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Old February 11, 2005, 09:31 PM   #1
OfcrBill
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New Dillon Progressive Press RL 550B

Hey Fellas, I was trained on a single-stage press several years ago and bought my first press in 1999 (RCBS single-stage Rockchucker). My wife surprised me with a new Dillon Progressive Press (RL 550B). I'm an old dog that doesn't like to learn new tricks. I am happy by the idea of making "500-600" rounds an hour, but I never did it for quantity.
Any of you reloaders make the plundge from single-stage to progressive? If so, what advise can you give? All responses would be appreciated. Thanks, Bill

oh, I reload 38/.357, 9mm, 45 ACP, .223
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Old February 11, 2005, 10:10 PM   #2
BigSlick
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Tie your wife up before word gets out. You will have every chump on the planet after her now

I use the 550 and the RC. Both great presses.

The 550 is super easy to setup, and the RC will still get a lot of use for those small batches, PITA things or a backup.

The transition isn't a huge one, it just makes things more automated. Go slow at first and you will have no problems.

Dillon makes a video detailing the 550 setup and use. It's pretty good (for what it is) and might make you a little more comfortable when starting out.

Other than that, you will probably wonder why you waited so long to go to a 550.

Don't hesitate to call Dillon with questions. They will spend as much time as necessary to make sure you have a warm fuzzy about your new press.

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Old February 12, 2005, 01:35 AM   #3
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I made the 'leap' about ten years ago,and have never looked back.
First off,forget the 'rounds per hour' hype.go at your own speed,and even at dead slow you can get at LEAST a hundred rounds per hour.
Use it as a single stage while geting used to it,then load it up and proceed at a slow,steady pace.The blue catch bin will be fulll before you know it.
I have seen pictures of a case feeder being diplayed at the SHOT show.Now THAT i gotta investigate futher.!
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Old February 12, 2005, 10:36 AM   #4
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You have a good product there.

And a good wife as well!

Read the entire manual. Organize. There's a big temptation to just plunge in and get started, but, please believe, familiarization and study time is time well spent.

As strated, Dillon has a very knowledgeable and helpful technical staff, whose entire job is aimed at seeing YOU satisfied with THEIR products.

Take your time and work into the tasks. I've had my 550 for perhaps 14 years, and my comfort level, loading .45 ACP, is around 350 rounds per hour. I spend a relaxing evening and produce plenty of ammo for my son and me to go to a submachine gun match. Sure, I CAN go faster, but why bother. I maintain good quality control, produce good ammo, and enjoy my hobby.

I just began loading for .41 mag the other night. I couldn't obtain the 550 conversion kit locally, so I went to my old RCBS single stage press. Hard to believe how long it took me to load only 50 rounds!

I hope you enjoy your progressive press as much as I have mine.

Best,
Johnny
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Old February 12, 2005, 11:22 AM   #5
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Learned on an old cast iron Herter's press. Moved to Lee hand press and C frame...

Then my Dillon 550B came along - the only way to do it! Price is my only objection, but it's worth it even then.

The old Lee stuff still comes out when I want to reload and something good is on TV (a small batch of 50 will last a whole movie and the news - I just make sure to weigh each charge, don't wanna mess anything up!) Other than that, my single stages are regulated to bullet sizing or calibers I don't have the stuff for my Dillon with. The latter I don't reload or shoot much...

I want a 650 (or bigger) with all the trimmings, but I keep buying caliber upgrades for my 550b and find it hard to save for...
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Old February 12, 2005, 06:38 PM   #6
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The initial die and powder measure adjustments are rather time consuming, but once they are set, you're good to go. Be sure to get a toolhead and powder die for each setup you have so you can leave your dies set up permanently.
Using a progressive does require extra vigilance on your part as you are performing (on a 550) four operations on four cases simultaneously.
As others said, load at a pace YOU are comfortable with and don't worry about speed. Before filling up with powder and primers, it might be smart to run a few cases through and build some dummy rounds just to be sure everything is working to your satisfaction. You can always pull the bullets and reuse the components for real later.
I started out the same as you with a Rock Chucker and later upgraded to a 550 for high volume stuff, but it wasn't a surprise from my wife (you lucky dog!).
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Old February 12, 2005, 07:46 PM   #7
Doug242ti
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Keep it clean. You'll be moving along at a brisk pace, its easy for it to be come dirty. Not a huge deal, but occasionally I've had something fall on the tool that pushes the primers into place and created a 100 loads with dented primers. Wasn't to big a deal but could have been.

I'd recommend the low primer sensor, this will go off w/about 4 primers in the tube. The power sensor... not so important but nice. I prefer the hard mount and roller handle as well.

I find I can load around 3-400 rounds of 45acp in an hour.. my rifle loads take longer ('specially w/out boat tails). The 500 sucks that powder down FAST! heehe

I keep my RCBS RC chucked up for pulling bullets
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Old February 12, 2005, 08:39 PM   #8
OfcrBill
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Ohhhhhh Woooooooooooow!

Daddy Likes! It took me a long time to read through the materials and research before I even set up. Putting it together was way easier than I expected. This morning I took my time and pumped out 350 rounds. I had to call the wife and kids in I was so happy. My wife was pleased it didn't take me all day in the garage to do 200 rounds on my single-stage. I figured my rate was about 100 give or take some an hour. Thanks for the pic and replys fellas. I gotta head out, promised to take the family out to the movies for giving me alone time in the garage. I will post a pic when I get back this evening. Thanks again everyone, Bill
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Old February 12, 2005, 08:40 PM   #9
maxwayne
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I loaded on an RCBS Jr for 20 years and got a 550 about 5 years ago. It is very nice and faster, but I am not trying to set any speed records. As has been mentioned, I strongly recommend the video. It is most informative. Probably the most important thing you can do is to start with a few primers and put the first die in and get it adjusted. The powder is next and it can be difficult to adjust the amount of bell on the case, etc. This is why you might not want to have the thing full of primers as one will pop up every time that you cycle the handle. Bullet seating is next and that can also take some time and trial and error to adjust. Once all is set, it is pretty foolproof, just take your time.
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Old February 12, 2005, 11:56 PM   #10
OfcrBill
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Dillon Progressive

Fellas, a couple things did concern me while pumping away. There was about 1 out of 7 ejected primers that went wild. Some of them even shot into moving parts. I reread the instruction booklet and it all appears setup correctly. (I attached some pics of it) The other is I had a heck of a time figuring out a safe way to test the powder charge before actually overflowing my cartridges. I place a small dixie cup on the shell plate, under the powder die. I manually moved the powder mechanism to dump it in the cup. I then poured the powder onto the scale cup, then making my adjustment (the book never discussed a "correct" way, other than through trial and error.) I also noted that the powder charge mechanism didn't seem to move smoothly with the metal-on-metal contacts. The instructions didn't specify lubrication points and type of lubrication. I do know however, that any use of WD40 type penetrating oils are a no-no, causing the risk of contaminating primers and powder. Any input would help. These are just minor things, otherwise I am very happy with it. Thanks, Bill
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File Type: jpg IMG_0001.JPG (178.6 KB, 116 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0002.JPG (172.7 KB, 97 views)
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Old February 13, 2005, 12:26 AM   #11
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Your wife bought you a Dillon! She's a keeper!

I've had my Dillon for 20 years, bought it when I got into PPC back in 85. For testing the powder measure I keep an empty case, put it in the powder measure slot and work the press to dispense the powder, when making changes I will throw 10 charges and weigh the 10, allows a finer setting of the charge. No lubrication is necessary or desired on the powder measure, the old powder measures were smoother, but lacked the positive return, so even though it's a little jerky it's no big deal.

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Old February 13, 2005, 11:02 AM   #12
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Actually,MAXWAYNE,only 1 primer at a time pops up on a 550b.It only drops one if the slide cup is empty.The primer slide area does need to be cleaned occasionaly.I polish everything with brass wool,seems to slide smoother.

Powder drop is trial and error.I usually take the hopper off and operate it by hand to get it set up .
The spent primers do fly once in a while.Watch the little metal chute to see that it is opening back up at the correct time.Might need a bit of tweaking.
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Old February 13, 2005, 08:40 PM   #13
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As Throckmorton said, setting the powder measure is trial and error. Set the belling adjustment on the powder die first, then set the powder drop.
I use a spent case with a spent primer to set the powder drop. I'll throw 3-4 charges to settle the powder then weigh and adjust the charges as necessary. I've found that my 550 will throw charges about .1-.2 grains heavier when in full operation as opposed to having a single case in the powder die station due to the different handle stroke speed. A case in the sizing station makes the most difference. A more consistent stroke makes for a more consistent powder charge. Ball powder is a lot less sensitive in this regard.
Pay attention to the feel of the handle. If it cycles extra easy or hard, take a look and see if there's a problem. I've found an occasional split neck or primer problem this way. It got easier to feel a problem when I upgraded to a roller handle not to mention being easier on my hand during long reloading sessions.
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Old February 14, 2005, 12:25 AM   #14
OfcrBill
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Thank you..

good info, thanks guys
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Old February 14, 2005, 01:50 AM   #15
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Another point, about adjusting the load. If you think about the way the powder bar works, when it returns it picks up a certain volume of powder, depending on the size of the opening.
If you weigh the last one, then adjust it, it might not take effect until the next time it loads.
Especially if you're reducing the load. You're making the opening in the bar smaller, but it it's already full of powder you might just be compressing the powder which is already in the bar. So you load another, still too high, adjust again and now it's too low.

What I do is load one shell, but I don't allow the plate to return fully home. I remove the shell as soon as it clears the funnel, then lift the plate again. I make my adjustment in this condition, so that when the bar returns, it will take the new load.

I hope that makes sense, it's easier to do than describe.
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Old February 14, 2005, 02:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
A more consistent stroke makes for a more consistent powder charge.
Another thing, looking at the pictures up there, neither of them have a spring wrapped round the powder measure. Doug242ti's pic shows it more clearly. Mine has a spring which goes around the narrow part of the measure, and the other end goes around the peg sticking up from the bar.

This means that the spring pulls the bar back with a bang as soon as it is able, and always at the same speed no matter how slowly you return the handle.




Last edited by xmastree; February 15, 2005 at 01:45 AM. Reason: Added the pictures.
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Old February 14, 2005, 03:46 AM   #17
Doug242ti
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for "flying" primers I find this to be caused by:

1. Not seating a primer completely (remeber you have to push that handle away from you to seat the primer)

then you go to the next "station" and this takes the primer out of the cup.. flips it, drags it or something odd to that effect.

Ussualy all it is. I found that after first few boxes of rounds I had pretty much devolped the motions down smoothly.
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Old February 14, 2005, 06:17 AM   #18
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Another thing to check is the allen head cap screw holding the powder charge bar lever to the side of the measure. After a lot of rounds, mine backs out some, causing the little square piece of nylon to pop out of the slot. I check mine every now and then. Like the others said, forget the rounds per hour hype. There is no way I can honestly do 500 rounds an hour, and I've had mine since around 1987. 300 per hour is more like it.

I spot check my powder charges by simply removing the brass locator pin after dropping a charge, and dumping on my scale. I then dump the power back in the case, put it back, and continue.

Stay away from IMR extruded powders with the Dillon powder measure. The charge bar will stick, jerk, and all around not work any better than a pair of boots on a one legged man.
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Old February 14, 2005, 04:34 PM   #19
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I've had a 550 for about a dozen years, and it has been great. I don't use it for rifle reloading, still do that on the RC single-stage press although there's probably no real good reason not to. I don't shoot high-volume rifle, whereas I do with pistol, primarily 45ACP and 40S&W. It does take a little while to switch over from one caliber to another, especially if you're going to a different primer size, but it's not too much trouble.

If you are going to do 'volume' loading sessions, i.e., say, 500+ rounds of a given load, it's nice to have some extra primer tubes that you can load up in front of the TV, separate from your regular reloading operation. Then when the primer buzzer goes off you simply dump in another 100 and keep on going. I have three of each size and it definitely speeds things up. I question the 500 per hour figure, although suppose it's possible, but do find that it's not too much of a stretch for me to crank out 300 or so in that amount of time.
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Old February 15, 2005, 01:56 AM   #20
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Quoting OfcrBill:
Quote:
There was about 1 out of 7 ejected primers that went wild.
Quoting Doug 242ti:
Quote:
for "flying" primers I find this to be caused by:
1. Not seating a primer completely
I thought he meant the old primers went flying, not the newly inserted ones.
I find that they don't always land in the chute that's meant to catch them.
Sometimes the chute stays closed.
Sometimes they fire out at an angle.
Sometimes they land in front of the primer bar, stopping it from returning fully. You learn to feel how the primer goes in, and any problem, anything feels different, it needs to be investigated.

If there is a problem, and you fix it, be very careful on your next stroke. The round in the powder station might already have powder in it, and you're about to double-load it. My shooting glasses bear a scar from this.


If there's no primer in, you might not notice until that bullet falls into the bin and the powder falls out...
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Old February 18, 2005, 05:29 AM   #21
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The easy answer to double charging is this. Always insert a bullet at the third station before pulling the handle. If you can't insert a bullet because there's already one there, then it's obvious you already have a powder charge in the brass at station 2, and the shell plate needs advanced.
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Old February 21, 2005, 05:03 PM   #22
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Quote:
Another thing, looking at the pictures up there, neither of them have a spring wrapped round the powder measure. Doug242ti's pic shows it more clearly. Mine has a spring which goes around the narrow part of the measure, and the other end goes around the peg sticking up from the bar.
The newer powder measures have been modified and no longer come with a spring. I have Dillon powder measures going back 20 years, one about 10 years old and one that's only about a year old, the newest one didn't come with a spring, it had a different mechanism than the ones with the spring, I saw a post about adding a spring to the new ones, so I took one of the springs I already had and put it on the new one, only took me a couple of minutes to take it off and leave it off the new style powder measure, if you add a spring to the new ones, it releases with a BANG on the upstroke. Based on personal experience, I don't recommend adding a spring to the new style Dillon powder measure.
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Old February 21, 2005, 09:31 PM   #23
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dogjaw, killer idea about just pulling the brass pin. I've always checked my powder charge by cycling it to the final position.

good idea!
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Old February 22, 2005, 05:51 AM   #24
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If I'm setting up a new load, I don't even put the brass pin in at that station. Setting the powder charge can take numerous weight checks, so I simply slide the case out from under the powder charge, check the weight, and slide the same now empty case back in, make an adjustment, and repeat.

Once the powder charge is right, I move the case with powder to the next station. I then start adjusting the seating die down, checking OAL until it's right. Again, with the pin at that station removed for quick removal and insertion.

Make sure that when you cycle your press, that the case is fully inserted into the shell plate. Simply use your left finger to push the case against the shell plate to make sure.
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Old February 22, 2005, 09:19 AM   #25
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I had my dillon about a year,.38s I can do about a 100 in 20 min..45 a little longer. Just remember if you take it apart and clean it the number on the shell holder is UP.It will work both ways but upside down nothing comes out right.I took all the priming stuff off and use a Lee handprimer just as easy to mess around getting the primers into the tubes.I normally will sit and watch tv and do about 500 cases.
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