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Thread: This is my Lee Perfect Powder Measure

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    This is my Lee Perfect Powder Measure

    Here's a potential weekend project for the more adventurous. This is my Lee PPM. I made the modifications a couple years ago, and I shared it on another forum. I am thinking there might be more interest over here?

    The changes:
    1. PPM lapped for smooth operation and no leaking with almost any powder
    2. Quick change metering inserts. As many as you want to make for less than a dollar apiece.
    3. Custom powder drop tube that works down to .223 without spilling any powder.
    4. Drill press stand, infinitely adjustable for height to just barely clear the casemouth.
    5. Screw-adjustable amount of up/down travel on bearings, in order to get the powder funnel to drop and lock on to a 223 case mouth in a loading block for no spillage.

    Lapped the measure with a drill, using a custom jig:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...27x/SAM_aa.jpg

    Cut off the end of the meter with a hacksaw, for transition to quick-change metering inserts:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...x/SAM_0223.jpg

    A magnet is epoxied to the metering tube to secure the quick change inserts:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...x/SAM_0226.jpg

    Creating inserts with bolt, washer, nut, and a piece of dowel. The washer is soldered onto the bolt. The nut locks the meter in position.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...x/SAM_0225.jpg

    I made up a handful of these, some with different lengths for covering overlapping ranges.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...x/SAM_0224.jpg

    I also created one much fancier insert with a much greater range of adjustability.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...x/SAM_0235.jpg

    I removed the funnel and replaced it with a modified 223 case. The case is too big to fit. This is good. Since the inside of the plastic tube has to be milled larger to allow the 223 case to friction fit, there is no "shelf" on which powder can trap. I sized the case without expanding it. Then roll-crimped the mouth before cutting off the casehead. This way it locks inside of the mouth of a sized and expanded 223 case. And it easily fits over any larger caliber with no spillage. I mounted it on a drill press stand, so that the height is adjustable.
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...x/SAM_0228.jpg

    Using some epoxy and brass tubes, I fashioned a sliding-bearing so that the entire measure can move freely in the Z axis by a fraction of an inch. This allows you to lift the meter and then drop it over the mouth of a 223 case.
    http://vid688.photobucket.com/albums...x/SAM_0216.mp4

    Here's a video of it in action, BEFORE I modified the meter. You can see the original meter in the video. The new quick-change inserts are flush with the end of the shorter tube and allow plenty of room for maneuving the loading block.
    http://vid688.photobucket.com/albums...x/SAM_0213.mp4

    I've loaded thousands of rounds of 223 with H335, without losing a single flake. Hope you guys like it. Carry on.
    Last edited by gloob; 01-31-2015 at 04:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master



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    Really like this post. Should be a sticky. Impressive.
    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson

  3. #3
    Boolit Master VHoward's Avatar
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    This is awesome. Takes an already good measure for the money and improved it. I vote for stickyfying this post also.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Agreed - Sticky. Thanks gloob. And only 15 posts, you have a great future here.
    Lucky Joe
    "There's always a way."

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    Nice job! Reloading is a labor of love, so is tinkering.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Good job!

    The idea that the measure oscillates on the vertical axis is useful for other measures in the same circumstance.

    Three 44s

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Mike Kerr's Avatar
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    Outstanding. I thought I had a fast system for using the PPM (it's better than most) but your modifications are very good and speed up the process dramatically. I hope this gets made into a sticky.
    regards,


  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    There seems to be a lot more interest on this forum than my other. Perhaps casting bullets and tinkering go hand-in-hand? And maybe being new here, helps. I have not rubbed too many mods and regulars the wrong way, yet.

    The idea that the measure oscillates on the vertical axis is useful for other measures in the same circumstance.
    If you want to load on a block, then yes this helps. But it's only critical for my 223 cases. On a larger diameter neck, it works about as well to just set the height to barely clear the case mouths. I used to set the funnel deep into the necks of my .308/7mm cases back when I used neck lube, to keep the necks from clogging with powder. But I no longer use any neck lube, so that's not a factor. So the hardest part of the mod, the sliding mount, is probably the least generally useful, IMO.

    The 223 funnel works great even if you use a measure the normal way. There's no splashing or spilled powder in any case or powder I have used. It works great for 223, even, by hand. One problem I had with the standard inverted funnel is that you had to align and hold the small necked 223 cases exactly right (and it is hard for me to tell), or you would lose some fine ball powder. It is easy to see and feel when you have a 223 case set on this funnel, and you don't have to hold it exactly straight up/down for it to work. An extra drop tube is only 3.00 from Lee Precision, so it's not a big deal to try this mod for yourself. One drawback to be aware of is that if you drop a chunky powder too fast, it can clog in the shoulder of the inverted 223 case. If you drop the charge more steady, this is really not a problem with any of my powders, including 4064 and Varget.

    The quick change insert is also a surprisingly easy and useful modification. The ID of the metering tube is exactly .500". So it's easy to buy 1/2" dowel and sand to fit. Just make sure you don't get a dowel that's undersized. And I did some rough math. When set to maximum, the standard meter can drop something like 10 or 20x as much powder as I could possibly need for my largest rifle. So it's way longer than the average reloader needs. Plenty of room to put in screw-adjustable inserts.

    I really don't have any fancy tools. All I used here is a drill press, a dremel tool, a hack saw, some sculpting epoxy, sandpaper, and a soldering iron. A bandsaw was used to cut the blocks of wood for the mount. And my press, 223 dies, and a chamfering tool to make the 223 funnel. I used a self-tapping bolt to thread the dowels, and you can even make your own tapping bolt by cutting a slot along the threads at the tip of a bolt, using a Dremel cutoff disc.

    All that said, I am only using the measure for rifle. I use plastic 9mm ammo trays for my 233 loading blocks. And I use 45ACP trays for my 308-based cartridges. So all my metering inserts are set for those loads. I still find it more convenient to use dippers for all my pistol loading. Making up a new dipper is a simple matter of picking up an old case, trimming and dialing it in, and labeling it.

    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...ps64d674ca.jpg
    The one in the front can hold a 380, 9mm, 357, or 223 case by the rim. It's just a piece of 0.030" steel music wire bent with pliers. The free ends are slid into a piece of brass tubing for a handle. Then the end is crimped down. You just slide out the wire a bit and pop the case in/out. Once you have a pistol load you are happy with, it's in the bank.

    Thanks so much for the positive replies, fellas. I appreciate the interest.
    Last edited by gloob; 02-02-2015 at 05:31 PM.

  9. #9
    Anti-Socialist Texan


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    The staff here is pretty shmooze-proof, threads get "stickied" by staff on their relative merit if they happen to run across them in their free time (not much I imagine), or someone brings it to their attention that a bunch of people were requesting it and staff agrees it's so deserving.

    Gear
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by geargnasher View Post
    The staff here is pretty shmooze-proof, threads get "stickied" by staff on their relative merit if they happen to run across them in their free time (not much I imagine), or someone brings it to their attention that a bunch of people were requesting it and staff agrees it's so deserving.

    Gear
    Agree one-hundred percent. And, casting boolits and tinkering in the reloading shop often do go hand-in-hand.

    I've gone through RCBS, Lyman, Hornady and Dillon powder measures over the years and my little ol' Lee PPM remains my #1 most reliable, unerring, consistent powder measure. I used a friend's Redding precision or pro-something or the other that was absolutely impressive--which is should be seeing as it cost over six times what I paid for that little Lee back in 1988. I also liked the Hornady when I had it, but really never used it nearly as much as I did the Lee.

    The Lee I have is so well broken in and perfect that there is no way I'm modifying a single thing to it. However, this sticky may motivate me to order a new one and play around some.

    Good stuff. Great stuff. Love to see innovative folks here.


  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks.
    However, this sticky may motivate me to order a new one and play around some.
    I'm no superman. I did the same. I have my original, lapped and broken-in PPM set aside. Complete, in a box. And a spare drop tube. When the thing only costs $30.00, and I have a spare, I get a lot more creative. That's when the "thinking" actually starts to translate into "doing."

    Of course, this one is now the starter. And I could let go of the backup in a heartbeat. But I didn't know that when I started.
    Last edited by gloob; 02-04-2015 at 03:07 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master bluelund79's Avatar
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    I'm definitely going to try some of those mods. Thanks for sharing

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I got to thinking about making some proper pistol loading blocks for use with this measure. I have some homemade blocks I made back in the day, but they weren't quite cutting it. I have a cheap drill press and forstner bits, but my ability to drill holes exactly where and how deep I want them is somewhat limited.

    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/v...ps58261d2c.jpg

    The 45/40 block was a little more staightforward. I found out that my Fiochhi (white/clear) and PMC (black) 45ACP ammo trays are exactly the same size. It was just a matter of slicing the bottom of a tray off (bandsaw) and hotsnotting it to a block of wood. I only ran a bead/filet of glue around the edges to ensure that the block is perfectly level. I can store prepped brass in ammo trays and quickload the loading block, as needed.

    The 9mm/380 tray is slightly different. All my 9mm trays are from Brown Bear ammo. The trays are slightly tapered. The bottom of each hole is sized to take the bullet; some of the holes are slightly too tight to hold a casehead. So I had to cut a slice off the top of the ammo tray and glue that to the block. End result is the same, but the cases are resting directly on the block. The slice of ammo tray just creates the dividers.

    Incidentally, I also have some PMC 40SW ammo trays, and these are an exact fit for 40SW/10mm. But the 45ACP works pretty well, so I think I'll stop there, for now.

    These loading blocks are not ideal for the fumble-fingered. It takes a bit of dexterity/attention to be able to use it without knocking cases, over. But I've been loading in a similar fashion from the start, so it really isn't any change for me. (Hitherto, I used a small, flat tray with a lip around the edge, and just packed pistol cases onto it as I charged them - with no dividers between cases). I have so far loaded up 95 rounds of 9mm, and it went of without a hitch. 40/45 should be even smoother. The high-density design has advantages for me, because it saves space on my bench and makes charging easier and faster with my modified measure.
    Last edited by gloob; 02-08-2015 at 05:50 PM.

  14. #14
    Amazing job!! +1 for a sticky

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Put this post on sticky. Really helpful

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
    Lucky Joe's Avatar
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    Is there a way to view the pictures, I see photobucket wants an upgrade. I don't use it that much.
    Lucky Joe
    "There's always a way."

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Joe View Post
    Is there a way to view the pictures, I see photobucket wants an upgrade. I don't use it that much.
    I' sorry, all! Photobucket turned into malware, AFAIC. I refuse to even log on to my Photobucket account, let alone accept their latest EULA.

    I'll try to find these pics and repost on imgur. Or possibly just take and post some new pics, when I get the chance.

    I'm still using this measure as my only/primary measure, and it is still working as intended. Years later, I'm still using the same set of 6 inserts I made back when to cover almost all my reloading needs.

    In the meantime, hopefully the basic descriptions in the OP make some sense. The main thing I did was cut the bottom off of the aluminum tube which meters the powder, removing the screw-adjustable part of the meter, completely. And then making adjustable inserts which fit in the tube and take up the extra space.

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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