Friday, July 23, 2010

Dillon Blues

I was very pleased last Wednesday when my order from Dillon arrived.

Mikey D. did right by me. I got the new Primer Cam, of course. The first thing I did when I ripped the package open was to measure the elevation of the old cam and the new one. The new cam stands 0.066" higher than the old one. Visually, they looked the same. But that shiny 'scuff' on the face of the old cam represents enough worn-off metal (I'm thinking) to account for its inability to rotate the primer disk quite far enough to index with the primer punch.

Dillon also sent me a new primer arm, and the return spring, and a "index arm bowed washer". Not to mention two new primer disks: one for small primers, one for large primers.

Since I had already replaced the primer arm, and the return spring, I didn't both replacing them. The "bowed washer" was still bowed (I knew from the inspection I made of parts the last time I tore down the primer assembly; last weekend -- twice.) And as for primer disks, they're good stainless steel and harder than rocks. No need to replace THAT.

So I just replaced the Cam on Wednesday night, poured a tall glass of ice water (it's 85 degrees out in the corner of the garage when the loading bench is), and settled in to make some .38 Super ammunition.

Yes, that primer cam made a difference. But not enough. I would get maybe one 'clean' primer feed out of 6 or 7, and the rest of the time I would have to fiddle with the darned thing. Sometimes the disk wouldn't rotate enough, sometimes it rotated a little too far. You can't tell what the problem is until you pull the case out and peer down into the guts of the thing.

Sometimes, it didn't seem to even try to bring up a new primer.

That kept me off the streets for a couple of hours Wednesday. I had loaded about 40 rounds of ammunition before I got frustrated, then sleepy. So I turned out the lights and called it a night.

Now it's Friday Night, 9pm, and I should be having a late snack and heading to bed sure that 200 rounds should be enough to get through the Dundee match tomorrow.

Trouble is, I've got about 50 rounds loaded. Not 200.

Finally I had a major jam, so I had to dismount the primer assembly to see what was wrong. Turned out one of the primers had turned coming out of the primer tube, and jammed the disk.

The new plan is to disassemble the primer assembly, thoroughly clean EVERYTHING, and then replace all of the old moving parts with the new moving parts.

Surprisingly, I had the whole thing cleaned, reassembled, and mounted on the Dillon XL650 in about 25 minutes. It shouldn't have taken me that long, but I had to sit a spell and admire the shine from my (almost) completely rebuilt gizmo.

Refilling the tube with another 100 primers, I started to work, whistling a tune from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

I didn't get past the first verse before the music changed, from "Hi Ho!" to "Night on Bald Mountain". (You'll remember that one, of course, from "Fantasia". It comes right after "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".)

I didn't have problems with the primer indexing a little short, or a little long. They weren't indexing AT ALL.

Hard as it is to watch the primer disk while my fat fingers are trying to load, but I finally realized that the primer disk was rotating just fine, and the primer arm was returning properly ... but it was dragging the disk backwards with it. Instead of the disk staying in place while the arm returned to pick up the next primer, it reversed the direction of the disk and dragged the new primer back to align the old (now empty) hole in the primer disk.

Hmmmmm. This calls for a serious re-think.

Also for a talk with the coach. I poured myself a short McNaughton's and phoned SWMBO. She was having a not particularly good day either, so we sat for a while and talked each other back to a more ... uh ... cheerful mood.

The McNaughton's didn't hurt, either.

But now SWMBO has gone back to "There's Nothing On Television" land, and the McNaughtons is naught but a smokey memory.

And I'm sitting here writing to faceless readers who will turn into giggling spectators when I try to shoot a 150+ round match tomorrow with about 100 rounds.

Don't know right now what I'm going to do. I can't see why the disk should NOT be dragged back from the arm, which means I'm going to have to figure out what this marvel of modern machinery was originally designed to do to prevent reverse rotation.

The best I've done so far has been to irritate the Gods of Alliteration, which is fun but not helpful.

No, don't ask me if I've cleaned the Open gun in preparation for the match. That was suppose to happen with the McNaughton's moment.

Stay tuned. The next article will either be a Reloader's Lament (later tonite), or a long and embarrassing story about the Saturday Match Which Never Were.


Because The Hobo Brasser has promised to loan me enough ammunition to finish the match. And I've assured him that "the situation is well in hand".

I hate it when he laughs. He sounds so ... so ... so Irish!

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