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Thread: RCBS A2 Ram extension help

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    RCBS A2 Ram extension help

    The primer slot in my standard ram extension is so large that I can't even use a Lee type push-through bullet sizer. There isn't enough material left below the shell holder slot to support the push through stud level. Short of finding someone to cut me a beefier ram extension, does anyone know where I could find an original RCBS swage extension?

    edit: I don't know why my pics show sideways, but if you click on the pics they will be right side up.
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    Last edited by oley55; 08-31-2021 at 03:30 PM.
    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan


  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Top of my A2 Ram takes standard slip/clip in shell holders and the Lee sizing push rods are the same diameter. Mine has the spring clip and not the set screw to hold them in. other than that, it looks just like yours. My first guess is somebody modded the push rod before you got it. If your press accepts standard shell holders, the problem for certain is the bullet push rod. The Lee push through sizing die will fit any standard press (die threads and case holder slot). Did you get it from Lee or some other source? If you got it from Lee, they screwed the pooch or it was some kind of special rod for some funky kind of press.
    Last edited by Char-Gar; 08-31-2021 at 04:52 PM.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I just went out and checked four different ones, all bought new by me five or more years ago. Three are as wobbly as the one pictured. Number four is a wee bit fat above the shoulder and will not slide into place. Fairly typical Lee machining tolerances for a mostly non-critical component. I am mostly using NOE sizers now, but did not want to waste money buying their push rods when the Lee's work with the NOE sizer/bushings.

    edit added: I have a Rock Chucker and an old Lee Turret and they work just fine with the Lee push through rods. My problem is unique to my A2.
    Last edited by oley55; 08-31-2021 at 07:03 PM.
    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan


  4. #4
    Boolit Bub mf79's Avatar
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    can you use this
    Hornady Universal Extended Shellholder

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    On the ones that have a step above the ram or room for it, can you put a shaft collar with a setscrew on it so that it uses the top of the ram to steady the punch just like a standard shell holder would do?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by mf79 View Post
    can you use this
    Hornady Universal Extended Shellholder
    GENIUS!!! I didn't know they even existed. By the looks it should solve my immediate bullet sizing issue, but it will probably risk damage to an already weak component. In the owners manual RCBS warns the standard ram extension should not be used for bullet swaging due to possible twisting and collapse.

    I'm going to get one for the short term, but will continue to look for a beefy solution. I am considering trying to order an RCBS Rebel ram and then have it cut down and machined to slip into the A2's main ram. You wouldn't believe the machining and tolerances of the factory ram extension. Tapered cross retention pin, press in/out fit (you must use the presses leverage to remove and seat the extension), the cross retention hole location must be precise because the ram extension bottoms out in the main shaft so the pin is not supporting the ram.
    Last edited by oley55; 09-02-2021 at 10:21 PM.
    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan


  7. #7
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    Building an entirely new ram would be the best solution. Press rams are made of soft steel and can be damaged in swaging. The RCBS swaging extension is about as rare as hens teeth. They are out there but you must keep your nose to the ground to find one.

    I stumbled across one a year ago at a small local gun show. The dealer had no idea what it was for. It now has a permanent home in my collection.

    Good Luck,
    Ken
    Antique Reloading Tool Collector, Historian and Writer
    Newsletter editor: Antique Reloading Tool Collectors Association
    Archive manager, Antique Reloading Tool Collectors Association
    email: herters@netins.net
    www.antiquereloadingtools.com

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    for a keep it simple stupid (kiss) approach and since I do not have and any real machining equipment, I got my hands on a replacement ram for a Lee classic press with the expectation the shaft diameter would not match the tight tolerances on this fine old RCBS A2. The Lee ram is indeed different, to the tune of being .0015" smaller. That means the Lee shaft will drop in but there is a detectable wiggle, which will likely increase over time.

    I am thinking I can very lightly centerpunch a spaced out row of dents around the undersized ram to tighten it up. The displaced metal from the centerpunch should easily get me the .0015" I need. If I go too far the raised metal can be easily removed by hand.

    But before I try that, I still need to accurately/squarely cut the shaft to length on a lathe. Then I can transfer punch the hole locations for the tapered cross pin. The tapered pin is actually more like a dog bone with the center area thin to allow spent primers to pass by. The tapered pin engages/wedges in the outer main shaft. So I'll through drill with the small size and then half through drill for the larger end.

    Any educated thoughts on why my centerpunch displaced metal idea is a stupid idea?
    Last edited by oley55; 09-16-2021 at 04:51 PM.
    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan


  9. #9
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    Oley55, I just remembered this. The RCBS shellholder is the same diameter as the typical Pacific ram.CH4D still has these available and RCBS may as well.
    It's possible to trim one to length then mark and drill the pilot hole for the tapered pin..
    This is a stronger solution than modifying a Lee ram.
    All of the rams are soft steel and easy to machine.
    I just remembered this thinking about how the RCBS model B ram is made.


    Ken
    Antique Reloading Tool Collector, Historian and Writer
    Newsletter editor: Antique Reloading Tool Collectors Association
    Archive manager, Antique Reloading Tool Collectors Association
    email: herters@netins.net
    www.antiquereloadingtools.com

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks Ken,

    When I was looking around I saw the CH-4D rams and thought it might work, but was reluctant to order it and get stuck with a $34 non-starter as opposed to a quickly delivered Lee for $19 off Fleabay. It was supposed to be for a Lee C press, but I'm not certain now as it does not match the pictured item.

    Kind of surprising this Lee ram does not have the primer seater slot cut into it. In theory it may be as strong or stronger than those with a long slot cut into them.(???) The Lee is hollow drilled with an exit hole for the spent primer out the back. Unfortunately the primer exit hole is almost exactly even with where the ram extension's removal holes should be. Having three holes at the same location for certain won't work. I'll contemplate a different position for the removal holes and maybe give it a try. If nothing else it will give me a chance to experiment drilling centered cross holes in round stock.

    I was/am still seriously thinking of trying to get an RCBS Rebel replacement ram and cutting it down. My thinking being the Rebel ram is 1" and when the insert portion is milled the remaining top shoulder would rest nicely on top of the A2's 1-1/4" main ram. The extension ram's bottom to hole measurement would no longer be critical. I'd plan to drill the cross pin holes a couple thousands long and then I could create a prefect resting on shoulder fit with shim washers. But there I go getting carried away again.

    edit added: pretty sure the Lee ram I purchased is for the Lee Hand Press. https://factorysales.com/lee-precisi...and-press.html
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    Last edited by oley55; 09-07-2021 at 01:35 PM.
    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan


  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I got the Lee Hand Press Ram cut to length, then I cross drilled and taper reamed the retention pin and removal hole. My tapered hole required a bit of fitting to get my pin to go in and out without too much hammer n punch effort. I used a spring activated center punch to displace some steel to make up for the .0015" skinnier Lee Ram. It presses in and pulls out with just a wee less effort than the original RCBS ram extension but it is wobble free and I'm satisfied. I don't expect this ram is really strong enough for serious bullet swaging, but at least I can use it for sizing my harder no lube groove bullets.
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    “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” Ronald Reagan


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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
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check