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Lee Loadmaster…primer problems?

Posted by Duane Wessels on

Ok so last night and this morning I saw a few post’s on a couple of Facebook pages about tipped, crushed or primers not feeding on the Loadmaster.


I know my press is set correctly and only experience this problem now and again and have determined that the problem is not the press but old worn out brass.


But there can be problems on the press that will cause issues like this.


So here are a few tips and tricks to sort this out.


First off, some of the older presses are known to have priming problems, the newer presses not so much but incorrectly set up presses will cause problems.


Let’s start at the primer trough…this must to be clean and free of any dirt. Take it out and have a look. Remove the trough cover and carefully inspect the hole where the primer passes through. Remove any burrs on this hole with a sharp razor knife. The hole does not provide guidance for the primer, but any burr will cause a potential tipped primer. Carefully inspect the primer slider for any nicks, burrs or flash and be certain you have the correct slider for the primer size (small or large).


Now carefully inspect the primer pin for any nicks or burrs. A small nick on the large diameter of the pin will cause it to stick up and cause primer tipping. A bit of lube/grease on the bottom of the pin, where the rocker arm meets also helps…only a little bit. Be sure the small spring is installed and intact.


Now reinstall the primer trough. Cycle the primer rocker and be sure the primer pin retracts completely.


Now here is the part where most of the problems occur on the Loadmaster…die set up! Remember there is a lot happening in the press and if only one little thing is out you will have problems…


The press is designed to work with 5 dies or just 3….the 3 die setup may cause priming problems if there is not a die in station 2 to guide the brass correctly to allow the primer to seat. It may cause problems but not always…but the press is designed for 5 dies and works best when run like this.


Station 1 – Universal Decapping Die, Station 2 – Sizing die- no decapping pin!, Station 3 – Powder and flare, Station 4 – Bullet Seat, Station 5 – Factory Crimp


The die set up must be spot on or you will have problems. Your sizing die and FCD must touch the shell plate for proper sizing and crimping. Lee even suggests that you turn these dies ¼ deeper than touching but most important these 2 dies must be set to the exact same depth. If not you will have wandering COL’s and you guessed it priming problems!


Remember that everything happens on the upstroke with the Loadmaster, if your sizing die and FCD are not at the exact same depth your shell plate will not make contact with the dies properly…and will cause the primer arm to work at a slight angle…and this will tip, crush primers.


The trick in set up is as follows:


Raise the ram to the top and install your dies as per the instructions, take careful note of the sizing die and factory crimp die…make sure they are both touching the shell plate as instructed and at the same depth.


Do not set your priming depth yet!


Once you are happy with your die setup have a look at the bottom of the press. With the ram to the top make sure that the handle engages the stop on the linkage. The handle should not move further than this…if it does your dies are set to shallow, if it does not make contact here, your dies are set to deep.


Now set your priming depth as per the instructions by adjusting the primer actuator bolt. Now the most important part…make sure that there is a bit of play left in the rocker arm when the ram is at the top!


If not then go have a look at your die set up again! A die is set too deep. This can make you think that the primer seating depth is now incorrect and not deep enough. When the deeper adjustment is made to the primer depth, the priming pin rises too soon.


This causes the primer slider to have to push the primer up and on the pin instead of simply sliding it on. This will result in tipped primers and destroyed primer sliders. The deeper primer adjustment is now also putting far too much pressure on the primer rocker arm and a destroyed carrier will result.


If all this is set up correctly the Loadmaster should not have any priming problems!


My Loadmaster feeds the last primer in the trough, how do I know? Well I had to stop loading because I ran out of primers in the trough a couple of times…but the last one feeds and seats!


Now on to the brass…which I think is the main culprit of crushed primers (if your press is set up correctly)


We handgun reloaders can sometimes be a strange bunch, we blame our presses, the manufacturer of primers and everyone else because how dare a primer crush in your brass…your brass…hmmm…that has been shot 30 times and was 10 to 1 picked up from the range!


Brass does not last forever and will cause problems the older they get.


Primer pockets collect dirt and can change size after multiple firings so you can clean them or swage them if you like…or be like me, I chuck brass that causes problems. Especially 9mmp, it’s not as if there is a shortage of 9mmp brass….


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