Reloading Room


Reloading Table

(Click to enlarge)

The newest addition is that air conditioner in the upper-left corner. With daily temperatures already over 100 in late May, it’s what you may acknowledge as a necessity here in Phoenix Arizona.

Some other features you may notice will include the “L” brackets holding the brass feeder on the top of the Dillon 650 and clamping it to the wall, two walls to be precise. For whatever reason, when I would get cranking at a regular pace, the “tower” would start to wobble and eventually feed a piece of brass upside down. Depriming an upside down shell doesn’t work. Indeed, it jams up the works pretty good. But with the head now glued to the wall as you see it, that no longer happens.

Even so, the table is bolted to the rear and side walls. The table top consists of a sheet of 1″ particle board with a sheet of 3/4″ plywood glued and screwed to its top. Just exactly how that 650 gets to rockin’ with all that is beyond me but, well, there it is.

Looking at the 650, you’ll see all the bells and whistles from Dillon. I particularly like the powder checker but, in my paranoia, you can also see the side of the red battery tube that is hose clamped to the frame and the black “snake” coming from its end that carries the wires to the white LED that is aimed down so I can look inside each shell before setting the bullet on top. Yeah, I look at how much powder is in every shell, and Dillon “feels” for it too. And so far, no squibs. (Knock on wood.)

The mechanical balance on the table is the backup and double-check for the RCBS digital scale on the shelf. RCBS equipment is green, in case you didn’t know, so that should help you spot it. Two tiny boxes just to the right of the digital scale are the check weights. Paranoia again. I turn the scale on 30 minutes before loading to let it reach a stable temperature. I then press its “Zero” button and then drop in the two tiny 2.0 grain weights. The scale should read 4.0 grains. (My wad load is 3.8 grains of Hodgdon’s Clays; I check the scale as close to that as the check weights allow.) If the scale disagrees with the check weights, then I would have to stop and figure out what’s wrong. That’s where the mechanical balance would come into play. But so far, it hasn’t been needed.

But with the new air conditioner, the timing of all this will have to change.

The reloading room is part of the garage and it’s on the west side of the house where the concrete block construction soaks up the infrared all afternoon. When the sun goes down, all that infrared re-radiating into the garage and reloading room will push the interior temperature 10 degrees above the high at the airport.

The record high in Phoenix is 118. Add 10 and you’ll understand why I haven’t done much reloading over the past several summers.

And when I did reload, I’ve noticed that I had to adjust the powder drop with the season to get those same 3.8 grains of Clays. Without doing so, summer loads would have been about 0.2 grains lighter. I presume this is because the size of that cavity in the Dillon powder drop was changing size with the temperature. Whether it is the cavity adjustment screw (of UniqueTek.com’s Micrometer Powder Bar Kit) getting longer in the heat or the cavity itself getting smaller as the metal sides adjust to the temperature, I couldn’t say. I just know it changed about 0.2 grains with a temperature change of 50 degrees or so.

But now, my new plan is to start the air conditioner an hour ahead and go back inside, possibly for dinner with a recorded NCIS episode. Half way through the show, I’ll pause it to run back out and turn on the RCBS digital scale.

With the air conditioner, I’m looking for that to be less of an issue. If it’s not, I’ll have to do some more sleuthing.

The black box on the tabletop to the left of the mechanical scale is the digital caliper. I keep two spare batteries in the box so I’m never denied its truth-telling. I’ve thought of getting a purely mechanical caliper as a double-check but, well, I’ve had no reason to suspect the caliper of any funny business. Not yet, anyway.

The rest of the stuff is typical for home shops and reloading rooms.

Oh yeah, you can see the spare license plate for the car hanging on the wall to the upper left. It’s one of those geeky obscure codes and if you know what it means, then you’re a significant as well as an “old time” geek yourself.


Under Table Storage

Beneath the table are my three buckets of brass, all 45 ACP. The left-most reads, “Clean 45 ACP (Needs Martindale)”, which refers to the Martindale gauge through which I hand-pass each and every piece of brass before I reload it.

Well, there’s one exception to that rule. I’ve been shooting some Aguila in my ball gun and that always comes to the reloader a bit fat. It won’t go through the Martindale gauge in that once-fired condition. But after resizing, reloading with the lighter wad loads and firing, it passes. It seems to be reasonably good brass so I make an exception for it. But only for that one brand, and only after the first firing. Anything that fails the Martindale gauge after that is tossed.

The use of the middle bucket should now be obvious from its label, “Once Fired.”

The right-most bucket is for dirty brass but I try to keep it empty. That is, the day after a match, I clean brass. It then goes into the “Clean 45 ACP” bucket to await the Martindale gauge. And after passing the gauge, the cleaned and gauged brass is stored in empty 1 qt yogurt containers — they hold about 200 pieces each and are the right quantity to dump into the shell feeder on the top of the Dillon without jamming it up. Those containers full of ready-to-load brass are stored out in the garage in a cabinet with other supplies.

More recently, I’ve suffered a spate of high primers, perhaps as many as 1 per 100. I shoot and reload the same brass a lot and someone suggested that after a half dozen firings, the primer pockets may accumulate enough crud to prevent the primers from seating correctly. So today I bought a primer pocket reamer and will spend a couple of hours going through everything. [Boring!]

On top of the middle bucket you can see a plastic jar labelled, “Bucket O’ Primers.” There’s about an inch of water in the jar and damaged primers go in there. In a different posting here on this blog, you can read of my researches into deactivating primers but, in a nut shell and depending on who you ask, water will do it, but only until the material dries out again, or oil will do it, or won’t, or it just can’t be done. These reports are from the companies that make them! My “final answer” came from a Phoenix Police officer who said he soaks them in water until trash day, puts them in the trash wet and hopes they make it to the city dump before reactivating.

Interesting.

The baggie you see to the right contains 38 Special brass. Only my snubbie shoots that caliber and I don’t (yet) reload for it. Someday I’ll have a nice K-38 for Bullseye and will need that brass but, for now, I’m just collecting.


Work Table

Here’s the final part of the area. This is where I clean guns, fix lamps, break small irreplaceable plastic parts and so forth.

On the extreme left you can just barely see the Lyman single-stage press I occasionally use, mostly to shrink that once-fired Aguilla brass. The press is attached to the board you see and the near end is held to the table with that large, rusty “C” clamp. The far end is held down by a screw through the board and into the work table below.

You can see a couple of bottles of Dillon’s purplish brass polish on the shelf but most of the other items are standard fare for anyone’s home workshop that’s been accumulating tools, bolts and odd parts for a couple of decades.

Off to the left is storage with most of the items being put there years ago and forgotten. Worse, of course, is the storage shed in the backyard. We haven’t seen the boxes in its deepest parts for more than a decade. And then there are the items stored in the attic above the garage we put in there when the roof was off but can’t get to now. We don’t have even the faintest of clues about what’s up there.

But that’s another story.

Keep ’em in the black, ya’ll!

6 thoughts on “Reloading Room

  1. Whenever you do get your K-38, 3.1gr of W231 behind a 148gr hollow-base wadcutter has been giving me good results out of my S&W 686; I can only imagine that it would be better out of a chamber properly designed for .38SPL.

    Nice setup; I'm just getting into reloading, myself (yay for not being able to find primers anywhere…), but I'm working off an RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage. One day a Dillon will find its way onto my bench…one day.

  2. I enjoy reloading and all the intricacies nearly as much as I enjoy the “unloading” at the firing line.
    Thanks for the recipe, Kent. I’ll put it in the notebook (1st image, bottom right corner) for future use.

  3. I don't have any Bullseye powder to play with, but I've read that an equivalent load is 2.7 or 2.8gr of Bullseye behind the same bullet.

    This is really equivalent to cooking, what with recipes and ingredients and processes and whatnot. I've got a recipe or two memorized (3.1gr W231/148gr HBWC) and some I need to tweak (3.6gr W231 behind a 185gr .45 SWC is a bit light and unforgiving at 50 yards in my S&W 625, so I'll probably need to bump up the charge a bit), but I really need a recipe book (reloading manual) for reference…

  4. Ed:
    Thanks for the nice post. One question..how large is the reloading room? I haven’t started reloading, but I know I’m going to be forced into it. (Wonder when the parts shortage will be over??).

    Thanks again.

  5. The room is about six ft wide and twelve feet deep — the reloading table spans that six ft width. While reloading, if I move away more than a half-step, I bump into the other table. It’s crowded but workable and, compared to some closet arrangements I’ve seen, I have a lot more space than others.

    As to the “stuff”, yeah, I’m guilty as charged because it’s all stored elsewhere. (After installing the air conditioner and cleaning up the debris, the wife said I should take a picture to help me remember what the place *should* look like. I dutifully complied with a “Yes, dear.”)

    One cabinet in the garage has the supply of bullets — all on the bottom-most shelf because of the weight. That cabinet also has the “spare parts” for the 650 which, after a couple of years, is more of a “I should toss this stuff” pile. Cleaning supplies are in that same cabinet.
    Then, there’s the garage “junk table” whose drawers house a dozen quart yogurt containers now filled with cleaned and Martindale’d 45 ACP brass.
    Inside the house where it is air conditioned 100% of the time and in a locked but vented storage locker from Ikea is the 8 lb container of Hodgdon’s Clays, the 3-4 qt size (wt?) containers of W231 and other powders I use on rare occasions and my supply of Winchester Large Primers which is slightly more than one “sleeve” at the moment.

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