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 Post subject: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:09 pm 
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It is quite common for me to be reloading, and want to tweak the center punch on crimp up or down to tweak crimp depths. I load mostly Rem GC and Rem ACF, and find they average 0.055" as set for GC, then 0.04" for the ACF in 12ga. It's nice to be able to tweak your crimps .005" or so as you're loading to get exactly the crimp you want.

MEC9000 adjustment note-- for me, it is very difficult to see and manipulate the center punch bolt on the MEC9000 "final crimp" station (the one right after pre-crimp, not actually final on the 9000 due to the presence of the finishing-crimp). The bolt is slotted at the top for a flat screwdriver to turn it, after loosening the locking-nut below the carrier-plate. You can't SEE the dang thing, it's hidden behind the cams and drive-levers, and if your machine is bolted into a table you probably can't get behind it to look at it. All around a difficult one to adjust.

I called MEC and asked them if they made that center punch bolt about 1" longer, and if not WHY?? Adding 1" to 1.5" to that bolt wouldn't interfere with anything in function, but would make it tall enough to actually SEE and adjust with the machine at rest. Their answer was to pull the operating handle down to the bottom so you could see the bolt, then adjust it!

Of course, that means you have full pressure with the center punch on a hull's crimp, so you really CAN'T adjust the thing downwards easily! His response was to just try pulling the handle partway down... Oh, you mean hold it with one hand or a bungee, risk cycling the shotbar partway or advancing your shells and nerfing up the entire sequence? His response was to just unload the machine first. OH says I, you mean stop all production, add 5-10 min of complicated effort which is about 75% guaranteed to end up with shot or powder spilling around as you jockey a wrench and screwdriver into place, pull 3 or 4 partial shells then have to feed them back into the cycle while correctly taking out your "stand in" hulls? He said you could try deactivating the primer feed and the forward-cycle lever first, which I'd say is even MORE guaranteed to result in a missed step and some nerf-up.

I responded that, alternatively, you could have a 1" longer bolt there and just adjust it on-the-fly and have ZERO risk of nerf-ups and change nothing in the production flow, and have both hands. He didn't like that and asked me why I would need to change the center punch anyways? I gave my example of switching mid-load from Rem GC to ACF, getting crimps 0.04" and wanting to add a single turn to the center punch to correct it... his response was there is always some variation in hulls and I could just accept it as is.

So I wasn't impressed at all with the MEC "Quality Improvement" attitude. There is no product so good that manufacturers should ignore user inputs, and the existence of ANY aftermarket tweaks is an absolute indicator of areas for possible design improvement. I know most guys on here love their MECs, but the existence of multiple allen-wrench and nut sizes for adjustments on one machine is proof positive of substandard user-interface design, when forces can all be handled by one size.

I'm sure I can figure out the "minimum hull interference" method of getting that crimper empty while I want to adjust it, and write it down... and I'm equally sure that I will scrw it up 50% of the time and end up cleaning shot up or what not.

So I'm now on a search for the easiest way to extend that center-punch bolt about 1.5" as the vastly better solution. Hoping someone will chime in with an easy adjustment method, maybe just bungee the handle down and really crank down with a beefy screwdriver to move the punch down (but I like making untorqued delicate adjustments on machines when able). OR someone might have an easy solution to extend that bolt. Anyone?




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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:37 pm 
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You got a welder? Weld on the extension you want, then slot it with a hacksaw. Voila! Done.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:00 pm 
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MEC IS NOT stupid. Have you ever replaced the centerpunch in the crimp closer die? IF you have, you will understand why it is not longer. I understand exactly what it is you are trying to adjust. I tweak this adjustment regularly on my 9000 because I load a mix of Win, Rem, and Fed. Is it real simple and easy to adjust? No, it is kind of a PITA. But, it is not all that challenging. I adjust mine in a minute or two. I would suggest: Get a long screw driver. Get a cabinet maker's type screw driver. These are straight on the end, not flared out. Get a 1/2 inch open end wrench, not an adjustable "crescent wrench."


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:21 pm 
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Dave in AZ wrote:
..to just unload the machine first. OH says I, you mean stop all production, add 5-10 min of complicated effort which is about 75% guaranteed to end up with shot or powder spilling around as you jockey a wrench and screwdriver into place, pull 3 or 4 partial shells then have to feed them back into the cycle while correctly taking out your "stand in" hulls? He said you could try deactivating the primer feed and the forward-cycle lever first, which I'd say is even MORE guaranteed to result in a missed step and some nerf-up.


Nah. You're making this way too hard. Just finish out the shells on the machine like you do when you finish a reloading session.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:52 pm 
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It just is not that hard to adjust that center punch just the way that it is, unless you want everything done for you.
BTW, one turn of the screw = 0.040"

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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:55 pm 
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Dave in AZ
It is obvious that you are making an easy job, much more complicated than is necessary.

As Show Me has stated, simply clear out the press by completing the shells on the carrier. Actually, that is not really necessary either. Just leave the press at the top of its stroke, and make the adjustment

Remove the crimp starter, and then make your adjustment. Use the correct tools, which means NOT a too short or too long screwdriver, with a correct size blade, not one that is too narrow, or too wide to fit in the space it has to work in. Use a 1/2 inch combination wrench, NOT a cumbersome crescent wrench.

With these tools, it's easy to tweak the adjustment, then re-tighten the lock nut and then re-install the crimp starter. DONE Nothing spilled, no messes, and really, NO PROBLEMS.

Probably you are being too OCD about the crimp depths anyway. Having an EXACT .050 depth on your crimps is about as necessary you having 3 ears. Set the depth to a happy medium for the two cases you use, and forget it. The tiny difference in depths won't make a modicum of difference in the first place.

DLM

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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:35 am 
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Thx for the responses, it sounds like with a better screwdriver this task might be much easier; I'm using the right wrench already.
I don't think I'm wrong summarizing the advice above as "Live with it as is, find it with a screwdriver that fits, hold the nut with a wrench that fits". So maybe I'll try to find a screwdriver with one of those sleeved ends that keeps the screw from sliding off the bit-- my problem is always the screwdriver slipping off the bolt as I turn it this way and that trying to find the slot. Then by the time I get the bit back in the slot, I've usually jiggled my adjustment away, or I don't hold the bolt steady as I tighten the nut, due to slipping bit, and I end up spinning away most of my adjustment. But I just tried using 4 or 5 different screwdrivers, and it's always the same-- I can't see the thing, so I can't tell if I'm in the slot or off to the side of the bolt head. Even with a phone camera in selfie mode, held at the back so I could see what I'm doing, I just can't get that bit to stay in there worth a squat.

-- cabinetmakers screwdriver, I'll check that out, a thin unflared one might fit in there better.
-- welding on extension, that's the only tweak I could see too.

-- albatros, I can see spinning that bolt installing it would take some time, but you only have to install it once, while you have to adjust it for different hulls a thousand times... When I install it I'm not sitting there with shells partly loaded either, I can have full access to the machine and bump it around. Looking at that bolt with a camera phone though, it's possible you don't have clearance for a taller bolt, it may sit underneath the handle-lever part that the cam bolts onto; maybe that's what you were meaning?
-- one turn = 0.040", that's useful info. I was going to look up the pitch of those threads and calculate that. Because I always seem to get 1/2 turn taken back out as I tighten the locknut back up, I've probably had to put more adjustment in.
--DLM, of course you don't NEED to make it exact... but if you're going to load up 1000 rounds of the same load, and you CAN just tweak it, why NOT do it? You kind of make my point-- if the adjustment was easier to see and get a screwdriver into the slit, simply, it would in fact be uncomplicated and easy to tweak, and who would ever consider NOT just tweaking it a 1/4 turn when you noticed your crimps a bit shallow?

I'm actually surprised at the general attitude of "accept it as is, slightly difficult but doable". I was under the impression that several of you were machinists who were quick to tweak bushings, powder baffles, shot bars, install adjustable shot bars, use your own grease over MEC recommendations, look for fixes to carrier plate jump, invent tweaks that stopped primer jump, develop electric drives to automate the process, install rubber erasers into holes that should have been plugged when built to ease the spilled powder pickup, machine new pre-crimps to give crisper and better edges and crimps, develop sensors to ensure primer drops and flag you when one was missing before you spilled powder, use vibration devices to ensure consistent powder drops...

I thought more of you guys were "improvers", or folks who look to make things that work just OK, work better...
I guess I got my answer, just work through it, but I'm surprised no one agreed the bolt could be improved? Surely I'm not the only one who looks at this one bolt and thinks, "This device could be made a wee bit better if that bolt was tall enough to see and get a screwdriver into easier".

Since I read folk's responses, I sat and looked at it a bit instead of being mentally lazy and hoping someone else already thought of a good fix. Now I've thought of several improvements that I might apply. I'll try one and report back later how it worked:

// cut a 2nd slot in the head so a phillips self-centering bit would work, would at least be more stable than a regular bit and slot.
// grind the top of bolt with 6 flats so a nut-driver would slip on securely and stay nicely in place. This would be great as you wouldn't have to keep a hand up there on the tool.
// install one of those tall cylindrical "extension nuts" on top of the adjust bolt, making a permanent hollow cylinder that would hold a small screwdriver firmly in place in the slot.
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// install an extension with a nut coupler, superglue it in place so it turned the bolt both ways
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They're used on the bottom side of all faucets to bolt them down to a counter and get the work away from the underside of counter surface where it's hard to work a wrench. This is probably the easiest fix if I can find the right threads, and the one I'll try first. Not sure it will fit though, it's pretty tight back there.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:41 am 
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I think you will find a straight (not flared) screwdriver does help. The threads are 5/16 -24 NF. That means one full turn is real close to the 40 thousandths Curly listed (actually 41.6 thousands but plenty close for a plastic shotgun shell. ) The round slotted part of the shaft is 1/4 inch. It is theoretically possible to grind it into a hex but doing this and getting a true equal sided hex is difficult without a dividing head vise on a mill. When done you will have a pretty small hex. Make sure you have a nut driver the correct size, that it is long enough, and that the head on the nut driver fits in past the linkage.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:52 am 
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albatros wrote:
, and that the head on the nut driver fits in past the linkage.



That's the problem I had. I was going to get a nut driver and cross drill the end for a roll pin that fit the screw driver slot. But I found there was not enough room for the O.D. of the driver.


Steve

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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:57 am 
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I have had many of the same thoughts about improvement but never got to the point of actually trying anything so I still use the time honored screwdriver and end wrench technique. I bought a screwdriver with an 8 inch shaft at my local hardware store and it helped a lot because it is long enough to stick up above all of the linkages at the back of the press. True, you do have to come at the screw at an angle but you don't have to apply any significant force to it once the lock nut is loosened. After reading this thread, I may grind the blade down to a straight blade - it does seem like that would help. Since I have a bench grinder that's faster than shopping for a cabinet maker's screwdriver of an appropriate length.

I just took a look at my press and the adjustment screw is right up against the cam that operates the crimp punch. I don't see how anything that increases the diameter of the screw (like one of those bolt extensions) is going to work. As for welding, if you ever have to replace the crimp punch, it sure seems like that is gonna be a problem unless you weld it on very straight, grind the diameter to just the right dimension and then cut threads in it to match up with those already there. That's certainly beyond my machining skills!

There is no question the adjustment is a little challenging and if anyone comes up with a technique that successfully makes it easier, I would certainly be interested in hearing about it. However, I can manage with its original configuration so it's never gotten more than a few moments of idle thought from me.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:24 am 
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At 6' 4", I just look over the top, put the screw driver in the slot and wrench on the nut, loosen it, turn the screw driver and tighten. Maybe a short wooden box/platform would be a simple low-tech solution to the problem.

I don't remove the crimp starter nor clear out the shells.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:38 am 
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gbrendemuehl wrote:
At 6' 4", I just look over the top, put the screw driver in the slot and wrench on the nut, loosen it, turn the screw driver and tighten. Maybe a short wooden box/platform would be a simple low-tech solution to the problem.

I don't remove the crimp starter nor clear out the shells.

This may be the final answer lol... its all just a problem of getting eyes onto that slot. I think pickman may Be.right about the clearance. I have a small gap but it may not be enough for those nuts.

If nothing else folks answers tell me I can probably imlrove things with the right screwdriver.


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:25 pm 
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The lock nut is not hard to get to if you remove the pre-crimp. Take a piece of rubber/nylon tubing of the correct diameter, superglue it on the topside of the crimp punch. Make it any length you want.......... break loose the lock nut...... turn the punch..... tighten the lock nut....... simple, easy, cheap and it works..... Larry


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:46 pm 
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llc wrote:
The lock nut is not hard to get to if you remove the pre-crimp.


Why is my 9000 different? It's easy to get at the lock nut without removing the pre-crimp. I'm confused :?


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:55 pm 
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llc wrote:
The lock nut is not hard to get to if you remove the pre-crimp. Take a piece of rubber/nylon tubing of the correct diameter, superglue it on the topside of the crimp punch. Make it any length you want.......... break loose the lock nut...... turn the punch..... tighten the lock nut....... simple, easy, cheap and it works..... Larry


Ok, THIS is an awesome idea! Exactly what I was looking for! Thx Larry!


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:10 pm 
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gbrendemuehl wrote:
llc wrote:
The lock nut is not hard to get to if you remove the pre-crimp.


Why is my 9000 different? It's easy to get at the lock nut without removing the pre-crimp. I'm confused :?


Don't be confused Sir. You don't HAVE TO take the precrimp off, it just allows more room to work, thus making it easier to make the adjustment. If you don't care to remove it, then don't. Just that simple.


Dave in AZ.
Having read this thread several times, I got intrigued with the possibility of making a tool that would make the adjustment easier. So, this afternoon I went out to my shop and made one. Works like a champ.

Took an old screwdriver I had that the blade was worn out, and went to my grinder. The screwdriver has about a 10 inch shank and is approx. 5/16 in diameter. I ground the bit narrower to approx .350, rounding the edges in the process.

Then, using the edge of a 10 inch mill b@$t@rd file, I cut a slot in the bit approx 1/8 inch deep and 1/4 inch wide, leaving a projection on each side, sticking above the blade of the Screwdriver on each side. (actually on the finish product, the projections are about .035 inch wide. I then hollow ground the screwdriver blade so it would fit all the way down to the bottom of the slot in the crimp punch.

It easily fits on the crimp punch and because of the side projections, won't slide out of the slot in the punch. Works like a charm.

All the tools necessary to make this, are the screwdriver, (of course), a bench grinder and a sharp file. Having a dial caliper handy will help too. I did cold blue the finished product, but that's just my preference.

DLM

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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:17 pm 
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gb, if you have clutzy wrenches like I do........ more room is better...... Larry


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:26 pm 
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DL, Any pix on the way? :D


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:03 pm 
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D L Marcum wrote:

Dave in AZ.
Having read this thread several times, I got intrigued with the possibility of making a tool that would make the adjustment easier. So, this afternoon I went out to my shop and made one. Works like a champ....


Great idea and description DLM! Thanks much! I knew some of you clever fellows just needed to be jump-started ;) So now I have two great ideas, and who doesn't like using their grinder and a b@$t@rd file? I am going to have my 9 yo daughter help me on this "project" later today, as a nice intro to metalwork for her and get the idea in her head that you can make "the right tool for the job" yourself when needed, and also that metal is a medium that CAN be worked. She sometimes helps me reload on my MEC9000s, and she loves "boxing" them up, so this will be a good project ;)

I've been spending my time re-doing a sprinkler system that had 20 leaks in it due to hiring a yard guy to "save me some time"... of course he didn't pull weeds but weed-whacked them, along with all my drip heads. In AZ in Aug, if you don't have water reaching your plants for just a few days they can be damaged, so fixing it all up and ensuring the safety of my limes, lemons, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruits took priority! But I just got the last repair in place, so now back to reloading stuff ;)


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 Post subject: Re: MEC9000 center punch adjustment... hard to get at it
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:19 pm 
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DLM - Intriguing idea. Since you didn't mention anything to the contrary, I assume that the projections on your tool will fit in whatever space there is between the crimp punch and the cam. When I look at my 9000 there is virtually no space there. I doubt a .035 inch projection would fit through but I didn't go hunt down my feeler gauges to find out for sure.




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