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Old July 8, 2001, 11:55 PM   #1
Gary H
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Do You Use Your Balance Beam Scale After Acquiring An Electronic Scale?

The "Subject" really goes to the heart of my question. Do you still use your balance beam scale? I ask, because I purchased the Rock Chucker kit, with their balance beam scale and also a Pact electronic scale. I'll keep both if their is a use for the balance beam. I mean other than using it when the electronic scale blows up during a California power outage and subsequent power spike.
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Old July 9, 2001, 01:10 AM   #2
Good Guy
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I never did upgrade to an electronic scale. Still using the same old RCBS scale I first bought when I started reloading. Out of all the upgrades I've made to my reloading equiptment, I never thought of replacing my good old balance scale. But if it ever needed replacing, I'd probably buy one of those new-fangled eee-lectronic jobs.
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Old July 9, 2001, 02:02 AM   #3
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Yes. One night, after the stores have closed, you will be reloading when that damned 9 volt battery will die on you. It will only do this at night when you don't have any extra 9 volt batteries in the house. (Murphy's Law) Then you will be glad that you still have it around. I know this because it has happened to my dad twice. (He can't get a divorce from Murphy) He told me to keep mine around if I ever get an electronic scale for this reason.
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Old July 9, 2001, 09:26 AM   #4
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Knowing what I know about mechanical devices and the fact that most of the electronic scales use springs to create measurments, and springs wear;

I would stick with a balance scale for better accuracy. Balance scales use gravity which has never worn out in the 40 years of my experience. there is also no battery required.

If anyone doubts that a balance is accurate, then they should take a look at the $10,000 mettler electronic scales that are used in chemistry labs, the single pan models are balances, with a digital readout of course.
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Old July 9, 2001, 09:59 AM   #5
Mal H
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Yes, I still use my beam scale for two things - 1) to check the accuracy of the electronic scale because, as MB said, the beam scale uses gravity and is inherently more accurate than a relatively inexpensive electronic scale; 2) to weigh out charges when I get sick of rezeroing the electronic scale.

An electronic scale is much more susceptible to static electricity and sometimes breezes. Although a breeze can also affect a beam scale, it doesn't seem to be as bad.

Master Blaster - Actually most electronic scales used in reloading use a piezoelectric "load cell" and amplifying electronics to take a measurement. You will usually not find a spring in one. However, springs are used along with a load cell or a strain gauge in some of the larger scales, e.g., electronic bathroom scales.

One problem with a load cell is that it tends to drift when a weight has been left on it for period of time. Not true with a beam scale.

I've got a couple of those Mettler scales you mentioned (along with several lab beam scales) when I want to calibrate either reloading scale.
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Old July 9, 2001, 10:08 AM   #6
Gary H
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Mal:

Calibration also came to my mind when I asked this question, but most electronic scales come with calibration weights. It would seem that this would make the beam scale redundant. Is your use of the beam scale for calibration desirable because calibration can be performed using the exact load weight? I know that small non-linearities exist in electronic scales over the range of useful weights.
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Old July 9, 2001, 10:47 AM   #7
Mal H
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"Calibration also came to my mind when I asked this question, but most electronic scales come with calibration weights."

True, but I said I use the beam scale to check the accuracy of the e-scale, not to calibrate it. Most calibration weights are very heavy compared to the weight of a powder load. Just because the e-scale is "calibrated" with the weights, doesn't mean the load cell is still accurate with a much smaller load. Every now and then I will weigh a powder load on a beam scale after weighing on the e-scale to be sure it is still "on".

In my last sentence I said I calibrate both scales with a lab balance, I should have said I check the calibration weights with a balance. My smaller calibration weights are a 50 gr. Speer HP (49.95 gr.) and a small washer (2.40 gr.).
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Old July 9, 2001, 12:00 PM   #8
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The electronic scales will lie like politicians. Until you learn the patterns they tend to lie in, check the E-scales with a good balance-beam.

I do some wildcatting, and while I'll put an everyday load together with a check on the Dillon E-scale, when I push the envelope I use only the balance beam, checked with a set of scale weights.

A really good balance beam costs a lot less than a good E-scale
E-scales are best weighing brass and bullets.
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Old July 9, 2001, 12:04 PM   #9
12-34hom
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I have both, but 98% of the time i use the balance beam when reloading for my rifle.
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Old July 9, 2001, 06:13 PM   #10
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I've found my E-scale to be MORE than accurate enough, and have TWO. One is brand new, and bought for the powder dispenser. The other, I've had and used for the past 6 years. Never a burp. Yes, I spend the minute-and-a-half at the beginning of every session zeroing the scale. Not a hassle to me, given the benefits of easier reading and speed.

I think that some people just don't trust ANYTHING new, or anything that is different. They are in a comfort zone. Use both scales (follow directions) and stick with the one you are most comfortable with. I've seen too many people who get tired of waiting for the beam to settle, and just go with 'close enough'. I prefer the speed/accuracy combo of the digital scale.

At the prices a reloader can pay for a scale, and the accuracy we will accept (+/- .1 grain), it really comes down to preference. Neither will be 'more accurate' at this level, and I don't think that a well-treated digital will be any less reliable than a well-treated beam.
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Old July 9, 2001, 07:53 PM   #11
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I've actually gone back to a Balance Beam from a Digital. Got tired of waiting for the Digital scale to "react" to added powder granules when trickling them in.

Now I have a balance beam set at eye level when seated. Simply drop a light charge ,I use the Lee Dippers, then trickle it up the rest of the way. Very quick and simple.

If you are using a Balance that's dampened magnetically, as most are, they are quite stable and settle quickly and are less touchy.

Never got to the point of being comfortable with a digital but, I know they are quite accurate. I'll use mine for weighing something of a fixed weight such as bullets, cases, etc. They seem more suited to that rather than trickling granules of powder and waiting for the numbers to change.


Maybe this all started with digital gas pumps for me.....................


Regards
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Old July 9, 2001, 09:07 PM   #12
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Hey guys,
So far I just have an e-scale (PACT BBK II). I was getting frustrated with it and about to buy and expenisve beam scale to find out what was going on.
What was happening (someone alluded to it earlier) was when I weighed the charge, it would settle on a weight. Then after a couple of seconds, it would start hunting for a new value. If I let it, this seemed like it would go on all night. This afternoon, I just talked to a guy at Hornady and PACT about their e-scales (I think they are the same except for the color) and I thought I would share what I learned.
I think everybody knows not to run a fan or A/C when weighing something, but I didn't know to worry about flourescent lights. Also, when the little decimal pt. stops blinking, that is the measured weight. Anything before or after is garbage. I was waiting for the scale to completely calm down before reading the measurement. I was trying to map powder measure positions (I have a Hornady LnL AP with the micrometer powder measure) to weights and they were varying much more than I thought they should (like I know what I'm doing - I've only been doing this for a few weeks!). Now, in about 18 throws, most came in at 4.0 gr. most of the rest came in at 3.9 gr and one came in at 3.8 gr. I feel a lot better now.
Getting back to the point of this thread, a beam scale probably makes sense to have in case you are having a hard time believing your e-scale, your e-scale breaks, or the spirit moves you.
Hope this helps.
Be safe,
Jim
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Old July 13, 2001, 04:54 PM   #13
freestate
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I too prefer the balance beam scales to the digitals. I started reloading with a Pact digital and never really cared for it. Then I bought a Redding balance beam and like it much better. I weigh every charge of powder and can load almost twice as fast with the balance beam. Plus it is more sensitive.
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Old July 13, 2001, 09:26 PM   #14
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All things considered, I think it comes down to personal preference and what a person is comfortable with.
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Old July 14, 2001, 12:54 AM   #15
George Helser
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I just bought some check weights to test my 20 year old RCBS balance beam. I was happy to see it was “dead on”.

The electronic scales are rated at 0.1 grain accuracy but I my balance beam is more accurate. I like high tech electronic stuff (I use an electronic bathroom scale) but I don’t see any advantage of an electronic powder scale over my beam balance.

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In sunny Arizona
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Old July 14, 2001, 11:58 AM   #16
grunewaj
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Being new at this, I'd like to try out an idea.
I thing people who weigh every charge would probably prefer and need a balance beam scale. They certainly can be more accurate.

However, I think that people who use progressive presses to thow their charges might not need that level of accuracy since the powder measure (which gives them no control over the weight of individual charges) really provides an average charge. For them, an e-scale is probably sufficient.

This is not to say that a good beam scale wouldn't serve the purposes of both kinds of loaders.

I got a PACT BBK II to use with my Hornady LnL AP. While I'm happy with my PACT, I can see why people would prefer a beam scale and even if they have an e-scale, why they would also want a beam scale.

E-scales require a certain technique and understanding and I don't think (I don't have one so I'm guessing here) beam scales are that particular. This may be a case of the grass being greener in the neighbor's yard though.

Well, that's my partially formed opinion. It's worth every penny you paid for it!

Take care,
Jim
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Old July 15, 2001, 11:16 AM   #17
Charmedlyfe
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Don't know about that accuracy thing.....used both, and my RCBS/PACT scales have been just as accurate as my beam. Even the beam scales are accurate within a certain range (generally .1gr, same as a digital). Beam scales also take a different technique to use accurately than a digital. Beam scales are also MUCH more sensitive to level surfaces than digitals. How many people have PERFECTLY level benches?


Idea----everyone, how about give years you've been loading and approximate year you started. Also, scale you started with. Might be revealing......

1995......6 years........beam and digital to start. prefer digital.
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Old July 15, 2001, 02:45 PM   #18
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Charmedlyfe,
Thanks for your outlook on this. Since you have both, your input is particularly interesting. I suspect that the main issue is personal preference. As for the accuracy issue I raised, I know that they are graduated in .1 grains, but with a beam scale, you can see the pointer point a little above or a little below the center, where on an e-scale, all you get is a number.

I was thinking about getting a beam scale recently, but that was before I learned the tricks to using them (be gentle when dumping powder, get the powder as much in the center of the cup as posible, take the value when the decimal first stops blinking - if there are more, I'd love to hear them). I may still get a beam scale at some point, but I'm very happy with my e-scale.

Jim
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Old July 15, 2001, 06:00 PM   #19
grunewaj
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I forgot to add to my last post:

2001......6 weeks........digital to start. don't own a beam scale (yet).

Jim
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Old July 15, 2001, 06:25 PM   #20
Gary H
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Thanks for your input

I'm keeping both!
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Old July 15, 2001, 10:42 PM   #21
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balance beam vs. electronic

I think Charmedlyfe has it right: The balance beam is just as accurate as the electronic. If I work at it carefully, I can be accurate to 1/2 a tenth of a grain with my balance beam. (Yes I am that fussy, as a less-than-moa rifle shooter.) One should not be bound by tradition, though: If an electronic came down the pipe that was a. more accurate, and b. didn't cost an arm and a leg, I'd switch. But I'd keep the balance beam for all the bad battery/power outage/Murphy's Law reasons already cited.
ÑSmokey Joe
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Old July 16, 2001, 03:07 AM   #22
George Helser
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I agree with Smokey Joe. If an electronic scale was more accurate than my beam balance I would go with the electronic. It would be easier to use with my failing eyes.

Regards,
George
In sunny Arizona
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Old July 16, 2001, 01:03 PM   #23
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A friend had a Pact scale. After seeing his frustrations, I think I'll stick with my old 10-10 RCBS...
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Old July 16, 2001, 03:13 PM   #24
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Uh, one thing I HAVE noticed about people with digital scales is that problems are ALWAYS with the scale, and never with the person. A good friend had problems with his PACT scale....it took him an hour before he finally 'fessed up to dropping it. More than a few problems are caused by people not reading the instruction manual and damaging their scales, or not taking a few seconds to zero before measuring. Worse, some people improperly calibrate their scale, or NEVER calibrate their scale. You get out of a device exactly what you put into it. I always calibrate and zero my scales before using them, and they are never off on a measure (TWO RCBS/PACTs). It's like using a beam on a table without making sure it is set up right.

Garbage in=Garbage out
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Old July 17, 2001, 07:31 AM   #25
STEVE M
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OK here goes. 1982 18years started with a beam scale. Had to, e-scales were not available to me at that time.
Use a Dillon e-scale now and love it. The beam scale hardly ever gets used anymore. I might use it to check the e-scale if I was using max. loads, or if I was a benchrest shooter. But for all of my reloading needs (a lot of handgun practice ammo and hunting ammo for the rifles) an e-scale does just fine.
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