Author Topic: New member/new to me Universal  (Read 13062 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
New member/new to me Universal
« on: May 24, 2016, 06:52:10 am »
Don't have time for a long intro ....headed to work.....  An Uncle just gave me a Star Universal press set up for 38 spec wadcutters to use....not going to assume it is mine yet.  I would like to figure out the most economical option to set it up for 45acp.  Would prefer not to tear down the 38 spec head.  I do work full time as a machinist, so i can do some part fabrication/modification.  Can Lee or other brand dies be modified to work in these presses? Looking for suggestions as to the most time and money efficient way to convert ...or links to the best threads that explain the process.

Thanks
 Andy

Edit...I would very much like to get this press set up to run 45, I'm just not sure if I can afford to do it without doing as much of the work as possible myself....instead of just buying parts.  I have seen the going rate for a 45 conversion at around $250+ and I can't really justify the expense.  If there is normally enough material on a standard die set to turn them down and rethread them for the correct size I could probably do that (assuming the material isn't super hard)....not sure how much the upper plate costs by itself...maybe it is too high and is a deal breaker all by itself.....any of the folks doing parts have a price list posted somewhere?
« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 04:31:14 pm by daviscustom »

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2016, 06:50:57 am »
I have seen that there is a lot of fitting done to parts as these machines are assembled/built....are the heads generally interchangeable, or is there likely to be fitting required to make a new head work on this machine?  Just curious if there is any possibility of buying a head that would be oversized and not be easily made to work.  I assume bushings could be made to rebuild a head to work if it started out oversized for my press?

824tsv

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 36
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2016, 08:44:58 am »
Hello,
I would have figured one of the forum experts would have chimed in by now. Expert I'm not. To convert your Universal you will need a .45 shell plate to go with a set of dies as well as parts to convert to large primers unless you prime your cases off the press. Tool heads are interchangeable as long as the tool head came from another universal (the angle lever cams are different between a Universal/Progressive). Star uses proprietary dies. Sadly I don't believe there is a "cheap" alternative to do a calibre conversion.

cc656d

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 155
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2016, 11:01:23 am »
Go back to your  uncle and see if he has a free head .
Distinguished pistol shot
2600 club
NIB Star
Benefactor member NRA
Life Member Va, Md, WVa, and Fl State Shooting Associations , Life OGCA

fc60

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 453
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2016, 11:20:43 am »
Greetings,

From your posts, I would suggest selling the Star and purchasing a Dillon. The Dillon uses 7/8-14 dies.

Cheers,

Dave

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2016, 10:50:10 am »
Ok...so if I don't have the cash to shell out for the conversion I'm not worth talking to....

Not going to sell it.....guess I will just set it up to load 38's and keep my eyes open for parts.

I am curious Dave.... what do you charge for dies and a shell plate....or is that one of those things if I have to ask I can't afford it?

At the moment I don't have extra funds to put towards this but I likely will someday.....just curious if there was an option to make it work that I could invest a little time now and get it running

fc60

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 453
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2016, 11:52:46 am »
Greetings,

I sent you an email with the die prices.

I do not discuss money on the Forum.

Your best bet is to watch eBay for a tool head with 45 ACP. They run from $250.00 - $450.00. Sometimes folks list them as "Buy It Now" at an attractive price.

Avoid, if possible, buying a Phelps. While they do work, they do not fit as well as the original Star parts.

Also, check with Bruce Williams of StarMachineWorks. He has quite a few dies and parts ready to ship.

www.starmachineworks.com

Cheers,

Dave

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2016, 12:12:22 pm »
Sorry Dave I was expecting a PM reply, I hadn't noticed your email.

I have not taken a die out of the head to inspect...is there some reason the external threads on a standard die set can't be modified to work in this machine?.....are there ever shell plates available by themselves?

I have never owned a carbide die set....the dies just have carbide inserts inside don't they?
« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 12:55:27 pm by daviscustom »

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2016, 04:47:41 pm »
Go back to your  uncle and see if he has a free head .

Unfortunately he doesn't.....I was tickled to get what I did. 

I just wish it didn't cost the same or more than a Lee Loadmaster to convert it to a different caliber.  I realize we aren't comparing apples to apples with the quality of the two machines, but for my purposes it is a consideration.   I suppose being able to have this quality of press for the same money should be a positive....but I wasn't getting ready to go buy a Loadmaster either....so I will have to collect the funds and look for a bargain.....and in the meantime see what I can do in the shop to cut down on the number of parts I am looking for.

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2016, 05:58:14 pm »
A pic of my press that I believe to be a Universal Star.




...and the paperwork that was with it.

« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 08:56:02 pm by daviscustom »

824tsv

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 36
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2016, 10:19:05 pm »
You have a Universal. In addition to the Dies, Shell plate, Large primer parts, you will also need the appropriate powder charge bar.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 10:21:21 pm by 824tsv »

Green Frog

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2016, 09:04:35 am »
Welcome to the Star Forum.  I'm sorry it seemed that folks were slow to answer and that some of the answers seemed a little bit haughty to you... we're generally a pretty friendly bunch around here.  On the subject of using or adapting standard 7/8X14 dies on your Universal, yes it has been done, and if you are a fairly talented machinist you might even be able to make a head to accomplish that.  OTOH, the Star was and is the "Rolls Royce" of progressive reloaders and to adapt it to a set of Lee dies would be kinda like adding a Chevy engine to the Rolls... it would work, but would it really be a good thing to do.

My suggestion is to use your press as is and get familiar with its workings and its idiosyncrasies, then decide whether you want to invest in the conversion(s) to other caliber(s) if they are worthwhile for you.  Unlike many other reloading tools, the Star is indeed an investment that will continue to be at the same time useful and growing in value.  Your Uncle was apparently a wise man in this regard and gave you a fine gift; congratulations.

Regards,
Froggie

PS  If and when you DO decide to change calibers or make upgrades, members of this forum like Dave, who has already responded and Bruce, who Dave mentioned, can provide excellent OEM-replacement and well thought out and tested upgrade parts... they've already helped me with my 38 spl (only) Star Progressive.

fc60

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 453
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2016, 11:37:28 am »
Greetings,

Long ago, I did modify 7/8-14 dies to fit the Star. The thread is 11/16-24. The 7/8-14 dies are case hardened. You need to grind off the threads as much as possible prior to profiling them in the lathe.

Lee Carbide sizing dies are your best choice for turning down to 11/16-24. The die bodies are a free machining steel.

The decapping rod on a Star is 7/16-27 for 38 caliber and smaller. 1/2-27 for the larger. Taps are available from McMaster Carr. Or, you can single point the thread for a one off.

For the seating and crimping dies it is easier to machine them from scratch with A-2, O-1, or similar tool steel. Heat treat and temper for maximum hardness.

The Star 45ACP seating die has an internal 3/8-24 thread.

Oh yes, the expander plug is threaded 1/2-27 also. Again, choose a tool steel that can be hardened to 60+ HRC.

Shell plates are a time consuming process. I used to do them on a rotary table with my manual mill. I now do them on a CNC mill and it is still time consuming. So many features have to be cut "just right" or they will not interchange. Be aware that the indexing of the shell plate is offset from the shell openings. subtle; but, very noticeable if you forget. The machine will jam up and you will be sad. I prefer to machine them out of air hardening tool steel and rotary grind the top and bottom after heat treat. Grinding on a flat surface grinder is not original and looks "cheesy". Also, the rotary grind was the original Star method.

In conclusion, I have tossed all the dies I converted from 7/8-14 as they look like "crap" as compared to the genuine Star dies.

Cheers,

Dave

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2016, 04:44:01 pm »
After unpacking the press and taking pics, I looked over the dies in comparison to the size and configuration of standard die sets.  It looks like it would be a significant project to undertake since the dies are configured a little differently in addition to the external thread size.....I probably could do it, but I don't need another headache at the moment.  I work with quite a bit of A2 at work, but I would have to call in several favors from the grind dept. guys to get parts finish ground......and I don't want it to look like a cobbled together mess when it is all done with the re-engineered dies.

My lathe at home will cut 27 tpi, so I will look things over a bit more closely while I am cleaning the press and give it a bit more consideration, but I think I will probably just start saving up and keeping my eyes peeled for a bargain.

I appreciate the input on my proposed project....I assume that prints will have to be reverse engineered for the shell plate if I were to take that on?....as well as the dies....are there any specs readily available for public consumption on the actual forming dies?

daviscustom

  • Active Members
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: New member/new to me Universal
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2016, 06:16:05 pm »
I have spent the afternoon tearing her down and getting everything cleaned up...not hard to tell that it is indeed a very nicely made machine.

I am curious what the third larger threaded hole is for in the head?  The hole that is right over the place where the finished cartridge falls through...I can't guess what might be mounted there.  It seems odd that a so nicely made machine would have a hole there for no reason.....guessing there is an accessory that goes there, but no idea what.