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 Post subject: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 pm
Posts: 98
I recently picked up a MEC 9000E as a Christmas gift to myself and I thought I’d share some thoughts about this unit with the reloading community. Before I do that let me share some background and how I plan to use the unit.

I’ve been reloading metallic for a long time, but started reloading shotshell about 3 years ago. I started off on a single stage Ponsness Warren 375, but moved to a progressive when my shooting volume went up. I first tried out the Dillon SL900, which I did not like at all. Then switched to a Spolar which I have been very happy with since that time. In addition, I also have a Hornady 366 that my uncle gave to me which is set up for .410.

Recently my shooting volume has increased significantly – I’m now shooting about about 10-15 boxes as week. I’ve modified my Spolar with an Inline Fabrications roller handle which reduces the amount of effort to operate the press significantly. Still, because of volume I started looking into a powered solution. My first thought was to add the hydraulic to my Spolar. After consulting with the company I determined that I did not have the clearance on my bench to fit the hydraulic piston (need about 12” behind the press). I also looked into the electric option for the Spolar, but I’ve read about the disadvantages of that system – no auto stop/start on the up and down strokes. It doesn’t completely finish the down stroke which could lead to some primer seating issues.

With no great solution in sight I started thinking about other options and the MEC 9000E came to mind. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded for my reloading situation:
1) I have settled into a “standard load” for nearly all of my shooting.
2) I have a “lifetime supply” of pre-primed Rio hulls that I make my standard load with.
3) My squadmates occasionally host a “reloading day” where everyone gets together to make shells and do “guy stuff”.
4) I occasionally spend some times at a summer house.

The 9000E is a great fit for my use case. I could set it for my standard load and not worry about how easy/hard it is to adjust, it’s powered to crank out my standard load, it’s portable and doesn’t require mounting to a bench so I can bring it to my friend’s house or my summer house as needed. And best of all I get the press and automate unit for LESS than just the hydraulic unit for the Spolar. So I ordered the 9000E from Gamaliel right before Christmas. I also ordered some accessories which I’ll share my thoughts on later in this post.

Initial Set Up
The instructions were confusing at first. I received a generic 9000GN manual as well as a generic Automate manual. There were steps that did not make sense – for example, the first step in the automate manual involved removal of the handle which I didn’t have. Buried in the paperwork (along side catalogs, price lists, hodgdon powder guides, etc) was a single sheet of paper that were really the instructions. Do steps 1-3 in this manual, skip 4-6, then go over to the other manual and do steps 5-8, etc. Minor nit but this sheet of paper should be better marked in my opinion.

Before I mounted the press to the automate unit, I took the opportunity to install Republican’s excellent MokeMate unit. I opted to go for the “inline connector” version, in case I need to revert back to stock for warranty work. The installation was easy thanks to the excellent videos he has made available on you tube.
Here you can see the foot pedal down below that operates the press.

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Start Up Issues
Even though this is a new unit I ran into some issues when first attempting to run the press. Occasionally station 1 would blow out the brass on the hull, like on Curly’s picture here:

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The great news is that we have incredible amount of knowledge on the MEC presses right here on the board. In fact I followed the guide from Curly to figure out what was going on with station 1. It wasn’t shot or debris in the collet fingers, but I did slightly lower the collet which gave just enough clearance for the shell to drop cleanly into the collet base. This involved removing the bottom nut and rotating the collet clockwise.

The second and more frustrating issue was that the charge bar lock was not operating consistently. In many cases it would not unlock, even with a shell in station #2. I did adjust the power drop tube per Curly’s instructions to measure how much compression was put onto the lower primer spring which operates the trip rod bracket). No amount of adjustment would allow the trip rod to operate consistently. I even tried greasing the rod/contact points to perhaps remove some friction. Didn’t work.

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After a LOT of frustration (not to mention spilled powder and shot), I took it apart and realized that the trip rod was bent. Not sure if I caused this or it came this way from the factory. Ironically this is one of the few pieces on the press that is hardened steel (I think). I ordered a new rod from MEC and since then the charge bar lock is operating as designed.
Now that the charge bar lock was operating, I ran into a third issue. Occasionally the press would not drop shot, even when the bar was unlocked. It turned out that the Charge Bar Actuator was binding.

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As you can see I have the adjustable charge bar installed from Multiscale. It needs a replacement actuator to operate, which is installed on my machine. (the silver L shaped piece above). The strange thing is that the Hex screw actually screws into the base (behind the L shaped piece). So as the press operates the screw itself is tightening up. Eventually it gets so tight at the actuator binds and the charge bar doesn’t complete its stroke. For now I just stuck a washer there, it seems to be working – maybe 300 shells loaded and it has not tightened up yet. If that doesn’t work I’ll probably use one of the extra nylon nuts that were included in the press and just not tighten it all the way.

What I like about the 9000E
    Once I got everything running, it is now working very well. I can really turn out my standard load with minimal effort due to the Automate (and mokemate pedal). Some other features that I like about the unit:

    1) Lots of aftermarket support (more on this later)

    2) Priming system is excellent – love the ability to turn on/off the priming system easily. This really helps me since I load both pre-primed and once-fired hulls. By the way, I have the new MEC primer donut and it has worked flawlessly.

    3) Even though I had some initial issues, the charge bar lock is a nice feature. In theory no powder or shot drops without a hull in place. I say in theory because the powder/shot are not independent. If you dropped powder the next pull WILL drop shot, regardless if you have a hull there or not. The Dillon has a truly independent hull detection system.

    4) For me Side ejection makes a lot more sense than rear ejection on the spolar and ponsness-warren presses.

    5) Collet resizer – both good and bad, mostly good. good in that it resizes more consistently and with less effort than the ring resizers used on most other presses (including Spolar). Bad in that it is more complex and another thing that can go wrong. Especially if a piece of shot finds its way in there.

What I Don't Like about the 9000E
    1) No powder/shot cut-off. On my spolar I can cut off the powder and/or shot. This is useful when adjusting the machine for a different powder and you want to drop powder multiple times to get a good reading of the power drop.

    2) I’m not a fan of the bottles. They seem flimsy, prone to breaking at the neck, and are harder to refill.

    3) Minor nit – the wad guide is not as easy to use as on other machines. On my spolar it is a swing out arm so it is easy to just drop it in there. On the Dillon the wad guide arm tilts at an angle so it is also easy to insert. On the MEC the wad guide is fixed in place. And there is not really enough clearance for tall wads. Which means you have to do a two-step motion – first insert the wad onto the powder drop tube, then tilt the base of the wad into the guide cup. Once you get the motion down it’s fast, but not as simple as on other machines.

    4) There is a lot of flex in the machine that surprised me at first. On my other presses, besides the vertical motion nothing moves, flexes, or bends. On the MEC some of the parts seem designed to flex or move during operation. In addition to vertical motion I see some horizontal flex as well.

    5) It’s complicated – there are a lot of adjustments and pieces that have to work for the machine to work smoothly. Take the charge bar lock (that I was having issues with) for example. For it to work, first the powder drop has to be adjusted. This powder drop tube compresses a big spring, which rotates a piece of metal. The metal releases a small bar that is under spring tension. The bar presses up on a lever that releases the charge bar. It works, but it is complex and has a lot of dependencies, and since most parts are made out of soft sheet metal something bent can cause the whole system to stop working.

Aftermarket Parts

One of the best features of the MEC is there is a lot of support for add-on parts, not to mention the wealth of knowledge from the community. Some comments on a few parts I added to the press.

Reinforced Bottle Bracket

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Worthless in my opinion, a waste of money. The holder is too tight for the powder bottle, which prevents you from easily removing it. And it is too loose on the shot bottle, so doesn’t provide support at all. I ended up wrapping some electrical tape around the shot bottle just so that it would contact the bracket. I might just remove the whole bracket.

Adjustable Charge Bar

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I ended up buying all of the bushings for my Spolar just because I’d rather have them around when I need them. There are many times I thought why can’t there be an adjustable powder drop system for the spolar? Adjustable powder drops are pretty much standard for metallic reloaders.
Multiscale makes an adjustable shot and powder bar for the MEC. Reviews are mixed on the internet. Some folks say that it works great, others say that it is consistent. I took a chance and ordered the adjustable bar. The unit itself is not that impressive to look at. Looks roughly machined, and the worst is the haphazardly applied scale stickers on the adjustment knobs. The unit comes with three inserts that must be applied – two plastic ones (for steel shot and hunting loads), and one zinc one for lead target loads. On the zinc insert the instructions say that if the fit is not good then please file the insert until it fits. Not the most reassuring sign of quality construction.
However, the unit itself is providing very consistent powder drops, especially when used with the metal baffle that it comes with. I think you have to follow the instructions carefully – the metal baffle still needs a brass washer and rubber bushing (unlike the plastic baffle which is designed to ride on the charge bar directly). Secondly, to make adjustments to the bar you have to first turn it clockwise PAST the desired setting and then reverse direction to tighten it to the desired setting. After following these directions I am able to get very consistent powder drops, with the majority spot on. If I’m off it is usually only by .1 grain.

BPI Super Crown Crimp Starter

I’m loading a lot of new, unfired Rio hulls. The basic crimp starter from MEC does an OK job of making the initial folds, but they are not sharp. The issue shows up upon once-firing and attempting to load the hull again. Because the initial folds were not sharp, there is no fold memory and the hull looks like the hull on the left. When attempting to reload the left hull it will occasionally result in an ugly crimp. The hull on the right was pre-crimped with the BPI Super Crown.

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The BPI Super Crown is a heavy, and sharp brass crimp starter. It does a MUCH better job of making the initial folds in new hulls.

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Notice how much sharper the edges are on the right compared to the rounded folds on the left. With the BPI super crown the hulls retain their crimp memory after firing resulting in perfect second loads. Kinda pricey, but I’m happy with the results.

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Creative Reloading Solutions Ultimate Primer Punch

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Thanks to a post on this board I learned about the Ultimate Primer Punch from Creative Reloading Solutions. The punch itself is VERY nicely made, a quality tool. You can tell a lot of thought was put into this punch. The punch has a couple of features that I like very much:
    1) Easily removable tip. The punch comes with two tips: a standard primer punch out tip, and a primer hole reconditioning tip. It can also be run without a tip which is useful for me when I load new pre-primed hulls.
    2) An adjustable mouth flaring segment. You can easily spin this up or down to adjust the amount of flare on the hull mouth. In the pic below you can see that I’m just giving the hull mouth just a tiny amount of flare.

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Is flare even needed? For me I say yes. Before I started using the new punch I got a couple of crashed wads and more concerning cocked wads when loading new hulls. I don’t know if there is something different with new hulls that causes issues. With the tiny amount of flare these issues have been eliminated.

Conclusion
The press does exactly what I wanted it to do – a portable, powered unit that will allow me to knock out my standard load quickly and efficiently. The machine makes a very fine looking shell, I can’t tell the difference between the MEC and the Spolar. In fact the MEC might even make a better looking shell because of the BPI Super Crown pre-crimper.
My plan is still the same – use the Spolar for sub-gauges, and for when I’m working up a new 12g load with different hulls and wads. The Spolar is still way easier to set-up and adjust for a new-load due to the shot/powder cut-off as well as the amount of room available on the tool head (easy to get wrenches to the right place).
The MEC will get used to knock out my standard load. And for that job I’m 100% happy with it (my shoulder is especially happy).

So in the end I think my two presses will get along just fine :)

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:27 pm 
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Good write up, beetle!

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:06 pm 
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nice review. Thanks for taking the time to share. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:54 pm
Posts: 136
Nice write up. The best adjustment I made to the bar lock was to BEND IT OUT OF THE WAY! Just start with two empties under the powder and shot stations. The adjustable charge bar was great on single stage Mec's, but it was troublesome for my 9000. Keep the collet lubed, or you might develop the dreaded Mexican jumping bean primers! (fyi, jumping beans are a real thing!) But once your dialed in, with the Automate you can flat crank out the shells.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:20 am 
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great writeup, thanks very much for taking the time and the pictures!


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:43 pm 
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Nice post but.....does this serve to do anything but confuse some folks?

I don't get the need for a fully adjustable deprime punch or the brass crimp starter.

Neither my 9000H12 nor my 9000G16 suffers from either 'crashing'(a bit dramatic?) or cocking wads, using either new or previously fired hulls. If you are 'crashing' and cocking wads on new hulls there is something else creating the problem other than the deprime punch. I know this because I don't use the deprime/resize station for new primed hulls on my 9000 series loaders, and I don't ever have 'crashes'.

I have been reloading new hulls, especially 16 gauge hulls for at least 25 years and never had any issue with the standard MEC crimp starters.

I think there is a misunderstanding with the adjustments on MEC machines which leads folks to come up with creative but expensive fixes.

YMMV

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:09 pm
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Location: Eastern Nebraska
dogchaser37 wrote:
I think there is a misunderstanding with the adjustments on MEC machines which leads folks to come up with creative but expensive fixes.

YMMV

Indeed, I believe you are absolutely right.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:07 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 pm
Posts: 98
dogchaser37 wrote:
Nice post but.....does this serve to do anything but confuse some folks?

I don't get the need for a fully adjustable deprime punch or the brass crimp starter.

Neither my 9000H12 nor my 9000G16 suffers from either 'crashing'(a bit dramatic?) or cocking wads, using either new or previously fired hulls. If you are 'crashing' and cocking wads on new hulls there is something else creating the problem other than the deprime punch. I know this because I don't use the deprime/resize station for new primed hulls on my 9000 series loaders, and I don't ever have 'crashes'.

I have been reloading new hulls, especially 16 gauge hulls for at least 25 years and never had any issue with the standard MEC crimp starters.

I think there is a misunderstanding with the adjustments on MEC machines which leads folks to come up with creative but expensive fixes.

YMMV


I don't think the brass crimp starter or adjustable primer punch are required, but they are nice to have. In my experience the MEC crimp starter works just fine for the first load (when the hull is new). However on the first reload (second overall load) there are a higher number of ugly crimps. The brass crimp starter puts a sharper crimp onto new hulls, allowing it to retain crimp memory, and therefore the next reload gets much better crimps.

To restate, those items are not required or fixes, but simply nice accessories to have in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:52 pm 
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That sharp brass starter plays heck with hull life, but do what you think you need to do.

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:22 pm 
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Curly-Nohair wrote:
That sharp brass starter plays heck with hull life, but do what you think you need to do.


i only use it for the first crimp on brand new (unfired) hulls.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:21 pm 
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beetle wrote:
Curly-Nohair wrote:
That sharp brass starter plays heck with hull life, but do what you think you need to do.


i only use it for the first crimp on brand new (unfired) hulls.

Bingo, damage done!

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:00 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:43 am
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Nice post. I have four of the MEC 9000E units and I am happy with them so far. Concerning item #4 about the machine flexing your pictures show that the right hand torsion bar is not installed. This flat bar is about 7" long and connects the shot/powder bar housing mount to the top of the shell advance housing. The long left hand torsion bar that attaches to the same shot/powder bar housing mount and the rear base of the automate does seem to be installed. Installing the right hand torsion bar should go a long way toward stopping the flexing. My 9000E's do not flex noticeably.

You need to make sure that the metal rim of the hull can sit down deep enough in the re-size collet to fit into the internal groove of the collet or you will get re-shaped heads like the one shown. You can find instructions for adjusting the collet height online at the MEC webbsight.

I am a fan of the Universal Charge bars but you are right about the hand work with files and sandpaper. I use the zinc inserts and file then flat sand the tops until the entire topside is flat and smooth. I think that should not have to be done but I have found it does if you want the best results. Yes you are right about the tape on knob position indicators, those are poor too but you can super glue them down tight.

The charge bar actuator arm screw that screws into the mounting bracket and allow the arm to pivot on the screw will work loose if you don't re-install the hex nut to the screw threads that protrude thru the back of the bracket like the factory original arm was to lock the screw in place. If you lost the hex nut just get another at the hardware store. In other words the pivot screw is locked into position by a nut on the back side of the bracket.

I have installed the bottle supports on all of my 10 MEC reloaders both single and progressive and I would not load without them. I do think that they should be a factory supplied assembly due to the bottles not being so strong and needing support if you ever lean a full shot bottle back you will see what I mean. The bottle support assemblies can be adjusted a small amount so you will not need to use the tape, just loosen the screws and make the adjustments.

MEC 9000E machines are complicated but once you understand how and were to adjust them then you will find that they will load good reliable ammunition.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 pm
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mtgrs737 wrote:
Nice post. I have four of the MEC 9000E units and I am happy with them so far. Concerning item #4 about the machine flexing your pictures show that the right hand torsion bar is not installed. This flat bar is about 7" long and connects the shot/powder bar housing mount to the top of the shell advance housing. The long left hand torsion bar that attaches to the same shot/powder bar housing mount and the rear base of the automate does seem to be installed. Installing the right hand torsion bar should go a long way toward stopping the flexing. My 9000E's do not flex noticeably.


mtgrs737, THANK YOU very much for pointing this out. As you point out I failed to install this bracket. Now with the unit properly supported the press has much less flex now!

In my defense the instructions with the unit are very poor. The steps to install this bracket are in steps 16 and 17 of the automate booklet. However, if following the "master sheet" of instructions for the 9000E it never says to perform steps 16 and 17. I did wonder why I had an extra bracket, but in reading the manual there was reference to a right hand truss rod to mount a MEC 8000 series to the automate. I thought this piece was provided in case you wanted to mount an 8000 series press.

I will pass this info along to MEC so that they can update the instructions.

thank you!


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:38 pm 
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beetle wrote:

I will pass this info along to MEC so that they can update the instructions.

thank you!

Don't bother. I've informed MEC of errors in their exploded view drawing of the 9000G, along with part number errors and they couldn't care less. In fact, the parts guy told me that in those exact words.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:41 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 pm
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Vette Jockey wrote:
beetle wrote:

I will pass this info along to MEC so that they can update the instructions.

thank you!

Don't bother. I've informed MEC of errors in their exploded view drawing of the 9000G, along with part number errors and they couldn't care less. In fact, the parts guy told me that in those exact words.


well, I'll at least try. Let's see what they say. This is what I sent to them

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:24 pm 
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Glad I could be of help, If you install the lock/jam nut on the back side of the bracket that the pivot bolt for the "L" shaped pusher arm for the powder/shot bar you can remove the flat washer. Good luck and enjoy your 9000E.


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 pm
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mtgrs737 wrote:
Glad I could be of help, If you install the lock/jam nut on the back side of the bracket that the pivot bolt for the "L" shaped pusher arm for the powder/shot bar you can remove the flat washer. Good luck and enjoy your 9000E.


Actually the nut is there on the back side of the bracket. What's happening is that each activation of the pusher arm is tightening the screw/nut slightly. After many activations it gets so tight that the L pusher arm binds against frame blocking the charge bar from completing it's cycle.

The washer made no difference, I have since removed it. Right now I just have the nut on fairly loose. I haven't loaded enough to see if it will jam again. If I tighten the nut finger tight then in about 20 shells or less it will tighten up completely and bind.

any suggestions would be most welcomed.

thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:30 pm 
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beetle wrote:
mtgrs737 wrote:
Glad I could be of help, If you install the lock/jam nut on the back side of the bracket that the pivot bolt for the "L" shaped pusher arm for the powder/shot bar you can remove the flat washer. Good luck and enjoy your 9000E.


Actually the nut is there on the back side of the bracket. What's happening is that each activation of the pusher arm is tightening the screw/nut slightly. After many activations it gets so tight that the L pusher arm binds against frame blocking the charge bar from completing it's cycle.

The washer made no difference, I have since removed it. Right now I just have the nut on fairly loose. I haven't loaded enough to see if it will jam again. If I tighten the nut finger tight then in about 20 shells or less it will tighten up completely and bind.

any suggestions would be most welcomed.

thanks!


This is a trial and error situation.
Tighten the pivot bolt down until it starts to bind the actuator arm. Loosen the actuator bolt 1/4 turn and hold it in that position while tightening the jam nut on the back. Check the actuator arm to see if it has any bind.
If no bind, leave everything alone.
If binding, put a wrench on the hex of pivot bolt, use a wrench to loosen jam nut behind the bracket.
Loosen the pivot bolt about 1/8 turn, hold the hex of the actuator bolt with a wrench while you tighten that jam nut on the back of the bracket. Repeat as required. No more adjustment will be required until you replace the actuator lever. Then you will have to repeat the adjustment again in the same manner.

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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:01 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:26 pm
Posts: 98
Curly N wrote:

This is a trial and error situation.
Tighten the pivot bolt down until it starts to bind the actuator arm. Loosen the actuator bolt 1/4 turn and hold it in that position while tightening the jam nut on the back. Check the actuator arm to see if it has any bind.
If no bind, leave everything alone.
If binding, put a wrench on the hex of pivot bolt, use a wrench to loosen jam nut behind the bracket.
Loosen the pivot bolt about 1/8 turn, hold the hex of the actuator bolt with a wrench while you tighten that jam nut on the back of the bracket. Repeat as required. No more adjustment will be required until you replace the actuator lever. Then you will have to repeat the adjustment again in the same manner.


thanks curly, I've made the adjustments as you recommend. I think it's going to work. I've run the machine several times, and unlike before the it doesn't seem like the screw/nut is self-tightening. Will test it the next time I load a bunch of shells.

I'll stand by my original assessment -- one of the best things about the MEC is the wealth of knowledge available :)

Thanks again and Happy New Year!


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 Post subject: Re: Some thoughts on the 9000E and add-on accessories
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:55 am 
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For your AutoMate power cord, you should look into one of these right-angle jobs :

Image
https://www.amazon.com/C2G-Cables-03152 ... NAZY1E2QNF

That stock power cord was always a pet-peeve of mine.




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