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Old December 18, 2009, 08:33 AM   #1
Dodge DeBoulet
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Pistol Progressive Virgin - Hornady LNL AP

And like the experience of many virgins, losing my cherry wasn't particularly pleasurable

I spent Wednesday night cleaning and degreasing my new Hornady LNL AP, installing it on my newly-built bench, getting the dies set for .40 cal, and dinking with the powder drop to get the right charge for my first attempt at reloading in 30+ years (ok, so I'm not really a virgin, but I'm not sure a $12 Lee Loader for .30-06 used when I was teen really counts).

The first thing I discovered is that you can't spend too much time degreasing. No, I don't mean you shouldn't spend too much time degreasing, I mean that whatever time you spend degreasing won't be enough. While I did OK on the dies, the pistol rotor and the drop tube/actuator, I guess I didn't work hard enough on the powder resevoir. Accurate #2 has given the inside surface a poppy-seed encrusted finish

Calibrating the resizer and expander dies went without incident, with the expander requiring a bit more attention (and I had to adjust it a bit later on). The seater/crimper was a bit of a pain in getting the OAL set right and finding the perfect crimp. For any (other) newbies out there, here's my station layout: station #1 - resizer/decapper, #2 - expander, #3 - powder drop, #4 - empty (at the moment . . . powder cop for it arrives today, but I ordered it before I discovered how easy it was to determine the charge in a .40 cal case), #5 - seater/crimper.

I did all the right things (I think) when I set up the powder drop; I got the throw set for 5.9gr, the minimum charge for AA#2 and a 140gr lead bullet. I averaged the charge over 10 throws and it came out perfect.

Loaded my primers without incident, and verified that they were getting picked up by the primer slide. Got my tub o' brass and box o' bullets situated, took a deep breath, and whispered quietly to my LNL . . . "please be gentle."

First case in, pull the lever. A solid, satisfying resistance as the shell enters the decapper/sizer. Ah, this is going to be good. Back up to the "home" position with a solid nudge beyond to seat the primer; hey, this is going pretty well! Next shell into the plate, repeat. Looks like the expander did what it was supposed to do, and everything else looked and felt normal. On to shell #3, and #1 now seems to have a good charge of powder. #4 and things are going great . . . shell #1 is a bit of a dry-hump though because station #4 is empty.

Insert bullet into the first case (now coming up on station #5), pull the handle . . . WOW it's MAGIC, felt GREAT, I've got a fully-assembled CARTRIDGE! Clunk it goes into the collector, and I sit back with a tiny, self-satisfied smile.

Until I pull the lever again, anyway, because it jams halfway on the return stroke. Crap.

I futz around with the shell plate, appear to get things freed up, and continue. Unfortunately, as I discover a couple of lever-pulls later, I didn't get a primer in one of my shells and powder shoots all over the place from the flash-hole as it gets ejected into the hopper. Hmmm. Must be a fluke, I'll keep at it and see what happens.

But it happens again, semi-randomly, every 5 shells or so. What the hell? I struggle through my first 50 rounds, and decide that this just isn't going very well. I watched that guy on youtube punch 800 rounds an hour through his LNL AP, and here it's taken me an hour and a half to get 50.

So, time for a bit of experimentation. I sit at the press for a few minutes, no shells in the shell plate, just clicking it through the stations. Weird . . . when the engraved shell plate size indicator ("10") reaches the 5 o'clock position, the shell plate doesn't quite lock into the detente. This happens about 70% of the time, and when it does, it means the primer's not centered on the head of the case. Pushing the handle forward apparently doesn't make anything good happen for that particular shell, and until I get used to how things are supposed to feel, I wind up with a primerless case completing the circuit around the stations.

I take the shell plate off, clean everything well (grease and powder, mmmm good), and try again. Same problem, so it's time to try adjusting the pawls. Confused by the manual, I adjust the wrong one (the one on the right) first. After analyzing things for a minute, I figure out that the left pawl is the one that indexes the plate for the primer positioning, and tweak it until the problem disappears. Whew!

So back to work, and it's starting to actually feel like work, now. I cycle some shells through, and things seem to be better. For a little while, anyway . . . DAMN. Another missing primer. This time, though, it looks like the primer slide didn't pick one up from the tube . . . but I'm tired and it's time for bed. I stow my stuff and head upstairs.

To be Continued . . .

Last edited by Dodge DeBoulet; December 18, 2009 at 08:39 AM.
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Old December 18, 2009, 08:50 AM   #2
Ronbert
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I can't wait for the next installment :-)

When I show people how to reload on my Dillon we work thru a single case at a time for about 10 cases and go very slowly studying the results.

I'm puzzled that there would be oil/grease inside the powder measure. Did you expect that?
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Old December 18, 2009, 09:01 AM   #3
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There may be a rust inhibitor on the castings that should be removed with mineral spirits, and the mineral spirits allowed to dry off before reassembly, but the hopper is much more likely to have the common winter time static cling. Most everyone these days takes a clothes dryer sheet and wipes down the inside of the plastic hopper. That puts anti-stat on the hopper that can clear that static pretty well. Grounding the press can't hurt if it isn't too inconvenient. Then take a tube of graphite powder from the hardware and run it through several time, even sprinkling it on the hopper. Once the graphite and anti-stat are in place, there is seldom an operating problem.

Some prefer to run powder through the measure repeatedly to pick up their graphite. But not all powders have graphite any more, and how loose the glaze is on the powder varies when they do, I prefer the separate powder.
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Old December 18, 2009, 09:04 AM   #4
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I needed to adjust the wire (for lack of a better word) that the primer slide rides up on before mine would reliably pick up a primer from the tube each time. After that, it's been working fine for the last year or so.
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Old December 18, 2009, 06:52 PM   #5
Dodge DeBoulet
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Well, I'm happy to say that things are going pretty well now. I headed for my shop when I was done with work (since I work from my home, it's tough not to head down there during the day, but I try my best to save my pleasures for the evening during the work week).

I spoke with Hornady this morning and they agreed with my pawl adjustment, and offered a suggestion or two on the primer feed issue. The guide rail for the primer slide appears to have been the culprit; I didn't have a single primer misfeed this evening after moving the top end out an a sixteenth of an inch or two.

I may have adjusted the left pawl out too far, though; the shell plate would very occasionally advance just beyond the detente position at one specific point in its rotation, and this would cause an apparent jam. Clicking the shell plate back into its detente allowed me to continue.

I backed off on the pawl just a hair and we'll see what happens.

I'm still not up to 700 rounds an hour like The Youtube Guy, but I'm getting good, consistent powder loads, properly sized cartridges (according to my Lyman case gauge), and a level of comfort that I made the right choice in reloading equipment.

Happy Holidays!
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Old December 19, 2009, 05:11 PM   #6
Dodge DeBoulet
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Trouble in Paradise . . .

I'm occasionally hitting a "lock" situation when raising the lever (lowering the ram). It appears as though the shell that was just decapped/resized gets hung up somehow when the shell plate tries to rotate to the next detente, and the only thing I can think of is that the spent primer is getting jammed between the base plate and either the shell plate or the shell itself, rather than simply going down the waste tube. It's the only shell that appears to be jammed in its shell holder slot.

It's impossible to see what's going on since jiggling things in attempting to see the problem effectively eliminates it. It just comes back some time later, though.

Anyone with a Hornady LNL AP ever run into this?

Last edited by Dodge DeBoulet; December 19, 2009 at 05:31 PM.
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Old December 19, 2009, 07:27 PM   #7
Don H
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I've had the same thing happen on a different progressive - I just had to lower the decapping stem a bit more to ensure the primer was definitely pushed clear of the pocket.
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Old December 19, 2009, 10:20 PM   #8
Rod38um
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I posted this on another forum, maybe it will help:

I had some discussion in another thread about my sticky primer feed on my new Hornady LnL AP. I was asked to share the fix if I found one so..........
The problem was one primer would go into the feed slide hole and the next primer in line would catch the edge of the hole and the slide would stick back causing no primers to feed. Well I had a chance to look at it and finally figured it out. The bottom side of the slide had a few milling marks on it. I used an arkansas stone on it to just lightly buff the under side. I guess it made it set just a fraction lower in its track which made the lip it was catching on a bit shorter. I also felt a sharp edge where the next primer was catching on the lip of the hole so I used a pocket knife to just dull down the sharpness of that lip on the back side. (no real metal removed)
Anyway, its been feeding 100% ever since. I'm a much happier camper now!

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Old December 19, 2009, 11:05 PM   #9
Dodge DeBoulet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don H
I've had the same thing happen on a different progressive - I just had to lower the decapping stem a bit more to ensure the primer was definitely pushed clear of the pocket.
Thanks . . . I suspected that was the problem and lowered the decapping stem as far as it would go (brought the ram up with a shell into the decapping/sizing die, then cranked the decapping stem down as low as it would go). It didn't fix the problem, though. There's got to be something else going on here.
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Old December 19, 2009, 11:08 PM   #10
Dodge DeBoulet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod38um
I posted this on another forum, maybe it will help:
Haha, I'd actually come across your post on the other forum when I was googling for a solution to my primer feeding issue. In my case, though, it appears to have been resolved by moving the primer slide guide out about 1/8".
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Old December 20, 2009, 12:36 AM   #11
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Make sure your shell plate is tightly affixed. The center hex bolt has a tendency to come loose if you don't tighten it enough, and that can contribute.

I have had the symptoms you describe but they were solved by extending the decapping pin.

Make sure your decapping/sizing die is set up properly, i.e., when you raise the ram the shellplate just kisses the bottom of the resizing die.
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Old December 20, 2009, 02:30 AM   #12
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That lock up condition is usually created by either a new primer that wasn't completely seated and it drags, or you need to adjust the left pawl because the it's indexing short. See, the gear at the bottom of the ram that engages the pawls gets hung between stations and the ram can be moved about a 1/4 of the way up or down before that "thunk" sound and bind. Adjust the left pawl another 1/4 turn - 1/2 turn or so and see if it goes away.
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Old December 20, 2009, 04:10 AM   #13
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I had these exact issues with my LNL AP which I finally got around to using for the first time yesterday. I had to adjust both pawls (the left-side one rather more so) and the primer feed slider guide rod had to be bumped out just a hair. Before the adjusting it was a REAL frustrating experience but after tweaking it, the press runs great now.

I now understand why people enjoy reloading. It's FUN.
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Old December 20, 2009, 09:20 AM   #14
Dodge DeBoulet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mongoose33
Make sure your shell plate is tightly affixed. The center hex bolt has a tendency to come loose if you don't tighten it enough, and that can contribute.
Yep, tightly affixed. I snug it down with the allen wrench.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mongoose33
I have had the symptoms you describe but they were solved by extending the decapping pin.

Make sure your decapping/sizing die is set up properly, i.e., when you raise the ram the shellplate just kisses the bottom of the resizing die.
Yes, the resizing die is just touching the shellplate when the ram is at the top of its stroke. Also, with the ram in that position, I loosened the decapping pin and pushed it down as far as it would go (had a deprimed shell in the die at the time to make sure it wouldn't go too far).

When the lock occurs, all of the other shells in the shellplate have a bit of wiggle to them. The one coming down from the resizing die doesn't. It makes me wonder if the spent primers are stacking up in the ejection tube and blocking the newly ejected primer or something, but I'd think the decapping pin would push the spent primer down far enough to clear the shell plate (and even the base plate). Easy enough to test, though . . . I just need to route the spent primers somewhere other than the big garbage pail under my bench so I can see if they're actually leaving the press

Quote:
Originally Posted by bronco4me
That lock up condition is usually created by either a new primer that wasn't completely seated and it drags, or you need to adjust the left pawl because the it's indexing short. See, the gear at the bottom of the ram that engages the pawls gets hung between stations and the ram can be moved about a 1/4 of the way up or down before that "thunk" sound and bind. Adjust the left pawl another 1/4 turn - 1/2 turn or so and see if it goes away.
That was one of my original problems, and you described the fix I mentioned in post #4 perfectly. The problem I'm experiencing now appears to be unrelated to that issue, but I'll observe things a bit more and see if anything else turns up.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I'm sure I'll get things squared away sooner or later.

I must say it was very satisfying shooting my own loads at the range yesterday. Although the first batch (140gr C & C cast bullets with 5.9gr of AA #2) seemed really hot, the 2nd batch (same bullets, but 5gr of WST) had just the right amount of recoil for great control and pain-free shooting
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Old December 20, 2009, 10:46 AM   #15
mongoose33
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A few more things to suggest.

First, is the end of the decapping pin nice and smooth? If it's sharp, or has a burr on it, it could be catching the primer and not letting it go.

Make sure, also, that the pin is centered in the die. If you have, in advertantly, jammed the die into a case and bent the pin or the arbor, being offcenter might not allow it to punch out the primer without catching it.

The second thing is try variations in the length of the pin through the die. I know you've lengthened it as much as possible--now, try shortening it up, as converse as that might sound.
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Old December 20, 2009, 11:34 AM   #16
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Just a tip on centering - Before cinching down the lockring on a die put a case up into the die using the ram. Then while the case is there, secure everything. This helps ensure stuff is set where it's being used and is as centered as possible.

Good suggestion on decap pin burrs and stuff. A primer that's getting sucked back into the pocket could give all kinds of headaches.
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Old December 20, 2009, 11:50 AM   #17
Dodge DeBoulet
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I pulled the dies and cycled a bunch of brass through the stations this morning and wasn't able to get the problem to surface. Of course I wasn't decapping during this process, so I think this helps confirm that decapping is the actual culprit. I should also mention that every time this occurred yesterday, I pulled the just-primed shell from the shell plate and verified that the primer was fully seated. It was, in every case . . . so I don't think that station is the problem.

mongoose33 and Ronbert, I think you may be onto something. I checked the decapping/sizing die, and although the pin wasn't burred or bent, it was pretty filthy and felt rough. I've scrubbed it good and it's back to it's original smoothness. I'm wondering whether some silicone spray or Hornady One-Shot would be prudent to help the crud slide off.

I'll load up another 100 rounds in a bit and see what happens.
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Old December 21, 2009, 12:48 AM   #18
Dodge DeBoulet
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I've found the problem . . . but I'm not sure of the solution.

When the ram drops after the shell in station 1 has been resized/deprimed, the spent primer is not always departing the pocket. I suspect it's getting caught on the end of the depriming pin and when the ram drops, it's being very lightly reseated into the pocket. When the shell plate tries to advance to the next station, the spent primer gets wedged between the ejection chute and the shell (or shell plate).

I figured this out by routing the plastic tube on the ejection chute down into a big metal bowl. After each deprime, I'd listen for the *clink* as the spent primer fell into the bowl. When I had a "bad" deprime, I wouldn't get a *clink* and the shell plate would jam. Then, when I jiggled the shell plate and shell, the primer would finally drop.

I'm using the Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension Nitride dies, and they came with an extra depriming pin. I've replaced the one in the resizing die with the spare and made sure it's properly adjusted. It seems like the original may be very slightly bent, but I'm not sure.

Some more experimentation and a call to Hornady tomorrow . . . past my bedtime now
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Old December 21, 2009, 01:43 AM   #19
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As per "pawl" adjustments,

I was recently talking to the Hornady techs about a bit of a glitch I had on my new LNL and he cautioned about adjusting the pawl more the 1/8 turn at a time.

I had tried an adjustment, 1/2 turn or so, and didn't have results, in fact created a problem, so after talking to the tech, tried it his way with good results.

I have found that after 40 or so years loading with a single stage press, there is a learning curve with the LNL.

Seems like a lot things happen rapidly, but then I guess that is what I got it for!

Keep em coming!

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Old December 21, 2009, 03:11 PM   #20
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I found that this very thing was happening with my LoadMaster. The spent primer would be removed from the case and basically stick to the end of the deprimer pin. Then when I would remove the deprimer it would stick the spent primer back in just a bit. The odd thing was this only occured with certain brands of brass. I could deprime 6000 Federal cases and have no problem at all, but if I deprimed Fiochi then it would be every fifth primer would "reseat" itself. I never figured out the ultimate solution, but I have simply become more aware of listening for the primer to fall from the deprime station.
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Old December 21, 2009, 04:00 PM   #21
Dodge DeBoulet
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I spoke with Hornady this morning, and their response was similar to mongoose33's second set of suggestions. They recommended I use some 600 or 800 grit sandpaper to remove any roughness from the decapping pin's hardening process, or jeweler's rouge on a dremel buffing wheel. The gentleman I spoke with is actually polishing up a couple of new pins to send to me, so it looks like I'll have some spares.

Once I've had a chance to load up some more ammo, I'll let y'all know
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Old December 21, 2009, 04:33 PM   #22
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I have this exact problem with my LnL as well. After tinkering around a bit, I had pretty much come to the conclusion that it had to be the primer becoming stuck to the decapping pin and then lightly reseating itself. I haven't gotten around to doing any polishing yet, so I'll be interested to see how it works out for you, and I'll report back to let you know if it works for me.
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Old December 21, 2009, 05:13 PM   #23
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It's funny. I see that all the time with military brass where the primer just doesn't quite clear the crimp without the pin sticking out extra far. Sounds like, in this case some of the primer anvils are just the right size to hug the pin. I hope the polishing is enough to fix it? Will be interested to hear, not having ever encountered this myself? If you can identify a particular brand of primer, you could knock those out manually by sticking the case in an individual shell holder and using a small enough drift punch. Bit of a nuisance though. If you also own a single stage press, the Lee universal deacapper die is inexpensive and would be the quicker thing to use.
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Old December 21, 2009, 07:11 PM   #24
Dodge DeBoulet
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Another thing I noticed but didn't attach any significance to at the time was that the decapping pin's collet (not the one that holds the pin assembly in the resizing die, but the one that actually holds the 1/2" pin itself onto the end of the shaft) was a little loose, and this probably gave the pin a little bit of wiggle. So if the primer got stuck onto the pin, it would actually have an easier time catching the pocket, since the dangly pin would allow it enough horizontal sway to guide itself into place. Snugging that down firmly should give the primer a tougher time in lining back up again.

I'm headed down to the bench to build another 100 rounds or so. We'll see what happens.
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Old December 21, 2009, 08:05 PM   #25
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I can't go into all the problems I have had with my new LNL EZ ject, but I will say I would NEVER buy another press like this.
I have been loading for 54 years
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