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View Full Version : Found cause of verticle last few months. Scales.



rooshooter
11-09-2008, 03:25 PM
After having problems with verticle over the last few months and not being able to get rid of it at longer ranges, I think I found the cause. Useless bloody electronic scales. I was just loading the last 40 of 300 cases for the upcoming 5 day Queens shoot when I looked inside the cases to double check they had all been charged when I noticed different powder heights. I pulled out the old beam scale and yep, the charges on the last few I loaded were .6gn -.7gns heavier then the 1st few of that lot of 40. This will not be good in the little BR case I dont suppose.
After retesting, it seems that as the scale heats up, it reads lighter and as I load in 39 round lots, the 1st few and last few are .7gns different. I suppose it serves me right for using cheap junk scales, but I checked them a few times, reweighing loads, but only after it had just been started up. I wish I had either just thrown the charges, not weighed them, or that I hadnt seated the bullets on the 1st 260 rounds, but it might be something other might want to check for them selves if they have accuracy problems.
They have Hornady and accusport electronic scales at the local shop. What are these like?

Rob Ashcraft.
11-09-2008, 03:52 PM
Im my humble opinion, if you dont go lab grade in an electronic scale you are wasting your time and money.

Rob

John Kielly
11-09-2008, 04:19 PM
rooshooter,

Check the instructions for your scales. Most, if not all of the models supplied as handloader scales require you to power up the scales at least 30 minutes before you are ready to use them. At least one shooter I know leaves his connected all the time.

Even then, there are several steps that you need to take to ensure that you maximise the performance of your scales:


Make a check weight for each load you use regularly & drop it on the pan regularly when you're weighing loads. By the way, the same applies to balance style scales.

Do not remove the pan from the scales to charge it with powder. Instead bring the starter powder charge to the pan with another container. Your scales have a function of monitoring & allowing for the tare of the pan & it loses the precision of that capability if you take it off to fill with powder.

When you add (trickle) powder onto the pan, nudge it a tad to make sure that it has recognised that extra powder has been added. It just might be with fine powder that one kernel is less than the recognisable increment that your scales measure. I use a leaf of flexible paper like newsprint to tap the pan (I shovel on extra powder with it rather than worry about the erratic performance of tricklers with some powders for that matter).

Only read the scale in one direction, ie load up to the weight you want, or take powder off until you hit your load, not both. The contrary little buggers are liable to read differently in either direction. I load up to the weight & if I go over, I shovel enoiugh off so that I can come back from below again.

Any time you have difficulty in reading a load, dump it & start again - maybe even set the tare on your scales & pop on the test weight. Scales sometimes get anxious & throw a fit.

Don't run them on the same power circuit as a computer or any other electronic gear or under fluorescent lighting. It's said to interfere with the electronics. Maybe a UPS would be the way to go.

If you don't want to spend a grand or two on labroratory scales, try Ebay for a battery powered set of jewellery scales that go under the Diamond brand. They weigh up to 20 grams in the mentric scale & are graduated down to a miligram which is about equivalent to a sixth of a tenth of a grain. I've used them for some time with the little alloy cup uff the bottom of a tea light candle for a pan with a great deal of success (using the process above). They will increment with one kernel of VV N550, which is a very small powder kernel. You can find them on Ebay (& a couple of others I haven't tried) by searching for 0.001g.

John

rooshooter
11-09-2008, 04:49 PM
Rob, I realise that good quality scales are needed now, but money has always been a little tight. I got what I paid for didnt I?
John, good tips. I will look into some jewelers scales, they dont have to read grains, just be consistant.

dmoran65
11-09-2008, 05:32 PM
My suggestions:
- Make a check weight and use it after every 10 or so.
- Reset your ZERO more often
- Warm up time is critical (hours is my recommendation)

No need to spend 1000's..... just advance your methods and the scales you have.

I have 4 digital scales, two of which are cheaper (RCBS and Lyman) and two that were expensive lab scales (Denver and Okaus).
What I learned from the better ones is how to keep the cheaper ones reading accurately. And those 3 suggestions above are all that is needed to do just that.

Happy Shooting
Donovan Moran

alinwa
11-10-2008, 12:16 AM
After having problems with verticle over the last few months and not being able to get rid of it at longer ranges, I think I found the cause. Useless bloody electronic scales. I was just loading the last 40 of 300 cases for the upcoming 5 day Queens shoot when I looked inside the cases to double check they had all been charged when I noticed different powder heights. I pulled out the old beam scale and yep, the charges on the last few I loaded were .6gn -.7gns heavier then the 1st few of that lot of 40. This will not be good in the little BR case I dont suppose.
After retesting, it seems that as the scale heats up, it reads lighter and as I load in 39 round lots, the 1st few and last few are .7gns different. I suppose it serves me right for using cheap junk scales, but I checked them a few times, reweighing loads, but only after it had just been started up. I wish I had either just thrown the charges, not weighed them, or that I hadnt seated the bullets on the 1st 260 rounds, but it might be something other might want to check for them selves if they have accuracy problems.
They have Hornady and accusport electronic scales at the local shop. What are these like?


rooshooter,

Electronic scales have a learning curve and it totally SUCKS to have to pull hundreds of rounds that you've loaded by just blithely dropping charges onto the 'lectric scale pan.........BTDT, hated it! 160 perfect rounds for a 600yd match.............pulled 'em all. While I was pulling them I checked a bunch, they were all over the map. This was with a GOOD scale but poor technique.

I've had cheap scales (RCBS, Dillon and Lyman) and frankly I do not think that they're worth having in the loading room. I use my Lyman now for weighing arrows and components in my archery area and have simply gotten rid of the Dillon and RCBS. (I'm not knocking the RCBS Chargemaster here, I've NEVER used one..... It was an older RCBS SCALE ONLY that I used 15yrs ago.)

However...... there was a guy on here a while back offering a special on an MMX scale as well as offering advice on how to use them. Both the advice and the MMX scale are SPOT ON!!!!!

Here's the scale, I have the top one on the page. http://accurateshooter.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/ten-commandments-for-electronic-scales/ I cannot live without this little gem, it's awesome. I too had the problem you've experienced. I blew some primers..... I blew a 600yd match..... I FOUGHT with vertical for several months all because I didn't know how to run the stupid scale.

I trusted it.

That was a mistake.

The absolute FACT is that these things must be:
--Set up in a temperature controlled environment.
--LEFT in the temperature controlled environment.
--ISOLATED from power surges and stray electrical signals.
--PROTECTED from dust
--Used only in a draft-free room. Close the doors! ;)
--READ the 10 commandments on the web link.

My personal opinion is that furthermore you set them up LEVEL and as much as possible don't move them. If you must move them around do it gently. I do not unplug my scale! I have it on an extension cord which allows me to move it the 5ft from my storage area to me reloading area. I went down to a restaurant supply house and bought one of those 12"X18" donut trays with the clear plastic lid with a handle. I just take off the lid and GENTLY move the thing over to my bench.

NOW..... this is kinda' tricky. The 10 Commandments on the website mention "no vibration". They mean it! DO NOT dump your loads and then tap them onto the bench top to settle the compressed loads! I have a fairly luxurious reloading room and part of my setup includes a section of bench that is set on rolling casters.....this whole 6" section of heavy bench can be rolled out of the work area for use elsewhere in the room/building. In normal use this bit of my benches looks just like the rest, the crack in the tabletop is only 1/8" wide. But the rolling section is totally separate from the bench on both sides. My benches are 2" thick plywood, HEAVY and STOUT and setting on concrete. If I set the scale on this surface and tap my cases a foot away the scale bounces! The display goes +- maybe .02gr.

What I do is set up right on the crack....the scale sets on one bench while the "tapping area" is on the adjoining bench surface. The two benches are not connected together in any way.

Or, I just don't tap, I make up a longer drop tube.

Right now my MMX has been in the room for over a year and I can pick up the cake pan that I keep it in, move it to where I want to load, turn it on for 10min and go to town.....I normally weigh 4-5 charges and dump them back just to "lube up the works" and I ALWAYS keep a load set aside for reference and never go more than 10 charges or so between checks back to the reference.

It's a pita I know BUT........ this thing weighs TO THE KERNEL OF POWDER!. My match loads are absolutely consistent to +- one single kernel. And my ES is astounding. It works.

ONE KERNEL of H4350 reads .02gr..........

THIS SCALE is worth every penny to me. But I had to learn how to use it effectively.

hth

al

rooshooter
11-10-2008, 02:01 PM
Alinwa. I will look for an MMX scale here localy or see if I can get a good jewelers scale. I will be after one I can plug in, not battery powered like this one so I can keep it on for a while as you stated. I will be moving house soon and hope to set up a good reloading room this time, so I can mount a scale to the side of the main bench.I wont be pulling the other 260 cases as I have just finished a 12 Hr shift. After I have a quick sleep I have a 6 hr drive to the 5 day Queens prize shoot. At least I have 40 good cases loaded now. These will be used for the longer ranges (800M)I couldnt read the instructions with the scale I had as it was written in Swahili I think. Maybe it started to go erratic once it warmed up when the mouse running around inside it got tired?:rolleyes:
I should have known better as I am usualy meticulous in my reloading, but working 80Hr weeks have not given me time to cross check the little things which catch us out. I am happy I have found the cause though as I was wondering why some of my good barrels were no longer shooting as they used to. At least I now know it is not the bedding, scope ,barrel or anything else. I wonder how many others out there are having troubles at long ranges due to erratic scales? Might be something for others to add to the check list when things arent working as they should?

chino69
11-11-2008, 06:51 AM
I was looking for a new electronic scale several years ago; ended up tossing my old PACT in the trash. I got tired of constant calibration, floating, etc. Ended up buying a $80 gem electronic scale. I checked it against my trusty balance beam scale and it was dead on accurate. This scale comes up quick, stabilizes quick, doesn't float, is repeatable, and one hell of a bargain. I went to the website, My Scale, and searched until I found a Jennings (Model No. ?). Several of my friends bought the same scale and have been happy with their performance. They will consistently weigh accurately to .1 grn. and I periodically check with test weights and against my balance beam. You can spend much more for a laboratory grade scale but the question is why?

Chino69

Rad Mrdal
11-11-2008, 01:53 PM
Pal, get GSPROGEM 50 made by ProScale and you may never touch anything else. 0-10 grams, 0.001 of a gram accurate any time, every time. It's cheap gem. Rad

mike in co
11-11-2008, 04:27 PM
how about actual site/web addresses.

i did multiple searchs on the last 2 posts...and found nothing.

mike

Rust
11-12-2008, 09:36 AM
I deal with complex electronics at work around the country and have applied what little I've learned in 40 years to my relaoding bench. I use an RCBS Chargemaster and have found little to fault. There was a learning curve.

1. I use a power conditioner and I'm not talking about one of the cheap worse than nothing at all $5 made in China jobs from Home Depot. If you have a computer running, flourescent lights, halide lights etc, they put noise back on your house wiring. Get a good power conditioner. Mine cost $90 and is adaquate. Not the best, adaquate.

2. The dispenser sits on a seperate bench, not with the cartridge block and press. The bench is heavy with a 1-1/2" thick top. The dispenser sits perfectly level. It sits on a big slab of granite, a machinists flat I picked up for $10 (black granite so it's real nice looking too). The granite flat sits on a thick sheet of vibration dampning material.

3. On top of the granite, it sits on a static discharge mat that is grounded.

4. I warm it up for a minimum of 1 hr with one of the 50 gram check weights on the pan.

5. The scale cover is closed whenever dispensing a charge.

6. Upon replacing the empty pan back on the scale, if it doesn't settle to 0 fast enough to suit me, I'll hit the zero button. If I didn't like the way it zeroed I'll recalibrate.

7. I will periodically check thrown charges on another scale.

The powder charges thrown will produce ES/SD numbers in single digit for my 6.5 X 284. The match .308 is a little less good as technique for uniform neck tension needs a little tweaking and it will take a new reamer to really make the system come around. The .223 is still a work in progress although powder charges are not the main issue at this point (there is a seperate .223 class at a couple of matches I shoot).

So lets put it like this, the RCBS Chargemaster makes it bearable to load enough ammo for practice and a match for three rifles which is something I just wouldn't have considered putting myself through previously. In the case of the 6.5 it's good enough to win. Don't ask about the other two rifles.

It did take a little practice to learn how to produce the most consistant results and I figure that low single digit ES/SD is fine by me.

There are a few things on my bench that I am perfectly happy with, the Wilson Micrometer case trimmer and Sinclair stand, the Dillon 650 with case feeder (for about 700 rounds of pistol ammo an hour), any of my micrometer seating dies, the digital calpiers and digital micrometers (with big easy to read numbers), and the RCBS Chargemaster.

alinwa
11-12-2008, 12:32 PM
"So lets put it like this, the RCBS Chargemaster makes it bearable to load enough ammo for practice and a match for three rifles......."


Well put Rust ;) that's just how it is weighing charges.

BTW the MMX Model 123 that I use is very fast. I can load faster than the ChargeMaster. More tiring but faster. (I ascertained this by timing myself against two of the RCBS demo videos....)

BUT...... IMNSHO you simply cannot compete without weighing charges so we put up with whatever it takes. Ain't a thrower on earth that can keep something like 4831 or 4350 within a half a tenth.......... When throwing into a pan and trickling to bring up to weight I'll add anywhere from 2 to 20 kernels of powder on a given day and this is using a Harrell measure and good throwing technique.

An interesting side effect of the throwing/weighing is confirmation that powder throws to different weights on different days. I used to think it was just my varying technique but I'm changing this opinion.

al

John Kielly
11-12-2008, 03:13 PM
An interesting side effect of the throwing/weighing is confirmation that powder throws to different weights on different days. I used to think it was just my varying technique but I'm changing this opinion.
Al,

In the hot, humid climate I live in, with a gunroom without aircondiotioning, I'll have my throwers change during a session - & that's the reason I weigh all loads.

John

alinwa
11-12-2008, 03:20 PM
Al,

In the hot, humid climate I live in, with a gunroom without aircondiotioning, I'll have my throwers change during a session - & that's the reason I weigh all loads.

John

We're wicked dry here, more concern with static than humidity, but still I see drops vary day to day. My Harrell will vary as much as three tenths of a grain during a reloading session and easily change a grain over time. I imagine that it's worse where you are.

Weighing is where it's at.

al

tenring
11-12-2008, 04:05 PM
Three years ago, I bought a cheap ($100+) Hornady GS350 electronic scale, runs on two AA batteries. First one was not very good; returned it and Hornady sent me another. As soon as it arrived, I checked it against my Redding balance beam scale, and it was right on. Reading these posts made me wonder, so I checked one against the other again today, and the electronic is still spot on. This scale is very small, ideal for taking to the range to reload. As soon as it becomes erratic, you need to replace the batteries, maybe once every 6 months. Otherwise, it is a great scale.

Larry Elliott
11-13-2008, 04:42 PM
Back when I actually did something semi-useful with my time I worked in a lab with quite a few top quality electronic scales, Mettler and Sartorius mostly. Almost without exception their manuals called for them to be left powered up all the time. These were being used every day and frequently, but since so little power is required to operate an electronic scale that it's inconsequential a scale for reloading could be left on without running up the electricity bill too much.

vinny
11-13-2008, 05:47 PM
Been using a Denver Instruments model APX 153 for 3 years now, never a bad charge. I check every 10 or so with an RCBS 1010 balance scale. You know what they say "You get what you pay for".
vinny