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Need help on purchasing a Dillon 550


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I want to pull the trigger on a Dillon for faster reloading than I currently do with my Lee Classic. A pard was going to help me get set up, but he's very busy at this time and recommended I deal with Dillon direct. I have no idea what extra components I need or what functions with real black powder - of which I will be using this exclusively for. I need it to do 44 WCF and 45 Colt. Any direction would be helpful. I understand that Dillon is backordered, but figured I'd place my order and get in line.

 

Many thanks,

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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Dillon will tell you not to load BP. I don’t think you can find proof that anybody ever blew up a press from static electricity while loading BP 
 

get strong mount. 

 

Roller handle is nice, but not really needed. 
 

get the tool kit. having every Allen wrench you will need right there is handy. Put them back in there place when done! 
 

get the spare parts kit. Yes Dillon will replace anything you break, but this way you do t have to wait, you can fix press, then order part. No downtime. 
 

I got the uniquetek aftermarket bearing for the shell plate. Made it quite a bit smoother. 
 

I prefer the Pyrex hoppers available from dramworx for my Dillon presses. 
 

I recently purchased a D750 from Double Alpha. Same price as Dillon direct, 2 weeks instead of 12+. I may have just gotten lucky, who knows! 

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Depending on your bench - you may or may not need the strong mount.

 

If you have a complete tool kit around the house already you don't necessarily need the Dillon tool kit, unless you want it for convenience.

 

Other than the spare parts kit Hoss mentioned, I'd recommend the deluxe quick change assembly and a caliber conversion kit (you'll need a caliber conversion kit #20206 for the .44WCF and #20137 for the .45 Colt).  Set both tool heads up and never have to mess with them again.

 

I am also partial to the Dillon dies, especially when loading lead bullets.  The quick-disassembly makes cleaning the dies so much easier and you don't lose your settings.

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Call Dillon and have them help you get what you want. The strong Mount is great. You will need the dies AND the conversion kit for each caliber you want to reload. It makes it easier if you have a separate toolhead for each caliber to make changing easy.

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To lower your initial expense, you can use non-Dillon dies in the 550. I only have one setup that I use full Dillon dies on.

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A toolhead for each caliber is nice. I load 2 different 45-70 loads, so have 2 toolheads there. I just use one powder dispenser, change the powder bar so I don’t have to search for the right setting every time. 
 

on my 750 where I only load 38sp, I prefer Lee dies as it’s easier to change from my pistol to my rifle bullets simple knob on top. One revolution difference between the 2 bullets. 
 


 

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Thanks y'all :)

 

Appreciate the quick feedback. One on hold with Dillon and currently the 29th person in line  :huh:

 

Busy Busy:

 

Anyway, here is my selection with the online shop tool:

 

RL 550C Reloader (44-40)

Redding Complete Three-Die Set (44-40)

RL 550 Caliber Conversion Kit (44-40)

RL Series Spare Parts Kit

RL 550 Series Deluxe Quick Change Assembly

Carbide Pistol Dies (45 Colt)

RL 550 Caliber Conversion Kit (45 Colt)

 

Look about right?

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

 

 

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Your parts list looks good to get started.

 

But, there's more to buy if you are going to load BP or even some of the subs.....

 

You need to decide what kind of powder dispensing you want to do, and if you need a filler on top of the powder charge.  This is a piece of the puzzle that Dillon most likely will be "no help" on.

 

Your major choices, from slow to fast, for real Black Powder loading:

 

1 - Don't use a measure at all on the Dillon.   Set up a black powder measure real close to press and throw your charge into a small container.  Instead of having a measure on the expander/powder-thru die in station 2, install a funnel to let you drop the charge (using that container) down thru the powder-thru die when the ram is at top of stroke.

 

1a - Even simpler and slower - after rotating the shell holder, take the expanded (empty) case off at station 3 and drop a charge into the case and put it back BEFORE you make the stoke on the press to seat a slug.

 

2 - Use a manually-thrown BP measure with an adapter to screw it into the top of the powder-thru die in station 2.  I've used a Lyman 55 BP with a Lyman adapter to give you a 7/8-14 thread that goes into the Dillon powder die.  It's not real slow once you get a few minutes of practice.   Handle down and case up into the expander/powder-thru die, reach up and cycle handle on the measure, then raise handle (to seat primer in station 1).

 

IF you need to add powdered filler and want to do it automatically on the Dillon 550, get a Lee Pro Auto-disk measure and Lee's auto-disk powder measure riser.   Choose a filler that will meter well through the auto-disk.   My choice ended up being fine granulated activated charcoal.

 

3 - If you do try to drop BP directly through the Dillon measure, use the large bar in the measure!  And be sure to clean it well after use.   There's  no moving steel parts in the Dillon measure (just the adjusting screw buried in the slide bar), so not really much chance of striking a spark to set off BP.   BUT, the measure parts are aluminum and WILL have a chance of corroding in the presence of BP dust or powder left in the measure.    Several pards have reported they have good luck with using the standard Dillon measure with real BP.

 

This potential corrosion concern, though, is what makes me use the manual-throw Lyman 55 BP measure, which has brass internals for non-spark and corrosion-resistance (option 2 in my list).   I always empty the Lyman measure after a loading session.  

 

I would add an extended primer slide support bearing plate (not a Dillon part!  See UniqueTek or some eBay vendor...).  The Dillon primer slide support plate is short enough that the primer arm when it gets a little use will stop short of a complete stroke forward to pick up a new primer.  This results in no primer in random cases!   You will get almost perfect primer feeding with a better arm support plate ("bearing").

 

 

For .44-40 loading with BP, I would REALLY recommend using a Redding Profile Crimp Die.   But since this is only a roll-crimp and has no seating capability, I would think about installing this in a single-stage press and doing the crimp step after taking rounds off the Dillon.  Now, if you don't load a filler and you can put a Dillon seater die (crimp backed off) in station 3, and the Redding profile crimp die in station 4, you have the perfect setup for the .44-40 (you know how tricky getting a good solid crimp on .44-40 BP loads can be....)

 

good luck, GJ

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4 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Your parts list looks good to get started.

 

But, there's more to buy if you are going to load BP or even some of the subs.....

 

You need to decide what kind of powder dispensing you want to do, and if you need a filler on top of the powder charge.  This is a piece of the puzzle that Dillon most likely will be "no help" on.

 

Your major choices, from slow to fast, for real Black Powder loading:

 

1 - Don't use a measure at all on the Dillon.   Set up a black powder measure real close to press and throw your charge into a small container.  Instead of having a measure on the expander/powder-thru die in station 2, install a funnel to let you drop the charge (using that container) down thru the powder-thru die when the ram is at top of stroke.

 

1a - Even simpler and slower - after rotating the shell holder, take the expanded (empty) case off at station 3 and drop a charge into the case and put it back BEFORE you make the stoke on the press to seat a slug.

 

2 - Use a manually-thrown BP measure with an adapter to screw it into the top of the powder-thru die in station 2.  I've used a Lyman 55 BP with a Lyman adapter to give you a 7/8-14 thread that goes into the Dillon powder die.  It's not real slow once you get a few minutes of practice.   Handle down and case up into the expander/powder-thru die, reach up and cycle handle on the measure, then raise handle (to seat primer in station 1).

 

IF you need to add powdered filler and want to do it automatically on the Dillon 550, get a Lee Pro Auto-disk measure and Lee's auto-disk powder measure riser.   Choose a filler that will meter well through the auto-disk.   My choice ended up being fine granulated activated charcoal.

 

3 - If you do try to drop BP directly through the Dillon measure, use the large bar in the measure!  And be sure to clean it well after use.   There's  no moving steel parts in the Dillon measure (just the adjusting screw buried in the slide bar), so not really much chance of striking a spark to set off BP.   BUT, the measure parts are aluminum and WILL have a chance of corroding in the presence of BP dust or powder left in the measure.    Several pards have reported they have good luck with using the standard Dillon measure with real BP.

 

This potential corrosion concern, though, is what makes me use the manual-throw Lyman 55 BP measure, which has brass internals for non-spark and corrosion-resistance (option 2 in my list).   I always empty the Lyman measure after a loading session.  

 

I would add an extended primer slide support bearing plate (not a Dillon part!  See UniqueTek or some eBay vendor...).  The Dillon primer slide support plate is short enough that the primer arm when it gets a little use will stop short of a complete stroke forward to pick up a new primer.  This results in no primer in random cases!   You will get almost perfect primer feeding with a better arm support plate ("bearing").

 

good luck, GJ

 Thanks - no filler will be used. Appreciate the detailed info Garrison Joe.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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13 minutes ago, Gunner Gatlin, SASS 10274L said:

 Thanks - no filler will be used. Appreciate the detailed info Garrison Joe.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

On the cleaning aspect...APP is more forgiving on build up and such. FFFG runs fine...

But you are using 'real black'.

Having only used Pyrodex other than APP...the Dillon had to be cleaned well after each use...from top to bottom. ;)

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Well, I'm 13th in line with Dillon and will rattle off my components list when I get to speak - won't mention "black powder" to the representative. Just will say I'm loading 45 Colt and 44-40.

 

Will look at the Dram Worx hopper and the Uniguetek components also. 

 

You folks have been great with your help/tips and direction.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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5 minutes ago, Gunner Gatlin, SASS 10274L said:

Well, I'm 13th in line with Dillon and will rattle off my components list when I get to speak - won't mention "black powder" to the representative. Just will say I'm loading 45 Colt and 44-40.

 

Will look at the Dram Worx hopper and the Uniguetek components also. 

 

You folks have been great with your help/tips and direction.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

With Dillon, it is worth the wait!!

You will not be unhappy with your purchase!

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If you do go with a mount look at these.  I prefer them as they have a quick change plate if you use a single stage as well.  I just upgraded to a 650.  You can’t go wrong with Dillon products.

 

https://inlinefabrication.com/collections/dillon

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Not sure if anyone mentioned it yet or not, but you might want to get extra primer tubes.  It's nice to have several ready to go and not have to stop and stab every 100 rounds.

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Fantastic. Finally was able to speak with the Dillon representative and after I listed the components he said "You're scary", I laughed and said "I'm scary?, he then said "yeah, you got all the components right" - thanks again pards! 

 

Order has been placed. :) 

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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I love the 550.  Load four primer tubes (100 primers each).  Set up 400 pieces of brass in loading blocks for inspection and lubing (I like to throw out bad brass before it gets loaded - and while it won't lock up the machine, trying to bell a .357 when your set up for .38 Special wastes a perfectly good piece of brass and a primer).  Then slowly work my way through.  Take a few minutes break after every 100 rounds when I drop another tube of primers.  I can load 400 rounds, including brass inspection/prep and initial loading of primer tubes, in less than two hours REALLY taking my time.  I can do it in under an hour if I decide to just do it.

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I'm new to the group but have some recent experience with Dillon customer service and wait times.  If you've heard people talk about how great Dillon customer service is you should believe the hype.  I sent them a press to be refurbished expecting to pay the $80 they quoted.  Received it back ahead of when they said it was going to be and didn't charge me a thing.  I ordered .38/.357 dies, toolhead, etc. last week anticipating it would be 14 weeks.  I got a tracking # saying it was shipped last night.  By all appearances they are underpromising and over-delivering.  I highly recommend reaching out to them. 

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57 minutes ago, Chief Rick said:

I love the 550.  Load four primer tubes (100 primers each).  Set up 400 pieces of brass in loading blocks for inspection and lubing (I like to throw out bad brass before it gets loaded - and while it won't lock up the machine, trying to bell a .357 when your set up for .38 Special wastes a perfectly good piece of brass and a primer).  Then slowly work my way through.  Take a few minutes break after every 100 rounds when I drop another tube of primers.  I can load 400 rounds, including brass inspection/prep and initial loading of primer tubes, in less than two hours REALLY taking my time.  I can do it in under an hour if I decide to just do it.

Now see...I ditto that, but like the Square Deal B.

Easy to watch 4 cases, and fix a boo-boo. But only load one cal on mine. Shanley has the extra plates/dies for multiple on his.

But they told me 550 is ideal for multiple cals.

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If you are loading .44WCF and .45 Colt with black you have your way of doing it.  I don't see any more speed using the 550 than using a single stage other than you don't have to change out dies for each step.  You still have to use a drop tube or vibreator to get your powder charge.  You need a powder drop tube for the 500 to bell and hand drop powder through.   

 

My set up is: sizing die and prime rotate to Powder drop/belling die, bell case then pull case drop powder from drop tube or put powder in case and viberate to get the right charge, go to my single stage to compress the charge, replace case in Dillon rotate to Setting die  insert wad and bullet and seat rotate to Crimp die, crimp.  I don't drop black from my Dillon powder measure as it would fill the case to full or over flow it.  The bullet would have to compress an that deforms the bullet.

 

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3 hours ago, Skinny snake eyes pickins said:

If you do go with a mount look at these.  I prefer them as they have a quick change plate if you use a single stage as well.  I just upgraded to a 650.  You can’t go wrong with Dillon products.

 

https://inlinefabrication.com/collections/dillon

I will second Inlinefabrication.  I don't have any experience with the Dillon Strongmount, but the Inlinefabrication mount is built like a tank (in a good way).  I got their standard 550 mount and didn't get the quick change plate.  I mounted it this past weekend and couldn't ask for a more solid mount.  It is a little more expensive than the Dillon Strongmount but the metal thickness, build quality, and height/configuration options seemed worthwhile to me.  I was not disappointed.

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+1 on the extra primer tubes

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I use a Frankfort Arsenal Vibra prime. Load straight into Dillon pickup tube with the pick up end off. Just hold it in the Vibra prime.  

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+1 for extra pickup tubes. I also really like the Uniquetek primer bar support plate and their light that goes down the center hole in the toolhead. I use Garrison Joe's method 1a except I place cases in a 50 round tray, dip the charges then place them back in station three with a bullet in batches of 50 or 100.

 

Imis

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Wow! It seems that the majority of items I ordered, including the RL 550  itself are shipping today! Had prepared for 12 weeks or whatever, but...good news :D Also, ordered the extra primer tubes and those are shipping as well...

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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I'd be glad to drive up and help you set it up. Then I could just drive a little north to the cabin.

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Hi GG,

 

     This happened to me.  I over torqued my tool head years ago.  

 

     Don't over torque the hex screws that hold the interchangeable tool heads down.  

     

     If they're screwed in too tight;  you will unintentionally back out the heli-coil thread inserts on the pot-metal housing when you go to change tool heads.

 

     If you back out the thread inserts -- you can't screw them back in.  You will have to send the machine to Dillon to get it fixed.  

 

     The part costs too much money and they will not replace it for free.  The part on my machine was $144 and that was years ago.   

 

     I learned to always use the short end of the hex wrench or Allen wrench to tighten the screws. This is the way the guy does it on the Dillon video.  Tighten them until they're just snug.  

 

     This might save you some grief in the future.  I hope this helps. 

 

     All the best,

     Mo

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I've loaded BP thru the Dillon measure since I bought my first 550B in 1987.  As they say in south Texas, "es no problemo senor!"  

 

Get everything Hoss sez, plus:

 

the Primer Bearing Plate upgrade from:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dillon-550B-Primer-Track-Bearing-Plate-W-Ball-Bearing/231783630462, and

 

this lighting kit:  https://www.amazon.com/KMS-Squared-Reloading-Press-Dillon/dp/B07DCZ9VJB

 

If all you're going to load is BP, you'll only need the large powder bar... But, the Uniquetek adjuster is such a great upgrade that I found it nearly indispensable.  I have 3 of them on my powder bars, 

 

Edited to add:  I've never had to remove either .44-40 or 45 Colt cases for dropping powder charges... Even on hot, humid summer days, the large bar drops a full charge each and every time.  Cool rainy days or nights... loads fine.  All the hoopla about compressed charges with BP is just that "hoopla"... yes, it will save you from ringing a barrel in a muzzle loader, where you're loading a charge of 100 grains with nothing between the charge and the barrel... but with either the 44WCF or 45 Colt, modern cases are only going to hold about 33-35 grains of 2F, and the case itself acts as a cushion between the charge and the barrel.  I've loaded from 25 grains to 35 grains in my 45 Colt with bullets from 160 to 250 grains and in the 35 years of shooting BP in CAS with these charges in a Rossi, 2 Uberti 1873s and a Uberti 1860, there's been no indication that anything untoward is happening.

 

Plus, if you run into any hiccup in setting up your 550, call their customer service line... those guys can help solve probably any problem you could possible experience...  yes, right over the phone without have to see pictures... they KNOW their machines... and they've probably heard of every possible bonehead mistake anyone could come up with.

 

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10 hours ago, Michigan Slim said:

I'd be glad to drive up and help you set it up. Then I could just drive a little north to the cabin.

 That would be great Slim. Can have a slab of ribs ready to eat.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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5 hours ago, Gunner Gatlin, SASS 10274L said:

 That would be great Slim. Can have a slab of ribs ready to eat.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

You have my number.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My Dillon press and most of the stuff arrived in good order - just waiting on the Inline Fabrications base to mount it up (realized table is a wee bit too low).

 

Also just ordered two Dram Worx Pyrex hoppers - one for the main unit and the other for the quick change.

 

Pretty excited on my next level of BP reloading.  

 

Thanks again (and again :) ) for y'alls help.

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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