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Old April 6, 2005, 08:38 AM   #1
tjhands
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Opinions on scales......

My Lee scale worked just fine at first: I'd put a load of powder on it, it would slowly bounce up and down until it balanced. NOW it doesn't bobble! It just stops fast and doesn't make me very confident in it at all. I bump it a little, which sometimes unjams it, but it's doing it more frequently. Advice?

If it's a junker, what brand is best? RCBS 5-0-5? Thanks!
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Old April 6, 2005, 09:09 AM   #2
Edward429451
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My RCBS does the same thing sometimes. Then I clean it again making sure to get the dust out of the grooves of the balance point and its ok again. You're scale just needs a spring cleaning.
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Old April 6, 2005, 10:28 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
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Edward's right. You've got to keep the knife edges and pivot points VERY clean.

I use a soft brush on mine every time I use it, and every third or fourth use I clean both the knives and the pivot points with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.

A good scale cover is always a good idea.

Even a jury rigged cover, like a cardboard box, is a good idea.
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Old April 6, 2005, 11:34 AM   #4
cheygriz
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What Mike said!

I use (low pressure) compressed air to get loose dust out. Gun Scrubber on a Q-tip or pipe cleaner works quite well also.

BTW, do you check it with scale check weights EVERY SINGLE TIME that you use it? IMHO, the 30 seconds that it takes to use the check weights is good cheap insurance.
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Old April 7, 2005, 08:37 AM   #5
tjhands
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Thanks, guys.

Uh-oh....what are "scale check weights?" I assume that they are weights of a known value that you use to check your scale's accuracy with, but I have never heard of them.

I will definitely clean the thing well the next time I use it, though. Thanks again!
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Old April 7, 2005, 09:02 AM   #6
Edward429451
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Scale check weights are a set of little objects of a precise weight so you can zero your scale and check your weight to see that it reads exactly what its supposed to. I never bought any but use match bullets or or jacketed swaged bullets that I've made that are precisely weighed. Serves the same purpose. Another thing is to periodically check your grain scale against a friends scale. Tests both scale at once.
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Old April 7, 2005, 09:24 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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You can get a relatively cheap set of scale check weights from Midway.

You can also use new US coins.

I used to have a list of what each coin weighs, in grams, which is easy to convert to grains, but I lost it when my hard drive dumped last year. Easy to find on the web, though.
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Old April 7, 2005, 03:18 PM   #8
Dead-Nuts-Zero
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I went back and found a post I made about a month ago and I have pasted it below. It was hidden under another topic and had no replies. I think it fits into this post along with some of the comments found here.

I hope it is of some interest to someone.

Thanks for such a great forum!

I just unpacked my Lyman balance scales model D-7. It's 20 yr. old but little use and was well packed in original box. I think it's same as Lyman 500 now, it is a 505 gr. scale.

Problem.........When I pulled it from the box, I noticed a very tiny piece of lead that looks like the very tip of a 1/8" twist drill hole. This piece was a calibration weight from the large sliding weight (Poise) on the beam. The back of this lg. weight (Poise) has drill holes in it and I guess they used lead to refil the holes to calibrate it.

Not having any certified weights to check the calibration, I took several cast and jacketed bullets of many sizes and did a weight averaging chart and several calculations. The scales are not right based on my test. I tried putting the tiny weight on the top of the lg. poise and still it was not perfect and noticible up around 400 gr. I could glue the tiny weight back in the hole, but I figure the glue is perhaps enough to throw it off.

Problem is, the heavier your weight, the higher % the scale is off.

I checked with Lyman and about 20 bucks to recalibrate. Add in shipping and ...insurance, 2 ways transportation out and back and I have nearly invested equal to a new scale.

I will buy another new scale and use it to calibrade my old one. For almost the same money as a repair I hope to have two working units.

My point is.......be careful, your balance beam scales could be missing a counter weight so small you would not know it. I think my tiny piece weighed about 4.3 gr. Perhaps I am over cautious but I like to have as much percision as my tools (and budget) will allow.

Maybe someone else has had to recalibrate and can suggest a simple way to double check our scales.
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Old April 7, 2005, 04:45 PM   #9
Edward429451
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My scale has those little holes in it too. The little chunk of metal is not supposed to be in there. The piece is cast heavy and drilled lighter for calibration. That's technically speculation on my part, I've not been told this by Lyman or RCBS etc, it just stands to reason.
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Old April 7, 2005, 07:58 PM   #10
Dead-Nuts-Zero
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The drilling to remove material is common on many items to balance a wheel or whatever. I think they drilled it too far (removed too much weight) and corrected it with this tiny bit of lead, and then started over with a new hole. The looks of this casting, it does not look terribly perfect and and I think each and every one has to be calibrated. This piece that fell out is not perfect. I can see a spot that is almost microscopic in detail that showes that it indeed fell from the hole. The lead piece did not completly fill up the hole. When I talked to Lyman and they didn't really tell me I was correct on my theory, but they did say they individually calibrate them. I really thought they would recalibrate it free other than s&h due to it being somewhat defective. This scale looks like brand new. Well, I guess I thought wrong didn't I? If it was blue and said Dillon, maybe it would be free.

I tried weighing bullets but found them to vary too much to make a percise calibration. I like the coin idea, but was thinking they too may not be uniform in weight unless they are maybe collector mint uncirculated from a pollished cast etc. etc. etc. I will have to give it a try and see how they run.

If nothing else, it gives me something to complain about! I have been holding out for a good sale on an electric unit. The reviews I have read sound like I will never regret spending the extra cash. However, I think they are only as accurate to the same degree as the beams. I read where some brands need to be recalibrated several times while using it.

Has anyone any comments on electric scales?

tjhands, I have also read where you have to be careful around styrofoam (ammo molds) and some types of plastics that may be near your scales on your bench. The static elcet. can cause error. I always think of this when I pour gun powder from a plastic bottle........but I guess a spark is not enough to ignite it.....or is it????

When I used my scales years ago, I was very happy with them and I think RCBS has (or had) a model exactly the same as mine, but with green paint. I have noticed that some models have metal to metal and some plastic to metal on the sharp folcrum area. Is yours a plastic type material in the "V" notch?
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Old April 7, 2005, 08:05 PM   #11
Edward429451
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Yeah mine has a plastic v notch.
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Old April 7, 2005, 08:33 PM   #12
smokin54
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I have made my living for 25 years installing and repairing industrial scales . A mechanical scale will hold it calibration for ever as long you dont loose anything and it does not bind and is correctly zeroed at the beginning , The beam should float freely up and down a few times before stopping and it should repeat the same reading with a given item every time . A check weight of a known value is a good idea on something as important as reloading . Electronic scales are much faster , should repeat and NEED to be checked every session with a calibrated test weight . about 2 years ago i bought a cheap RCBS electronic for my reloading and have a old Lyman as a backup that Has served me well for many years .
The mechanical will still work for many years after the elctronic has died , I would guess the electronic scale will last 5 years on average
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Old April 7, 2005, 08:55 PM   #13
Edward429451
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Veerrry interesting smokin54. Thanks for chimimg in with your professional experiance!

My RCBS 505 is about 20 yrs old and my buddy has been on me hard trying to get me to 'get a real digital scale to replace the old junk' and I keep telling him that I don't trust the digitals and do trust my scale. It's nice to know that my instincts were right.

I pay a lot of attention to my scale, zeroing, checking, rezeroing if I walk away & come back or if the table or scale gets bumped etc. I like to give it a triple check before beginning. Zero, check to exactly 200g with a swaged bullet, then see if she goes back to zero. Then I load.

Thats probably what frustrates my buddy, takes too long for him. He says a digital is faster and more accurate and to a greater degree! I keep asking him how adding extra digits makes it more accurate...

I'm going to print out your post and show it to him, but I suspect that he'll be smarter than you! and dismiss it without a thought.
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Old April 7, 2005, 09:51 PM   #14
smokin54
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Edward , Just as a added note . My digital scale reads in .1 grain same as my mechanical scale . The scale reading by .1 is a small enough resoulution for al my shooting needs .
I load for 14 cartridges from the 22 hornet to the 45-70 includeing 3 wildcats for my T/Cs and the one of the keys to accuracy is consitant powder charges , The added accuracy of any extra digits beyond .1 grains is lost on anyone short of top level benchrest shooters who are weighing every charge , It will be of no benifit in a hunting class rifle . I use a RCBS uniflow powder measure and it throws charges almost perfect everytime with ball and small flake powders I get it set and then check charges once in a while .
Also , Before I bought the digital scale I sorted 1000 .223 cases by weight with the old lyman beam scale . Yea it took a few evenings
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Old April 7, 2005, 09:52 PM   #15
cheygriz
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I have a set of Lyman check weights. I recheck both my Lyman 1005 beam balance, and my Pact electronic every time I use them. The 40 year old Lyman is spot on 99 percent of he time. The Pact has to br recalibrated nearly every time.

I like the accuracy of the Lyman, but the speed of the Pact sure is nice.
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Old April 7, 2005, 10:19 PM   #16
Edward429451
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Quote:
My digital scale reads in .1 grain same as my mechanical scale ...
I gotcha. I think I wrongly assumed that they added a 4th digit (never had hands on digi scale) because I got a chance to borrow a friends digital caliper that had an extra digit and it proved to be a pc of junk.

My 550B powder measure is real accurate with ball or small flake like you say, dead nuts repeatable with BLC-2 (as long as the case slips smoothly onto the powder funnel. When I slightly miss the alignment and get the ker-chunk, then it's .5 heavy, always.)

I sorted a couple hundred 7.62 cases on the scale. I don't think I'll pursue that too much more!
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