I started my reloading with a single-cavity mold using a dipper and a small cast iron pot on my mother’s stove. Cast bullets were placed on their bases in a shallow tin pan and melted lube was poured around them up to the top of the grease groove. A cookie-cutter type tool known as a Kake Cutter was then slipped over the bullet and used to cut it from the lube. Now the bullets were tapped one at a time through a sizing die using a wooden dowel and a hammer. You can bet they were loaded and shot with care after having to go through all this!
As time passed I added multiple cavity molds, a bottom pour melting pot and lubricating/sizing machines. My first lubricating machine was a Lyman #45, now improved to #450. There are now more than a dozen Lyman, RCBS and other such machines, many costing as little as $15 used at gun shows, hanging from the rafters in my casting shed. Each one has a different sizing die as I’ve found it’s easier to change machines by bolting them to a steel plate on my table rather than changing dies.
Simple Is Best
About 40 years ago, my friend Denis took an engineer’s look at lubricating machines and the next thing to happen was each of us purchasing Star Lube-Sizers. The previous lubricating machines mentioned all work on the same principle. A bullet is placed on top of the sizing die, the handle is worked to push the bullet down into the die, another handle is worked to squeeze lube into the bullet, the first handle is then reversed to bring the bullet back out of the die, and one then reaches in and retrieves the finished bullet.
With the Star, the bullet is placed on the sizing die, when the handle is cranked the bullet is pushed into the die and automatically lubed, then the next bullet pushes it out the bottom. The Star bolts to the table with the sizing portion sticking out over the edge allowing the bullet to drop free into a container.
All machines require a top punch fitting the contour of the bullet to guide it. For 30-plus years I used such punches on the Star but when I went to order other nose punches I discovered two things. First, close to the turn-of-the-century, Star was purchased by Magma Engineering. Second, something so simple no one recognized it was put into place by the folks at Magma, since they used it on their machines. Instead of placing the bullets base down and using a nose punch, simply place them nose first and use a flat bottomed punch to push them through. So simple, and it works effectively, as bullets center automatically as they are dropped into the die. One only needs one punch for each particular caliber, regardless of nose shape.
I can hold 10 unsized, un-lubed bullets in my left hand, feed them one at a time nose down into the Star die, pull the handle, and a finished bullet drops out the bottom. This is incredibly fast, and I can do 1,500 or more bullets in an hour. Another great attribute of the Star Lube-Sizer is the fact the pressure screw can be set and I can go through about three handfuls of bullets before I have to add pressure on the lube again.
By John Taffin
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