Auto Drum Setup

Auto Disk, Pro Auto Disk, and Auto Drum Powder Measures along with their associated charge bar, disks, and drums.

Auto Drum Setup

Postby DocHolliday » 05 Jul 2018 17

 ! Ranch Dog wrote:
Split from another topic.

Yes I’ve been doing the same with the brass trying to make it as realistic as possible. I’m using the Pro Auto Disk. I was getting a lot of leakage with the Drum and Shilouette.
I don’t know if this has anything to do with it but the design of the press cantilevers the shell plate. The ram is directly under decapping/sizing die. The shell plate is small but I’d think there would be some flex. All the more reason to run the press with the shell plate full.
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby EdgeOfEden » 05 Jul 2018 20

DocHolliday wrote:I’m using the Pro Auto Disk. I was getting a lot of leakage with the Drum and Shilouette.


I hate that you are having issues with your Auto Drum. I use it with H110 and have only a few grains leak during a session. I'm assuming that your Auto Drum is new. If so, it needs to be conditioned. Lee recommends running a full hopper through it first, but there are short cuts:

1. Wash the hopper out in water with some Dawn soap. Let it dry without rinsing. This helps reduce static.
2. Remove the drum and spray graphite power inside the housing.
3. When replacing the drum it is important that it be tight. The problem is the the threads in the drum are nylon; so be careful not to strip the threads.

This was my personal experience with the Auto Drum and I recognize that others' may be different, however, these are my observations: When using H110, I had some leakage. If powder leaks between the drum and the housing there is no amount of tightening that I could employ to stop the leakage because powder was trapped between the housing and the drum. The only way I found success was to remove the drum blow out the housing; re-add graphite, and then tighten the drum further. I did this process several times until I learned just how far I could tighten the drum and stop the leakage without stripping the drum. Now I almost never need to do this as I've gained a good feel for tightening the drum. And yes, I'm a bit obsessively methodical. :lol:

Some users have reported that their brand new drums were not smooth and used lapping powder to correct this. I don't know many people who've had to do this, but you never know. I would probably just contact Lee and have them replaced.

One more bit of advice: When I need to rotate the adjustment key to fine tune a charge, I like to dump a charge and while holding the ram up, I adjust the key. In this position the metering chamber is now empty. For example, if you let the drum go back to it's static position it now has already picked up a chamber full of powder. Now if you need to reduce the charge by a tenth or two, you are pushing against an already full chamber when you begin to turn in the adjustment key. This seems problematic to me or at least counter intuitive.

For the price I think the Auto Drum is one of the most consistent, reliable powder measures on the market. I hope in time that will be your experience too.
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby GasGuzzler » 05 Jul 2018 21

I have a new drum mounted to a turret that hasn't been used. Now I'm scared.
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby EdgeOfEden » 05 Jul 2018 21

Don't be. At least 80% of the people polled on another Forum loved their Auto drum powder measures.
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby Ranch Dog » 06 Jul 2018 06

I would not be scared of the Drum either. I have five of them, and they are all operating at 100% and without any leakage. I just finished my 32-20 Win ammo using H110 and not a speck of powder was left anywhere. I've conditioned all mine the same:
  • I drop one full hopper of powder back into its jug
  • New drums are dusted with graphite
  • A touch of gun grease is applied to the gears before the drum is reinstalled. This grease tube has a needle nose as it is very important to keep the angled surface of the interior diameter of the drum oil/grease free.
I'm a VMD~cc nerd so I'm only making at the most, one facet of a turn on the metering chamber at a time and don't have a problem making that adjustment with the drum at rest. I agree that a large decrease, say three facets or greater should be made with the drum in the dump position.

With math, I've gotten very good at hitting the nail (charge) on the head. I have a download for my VMD calculator somewhere here on the forum, and it will do the calculation. I also use a measured charge to make the adjustment by dumping that charge into the metering chamber, the metering chamber must be adjusted to a capacity that is greater than expected, and then reduce the metering rod until you have a very nice "dome" of powder on top of the metering chamber. If you simply level the charge with the surface of the drum, you will be about 1 cc short of the charge. Remember that the charge is packed into the metering chamber as the drum rotates. I will get a picture of powder resting on a drum as it is adjusted.

Early on, I decided I was not going to be running the drum metering rod back and forth, so I have a heck of a lot of drums, each of my firearms has a drum. I had to buy 15 boxes of drums. At my age, I'm done with a lot of load work and more interested in shooting what I've tested over the years and reloading that ammo. I've been working through each firearm this year, setting up the Auto Drum and then labeling the flat surface with a short firearm name and the load number. The load number represents the load from my TMT software.

Wheww... more than you wanted to know.

I smell another topic split +corn
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby DocHolliday » 06 Jul 2018 08

I’m not giving up on the drum at all. I’ll use it for .223 loading when I get here. The disk had spot on chambers for what I needed loading pistol so I went with it for the Auto BLPro. My .223 will be loaded on the Classic.
That’s great advise for setting it up. Thank you!
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby GasGuzzler » 07 Jul 2018 05

Ranch Dog wrote:I would not be scared of the Drum either. I have five of them, and they are all operating at 100% and without any leakage.
That's good to know but the paragraphs to follow is why I am concerned. I don't have or want to have to use graphite powder. I don't know what "gun grease" is specifically. And without using the AD yet, most of the details on adjustment are Greek to me. I hope it's not as complex as it's made out to be. I am not in the minority to want to unbox, set up, and use. Wash with Dawn? OK, I can do that. The rest is over the top to me. :S I am not knocking others' methods I just hope that's not entirely necessary.
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby EdgeOfEden » 07 Jul 2018 15

GasGuzzler, You can try it just as it its right out of the gate, but why not make it easy on yourself at the beginning? You are going to have to remove the drum anyway whenever you change powders to prevent cross-contamination. Here are some of the instructions straight from the owner's manual:

Troubleshooting
If you are experiencing leaking powder Remove the drum, clean any residual powder off drum and inside casting. Re-install and tighten clamp knob so that there is no clearance between the drum and the die cast body.

Inconsistent Powder Charges

On large charges, you may not be allowing enough time for the drum to empty. Pause at the top of the press stroke. Allow about 1 second for every 10 grains of powder. The powder measure hasn’t been conditioned adequately. Run a hopper full of powder through the measure to coat surfaces with powder or dust the metering surfaces with powdered graphite.

I hope this clears up any confusion or hesitancy I may have caused about the Auto Drum. From .380 to rifle rounds the Auto Drum is more than capable, but like anything mechanical it will need routine maintenance. I look forward to your comments after you've used it for awhile. :)
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby Ranch Dog » 07 Jul 2018 15

Okay, I understand. It is not that complicated nor does it take any time at all. Dawn will work fine on the drums, I just prefer powdered graphite.

The Auto-Drum has gears in it. I don't like gears without some type of grease on them.

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Don't you use gun grease? My goto gun grease is Birchwood Casey SNO. I use it on semi-auto slides, both pistols, and rifles. Couldn't live without it in leverguns with all that metal dragging against other metal. I use it on any metal moves under pressure. I use a toothpick to apply a little to the gears between drum changes. Takes maybe 15 seconds at the most and that includes picking the grease tube and toothpick up off of the bench.

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Everyone knows that there is a certain amount of charge deviation delivered with a disk system. It's been well documented for decades. We have accepted it over the ease of not weighing charges. Whatever SD and ES you have with the Auto-Disk or Pro Auto-Disk, the Auto-Drum will cut both SD & ES variations in half if not eliminate them on smaller charges. Honestly, I cannot picture buying a Pro Auto-Disk under any circumstance when you can get the Auto Drum for around a dollar less. The Auto-Drum is about $11 more than the Auto-Disk and worth every penny.

To be free of the confines of the disk is a blessing. I'm using the Auto Drum with the 25 Auto through the 45-70 Govt. I don't weigh anything anymore except to verify the charges.
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Re: Auto Drum Setup

Postby GasGuzzler » 07 Jul 2018 16

I use free automotive wheel bearing grease inside revolvers, levers, and ARs.....just a fine film. Trying to think about auto-loading pistols but I'm sure I put a film there too.

I have to buy nearly everything online so I try to reduce the number of transactions.

I'll wash the AD then run some powder through it first. Surely it can be actuated without using a case that must be dumped every time.
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