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Old 12-02-2011, 01:22 PM
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Default Dillon RL 450, Should I? Pictures Added

Need a little help from those that have the experience. I've been thinking about starting reloading for a little while now. I'm about to order the Lyman's 49th book to start learning, maybe some others if you all have some suggestions. I'm mildly mechanical but really like to tinker, and have no problems completely striping my smith revolvers and my others and reassembling without issues, typically.

My question is that my dad has a dillon RL450 that he bought around 1982-3 and has been mildly used and stored in plastic for the last 15 years. He doesn't use and has offered it up to me if I want it. If I did take it I was thinking about sending it to Dillon to inspect and correct any issues first, hopefully warranty work. I know there are upgrades available to bring it to a 550b spec, not sure about these but am considering the upgrades. I've also read that a single stage press is in order for a newbie and I agree with this as that was the direction I was going before my dad made the offer. It will be used for handgun calibers as I'm not much a rifle guy, likely 9mm, 45acp, 38/357 and .44, maybe others later. Would like a little advice or direction to help along my path and start of a new hobby. I'm a pretty casual shooter and this machine will not be used much for how much I shoot but that could increase in the future as well, especially if I'm saving a little money on ammo, but I look at it as a hobby that I think I will moderately enjoy. What advice can you guys offer?
Thanks

Last edited by 03Fatboy; 12-05-2011 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:32 PM
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I use a 450 for most of my reloading. I've upgraded the priming and powder measure but that is it. Does your dads press still have the old style priming and powder drop? You will still need a good scale for setting up charges. I think the upgraded powder drop runs about $100 now. If you send it back to Dillon for cleaning and lubing do not send the priming system.
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Old 12-02-2011, 02:16 PM
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The purists will scream, but I'll take a contrary view here.
Dillons are great machines, but not the best with which to learn the science of reloading.
There is a lot more to the process than just pulling the lever and cranking 'em out.
Cases abound where novice reloaders have produced faulty rounds (most often double-charged or not charged) with unhappy results. Often, there's a progressive press in that equation.

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Old 12-02-2011, 03:10 PM
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Lightbulb Got an RL450 configured the same way as nutty!

Quote:
Originally Posted by walnutred View Post
I use a 450 for most of my reloading. I've upgraded the priming and powder measure but that is it. Does your dads press still have the old style priming and powder drop? You will still need a good scale for setting up charges. I think the upgraded powder drop runs about $100 now. If you send it back to Dillon for cleaning and lubing do not send the priming system.
I too have an RL450. Got mine from fleabay and it cost me around $200.

I use mine exclusively for 44Mag right now but have caliber changes for 308, .30/06, and another I cannot remember at the present time.

The loader with the modifications for primer and powder make this a really good choice for a beginner or for a dedicated machine. I doubt that I will change it over. It makes some really good 44Mag ammo.
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Old 12-02-2011, 03:15 PM
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I have a 550 and am not that familiar with the 450, but isn't the 450 basically the equivalent of a turret press? You can certainly operate it as such by loading one round at a time, advancing the plate, and continuing the steps one at a time. I know I can do this with my 550 if I choose to, so I assume you can do the same with a 450.

Bottom line is that you're not forced to operate it as a progressive, you can use it as a single stage turret press, which is precisely what I would suggest you do to get started in reloading. Once you get more comfortable with reloading, you have the option of taking it to the next level.

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Old 12-02-2011, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou_NC View Post
I have a 550 and am not that familiar with the 450, but isn't the 450 basically the equivalent of a turret press? You can certainly operate it as such by loading one round at a time, advancing the plate, and continuing the steps one at a time. I know I can do this with my 550 if I choose to, so I assume you can do the same with a 450.

Bottom line is that you're not forced to operate it as a progressive, you can use it as a single stage turret press, which is precisely what I would suggest you do to get started in reloading. Once you get more comfortable with reloading, you have the option of taking it to the next level.

Lou
I was thinking about using it as a single stage, one round at a time. I assume the powder drop can removed from the machine as well? I have no intention on jumping into the progressive mode as a novice. I need to learn the correct and safe way the first time!

Last edited by 03Fatboy; 12-02-2011 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 12-02-2011, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walnutred View Post
I use a 450 for most of my reloading. I've upgraded the priming and powder measure but that is it. Does your dads press still have the old style priming and powder drop? You will still need a good scale for setting up charges. I think the upgraded powder drop runs about $100 now. If you send it back to Dillon for cleaning and lubing do not send the priming system.
I think it does have the old primer and powder drop. I will see it this weekend or next. Why not sent it back? BTW it comes with a complete RCBS 505 scale and dies for 38/357, 45acp and 45 colt. All I need is .44.
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Old 12-02-2011, 04:07 PM
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In theory at Dillon 450 is not that much different than a turret. With a turret the dies are in the top and the shell stays in the shell holder directly in line with the handle. You can do each step in batches by not rotating the turret which is how I do it when I'm developing loads on the turret. Or you can place one fired case in the shell holder and have a completely reloaded shell when you remove it by rotating the turret. With a 450 or 550 you don't rotate the turret you rotate the shell holder.

I say don't send the old priming mechanism in if you send the 450 back for overhaul because I've talked to a few who when the press came back had a new priming system installed. For me the updated priming and powder was WELL worth the money. I don't feel I change dies often enough to make the full upgrade worth the investment. When I load a caliber it's usually in batches of a couple thousand. If I'm only doing 100 or working up loads I use a turret.
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:30 PM
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I have seen on the website what I think are three upgrades to make to the 450, but I don't see the powder drop upgrade? Is there a reason to upgrade the powder drop? I see the frame upgrade, auto eject and auto priming system upgrades. These 3 add up to about $235. Can anyone tell me what the benefit of the frame upgrade is? I think the auto eject and auto priming system are self explanatory but maybe some input on the value of these would be appreciated as well?
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:18 PM
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I've had mine about as long as your Dad. You can just use the first station and have a single station press. Use it as is till you are comfortable loading and then decide what you really want. Dillon has great customer service, the 450 has the lifetime warranty if it needs something. Just go slow. Good luck. Mark
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:08 PM
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The RL450 is the exact same thing as an RL550 EXCEPT, in the original form, it has no removable tool heads, manual primer and powder measure. When converted in those two areas, it functions exactly like an RL550 until you go to do a caliber change.

So, if the RL450 qualifies as a turret press, so does that RL550. That ought to get those RL550 owners talking!
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:44 PM
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I recently acquired a used RL450 with a bunch of other stuff in an estate type sale. I haven't used it yet, but it appears to have the primer and powder system upgrades. I'd say it's almost the equal of the RL550 I'm currently using. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was told that the RL450 does not have the provision for kicking out the loaded round and it will have to be removed manually.

I feel that either a 450 or 550 would be a great choice as a first loading tool. But I would not want to be starting out with my 650 and its auto indexing and non-stop primer feed.

Dave Sinko
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:00 PM
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My RL450 kicks the finished shell out. No problem there. Just like an RL550 except the tool heads. I will take a close up of mine.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Sackett View Post

So, if the RL450 qualifies as a turret press, so does that RL550. That ought to get those RL550 owners talking!
I didn't say the 450 was a turret press, I said the concepts were similar. In a turret press all the dies are in place and the dies rotate above a stationary shell casing. In a 450/550 all the dies are in place but the shell casings rotate under the stationary dies. In both cases it is a manual rotation that lines the shell casing up with the next die in the process.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walnutred View Post
I didn't say the 450 was a turret press, I said the concepts were similar. In a turret press all the dies are in place and the dies rotate above a stationary shell casing. In a 450/550 all the dies are in place but the shell casings rotate under the stationary dies. In both cases it is a manual rotation that lines the shell casing up with the next die in the process.
I'm not arguing with you 'red. I have said this very thing over and over and over and over and................you get the drift. The RL450/RL550 is more like a turret than a progressive.

So, I agree with you. Their 500 press (not sure of the number) is a stripped down version that can be built up to a RL550B.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:56 PM
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Pictures as promised:
Notice in them how the shell is ejected. Also, notice the solid top of the frame. When the conversion from RL450 to RL550B is complete, the frame is replaced and you can use the slide in tool heads. I didn't go that far and really, see no reason to.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:11 PM
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550B here reloading at least 9 different calibers. That's the beauty of the 550. OTOH, I've seen other people setup with 4 or 5 450, each dedicated to a caliber. Craziest setup I've seen is a guy with 4 650...

As others have pointed out, it is wise to stay away from auto-indexing when starting out.

I'd jump on the 450 if it was me.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:22 PM
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Do the upgrades need to be done by Dillon or can i purchase and do later should I want them? I was only thinking about the upgrades since I'm going to send it to Dillon to be checked and corrected if needed on warranty?

Does the frame upgrade allow for easy quick change of calibers/dies? If so, then maybe this isn't needed for me since I'm a low use user and just starting?
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:24 PM
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Thanks for the pictures, maybe I can pick it up this weekend and take some shots for you guys to take a look and chime in on what it has and/or missing.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:28 PM
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Frame upgrade for toolhead changes only. You can do all three yourself, the frame one is not needed in my opinion, just me though. I used mine with the manual primer and powder things though. It was a real pain and very easy to forget a step here and there.

The more automated a press is, and this is just my opinion, the better when running large batches. I guess that is the reason that I have 2 XL650s!
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:32 PM
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I have owned both the 450 and 550 model Dillon's and they were mounted side by side on the loading bench. I prefer the 450 to the 550 if you add the new priming system, new powder measure, and the kick out and thumb index pieces to the 450. I would rather change dies and have them lock down dead solidas on the 450 than change heads that don't lock down completely solid as on the 550 but that's justs me. When I'm reloading, I like everything to lock down as solid as I can make it. I use a RCBS Rockchuck press for my rifle loading anyway. I handweigh on a electronic scale all my rifle powder charges because I don't completely trust Powder measure when I get over 45000 lbs of pressure in front of my face. Just my preferences and I suspect there are many who don't see things as I do and that's ok. James
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Old 12-03-2011, 01:02 PM
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James is right here too. I tend to load pistol calibers progressively while I split up rifle stages. There's a lot going on with larger capacity, necked shell casings. At a minimum, I resize, deprime on the first station, then trim all that brass, clean primer pocket, inspect, etc. Then hand prime most of the time but have used the primer feed on the 550 - I just like hand priming cause I learned that way. At that point, I can crank through the other three stations to charge, seat and crimp.

And yes, the 450 feels more solid due to the lack of interchangeable toolheads. My 550B has done me just fine for 19 years and a gazillion rounds...
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:10 PM
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Go for the 450. You can use it as a single stage to start out with the advantage that it is as good as a turret press.

Do you live close to your father or someone that can help you on setup? That would be a hugh benefit.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:06 PM
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I've loaded with every Dillon up to the 1050, have always had my 550 set up - however, I dislike the priming system so much that I prep and prime all my brass on a trusty Rock Chucker. While this may sound time consuming, it really isn't. I load a LOT of calibers, from 32 S&W to 50 AE, and the 550 works fine. If you're serious, get a bunch of toolheads so you can set each caliber up and swap them quickly
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:16 AM
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That very press is what I first learned my first lesson on reloading. I had never considered reloading, and started with the 450.

It is a great place to begin!!! Once you master the tricks of more than one step happening at once--then you could upgrade like I did.

It is a magnificent learning tool. I'm glad that's what I started with circa 1980.

Read your instruction manuals, learn what the various manuals have to say about the basics, start with one straight walled case and load in small batches.

You'll catch on very rapidly.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:25 PM
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Default good advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by krehmkej View Post
The purists will scream, but I'll take a contrary view here.
Dillons are great machines, but not the best with which to learn the science of reloading.
There is a lot more to the process than just pulling the lever and cranking 'em out.
Cases abound where novice reloaders have produced faulty rounds (most often double-charged or not charged) with unhappy results. Often, there's a progressive press in that equation.

-my $0.03 YMMV
This is good, heads-up advice. Do your research & development in the single stage mode. Learn all about what it is, then fire up the progressive. I load beaucoup rounds on single stage equipment, usually less than 100 rds. in a batch. The cowboy shooters and competetive guys around these parts need about 600 rds. per gun per man per weekend, or somewhere around that. They have progressives set up for each and spend a few weeknite hrs., cranking out enough fodder for the weekend. To my way of thinkin', that is the true purpose of progressive loading.
Jes' sayin'....
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:49 PM
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Thanks for all the input. Here are a couple pictures of the 450. At this point I'm going to send to Dillon to be refurbished and likely hold on the upgrades? I'm only interested in the primer and powder upgrade for possibly the future, I might have them do them now and using after I'm comfortable, to take advantage of only shipping once? This thing is solid and heavy, I'm impressed and happy I got it.
To use this as a SS what are some additional tools or things I'll need to get started, I have an idea from reading but look to your input as well. Thanks




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Old 12-05-2011, 12:55 PM
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Oh man that brings back memories, I learned to reload on one of those. It's been upgraded twice to a 550B. It's still my main press and only progressive.

You can't beat a Dillion!

/c
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:00 PM
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I like my RL450. You will not go wrong getting the two upgrades now, while they have the press.

There are a few things missing in the photos. One is the retaining pins for the cartridges. They are brass and go in the small holes on the outside of the ram.

Also, there is an indexing star that needs to be installed. It goes between the bolt and the shell plate. It makes it easier to turn the shell plate.

Looks good though! Having that will be a real blessing! Nothing special needed to use it as a single stage. Just put one case in at a time. Use the setup procedures for your die set and you will be fine. The powder die is a bit of a challenge to set sometimes. It is in that station that you get the bell put on too. Getting that adjusted can be a bit frustrating. Learn the process first.

Go to Lee's website and watch the setup videos for their dies. Should work pretty close for other manufacturer's stuff too.


Let us know if you need help!
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:19 PM
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I noticed the indexing star was missing and no where to be found as shown in your photo. I think the brass pins are in the bag in the photo below? I do have two shell plates, one installed with a number 1 stamped into it and the other in the bag with a 2 stamped on it, why 2 and I think it's called a shell plate, maybe not?

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Old 12-05-2011, 03:18 PM
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The index star is part of the Auto Eject upgrade, it is not standard on the 450.
The powder measure has been upgraded to case activated auto drop, but lacks the failsafe mechanism.

KO
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:12 AM
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The shell plates are designed to grab your cartridges by the rim, aligning them with the dies, and preventing them from tipping during the reloading process. It's a precise fit.

You'll need a shell plate that matches the head of each cartridge you intend to reload. Some are usable for several calibers that share the same case head dimensions (example includes .45ACP and .308win which have the same case head dimensions).

Dillon provides a table on their website that you can use to identify the plates you have, and you can figure out all the calibers that they will work for.

The brass pins are also matched to the shell plates, so that they will provide the correct tolerance for retaining the cartridges as they turn around the press. I'm not familiar with documentation that describes the numbering of the pins, but I'm sure you can figure out which pins go with which shell plate since you have only two plates.

Lou


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I noticed the indexing star was missing and no where to be found as shown in your photo. I think the brass pins are in the bag in the photo below? I do have two shell plates, one installed with a number 1 stamped into it and the other in the bag with a 2 stamped on it, why 2 and I think it's called a shell plate, maybe not?
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:47 AM
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As stated above, the 450/550 machines are an excellent way to learn how to reload. Instead of constantly being interrupted changing dies or whatever, you can focus on the mechanics of reloading at each step, moving at your own pace. It's the way I learned and it was great.

I got a single stage later, for free. If I had started with that thing I would have never gone into reloading, what a pain in the butt!

Good luck.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:04 AM
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I'm missing the manual for the 450. I have been searching for one, but to no avail yet. Does anyone know where I can get one or does someone have it in .pdf format for email?
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:05 PM
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Can you tell me what the failsafe mechanism does? How important is it and can I get the components needed?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ko41 View Post
The index star is part of the Auto Eject upgrade, it is not standard on the 450.
The powder measure has been upgraded to case activated auto drop, but lacks the failsafe mechanism.

KO
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:11 PM
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The failsafe rod is for the powder measure. It makes sure that the slide is pulled all of the way to the rear when the press is opened. When the press is closed, the powder measure slide goes forward and dumps powder. The rod makes sure that the slide is physically pulled back to its starting position so it can get refilled with powder.

Get the manual for the RL550 from the Dillon website. Disregard the stuff about the removable tool head and the other parts you don't have. Basically, setup and running them are exactly the same.

FWIW
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:23 PM
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p.s. If you do download that manual, look at the parts breakdown. # 97000 is the failsafe rod.

Last edited by Skip Sackett; 12-14-2011 at 03:24 PM. Reason: forgot a "0" :D
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:35 PM
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Thanks Skip, I'll download the manual and get familiar with the fail safe system.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:49 PM
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Long Beach, huh, small world! I used to visit my Uncle Max there when I was a wee tad! We lived in the San Fernando Valley then although I was born in Oceanside.

Glad to be "from" The People's Republic of Kalifornia though and not still a resident!
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:06 AM
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Any input on whether or not I should add the fail safe mechanism to the powder measure? Pros and cons to be considered? It's only about $24 bucks to add from Dillon.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:30 PM
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DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is the only way to guarantee a full stroke on the measure. Just a little binding of the bar because of using a fine ball powder and you will be glad you did!

FWIW
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  #42  
Old 12-15-2011, 01:37 PM
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Will do, thanks again
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:51 PM
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Update here:

I took it apart this weekend and cleaned it up, working very very smoothly now. I noticed the powder die for the auto measure doesn't have a set screw for the powder funnel. It's not even drilled and tapped for it. Any idea what this means? Is it the wrong powder die or an older one? Does it function differently, powder die with set screw vs. one without? Do I need a new one with the set screw from Dillon? Thanks
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:32 PM
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The "set screw" type of powder die is the oldest system out there. No, you do not need one. On your powder measure, where the Allen bolt fastens the pivoting arm on, is where the fail safe system will go on. You will replace that arm with a new one and the rod will attach to it. Make sure when you order it, you ask if it will work with your measure. There might need to be some modifications done to make it work. Just ask Dillon, they will know.
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 03Fatboy View Post
I'm missing the manual for the 450. I have been searching for one, but to no avail yet. Does anyone know where I can get one or does someone have it in .pdf format for email?
Apparently, it's not available electronically, but you can call and they'll send you a hard copy: RL 450 Manual Needed

Good luck.
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Old 12-21-2011, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Sackett View Post
The "set screw" type of powder die is the oldest system out there. No, you do not need one. On your powder measure, where the Allen bolt fastens the pivoting arm on, is where the fail safe system will go on. You will replace that arm with a new one and the rod will attach to it. Make sure when you order it, you ask if it will work with your measure. There might need to be some modifications done to make it work. Just ask Dillon, they will know.
Thank you again! I called Dillon and the case activated powder drops do not use the set screw for the powder funnel and this in fact was for the older manual powder drops.
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:06 PM
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Okay! Glad you figured that out!

Have you made any rounds yet? You know that will require pictures, right?
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:45 PM
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No rounds made yet, just got my second book today, Lymans 49th and I just completed reading the ABC's. I plan to order a few things from Dillon first after the new year. After that pending funds, I'll be in position to make a list and order some powder, bullets, primers and cases and start.

I will post pictures of the updated machine and my first projectile then.
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:31 PM
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I may need to start a new thread but I'll ask a question here. My local indoor ranges requires the use of plated bullets like X-treme or berry's due to lead issues. I would like to purchase a small amount of .38/.357 and .44 of the plated flat points which have a cannelure. Can the copper plated bullet be roll crimped without damage or is a taper crimp required so they aren't damaged? These will be used in my revolvers as well. How do I manage this? Thanks
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:26 PM
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Can't answer the question on the bullets. I can get a 450 with a lot of accessories for 150.00. The primer part needs attention, maybe a cleaning. Good post when I needed it. Think I'll buy it and sort through it and keep only what I'll need. This way I'll leave my 550 with small primers and the 450 with large primers. Not sure how much comes with it, he mentioned a lot of shell plates I won't need for rifle calibers. Larry
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Reloading Thread, Dillon RL 450, Should I? Pictures Added in Ammunition-Gunsmithing; Need a little help from those that have the experience. I've been thinking about starting reloading for a little while ...
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