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Scale fails

06 Feb 2013
@ 08:56 pm (GMT)


When i first started reloading I bought a Lees anniversary Kit . The first thing I did was bin the Lee powder scales for a set of Hornady GS 1500. They worked well enough. I followed the instructions, zeroed as per manual. Trusted what they said. To be fair I didn't know any better.

So I started going away from book max pressure and reloading to individual rifle pressure signs(for the given load combination). I weigh every charge always have always will. On paying attention to the scale i noticed it would vary quite a bit volume wise between loads. Also I'd pull the pan off the scale and put it back on. Anything from .1 to .5 variance. Conclusion they were duds.
I should note i did everything I could for them before i declared them bung. Dead level flat surface(this alone is checked and adjusted if ness every time i weigh my loads). Out of the way of draft and breeze. Not under Fluorescent light. In an area that doesn't suffer fluctuation of humidity or temperature (at least not while I'm reloading). Stored properly.

Next step a couple of chats with people round the traps and the general conclusion was some form of Ohaus scales are the go, which is good cause bar the old Hornady/Pacific there all made by Ohaus now or at least the higher end offings from each brand. I then Looked around and ordered a set of Dillon Eliminators(made by Ohaus) and by a cock up by Brownell's in the states a set of RCBS chargemasters . In the interim I bought a set of Lee saftey scales. Cause "there accurate but very frustrating" is the tip I got from anyone who commented on them.

Game played NO
I adapted to the Lees and can weigh a load alot quicker than the Hornadys as I'm not back tracking and rechecking each load. Actually I've grown quiet fond of them. But as is my nature i like to have both on the bench and check against each other. What i Found was the Hornady are true to the accuracy rating of plus or minus .1 of a grain. ONLY when the charge was dumped on them and aloud to settle. They would not allow you(not consistently) to trickle up to the load from say a grain out. When trickling to a desired weight I'd get the crazy fluctuations. From what i can read on the net many electronic scales from cheap to mega expensive are like this.

Enter the Dillon's. These arrived today. These things are awsum. Well built and the fastest settle I've ever experienced (I've lived a sheltered Life). Straight to the bench check and calibrate my flat surface. Zero scale job done. Weigh my first load and as i went to put it in the case thought should probably just check these against the Lees. Not even close. .6 of a grain out. start again re check everything. Zero both scales and the Hornadys. Throw charge and weigh on the Dillon's , transfer to lee's then to Hornadys. Result half a grain out. Inspect Dillon's with fine tooth comb found a fault with the balance. An hour in the house back in the box and out the door to the supplier( It's not the suppliers fault he didn't build them).

I will now wait for the RCBS to turn up should be in the next couple of days. Hopefully they don't suck and the Lees don't claim another victim. Cause there running 2 for 2 at the moment
As you can imagine I'm well over this. So if anyone has any options I may have overlooked I'd be keen to hear about them. But i gota say I can't take another failure.


07 Feb 2013
@ 03:59 am (GMT)

Matt Reid

Re: Scale fails
Hi there,

It's unfortunate you have had such a bad run with scales. I recently went to the Dillon scales following the Lee safety scales. I ran several charges to confirm they were both accurate to within 1/20th of a grain of each other. In terms of ease of use, the Dillons are a dream to work with. No complaints here. Hopefully better luck with your next model...
07 Feb 2013
@ 06:16 am (GMT)

Trevor Wilkes

Re: Scale fails
Hi Blitzed,
I have been through the scale woes myself I had a good run with my lynman 1200 DPS 1200 until I answered my mobile phone while trickling powder that trashed it tried all the tricks but it never recovered.
So I got on the net and got myself a Ohaus PA 213C for $1000.00au yes its alot but I will say this my hand loads have become noticabily more consistant and repeatable.
I love the enviroment filter to suit conditions lab/low general/med industrial/high and yes it works.
I ended up cutting the scalepan off the end of the dps 3 and used the powder feeder to trickle powder to the ohaus through the sliding glass door via a straw slid over the dispenser tube until I get the glazier to put a hole in the centre of the door.
Yes im very happy with them I was going to spend an extra $500 and get the next level up but unless your powder is 1/4 the size of 2206h then there is no point.
07 Feb 2013
@ 10:16 am (GMT)


Re: Scale fails
Hopefully the RCBS is good to you, I have been using one for at least three or four years now. The only issue I have had with it is I managed to get a few kernels under the pan rest and the sensor and this caused things to slow up and wander, I removed the kernels with a pair of fine tweezers very carefully and alls been well ever since. It does through charges .1 to .4 over a fair bit depending on the powder and the amount in the storage tube but I just use a Lee powder scoop to remove the excess. I have RCBS balance scale that I check the odd charge and its spot on, or at least accurate enough to keep me safe and velocities spot on.
Good luck! Aj
07 Feb 2013
@ 04:34 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Scale fails

I had an accurate set of Lyman balance beam scales for years. One day (two years ago) they took a tumble off a shelf and goodbye scales. Time to go scales shopping.

I bought an expensive Redding balance beam scale. This was so bad I threw it in the rubbish bin in disgust. Have never touched a Redding product since. I then bought the most expensive set of RCBS Ohaus scales I could find. Same again, wouldn't settle right. I got a refund that time.

I emailed Dillon, explained what I did for a living as a commercial operator, one of the staff hand picked me an Eliminator scale (Ohaus) and it has been great. The scale is however extremely sensitive to the slightest airflow or even breathing. The Eliminator scale is the same as the early Lyman Ohaus scales.

Some tips.
Lee are definitely a great scale but frustratingly slow. Great to use as a control.

I don't use digital. I don't use automatic scales as I am mostly doing load development, not ammo production (I would need a commercial loading permit for this).

Always check the tare weight of a balance beam scale. If the tare weight is wrong, disassemble the pan and add or remove lead shot. Use a soft bullet tip as a source of lead shavings if required. Do not use Hornady match bullets to tare scales. A tare weight is best but in Lieu of a tare weight, Berger bullets are pretty good for taring scales. A spare set of Lee scales work well as a control. I really do think the Lee scales are the best but we cannot sit for that long waiting for each charge with such a heavy work load.

Balance beam scales will often change measurements depending on where the blade sits on the (usually frosted glass) bearings. I find it best to push the beam away from me to the offside edge of the bearings. This action ensures that the blades are set in the same place each time I adjust the balance beam. Just something I have found important to do over the years.

Keep the blades clean from lint. Steph cleans the blades each time she reloads and puts a drop of CRC on them to keep them lightly lubed and prevent rusting. We tried heavier oil but it gums up and does not track trickled charges well. The CRC (CRC long life is very good) bit it will attract dust and lint so again, keep an eye on any build up. Steph uses an air gun to make sure minute (unseen) dust particles are blown away. And obviously, be careful of CRC and similar lube/solvents around the pan and scales in general as a source of powder contamination. Same goes for finger tips.

On all balance beam scales apart from lee, keep the pan gently swinging during trickling, this ensures the blades and bearings remain free and track trickled charges.

Steph likes to weigh, then lift the pan, shake the pan, then dump it back down again- when we are chasing sub half inch.

A chrony can help determine whether the scales are working optimally- but only if the chrony is set up at its optimum distance, charge rates are at optimum bulk density / sweet spot and weather conditions optimal. The chrony is not an easy answer but with the right set up, it can be a useful aid.

In older houses, breezes can pass through the edges of wood framed windows. Keep doors closed to minimize this effect. Check window frames and have a think about whether old windows frame breezes can be addressed. I also mentioned breathing. Sounds silly but this has a pronounced effect on our sensitive scales. By simply changing the position of your head or position of the scales, this problem can be eliminated. Lee are prone to this as well, taking a very long time to settle unlike the Eliminator/Ohaus which settles quickly.

On some scales, the blades are not centered in the balance beam (not 90 degrees to the bearings). The blade assembly is press fit and can be rotated if need be, but it is extremely difficult to line the v of the blade true to the v of the bearings. In these instances, its best to send the scales back to the seller.

You will have noted that I had RCBS Ohaus scales, had trouble with them, got rid of them, then purchased Dillon Eliminator scales which are again made by Ohaus. Its a bit daunting isn't it. Ohaus make Lyman, RCBS and Dillon brand scales, each to slightly different specs but with the same base design. Its a box of chocolates these days. It is so odd, scales are fundamental to hand loading and have the potential to cause dangerous conditions if inaccurate. Currently, it can be very difficult to find accurate and reliable scales. Today we have the technology, but the quality is often far lower than it was 50 years ago. Old Ohaus scales that are in good condition are as accurate today as they were when they were built many years ago.

I reckon that if I went digital, it would need to be something akin to what Trev has purchased- medical / chemist grade. We did borrow an RCBS chargemaster automated system for a while, found it quite accurate.
07 Feb 2013
@ 07:45 pm (GMT)

Trevor Wilkes

Re: Scale fails
Hi guys,
In my opinion I believe that if digital scales are going to be used get the best you can afford if your looking for the consistancy and repeatable results.
I havnt been in this game long but Im getting impressive results my mates think Im to anal about my reloading but in the next breath they are impressed with the results.
You only get what you pay for in saying that others will get the job done and have done for years bit like the old holden.
I guess it depends on what you expect, for me it was repeatability and consistancy and thats what I got and yes ocasionaly they will drift but if you have the filter set to your conditions its all go.
If I do get a drift most times I just lift the pan replace and all good this dosnt happen often but I STRESS THIS POINT you want a stable platform as recomended by the retailer not a rickidy table and also place a concrete slab under the scale.
You must realize if you have very fine accurate scales anything will move your readings breathing,talking fast movement and the slightest draft and somone walking in the next room if in prefab home.
As im anal i was always trying to use low filter mode until i realized that unless you start cutting kernals of powder in half/quaters there is no point medium filter works for me if im just making round for 100yrd goat shooting im in high filter mode not that i have tested the two against each other maybe I should.
There is other good brands out there but do recommend laboratry/medical etc quality.
If you set up a auto trickler alongside its not that slow I wouldnt want to be a high volume loader like Nathan if I was I would just use a shovel lol, just funnin.
I personaly dont like to rush things im sure the average shooter has time to relax and do some handloading then there should be no unfortunate mistakes.
Have a look around on the net and not gun shop sites you will find plenty hope you get sorted i know i had a few hissy fits in the past where things exited the shed door in a hurry.
Good luck.
Cheers Trev.
07 Feb 2013
@ 07:52 pm (GMT)

Jim Moseley

Re: Scale fails
I have a old set of RCBS 505 balance beam that must be 15 years old. As long as I keep them clean, they work great. I weigh my charges down to the "kernel". I also turn the heating and cooling system of the house off while weighing the charges as the air currents can move the beam. And the temp is always set to 68 degrees. This maybe a little over kill but it seems to work well for me.
07 Feb 2013
@ 10:04 pm (GMT)

Trevor Wilkes

Re: Scale fails
could never master the beam scales I did try but it got the better of me but many reloaders have no probs with them and used them for years trouble free.
I think im to shakey in the hands Im sure that was the trouble for me but it does amaze me the lengths handloaders go to in any form of weighing method it seems the same enviromental factors come into play.
Static is a biggy in the digital realm I had that with other units I used nothing a wipe of anti static spray wouldnt fix no such issues now but im going to get a electrical surge filter as recomended by another user according to him never had a drift since and the added protection for the unit.
As said before its very rare i get a drift unless some clown comes belting through the door,Im sure beam scales would do the same I wish they worked out for me would of saved me some cash for sure.
But im happy the plus with my unit is I can connect to computer and keep all loads dropped and their weight so any discrepencies can be found also has in built calibration and much more for customizing for other purposes and has a hang weight in the side of the unit in general has more uses than I will ever use.
I would definatly recomend them if ones is serious about going that way no problem but I may go up to the next level as I think they would be the ducks guts my only doubts with that jump is that playing with tha fine a reading could cause frustration trying to be exact to the kernal and I know from many hours assesing powders that kernals from a givin powder are not all the same size they look like they are but there not.
I could weigh ten seperate kernals and note them down many would be surprised if you look carefully enough you can visually see it and nobody will convince me otherwise.
So sometimes i think on is better of with a beam scale as you would not notice it as I dont in high filter mode but once you go to finer readings thats another kettle of fish.
But personaly I have made loads with adding a granual and removing a granual with no difference to me if you have your load at you OCW it shouldnt anyway what ever form of weighing one uses.

Cheers Trev.
07 Feb 2013
@ 10:23 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Scale fails
Thanks trev, that is great input.
08 Feb 2013
@ 05:10 pm (GMT)


Re: Scale fails
Thanks for all your input. Glade to see I'm not the only chap that has these issues. I'm hoping the Dillons get replaced, but that may not happen as theres non in the country.I really do like them there simple and built well.
RCBS turned up today so I'll have a play with them this arvo. I'm not to worried about there accuracy but there was a batch(I hope) that had a fault with the dispenser. Where it would not trickle. Fingers crossed this isn't one of them.
Cheers all
08 Feb 2013
@ 05:18 pm (GMT)

Matt Reid

Re: Scale fails
Not sure if you have seen this site...

I can definitely recommend dealing with these guys if they have what you need.... and Reloaders of course!
08 Feb 2013
@ 05:30 pm (GMT)


Re: Scale fails
Yep Defiantly have. Have got quiet a bit of gear from them. The chap that runs it is very nice guy to deal with. Has even gone out of his way to get bits and pieces in for me. Reloadrs is great to. I dodge going to relaoders store. I just cant help myself, the bank balance gets an arse kickin every time.


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