it gets more complicated though, is when you go from a relatively large case and large primer, to a small case and small primer. Say from 10mm, to 9x19 for example.

When you do that, the press has two additional steps to make the change: first change the primer anvil, then the primer slide. That part is still pretty simple actually, it's just another couple minutes.

The problem is the case feeder, and it's specific to 9mm (and cartridges of roughly the same size).

See, to switch from from small to large caliber, you pretty much have to completely disassemble the case feeder, change out various parts for other, smaller parts, then re-set and re-tweak everything. It's a royal pain in the ass; and with all the tweaking, it takes a good twenty minutes to reset everything.

OK, still livable, just a pain. Note to self; load all your large cartridges first, THEN switch to small.

The REAL irritation though, is that the 9mm cartridge casing is EXACTLY the worst possible size for the case feeder. It's small enough that it will tilt at funny angles and jam up with the large case feeder parts; but it's big enough that it binds up a little bit on the small case feeder parts.

Worse, the 9mm is just small enough in diameter that it doesn't reliably trip the limit switch at the top of the feeding tube, and the case feed plate keeps trying to put more rounds in the tube; which causes it to jam up hard, and I have to manually clear the jam of a half dozen cartridges.

Or, I can just shut the feeder off manually when it reaches the top of the tube, then load twenty or so rounds, and turn it back on again to fill the tube.

Now, if the case were just a bit longer, it wouldn't be a problem; the brass wouldn't jam up, because it wouldn't be able to tilt as far. If it were a bit shorter, it would tilt more, and then not jam up (too short of course and the brass could end up sideways or upside down. I wouldn't try and use the feeder with anything shorter than .380).

So, for now, I'm doing the manual switch work; and it works just fine; it's just irritating that my $700 fully progressive press with fully automatic case feeder... isn't.

Yeah... I'm hoping that I'll figure out how to tweak it so it doesn't do that.

Oh, but in better news, the problem I was having with case mouth hangups was definitely the Lyman dies. The Hornady Custom dies are brilliant in this press. There is no better seat and crimp setup in the business; and you can very easily pull the seating spud to just use it as a crimper, or back it up and just seat with it. Most importantly, I haven't had a single case mouth hangup (unlike with my Lyman dies).

Oh, and unlike my RCBS carbide dies, or Dillon dies; the three die set is $34-$37 and the two die rifle sets are $19-$26.

Not bad.