Major Changes to Fix Lee Loadmaster Reloading Press

Part 3: Significant Engineering Changes to fix Lee Loadmaster reloading press This is an overview of some major and minor DIY fixes and improvements developed by Gear Report writer JJ Micheo […]

Part 3: Significant Engineering Changes to fix Lee Loadmaster reloading press

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

We mentioned in DIY Fixes To Improve the Lee Loadmaster Reloading Press that we made both minor tweaks and changes, and major changes to the Loadmaster progressive press. The minor Lee Loadmaster fixes are in the article: Minor Changes to Fix the Lee Loadmaster Progressive Reloading Press

The Lee Loadmaster progressive reloading press has 5 stages that can be set up with dies in which the cases are lubed, resized/de-primed, trimmed, primed, charged, new projectile set, and crimped in order to complete reloading one bullet (although not all of these functions are likely to be done on a single pass through the press). In addition to the dies, there are; a case feed system, a primer feed and insertion system, and a shell plate indexing sytem that are actuated with each cycle of the press to make the Lee Loadmaster a progressive reloader. Some of these operations could be designed differently than what Lee Precision chose.

  • Feed the beast! JJ designed and built an automated case collator and case feed system to replace the case feed tubes on the Lee Loadmaster reloading press. The heart of the automated case collator started live as a 5 gallon paint bucket. As the case sorter inside the bucket is rotated by an electric motor, cases are fed through a custom channel and tube, into the case slider, as needed. The system ensures that the cases continue to feed the press as long as there are cases in the bucket. The original Lee Loadmaster case feeder setup has 4 tubes where the cases would be stacked and after each tube was emptied the rotor would then be manually turned to the next tube. The new modification has one tube with constant feed from the motorized collator, eliminating the need to stop and turn to the next tube of stacked cases. JJ’s automated case collator for the Lee Loadmaster press also allowing for easy lubrication of cases as they tumble around the case feeder bucket, a significant increase in both the number of cases that can be staged in the case feeder system, and a big reduction in the time required to get cases queued in the case feeder system. Simply load the bucket with clean, prepped cases, add a bit of case lube, if needed, to be distributed as the cases are tumbled by the rotating case sorter and start cycling the press. As opposed to the stock process, which requires a separate case lube step, then filling each case feed tube by hand, making sure the cases are oriented with the primer pocket down.
  • Prime time! After completing the case collator JJ turned to another area where there are a plethora of complaints, the primmer assembly. The infamous Lee Loadmaster primer problem. The plastic components have gone through several versions (at least 3 that we know of) to eliminate the erratic functioning of the priming of the cases. Even when the newest version is the better performing, the components should be smoothed and polished to help the primers slide into position without flipping. It appears that the molding process leaves slag or plastic veins that can flip the primers before they are inserted in the case resulting in an unusable cartridge. The Lee Loadmaster progressive press performs the priming operation at the top of the ram stroke. All other press stage actions also occur at the top of the ram stroke at the same time, reduces the sensation or feedback from the priming function. This feedback can be valuable in perceiving if the primer was set properly or not. The use of the Lyman press’s separate priming step highlighted the benefit of sensing or feeling the proper seating of the primer in the cases to successfully loading a round. It is for this reason that a new method of priming at the bottom of the ram stroke was devised. We engineered and constructed two versions of brackets which made the separation of the priming a reality. With this new method there is no possibility of not noticing that a primer has been set improperly. With the original setup if a primer was not correct, it may have not been detected until the bullet had dropped into the finished tray and if the primer is bad the bullet has to be disassembled which is a hassle to deal with. The new operation is not infallible, but if a primer is not set properly one will be able to stop the procedure and only have to remove the primer not disassemble the completed cartridge. While changing priming to the down stroke does interrupt the progression of cases around the stages of the press such that we no longer get one completed cartridge per pull of the handle, there may be sufficient value in the increased reliability of the priming process to justify this change. On this the Gear Report team may still debate.
  • Bullets seated auto-magically: JJ has not yet started formal design work on a DIY automated bullet feed system for the Lee Loadmaster press, but it may on the horizon.

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.

Tell us what you think using the comments section below.

You might also like our Lee Loadmaster Progressive Reloading press review (link).

Legal Disclaimer: This article describes some things we did to our Lee 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.

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.