How Do I Get My Reloader Ready To Go?
Bolt the Reloader Down to the Right Surface
You will be amazed at how lead bounces. When you spill shot–which you will repeatedly do–it will hit your hard table and bounce to the floor. One friend of mine solves this by bolting his reloader though a large baking tray that has a lip running around all sides. Another solution is to put thin foam rubber, carpet or other soft material around your reloader to catch the ground balls.
If you can bolt your reloader down, do it. MEC says you can reload by bolting the machine to a piece of plywood. This may be true (done that), but you are much better off by bolting it to something solid. Once you try it, you won’t go back. Either find a surface you can drill four holes in, or worst case, bolt it to a plywood sheet large enough that you can clamp the sheet to the table.
What’s the big deal with bolting? If you have it loose on a plywood sheet, some of your downstroke effort must go to stabilizing the machine, instead of 100% of it going to a solid downstroke. You will lose speed and waste energy keeping the reloader in one place. Also, powder drops can be more consistent with a bolted-down machine.
Be Careful With the Bottles
Don’t torque down the powder and shot bottles too tightly. If you do, thinking you’re just making them snug, you risk flattening the brass ring that acts like a seal over the powder drop. Doing so can remove its sealing capability, and more powder can leak out from the shot bar as you reload. This is especially true with the unusually fine-grained Winchester powders.
Adjust The Primer Drop Mechanism to Gain Speed
Spend time to set up the primer drop mechanism. It’s the toughest part of the setup to get calibrated. But getting it right will save you tons of aggravation. MEC instructions were at first not clear to me about what to do with the retaining clip, a black clip that is flat on one side and an open half-moon on the other. It comes from the factory loose in a bag. It goes between the primer tube and the screw that locks the primer tube in place.
Really tighten that primer screw. If you’re too gentle, when you pull the handle, the chain that actuates the primer mechanism will also pull the primer tray to the side, messing up your calibration.
A Speed-Increasing Adjustment
I’ve seen more than one reloader come out of the box with the shell lifter not operating properly. This device holds the shell up in Station 1 so the Shell Carrier can move after depriming. Check the following to make sure yours is OK: Look in the space right above where the spent primers fall into the tray. You will see a small plate attached to the bottom of a rod. That’s the Shell Lifter Bracket. (Buried in the manual, MEC only says that the ‘Shell Lifter should go in the yolk [sic].’ This is a reloader, not an egg-poacher. I think MEC means ‘yoke.’)
Anyway, rotate the bracket to make sure it is straddling the shell lifter, the removable rod that sits in Station 1. When it’s positioned right, the shells will be resized on the downstroke, and will return up so they can be easily rotated to the reprime/powder station.
Look at Your Placement
Get at the right height to see the stations. Seems obvious, but sometimes I make just such a convenience adjustment, only to wonder why I suffered under the previous setup for so long.
Have components within easy reach. Keep shells, wads and a big box for done shells as nearby as possible without interfering with the machine. Take a clue from assembly lines: Minimize movement to maximize speed. You should be able to move each hand no more than 6 inches to pick up a shell and wad for insertion in the next cycle. Putting wads and shells in shallow boxes means less fumbling in a half-closed bag to fetch them.