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Thread: Check weight for beam type scale?

  1. #1
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    Default Check weight for beam type scale?

    I hope this isn't too much of a newbie question:
    How important (if at all) is it to have a check weight set with a beam type scale?

    With the RCBS scale that I have, the scale is zeroed by adjusting the foot on one side. It's not even clear to me that you could further calibrate the scale if a check weight revealed it was weighing incorrectly.

    While I am a newbie to reloading, in a past life I did a lot of weighing of chemicals in a lab. I only recall calibration checks and adjustments with the digital scales.

    I thought I'd check though since I really don't want the end result of bad recollection being a blown up gun or worse. I've looked around a bunch on "the series of tubes" and didn't find much.

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    Some of the new electronic scales come with check weights. I sometimes use a jacketed bullet of some kind.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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    You are right.

    You adjust a Beam Scale by leveling it.

    There's no reason to weigh a check weight.

    Smitty of the North
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  4. #4

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    So you know how you zeroed it with the foot, nothing in the pan, and got the beam leveled with the stationary marking.

    The point of the check weight is to simply set it for say 25 grains, throw the 25g check weight in the pan, then zero it using the foot so you know it is reading accurately.

    With absolutely nothing in the pan, how do you know that zero is accurate?

    That's my take on it anyway.

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    I've had this note in my reloading notes for quite some time. Might help.

    ~~~~~~~~
    In the absence of certified check weights, you can use US coins to verify accuracy on your powder scale. Each nickel weighs 5 grams. That converts to 77.16 grains.

    Pennies weigh 2.5 grams, or 38.58 grains.

    Easy calculations, and you can zero your scale very accuratly using coins. I would recommend the newest, best condition ones you can find.

    My RCBS 5-0-5 scale weighs one nickel at exactly 77 grains, and two nickles at 155.1 grains, which is only .78 grain off true weight. Close enough I think.
    ~~~~~~~~

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    I've had this note in my reloading notes for quite some time. Might help.

    ~~~~~~~~
    In the absence of certified check weights, you can use US coins to verify accuracy on your powder scale. Each nickel weighs 5 grams. That converts to 77.16 grains.

    Pennies weigh 2.5 grams, or 38.58 grains.

    Easy calculations, and you can zero your scale very accuratly using coins. I would recommend the newest, best condition ones you can find.

    My RCBS 5-0-5 scale weighs one nickel at exactly 77 grains, and two nickles at 155.1 grains, which is only .78 grain off true weight. Close enough I think.
    ~~~~~~~~
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!! This input will be very helpful. At this point I have no eye for the difference between between 5 or 50 grains. Although my hunch was that a check weight is of less use with a beam scale the whole in my "plan" was that, short of over-flowing the case, an unnoticed gross error was a real possibility. I thought about weighing a bullet but I'm having a hard time finding those....The search/wait is giving me a chance to make sure that my space and equipment (mostly used) are clean, organized, and good working order.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 58D View Post
    So you know how you zeroed it with the foot, nothing in the pan, and got the beam leveled with the stationary marking.

    The point of the check weight is to simply set it for say 25 grains, throw the 25g check weight in the pan, then zero it using the foot so you know it is reading accurately.

    With absolutely nothing in the pan, how do you know that zero is accurate?

    That's my take on it anyway.
    Because you're weighing what's in the pan. ZERO.

    Smitty of the North
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    Smitty +1
    Your logic is really hard to argue with. So, I won't.

  9. #9

    Default LOL

    Because you're weighing what's in the pan. ZERO.

    Smitty of the North
    Smitty,

    I agree 100 percent, that is what anyone would think anyway. I can't tell you why, but when I zero it with nothing in the pan, then throw any combination of check weights in the pan and weigh them, the reading doesn't fall perfectly aligned with the stationary mark. Granted it is not off by much, but to me, I want it dead on. That is why I will weigh one of my check weights(those suckers ARE expensive though), and zero it that way.

    Can anyone explain that to me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 58D View Post
    Smitty,

    I agree 100 percent, that is what anyone would think anyway. I can't tell you why, but when I zero it with nothing in the pan, then throw any combination of check weights in the pan and weigh them, the reading doesn't fall perfectly aligned with the stationary mark. Granted it is not off by much, but to me, I want it dead on. That is why I will weigh one of my check weights(those suckers ARE expensive though), and zero it that way.

    Can anyone explain that to me?
    I'd bet that you'd have the same variance with the scale, with a check weight. You might try weighing the same powder charge, or any weight, over and over. It probably won't be right on the mark every time, especially with a magnetic dampened scale. After all, a Beam Scale is a mechanical device.

    My OLD Redding scale is Oil Dampened, and maybe that's better, and maybe it's not, but BOY, is it sensitive. It will notice the difference in only ONE GRANULE, of most of the extruded powders.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    I've had this note in my reloading notes for quite some time. Might help.

    ~~~~~~~~
    In the absence of certified check weights, you can use US coins to verify accuracy on your powder scale. Each nickel weighs 5 grams. That converts to 77.16 grains.

    Pennies weigh 2.5 grams, or 38.58 grains.

    Easy calculations, and you can zero your scale very accuratly using coins. I would recommend the newest, best condition ones you can find.

    My RCBS 5-0-5 scale weighs one nickel at exactly 77 grains, and two nickles at 155.1 grains, which is only .78 grain off true weight. Close enough I think.
    ~~~~~~~~

    Pennies used to be made of all copper now they are copper plated zinc. They do not weigh the same.

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    Like you I like it when things are dead on accurate. However, lets look at what really maters here, safety and accuracy.

    Now the load manuals have a range in them if you are smart you will stay in that range and watch for pressure signs. If you just start getting pressure signs at say 60 grains then 60.3 grains will not blow up your rifle. For that matter neither will 62 grains though to go there intentionally is not smart. So safety wise a little error is not a big deal.

    Accuracy is best when everything is the same shot to shot. So provided you load all your rounds on the same scale who cares if it does not read accurately, provided if reads consistently.

    That said I do check my scale from time to time. I have a bullet that happened to weight 180 grains exactly on the scale when new. So I check that it still does from time to time. If I ever get a new scale I will check that the bullet reads the same and if it is way off I may proportion may loads to adjust. However, so far the only check weights I have (bullets) have weight very close to correct to there advertised weight and the average of there weights has been more or less dead on.

    If you are concerned about the error in your scale trying moving the 10th grain weight to read the error. I suspect that you will find the error under 0.1 grain

  13. #13
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    ok.... my two cents here. Check weights can be purchaced from Hornady, RCBS and I think Lyman either on-line or thru a local dealer such as Sportsman's Warehouse.

    I have them and use them and here is why:

    beam type scales can range from very accurate to laughable and I have some of each. the innaccurate ones are pretty much just for "reference" in that they can tell you if the one particular load of powder weighs more or less than the last one you weighed, but they arent really accurate enough to tell you exactly how much that particular load weighs. the only way you can tell that is to have an exact reference and you can only get that by using a calibrated check weight.

    so here is how it is supposed to work.... say you are going to be throwing a 36 grain load of powder. Put your beam scale on a level sturdy bench and position it in such a manner as to allow you to clearly see the beam pointer from a given position. take note of your head position and try to place your head and look at the scale the same way every time to avoid visual paralax (that might not be a real term.....) and then dig thru your check weights and load the pan with check weights as close to your powder charge weight as you can get. In this example you are going for 36 grains of powder so try to get 36 grains of check weights in the pan. Now you can set the scale for 36 grains and zero the pointer by mooving the adjustable leg on the scale. Your beam scale will now be accurate at that particular setting....36 grains! So.... do the same for what ever weight of powder you plan to throw and you will find that your beam scale is very nearly as accurate as any digital scale.

    the thing about beam scales is that they are relitively inexpensive peices of equipment. Most have the scale graduations on stickers that are simply stuck to the beam someplace, and they ride in relitively crude bearings. As a result of this, and a few other things, they are not usually accurate over the entire range of weights shown on the scale.

    Take the time to calibrate at your planned charge weight with your check weights every time before use and your weights will be right on, and your loads more consistant.
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    Default You probably need a gooder scale, mon.

    That's a new one, to me Alangaq:

    I'm convinced that my Beam Scale is Very Accurate/(Consistent) "over the entire range of weights shown". If that wasn't the case, I'd sheet-can it, before I'd buy check weights.

    The graduations are not merely stickers.
    It's ALL metal. (Except, for the thin oil that dampens it.)
    I use it at eye level, and I keep a flashlight handy.
    I recognize that it's a mechanical device, so I make sure it's not sticking.
    I zero it for each session.
    I'm using it like it was designed to be used, and that is, without any check weights.

    Mine, is a Redding, but I'm sure there are other good ones, out there that don't require check weights.

    Smitty of the North
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  15. #15

    Default Consistency

    I'd bet that you'd have the same variance with the scale, with a check weight. You might try weighing the same powder charge, or any weight, over and over. It probably won't be right on the mark every time, especially with a magnetic dampened scale. After all, a Beam Scale is a mechanical device.

    My OLD Redding scale is Oil Dampened, and maybe that's better, and maybe it's not, but BOY, is it sensitive. It will notice the difference in only ONE GRANULE, of most of the extruded powders.
    Gee thanks Smitty, now you (and other posts in this thread) have me eyeing an electronic scale.

    Seriously, your post got me thinking. I have an RCBS 5-0-5, magnetically dampened scale and I was reloading some rounds tonight. I had previously noticed sometimes that if I left the scale reading dead on 66 grains of powder, paused what I was doing, and came back say 5 minutes later, it might not be dead on when I got back. I trickle all of my charges and I think I figured something out. If I slowly trickle the charge up to an exact reading, then ever so gently touch the beam so it swings up and down, it will settle back to a reading slightly over what I thought it was set at. (Hope that makes sense) Anyway, is it going to be close enough for a hunting rifle, sure. The OCD part of me though is not happy knowing this now........ Am I unhappy enough to spend $350 on an electronic scale though, guess we will see after the range trip this weekend. It sure would speed things up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 58D View Post
    Gee thanks Smitty, now you (and other posts in this thread) have me eyeing an electronic scale.

    Seriously, your post got me thinking. I have an RCBS 5-0-5, magnetically dampened scale and I was reloading some rounds tonight. I had previously noticed sometimes that if I left the scale reading dead on 66 grains of powder, paused what I was doing, and came back say 5 minutes later, it might not be dead on when I got back. I trickle all of my charges and I think I figured something out. If I slowly trickle the charge up to an exact reading, then ever so gently touch the beam so it swings up and down, it will settle back to a reading slightly over what I thought it was set at. (Hope that makes sense) Anyway, is it going to be close enough for a hunting rifle, sure. The OCD part of me though is not happy knowing this now........ Am I unhappy enough to spend $350 on an electronic scale though, guess we will see after the range trip this weekend. It sure would speed things up.
    It seems like I heard something like that a few years ago. And, it was a function of the Magnetic Dampening. (I don't remember ANY details, so maybe I imagined it.)

    Somehow, I got the idea that Magnetic Dampening was inferior to the Oil Dampening on a Beam Scale, but if that's so, I can't explain why the manufacturers went the Magnetic route.

    I've heard some bad things about the Electronic, Scales and that, plus the expense of them, have so far kept me from trying one. Even so, they seem to be popular enough, and I gather they are much faster and easier to use.

    I'll hafta get one someday if I can find a solid place to put it.

    Smitty of the North
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    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
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    If you buy a set of check weights off eBay or wherever, you can go to your local community college or university chemistry department and politely ask one of the professors if they could have a student check your weights on a truly sensitive, precise and accurate balance. I did this and found the check weights were just a tiny bit off, but not that you'd be able to see on a reloading scale. I made a few adjustments to the weights so they are exact within 0.0001g now.

    Once your scale is set up, you can weigh the check weight and see if your scale is off. Take the weight off and now see if the scale comes back to exact zero. If it does, re-weigh the check weight. Do this a minimum of three times. Once you have established by how much your scale is off, say, 0.2 grains, you can factor that in when weighing out loads.
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    I use the Lyman check weights for my RCBS 10-10. It is within 1/10gr when checked. I bought weights for the purpose of feeling better about the consistency of my loads, and the weights do that. It doesn't seem like I really need it, but I do check everything I move the scale. Scotty

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    I use a 62grn .22 cal Sierra match bullet for my check weight. It works great. Same scale for 25yrs

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    In 1970 I bought an RCBS beam scale. It moved all around the world and was once packed in a box that was submerged in water.
    I now have a couple digital scales and the old balance beam RCBS is still just as accurate if I zero it on a level table and keep in in the same place. (I marked the table top area in an outline)

    The only problem I now have is that after 40 years of service a small earthquake dropped a box of 500 bullets (458 caliber 405 grain bullets) on top of the scale. The box of bullets dropped for a few feet and managed to break the adjustment foot right off. So now I have a wooden wedge set-up I made. It still works just fine.
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