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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
  • bullet reloading
The Ultimate Reloading Manual
reloading tech tips

Scale Problems

Author: Ron Spomer / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: Nov 01 2006

If you’re a handloader with scale problems, you’re not talking about mineral buildup at the kitchen faucet. Weight scales are rather delicate and important tools for loading safety. There can be dangerous difference between a 10- and 13-grain load in a .22 Hornet, for instance, and an inaccurate scale can deliver that. Or worse.

I once found my RCBS scale erratic after a move to a new shop. The balance beam wouldn’t move as I trickled in powder – until it suddenly jumped way over the top with a single stick of 4350. What? I fiddled and fooled with the beam and studied its pivot edges for damage, wiped it for oil, checked the hanger, thinking it might be touching something. Everything looked fine. I feared I was going to have to buy a new unit when I happened to spy a 1⁄4-inch hex nut lodged against the dampening magnet inside the end leg. Problem solved.

It’s easy to take scales for granted. That’s a mistake. Just because you set it up properly when new, don’t assume it’s stayed perfect. Dust can ruin the balance. Airborne oils can gunk up the pivot points. Finger oils can unbalance the pan. Jarring the bench could shift the unit into a lower point on the shelf. Who knows. Make it a habit to keep your mechanical scale covered when not in use. Before using, check the pan and beam for dust or oil, then for balance. Got an electronic scale? Keep it covered and clean, too, and recalibrate it against the known weights provided with the unit, regularly. And recognize that moving air can really mess with these sensitive devices. A good breeze blowing down on the pan/platform can make it read a grain or more pressure, and that’s not powder mass it’s registering.

In short, keep scales clean, gunkfree, leveled, balanced and calm.