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Old May 18, 2012, 05:55 PM   #1
KReich64
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Powder measure accuracy

I've learned a lot from reading the forums, but now I have a direct question.

I'm fairly new to reloading- only a couple thousand rounds loaded (.38 and 9mm). I have a Lyman #55 powder measure that has worked great up until yesterday. I only use Titegroup usually loading around 4 grains. I found the Lyman very easy to meter with it's slide system.

Yesterday my charges started to range from 2.8 to 6.0 grains. I emptied the measure, cleaned it and made sure it was static free. I reassembled it, and after about 10 rounds, it started again.

I'm open to suggestions on how to solve this, or your thoughts on the measures that you use, and how accurate they are. I would call customer service, but of course they close at 4:30' and I don't want to wait till Monday for help.

Thanks!
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Old May 18, 2012, 06:09 PM   #2
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Titegroup should meter much better than that in your Lyman 55. How full is the reservoir? If you run it without sufficient fill (try at least half full as a minimum) and make sure you "vibrations" are similar each drop. Having it solidly mounted on a stable surface will make the vibrations more similar than if it is mounted on a surface prone to movement.

anything different than when it was working correctly?

have you checked your scale? (is the variation obvious when looking in the charged cases?)
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Old May 18, 2012, 07:17 PM   #3
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I would check for something physically loose on the measure. Look at any screws, etc. That is a wide range variance.

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Old May 18, 2012, 07:43 PM   #4
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My #55 works best 1/2 to 3/4 full. I also insert a baffle.
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Old May 18, 2012, 07:46 PM   #5
KReich64
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Jepp; I do keep the reservoir fairly full. Only throwing 4 grains makes it easy to stay consistent with that. The measure is mounted solidly to my bench, which is rock steady. Also, I have my drops down cold. Same motions and pressures.

Scale is calibrated at the start of each session (it's digital), and I check it during the session with a test weight.

Mac; All parts are tight. It's a pretty straight forward design, which is one of the reasons I bought it. I did break it down for a good cleaning after the problem started, so I know everything looked good inside.

The only "odd" thing that I can think of is that the powder seems to have developed some static cling. It sticks to the plastic funnel, and even sticks somewhat to the metal pan on the scale. This is a relatively new thing.
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Old May 18, 2012, 08:55 PM   #6
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I have never seen any volumetric powder measure throw any powder, even Unique, with a variation in excess of +/- 0.4gn. You appear to be getting +/- 2.0gn. There is something seriously wrong with your measure.
Did you throughly degrease the measure, including the drop tube? You didn't degrease and lubricate it, did you? The only lubricant should be powdered graphite.
If you throw a charge, can you tap on the drop tube and have any more powder drop out?
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Old May 18, 2012, 09:38 PM   #7
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You've had the Lyman 55 for a while, so I doubt you're doing what you might possibly be doing. But...you have the 3 sliding brass pieces (large, medium, and small) that you adjust outward (screw adjusted) to your right the necessary amount to open up the cavity for measuring the desired amount of powder. If the small and/or medium brass slides are not open as far or farther than the large slide, you will get some really messed up powder charges because the powder won't all drop - being partially blocked or held back by the projection of the small and/or medium slides into the metering opening when you work the lever and the opening faces downward to drop the powder. Whew! I know what I'm trying to say, but putting it in words is difficult.

With the powder measure empty, just look down into the powder measure cavity. The most open slide should be the smallest (the topmost one) and the most closed slide should be the largest (the bottom one). Fiddle with the measure for a while and you'll see what I'm talking about. Early on in my ownership of my Lyman 55, I managed to mess that up and get some crazy inaccurate throws. Took me a while to figure out what I had done wrong.
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Old May 18, 2012, 09:53 PM   #8
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Noylj; I cleaned the measure with alcohol, but used no lube when done.

603; good point, though I understand (and like) the slide assembly of the Lyman, I will pull the barrel out and make sure that the large and medium slides are indeed closed all the way. Any thoughts on the static question in my earlier post?

Oh, and Cranky, I always keep the hopper at least 1/2 full. I found out early that that does make a difference. Thanks.
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Old May 18, 2012, 11:21 PM   #9
crankyoldlady
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Static can be a problem. I keep my bench clear of Styrofoam. You might wipe down all plastic supplies as well as the inside of your powder dispenser with a new, unused dryer sheet.
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Old May 19, 2012, 04:34 AM   #10
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Just out of curiosity, you mention using an electronic scale. Do you, or have you by chance, moved it recently, and if so do you have a fluorescent light on or close to your bench?

Reason I ask is, I have two different electronic scales, and have found with both of them, if I get them within 3-4 feet of any fluorescent lighting fixture, it will drive the readings nuts. The higher frequencies generated by the transformer seem to do weird things to the scales internals. I can zero them and they will stay for a minute or so then start to wander around while weighing. I can set a bullet for example on the pan, and hold my hand between he fixture and the scale and literally change the readings depending on where my hand is. I usually only use them for weighing out bullets, or brass, but I have learned to steer clear of the fluorescents.

This might be what your experiencing if you have recently installed or have moved your scale a bit closer to a similar fixture.

Just a thought.
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Old May 19, 2012, 06:41 AM   #11
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This is a cut and paste with the author, Rocky Raab permission about powder measures.

"There are several facts and truths about this issue - some of which nobody believes.

One: Most measures are better with one type of powder than another. Be it flake, extruded or spherical, some measure are liable to choke on at least one. It's just the way it is.

Two: Operator technique is at least as important as mechanical factors when it comes to dispensing consistent charge weights.

Three: The water content of the powder changes, and that affects the WEIGHT of a given charge, but not the actual amount of powder IN that charge. So a measure that's set to dispense 50 grains of powder one day may dispense 49 or 51 grains on another day. BUT IT IS STILL DELIVERING THE SAME AMOUNT OF POWDER! If you change the setting to get the "right" weight, you are actually changing the charge.

Four: It is NOT always that vital to get a charge weight down to the exact tenth of a grain. It can be important in very small charges for very small cartridges, but not in most rifle rounds. Instead, what you want to achieve is ±1% of the desired charge weight or less. For a 50-grain charge, that means anything less than a half-grain either side is not only acceptable, but you probably cannot tell the difference on target. (And that's one that hardly anybody believes, but it is true.)

Five: The only way to get exact weights is to - weigh. That means weigh every charge. You can use a trickler, a spoon or even tweezers, but if you insist on getting right to dead-nuts on, that's the only, uh...way. Or get a digital dispenser which does the weighing for you. (But read #4 again. Really.")Rocky Raab
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Old May 19, 2012, 07:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
I will pull the barrel out and make sure that the large and medium slides are indeed closed all the way.
I wouldn't do that.

I find my 55 throws the most consistent charges when the cavity is narrow and deep. I always dial in by moving all three bars out until I'm just under the desired weight. Then I'll adjust the medium and finally the small bar to fine tune. With a small Titegroup load I'd probably leave the large bar in and start with the medium.

The less powder you "cut" on each stroke the more repeatable it will be. But each bar has to step out from the last as previously mentioned.

You can adjust them out with the handle in any position. Do your "in" adjusting with the handle down so you're not trying to mash the powder out of the way...
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Old May 19, 2012, 03:52 PM   #13
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All god points.
Cranky, I did use the dryer sheet on the powder chamber. Maybe I should try it on the body as well.
Sport, I will try repositioning the slides as you say. Interesting theory.
Mike, my light is far enough from the scale, but that's not what I'm having the problem with. The scale is reading true, it is definitely the charge that is fluctuating.
Daboon, good points as well, but my problem isn't changes in the charge from session to session, it is major changes during each session.

I will try a few of these ideas out today and tomorrow.
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Old May 22, 2012, 12:05 PM   #14
KReich64
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Success!

I think that I solved the problem. The screwdriver that I used to disassemble and assemble the powder measure was magnetic. I think that this transferred just enough magnetism to cause the powder to stick in the measure.

I disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the measure with a non-magnetic driver, and it seems to be working fine. Keep your fingers crossed, or I will be in the market for a new measure.

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old May 22, 2012, 01:09 PM   #15
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Hope that works. If it doesn't, check for something weird in the nozzle end, like a suicidal bug or...., well I don't know what but swings that huge have to be from something seriously wrong, and bridging is the first thing to look for.
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Old May 22, 2012, 01:11 PM   #16
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Forgot to add: Good job on catching it in the first place. I use a fair amount of Titegroup and it is so dense that even a double charge is difficult to see.
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Old May 22, 2012, 02:06 PM   #17
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I also use a good RCBS made baffel in my Lyman 55. It helps a bunch.
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Old May 22, 2012, 02:23 PM   #18
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Joe at realguns did a review of powder measure (dispenser) accuracy a few years back - an excellent read. You'll find it in the archives.
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Old May 22, 2012, 04:33 PM   #19
KReich64
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Griz, loaded 100 rounds without an issue. Let's hope this was the problem...

Wyoredman, I do have a baffle installed, but thanks.

Totaldla, I will check that thread out- just in case!
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Old May 22, 2012, 06:28 PM   #20
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Slickening up a measure

I use powdered graphite in all my measures ,put some on a peice of fluffy rag ,shake it about a bit , don`t forget to treat the drop tubes .
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Old May 25, 2012, 05:07 PM   #21
KReich64
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Graphite? Interesting idea!
How often do you re-apply it?
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Old May 25, 2012, 06:35 PM   #22
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It`ll last a good while , some powders like WW-231 have graphite already & will keep the hopper black looking indefinitely !

I have added a 1/2 teaspoon to a # of HERCO with no ill effects !!
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