Q&A: Lee Loadmaster Station #2, what’s it good for?

 

 

 

 

Recently, I got the following question via the Suggestion Box from Bruce in Oregon:

The Lee Loadmaster is a four station progressive press unless station 2 could be used for more than just priming.
What else can it be used for?
Can a person expand, powder & prime at that station?
Sounds dangerous but how many primers have you detonated on a press? The powder is really not an explosive, it burns.
Does everybody have a fire extinguisher in their reloading area?
The press would be much more useful if this could be done.

Bruce- there’s a story behind the infamous station #2 on the Lee Loadmaster. Due to the fact that this press primes at the top of the stroke, alignment of the case is critical to ensure reliable priming. In order to best accomplish this alignment, it’s suggested that you put a depriming die (no sizing) in station #1, and put a sizer in station #2 without the decapping pin in place. This “forces” an alignment between the subplate and priming punch, and the case. Due to this suggested setup, there’s really not anything else I would suggest doing in station #2. If you get a Lee Universal Depriming die, you can leave it in station #1. Powder charging and priming in the same station would be a “big” no-no, as you guessed due to safety reasons. A fire extinguisher is a must-have in your reloading room, and cigarettes should not be allowed for obvious reasons :).

So, in practical use, the Loadmaster is really a 4-station press.

Thanks,
Gavin

19 thoughts on “Q&A: Lee Loadmaster Station #2, what’s it good for?”

  1. You can prime and charge in station one if you prime at the bottom of the stroke. This means manually depressing the priming rocker arm at the bottom of the stroke. You will need to remove the priming activator bolt attached to the top of the press. One way to accomplish this is to attach a rod to the rocker arm, which runs down to the floor and is attached to a foot pedal. I am using a top had cymbal foot pedal. There is just enough torque to push the primer into the case. The good thing about this is that you can actually feel the primer being inserted into the case. Since the primer is inserted at the bottom of the stroke the chance of detonation is much less. You also need to modify the primer guide so that you give the primers a very smooth path to enter the primer hole. You also need to modify the primer pin by soldering a brass rod on it, which prevents the primers from flipping. If you want more details please contact me. davidjstiles@comcast.net

  2. KY, two more notes. I use the Hornady LNL case activated powder measure, which is much more reliable than the Lee auto disk powder measure. You can check out the primer feed modification invented by Magic Mike on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw6Tb-Chc4s. It is very reliable and much safer. Primers simply don’t flip or misfeed.
    Also, I de-prime and resize in a separate operation because I like to clean my cases without primers in them, in a ultrasonic cleaner, which cleans the brass inside and outside, including the primer pockets. I dry them off and then feed them into a highly-modified home made case feeder (based on the Hornady case feeder mechanism). Then they move to the next station where they are primed at the bottom of the stroke, moved up to the charger, where they are expanded and charged. Then to a Hornady bullet feeder. Next is a Hornady bullet seating die and finally a Lee factory crimp die. While this is a very fast and semi-automated process; no matter how you slice it, the Load Master is a 4 station press.

  3. My cases enter the Loadmaster via Lee case feeder after being cleaned, polished, sized and primed.

    Station 1. Expand and charge (w/lee riser)
    Station 2. Powder check (RCBS Lock-Out)
    Station 3. Bullet feed RCBS
    Station 4. Bullet seat
    Station 5. Lee Factory Crimp

    I can crank them out with very few stoppages.

  4. Dear friends, I am interested in buying a press to reload ammunition. I wish someone would help me choose between the LEE Loadmaster and Dillon 550. Which is better and why? Thank you.

    1. I would suggest any single stage press over a progressive. I know you might think you want a progressive so you can churn out round after round, but someone who is new to reloading might get overwhelmed with a progressive press and start churning out bad (or even dangerous) round after bad round. Besides, a single stage press is good to have around anyway for certain jobs you might prefer not to do on the progressive press. I started with a Lee hand press and I still use it for certain things to this day,

      1. In many cases, (so to speak), it makes more sense to do a “bulk run” of a ‘stage”.

        For example, size / deprime ALL of the brass you have in that calibre. do any primer-pocket de-crimping etc using any of the commercial tools. I highly recommend the Dillon Super Swage 600 which comes with all the bits to do small and large primer pockets and is REALLY well built..

        Next, (if doing pistol / straight-wall brass), gently bell ALL the cases.

        Then CLEAN it all in rolling batches using your preferred machine / method.

        Store them in airtight containers until needed.

        Then, all you have to do is prime, throw in powder (works fine with suitable loading blocks. Using blocks that hold fifty or sixty, you can VISUALLY inspect ALL of the cases to ensure they ALL have powder.

        Then, do the seating / crimping thing, in one stage or two.

        Bulk loading for ANY cartridge can get a little tedious, even with a fancy progressive machine.

        Doing it in staged batches and inspecting at each stage, can save a lot of anguish from “interesting” loads, be they “squibs” or “bombs”.

        Unless you are shooting prodigious amounts of ammo in constant competitions, you probably don’t need a “big” progressive press.

        The dinky Lee 1000 is a budget-friendly approach, but it is best set up for a single load in a single cartridge. It also lacks the “extra” station for “taper crimping” auto brass. Excellent filling machine, but the primer feed is a bit fussy and can be affected by stray powder flakes and the standard machine lacks a bullet feeder, (apart from your fingers), but what do you expect for the price.

    2. I started with the RCBS Rock Chucker. It worked well but was tedious and slow. After 500 rounds of 223 I got a Lee Loadmaster. It was frustrating and as slow as the RCBS because of all the time spent readjusting, cleaning, resetting. I could never get the primers to seat properly or consistently. It would leave a crease on the primer – hence the need for a primer explosion shield. I switched to the RCBS bench primer. But the Loadmaster was still frustrating

      I now use the Dillon 550B with great success. If you watch all the youtube videos I think you could start with it and skip paying the money for the single stage. The main use for it now is to pull bullets during reloading. I wish I had started with the Dillon because of all the money I spent in parts and tools to get the Lee to work or get around its failures.

      I know there are people who do fine with the Loadmaster, but it was not a good fit for me.

    3. I started with the RCBS Rock Chucker. It worked well. After 500 rounds of 223 I got a Lee Loadmaster. It was frustrating and as slow as the RCBS because of all the time spent readjusting, cleaning, resetting. I could never get the primers to seat properly or consistently. It would leave a crease on the primer – hence the need for a primer explosion shield.

      I now use the Dillon 550B with great success. If you watch all the youtube videos I think you could start with it and skip paying the money for the single stage. The main use for the single stage now is to pull bullets during reloading. I wish I had started with the Dillon because of all the money I spent in parts and tools to get the others to work.

      I know there are people who do fine with the Loadmaster, but it was not a good fit for me.

  5. Question…..Has anyone ever substituted small pistol magnum primers for small rifle primers? If so, what were the differences? Any problems? Will it work? Thanks.

    Tim Baldwin

    1. Those were 4 questions. First answer, yes. Second answer, and it varies between primers, but the cups are generally thicker or harder in rifle primers than in pistol primers, and there may be differences in the amount or potency of the priming compound. This is because rifle loads generally have more powder than pistol loads and operate at higher pressures, and the powder must be ignited reliably and uniformly. Picture laghting a cigarette versus a campfire, and having a match versus a blowtorch. What’s better suited to each job?

      Third answer…Using pistol primers versus rifle primers in a rifle load can mean poor or inconsistent ignition, backed out or pierced primers and possible damage to the firearm. Rifle primers in a pistol load may be too hard for the firing pin to detonate the primer. These are just possibilities, doesn’t mean it WILL happen.

      Fourth answer, yes it usually will work, with the caveats above. Using any reloaded ammunition in a firearm tends to void the warranty anyway. I realize that right now it’s tough to find primers, but it’s important to note the safety considerations involved even if it means waiting to reload something until you can get the right components. Hope this helps, and best of luck!

  6. I have a Lee Load All II and bought some Alliant 20/28 powder. I want to load 20 Gauge and it calls out 18 grains. What bushing will give this to me – they don’t list this powder as yet, will I need to do trial and error and weigh several loads from different bushings to achieve results?

  7. I saw your Video on Reloading 223 on a Lee load master about Station # 2 am going to order another sizing Die just like the one that came with my lee press, am sure this is what you were showing. Give me the name of the sizing Die and were you Bought it.

  8. GREAT website, I have viewed almost all of your videos and you do a heckuva job, kudos. Is there ANY way to use a powder-check die and bullet-feed die on a Lee Load-Master? What about fabricating some type of powder-check device between dies? Just seems they fell short designing the LM as far as auto-priming is concerned and just added the null-nada die 2 & 3 positions, makes no logical sense at all.

  9. Hello re loaders , if you prime off press or in a separate step. why can’t you use station no. 2 for charging cases? this would give a station for a powder cop die.

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