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Thread: Can the legendary Dillon 550 be modified and improved?

  1. #1
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Can the legendary Dillon 550 be modified and improved?

    Been sorting through lots of online ideas lately. Seems the 550 has tons of potential modifications to improve it's function. Heard of folks polishing certain parts to reduce friction. Read where someone polished the primer charging bar with frog lube. A guy on YouTube made a customized longer primer bearing plate to reduce/prevent torquing. Some other guy bumped up the fixed pin that the spring attaches to under primer bar to improve functioning. Polishing powder funnels or even using 1050 funnels in 550's to reduce sticking on the upstroke.

    There are roller handles and LED light kits. Then there is the near famous safety pin or paper clip substitute for the cotter pin on the spent primer shute. I have seen the Hit Factor sprocket with ball bearing kit, and heard of folks just using ball bearing washers alone. Some folks say to remove the spring clip on station one all together. It is finicky at times. So many ideas out there. I just got mine running the other week, but I am already eager to improve certain aspects of the machine.

    I am loading 223 and 10 mm. Setting up 9 mm and 40 S&W in coming weeks. Never thought reloading would be as much fun as shooting. What have you done to improve your Dillon? Please be specific so other greenhorns like me can employ your ideas. I know my cart is in front of my horse. Just seemed like a fun thread to start and I am certain you more experienced guys can help the guys out there like me wade through the BS.


    Pics are always appreciated



    Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Great post Dan. I am also relatively new to the Dillon. I am loading 9mm, 45 ACP, 6.5 Grendel, and am just getting set up for 300 AAC. I hope to do 10mm/40 S&W sometime down the road. I am still running the standard press, but I am looking forward to reading the responses to this post.

    I have experienced a sticky primer chute, so that is an interesting thought. I find it a bit cumbersome switching between large and small primers. At this point I am removing the primer feed assembly to get to the bar to switch to the different size. Perhaps there is an easier way? So far, most of what I am loading takes the small primers, however I am finding both sizes on the .45 ACP!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Buying Starline brass should simplify your 45 acp woes. Read where some military 45 is small primer and in some cases berdan. The sluggish return of the primer charge bar seems to be the 550's biggest pit fall. Most folks say to clean it with alcohol every 500 rounds or so. Some use powdered graphite, some a drop of light machine oil (not near primer area), and most say nothing at all is used. The small spring on the bottom is sometimes modified, by shortening it by a few coils, to increase its tension on primer bar return. Some folks have found small burrs and machining imperfections that were filed away and bar worked better. Some guy frog lubed his, I may do the same to aid in cleaning if nothing else.

    The contributing factor to the primer bar slowing seems to be the crud and residue falling down from the spent primers. Working on that would in theory alleviate the frequency of fiddling and cleaning of the primer charge bar if nothing else. Some guys actually deprime and full size on a single stage press then use the 550 for loading. If so, they often tumble lube off afterwards and put a Lee deprime type die in station one of the 550 just to clear any tumbling media from the flash hole.

    Tapping the fitted 'screw' upwards that the small spring attaches to under the primer bar makes great sense. This is to put the contact point of the spring closer to the primer bar, in theory alleviating the torque applied which could lend towards binding. As for small and large primer, some folks order the parts needed for a second one and switch them out when changing primer sizes. Some folks fun two machines, small primer and a large. Skies the limit it appears. I just started reloading in recent weeks so take my contributions to my own thread with a grain of salt.




    Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    Dan,

    The tool head in the following link is something I've been gradually switching over to with my more accurate loads. This tool head is much higher quality than Dillons and fits snug without play when the ram comes to the top of the stroke. You can replace the tool head pins with screws and lock the tool head in place. This could be done with the Dillon too but the Dillon is a sloppy fit and less precise.

    http://www.uniquetek.com/site/696296/product/T1333

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    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    I just [today] bought a little bitty LED flash lite that fits in the center hole in the tool head. I put a rubber band on the head of the flash lite so the lens/head just goes down in the hole and the rubber keeps it from falling through, now I will be able to keep a VERY good eye on the powder charge.
    My RL550B is out in the shed, the little lite is only about 1 1/2" long so it's totally out of the way. I did not want to permanently attach it yet as I change tool heads between .45 and 9mm.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Cool idea. I just got the Skylight from Inline Fabrications website. $34 but very bright and fits in the tool head hole. Just drops in and plugs into wall and has inline switch like a lamp. They let you choose that or AA battery pack.


    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marshall View Post
    Dan,

    The tool head in the following link is something I've been gradually switching over to with my more accurate loads. This tool head is much higher quality than Dillons and fits snug without play when the ram comes to the top of the stroke. You can replace the tool head pins with screws and lock the tool head in place. This could be done with the Dillon too but the Dillon is a sloppy fit and less precise.

    http://www.uniquetek.com/site/696296/product/T1333

    Thanks man. Read up on that after reading your post. Looks like high quality stuff.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  8. #8
    Member marshall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Thanks man. Read up on that after reading your post. Looks like high quality stuff.
    No problemo. I use the clamp kit.

    How it Works
    Installation and use is quite simple. You tap threads into the two locator pin holes in the tool head then install a stainless steel thread insert into each hole. The press frame is NOT modified. When you install the tool head in the press frame, insert the clamp screws instead of locator pins to hold the tool head into the frame. Leave the screws loose until you begin cycling the press and have all dies occupied by a round. Then, with the ram still in the up position, tighten the clamp screws. This procedure aligns the tool head to the shell plate, reducing jams. The clamp screws also create a pre-load force, clamping the tool head against the top of the press frame, stopping the tool head from moving during the press cycle and resulting in reduced COAL variation. Once the screws are tightened, just continue reloading as usual.

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