Wednesday, March 26, 2008

XL650 comes back from the doctor

You may recall that on March 01, 2008, I wrote "XL650 Goes To The Doctor", explaining just WHY I sent my (15 year old) Dillon reloading press back to the manufacturer for repair and refurbishing.

For those of you who are disinclined to follow the link, here is a summary of the mechanical problems I was experiencing ... not intermittently, but with every darn round:
  1. the shell plate wouldn't index consistently, leading to
  2. the primer plate never lined up with the primer pocket of the cartridge, and
  3. the primer plate wouldn't index anyway, because the primer return cam spring was too weak, and
  4. the killer was that the cartridge slide cam wouldn't move the brass into the next slot in the shell plate.
For every cartridge, I had to manually index the shell plate, push the case into the shell plate, index the primer plate and move the primer index lever to the next hole in the primer plate ... even though I knew darn well that wouldn't make it line up with the primer pocket for the next cartridge.

Well, it's old. I'm old, too, and I wish I could get myself refurbished as easily.

I had been fighting these conditions for over a year, because I was loath to take my reloading press out of service for who-knows-how-long; that would mean I couldn't load ammunition for the local club matches, so we (SWMBO and I) couldn't go shooting.

But when your ammunition reloading productivity degrades from 600 - 1000 rounds per hour to 60-100 rounds per hour, it's just not worth the frustration any more. I realized that I was procrastinating so bad, we were skipping matches anyway, just because I was unwilling to subject myself to the freezing Winter temperatures in the garage (where the reloading bench is located) long enough to load up the 300-400 rounds needed to compete in a club match.

When I called Dillon 3 weeks ago, they said they could complete the job and return the refurbished press in three weeks, and today I discovered that they were right. (There was some time lost in shipping to and back, and Fed-Ex needed a signature before they would deliver so I lost a day in the return when I came home last night and found a "we tried to deliver, but you need to sign this card" note on my front door.)

I signed the card last night, stuck it on my door this morning, and when I got home from work tonite the big box with the press in it was sitting on my doorstep.

When I opened the box and checked it out, I found that the shell plate, the primer assembly and the case insert slide were much tighter than I remembered them being. (Click on image to see the full-size image.)

The parts list takes up two pages.

the cost for labor was $0.00

The cost for parts was $76.95 ... and the "Applied Credit" was $76.95.

The total bill was $00.00, and I have a press that's just like new!

The press looks, at first glance, very like the way it looked when I sent it. There's some paint missing (just as it was when I sent it in), but the frame looks like new because it has all been cleaned much better than I ever managed.

I'm a little excited about this.

No, I'm not going to re-assemble the press on my bench and load 1,000 rounds of .38 Super ammunition tonight. The temperature in my garage at 6:30pm (when I got home) was 39 degrees, and the wind-chill factor was -6 degrees. It's my personal policy, established today, not to reconstruct loading presses and load ammunition when the temperature is within five degrees of freeze-my-ass-off. Maybe tomorrow, maybe this weekend, but not right NOW.

But I'm encouraged by the look and feel of the press, so I'll not likely let it sit in its box on the washing machine for too long.

I need ammo, and I have over a thousand rounds of brass that will be crying for attention as soon as it warms up.

When I get it set up, I'll take more pictures. Then I'll load a batch of ammunition and let you know whether the difference is dramatic or only 'just better'.

Most important, I'm impressed by Dillon's responsiveness. Most folks, I am given to understand, send their presses in for repair and refurbishment during the winter months. I sent mine in just before the Spring, and Dillon did their part well within the estimated time limit.

Of course, the Dillon Warranty is Legend, and they live up to their reputation every time. I have never been disappointed by them. (The only vendor I know, of any type, with as comprehensive and 'No BS' as Dillon, is STI.)

You won't be either, so if your press is as mucked up as mine was, don't hesitate to send it to them before the Practical Shooting Season gets into full swing.

You'll be glad you did.

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