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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Perhaps I should just PM Charlie, since he's been in a few more factories than I have (only one, no tour, and only saw the case and assembly machines anyway).

Seems to me that there should be room for some venture capital to just buy two machines and start cranking them out, large and small, and selling absolutely every piece made.

Then there's the idea of doing to primer manufacturing what Dillon did to progressive reloaders and Glock did to the manufacture of handheld bullet-launchers. Maybe it's time for new thinking and a re-design of the whole systems. I'm sure CCI, Fed, Rem, and Win use all use machines that are substantially identical. Maybe even the Euro- and Mexi- exporters, too?

Plenty of remote land left here where zoning would not be a problem, either.
 

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Of all the components we use with our guns, primers are the only parts that could be classified as "high explosives."
Knowing about the delicacy and brisance of primer mixtures tells me that I don't want to get involved in making any. I'd rather not suffer a "KaBoom" in my basement workshop. Or anywhere else, for that matter. I like having all my fingers, too.

That said, there used to be a gadget with which one could make one's own percussion caps. The process required aluminum beer- or soft-drink-can metal, from which the caps were formed. But then one had to punch-out the pellets from a cap-gun tape of caps, and insert each one into one of his newly-formed percussion caps. So the issue of delicacy and brisance was neatly side-stepped.
Besides, cap-gun caps are much less explosive than cartridge-priming mixtures.
 

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Two machines wouldn't even be a start

First you would need big punch presses to form cups and anvils and then a machine to wash and degrease them.

I have been in all the plants and all do it virtually the same way.

You would need som remote facility where the synthesis of lead styphnate can be done and primer mix made. It is done in small batches and only one pound at a time is allowed in the plant.

Everyone uses a plate loading process. The primer mix goes to a room that is designed to blow out away from the plant. A lone operator fills each plate with mix and passes it through a hole in the wall to the rest of the process. The work is done on a marble slab with a constant flow of water across it. Mix is relatively stable when wet. The operator takes a ball of mix and, using a rubber squeegie spreads the mix evenly into the holes.
Picture a bunch of 8x10 stainless steel plates with 1000 primer sized holes. There is one for the empty cups, primer mix, and anvils. The plate with the mix is placed atop one with cups and a machine with a bunch of little rods pushes the mix into the cup.

Then in a process called "booking" a plate with anvils is placed over the cups. In some plants this is done manually and it looks much like closing the pages of a book. Others use a machine much like the one that filled the cups. The anvils are then seated and the primer is done.

The work is done in "U" shaped cells with stations for each operation with an inspection as the final step before packaging.

All the plants do it virtually the same way. I have been told that attempts to automate the process have failed. It is very labor intensive. Primer cells are almost always staffed by women who- I was told- have more patience and better dexterity than men
 

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Rob, this might be the answer.
"The operator takes a ball of mix and, using a rubber squeegie spreads the mix evenly into the holes. Picture a bunch of 8x10 stainless steel plates with 1000 primer sized holes. There is one for the empty cups, primer mix, and anvils. The plate with the mix is placed atop one with cups and a machine with a bunch of little rods pushes the mix into the cup."
It's something that would better explained visually. I remember seeing this done at the old Hercules plant here in Port Ewen when they made blasting caps..
 

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Charlie wrote: Primer cells are almost always staffed by women who- I was told- have more patience and better dexterity than men

I remember hearing the same thing when I toured the Redfield factory in '75 in Denver. They only hired women for the process of placing reticles in the scopes.

Thanks for the description, Charlie. I had always wondered about it.
 

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Other than the diameter and depth of the hole it is dependent on the skill of the operator. I've watched a number of people doing it and there is an obvious technique. Speed is an issue too because of the assembly line nature of the process. I have been told that QC measures the weight of pellets to the nearest milligram and "grades" the worker. I've never timed it but would guess that it only takes 30 seconds or so to fill a plate.
 

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Charlie, I knew a guy who used to work at Federal and he said it got real exciting one day when there was an explosion a foot came flying through the lunch room window.

When you walk through those places you kind of get a feeling/ask yourself if you are going to get out of there alive. Those blast proof rooms are not much bigger than a phone booth as they don't want to lose everyone through the mistake or misfortune of another.

Actually we are quite blessed that folks will do that work in order for us to have a hobby and national defense possibility.

Women are the best ammo plant workers because they can do the same old shit day in and day out and never lose interest. Guys would go off the deep end quick. I guess that is why they never get tired of nagging and bitching as they don't mind hearing it again and again and again.
 

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Charlie - I was once told but don't know if it was true that the primer work was done in a room with standing water on the floor and rubber mats for the workers to stand on to eliminate static. In your visits to the plants did you ever see anything like this or is it just another urban myth?
 

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No that is correct. Primer mix is relatively stable when wet so keeping the humidity up in the room is prudent.

Primer mix has the consistency of modeling clay or play dough and is light green in color. The wet mix is kept is a rubber bowl and the operator, who wears rubber gloves, pinches off enough to fill a plate and any excess is returned to the bowl- or the operator adds to the amount in his hand and fills another. It is really neat to watch.
 

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Charley, sense primer compound is worked wet or at leasted damp, would primers that have been store in a damp basement them allowed to dry be OK or would there be miss fires? I have come into position of several K is several sizes and was wondering if they are or might be any good.
Thanks
Steve
 

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Youtube video of a guy using white match tips to make primer compound! Believe it or not about two years ago a guy at the club did the same thing and they work for his 45's.


I do not recommend do this however. Use the factory stuff until you can no longer get them!

Terry
 

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I worked at a place that made detonators for military stuff and it was almost completely staffed by old women. There was guys in the machine shop, and shipping, but other than that, it was mostly women. Well, doing the production stuff anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Charlie Petty said:
Two machines wouldn't even be a start

First you would need big punch presses to form cups and anvils and then a machine to wash and degrease them.
Well, I was hoping that that particular task could be subcontracted out to any number of sheet metal fabricators.

Thank you for your thorough and informative response. Sounds like primer assembly has hardly changed since the days of my first source, Phil Sharpe. Gonna have to ask my Dad if he ever met the guy... Cooper, yes, probably Keith and maybe even McGivern...and cruise missiles when they were still classified...

Anyway, I still wonder if it's not time for a re-thinking of the process and making perhaps a lower-volume production unit. With what happened with LCAAP and the Match ammo (one machine = one lot vs. the last command dictating all four machines = one lot for that day), I wonder how a high-speed, pharmaceutical type single-hole gizmo would work. "Only" one primer per second with six hours running per eight-hour shift = about 21,600 per shift. Only 21-1/2 cartons, 4 cases per day. If profit is, say, 2 cents apiece, that's $432/day, for $56,160 to pay off the machine in 26 weeks.
 

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You are right about Phil Sharpe... it is virtually the same today.

As far as a pill machine goes I don't know how primer mix would respond to being shaped under pressure and you still have to get an anvil in there.

I am not saying that it can't be done, but I do know all four have some bright engineers and if automation was practical I think they would have done it long ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Charlie Petty said:
You are right about Phil Sharpe... it is virtually the same today.

As far as a pill machine goes I don't know how primer mix would respond to being shaped under pressure and you still have to get an anvil in there.

I am not saying that it can't be done, but I do know all four have some bright engineers and if automation was practical I think they would have done it long ago.
Where's ACME when we need them???
 

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Grump said:
...Where's ACME when we need them???
:rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:
 

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Something tells me that the Russians have their own proprietary trade secrets in the mfgr of primers and I say that solely based upon aesthetics e.g. very uniform appearance specimens.

Another primer that sort of threw me for a loop was the Prvi P.
LRP. Upon observation, it "appears" as if there is nothing more than a cup, an anvil and candy apple red coloring at the base of the cup. There has to be putty in them, I just don't know how this mfgr does it with so very little.

:2cents:

Question for Charlie -

Some time ago, I recall seeing those Rem. "electronic", or some such primers (?) I gather that they are used for benchrest applications. Do you know what makes 'em tick ? and out of nothing more than curiosity, are they still being manufactured today ?

BTW -Thanks for your generous sharing of the details.
I found that most interesting.
 
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