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Thread: Can't get my powder measure to stabilize

  1. #1
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    Can't get my powder measure to stabilize

    I have used a Lee single stage press for a number of years now, but have been thinking about getting a turret press to speed things up a bit. My concern is that my Lee powder measure is not stable enough. I typically have to measure every fifth round. If the weight of the powder is off by more than 0.1 grain, I redo the previous 4 rounds to ensure I keep the weight of the powder within these limits. So, if the target load is 5.5 grains, I will accept variations between 5.4 to 5.6 grains. However, my Lee powder measure will sometimes dump anywhere from 5.2 to 5.8 using a fairly good measuring powder. With some powders, the variation is often wider.

    So, what do you guys who have turrets of progressives do to ensure proper powder loads?

  2. #2
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    Lee sells three or four different powder measures. Which are you using?

    I do most of my reloading on a Lee Turret Press, using their Autodisk powder measure. I load everything (so far) with Winchester 231. For .45 ACP, my load is 5.3 grains and the Autodisk never varies more than 1/10th of a grain, and usually less than that. For a long time I checked every tenth round, but the results are so consistent that now I check one or two out of every hundred.

    For small batches that need a different charge, rather than mess with swapping the disk in the Autodisk I charge manually using an old Lee Perfect Powder Measure. I check those loads more frequently, but once I get a charge dialed in I don't have any significant variation using that, either.

    One thing I try to do is to keep the reservoir between 1/4 and 3/4 filled. I don't know if that's necessary or if it really makes a difference, but I've gotten in the habit of doing that so I've sort of convinced myself that it's the "right" thing to do.

    By the way, there's an excellent discussion forum just for users of Lee equipment, run by a member of M1911.org named Darwin. You might get some useful suggestions from the members there. http://forums.loadmastervideos.com/forums/index.php
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Last edited by Hawkmoon; 11th January 2018 at 22:05.


  3. #3
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    What are you using to weigh your powder charges? If it's a Lee scale, simply get or borrow a good scale. I'd recommend a Redding #1: https://www.ebay.com/itm/For-The-Rel...MAAOSwYZ9ZpMkg
    When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. [Lord Kelvin]
    Last edited by niemi24s; 11th January 2018 at 22:43.


  4. #4
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    Hawkmoon, I am using a Lee Perfect Powder Measure. So the Autodisk is apparently a superior system? W231 is one of the best in terms of producing consistent powder drops from the Perfect Powder Measure. AA #5 can be finicky, as can Tite Group. CFEPistol is fairly consistent as well, but finding loads for .38 Super, 130 gr FMJ bullets can be tricky. 125 gr is more common, but the original loading was for 130 gr.

    Neimi24s, I currently am using an electronic scale from Frankfurt Arsenal. I usually calibrate it against a 50 gram load, then change to grains to directly measure powder loads. It is better, and faster than the Lee scale.

    Wade

  5. #5
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    Your problem lies either with your powder measure or your scale. If you've no other scale, the FA scale must be checked first.

    Test the precision (repeatability) of the scale by fabricating some sort of test weight in the 5 grain region out of wire or some metal, forming it for easy pick-up with a pair of tweezers. Its exact weight is unimportant. Set up the scale as you have in the past and then repeatedly and quickly weigh the 5 or so grain test weight about 10 times - remembering or recording the readings.

    Q1: What are the high and low readings?

    I too have a Frankford Arsenal electronic scale (albeit an older discontinued one, shaped like a little toilet seat lid) and find that it is subject to drift (where the reading will wander away from zero after some fairly short period of time when left undisturbed).

    Q2: Does your scale drift?

    Q3: If so, how long after being zeroed does it begin to drift?
    When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. [Lord Kelvin]
    Likes (1) :
    PolyKahr (13th January 2018)

    Last edited by niemi24s; 12th January 2018 at 13:00.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PolyKahr View Post
    Hawkmoon, I am using a Lee Perfect Powder Measure. So the Autodisk is apparently a superior system? W231 is one of the best in terms of producing consistent powder drops from the Perfect Powder Measure. AA #5 can be finicky, as can Tite Group. CFEPistol is fairly consistent as well, but finding loads for .38 Super, 130 gr FMJ bullets can be tricky. 125 gr is more common, but the original loading was for 130 gr.
    The Autodisk is faster when used on a turret or progressive press, but not necessarily "better." It's not infinitely adjustable, for one thing (unless you buy an accessory insert, which I have but don't use). The disks have holes of varying diameter, so each aperture drops a specific volume of powder. If you hit one that drops exactly the load you want, great. If not -- well, life is about compromises. I was looking for 5.4 grains, but the best I could do with the Autodisk was 5.3. I'm only loading plinking rounds, so 1/10th of a grain isn't important. So I load to 5.3 grains rather than 5.4.

    The Autodisk can be fine tuned by opening up a hole, but then it will never again throw the volume it was originally designed to throw.

    There are some discussions on the Lee Loadmaster Forum on how to improve consistency with the Perfect Powder Measure. When I started out, I got in the habit of gently tapping the rotator three times when the handle is in the down position and three times when the handle is in the up position. My intention is to dislodge any "sticky" flakes so that each charge and each drop is as uniform as possible. Is it necessary? I don't know. Does it help? Again, I don't know. I always do it, so I have no comparison between tapping and not tapping. But I get consistent drops using the Perfect Powder Measure, so I guess it's not hurting anything.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Likes (1) :
    PolyKahr (13th January 2018)


  7. #7
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    Hawkmoon and Neimi24s,

    Two very good suggestions. Tapping each time between drops certainly could not hurt, and may as you say kick loose some sticky flakes. I will have to try it. As to Neimi's suggestion, while the Frankfurt Arsenal scale seems to stay on the 50 gram test weight, I never thought of trying it at 5.5 grains. There is a considerable difference between 50 grams and 5.5 grains, so that it might stay on the larger weight, but drift around for small weights. I don't know if it drifts, so I will have to test that. I had always assumed it was the powder measure itself, but Hawkmoon is making me doubt that. The one thing about the Perfect Powder Measure is that it is infinitely adjustable within the limits of what it can measure.

    Wade

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    If your loading bench is in a dry (as in desert-like) environment, one source of erratic powder throws could be static electricity. Especially because the body of a Lee Perfect Powder Measure is made of nylon. The Lee website doesn't say what the dispensing rotor is made of, but it's back and forth rotation inside the nylon body sound like a recipe for generation of static charges. The only ways I can think of to dissipate these unwanted electrical charges are:

    • Increase the humidity in the area of the reloading bench
    • Provide a conductive path to ground to bleed off those unwanted static charges
    • Get a powder measure with no moving parts so high up on the tribolelectric (static) series - or an all metal one.
    When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. [Lord Kelvin]
    Likes (1) :
    PolyKahr (13th January 2018)


  9. #9
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    Well, I checked the drift of the scale, and it is zero. But you may be on to something with the theory of it being dry. Now, Raleigh, North Carolina will never be mistaken for dry like a desert environment. I have lived arid regions, and visited actual desert at Twenty Nine Palms, California. But I have noted that the problem indeed increases when the temperature is low, and the relative humidity drops to reasonable levels. Summers here are brutally hot, with very high humidity. However, lately we have had unusually cold weather, with quite low humidity. That would make Hawkmoon's idea of tapping the powder measure between drops a like solution.

    Wade

  10. #10
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    I also long ago adopted the suggestion I read somewhere of wiping out the interior of the powder reservoir with a dryer sheet, and then putting the dryer sheet across the top of the reservoir before installing the cap. It's supposed to reduce static electricity.

    BTW -- here's a link to the video I did on the Turret Press for the Lee Loadmaster Forum several years ago. There are a couple of other videos on that site that aso cover the Turret Press. Note that mine is for the original Lee Tuyrret Press, not the newer, Classic Turret Press. The Classic is cast iron, heavier, considerably more expensive, and probably unnecessary unless you also load for longer rifle cartridges.

    http://loadmastervideos.com/Lee_Turret_001.wmv
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

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