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Messages - Ross Chesley

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Survey Says... / Re: Camp Perry
« on: July 28, 2009, 01:45:45 am »
Count me in as a Bullseye shooter who has been going to Camp Perry since 2005. My first visit cemented forever a commitment to participate and support National Matches and competitive shooting.

I do not see many Stars at Camp Perry, but occasionally I will meet up with forum members or hear someone mention they load on a Star. Nice to find others out there doing as I do.

This year at Canton Regional in Canton, OH a week before Perry, I spotted several old Star-like presses. One was an older Star Universal in .38/.357, the other was a handmade copy of a Star. At 20ft it appeared to be a Star missing paint and decals. A closer inspection showed everything including the dies were a nicely done home machine shop accomplishment. Neither press stayed on the tables long. I was sorry not to have more time when I spotted them to ask questions and find out more info. When you see one, pounce or regret it. 

If possible, I still like to get a Star from the original owner, or original family. Often they have some history and the press and accessories are more complete and better cared for. I put them to good use or find them a good home with another active reloader. I cannot stand to see Stars rusting away or worse, parted out just to make a buck (since often the parts are considered to be worth more than the whole to some people).

Camp Perry is a wonderful experience. I never see a reloading company on commercial row to show or sell their products. Does anyone remember a time when someone was selling Stars on commercial row at Perry?

Star Reloaders / Re: Needed: A Photo of Hulme Case Feeder
« on: December 19, 2008, 06:52:38 pm »
The bowl description mentioned would be a case feeder designed to deliver quantities of cases into a tube to feed the Hulme case feeder.

There were several methods to feed the Hulme:

1. a tube filled with cases placed on top of the case feeder -- usually it is convenient to have several tubes pre-filled with cases. Most of these tubes are clear plastic with a cotter pin at the bottom end to retain the cases until ready to release them.

2. a "Freeloader" -- it has a bowl set on top of a funnel with a shorter tube at the center. As this is moved back and forth by the press bullets in the bowl are shaken over the hole and drop base first into the tube for delivery to the case feeder.

3. a Chevron electric case feeder -- very similar to the units you see offered by Dillon or Hornady -- except the original was made of steel and is a bit more primitive in certain areas including the electrical wiring.

I believe one of our forum members was making a Freeloader type solution -- TDONEILL?

Star Reloaders / Re: moon unit indexer
« on: December 19, 2008, 06:44:42 pm »
I ordered and installed the Moon Unit Indexer and case kicker. Both are fantastic.

It is best to mount the indexer unit securely -- for me, wood screws did not work as well so I took the advice to use a piece of wood under the press and secured with 1/4"-20 screws and nuts to get it wrench tight. This enabled me to get things very nicely mounted and the adjustments stay perfectly. It works flawlessly and takes up no additional room on the bench -- and it is really not in the way of the press operation either.

The case kicker is incredibly handy -- you have to see if you have 1/8" clearance between your shell plate and the taper crimp die so there is room for the kicker lever to operate. My collection of taper crimps were not an issue and most could be shortened to accomodate the kicker -- and I would not hesitate to shorten the taper crimp, the kicker is most valued.

With the two items installed, it is possible do devote much more focus on placement of each bullet and visually checking for powder -- because the press cycle is still very smooth. The biggest challenge is keeping the press filled with primers, cases, and finding a handy solution to catch all those kicked cases.

Ray is very helpful and responsive and his wife was a peach each time I called. The units are packed and shipped beautifully, and the instructions provided will enable most people to install and adjust to get things working perfectly in under 15 minutes.

Consider this an endorsement! There will be a full review on including pictures and additional notes on the installation and adjustments from the recent testing.


Star Reloaders / Re: Decapping pins
« on: September 04, 2008, 09:13:24 pm »
Another wonderful source for decapping pins is Brownells...

I broke my decapping pin and was able to find an easy replacement. My Brownells Starter Punch Set has a 0.60" tip about 1" in length. They are pretty tough as they are used to punch out pins. I ordered a replacement set of six pins, not knowing how well the original pin would hold up. The part number for the Replaceable Pins is 080-513-660 and description is Replaceable Pins (6) 1"x.060". They are about $10 for six, but you will not be disappointed in their quality.

To make them fit my Lifetyme die, I used a grinder to remove the large taper from the one end and then I have the total length at about 7/8". To remove the broken pin, you loosen a very small SAE setscrew using a 0.050" allen wrench. Once you remove the old pin, insert the new pin and retighten the setscrew. You should be back in business for a long time.

I hope this helps someone else.


Star History / Re: star tooling
« on: October 08, 2007, 09:14:41 pm »
Here's what I know...

1. Bill Cunningham does not have a good track record for replying quickly or being easy to reach.
2. The domain "" was set to expire in August, but was renewed so this means someone decided to keep it going.

I heard various rumors... :-X 

It would be great if Bill would join the forum and support it -- the offer has been extended several times in the past but he has not accepted.

Please visit the Star Reloaders forum and see the topic "Whatever Happened". There are reports indicating someone is taking care of business at SMW these days. I say that is great.

Please also know that the owner of this website will start offering parts for sale and will do anything possible to encourage people who have the ability to make parts to have a venue to reach members and sell their parts.

If you know people who are making parts or could make parts, please e-mail me. I am going to put together a list and contact them so we can make some arrangements and get them posted in a storefront order system. This website is a great place to advertise and sell parts to Star owners. It is the only website you will find on the internet with information and a commitment to keep iStars going.

All the contributing forum members represent Star Reloaders to the world and I am very grateful to everyone who posts and shares their experience and knowledge.

Stay tuned for a new topic that will survey the parts people want.

Star Lubricator & Resizers / Re: Old Star Lubrisizer
« on: September 15, 2007, 07:31:48 am »
It looks different from newer ones I have -- this one is probably much older. Patent Search on number 2019795 confirms the patent was applied for in August of 1934 and was approved on November 5, 1935. The holder is the inventor C. R. Pederson (Star) so it checks out. It looks like the original drawings on the patent info. 

It is nice to see images and know you have it working. Good job!

Star Reloaders / Re: Star Add-ons
« on: July 11, 2006, 05:37:14 pm »
Ken, I have the article you are thinking of? I can scan and send as a pdf for anyone who is interested. Ross

Star Reloaders / Re: Star Add-ons
« on: July 11, 2006, 05:34:48 pm »
Maurilew's Powder Drain Block is a must have!

I have one and use it. Find I am getting tired of swapping from one Star to the other as I like it that much!

Another good tip Maurilew shared was to put a foam ear plug in the drain pipe, and it is a powder shut-off of sorts. Works good.

After Perry and national matches, I can post pictures of the drain block...


Star Reloaders / Re: RLS dies
« on: February 07, 2006, 12:26:11 pm »
Hi Sam,

PMs are okay, but please let's keep this information on the forum so it will help everyone...

R.L.S are the initials for Richard L. Shockey -- a quite famous pistolsmith. The dies are Perfection carbide, as you said, very well made.

In an effort to provide more information, I Google'd and found:


"R.L. Shockey was a premier name in Bullseye pistolsmithing in the 70's"

"At a local gun show today I spotted a customized pre-70 series 1911 the seller said was done by a smith named Shockley who has passed on."

"In his day, Shockey was as good as it got! He was on a par with Jim Clark and the others of that era."

Bob Brown, a pistolsmith in his own right says: "Shockey was from El Reno, Oklahoma...and so was I. We all sarted out about the same time...Jim Clark opened in 1950 and so did I. Only all my early work was done as a military smith. I'm still alive and still building 'em the same way (almost) as I did then."

So you've got something nice!

Star Reloaders / Re: The Perfect Progressive
« on: December 27, 2005, 09:04:43 am »
Hi Ray,

Here's another painful learning lesson similar to .45GAP -- Winchester NT uses small primers...

You said you're looking for an easier way to clear the powder hopper in a more orderly way...

I have tried out a super product made by member Maurilew -- it is called the powder drain block. It replaces the top of my powder slide assembly and has a drain I use to empty the power measure when I am done loading. It works great. You may want to give it a try or send Maurilew a PM and he will be happy to explain more about it.

Star Reloaders / Valued Contribution
« on: November 15, 2005, 01:43:16 pm »
Hi Steve,

I ask questions too. It is a good thing!

Before I got my first Star, I asked so many questions I nearly wore out the person that was helping me. Now I get to help and and it is so nice to have a place to share and learn more too.

I have a few more details we can all enjoy.

Some of the aluminum bases are two-piece, others are a single casting. Some have an aluminum paint finish with a clear finish (turns yellowish with age), others are polished or worn from years of cleaning and use. I happen to like the polished aluminum, but most of my bases have the matte finished aluminum with yellowing clear finish. I have had to refinish one base that was very yellow and stained. After disassembly, I cleaned the aluminum with some denatured alcohol and then lacquer thinner and it removed the finish down to bare metal. After that, I found some cast aluminum spray paint and put on several thin coats, followed by a clear sealer. It looks very nice.

The blue paint on Stars can vary by a shade or more. Some photograph dark, almost black while others brighten up and appear a medium to dark blue. I discovered by accident that you should not use Denatured Alcohol around the paint on a Star -- it will dissolve it away. I have successfully matched the paint color using an automotive supplier. It is enamel paint so the results are good.

Handles on Stars can vary. The oldest have a brass ferrule and a different shape to the handle. The more recent have a chrome tapered ferrule.

Powder magazine hoppers can vary too. The oldest are aluminum and may be colored -- I have red and gold. They are usually short and have a hard leather powder level indicator in the cap with a wire showing the level of powder. The newer powder magazines are made of polycarbonate, are taller, and you can see the brass base, aluminum baffle, and there is no powder level indicator since the tube starts out clear. As powder attacks the plastic it starts to darken and turn color to a greenish bluish color, then eventually black.

I will be posting more information about Star's history from a former employee. Recently I learned that Mr. Brenizer passed away. He and Ellard left quite a legacy so we can all enjoy using our Stars.

Star Reloaders / Production Variations
« on: November 13, 2005, 10:26:11 pm »
Hi Steve,

The differences themselves reflect variations in parts over Star's long production.

You asked: Are the web photos misleading or in fact just wrong?

I do not believe the web photos are wrong or misleading because they are factual photographic examples. The discussion was about parts that are different between the Star and Phelps. I have yet to see a Phelps with the features of an older Star, and the fact that newer Stars may be what Phelps copied only makes identification more difficult, but not impossible.

You said: If so, someone ought to correct them.

Your post adds to the level of detail we have about Stars. The discussion thread(s) address the variations in Star production over decades and you are now among the other members that have posted their experience. The photographed differences are one way to spot a Phelps. If you want to post photos of your Stars, please do so. It would be great, as I earlier recommended, to have a photographic resource to show variations in Star production. Neither the discussion nor photos represent a comprehensive means of identification and are not represented that way and do not need correction.

You asked: Did Star San Diego ship Phelps units as their own? Did Star copy Phelps or have the bases outsourced by the same company as Phelps?

Are you asking the questions "rhetorically" or in jest? What is your concern? You've indicated you have your original sales receipts to document your purchase and the history of your machines. Does anyone disput them? I do not and nobody else should.

I have five Stars. Many have similar features and most are older Star production. A few are newer and have features similar to your 1980's model, so this is why I attribute many differences to Star variation. I also have older Lifetyme and newer Lifetyme dies with clear differences that are attributable to production differences.

The Star v.s. Phelps question is usually asked by people that want to determine if a machine without documentation or purchase history is a Star or Phelps. A typical scenario is where there are no other identification marks, no Star or Phelps label. Many times a seller has equated a Phelps copy with the original Star Machine Works product.

I endorse being up front about what is being sold. Phelps products are copies not as well made as the original Star. They do not have the value of a Star. Some only intend to make a comparison in design and basic function. Other people sell Phelps by claiming they are "as good as a Star" or "just like a Star", a deliberate attempt at persuasion to boost the value of the Phelps.

I recommended looking at more than one detail -- pictures and observations help with recognition. If an original owner with original paperwork stands by their machine as a Star and will demonstrate and support the buyer in making their decision, who should question it?

Loading Data & Reloading Procedures / Data from
« on: October 24, 2005, 12:39:41 pm » has some information...

148gr LWC  2.8 gr Bullseye  815 fps 1.18"  Fed 100  Alliant
Suggested starting load: 2.5 gr

Pressure: 15,900

148gr LWC  2.7 gr Bullseye  785 fps 1.18"  Fed 100  Alliant
Suggested starting load: 2.4 gr

Pressure: 14,600

Star Lubricator & Resizers / Phelps or not?
« on: May 31, 2005, 12:02:09 am »
Hi Seagiant,

I do believe that in order to verify whether yours is a Star or Phelps, you have only to examine the aluminum base to see if it is stamped Star Machine Works or if it is not.

If the seller represented it as a Star, then you surely have a claim against them, and should at the least ask them to demonstrate how they came to the representation... I would approach it as if it was a possible mistake and you can work with them if you feel there are some adjustements needed to price, or just to satisfy that you were not intentionally mislead. A good seller will take interest after the sale.

To the matter of whether Phelps or Star is better, you can certainly find many sides here. We do have some informational brochures, and the Phelps was a copy of the Star, so operation should not be different in any way.

I once paid a good sum for a Star Lube-Sizer that appeared to be in fair condition. Once it was cleaned up and inspected, it was nearly a basket case from misuse and neglect. It will take hundreds of dollars to put it back to operational condition, or many hours with a welder, grinder, and machine tools. I'd consider a Phelps in good condition as much preferred, $100 is not a bad price.

Verifying your Star dies fit and work means the most important part -- the quality of the dies that do the resizing -- is perfectly fine. Magma Engineering is always most interested in selling you a new product, but they also carry parts you can purchase to keep your Star or Phelps running just fine. Just do not expect to rebuild it for less than a new Magma Star, but Hycar washers, springs, and other incidental parts that may need to be replaced are reasonable and will keep yours running for years if you care for it properly.

I also recommend Stillwell Tool and Die at if you need any dies. I found them to be wonderful to work with and they make great dies that work with Star, Phelps and other lube-sizer tools. They can also rework dies so it would be a great site to check out if you are not happy with a die, need one specially made, etc.

If you have means to take some pictures of your lube-sizer, post them or send to the admin and get them posted so we can see condition and perhaps lend more support to your idea it is a Phelps.

Star Reloaders / Buying the Name and throwing it all away
« on: January 18, 2005, 06:26:11 pm »
Hi Ken,

I understood Ellard's family did not wish to continue with the business. I also have heard Star had some challenges and we can probably never know for certain all the factors involved but it seems clear that they fell behind the customer demand and enabled Phelps and Berdon to get into their market and sell products, then failed to modernize or really get cooking on their future.

I suspect a part of the cost increases and production difficulties might have been due to tighter environmental and OSHA regulations. I heard Star used to do their own casting and sodium cyanide heat treating out back -- somewhat dangerous and the cost to modernize must have been a major deterrent for the company. They must have farmed out some of the work to specialized companies and that can drive up costs as well as introduce variables into the production.

I think nearly any problem with a company can be solved with a good product and some competent business management that looks to the future and expects to grow the business and be accountable for success. When we look at some family businesses, they start up almost accidentally or by opportunity and are self-funded or driven by the owner's interest and fancy. That's not all bad, but at a point the business becomes accountable to the customer and the ownership must step up and realize customers are the reason there is a business, they depend on you and will not remain loyal if they cannot trust and have confidence in the business.

If Star brought in a few investors, modernized production and established some continuity and set goals for the business, I think they would still be going strong. Ellard wasn't as flexible in consideration of new ideas and it sounds as if he really did not care to share his responsiblity or bring in new people, new ideas, and perhaps change the way the product was made -- that's quite a bit of work at his age. He was a practical and creative fellow happy with his product and not easily swayed by people's suggestions and ideas for improving things. A few ideas were so good he saw their merits. At least he did not see the business close, equipment get sold off, and the company's products split up and left to chaos.

I know there was a specific decision to assure Dillon Precision would not own the Star name or get production of the reloading tool.  I am not sure Dillon would really have wanted to have Star other than for the customer list. I do recall Dillon was once a Star customer and worked out some ideas with Ellard before he started making his own reloading tools. That was a slap in the face to Star, but perhaps it was also the best opportunity for Star to have turned up the burner on their production and business goals. Instead, Dillon proved he knows how to sell presses and people really like his idea of customer service. A customer can pick up the phone and get what they need. Replacement parts and repairs are free.  

With respect to Star there was value in their name, value in their history and the reputation of the original company. Bill told me he has the original customer list and records so I am sure he is in touch with the larger customers that might still use these in a commercial production environment. The fact is that customers are unfortunately shrinking  because the machines and original users are getting older. A few will recall and appreciate the quality and value of the original product and remain skeptical of the new company because we do not hear about their production methods, inventory, or anything else. We hear of one man working part-time and of problems. When faced with these kinds of negative advertising, it is no wonder many people choose the convenience and mass-enthusiasm of more "modern" equipment.

Some people fear what could happen if all Star production was to stop. The fact that people say Star went out of business 10 years ago is really not true. Star of San Diego, of Ellard Mock, of the original production went out of business, but someone bought the name, the customer list, and claims to have had some orientation and assistance in getting started in making parts or machines.

I understand those that support Bill Cunningham out of fear or because he is the only one producing anything that they know of. There is nothing to prevent anyone from producing parts, so all it takes is someone with the equipment and commitment to produce them.

Explore the second option, if you keep your company a secret, put up a website that is 2-years "under construction" and fail to maximize exposure by taking advantage of the web, search engines, or print media, then you will lose customers and interest each year. You can assuredly fail by doing nothing, but to succeed takes work.

I am sure we'd all love to see new Star machines. Has anyone actually seen one or are we only believing they are produced because the price list says so? Has anyone reviewed one and pronounced it wonderful? Has anyone seen one? Does anyone know someone with a new one, and how can we tell the difference between refurbished original and brand spanking new production? Is the quality of the parts better or even as good as original production?

If it is an issue of making money, why not communicate and make things simple and collect orders and make production to order? There are ways to solve the money making side, get investors, get to people that do not know about Star. Most people say they cannot find them anywhere and we all know you could sell nearly as much on a deserted island using the current marketing and customer service approach.

I think about investing in an opportunity to promote and sell a good product and feel good about representing the product. We could sell and promote through small groups, organizations, etc. but the trouble is we do not see Star Machine Works anywhere, we do not feel any emotion or commitment, and we do not see any results or improvements or effort to change the current ennui.

The Star company should understand the basics of marketing, customer service, and customer loyalty. If you do not build it, it does not get built. If you destroy a market it is gone forever. I have corresponded many times and I am sure there is a premium market for Star quality. There must be confidence from the company and more information if we are to build confidence in the company. We need to know what makes a Star Universal better than a Dillon 1050, 650, or any other press. What makes Star a better company? What makes Star proprietary dies better than 7/8-14 dies from every other company? How long will a Star made today last? What about warranty, what about customer service?

I am sure that the original Star was not sold without any marketing materials, without sending units to good shooters or known reloaders and getting their input and statements to promote the product to customers. Since large police departments and commercial reloaders were the start, how many could be convinced to buy them today? How many use them today? What is the lifespan in commercial use? What makes this better than Dillon in commercial use?

Business must be earned and won instead of taken for granted or conceded from lack of communication. If it is an issue of funding or a need for orders, why not publish what is needed and explore all opportunities including the free ones on this website? I would love to be asked to design a free website page and find ways to promote the Star product here! I would only ask that I be kept informed of referrals and updated on what's happening at Star Machine Works -- it is frustrating to see such potential unexplored.

Between those on this list and some with funding, I am sure there is a way to make Star reloading tools competitive in the market place and encourage people to buy new machines, sell machines, and recommend them to others. What would it cost? How many could be produced? It is possible this may never be a full-time job, but what about a full-time commitment to see it succeed, to see it grow, and be willing to see it turn into a full-time job?

The first issue is what makes the Star better?

We can point to use of high quality parts that wear slowly and remain consistent as a major factor. The design of the reloader itself is a solid and proven design.

Once you have quality in design and production, the trouble is nobody hears of Star or considers the company as still in business.

We'd need a marketing plan, and business goals. We would need to know our customers and what they want. This requires communications. We need advertising and promotion to inform and excite everyone to become or remain a customer and to get attention in the media.

I will remain a Star owner and user because I know the presses will last. I am not as confident in the present company.

Maybe we will have to watch the Star name die and concentrate on keeping the product alive. Maybe we need to send a message to Star Machine Works of Pioneer that we expect more information and to see progress and response to communications and to receive updates about what is being done to assure quality control, what's new, and to be confident that there is a commitment and passion for high quality standards that will carry into the future.

I do not think there is a person on this forum or that has used a Star that would not like to see Bill Cunningham and Star Machine Works succeed. I'd be willing to bet there are more people that do not know he exists and think Star is out of business. -- That's a darned shame, and so is the fact that a few minutes a week could not be devoted to letting this forum know what he is doing and what he thinks. It sure could not hurt business any.

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