Jan 04

Making the Hornady LNL Case Feeder .40 cal/Glock friendly

What came first? The Glock’s unsupported .40 barrel (KB) or the Hornady Case Feeder? Well, it does not really matter because the problem remains the same. Unexpanded .40 cases will slowly slide down the nice clear tube, although it is still a little tight IMHO. Expanded cases, like the ones fired out of a GLOCK, will most likely get stuck in the nice clear tube. Just seeing a case stuck in the Case Feeder Tube can cause one to go bonkers. So after you cleared your 3rd stuck case, you consult the internet and find that Hornady is aware of the issue and has offered some individuals a custom made adapter that will allow you to use the large tube on the .40 cal brass. According to the same forum the individual was waiting for more than 2 weeks for the miracle part. On ultimatereloader.com, I found that a guy (Rob, his comment below) that used two copper fittings and a pex water pipe to replace the clear tube.

Well, I had neither the patience to wait for a miracle part nor the copper tube that might work (although I did look), so I opted for option #3. Option 3 is my own concoction, where I use the miracle of plastic and expand it to fit an expanded case. So let’s get started! Here are the supplies needed:
1. A “Remington” Hair Dryer (other Hair Dryers might also work) & a small drill bit that you can attach to your drill or Dremel
2. A worst case scenario .40 expanded body case (most likely fired out of a Glock).
3. A “belled” .40 case, which you can make by simply using your expander die
4. A .40 case that is sooo “OVER-belled” you are embarrassed to show your buddies.
5. A FMJ .45 bullet
6. A nice round rod (metal or wood)

The goal of the exercise is to shove the smallest belled case, the larger belled case and the .45 bullet though the tube, while heating it with your “Remington” (Hair Dryer). Before you start going, I should mention that in the end the size of the tube will be smaller than the .45 cal bullet because the tube expands when you heat it and contracts after the bullet, but it will still be bigger than the original size. This is fine! We just need to expand it a little. Other tip is to not pull on the plastic tube (behind the expansion case or bullet), but actually hold the tube ahead of the belled case/bullet.  That way you are not stretching the tube, effectively making it smaller, after it is heated.

So here are some pictures so you can see the process:

From left to right: small belled, bigger belled, .45 FMJ, and the “test case” (expanded .40)

Now, if you shoved the .45 cal bullet though twice (I know it was hard), you should be able to drop your expanded .40 case right though the tube. Yeah!  However, before you celebrate with a “cold one”, there is one thing I have not told you about… The cases fall freely through the tube WHEN YOU ARE DROPPING THEM ONE BY ONE.  Once you install it in the Case Feeder again you will notice it works much slower.  This is because air pressure builds up in the tube causing the cases to fall verrrrry slooowly.  There is an easy fix by simply adding small holes with your drill every 3″ all the way down the tube.  Now install it, it should fit without modifying anything else, and throw some cases in the feeder!  Below is the final product:

Please comment if this worked for you!

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Dec 26

Hornady LNL Die Conversion Bushing – Installation

Here is the scenario:  I have a Hornady LNL Progressive Press and a RCBS single stage Rock Chucker.  Interchanging the dies between the two is a pain, since you have to remove them from one press and screw them into another.  This takes time a fiddling to get them adjusted just right each time.

Thanks to some forums, I stumbled across this Hornady product:  Hornady Lock-N-Load Press and Die Conversion Bushing Kit

So I decided to add this to my Christmas wish list and what do you know? …I received this for Christmas.  Totally excited that Santa knew what I wanted, I ran down to my reloading room and installed the new toy.

I love stuff that “just plain works” out of the box.  However this is another one that does not if you intended on sharing your dies between different presses.  The problem was that while the dies worked perfectly in the LNL press the dies extended 0.182″ too far in the Rock Chucker.  Not wanting to adjust my dies every time I switched presses, I came up with the solution of not spinning the new bushing in all the way by adding a collar to create this 0.182″ space between the press and the top of the bushing.  Below are some pictures of my solution:

Unfortunately I didn’t have lathe handy, so I used a drill press, a whole saw and some 0.095″ aluminum plate I had around.  That, a lot of filing, some polishing and “Dremeling” helped make this collar.  Now the reloading dies are truly interchangeable between Hornady and RCBS.  It would have been nice if they included a pre-made collar that just needed to be filed down to match.  That would have saved me a significant amount of time vs. fabricating this nut look-alike from scratch.

Good Luck!

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Dec 26

Hornady Progressive Press Shell Plates (old vs. new) – Part 2

Life was great with the new press after I had “fine-tuned” it with the new Ez-Ject base plate and the #45 shell plate I ordered from Midway.  A couple of issues had disappeared, with the new system.  The retainer spring would faithfully drop into the “eject groove”, which is the area where the retainer spring ducks out of the way of the incoming brass and allows the finished round to eject.  Previously, there were occasions where the spring would just continue to ride on the rim of the baseplate, causing the round not to eject properly and me loosing my rhythm and therefore the efficiency that this press is supposed to provide.

As mentioned in the previous post, I had sent back all 5 of my old shell plate to be retooled to the new Ez-Ject system.  About 7 weeks later the retooled shell plates were back and so was the eject problem.  So I did a deep dive on the new vs. old shell plates and found the following difference:

Basically the slant allows the retainer spring to more easily drop into the the “eject grove”.  At first I thought it was a mistake, after all I had paid $10 each to retool the shell plates, and figured that Hornady had forgotten to add this 45 degree slant, but it was not a mistake.  I was told that my shell plates were tested and that I should use some sandpaper to remove the possible burrs.

With no help from Hornady, I consulted a friend of mine who is a manager in a machine shop.  “No problem”, he said, “we’ll add the slant.  It’ll be done before you even get up in the morning”.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  The employee that was working on adding the little slant discovered that none of the shell plates are truly round (new or old).  All of them are somewhat “oval”, so just slapping the shell plate in a lathe was not the answer.

In the end I ended up using a carbide cutter on an industrial “Dremel” to add the 45 degree angle by free hand.  The good news is that now they all work.  Only on one shell plate there was one area where I didn’t add enough slant, so that was the area where it would mess up in the press.  I marked the area on the shell plate and fixed it with my regular Dremel at home.

If you are experiencing issues with your retainer spring breaking frequently, you might want to try this modification.  I have not had a bent/broken retainer spring since.

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Dec 26

Hornady Progressive Press Shell Plates (old vs. new) – Part 1

Recently, I acquired a brand new Hornady Lock-n-Load progressive press from “Phil” a guy that was “getting out of it”.  He purchased the press a couple of years earlier and NEVER USED it.  It was sold to me with the comment: “I hear it requires some tinkering.”  Having never reloaded before, all I knew I was getting a good deal on the press.  However, I did pay the price in the aftermath, as I found out that Hornady made significant design changes to the press while this thing had been sitting there unused, anti-tarnish and all.

The first thing I discovered is that the old ejection design, also known as the “Ejection Spring/Rod”, effectively prevented one from using the 5th station on the progressive press.  After hours of frustration, trying to get it to work I consulted my friend…the internet.  Quickly I stumbled upon many users that had the same issue and offered the following solutions:

1. Take the spring off and flick the finished round off with the finger

2. Bend it out of the way.

3. Pay $40 for the Ez-Ject upgrade kit.

The first solution was plain not acceptable to me.  The second one I just couldn’t make work (it kept binding up with the finished round).  So It left me with option #3.  I called Hornady, and after a slightly humorous automated phone greeting I got to a live person.  10 minutes later I had the new base plate ordered (close to 40 bucks with shipping) and received detailed instructions on how to send back the old shell plate to get re-manufactured to work with Ez-Ject system at the cost of $10 each.  As a side note, old plates don’t work on the new base plate.  The retooling process took 6-8 weeks.  Due to my impatience, I ordered a new shell plate from midway while the others were retooled.

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