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Thread: Lee Hand Press - a pain

  1. #61
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    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    The Decker didn’t have the priming capability. Addition of the priming punch was one of Huntington’s improvements. He also changed the linkage sometime after his production started to bring the shell holder to a “top dead center” configuration to maximize leverage.

    I asked RCBS Customer Service if they still had priming stakes for the Compac Press. The guy said no parts were available any more, and I had to seriously jog his memory before he even admitted that RCBS had ever sold such a thing.

  2. #62
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Fred Huntington started RCBS, what does that have to do with the Huntington compac?

  3. #63
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    According to the story I got, FH sold RCBS (or at least gave up the overall running of the operation) he kept the “niche specialty” operations of HDS to have something to occupy his time. He had access to the main supply of standard RCBS materials as well.

    When he bought the remaining stock for Decker’s press, he sold the completed ones and got tooled up to make his own version, which he did hor several years. Production was discontinued several years ago, but then Randy Buchanan designed his own adaptation of the design and has been marketing it ever since.

    The foregoing is the best narrative I can produce based on casual research but I think it is correct in the major points if not in all details. As a bonus, I’m including a picture of my HDS Compac which can be compared to the others posted of Decker’s and Buchanan’s.

    Froggie
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  4. #64
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    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	237619OK, it missed, so I’ll try to post the picture again. Also, here are the Decker, the Buchanan, and the Lee unit so you can compare them. Unfortunately my computer-Fu isn't hitting on much so the pictures aren't very well organized. I did, however, try to get the thread back from its terminal drift... you can compare the "painful" Lee to the Decker, HDS, and BPM side by side (sort of.)

    Froggie
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Green Frog; 03-08-2019 at 11:45 PM. Reason: add 3 pictures and correct text
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  5. #65
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. Do you know who is running HDS now that Fred is passed?

  6. #66
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    Fred Junior is still running HDS. He shared it with his brother Buzz till his untimely passing.
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  7. #67
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    While we’re comparing features and capabilities, it has been stated already that the HDS does prime on the press while the Decker does not. Neither captures spent primers when used in the decap mode. The Buchanan captures spent primers, but does it reprime? Then moving on to the Lee, I seem to recall that it has a small chamber to capture spent primers, but I can’t recall hearing whether it has case priming capabilities(?)

    In full disclosure, I almost never prime on a press (except progressives) but catching spent primers is of interest for some of my apps. Oddly enough, the most frequent duty for my HDS is taper crimping cases for a repro Civil War cartridge that is externally ignited with a percussion cap... just a flash hole in the case head so the priming question becomes moot for me, probably why I’ve never really thought of it before.

    Froggie
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  8. #68
    Boolit Master

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    My “new” (to me) HDS Compac Press has more blocky, squarish handles than the one pictured, with no cast-in lettering. I don’t notice any “over-centeredness” in the linkage; must be an earlier one.

    It looks more like the Decker in that respect, but does have the red aluminum shell holder block, and the top die holder looks to be aluminum rather than blued steel. “H.D.S. OROVILLE CA 95965 PAT 3,735,966” appears in four lines on the die head, the only markings on the tool.

    Some previous owner lost the priming attachment and put a brass, steel and spring assembly in its place that appears to have no sane function that I can determine. It looks like it should dimple primers, or maybe set them off if a squeeze could do so.

    So I’m happily trying to reproduce something along the lines of the original priming stake.

    The Lee Hand Press I have would need something like a Ram Primer attachment in order to reprime. There is a cavity in the ram that holds (IIRC) exactly 20 spent Large Rifle primers. Woe unto them that would try to decap the 21st shell without removing the shell holder, and shaking out the spent primers, for they will be able to push the 21st primer only halfway out, sticking the shell in the holder and the holder in the ram until many foul incantations and violent operations are completed as penance.

    You can’t call it a bad design feature so much as a very treacherous one. A hole drilled into the little collection chamber from the side of the ram would allow the depriming to take place over a wastebasket or trash bag with no interruptions. Wonder why Lee didn’t provide it. Maybe they were worried that primer debris would stick along the ram and wear the aluminum frame.

    By the way, I don’t see any knife edges anywhere on mine. The handles press together with the palms of my hands and are very smooth.

  9. #69
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the pictures and the info everyone, very interesting.

    The Lee does need a ram prime unit to reprime. I generally ram prime anyways though. The primer catch on the lee holds more like 25, least mine does. It is a pain if you overfill it but it's not bothersome to me to empty it. I sized and decapped bout 300 45 ACP cases yesterday with my lee.

    I like the looks of the thickness of the handles on the Decker and HDS compared to the BPM. One of the things I dislike about the Lee is the thinness of the handles edges. I added wooden handles to a Lee hand press once, following the profile of the grip but making it not ribbed. It didn't make any difference and I prefered it unmodified so I sold it and bought a fresh one.
    Last edited by Bazoo; 03-09-2019 at 08:08 PM.

  10. #70
    Boolit Master
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    After looking at some of the pictures posted earlier I made two wooden blocks. This pictures shows how they can be used so that a vise can hold the hand press. Click image for larger version. 

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    and this picture shows how it would fit in your hand.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If you do this be sure to round off all of the edges and corners. This seems to be more comfortable than holding the press itself. The hole in the ram shows the level of spent primers. It is still quicker to take the shell holder off to dump them than try to get them out through the hole.
    Some times it's the pot,
    Some times it's the pan,
    It might even be the skillet,
    But, most of the time, it's the cook.

  11. #71
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I've been thinkng about drilling my ram deeper so it'll hold more primers, but I ain't got around to it yet.

  12. #72
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    First, Froggie is right about the evolution of the design. First came Decker, then Huntington bought Decker's rights, then ran out of parts and chose not to do it any more and this was about 6-8 years before I decided to do it. The last price I saw on a HDS tool was around $185. 10+ years ago. I doubt they were selling many at that price, and it didn't make good business sense to continue with a new run of parts which would have been a Ca$h Outlay. I doubt mine will go past #250 unless someone comes along and buys the design and tooling from me.

    Second: You can prime on my tool and I use a Lee Ram Prime mostly but have a Lyman Priming Die which does the same thing.

    My Primer catcher will hold about 60-70 spent LR primers. Before you need to slide it off the nut and dump it.

    As far as the press linkages,,, all of them work exactly the same way and they also work exactly like a Crankshaft Approaching TDC. The highest amount of mechanical advantage occurs in the last few degrees before TDC. However there is one other factor and that is the distance between the pivot point of the arms and the attachment of the links to the arms versus the length of the arms.

    When I designed my tool I had a Lee Press in hand and found all the short comings as I played with it. I also figured out the ratios involved and figured out how to make mine more powerful. I did this by drawing it up on my CAD program several times and trying different ratios until I got a superior one that worked in all cases.

    It took a little less than 3 hours to design the complete tool.

    After I made the 4 Prototypes, I figured out some minor changes, and then had the first run of 50 sets of parts made. During the assembly phase, which took about 3 weeks for the first 50, I figured out a couple more minor changes which amounted to increasing some hole sizes to ease assembly, and it has been unchanged, other than the addition of the LnL feature, ever since. Just picked up the forth run of parts recently.

    Just sold #162 earlier this week.

    I am NOT getting rich making these! It is just something with my name on it that I am leaving behind for future generations to enjoy,,, If they still can?

    By drilling a hole in the base and adapting a Corkscrew to the Ram, it can be converted into a really nice bottle opener!

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  13. #73
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I'd like to have one of your presses Randy. I'd also like to have one of the deckers or Huntington presses. I'd like to see a size comparison of the decker HDS and Buchanan. It's hard to tell from pictures but it looks like the Buchanan is a little larger.

    Randy, you said you had a lee in hand when you designed your press, did you have an HDS press?

  14. #74
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    Randy,

    Thanks for that great summary of your development of your press. I have to admit I was a little surprised to read that you did it without having an original Decker or HDS in hand to help visualize where you wanted to go with the finished product. CAD in the right hands is a marvelous device! How much did your angles of attack change through your 4 prototypes? Of all of the design features, I would expect the angles and lengths of the links and arms to be the most critical dimensions, but I suppose someone who was really adept could deal with that in CAD, right?

    I was fortunate enough to find a like-new HDS in a somewhat ratty box about 5-7 years ago and got it for a “friends and family” price of about $75. I knew I got a pretty good deal on it at the time, but had no idea how good until I just read your post. Allowing for increased prices of all things manufactured, especially in small numbers, your asking price for the current iteration seems very reasonable... it’s not an item every casual reloader would need or even want, but for the specialist or serious enthusiast unwilling to settle for less, this represents the best in its field. At least 162 folks agree!

    Bazoo, the only thing I have left is my HDS, but I’ll post a new picture of it with a ruler beside it and some key dimensions if others will do the same for the other units...

    Froggie

    PS In addition to a wine bottle opener, it also should work really well at cracking hard shell nuts, especially black walnuts for fruitcakes! No alterations necessary.
    "It aint easy being green!"

  15. #75
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    PS In addition to a wine bottle opener, it also should work really well at cracking hard shell nuts, especially black walnuts for fruitcakes! No alterations necessary. [/QUOTE]

    Frog Person, your mention of making a fruit cake is making me hungry. I have not had good fruit cake since leaving RVN and c rations.

    Back to the topic. In all this discussion no one has mentioned the Lyman hand press. Is it that unloved?

    Ken
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  16. #76
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I looked into the Lyman convertible hand / bench press but I didn't figure I'd like it as much as the lee hand press. It looks kinda unwieldy and the reversible handles don't look comfortable at all with that blocky nub on the end.

  17. #77
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    I had some very detailed full size pictures of the HDS Press from Artful who got #001 for his contribution to the project. These pics were actual size so I could take measurements off them, which I did. Most of the ratios came off the Lee Press which I improved by redrawing that area of the press several times until I got full travel with the arms laying flat to all the way up which yielded 3.750" total travel. Obviously a little less with the Primer Catcher installed.

    The only alterations to the original design were the Diameter of the Guide Rod Holes in the top and bottom plates from .375-.376, and the diameter of the Pin holes from .125 to .128 to make it easier for the roll pins to go in. Both of these mods were strictly to ease assembly. Nothing else has been changed from the original Prototypes to the ones I have now.

    The only other change to the original design was the addition of the LnL feature which was nothing more than enlarging the tapped hole in the top plate to 1 1/4-12 threads for the LnL Conversion Bushing.

    The first 50 units had C&H Shell Holders in them but when I went back for the next run Dave at C&H told me to just go ahead and have those made locally. So I did,,, but mine were made from 303 SS instead of 12L14 like C&H's. Mine don't rust and they were cheaper too boot!

    That is pretty much the whole story.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  18. #78
    Boolit Master
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    IIRC, the Lyman hand press didn't last that long... of course the niche was small and somewhat crowded. I got the impression that unless they could grab a big market share fast, Lyman would leave this type of niche after a short production run. Witness the (actually very good) Accu-Measure that was very similar to the RCBS Little Dandy and the fact that it came and went in just a couple of years. Regardless of its strengths and weaknesses, the Lyman version of the hand press probably had a similar short career then got deep sixed due to perceived lack of customer enthusiasm. This is all JMHO, but seems very logical.

    Froggie
    Last edited by Green Frog; 03-18-2019 at 03:03 PM. Reason: correct autocorrections (again)
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  19. #79
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    Mr. Frog Person, I had the same thoughts, nice to see two people thinking along the same line.

    Ken
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  20. #80
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    Gee Ken, If most people realized they were beginning to think like an amphibian, they would be concerned. Aren't you?

    I have been trying to figure out the corporate thought patterns at Lyman for about three decades now, and it seems like every time the wind changes directions, somebody in authority changes the direction of their corporate production. I think maybe they see some other company making a popular product and have their skunk works design a similar item, usually with some small improvements, but most importantly with enough change to avoid patent infringement. They put it into production and introduce it with a big splash of publicity, then if it doesn't meet their expectations for sales, they give up on it... sometimes before the item really gets a fair chance. Anyway, that's the way it looks from my lily pad here in the old swamp! I'll be most curious to see how their new All American turret press does on the market and how it will be supported.I hope their QC will show some improvement and return to the central position they once held in the reloading world. "Hope springs eternal..."

    I'm curious as to how many of the Lyman Hand Press actually sold... they had been making a hand press for about 100 years; they called it the 310 tool!

    Your Friend the Frog
    "It aint easy being green!"

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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