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Star Reloaders Discussion Forums => Star Reloaders => Topic started by: Ray Brandes on September 11, 2004, 07:01:01 am

Title: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on September 11, 2004, 07:01:01 am
As I continue to examine my new (to me) Star, I am more and more impressed with the design and construction. After reading some other topics here regarding other presses, I began to think, what features and qualities would you combine from all other presses to make the perfect progressive press? Here are some of my thoughts, not necessarly in order of importance.

1) Handle both rifle and pistol.
2) Easily add or remove cases at any station.
3) No powder dropped if case isn't present.
4) No primer placed if case isn't present.
5) Auto index with on/off switch.
6) Stops when primer supply exhausted.
7) Fast and easy tooling change-over.
8) Machine tool like construction.
9) Comfort for operator.
10) Ease of operation.
11) Ease of setup.
12) Configurable for either right of left hand operation.
13) Compact.
14) Inexpensive?????(dream on!)

Being a manufacturer, I can make just about anything. I will be looking for areas where I can improve my Star. If I come up with something good it will be available to all. Don't ask me to make anything that is already available. The Star retro market is very small and I don't want to take a slice of anyone else's pie.

Ray in FLA
Title: Silence?
Post by: Ray Brandes on September 14, 2004, 05:49:41 am
Has nobody anything to say?
Title: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Kenneth L. Walters 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.
Title: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Kenneth L. Walters 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.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Michael Carlin on December 22, 2005, 09:51:19 pm

I really like my Star.  I also really like my Dillon 550B.  My Star is a Universal in 45acp, which has had a primer tube explosion. It did not hurt me, but did kind of wear out my welcome at the house I had it set up in ( I was living in Sr. Enlisted Bachelor Qaurters on Fort McPherson at that time).

In my opinion an auto-indexing maching that could load both rifle and pistol cases, equipped with both auto case feeder and auto primer feed devices might well sell.  It would have to be superior to the Dillon 1050 and sell for the same money or less.

While your thinking hat is on, here are a couple things I would like to buy. A machine to prep brass for high power, it would have to resize the brass without using an expender ball to open the case neck. That would be handled at a station where the hollow tube that expanded the neck similar to a Sinclair mandrel, would also permit a tool to deburr the flash hole.  Swage the primer pocket crimp, and uniform the primer pocket, trim the case to length (max for the caliber), and chamfer the case neck inside and outside, for VLD bullets.

Seat a primer to a specified depth in the primer pocket, charge the case with the powder of your choice weighed like a Prometheus to .01 grains with an SD < .015 and ES for 22 charges of < .095 grains.  Then seat the bullet of your choice to .001 = or - .0005" run out.

Oh it should cost less than $2K and produce at least 1000 rounds an hour.  I am not being facetious, it appears that the road to getting into the reloading business is a tough one.

I truly wonder what a fellow who had Mike Dillon's or your business acumen could do if he owned the Star Machine rights. 

If I had not just gotten promoted to Sergeant Major I might have been personally interested in this sort of venture, and may still well  be in the future.


Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on December 23, 2005, 06:35:07 am
SgtMj Carlin,

Congradulations on your promotion! And Merry Christmas.

The things you ask for in a reloading press are all very desirable. However, to get the powder weight to 1/100 gr is a bit overkill and would most likely require cutting powder grains into smaller parts. 1/10 plus or minus should hold x-ring all day long.

When I started this thread I had in mind what I could make to add to the Star to make it better. After using it for a year or so now I am really happy with it and only would want to clear the powder hopper in a more orderly way.

Watch out for those GAP 45 cases! They have a small primer pocket and if one finds its way into your turret you will be in a world of hurt before you figure out what the problem is. Don't ask me how I know this...

Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Michael Carlin on December 23, 2005, 10:55:11 pm

Having blown up a primer tube once, I can only imagine the trouble that a .45 GAP with a small primer pocket could cause in a .45 ACP loader. 

I did understand that you were looking for improvements to the Star machine. But my response is a round about way of saying that a well tuned Star is pretty hard to beat for its specfic purpose.  When I was shooting pistol, I cast bullets from wheel weights, in a four cavity mould, lubed them with a Lyman 45 Lubrisizer to .452, and loaded 5.2 of 231with my Star,  and shot a few rapid fire cleans. Ammo was not the hold back!

Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on December 24, 2005, 06:48:53 am
My intention wasn't to improve my scores with a better press. Being distingushed rifle I know better! When I first got the Star I had a lot of problems and worry because 1) a part was missing and 2) the seller never supplied anything more than the Star instructions which weren't very good compared to the instructions he later supplied. A third thing was that I had never. ever loaded for pistol and all my rifle reloading concerns, many of which don't apply to pistol, spilled over to further confuse the issue.

The missing part was a small pin that forced rotating the dial after each pull, the instructions the seller later sent were very good and I will be happy to share them. In several thousand rounds, I have had only one double charge. When it went off I knew it, and all the other shooters at the match knew it!

The only adjustments I ever make are for changing from swc to ball, seating depth and powder charge. I really like the Star and will keep it as long as I am shooting bullseye.

Regards and Merry Christmas,

Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ross Chesley 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.

Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on December 27, 2005, 09:43:56 am
It actually was WIN NT cases that screwed me! Since then I found the GAP, but they are a little shorter and easier to spot. I mark all my reloads with a blue stripe. Any brass that comes home that doesn't have the stripe gets a very careful inspection. Berdan, WIN NT, GAP. 40S&W all try to find a way into my press!
Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: rbwillnj on December 27, 2005, 12:15:33 pm
I find that the fastest and easiest way to clear the powder magazine is to remove the tool head intact and simple dump the powder back into its container.   I have replaced the cotter pin that secures the lower link pin with a "hair pin style cotter pin"  which can be quickly removed.  Removing the tool head takes just a few seconds with much less fuss than any other way I have found to drain the powder magazine.  Once you have the tool head off, your just a few short steps away from cleaning up the base and primer assembly.

I do have a powder drain block on one of my machines, but I rarely use it (I do believe it is a different design than the one Ross mentioned)
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Jet22 on December 28, 2005, 09:40:56 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.

If you haven't, examine a Dillon RL1000 (not the RL1050 economy version). Its possibly the best mass produced hand operated reloader ever built(also was the most expensive). At $3200 each 25 years ago you can see that he might have had a limited market. Even at that, I know one guy that has 13 of them and another that has 35 of them!! I am lucky enough to own two with a lot of extra parts. RL1000s have been coming up on Ebay but they generally don't get bids over $700-$800. I guess everybody thinks the RL1050 is an improved RL1000. It is if your main goal is to build a top machine a cheaply as possible. The RL1000 was built with the best of everything. It was just too expencive to produce and only about 1100 of them were ever made. Still, if you like the Star (and I think we all do), you will love the RL1000 cause its just a big Star!
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Kenneth L. Walters on December 28, 2005, 11:10:07 pm
Stories about the relationship between the owners of Star and Mike Dillon vary.  The Star version is that they helped mike quite a bit to get his first product on the market, the super star kit for turning a star into a 223 reloader.  The Dillon version is that Star absolutely refused to help Mike at all.  Who knows.

After the super star kit, the first real Dillon press was the RL1000.  This was meant to be the ultimate star style machine.  I owned one.  REALLY didn't like it.  It was just too complicated.  The automatic indexing was more trouble than it was worth (which is true of most auto indexers) and the primer pocket swage was difficult.

Financially the RL1000 was a flop.  Worse yet Mike was WAY into debt.  He had to think of something or go broke.  His answer, and his salvation, was the RL300, the first successful of what is now the Dillon style of reloader.

Look at an RL1000 if you like but I certainly would not recommend one.  I far prefer the considerably rarer Star rifle machine.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Jet22 on December 29, 2005, 11:57:15 am
Ken: Sorry you didn't like the RL1000. Sounds like I like mine as much as you disliked yours. They do have bugs in them and it took me 100's and 100's of rounds to to get them to operate flawlessly. I am a retired machinest and mould/machine designer. Working bugs out of production machinery is what I do best. I guess I'm somewhat of a collector of progressive reloading equipment too, although I didn't set out to do so. At the present I have 3 Star Universals (with 5 extra toolheads in various calibers), 2 Dillon RL1000s (one extra toolhead), 1 Hornady Projector, 1 RCBS Ammomaster, 5 RCBS Piggybacks, 1 CH Autochamp MK IV and a Cougar & Hunter Micro Pistol Master. I would love to find a Star Rifle machine for a good price. A friend has both the Star Rifle machine (he says they made 36 of them) and a Star inline!! I'm afraid to ask him what he wants for them.

As far as ease of operation goes, I do believe the Star is probably the easiest progressive out there to set up and operate. There just isn't much to go wrong. Even with the Hulme case feeder and Brewster indexer (which all of mine have), set up correctly, they run flawlessly. Like an old Ford tractor, they just keep going and going.

Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Kenneth L. Walters on December 29, 2005, 12:26:20 pm
I sold my press collection to Ron Peterson Guns in Albuquerque.  I think that he may still have a lot of them.  If you call, the only person to talk to would be Ron and that might be hard as I think his wife is very sick.  Still Ron may well have one if you are inclined to press until you reach him.  Tell him Ken Walters suggested calling.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on December 31, 2005, 06:53:06 am
Having used my Star for over a year now, and am very happy with it except for the hassle of emptying the powder hopper.
I have been enjoying the replys to this thread, I guess it is safe to review a few things.

I agree about auto indexing. I have used a Dillon 1050 and don't like the indexing. If you forget and go to fast powder splashes out of the cases. The Dillon needs a gas damper or something to slow you down before the index on the upstroke.

What I didn't like with the Star is that powder will drop when no case is present. Now that I am used to it, I just hold a scale pan under that station and avoid a mess.

I also feared double charges. This press was my first progressive and also my first experience at loading for handgun. Two things that were very different compared to loading rifle on a RockChucker. In a couple of thousand rounds I have only had one double charge.  When it happened, I knew it, the shooters to my right and left knew it, and everyone else on the line knew it! And it wasn't all that bad as I had feared. The 1911 can take it.

Were I to revisit my idea of building the perfect press, here is what it would be like:
First, it wouldn't be a toy. It wouldn't be inexpensive. It would be for high volume reloading.
It would probably be in-line and powered by a motor. This would provide the umph for big cases like .30-06 and also for smooth consistant motion. The motor would dirve a flywheel and a clutch would cycle the press. It could run on-demand (one stroke at a time) or continuous.
The powder drop would be case actuated.
There would be a station to check for powder presence and  level.
Bullets could be automatically feed or placed by hand.
Low brass, primers, powder or bullets would stop the machine.
In-line would allow more than the usual number of stations. Stations would all be wide enough and far enough apart that any operation could be placed at any station. For example:
1)Feed brass on upstroke,  Lube and decap on down stroke
2)Size (full length for semi-auto rifles)
3)Expand neck (I don't use an expander ball. Instead, I perfer the Lyman M die.)
6)Check charge
7)Place bullet
8)Seat bullet
No eject station with an in-line, the round just falls off the end.

I suppose I just described the kind of machines that the industry uses. Oh well.

Regards and Happy New Year,
Ray Brandes

Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: dd in MA on January 02, 2006, 04:44:44 pm
Having just acquired a Star Universal, with what I think is a Brewster indexer, I have a question to Jet22:  Can you post a picture of the indexer somewhere?  mine screws to the bench in front of the press.  In operation an aluminum plate rides from left to right and in toward the press, catching a case and moving the shellplate to the next station.  This alum plate is heavily gouged, apparently from hitting the large ring that holds the shellplate (sorry, I do not have the parts list handy).

My next question is whether this alum plate is original or replaced.  With all of the other parts being of higher quality metal, this one leaves me wondering.

I have yet to work on the press as I am in the midst of a major cleanup to relocate several presses so that I can mount the Star.  Too many interruptions.  :-)
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on January 02, 2006, 06:10:00 pm
I have some Brewster parts for sale on ebay, listed this morning. I can scan the drawings if that helps.
Myself, I don't care for auto indexers.
Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: rbwillnj on January 02, 2006, 10:33:27 pm
DD in MA

I am having a hard time picturing what you are describing.  The only aluminum on a Star Reloader is the base plate, and that is not contacted by the shell plate or the nut (thurst nut) that holds the shell plate at any time.  Are you talking about part of the indexer contacting the thrust nut?  If it is part of the indexer, than no, its not a Star part. 

If you don't have one, you can download a copy of the Star Reloader Instructions (including parts list) from the following web site.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: dd in MA on January 04, 2006, 11:18:22 am
rb, if you go to the site that has the Brewster Indexer on it  for sale by Ray, (

Look at the drawing.  The part that I am discussing is the one to the left of the vertical, withits tip to the right of the vertical.  On mine, it is aluminum and is significantly gouged.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: rbwillnj on January 04, 2006, 02:57:45 pm
DD in MA

I see what you are refering to now, but for sure, it is not a Star Part.  I have never used an indexer on a Star.  When a purchased my first Star, I thought the lack of auto indexing was a real negative.  However, as I began to use it, I found that Star Reloaders work so smoothly, you just don't need an indexer.

Based on what I have seen posted on this fourm, it looks like there are folks who swear by them and folks who swear at them.  I just don't think I need one.  I can do at least 400 rounds/hour without one, and that's plenty fast for me.   A Hulme case Feeder, now that's another story.  If you don't have one get one.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on January 04, 2006, 04:11:27 pm
I have a full machine shop and could replicate the missing parts from my Brewster acution, but from what I see it would block the case feeder. I don't have that funnel thing, but just plastic tubes that take 50 cases each. I pre-load them and then go to it.
My experience with a Dillon 1050 was if you move the handle up too fast, the turret jumps and splashes powder out of the charged cases.
Here is a photo of my rig. I made a little stand to bolt it to that I can clamp onto any bench or table.
Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: dd in MA on January 05, 2006, 12:28:41 pm
Nice picture Ray.  The Brewster indexer mounts to the bench in front of the press at an angle.  It has a part mounted to the front of the press (see your copy of the mfgrs brochure).  While I have not actually used my press yet, the indexer does seem to cycle OK.  However, the part that actually swivels inward and contacts the case is made out of aluminum (at least on mine) and the inner toe (??) has rubbed against the Shell Plate Thrust Nut (#14) which has gouged/worn away the toe.

To me it seems that this is a part that just gets in the way and is not really necessary.

How do you index your shellplate? 

Dave Daniels
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on January 05, 2006, 06:03:58 pm
I index it by hand. After pulling the lever and returning it, I remove the finished round from the last station before the case feeder. I then advance the dial using both hands. One on the case just sized and one on the case where the bullet was just seated. Then I place a bullet in the case at the seating station and pull the handle again.
Here is a link to instructions emailed to me by the person I bought my Star from:
Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: rbwillnj on January 06, 2006, 07:31:47 am
Note how Ray's machine is rotated so that the priming station is at 3 o'clock, and the sizing station is at about 5 o'clock relative to the operator.  This seems to be the prefered way to set up a Star so that you can more easily reach around back to place a bullet in the case at the seating station.

As for me, to index the shell plate, I place the index finger of my right hand on the primer feed, and my thumb on the case in the sizing station, and give it a flick.

Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on January 06, 2006, 08:27:02 am
Nice platform! Being a machinest, I know how to work metals, but I love wood. I wish my wood working skills were better.
Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: rbwillnj on January 06, 2006, 09:17:33 am

They are such beautiful machines, I thought they deserved worthy pedestals.
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Ray Brandes on January 07, 2006, 05:53:10 am
When I first got my press, I had no idea as to how to mount it. I didn't want to drill a hole in a workbench. There is so much information that is NOT in the Star instructions. I wish the photo section of this site was up and running. New Star owners would surly benifit from photos of press mounts like yours, mine and others.
Just got 1000 Zero 185 SWC's yesterday. I will be pulling the handle today!
Regards, Ray
Title: Re: The Perfect Progressive
Post by: Doug Evans on January 30, 2006, 12:00:19 am
I am enjoying all this discussion of what is best while I am trying to figure out an inline progressive and get it operating smoothly. It is a Jet Pro and I have parts for 45 (ACP and Colt), 44, 38/357, and 223. Setting this up for 223 with no manual whatsoever is a bit difficult. Does anyone have any info on these machines? I have my Stars and CPM's working well and this Jet Pro seemed a good challenge. Is this a copy of the Star inline and if so is there any Star inline info that might help?
  What is the best progressive? Kind of sounds like it really just comes down to personal preference as many of them work well if set up properly (which takes a bit of time and patience) and taken care of. Sometimes it is real nice to have a company like Dillon around for parts, service, and help when problems arise. They've never let me down, yet it is interesting to get these others working too.