How to Lubricate a Reloading Press

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Cleaning and maintaining your reloading press is a critical part of the entire hobby. Even the best reloading press will eventually start to break down and require a little attention after a while, and especially if you use it frequently. In this guide, we’ll break down how to properly lubricate your reloading press.

Lubrication fulfills a vital part of reloading press operation and maintenance and will help extend the life span of your press for many years to come.

Some Great Lubricants for Your Reloading Press

White Lithium Grease

This is an all-purpose lubricant that’s perfect for metal to metal applications. It’s a great choice for use with your reloading press because it can withstand moisture and high-speeds, and it’ll protect your metal surfaces from rust. It’s also non-toxic, so it’s a good choice if you have kids that frequently come into your garage.

3 in 1

While it’s supposed to be a garage door lubricant, it also works quite well for your reloading press. It dries very quickly and can be applied via the spray bottle that comes with the purchase. It even comes with a smart straw nozzle to help you apply the lubricant in tight areas without making a mess. Rust and corrosion protection are included in its formula.

Tri-Flow

This lubricant is made with special additives that can prevent rust and corrosion and which displaces moisture. It provides fantastic lubrication even under extreme temperatures and humidity, so it might be a good choice if you live in a place that has really humid summers.

What is Reloading Press Lubricant Used For?

Whether you have one of the simpler reloading presses on the market or a truly advanced piece of equipment that can reload multiple cases at once, you’ll need to eventually clean and care for the press if you want it to last over the long-term. Merely wiping down your reloading press isn’t normally enough to fully clean the machinery and ensure it stays in tip-top condition.

Reloading press lubricant (note that this is different from the lubricant you would use for your brass casings) is a lubricant used in conjunction with regular cleaning methods. In many cases, you can use the same lubricant you would use for your brass casings or other all-purpose lubricants for the press itself.

Like with all machinery, lubricant makes it easier for different metal pieces to glide past one another and prevents jams for other breakings from occurring. A reloading press usually has multiple moving parts that have to work simultaneously in order to fully reload a brass casing. Making sure that all these metal parts move smoothly without catching on one another is critical for proper reloading press operation.

It’s always a good idea to lubricate your reloading press every time you thoroughly clean it. This is also more often than many beginner gun reloaders realize when they purchase their first kit.

As you resize your brass, lubricant and tiny shards of brass and of everywhere both on the machinery and in the nooks and crannies between different metal parts. This means that your shell holders, seating plugs, and any other accessories or equipment can get gunked up with brass shavings, residue from powder, and dried lubricant from the brass lubricants you use most often. The resulting sludge not only smells bad, but can impact the performance of the press over the long-term.

All in all, it’s a great idea to lubricate and clean your reloading press every 300 to 500 casings, although you shouldn’t be afraid to lubricate more often if necessary. It’s a lot easier to lubricate more frequently if you have a basic single stage press, as you can lubricate various parts without taking the whole thing apart. However, more advanced presses will require a more in-depth cleaning session, so you might fully clean those a little less frequently.

Preparation

How do you prepare to lubricate your reloading press? In much the same way that you would lubricate any other piece of machinery.

First and foremost, make sure that the reloading press is not currently being used to resize any brass or for any other part of the reloading process. Get rid of any brass casings and other accessory components, as well as any powder or any other materials. Take them off the press and store everything away from the worktable. This will prevent you from accidentally getting lubricant on other parts or in your gunpowder: a particularly bad mistake that can affect the powder once you put it into a casing.

Next, you’ll want to put gloves on your hands. These gloves can be thicker or thinner, but we would recommend going with thin gloves that allow you to use most of the dexterity of your fingers for easy operation. Disposable plastic gloves are a great idea, especially since they’ll let you see the grease on your fingers as you work.

Next, you’ll need your lubricant. Many reloading press owners use the same lubricant they use for their brass casings if they come in a spray bottle or can otherwise be easily applied to the reloading press mechanisms. Brass casing lubricant that is on a pad obviously can’t be used to lubricate your reloading press. We’ll go over some excellent lubricants for your press later in this guide.

Finally, make sure you have several cleaning supplies on hand before you begin lubricating. The cleaning supplies can vary depending on your needs, but we would recommend having several clean Q-tips and a clean washcloth on hand. Both of these cleaning implements will allow you to spread the lubricant everywhere through the reloading press, especially in hard-to-reach or narrow areas where you wouldn’t want to put your fingers or where the washcloth won’t fit.

You must have a clean washcloth rather than one already dirtied from grease or other elements. This is so you can make sure you are making progress as you clean and so you don’t spread grease throughout the press.

Lubrication Walkthrough

Before you lubricate anything, take the cloth that we mentioned earlier and fully wipe down your reloading press. This means scrubbing the exterior and interior of the press to your best ability. Warm water usually does the trick for the majority of general dirt and other stains, although you may need a little bit of soap if you want to get rid of grease.

You don’t want to use too much soap, however, as that chemical is abrasive and can cause damage to either the aesthetic of the reloading press or damage the metal itself. Wiping down the reloading press beforehand is important so that you get rid of any bigger brass casing shards and any excess grease before lubricating things properly.

Pivoting Pins

First off, regardless of the exact type of reloading press you have, chances are you have several pivoting pins that allow the main arm of the press to move up and down. These pins are normally located on opposite sides of one another and are also hollow. While this allows them to work well with the rest of the press, it also makes them vulnerable to grease and other gunk building up over time.

So you’ll definitely want to take care of those. You should use the Q-tip and apply lubricant over one of its surfaces and try to lubricate the interior of those pins. Get around the edge of the pins as well, fully lubricating the entire area to make sure that they operate as smoothly as possible. You should be able to feel the difference almost immediately after applying the lubricant.

You can alternatively use a needle and soak the tip in grease. Push the needle fully through the arm pins until grease comes out the other side. This tells you that the passageway is clear and you have fully lubricated the area.

The Arm

You’ll next want to move to the actual arm itself. Find the pivoting centers or other gears and fully lubricate their edges and sides. It doesn’t matter if you manage to take the lubricant particularly deep into the arm parts; some lubricant will leak into the interior of the mechanism and will facilitate better maneuvering.

Don’t worry about getting lubricant everywhere at this point. It’s better to use a little too much than it is to use too little. You can also use the washcloth we talked about earlier to clean up any excess lubricants.

Any pivoting points on the arm should be given a similar treatment. Soak one of the Q-tips in grease or another lubricant and thoroughly apply the lubricant to the pivoting points. Be sure to move any levers or other movable parts for your particular reloading press around so everything is lubricated equally. It’s difficult to talk about the specifics of a reloading press (since we don’t know what press you have), but these general concepts should still apply.

The Ram

Next, pay specific attention to the reloading press ram. What you don’t want to do is get greasy deep into the interior of the ram but instead apply the grease or lubricant to the exterior of this part. This will lubricate the sides of the ram and allow it to move back and forth more smoothly once it’s engaged with the rest of the press.

Naturally, you’ll also want to lubricate the interior of the ram holder or slot. This is usually sized specifically for the ram and shouldn’t be hard to find. Again, try not to pile too much grease or lubricant such that when you place the ram back into the slot a bunch of grease wells up into the interior of the cylinder. This can make things dirty and eventually gunk up the press. The key is to lubricate only the parts of the components that physically come into contact with other metal of the press. You can use your finger to lubricate the ram holder in most cases.

Other Parts

When it comes to your indexing rods or similar components, you should also think about lubricating these every time you thoroughly clean your press. Lubricating these is pretty easy once you remove them from the press.

Place a liquid lubricant, either from a can or bottle, and draw a small line of the lubricant along the length of each piece. Then you can simply place a bushing of your choice on to the indexing rod and slide it up and down. This will lubricate both the bushing and the indexing rod at the same time. It also saves you a Q-tip.

Die and Turret

Next, coat the interior of your press housing (the circular turret style opening at the center of most presses) with lubricant using your finger or a washcloth with lubricant applied. Then you can apply the same lubricant to be the die set you use with the press. The key is to lubricate the edge of your die set, especially at the circular sides will be rubbing against the turret circle we mentioned above.

Again, this helps to make sure that all the metal parts moved smoothly against one another instead of grinding or stopping your press efforts. Feel free to lubricate the dies as well, but don’t overdo it. If you make things too slippery, you can make it harder to use the press. Or you can accidentally spread lubricant into the nooks and crannies of the press where it’ll build up over time. You’ll have to clean things all over again.

Conclusion

As you can see, lubricating your reloading press isn’t as difficult or intensive as you may have thought. It can usually be accomplished while you undergo standard cleaning of the press, which is a habit you should already have picked up if you’ve taken up the reloading hobby seriously. Maintaining a good lubrication technique and regimen will ensure that you can enjoy your reloading press for a long time to come.

We hope this guide has been helpful. Thanks for reading, and check out our other guides if you want more advice about the reloading process or firearms in general.

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