DIY Fixes To Improve the Lee Loadmaster Reloading Press

Part 1: This is an overview of some major and minor DIY fixes and improvements developed by Gear Report writer JJ Micheo for the Loadmaster progressive reloading press, manufactured by […]

Part 1: This is an overview of some major and minor DIY fixes and improvements developed by Gear Report writer JJ Micheo for the Loadmaster progressive reloading press, manufactured by Lee Precision. Some are tweaks he found through diligent research online. Others are original engineering conducted by JJ.

*Read and understand the legal disclaimer at the  bottom of this article before you attempt anything in this article.

Subscribe using the blank on the right to get safe updates whenever Gear-Report.com publishes a new article. This will be the first in a series of articles giving more details on the modifications and fixes we find and/or develop for the Lee Loadmaster (Amazon link).

Why the Lee Loadmaster?

how to fix Lee Loadmaster reloader - press on tableLast year gear report published an introductory review of the Lee Loadmaster progressive reloading press.
We got started with the purchase of a new Lee Loadmaster for the testing lab at Gear Report HQ. However, we also acquired a Lee Classic single stage press for specific case prep operation in the HQ lab and borrowed a Lyman Turret press from a friend to set up in our remote Gear Report lab. And all was right with the world…

Well, except for that old saying “once you go progressive, you’ll never go back” (that is the saying, right?)

While the Lyman turret press works well, we were often frustrated by the slow rate of ammo reloading in the remote lab. Unable to justify the expense of another brand new progressive press (even blogs with great sponsors like www.blueridgefirearms.com have budgets), we monitored online listings and eventually found a deal on a used, early production Lee Loadmaster press. Nevermind that the press was nearly totally disassembled, with loose pieces that bounced around in the box the entire boat ride back from the purchase (in true .007 fashion, the Gear Report team dispatched our Chief Bottle Washer, Jeff, via jet boat to rendezvous with the seller). The Loadmaster is one of the lowest priced progressive press available. While inexpensive in comparison to a Hornady reloading press or the premium Dillon progressive reloading presses, the Lee Loadmaster has been generally well designed to achieve the task of delivering one bullet for each pull of the lever. However, it is possible to improve the Loadmaster press.

Tinkerer’s Heaven… or Hell

Many complaints have been posted in forums by owners of Lee Loadmaster reloading presses. Some reloaders report error rates of 30%, or more, in their early use of the reloading press. Some frequent issues with the Lee Loadmaster include primer problems, powder drop issues, case feed problems, bullet seating issues, and case bulge problems. Often, the errors are due to several issues like; roughness in components, inadequate initial setup (this is a BIG one), poor mounting of the reloading press, and/or operator error. In our experience, the Lee Loadmaster reloading press usually performs according to the proficiency of the user. It doesn’t take much investigation to come to the conclusion the Lee Loadmaster reloading press is a tinkerer’s heaven… or hell.

Can the Lee Loadmaster be saved?

In a word, YES! We have reduced the error rate on our Lee Loadmaster reloading presses to 3%, or less. You can fix your Lee Loadmaster too, provided your patience and perseverance are not exhausted first.  With attention to detail and some subtle improvements, us reloading novices have reloaded batches of more than 300 rounds (the most we have tried in one sitting) without mistakes or issues to interfere with productivity.

how to fix Lee Loadmaster reloader - loaded ammo

This is the end goal… lots of freshly loaded ammo

Two approaches to improving the Lee Loadmaster

Just like the books that were popular in the days before video games, you get to choose how this story progresses. With two Loadmaster reloading presses, we stuck with only the minor modifications on the newer press, and dove in with some MAJOR functional modifications on the older press. You can stick with Minor Modifications and Improvements, or jump into the deep end with Significant Engineering Changes to the Loadmaster press. Or pursue a bit of both. 🙂

Here are links to each of the posts which will be added below once each article is posted (one per week):

1) Minor Modifications and Improvements

2) Significant Engineering Changes to the Lee Loadmaster progressive reloading press

 

We hope you enjoyed this quick overview of how to fix the Lee Loadmaster‘s most common issues. Please subscribe using the blank on the right to get safe updates whenever Gear-Report.com publishes a new article. This will be the first in a series of articles giving more details on the modifications and fixes we find and/or develop for the Lee Loadmaster.

Tell us what you think using the comments section below.

Legal Disclaimer: This article describes some things we did to our Loadmaster presses that we feel have provided good results. You assume all liability for your actions. Should you attempt any of the things we describe on this page, then you do so completely at your own risk. Cress Sales and Marketing LLC (parent company of gear-report.com), gear-report.com, and the gear-report.com writers and staff offer no guarantee that the fixes, modifications, instructions, or directions offered here are safe, effective, or fit for the purpose described.

Lee Precision seems to have a pretty good warranty and customer service reputation. If it isn’t obvious already, any changes or modifications you make to your press are likely to void your warranty.

About JJ

A long time friend of Gear-Report.com, and frequent behind-the-scenes instigator…I mean contributor, JJ joined the Gear Report team in 2014 in a more formal capacity. Expect to see JJ’s ongoing contributions to reviews, while he coordinates with manufacturers and retailers to review their products. If you want to see what it takes to make the cut here at Gear Report, look no further than JJ. Part inventor, part outdoorsman, JJ brings a wealth of experience to the Gear Report team, as well as some fancy book learning. A Structural Designer by day, JJ spends his nights and weekends on a massively broad range of outdoor and active interests. Whether making hunting knives, bamboo frame canoes, hunting platforms or various other creations, or hunting, fishing, paddling, boating, teaching martial arts, or re-engineering ammunition reloading equipment, JJ is always up to something interesting. Usually several somethings. A native of Guatemala, JJ brings a valuable different perspective to Gear Report. We will see if we can get him to add some Spanish language content to the site, as the need for fair, trusted information on outdoor gear is not limited to English speaking readers.