Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Reloading Blitch

Blitch?  A blog bitchfest.  Hey, if a beg can be a bleg, why not?

Back at Christmas, dear Mrs. Graybeard gifted me with an RCBS Progressive reloading press.  The Pro2000 with auto-indexing.  Due a miscommunication or two, she missed a couple of needed parts (shell holders) and while I was able to get them, I wasn't making progress assembling it until, well, today.  Vacations are wonderful things.

My blitch is this: is it just RCBS or are all reloading presses essentially a DIY kit of not-very-well-made parts.  I thought RCBS had a good reputation.  My only experience with reloading has been with RCBS stuff, and I had a heck of a time with the hand primer.  I had to send it back and exchange for a second one that finally worked.

This time, my gripe is with the sexy micrometer adjustment on the powder dispenser.  The dispenser comes with two cylinders, one with a larger bore and capacity, which uses a large screw to meter out the amount of power it will throw, and a smaller set.  The smaller set will handle 2 to 50 grains of powder which covers pretty much everything I've got to reload, so I'm setting up to use the small cylinder and small metering screw.  The manual says to screw the micrometer into the cylinder and note where the index line (zero) comes up.  It should be on the top surface of the cylinder where you'll see it; if it doesn't, three washers are included, each one of which should rotate the index line about 90 degrees back.  My line came up pretty much 180 degrees out, so two washers should get it to the top, right?

Only they don't.  The index line stayed in exactly the same place.  Puzzled, I repeated this process a few times and eventually realized that the washers are loose and flopping around.  That means the micrometer's thread is bottoming out in the cylinder's hole before it can be threaded in far enough so the washers matter. And that means a poorly tapped hole is keeping the micrometer thread from going all the way in.  Tapping through holes ain't exactly rocket surgery, you know.  People have been doing that for a long time. 

Not having the right tap (it appears to be about a 9/16" by 18 TPI hole, but I didn't really measure the pitch diameter), I tried to force it in, essentially using the threaded portion as if it were a tap to clean up the threads in the hole.  Those of you who have done this know that didn't have much chance of working.  And it didn't. 

Now I have both a cylinder with a poorly tapped hole and micrometer with damaged threads.  Note the boogered (damaged) threads at the left end of the micrometer center. 
Pardon my blitch, but is this normal?  Do you ordinarily have to machine your own parts for reloading equipment you buy?  Equipment you buy at no small expense, I might add.  Heck, I'm a home shop machinist, I like to make things.  But nowhere on the box does it say, "Reloading Press Kit", or "holes drilled, you just tap!".  It reads like it's supposed to just go together and work.  At this point, I'll say, "yeah...right".  (And, yes, I've contacted customer support, first waiting on hold for almost an hour, then sending an email.  We'll see how they handle it.)


  1. Hello Silicon GB,

    1. Bein' a loyal Big Blue 'loader, your first mistake was not to check out the various reloading forums - Glock Talk Reloading - is one that I have visited from time to time. There are red and blue and "Green" wars - kinda like caliber wars. But lots of guys there are fountains of knowledge with a wealth of experience.

    2. Or check out the Blue Press and the Dillon Girls! Dillon Precision - as good as they say.


  2. OUCH!

    I'm with you 100% on this.

    That stuff should just WORK, 100%, right out of the box.

  3. I've owned and used just about every brand equipment available. I've sold or given away all but my favorite two that give me virtually no problems -- my Dillon XL650 for larger production projects, and my Lee Challenger for small custom load experimentation and match rounds.

    A lot of people scoff at the Lee equipment, but many of my friends who also are involved in competitive shooting swear by them just as I do. The Dillon is just an awesome machine for cranking out a lot of consistent ammo when needed.

  4. as an owner of both blue and green presses, i would say you got a bad one. My green(RCBS) presses are the RCII(single stage tank) that is great for slow exact perfect hand weight rounds(and mass de-primming of everything be fore tumbling with a universal de-priming tool(i wet tumble my brass(in stainless steel)). and an old rcbs(green) turret for when i dont want to futz with the blue machines(its setup for my 45 auto rim and 45 Schofield)
    the Blues that i do have, and yes i have two, are for my massive i need a ton of ammo that does not have to be spot the frac on, but close the hell enough(like my cowboy action ammo, three gun, and just plinking ammo) they work great, and have some of the best warranties in the business, and will work with you on the phone until it is working right. a square deal for my pistol ammo, and a 650 for my rifle ammo.

    all of my presses once setup right worked like champs and i had no issues with either blue or green. If they are not spot on give rcbs a call and they should take care of you.

  5. Work with them. I have found RCBS to be a very stand up company.

  6. I have experience with Dillon and Lee progressives. They're a M.F. to get tuned, but once you have the groove cut you can crank out some volume. When you run your primer feed dry and go to replenish it, or your bullet feed tube, get in the habit of checking that everything is tight. You'll soon find the particular fasteners on stations that tend to work themselves loose.

    And just when you're thinking you're getting the hang of it, you'll find some small primer .45 acp range pickups got mixed in with your large primer cases and that will jam the whole damn thing up again! :)

  7. Keep an eye on RCBS. I live near Oroville, CA, and have known RCBS as a premier local company. RCBS was recently acquired by ATK (Alliant Techsystems), a government defense contractor. That usually equals morale and cost up, quality and customer care down. Hope you only got a bad one.

  8. I took have an RCBS Rock Chucker IV and progressive; a Hornady LNL AP. I chose it over the Dillon due to the overall lower cost for changing calibers; all you need is the dies and the proper shellplate, which costs about $30. Far cheaper than the Dillon! Now, all of my other equipment is RCBS, and I've had very good support from them when my ChargeMaster was DOA; they replaced it AND paid for the shipping!

    Likewise, Hornady has been very good about providing support over the phone when I needed help getting the AP set up. They even shipped me a new actuator arm for the powder measure at no charge when I said I needed one. Which brings me to the two problems I have with the AP: first, the powder measure is very finicky to set up and does not perform well with extruded powders. I had to polish ALL of the interior surfaces of the measure and do a lot of fiddling with the drop tube and lever arms to get it to not stick and throw bad charges. Second, most of the bare metal surfaces on the AP have NO clear coat or other antirust protection, so they'll rust with just a bad look (the swamp cooler doesn't help...)

    Finally, those with questions or who would like to learn more about every press on the market should visit ultimatereloader.com for an excellent collection of videos to see what works and what doesn't before making a purchase. In all, I'm happy with both RCBS and Hornady, and would recommend them to anyone for their in general excellent service.

  9. Just to update this post, today, 4/19, I called them and immediately started as caller 9. On Tuesday, I spent about an hour and made it from caller 20 to 10, so it was almost like starting right where I left off.

    When I finally got the tech and explained what I was seeing, he quickly agreed to ship me a new cylinder and micrometer screw.

    We shall see how this goes. In the mean time, I can get the setup complete so that it seats bullets to the right depth, so that all I need to do is adjust the amount of powder it throws when I can finish the dispenser.

  10. yeah, being on hold in a telephone queue sure sucks!

    In the last two weeks, I spent over 20 hours on hold to get my TWIC renewed.

    I finally just went to the enrollment center, where they always have FIVE phones waiting on hold so they can get to a person when somebody finally gets to them.

    Took me about 30 minutes to get it renewed. Now I just have to wait for it to get shipped out here.