View Full Version : Whats makes a good balance beam scale better than bad ones?

01-05-2009, 04:05 AM
After a bad experience with a cheap electronic scale and a general aversion to anything electrical (and it would seem most things electrical seem to have an aversion to me as well), I would prefer to stick to balance beam scales. Now Ive noticed my old Lyman scales bought 2nd hand 15 years ago are not very repeatable, I can trickle it to a certain weight, then when I reweigh it, it is all over the place.
Now surely scales just rely on gravity and it would stand to reason (well by my reasoning anyway) that an old fence post balanced over the edge of an old bayonette should still be able to weigh things just the same, so why is it that some scales are supposed to be better than others?
Some swear by Redding 10/10 scales, other Hornady No2, why are these better than a cheap brand? Is it something in the magnetic damping or what??

Steve Shelp
01-05-2009, 07:01 AM
In simple terms you are correct. A balance beam scale only works on one principle and that is gravity. But here are some things to check your older scale for to make sure there isn't a mechanical problem:

- Check the knife edges that the beam rotates on. Is there any type of ding or burr on them? Not good if there is. Will cause the beam to have resistance in a ceretain direction affecting how gravity "levels" it out.

- If it is a magnetic dampening type model... make sure there are not any type of steel wool strands stuck to the magnet.

- Clean the beam so there isn't any dust or junk on the balance beam.

- I clean my knife edges regulary with 0000 steel wool. But make sure all of the little strands of steel of cleaned out. I blow it off with compressed air after cleaning with steel wool. You can check the knife edges with a Q-tip. If any of the cotton "catches" a burr you will clearly see it.

- keep everything clean.

If the above doesn't keep you scale repeatable then you have air currents in your loading room (from A/C or heating vents) or wierd gravitational surges down under!! ;)


P.S. - I still have and use my original Redding balance beam scale that I bought as a young teenager with money from mowing grass and shoveling snow. My only criteria when purchasing this particular scale because it has a second scale above and below the 0 mark so I could measure tolerences to a degree. 20yrs later I invested in a good electronic scale to do this. Now I use the balnace beam as a check for my electronic scale or all my hunting ammo and loading for friends.

01-05-2009, 06:56 PM
I have two old Redding scales; one is about 30 yrs. old and did not have the magnetic stop feature. I have not used it in many moons. The other is about ten years old and works fine, with the same periodic maintenance Steve suggests. Couple years ago I bought a Hornady 350 electronic scale, and I love it. Very compact, accurate, easy to haul to the range. It comes with a 10 gram check weight. I frequently use the weight to check the Redding balance beam scale, and it is very close to the 350.

jackie schmidt
01-08-2009, 06:13 PM
The simple balance beam is a miracle of enginering. I have one, a RCBS, that is over 35 years old, and it still works just as fine as it did when new.

A while back, a fellow shooter had the latest in whiz bang electronic scales at Tomball. We compared the same powder charge on both, and the weight was exactly the same.

Over 35 years apart. Amazing.........jackie

01-08-2009, 08:18 PM
............................. and the weight was exactly the same.

Over 35 years apart. Amazing.........jackie

I just can't agree with you here Jackie.

This hasn't been my experience.

35yrs ago I was much lighter and stuff was also much lighter. The 35yrs DID make a difference! Everything is heavier now than it was.

and steeper.



01-16-2009, 06:19 PM
The beam balance I purchased when I became disappointed with
my electonic scale was the Ohaus cent-o-gram. Very accurate
and repeatable results.