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Thread: RCBS A4 Big Max Universal Shell Holder woes

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Anonym's Avatar
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    RCBS A4 Big Max Universal Shell Holder woes

    Guys, I scored an RCBS Big Max (A4) to mount on my bench. It's an oldie, but seems to be nice and tight without much wear at all. Anyway, it only came with the "Universal Shell Holder" for the ram (no shell holder adapter). It works dandy for pistol/straight wall cases, but was extremely disappointed when trying to size bottleneck rifle cartridges. The jaws slip off the case rim and leave the shell stuck in the die!

    Luckily I had a stuck case remover that I used about 6 times trying to correct the problem, until finally the decapper assembly on my RCBS 308 FL Sizing Die broke the head off in the case neck on extraction (must have been one too many times). I managed to get the case out and cut the head out of the case, and shouldn't have any problems with RCBS Customer Service to get this replaced, but the shell holder is a whole other story!

    RCBS does not have either of these parts in stock anymore. I have sent them an inquiry as to if this shell holder can be "refurbished" (clean up the edges, maybe replace the springs with stiffer springs), but if they can't do anything about it, I'm afraid I've invested a lot of cash into a very heavy paperweight!

    Any of you guys have one of these that has had this issue and corrected it? Don't supposed there are any spare Shell Holder Adapters floating around out there somewhere?

    Justin

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Stonecrusher's Avatar
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    When I had mine I noticed that the universal shell holder seemed to leave unsatisfactory marks on the case rims. I fixed it by unscrewing it and screwing in the shell holder adapter. I've since sold mine, but it was a stout and strong, accurate press. Perhaps Buckshot, the Perfessor or some of the other gents would be willing to make you a shell holder adapter. Quite a few of the members here have a Big Max and I am sure would be willing to write down dimensions for you.

    Good luck!
    -William

    "How air ye fixed fer meat, Del?" --John Johnson Crow Killer, The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master Anonym's Avatar
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    Thanks Stonecrusher. I may send some of our local fabricators a message and see what they think about making an adapter. That was my preference anyway, but you take what you can get, right?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Anonym's Avatar
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    Called RCBS today and have some replacement springs to try to install on the universal shell holder, as well as a replacement decapping rod that broke last night getting a stuck case out. LOVE their customer service. Even when they don't have EXACTLY what you want, they manage to come up with something that might work.

    Still going to see if someone can fabricate a shell holder adapter for a reasonable cost...

    Justin

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Those shell holder adapters show up on eBay from time to time.
    Most people want the universal so you might be able to trade.
    I have a Big Max that only has the shell holder adapter. I never even wanted the universal so it was no sweat off of my nose. I figured the universal was just another gadget that was going to cause problems.
    EDG

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Anonym's Avatar
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    As an update to this thread, and for all those who want to know, the ram on the Big Max is internally (female) threaded 7/8-14, which is standard threading for reloading dies. I've had suggested about the time I was putting 2 and 2 together, that the die body of a "Ram Prime" unit would work as an excellent adapter to use standard shell holders. I'm on the hunt for a cheap one as I don't have much money to invest.

    The biggest hurdle to using the Ram Prime die is that the lock ring is too large to fit into the 1.25" hole of the press casting when at the bottom of the stroke. These could either be turned down, or I was considering seeing of someone could fabricate a 1.25" collar, about 1.25" in length, and internally threaded 7/8-14 to serve as a new "lock ring" that would but against the top of the ram and support the die up through and beyond (about 1/4") the press casting in the down stroke.

    Either way, it's much cheaper than trying to fabricate a full adapter for this unit...

    Justin

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



    Alvarez Kelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonym View Post
    As an update to this thread, and for all those who want to know, the ram on the Big Max is internally (female) threaded 7/8-14, which is standard threading for reloading dies. I've had suggested about the time I was putting 2 and 2 together, that the die body of a "Ram Prime" unit would work as an excellent adapter to use standard shell holders. I'm on the hunt for a cheap one as I don't have much money to invest.

    The biggest hurdle to using the Ram Prime die is that the lock ring is too large to fit into the 1.25" hole of the press casting when at the bottom of the stroke. These could either be turned down, or I was considering seeing of someone could fabricate a 1.25" collar, about 1.25" in length, and internally threaded 7/8-14 to serve as a new "lock ring" that would but against the top of the ram and support the die up through and beyond (about 1/4") the press casting in the down stroke.

    Either way, it's much cheaper than trying to fabricate a full adapter for this unit...

    Justin
    How about a Dillon 1 inch die lock ring?

  8. #8
    Boolit Man
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    Yes the Dillon 1 inch die lock ring will work.

    John J

  9. #9
    Frosted Boolits


    IllinoisCoyoteHunter's Avatar
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    I may have some spare big max parts floating around. Let me go check.
    Looking for an RCBS A2 with the removable bushing. I need it to complete my A series collection. Please let me know if you have one you want to get rid of. Thanks!

    My Feedback : http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...iscoyotehunter

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  10. #10
    Frosted Boolits


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    I have an extra shell holder adapter. If you want it, it's yours for free. I will even ship it. You need to have the right part for such a beautiful press. Shoot me a PM if you want it.
    Looking for an RCBS A2 with the removable bushing. I need it to complete my A series collection. Please let me know if you have one you want to get rid of. Thanks!

    My Feedback : http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...iscoyotehunter

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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by IllinoisCoyoteHunter View Post
    I have an extra shell holder adapter. If you want it, it's yours for free. I will even ship it. You need to have the right part for such a beautiful press. Shoot me a PM if you want it.
    That's a generous offer right there! Part of what makes this place great.
    -William

    "How air ye fixed fer meat, Del?" --John Johnson Crow Killer, The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson

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  12. #12
    Boolit Man
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    Im sure you just made his Christmas

  13. #13
    Frosted Boolits


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    I have an extra ram prime body for you too. I will throw that in.
    Looking for an RCBS A2 with the removable bushing. I need it to complete my A series collection. Please let me know if you have one you want to get rid of. Thanks!

    My Feedback : http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...iscoyotehunter

    An armed society is a polite society.

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  14. #14
    Boolit Master Anonym's Avatar
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    Wow, yes! That is a VERY generous offer. Sending you a PM!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    glad to hear someone had the parts to fix you up.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
    AZ Pete's Avatar
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    That is just too cool, IllinoisCoyoteHunter
    NRA Endowment Life Member

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Anonym's Avatar
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    My Christmas present arrived a few days ago, and I've been putting it to very good use! The adapters are definitely the way to go with these presses as far as I'm concerned. They are excellent machines! Thanks again ICH. If I can ever return the favor, please let me know!

  18. #18
    Frosted Boolits


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    You are welcome. Enjoy that press! Have a Merry Christmas!
    Looking for an RCBS A2 with the removable bushing. I need it to complete my A series collection. Please let me know if you have one you want to get rid of. Thanks!

    My Feedback : http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...iscoyotehunter

    An armed society is a polite society.

    the BB knows

  19. #19
    Frosted Boolits


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    By the way, I am currently making these for anyone who may need one. Here is a link to the thread: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...apter-Drawings

    Thanks!
    Looking for an RCBS A2 with the removable bushing. I need it to complete my A series collection. Please let me know if you have one you want to get rid of. Thanks!

    My Feedback : http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...iscoyotehunter

    An armed society is a polite society.

    the BB knows

  20. #20
    Boolit Mold 1BigassTxn's Avatar
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    Does anyone have a design for differnt handle?

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check