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Messages - Kenneth L. Walters

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Star Reloaders / The Perfect Progressive
« on: October 21, 2004, 07:44:32 pm »
Auto indexing is something that appeals ONLY if you haven't tried it.  All the mechanisms I've seen, and I've seen quite a few, were all more trouble than they were worth.  Star, of course, had an auto indexing mechanism but never introduced it.  Though that it added to much wear.  Other companies did make such indexers for the Star.  They worked, sort of, but substantially decreased the life expectancy of the machine.

A much improved Star has been attempted before.  The CPM was a good try but they only made a few machines and would never supply spart parts.  What parts they made went into new units.  CPM, incidentally, stood from Clyde Products Manufacturing.  CPM was noteworthy for another reason.  They first thought of converting a single station machine into a progressive.  RCBS adopted that in their Piggyback series.  Dillon stopped CPM from doing this big time by threatening them with a Patent lawsuit.  RCBS paid royalities and did Hornady.  Lee and Dillon had a patent sharing arrangement.

Star Reloaders / Star for .223
« on: October 21, 2004, 07:37:25 pm »
Mike Dillon's first product was called a Super Star kit.  Designed with Star's help, it converted a Star Universal pistol machine into a unit to load 223's.

Star, of course, made two different machines capable of loading 223's, a pistol/223 unit and a much rarer rifle progressive.  The rifle machine was originally made at the U.S. Army's insistence for the Cambodian's.  Think that they were reloading 308 or 30-06 brass.

I owned one each of the two Star units and did a review decades ago on the Super Star kit.  Sold my two units to Ron Peterson guns.  They might still have them but if you call be sure to talk to Ron.  The clerks would know nothing about this.  I'd also be tempted to call Mike Dillon and see if he still had a kit.  Probably not but it would be worth a try.

Star Reloaders / Star appeal
« on: June 11, 2004, 07:17:50 pm »
No one ever liked Star's more than I.  Finding a rifle machine when they were only rumor was a real thrill.  Getting one of the few straightlines was an even bigger one.  Estimates on how many straightlines were ever made range from as few as three to as many as 20.  Facinating machines.

True too that Star's will last almost forever.  Certainly I've seen machines that have been in use for over 50 years.  That's impressive.  Still Star's day is over.

The current RCBS, for example, is the Pro 2000.  Guaranteed for life.  Even the plastic primer strips are guaranteed for life.  Break a part, which is a little hard to do, and they'll just send you a new one.  That's a real advantage.

RCBS, incidentally, offered to buy Star out once.  Star wasn't interested.

Star Reloaders / Star Prices
« on: June 11, 2004, 10:56:34 am »
Way back when I first became interested in the Star's, in the 70's I think, they were $250.  Slowly the raised their prices to about $450.  They were so far behind in filling their orders that eventually they doubled their prices.  The demand didn't drop.

Prices fell eventually, however, when the Dillon machines came out.  As much as I like Star's, there were just overbuilt compared to current Dillon and RCBS machines.  They were very nice units but you buy a Dillon for far less and it worked just as well.  Prices for used Star machines fell hard.  Dropped down to about $450.  At the height of the Star fame a used Star was actually going for more than a new one because the demand was so high.  Those days a LONG over.

The Star designer/owner died some years ago.  The firm was sold off.  Magma got the lubricator/sizer which is still doing well.  The Star progressive went elsewhere.  I don't know the current price new.  I do know that a careful shopper can find all the excellent used ones he could ever want for about $450.

Of course $450 is more than a current Dillon which work as well.

Star's were beautiful machines.  I had a non-universal, several universals (some with 7/8x14 dies), a pistol/rifle machine, a rifle unit and a straightline.  I loved them.  I also probably had 30 other early progressives.  Star's day, however, is over to anyone but a collector.

Star Reloaders / Hulme Case Feeder
« on: June 09, 2004, 10:14:36 am »
I don't know.

For some years now a really good star pretty consistently has gone for $450.  Oh people ask more but this is the going price.

The case feeders are something that is occasionally thrown in for free but rarely sold per say.  It isn't that they aren't useful but they just aren't all that necessary or desireable.  On the 10 or so Star's that I had I only had a Hulme on one.

Hulme also made a bullet feeder.  Almost none were sold.  Even those only have very minor collector value.

About the only real interest comes from dating the machines.  Up til about the mid-50's Star's were not built to handle Hulme's so if your machine can then it was made after that.

Star Reloaders / Fair Value
« on: June 08, 2004, 10:26:38 pm »
The machine, if it is in very good condition, is worth about $450.  There was a time, of course, when it would have brought more but, unfortunately, Star's day has passed.

Star Reloaders / Star or Phelps
« on: March 05, 2004, 11:33:54 am »
P.S.  Star's list of calibers was longer than I've seen here.  I'm pretty sure, for example, that I had one in 30 Mauser.

Star Reloaders / Star or Phelps
« on: March 05, 2004, 11:31:51 am »
The Phelps was started in New Jersey.  Simple a star copy.  Star could not make enough machine to meet demand so Phelps copied the Star.  By the time I found the Phelps company it was literally a basement enterprise done by, if memory serves, Dan Fausto.  He'd assemble a few when he had the time.  I don't know if he made the various parts or contracted out the work.

Like Berdon, Phelps had a rifle unit.  Longer central shaft.  Powder system was manual.  That's exactly how Berdon did it.  I talked to Fausto several times.  This was meant to be a business after he retired.  Fireman I think.  Never got serious about it.

Berdon made reeds for clarinets.  Why he though branching out into making a star copy was a good idea I have no clue.  He bought a star, miked it and made a copy.  Very few were produced.

Neither the Phelps nor Berdon were all that great.  They weren't terribly awful but not that great either.

True Star copies were made by Phelps, Berdon, Willis (I'd have to look that up) and probably a firm in Australia.  Star based machines were made by CPM (who first had the idea that lead to RCBS's current piggyback progressive line), Dillon and maybe other (I'm getting forgettful).  CPM, of course, stood for Clyde Products Manufacturing.  They started out like in Clyde Ohio but later moved to the large town of Norwalk just up the road.

None of the copies nor near copies, and at one time I owned all but the Willis, were anywhere's near as good as the Star.

Star, of course, made a straight, a non-Universal, a Universal, a Universal using 7/8x14 dies, a Universal expanded to handle 223's and a true rifle machine.  The later they originally made under pressure from the Army who wanted to use give them to the locals in Cambodia.

Star History / Number of Star Reloaders produced
« on: March 05, 2004, 11:18:55 am »
Elord told me once that at the height they were turning out 500 a year.  Exactly when that started I don't know but it went on for decades.

For a considerable period Star had large standing orders for their machines.  Thus they didn't have to advertise.  If you found them, they would sell you a machine.  All the rest went to a few very big customers.

Star help Mike Dillon get started.  Mike's first product was the so-called Super Star kit which converted a Star Universal into a machine capable of reloading 223's.  Elord helped Mike develop that.

Mike's first machine, the Dillon RL1050, was meant to be a Super Star kit built from the ground up.  Financially it was a blop.  That forced Mike into machine machines like his current line.  When Mike became the leading progressive manufacturer, he specifically set out to destroy Star.  I never understood why.

The Wilkinson family, two generations of which worked for Star, would probably know more.  The elder Wilkinson retired to somewhere in the Phoenix area.  God only know where.  There are about a dozen towns down there.  His son, Rob I think, might have gone there too.  Might be worth a search to see if there is a Rob Wilkinson in the phone book somewhere.

One last thought.  For a long time Star Universals sold for $450 I think.  That was a lot more than they cost to make.  Star was getting so many orders, however, that they raised the price to $950 to cut interest.  It had just the opposite effect.

Star History / Star History
« on: March 04, 2004, 08:38:41 pm »
The star design, as you probably know, did not originate at the Star Machine Works.  Rather it appeared in the patent literature of the 1890's in a patent assigned, if memory serves, to Winchester.  Thus the Star was a scaled down copy of an earlier Winchester machine.

The original Star patent was for a machine to load pistol, rifle and shotgun shells.  To the best of my knowledge no shotgun machines were ever made.

Star did, of course, make a few straightline progressives.  Perhaps as few as three.  Maybe as many as twenty.  I sold mine, probably seven years ago, to Ron Peterson guns in Albuquerque.  If you are interested you might call Ron and ask him if he still has it.  You'd have to talk to Ron himself.

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