‘In the beginning…’
I started casting and ‘Lube-Sized’ my rifle/pistol projectiles…back then, the choice of lube was a hot topic and there were many heated exchanges about which lube would allow particular advantages. Some lubes required a ‘heater’ to be installed under the Sizer, some not. ‘Leading’ of the barrel was a problem when the wrong lube, the wrong lead blend and BHN, or the wrong sized projectile was employed. Without going down the ‘rabbit hole’ of Lube Sizing’, lets just agree that it is a grueling time consuming process to size a 20 pound pot full of cast projectiles.
There were other methods of lubing. ‘Tumble Lube’ and ‘Pan lubing’ and ‘HiTec’ were options, but I didn’t like the mess or drawn out process that had to be implemented and ‘still have the sizing aspect’ to contend with. At one time I loaded many thousands of ‘store bought’ ‘plated’ projectiles…they seemed like the answer to my problem of not having enough projectiles to shoot in any appreciable volume…then, suddenly right out of the blue comes a new process . . .
‘Powder Coating, saves the day…’
Suddenly, as if overnight the powder coating process came in to save the day…no more tedious lube sizing casts with the messy lubes that would collect in our seating dies or melt in the storage boxes, but at first I still had to use the lube-sizer to size the powder coated casts. With this method I removed the lube from the sizer and sized the slick projectiles using the same method…one at a time, still a time consuming process, still I used many thousands of the plated casts to supplement the need for high volume. Something had to give, we needed a method of sizing that took much less time, something that would allow faster sizing…then I discovered the ‘Push through sizer’ and who do you think manufactured this time saving device?
‘Lee’s Push Through Sizers, the higher speed process…’
I can’t say for sure who actually came out with the ‘push through’ sizer first. NOE makes these dies also (http://noebulletmolds.com/NV/index.php?cPath=104_410), although their dies are considered as an upgraded version of the simple Lee P-T-Sizer, they employ a die body with size inserts sold individually for the various sizes. NOE sizing is worthy of an article of it’s own. With NOE you have more options, as in ‘Nose Sizing the Bore Riding’ projectiles…enough said here, I just wanted to mention the option. It was Lee that saved my Bacon so it’s Lee that is a part of this metamorphosis that lead me to the ‘Upside Down Sizing Press’.
In the picture above you see the post that a cast has to be placed on to push it through the die to size it (the spring is not part of the Lee die set, more on that later)…a very slow process here again, one at a time and you had to be very careful not to get a finger pinched as you guided the cast and raised the ram to size. Exiting the size die the cast would be pushed by other cast out the top of the die and into the red plastic container, the same plastic container that would fill with cast as you are concentrating on that push post and push the lid off spilling all those freshly sized cast to the floor…hence, the rubber band around the container. There had to be a better way, again something has to give here as I wanted even more sized cast per hour, if I could figure a way to run those cast a little faster? Therein enters the ‘Spring’…the only improvement in this whole metamorphosis of sizing that I can say ‘I invented’! Having the spring on the push post I could drop a cast on the post and allow the spring to keep it centered and guide it into the die while I was grabbing another cast to place next. I got pretty good at this routine and thought that ‘It can’t get any better than this!’ Now I am casting, PC coating and sizing in the volume that would supply my needs…until someone over at CastBoolits.Gunloads.com mentioned they were going to mount the single stage press upside down so they could just drop the cast into a hole and increase sizing production maybe 2 fold…introducing . . .
‘The Upside Down Sizing Press…’
I was lucky to have this spare RCBS Jr. press. It has another threaded handle hole in the cam of the press linkage that allowed me to mount the press upside down and continue to pull down on the handle to lower the ram…this was the answer…this had to be the ultimate in sizing production! The first upside down sizers that other handloaders made were pretty crude as they required a mounting method that required welding some scrap metal together to get the press mounted at the height you wanted to work with…just the sort of project I enjoy as it took some shade-tree engineering and quite a bit of thought to figure out…something I would ‘mull’ on for several weeks. Many drawings of this press mount went to the trash can as I improved it further and further trying to make the mount something other than the clabbered together mounts I had been looking at in others attempts. At last I had my newest and most improved version on paper and drove over to the Welding Shop in Auburn to purchase the bits and pieces of various plate & channel I needed. The boys over at the Welding Shop allow me to go through their scrap pile to buy their cut-off scrap at junkyard prices. One of the owners followed me back to the scrap pile to cut two plates on the shear the size I needed while I went through the scrap pile for the channel size I wanted when…suddenly, I spotted a foot long piece of tubing and instantly I saw the mount…one piece, no welding. I said, “Never mind the plate, I found what I need right here!” It’s funny how you can be so immersed into a project that you can’t see any other way of doing something until you get started and then see something differently all together…well, that’s what happened…introducing the most simple press mount I never imagined . . .
‘The upside down press bracket…’
Here you see one of the fellas I taught to handload cutting the steel tube for me with his plasma cutter. The way he cut the tube allowed the press to be bolted on upside down and allowed the press to hang over the edge of the bench at the right height at the same time.
Here you can see how the tube held the press over the edge.
After sanding rounded edges and prepping for a paint job it was mounted on my press table in it’s permanent location. This has to be the ultimate…one hand grabs a fist full of cast and feeds the hole in the die while the other hand jams them through the Lee sizer as fast as you can feed them without dropping an unsized cast into the sized box below. Still though, there was the inherent problem of sizing a finger as you sped along at lightning speed sizing, sizing, sizing…”Ooops! I almost clipped my finger!” Oh my Lord…what do I have to do now to fix this finger sizing problem? Well, once again I ‘mulled’ on the problem then slept on it a few nights and came up with this solution…introducing the next stage of ‘Manual Automation’, a drawing of what I had envisioned . . .
I went from the drawing to the load bench, pulled up a stool and cracked open a cold beer and went to figuring. How the heck am I going to make this modification? Well…that went through a few stages and I finally came up with the following solution. The feed tube was a problem in itself trying to get all the various cast I have to feed down the tube and ‘plop’ themselves straight into the die entrance hole without ricocheting all over the floor…try after try and talking with another CastBoolits member who had done the same feed tube only that he called it a done deal with the tube and was happy just feeding the tube to save his fingers as he was working on an air cylinder to operate his press instead of ‘yankin the crank’ on the press. After finally understanding through trial and error the dynamics of the feed tube, I was off and running. As it stands today I can feed any size of ‘pistol sized’ cast, short and stubby, without any problems, from .380 ~ .45 and 90 ~ 250 grain. They shuffle down the tube as if they knew where to go! But…rifle casts, long 150 ~ 250 grain ‘cruise missiles’, just will not play ball. I haven’t solved the rifle cast feeding problem as of yet, I still put those in the die by hand as it is going to require a different feed tube all together, a steeper angle should solve the problem. The following picture is the ‘Final Modification’ to the ‘Manual Automatic Upside Down Sizing Press’ . . .
All it took was a cat litter bucket top, part of an old cutting board, a skate board wheel and a parallel wood clamp…well, along with a short piece of PVC pipe and pipe clamp, a bent piece of metal and a couple 1/4 x 20’thd allen screws….Confused? Here is the final video I put up on my YouTube channel at Charles Irby . . .
Well Boys….that’s the story of the ‘Upside Down Sizing Press’ and how it came to be and this is my first article here at The Reloaders Netowrk…hope you’all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. …
“Take it easy out there Boys, be careful…don’t hurt yourselves!”
charlie irby aka ‘CharlieBrassStuffer’
Born in 1950…HS grad, some college no degrees, served in the US Marine Corps, educated there by the Navy in Electronics. Worked as an Electrician all my life and Contracted Heavy Industrial Control & Power Distribution for 20 years before retirement. Drive a black chevy 4×4 and a Harley V-Rod. Married 40 years, 3 great kids all 45 & older. Love my shop & do it all right there…