trailboss
trailboss
4 posts
Joined January 2016

inconsistent powder charge

I am new to the RL550B. While I do not have the press secured to the wall, it is pretty solid. I have been trying to maintain a consistent powder charge and am having some issue. For instance out of 36 True Blue throws, I got 8 @ 4.2, 16 @ 4.3, 10 @ 4.4, and 2 @ 4.5. Trying to load with VV N320 where range is from 2.9 - 3.1 makes me nervous. I misplaced my charge list.
I have read many tips.
1) securely mount press - pretty solid now but could beef up
2) keep powder hopper half full - HOW to do without mixing batches of powder? Down to last half pound of 1 pound jug for instance. Which is more important?
3) consistency in operation - Trying best to keep it moving as consistent to point of loading all and pulling some loaded aside to check charge. If stop to weigh a charge or refill primer tube, I pull next 3 charges as first one is always a tenth of a grain or so higher. Is there easy method to check powder charge without stopping operation which in turn increases weight of next load?
4) I am using baffle in hopper and have wiped with dryer sheet
5) likely overly cautious but loading 380 for daughter so cannot be too careful.
6) haven't tried many powders yet. Just getting started.
7) for 380 with VV N320, thinking of sizing and priming only then starting over for the rest? Seems a waste to do in stages on progressive. Possibly size in step one as well and reset powder funnel to just drop powder.
8) I have heard that bolt in charge bar can work itself during use. I cannot tell if it is
9) some people polish hopper - hate to mess with it if not necessary or recommended
10) should I ground press to wall outlet ground plug? heard this tip as well.
11) many tips on web. I'm sure some good, some not so much
12) likely addressed many times before, but searching such common terms makes it difficult to narrow down
13) I try to use starting load so if it gains 4 tenths I will still be in safe range. Some throws end up on lighter side as well. Unfortunately not a wide range in many loads.
14) primarily load plated bullets so data vague to begin with so even more concerned with wider range

Maybe the range is normal. I just want to start out doing it right. Better safe than sorry. Thanks for any input.
dillon
Administrator
dillon
3,222 posts
Joined July 2007

RE: inconsistent powder charge

First, keep in mind that powder scales are accurate to +/- .1 grain. That is the industry standard.
Ball powders should meter to within +/- .1 grain. Flake powders will vary up to +/- .2 grain, due to the shape of the powder flakes. Some large flake powders, such as Unique, 800-X, may vary up to .3 grain.
To minimize powder charge variation, be sure you flare the case mouth at least .010" larger than a sized, unflared case mouth measures, to a maximum of .020" larger.
Be sure the powder bar is being fully retracted by the failsafe rod.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwqazYqbx5M
wyleymoore
wyleymoore
2 posts
Joined January 2008

RE: inconsistent powder charge

Odd about the amount of case mouth flare. I flare my pistol (40S&W, 45acp, 9mm, etc) to the absolute minimum that will let the bullet seat smoothly with no "shaving" or etc. With my favorite ball powders I get very consistant charges, well within .1grain. I've found that as long as the bar does a full travel stop to stop, smoothly, the charges are right on.
AtlCapt
AtlCapt
6 posts
Joined January 2013

RE: inconsistent powder charge

I have been fighting inconsistent powder charge since I purchased my two Dillon machines (RL 550B). I can accept the tolerance standards as described. I first started of course with the Dillon Powder Dies. No matter how I adjusted it just did not work correctly. I took the powder measure apart and polished the interior. That did not work. I purchased the 3rd party powder accessories from Unitek. Powder measured better especially with Power Pistol but still measured inconsistently with popular flaked powders such as unique and 800X. My concern is not the variance of .2 or .3, so called "industry standards." My concern is with a wider variance. I occasionally get an overthrow but not to exceed the industry standard. Yesterday I reinstalled the Dillon factory powder bar in one machine and the Dillon Powder Bar with the powder adjustment by UniTek in the other.
I set both hoppers with 800X and set the measure to 10 grains. I operated the press and adjusted the powder measure until I began to get consistent readings (using the Dillon beam scale). I then charged 50 .44 magnum cases in each press. After completing this process I weighed each case using my RCBS Charge Master. Both machines yielded similar results. I got 12 over charges of 10.1 and 10.2 which is certainly acceptable. I got 9 under charges of 2.9 to 7.5. This is unacceptable. If I had loaded and shot these, I most certainly got a squib load. I have lost confidence in Dillon's powder dispenser and question every load.
The forum is full of posts regarding the performance of the Powder Measure and some one should produce a list of powders that do not meter well in Dillon machines. Or better yet improve the powder measure where it meters correctly. Powder metering in my opinion is the most critical part of reloading and Dillon does not measure up in this area.
dillon
Administrator
dillon
3,222 posts
Joined July 2007

RE: inconsistent powder charge

When weighing charges, be sure to used a sized, unflared case to activate the powder measure each time. Undercharges are often an indicator of not flaring the case enough to fully move the powder bar. Be sure cases are flared at least .010" larger than a sized, unflared case mouth measures. This ensures that the powder bar travels the full distance each stroke. The other area to check is the blue wing nut at the bottom of the failsafe rod. This rod needs to be tight enough so that the coil spring above it is partially compressed at the end of the upstroke. This ensures the powder bar is fully retracted and picking up a whole powder charge.
800-X should meter within +/- .2-.3 grain, due to the large flake size. But this won't cause significant undercharges.
danmc61@gmail.com
danmc61@gmail.com
1 post
Joined February 2018

RE: inconsistent powder charge

I noticed wildly inconsistent charges switching from Allianz Bullseye to Hogdon Clays. I disassembled the powder drop and gave everything a good cleaning. The Powder die had some Bullseye adhering to the walls, and I surmised the flake-type Clays was collecting and binding every so often and leading to erratic drops.
I ran a dry sheet over and through everything, reloaded with Clays, and am now seeing consistent drops.
StevefromOhio
StevefromOhio
13 posts
Joined May 2019

RE: inconsistent powder charge

I too had inconsistent powder drops and did a complete cleaning of the powder drop assembly. Took it all apart. Took very light wet sandpaper and cleaned up all the surfaces.
Cleaned the hopper with a product called Awesome that I get from Dollar Store. The inside of the hopper had an oily residue on it so that took that out. Seems that powder leaves that residue over time. My auto drop is over 25 years old. Washed it all up and the plastic drum was clear again!
Did some tests with Varget...4166.....Reloader 15......BLC-2......
All were within + or - .1 grains. Often times within .01 or right on the money. I am using a My Weigh 250 digital scale.
I also got rid of the spring loaded powder hold down assembly that is available online. Seems that the factory way of doing it is way more stable and better.
I now have complete confidence that my powder weight will be what I set it at.
Craig Peer
Craig Peer
1 post
Joined January 2008

RE: inconsistent powder charge

I also had problems with Unique powder charges ( first time I've used it ) being all over the place. Took the entire powder hopper assembly apart and gave everything a thorough cleaning with rubbing alcohol with pipe cleaners and shop towels. Powder was hung up for some reason in the drop tube. Everything works fine now. Remind me to just clean this with alcohol on a regular basis to prevent problems !
wbrammer
wbrammer
4 posts
Joined February 2013

RE: inconsistent powder charge

When I first started reloading with my RL55b >25 years ago, I had a problem with backlash in the adjustment screw. The backlash is caused by turning it clockwise and counterclockwise when you're very close to your target charge. I solved this by deliberately overshooting my target charge by several turns of the screw, then slowly tuning it back the other way by small increments until I reach my target charge exactly. The closer I get, the smaller the increments, but always turning the screw in the same direction until I reach the target charge. And if I overshoot, I turn the screw several times and do it all over again. Otherwise, the backlash would cause the charge bar to lose position on the screw and I'd have quite a different load from when I started. It sounds like a lot of trouble but in reality it only takes an extra 2 or 3 minutes to adjust it this way.

FWIW, I have also found that my fan (it's hot in my garage) will blow on my scale and interfere with my measurements! So I turn it off for a couple of minutes when I'm using my scale.
Coinbro327@outlook.com
Coinbro327@outloo...
1 post
Joined May 2020

RE: inconsistent powder charge

Mine got so much powder built up inside the bell housing I cleaned out a huge chunk and runs perfect all types and charges of powder