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Warden Callaway

Dillon 550B powder funnel adjustment - comments

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I used a Dillon 450 since it came out.  Added a 550B a few years back when we got into CAS.  Seems like the transition would be small. But I feel just as productive on the 450 as with the 550B.  Any speed realized is eaten up by fussing with the automation features. 

 

I have three Lyman 55 powder throwers and two 450 style Dillon manual powder throwers. I've used these manually operated throwers on my black, BlackMZ and other powders for loading my ammo. 

 

The only time I hook up the automatic thrower for the 550B is when loading for Sawmill Mary's 44WCF using Unique. When I load my 44WCF with BlackMZ,  I pull the 550B powder thrower and die and replace with a Lee powder through die and use my Lyman 55 black powder thrower.  Lately I've been using my second Dillon 450 manual thrower on a Dillon "fixed" powder through die. Works great.

 

So..  Yesterday was the day to swap out the fixed powder die and put the floating powder die back in.  It's a real pain in the butt to adjust the expander die to get the proper bell on the case.  I can't see any way of doing this process without the measure mounted.  The measure itself is a pain in the butt to mount due to the method of attachment to the die.  The two Allen head screws holding the clamp cap are difficult to manage. I feel like Goldilocks - I always find a wrench too big and too small before finding one "just right".  The screw under the linkage plates is especially aggravating to get to.  Then rotating the die to make adjustments is a pain in the tight confinement.  Tighten everything down and test again.  Repeat. 

 

Anyway!   After some fussing,  I thought I was getting enough bell. I could feel it.  The bevel base bullet set on the case fine. But out of about 30 rounds loaded, I buldged 8.  I fussed more with the adjustment.   I finally realized that the bell produced was only the belling die just starting to enter the case mount - not the top belling section of the die.  Fuss, repeat a number of times to get the die adjusted to get it so it expanded and belled the case properly.  

 

I'm going to have to think this over.  Dillon did a poor job of adapting the 450 measure and fixed die to the automated 550 design. I have a few ideas. 

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3 minutes ago, David Richert said:

Call Dillon....

 

Why?  What how could they possibly help?  

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1 hour ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

Why?  What how could they possibly help?  

 

I expect others have had the same problem, and Dillon is aware of it.  Give them a chance.  You haven’t lost anything if they can’t help.

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2 hours ago, Happy Jack, SASS #20451 said:

Simple fix,  buy an extra toolhead.

Yep. stop swapping crap out and just buy a new tool head

A 550B is a production tool, not a single stage. yes it's a pain to set up, but that's once. I've got 24 tool heads that are swapped between two machines, an accumulation over the last 30 years. yes it's expensive, yes it time consuming to set up. All production machines are. 
Buy and extra tool head and all the extra parts needed and stop swapping parts

Edited by Son of the Midnight Star
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Eliminating the aggravation of die set-up more than offsets the cost of toolheads, powder dies & dies!!

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3 hours ago, Happy Jack, SASS #20451 said:

Simple fix,  buy an extra toolhead.

 

I have empty tool heads and powder die body I have yet to use.  But would need to buy another RCBS powder cop die and other sizing and seat die and another powder through funnel.

 

3 hours ago, Laramie said:

Sounds like someone needs a nap!:unsure:

 

Yes, I do!  :unsure:

 

Changing out one die a couple times a year shouldn't be that difficult.   

 

Sawmill Mary has 500 44WCF cases.  I typically load her ammo and keep reloading her ammo on the setup until I'm out of 44WCF loaded with BlackMZ.  I have 500 cases also. Then I switch the die and measure and continue reloading my ammo until her supply is running out.  And I've not had this specific problem before. 

 

I just think there needs to be some design innovations to make the process easier. I'm thinking.  It's not like there hasn't been a cottage industry built on making products to go on the Dillon presses. 

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The process that bothers me the most is switching back and forth between primer sizes. 

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24 minutes ago, Laramie said:

The process that bothers me the most is switching back and forth between primer sizes. 

 

I found this shortcut works well.

 

 

I do it one better and not use the priming system at all.  We deprime our brass, wet tumbler clean and then hand prime. 

 

This eliminates a lot of farting around loading pickup tubes and keeping the primer feed system working.  Watching that you don't get a turned or flipped primer or not a primer at all. 

 

Now the manual primer feed system on the old 450 is much more reliable.  

 

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Warden, if my 550B looked as clean as yours in the picture I believe I had never reloaded with it. 

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4 hours ago, John Boy said:

Warden, if my 550B looked as clean as yours in the picture I believe I had never reloaded with it. 

 

Not mine!  Just a video I found showing the process.   

 

I've been watching YouTube videos on the Dillon 550B measure and powder die install process and they run 10 to 20 minutes long.  Two major differences I've seen from what I'm doing.  1) They are installing on an otherwise empty tool head. And 2) The measure is empty of powder. 

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Now here is an idea!

 

 

 

https://entirelycrimson.com/collections/dillon-550/products/quick-disconnect-for-dillon-powder-alarm-1

 

I'm also looking into a die locking ring that has set screws.   The idea being once I get the powder die set,  I can lock down the ring and thus it should be able to be removed and replaced without as much adjustment.  I've not found a ring that has more than one set screw.   I figure it'll need more than a couple so one will fall where it can be reached from the left side.  May have to drill and tap.

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I have the EC powder measure quick connect on both of my 650's.  It works great and makes emptying the powder quick and easy.  No hunting for the correct allen wrench.  The Dillon is designed to change the tool heads, leaving the dies settings unchanged.  Setting the dies is always time consuming.  Ebay has lots of aftermarket tool heads for sale.

 

I solved the primer change over problem by just setting up one 650 for small pistol primers and the other 650 for large pistol primers.  Ok, not the cheapest solution but it's quick and simple.

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8 minutes ago, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

I have the EC powder measure quick connect on both of my 650's.  It works great and makes emptying the powder quick and easy.  No hunting for the correct allen wrench.  The Dillon is designed to change the tool heads, leaving the dies settings unchanged.  Setting the dies is always time consuming.  Ebay has lots of aftermarket tool heads for sale.

 

I solved the primer change over problem by just setting up one 650 for small pistol primers and the other 650 for large pistol primers.  Ok, not the cheapest solution but it's quick and simple.

 

What did they gig you for shipping?  $26 + shipping is pretty steep. They have it on eBay for $22 + $19.90 shipping!   

 

Looks like a DYI project. 

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21 hours ago, J-BAR #18287 said:

 

I expect others have had the same problem, and Dillon is aware of it.  Give them a chance.  You haven’t lost anything if they can’t help.

 

What J-Bar said.

 

It's a free call, and they have always been very helpful to me.

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18 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

What did they gig you for shipping?  $26 + shipping is pretty steep. They have it on eBay for $22 + $19.90 shipping!   

 

Looks like a DYI project. 

I bought 2 of them about a year ago and they weren't that expensive.  $19.00 shipping is outrageous.  

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Swapping dies and setting up the powder measure is not the hard.  Adjusting the bell can be time consuming but not tough nor frustrating. 

the first thing I do is get the sizing die set up then I drop in the powder die and funnel and set the powder measure on top, install the clamp but only start the threads on the screws.  This allows you to spin the powder die up or down to adjust the bell. once that is set i snug the lock nut then I set the bullet seating depth right after I confirm the powder charge. 

takes me about 20-30 minutes to swap a caliber, an hour if I have to swap primer sizes. 

That said I have two 550B's bolted to the bench one set up of large primers and one set up for small. I also have about 24 tool heads and three powder measure that I swap around. 

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3 minutes ago, Lawdog Dago Dom said:

 

Extra tool heads and extra powder die bodys I have.  I just ain't gonna' make up two sets of heads, dies, measures for the same caliber when all it takes is changing out the powder die and measure.  

 

The other way is easy.  The old 450 fixed funnel die - just screw it in and adjust it like any simple press.   Set the measure on top and bolt it down.  Check powder drop and you're good to go. 

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4 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

Extra tool heads and extra powder die bodys I have.  I just ain't gonna' make up two sets of heads, dies, measures for the same caliber when all it takes is changing out the powder die and measure.  

 

The other way is easy.  The old 450 fixed funnel die - just screw it in and adjust it like any simple press.   Set the measure on top and bolt it down.  Check powder drop and you're good to go. 

Something real simple would be an adapter to go from your Lyman 55 to the Dillon powder die. Buy that quick change deal or not and just swap. 

If you need an adapter made I need to know how your lyman 55 mounts to the drop tube or press. I could make you a funnel that would sit inside the Dillon die and attach to your powder measure. that would solve all your problems. or if the thread were large enough on the lyman hopper I could make you a internally threaded Dillon powder die that you could use for both if the fit is correct. need to see what the threads are on the lyman 55 mount. 

Edited by Son of the Midnight Star

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32 minutes ago, Son of the Midnight Star said:

Something real simple would be an adapter to go from your Lyman 55 to the Dillon powder die. Buy that quick change deal or not and just swap. 

If you need an adapter made I need to know how your lyman 55 mounts to the drop tube or press. I could make you a funnel that would sit inside the Dillon die and attach to your powder measure. that would solve all your problems. or if the thread were large enough on the lyman hopper I could make you a internally threaded Dillon powder die that you could use for both if the fit is correct. need to see what the threads are on the lyman 55 mount. 

 

I can and have used the Lyman 55 measures to throw black and BlackMZ powder mounted on the 550B.  Would be no different if I used it for Unique.   But the problem with the Lyman 55 measures is that it's awkward to throw the handle on the left side and turn it backwards from what is natural.  (Won't fit oriented with handle on the right.) 

 

Even easier, I could use the Dillon 450 fixed die and measure for both white and black. 

 

But..  I paid good money for the automated measure and have successfully used it for this one load.  Sawmill Mary's 44WCF ammo makes up maybe 40% of all the reloads.  That's all she shoots in rifle and handguns. 

 

I shoot a bunch of different calibers - even cap and ball.  I have the 450 set up for 38 only. I have tool heads loaded for the 550B with all the dies in 45 Colt and 32WCF.  So the only time I swap out the powder die is when I change from loading smokeless to black or BlackMZ in 44WCF. 

 

Time for another nap.   :(

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33 minutes ago, Son of the Midnight Star said:

Well I’m sorry to say that you don’t have the understanding of what I was offering you. 

You just keep beating the round peg in the square hole. 

 

If I understood you,  you were offering to make me an adapter to use a Lyman 55 measure on a Dillon powder die.  I can and have used the Lyman 55 measure on my 550B using a Lee powder through die.   But thanks for the offer.  

 

I really don't have a problem to solve.  The 550B is now set up with the issued Dillon automatic powder measure and powder die and adjusted.  Ready to run. 

 

This winter I'm going to make some mods to make the process of changing out the powder die less of a pain.

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1 hour ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

If I understood you,  you were offering to make me an adapter to use a Lyman 55 measure on a Dillon powder die.  I can and have used the Lyman 55 measure on my 550B using a Lee powder through die.   But thanks for the offer.  

 

I really don't have a problem to solve.  The 550B is now set up with the issued Dillon automatic powder measure and powder die and adjusted.  Ready to run. 

 

This winter I'm going to make some mods to make the process of changing out the powder die less of a pain.

 

 

What was being offered was a single powder die that would be able to use both the Dillon and the Lyman.

no powder die swap, no powder funnel swap. 

But you have it under control. 

Have a good one

 

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Here is another wrinkle.   Why I'm using a Lee powder through die when loading BlackMZ. 

 

592718820_PowderfunnelDillonvsLee.jpg.5c4707ef3d5400184541bb307dc19961.jpg

 

The inside diameter of the Dillon die is .284. The inside diameter of the Lee is .318.  The BlackMZ bridges up in the Dillon funnel.  Never a problem with the Lee. 

 

I have a small lathe. Has anyone been successful at opening up a Dillon funnel?   

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2 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

Here is another wrinkle.   Why I'm using a Lee powder through die when loading BlackMZ. 

 

592718820_PowderfunnelDillonvsLee.jpg.5c4707ef3d5400184541bb307dc19961.jpg

 

The inside diameter of the Dillon die is .284. The inside diameter of the Lee is .318.  The BlackMZ bridges up in the Dillon funnel.  Never a problem with the Lee. 

 

I have a small lathe. Has anyone been successful at opening up a Dillon funnel?   

Dillon hardens the funnels. You need a carbide reamer to do it. 

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23 hours ago, Son of the Midnight Star said:

Swapping dies and setting up the powder measure is not the hard.  Adjusting the bell can be time consuming but not tough nor frustrating. 

the first thing I do is get the sizing die set up then I drop in the powder die and funnel and set the powder measure on top, install the clamp but only start the threads on the screws.  This allows you to spin the powder die up or down to adjust the bell. once that is set i snug the lock nut then I set the bullet seating depth right after I confirm the powder charge. 

takes me about 20-30 minutes to swap a caliber, an hour if I have to swap primer sizes. 

That said I have two 550B's bolted to the bench one set up of large primers and one set up for small. I also have about 24 tool heads and three powder measure that I swap around. 

Yep, easy-peasy.   I load three different .452 cartridges, one .452 belling tool (maybe 2, but I don't know where the 2nd is....), 3 tool heads, and I can change between catridges faster than loading a primer tube.  If only I could clone myself a couple of times, then I could keep up with primer, bullet casting, lubing & sizing requirements.

 

And for the record... 500 cases is far too few.  A couple thousand gets me by, and I don't get to shoot too often.  But... I'm of those that shoots so I can reload, not the other way 'round!  ;)

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1 hour ago, Griff said:

And for the record... 500 cases is far too few. 

 

Yeah,  but Sawmill Mary only shoots 10, maybe 12 matches a year and she never shoots otherwise.   I had all loaded up over winter and she's just now ran down to not enough for the next match.  And she shoots the same 44WCF load in both pistol and rifle.  So she goes through 120 rounds per match.  

 

I've been Googling around and finding all kinds of comments about Dillon expander powder die and measure.   Some interesting ones are coming from guys loading coated cast bullets in 300 Blackout and 308 Winchester.  Others 9mm, 40S&W and 45ACP with coated cast bullets.  To get past the shaving of the coating they are using custom made funnel dies that are a bit larger and have a second larger diameter at the top.  This allows the larger coated cast bullet to start a little deeper and not shave off the coating.   Upshot, the typical Dillon expander powder die is made for jacketed bullets. The expander die with the RCBS Cowboy dies have the two step sizing. I have older dies like that.  Unfortunately,  these custom made dies are not available in the calibers we shoot. 

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Doing more Googling and found some interesting products. 

 

Here is a company that make custom version of the Dillon expander powder die except with a stepped expander to better seat cast bullets.   And they offer them some of the calibers we use.

 

https://lousgunwork.com/M-Neck-Expander-Powder-Dies.html

 

Here is a listing on eBay for a measure quick connect dohicky that is somewhat better priced at $14.95 with free shipping. 

 

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F273540685189

 

Both of these companies make a bunch of upgrade products for Dillon and others. 

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Why not set up each tool head with its own powder die and swap the other 3 dies?  Double up the locking rings so they cannot move when unscrewing the die and you can easily swap them from one tool head to another. Back when I loaded on a single stage, double locking rings ensured the adjustments stayed put.

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1 hour ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Why not set up each tool head with its own powder die and swap the other 3 dies?  Double up the locking rings so they cannot move when unscrewing the die and you can easily swap them from one tool head to another. Back when I loaded on a single stage, double locking rings ensured the adjustments stayed put.

 

That I could do with what I have and no additional expense. 

 

But now I'm thinking the Dillon powder die is not the best design for cast bullets.  And is not compatible with BlackMZ that is bulky and tends to be sticky.  If I can reform this funnel die to make reliable with cast bullets and BlackMZ,   I can use the automatic measure for both powders.  I'd just swap out the charge bar - small to large.  

 

I'm confident I can make one of quick change clamps for next to nothing but if I can do the above, there would be little need to pull or adjust it. 

 

Sawmill Mary's Smoke Wagons in 44WCF have the tightest chambers and throats of all the 44WCF we have. I've had to double down to produce ammo that will work.  430 diameter bullets  - forget it.  They won't chamber.   We get by with 428 if everything else is perfect.  

 

I have the Dillon running fine and making good ammo.   But I think there is room for improvements. From my research,  others think so also  - seeing all the aftermarket products developed for them.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Warden Callaway

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I am loading 44WCF on my 450 did not see the reason to switch it over to a 550. That said I have the Dillon powder die that I can use with my Lyman BP thrower and its set and need no adjustments. But I also have the older spring operated Dillon powder measure which someone at Dillon suggested to stick with. But I load Goex with that and sometimes you do need to clean out the funnel as they sometimes bridge, I found that was needed more when I used to shoot APP. Once my dies are set then its sort of once and done.

That's my cents

 

Hochbauer

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