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 Lee Powder Scale (maybe)
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Clint KY
Average Member



USA
116 Posts

Posted - Jul 18 2013 :  15:05:21  Show Profile Send Clint KY a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I decided to make a powder scoop to load my .38 Special rounds. The book calls for 2.0 Gr. of Trail Boss behind a 148 Gr. cast WC. First I wanted to see how much 2.0 Gr. of Trail Boss was. Measure it out and weigh it. I got out my Lee scale, my Dillon Electronic scale and just for grins my MTM electronic scale. I turned off all three fans in the room – Zeroed the Lee and very carefully set the Lee for 2.0 Gr. – using my powder Trickler I measured out the powder to balance the scale. Then I weighed it on the Dillon = 2.3 Gr. – then the MTM = 2.3 Gr.

Realizing something was amiss I took an empty 9MM case I had on the bench and measured it the same way: Lee = 63.9 Gr. – Dillon = 63.6 Gr. – MTM = 63.6 Gr.
So here is my question: How can a scale be balanced at 0.0 and be .3 Gr. off everywhere else?


BTW: 2.0 Gr. of Trail Boss is very very very little!! I have a set of measuring spoons and the smallest is marked “just a pinch” and it is about ˝ that.

I may have to rethink this powder.

Clint
Far West Kentucky

308stuffer
Senior Member

266 Posts

Posted - Jul 18 2013 :  15:17:34  Show Profile Send 308stuffer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thats why I don't use the beam scales. As that is exactly the problem I have with them. They always read different. I use a Pact digital scale. AND - as long as you let the load cell warum up on it ( this means plug it in for 15 minutes before you use it ) it always weighs within .1 gr consistently. So the best answer I have for you is the margin of error on your scale is .3 gr. If not then you just don't have a very good scale.

less talkin and more loadin.... pass me a beer....
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ranger335v
Advanced Member

1633 Posts

Posted - Jul 18 2013 :  17:00:39  Show Profile Send ranger335v a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I ONLY use beam scales for powder because ONLY they remain constant for life unless they're damaged and, if that happens, the damage is usually visible. I have two common and now very 'old' beam powder scales, the first was new in '65 and I got the second a few years later - both still read my 260.9 gr test weight dead on and both are ready to go that much longer. Try matching that with anyone's quirky electical/digital gimmicks!

I got a Lee Safety Scale nearly free a couple years ago from a guy who "couldn't get it to work right", I cleaned it and and it works perfectly too.

Lee's scale is small and light so it can be a PITA to work with but they're usually very accurate and highly sensitive. CLEAN and examine your scale's beam, both the left and right ends, and check the razor knife pivot edges for burrs too.

- Common sense is an uncommon quality -

Edited by - ranger335v on Jul 18 2013 17:16:40
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Onondaga
Advanced Member



USA
2267 Posts

Posted - Jul 19 2013 :  00:23:57  Show Profile Send Onondaga a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Clint KY

The Lee Safety Scale is the most loved and the most hated scale in reloading. Loaders that don't treat it like a delicate instrument and don't follow instructions will never be happy with it.

It is the most sensitive powder weighing scale that is available. That alone is a total nightmare to someone with low hand skills and poor comprehension of instructions.

If you setup the Lee correctly and use it correctly, it will show you the degree of error in everybody else's scales. The Lee is the first one to trust the most if you know what you are doing and do it well.

Gary

Fine rifles are never really owned.
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mikld
Senior Member



USA
246 Posts

Posted - Jul 19 2013 :  15:01:14  Show Profile Send mikld a Private Message  Reply with Quote
With the Lee scale using a vernier type poise, it's very easy to get the exact measurement off by 3 tenths of a grain. But I'll bet every charge was off by the same amount...

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Dues ad erit.
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Clint KY
Average Member



USA
116 Posts

Posted - Jul 19 2013 :  15:16:03  Show Profile Send Clint KY a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you will go to the original post and notice that I zeroed the scale and it was fine. When I measured the charge on my electronic scales (2) it was .3 Gr. more than the weight indicated by the Lee. Logically there are 2 answers:

1.) Both the electronic scales are off by .3 Gr.
2.) There is some difference on the Lee between measuring 0 (zero) grains and some other weight (2 Gr. on the powder charge and 63.9 Gr.on the empty case)

Doing some reading some suggest turning electronic scales on and letting them "warm up". In an effort to check this I tried it with the Dillon (the MTM is battery only and shuts it self off after a while). The Dillon has been on with the calibration weight on it for 6 hours and I occasionally check it the weight has varied from 47.4 to 50.8 in that time. I am beginning to believe the Lee. I am going to my (not so) local Gun Shop that carries reloading supplies in the morning (only open on the weekends) and taking the Lee & the Dillon with me.

I will report back if I find anything.

Clint
Far West Kentucky
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308stuffer
Senior Member

266 Posts

Posted - Jul 19 2013 :  15:42:31  Show Profile Send 308stuffer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Two quick notes. One do you have a weight check set? Second, a 6 hour test on digital scale with the weight installed will get variablilty. There are several reasons for this, however, I am only going to touch on one of them. An instrument that measures to .1 grain will be affected by changes in barometric pressure.

less talkin and more loadin.... pass me a beer....
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Clint KY
Average Member



USA
116 Posts

Posted - Jul 19 2013 :  15:54:49  Show Profile Send Clint KY a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nope on the Weight set - only the 50G check weights that came with the 2 electronic scales - and they weigh the same.
I am hoping that Joe Keith has a set in the morning at Kentucky Drover. (LGS)

Clint
Far West Kentucky
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308stuffer
Senior Member

266 Posts

Posted - Jul 20 2013 :  12:46:52  Show Profile Send 308stuffer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
When you get a set of check weights always keep them cased and use the tongs that come with them when you handle them. Find out the manufacturers advertised accuracy range of your scale. Then when you find one of your check weights weighing outside of the accuracy range for the scale then you know you need calibration or you have some other problem. In my case since I use a Pact digital scale I just go through the calibration process and "whammo" I am back to reading correctly again.

Handling the weights or letting them get contaminated will have an effect on them over time. That is why they will come with tongs. 1grain = 1/7000th of a pound so .1 grain = 1/70,000th of a pound so you can see we are dealing with very sensitive items here.

If you electronic scales are chinese manufacture you either get a good on or you get a bad one. All the complaints I read about on digital scales are always chinese made ones. Also, the bargain priced electronic scales are notorious for not readying up to .1gr consistently. So from what I have come to understand by others in this case "you get what you pay for" is true for these items.

less talkin and more loadin.... pass me a beer....
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gdpudge
Starting Member

USA
8 Posts

Posted - Aug 11 2013 :  22:46:08  Show Profile Send gdpudge a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have a lee beam scale and have never used it. I have a Frankfort electronic scale that I have been using to get started. I'm new at this but from what I'm reading here it may be time to open that dude up. It never occurred to me that the barometric pressure can effect the electronic scale but I do zero it out frequently but it is very sensitive
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TEC
Average Member

121 Posts

Posted - Aug 21 2013 :  15:23:51  Show Profile Send TEC a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gdpudge

I have a lee beam scale and have never used it. I have a Frankfort electronic scale that I have been using to get started. I'm new at this but from what I'm reading here it may be time to open that dude up. It never occurred to me that the barometric pressure can effect the electronic scale but I do zero it out frequently but it is very sensitive



Have a beam scale. Never use it. Way too much trouble for someone who weighs every charge of every cartridge I reload.

A couple of observations that haven't been made. In addition to changes of barometric pressure causing changes in an electronic scale's reading (which I didn't know), any electronic interference can also play havoc with an electronic scale. Most noticeably, putting a cell phone or iPad on my bench anywhere near my SmartReloader auto dispensing scale makes it drift up and down erratically -- it never holds a zero.

Battery powered electronic scales seem (at least to me) be more stable than electronic scales that depend on a plug in power supply, as long as the batteries have an adequate charge. I suppose it may have something to do with more stable current (less "noise"?) from the batteries. Also, scales with a plug in power supply take a much longer (maybe more like 30 minutes) time to stabilize after turning them on. I think it has to do with the power supply warming up completely. My battery powered scale (GemPro 50) stabilizes well in under 5 minutes, but you have to keep using it intermittently, else it automatically cuts off before it is completely warmed up. It is also more precise, weighing to +/- 0.05 grains, which seems to be one or maybe two individual grains of Varget powder, for example.

With electronic scales, after warming up and calibrating, use the weight of your powder pan as a guide to check for consistency as you are loading. If you know your pan weighs 66.7 grains, when you start, then after putting the pan on the scale and using the tare, it should read -66.7 gr when you remove the powder pan, and it should return to 0.00 gr again when the empty pan is put back on the scale. If the weight of the pan drifts more than +/- 0.1 grain from starting weight, or if the scale fails to return to 0.00 gr with an empty pan, between loads, then something is wrong. Re-calibrate, re-tare, dump the last charge you weighed back in the pan and make sure it was correct before going further.

I keep a clean soda straw on my desk and use the straw to gently blow any stray flakes of powder off the working surfaces of the scale whenever I spill even a few flakes of powder. If one or two drop inside the scales mechanism, between the scales pan and the internal sensor, it will cause problems. I had to disassemble a scale to clean it internally, on one occasion. It worked perfectly again, after cleaning it out, but it is far better to keep any stray powder from falling in the scale's internal works to begin with.






Edited by - TEC on Aug 21 2013 15:25:13
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Kansas Ed
Advanced Member



USA
1206 Posts

Posted - Aug 21 2013 :  20:40:53  Show Profile  Visit Kansas Ed's Homepage Send Kansas Ed a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Lee scales....I hate 'em. Too easy to get slightly off center and give erroneous readings. The top two pieces of advice I give new reloaders is:

1) Buy a good manual and read it.
2) If you have a Lee scale throw it in the garbage and get a good scale.

I've seen at least two which have exhibited these problems, one was mine, and I threw it in the garbage after a couple of years, and bought a Dillon. I also have an RCBS electronic. They match each other perfectly and always have.

The other one was my brothers, and he threw it out and bought the electronic only.

IMO if you have to tinker with a scale to make it read good every time and consistently it's not a good scale. At least that's what 30+ years of rolling my own has taught me. There's a difference between inexpensive and cheap.

Ed

Are we there yet???
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F. Guffey
Advanced Member

USA
690 Posts

Posted - Aug 22 2013 :  08:03:37  Show Profile  Visit F. Guffey's Homepage Send F. Guffey a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is no shortage of scales around here, same for check weights, I do not have a Lee set of scales, I did attend a gun show in Mesquite, Tx., I had the opportunity to purchase 40 pounds of miscellaneous reloading equipment for $20.00, after paying the dealer I thought I would be generous and return all the Lee equipment, he would have no part in that arrangement, he made it very clear he did not charge me for the lee stuff, he claimed he threw the Lee dies etc., in for free.

I took all the Lee equipment to the Dallas Market Hall Gun show, I placed the equipment on the table, after the show I hauled all of it back home.

Check weights, I check check weights. It is assumed check weight are correct. I have 4 check weight that are believed to be exact, when weighted on one Ohaus 4 beam scale, all 4 check weight are different in weight.

F. Guffey
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WonderMan4
Advanced Member

USA
1091 Posts

Posted - Aug 22 2013 :  14:21:53  Show Profile Send WonderMan4 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kinda makes you wonder what's a fartsmeller to do? I have check weights that I have verified on a certified laboratory scale. Use them at each setup of my Ohaus scales, which I use to set up my various powder measures. I think as long as there is consistency, there is method to the madness.
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Onondaga
Advanced Member



USA
2267 Posts

Posted - Aug 22 2013 :  16:23:14  Show Profile Send Onondaga a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Beam scales only need to be leveled and zeroed unless you find some way to stretch or shrink the distance between the delineations on the beam, or add or subtract weight from the parts.

Zero is zero on a beam scale, they don't ever need to be checked unless they won't zero because you have ruined them by cutting, filing and mutilating them or don't maintain cleanliness..

The low cost Lee Safety Scale is the most sensitive beam scale available to reloaders and suitable to check any other powder scale with. The Lee does need to be treated as a sensitive instrument, kept clean and not rough handled, and you need to look at what you are doing when using it and not knock it out of alignment to get false readings. It is not steel. You rough it up and you will ruin it and make it inaccurate. That is no secret and mentioned well in the instructions.

Gary

Fine rifles are never really owned.
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WonderMan4
Advanced Member

USA
1091 Posts

Posted - Aug 22 2013 :  16:56:41  Show Profile Send WonderMan4 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think all agree that zero is zero. The concern for most is when a mass is placed on the scale, is the mass being measured accurately? That is the reason for having known and certified calibration weights. These calibration weights were available long before the digital age came upon us so that the user could proof the scale.
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