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Messages - Kenneth L. Walters

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Star History / CPM
« on: March 18, 2005, 11:59:34 pm »
Clyde Products Manufacturing originally from Clyde and later from Norwalk Ohio made a machine that was Star like but with a considerable number of improvements.  Their problem as a manufacturer was that while they made machines getting parts was almost impossible.

I found the CPM amazingly hard to use.  Took me years to figure out why.  Operationally it was ALMOST star-like.  The key word being almost.  Once you REALLY understood the differences it was easy enough to use but figuring that out took me forever.

The new machine I bought from them was extremely well made.  Not parts interchangable but nice.  I no longer remember all the features that they improved on but they did make a number of important improvements.

It was a nice machine once you got use to it but I don't think that they sold many.  About the only rarer Star variations would be the one made in Australia for awhile or the handbuilt 50 caliber Browning machine gun units.

CPM's real claim to fame, however, at least in my opinion, was their kit that converted a simply single station reloader into a progressive.  This is where the RCBS line of Piggyback progressives actually came from.  Dillon treated a lawsuit against this machine and CPM withdrew it.  Don't know if they ever actually sold a single unit but I'm sure that they advertised their idea.  Today, of course, RCBS is still selling units based at least historically on this design.

Star History / Star Price History
« on: March 18, 2005, 11:51:47 pm »
"Interestingly, in 1979, the lead time for a press was 24 months. While that says something about the demand for a Star, it also explains why it was so easy for Dillon to enter the business."

Mike's first product was called the Super Star kit, a set of parts that, when fitted to a Star, would allow it to load 223 rounds.  Ellord actually helped Mike with that.  I'm sure about that because I wrote something about it for a Gun Digest piece at the time.  Don't remember the article but I do remember having that kit on loan.

Actually I believe that Ellard helped Mike get started.  Mike, of course, was a TWA co-pilot at the time and this was his hobby.

I don't think that it was common knowledge at the time that Star had, at the Army's insistence, already made a rifle tool.  Of course that machine was vastly different from their pistol unit.  (Kind of which I had kept my Star collection including that rifle unit and a straightline.)

For all the help Star willingly extended to Mike, something must have gone wrong between them.  What happened I never knew.

Star History / Star Price History
« on: March 18, 2005, 08:45:46 pm »
Star raised prices twice that I know of, from $250 to $450 and then from $450 to $950.  Might be slightly off but close.  They did that to slow down business, not because the cost of manufacturer had gone up.  I'm absolutely certain about that because I talked to them about it.

So could you make a Star today for $250.  Almost certainly not.  But could you make one for less than $950.  I suspect so.

The top of the line dillon is $1500.  Mike is famous for his comment that you need one third to cover costs, one third for advertising and one third for profit.  Do the math.  A Star could be made for less BECAUSE if it were a quality product as the old machine were you wouldn't have to do much advertising.

Sure Star's quality at the end of their run was bad.  Ellard was dead.  But Star has a reputation that is unequalled.  Who else has 50 year old machines that are still in working order.

Star deserved better than it got and I am NO (ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO) fan of the current "manufacturer!"

Star History / Connection between Star and H&G
« on: March 18, 2005, 05:50:11 pm »
Well Wayne Gibbs answered that question.  Now let's see if I can get this right.

When both Hensley and Star were in San Diego, Wayne's father knew Ellard Mott.  The two were very good friends.  Because of that friendship, H&G recommended Star progressives and Star progressives recommended H&G moulds.  Also both thought very highly of the other's work so it was as simply as recommending a friend.  They were both recommending what they thought was the best equipment around.

Ellard, of course, hand build every Star progressive made during his lifetime.  Every single one.  For a long time he also assembled the lubricator/sizers though that task was eventually handed off.

The claim that Star had very few orders in its final days is probably true but it is also probably true because once Ellard died no one else had ever put a machine together.  Thus whomever tried undoubtedly had a very hard time.

I don't remember the name of that person.  It was, I'm pretty sure, an American Indian but I just don't remember who.  Of course they had a nearly impossible job.  Building a Star was as much an art as anything else and when Ellard died all that skill died with him.

I think that it is sad that someone like Magma didn't buy the Star Progressives because whomever has it now certainly isn't up to the task and because of that this grand old machine is facing certain death.

Star Reloaders / Wilkerson??
« on: March 15, 2005, 12:38:30 am »
For maybe a decade before Star closed a father and son worked there named, I think, Wilkerson.  The father worked in the plant.  The son, Rob, answered the phone and took the orders.  When the father retired it was to Phoenix.  That happened years before Ellord died.

Anyone know how to reach these people?

Star Reloaders / State of Manufacturer
« on: March 15, 2005, 12:36:25 am »
During his lifetime, from when he designed the machine, until he got too old to build them anymore, all Star's were assembled by Ellord Mott.  As long as Ellord did the work they performed flawlessly.  When he got too old no one else knew how to do the assembly (it wasn't as easy as it might have looked) so qualify fell off FAST.  Maybe Star only sold two machines their last year but if so it was only because Ellord was gone.

Certainly the company failed to modernize.  I talked to Ellord at his workbench which he build in the 20's.  Still they flourished as long as he made the machines.

It seems sad to me that the greatest progressive ever had such an unwarrented death.

Star History / Star/H&G
« on: March 15, 2005, 12:25:44 am »
Bought my first star in probably 1975.  Bought numerous other Star's from them over the next several decades.  One day they suggested that if I wanted the best reloading presses (theirs) why didn't I also buy the best moulds (H&G's).  Up until then I had never heard of them.

In any event, I took their advice and for the next twenty years (almost exactly) I bought H&G moulds as well.

I think that Star just appreciated the quality of H&G's mould but I ask Wayne Gibbs if there was anything more to it than that.

Star Reloaders / Magma
« on: January 18, 2005, 02:25:06 pm »
A while back I specifically asked Magma about making the Star progressive.  Their answer was, essentially, that they were already too busy and just didn't have the time.

This is a wonderful old machine that deserves better than it has recently got.  True it can not be price competitive with machines like the Dillon RL500 or the RCBS Pro 2000 but it could compete with, I think, the Dillon RL1050 or, for that matter, the Dillon RL650.

Why you would buy the right to make this and then throw that opportunity away is beyond me.

Star Reloaders / Price
« on: January 16, 2005, 04:18:01 pm »
When I bought my first Star it cost $265.  Almost 40 years ago, that was a lot of money.  Star raised prices twice between then and the end, if memory serves.  The did it to SLOW down sales.  Had too much business to keep up with so they thought that this would slow sales and make the delivery delays more reasonable.  It had the opposite effect.

I think that prices went from $265 to $450 and then $965.  I'd have to look up my old invoices to be sure.

If the new owner is pushing the business it sure aint obvious.  The finest progressive ever deserves someone who is serious.  I don't think that that's happening here!

Star Reloaders / Exploding Primer System
« on: January 16, 2005, 01:51:04 pm »
The Star progressive is based on a machine patented by Winchester in the 1890's.  Ellord Mott essentially copied this machine and scaled it down.  Ellord's original patent was for a machine to load rifle, pistol and shotgun shells.  As far as I know no shotgun presses were ever made.

The Star appeared somewhere around 1930.  Originally they had primer tube explosions.  Ellord redesigned the Star primer tube to withstand the blast.  A Star primer tube is actually a primer tube/primer shield.  Dillon, decades later, made a big deal about putting his weak primer tube in a separate primer shield.  Good advertising but not an original idea.  Ellord helped Mike Dillon design his first produce, the Super Star kit used to convert a Star pistol machine into a unit that could load 223 rounds.

Do Star's blow up primer tubes.  Sure.  What's the primary reason?  Operator stupidity.  The Star primer mechanism was, in my opinion, the best ever made.  Only the current RCBS primer strip system is more reliable.  Why then would Star primer systems explode?  Because many operators can not leave well enough alone.

Ellord personally hand assembled every single Star ever shipped from the 1930's to somewhere in the 1980's.  They simply worked.  Some fools, however, took them apart and, well, messed them up.  That can cause a problem.

Any mechanical device can fail BUT Star progressive primer systems are among the most reliable devices made.  I'm absolutely positive about that.  I probably owned nearly a dozen including a straightline star progressive.  I've also owned and at least tried to use maybe two dozen other progressives.

Another possible source of trouble with a Star priming system is the use of primer turrets.  Anyone dump enough to do that deserves what is going to happen to him.  Evolution in high gear.

A well adjusted Star or one whose factory primer system has NOT been "improved" is as good as this gets.  The description you provided, multiple explosions, indicates that these people weren't all that high up on the evolutionary ladder.

Star Reloaders / Current state of manufacturer
« on: January 15, 2005, 11:59:57 am »
Anyone know what's going on concerning currently made machines?

In Star's last days the quality of workmanship probably wasn't all it should have been.  Still, even then, Star had orders.

Once Star folded, however, the new owner seems to be completely disinterested.  True this probably would not have been a REALLY big business but it was a going concern.  Other than kill Star off, has the new owner done anything?

Star Reloaders / Two safety cams
« on: January 14, 2005, 10:56:26 pm »
Star actually made two safety cams.  I think the one you are talking about was their second.  It was designed to kick revolver cartridges out of the side of the machine.  I had several of them.  Worked wonders.

Star didn't update their design when they developed something new.  I know that this isn't going to make sense but it was true anyway.  Ellord Mott kept playing with his design and every once in a while he would come up with an improvement.  This second safety cam was a case in point.  He never announced it because he didn't want to have to bother with all the orders he thought that he might get.  BUT if you knew him you could buy them.  I had several.

I liked old Ellord and it must have been mutual.  He gave me one of the few straightline progressives he ever made back in the 30's.  You can see a picture of it in Sharps'e old book.  Weird machine.  Might have made as few as 3 or as many as 20.  Last time I knew Ron Peterson of Ron Peterson Guns in Albuquerque had mine.

Ellord also designed the rifle unit.  Actually the U.S. Army forced him to.

A non-universal was only wide enough to take a 38 Special case.  357 worked, when they were introduced, but larger head diameter cases would not.  I suppose a small rim diameter case might be ok.

Star Reloaders / M/A vs Bruster - Auto Index
« on: October 21, 2004, 07:52:09 pm »
Star made one but decided against selling it because of the wear it would put on the machine.

Had a Brewster.  Like all their products it was, well, unfortunate.  Not as dangerous as their primer turret but not something I'd recommend.

Had another.  Maybe the other brand you indicated but it had been so long I've forgotten.

HATE, absolutely hate, auto indexers.  I've tried a lot of them and hate them all.  The best are more trouble then they are worth.  The worst cause excessive wear.

Star Reloaders / The Perfect Progressive
« on: October 21, 2004, 07:46:32 pm »
One other thought.  Mike Dillon's first machine, the RL 1000, was his answer to your suggestion.  Didn't sell well.  Almost drove him into bankruptcy.

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