Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lee 1000

If you reload Because you reload, you know about presses. Whether you have ever used a Lee 1000 or not, you probably know what a Lee 1000 looks like. It's red, lightweight, and generally made up of plastic and aluminum, with a bit of steel to hold it together. It is not a press for someone who wants to just pull the lever and make ammo. It's a cheap press designed for a tinkerer. I am that guy.

I can tolerate it. I keep spares of the plastic gears and cams. I have set one Lee 1000 up to do .45ACP and I don't change it. It stays in .45 with adjustments for different bullets or powder changes being the only planned changes to the configuration. Even so, it is not without it's quirks. It was old when I got it and came to me in pieces in a box.

The biggest issue, the ongoing issue, is feeding primers. If I ever get it where it just feeds primers, doesn't tip them over, tip them sideways, fail to feed them, or jam them up under the shellplate, I will be able to double my production rate. I read the tips in the forums, I watch the videos on YouTube, I keep it clean, I keep it lubed. What I mostly do is load at a slow deliberate pace, and as I see the next case go by the plastic tab that releases the next primer, I pause, seeing the primers move in the feeder before I complete the cycle.

Ideas are welcome. Suggesting that I splash the press off a pier and buy a Dillon is an idea. Paying for a Dillon is another idea. Let's pretend I am keeping the Lee for sentimental reasons and would just like it to feed primers. Any of you have a Lee 1000? That you use regularly? Does it just feed primers and give you no problems?

Here's an interesting video. One of the things I liked was when he turned the camera to show one of the mods and you can see the cases of food he has stored in the background.


Steven Kupillas said...

I think Lee and others have a hand primer tool that may be more accurate, and then you don't have to worry about them in the progressive press, and save time. I've been considered one of those, as I have an RCBS rock chucker and I'm not fond of the primer press setup, but it does work well, just a little awkward.
Personally, I've been leery of prog presses (because they're liberal,JK)no because they have too many moving parts, and I trust the powder charging, because I load each one individually, and check every case for a charge that I can see. JMHO.

B said...

Not being snarky here, ut watch garage sales for a used Dillon. I got mine for $120, I think.

DIllon has treated me well with support and (free) parts as needed.

Dies nd such will fit from your Dillon, you'll only need shellplates and powder funnels

Sport Pilot said...

Used one set up in 38 Special for years and got by even though it was quirky. Thing's I learned were not to ever move it or change calibers. Better options are the Lee Classic Cast Turret press (yes it's that good). I now have a Dillon 550, Lee CCT and an old RCBS RC.

Murphy's Law said...

Had one for a while, just set up for 9mm, but the primer system finally wore me down. Eventually you learn little tricks (I've forgotten them now) that help you move it smoother and lessen primer jams, but it's the big flaw in that system. I sold mine to a friend after replacing it on the bench with a Dillon press.

Dave H said...

Bwahahahahah! You said "Lee" and "feed primers" in the same sentence!

I have a Lee Loadmaster and I have never been able to get it to prime reliably. I finally said to heck with it, and now I hand prime everything with an RCBS APS hand primer. I'm not going to get 500 rounds per hour like the guys with the Dillon 650s, but I didn't spend the kind of money they did either.

I also have a Lee hand primer but it has the same kind of fiddly primer tray the press mounted priming devices use. It's easy to get a primer sideways or upside-down with it. The APS system has primers loaded in reusable plastic strips that feed through the tool with each squeeze of the handle. You can get a little tray to load the strips with loose primers, or you can buy pre-loaded strips from CCI.

Since the cases need to be decapped before you can prime them I use a universal decapping die in a separate Lee turret press. And since the Loadmaster isn't decapping or priming it takes less force to work the handle.

If you're inclined to upgrade to a do-it-all press, the Dillon 550 or 650 are hugely popular among cowboy action shooters. The 650 seems to be a little more popular because you can use a powder check die on it that will lock the machine if you've overcharged or undercharged a case.

Tim Covington said...

I just do the case prep and priming separately with my Lee. I love my RCBS hand primer.

NotClauswitz said...

At least you're not dealing with a Piggyback II - but you CAN be if you want mine, you tinkerer, you!
But first you need a RCBS single stage to mount the Piggyback - it's a contraption by definition.

Thomas said...

I got started in reloading with a couple of Lee turret presses, and I still have them as backups or loaners. I considered the Lee progressive when it was time to move up, but any internet research on them will turn up negative reviews (yours is one of the more positive ones on the Lee that I've seen). Lee is low-end hobbyist-grade equipment, which is fine I think for single stage, turret presses, and even their bullet casting stuff isn't bad. Prrogressive, no.

There is one other progressive option for you, other than to drink the blue kool-aid. Drink the red kool-aid instead (Hornady, not Lee).
When I went progressive, I went with the Hornady one and it's worth considering too. Less $ than the Dillon. Customer service has been pretty good when a piece of the primer feed system broke but the replacement part (and the shade-tree mechanic metal piece I bolstered it with) ensure that piece will never break again.
I find that the Hornady primer feed system needs just a little bit of watching, and I deburred the snot out of all the metal peices and dry lubed them to finally get it to run smoothly. The press though is an industrial wonder to my eyes after being used to Lee. Big metal casting body, solid everywhere, yeah this is the shizzle.*

* The ONLY thing I'll tip my hat to Lee on is the concept of their primer tray - which is 100x faster to load than the conventional primer tube system that Dillon, RCBS, and Hornady use. There's no getting around the chore of loading up a couple of tubes of primers before each reloading session.

Sevesteen said...

I've reloaded a good bit with a 1000.

Every couple rounds, give the primer tray a tap. Avoid letting the primers in the chute between the tray and press get even slightly low. You can usually feel if a round doesn't prime right, don't load the next case, and when the empty shell carrier comes around blow the powder that sifts through the flash hole away with a rubber bulb or canned air, otherwise you'll keep missing primers.