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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone know if it's possible to convert an older MEC press from the old style (orange) wad guide fingers to the newer (black) fingers? I ask because I just replaced a worn set with the only spare I have and, in trying to order a replacement, I'm finding that the old style ones seem to be out of stock everywhere.

This is on an older Grabber (761R) - the part number for the wad fingers is 453P12. I think I got the last spare from MEC, but they don't seem to have the guide for 12 gauge anymore. The newer style uses a fixture that clamps onto the vertical rod and the guide drops into a slot in that. Seems like you could swap the old style guide holder for the new with just a couple of parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Excellent - thanks very much!

That appears to be the correct part for a single stage machine - 600 Jr. or Sizemaster - does not appear that it would work on a progressive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
That's very kind of you, Joe. If you can spare one of the orange 12 gauge units, that would be awesome.

But let me get back to you, because I ordered the little clamp from MEC that attaches to the vertical rod and one of the new style wad fingers and I'm going to see if I can just convert my Grabber that way. It seems like it should work, because I'm sure the vertical rod is in the same place on the press and so is the station where the wad gets dropped. If I remove the old fixture that holds the metal socket in which the plastic wad fingers sit, I can't think of any reason why I can't put the new clamp fixture on and adjust it to work.

But if that doesn't work, I will be in touch!

Thanks again,
Pete
 

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Kinda crappy of MEC to do that, discontinue a constantly replaced cheap item forcing you to update it at a $20 cost. Lots of older machines out there still in use.
Really, how hard could it be to continue production?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Kinda crappy of MEC to do that, discontinue a constantly replaced cheap item forcing you to update it at a $20 cost. Lots of older machines out there still in use.
Really, how hard could it be to continue production?
Got to agree with that - you could make them with a 3D printer and the fingers seem to be available in every gauge but 12...
Will report back on the efficacy of replacing the old unit with the clip ($6.52) and new-style fingers ($3.90).

Pete
 

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The new wad guides have been out for how long, 30 years? They have been making the old ones available all this time? And the new style mounts fine. I would say that was outstanding parts service for a 10 year old $50,000 car, let alone a press that does not cost much.

I think the new wad guide design actually works better, and resists being damaged better. The new "spindex" floating crimp starter works better than the old brass one on plastic hulls too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The new wad guides have been out for how long, 30 years? They have been making the old ones available all this time? And the new style mounts fine. I would say that was outstanding parts service for a 10 year old $50,000 car, let alone a press that does not cost much.

I think the new wad guide design actually works better, and resists being damaged better. The new "spindex" floating crimp starter works better than the old brass one on plastic hulls too.
No argument with any of that, Leo - I think MEC is a great company and I appreciate their commitment to continually improving their products while providing outstanding parts service for their older models. Glad to know that the new style wad guide should mount on my ancient machine - I'm enthusiastic about that.

If there was no demand for the old-style wad guides, I would agree that expecting MEC to continue to make them would be unreasonable, but since there seems to be a healthy market for them and the things cost pennies to make and then sell for about $4 each, it strikes me as a good item to keep in the lineup!

Just my two cents.
 

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The new ones suck. In certain cases you don't get enough room to insert the wad. Soooooooooo..........If you relieve the part where the clamp grabs it, (cut 1/8 inch or a little more off the bottom) The wad guide will ride at a lower level, allowing easy wad insertion. If you cut too much off the hulls won't clear, so pay attention.
Problem solved. I did consider grinding the bottom of the metal clamp, but this was easier.
If you are lazy, you can simply remove the little c clip from the rod and position the guide to your liking.

HM
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
UPDATE!!

Got the parts from MEC this afternoon after ordering them online on Sunday. They filled the order on Monday (impressive, since it was a holiday) and shipped on Tuesday, Priority Mail.

The conversion/update works perfectly and the changeout was simple: loosen the set screw in the old wad guide bracket, loosen the locking screw at the yoke on the bottom, remove the two circlips in the middle of the rod. Tilt the powder and shot bottles and remove the drop tubes. Back the rod out of the shell-lifter yoke, then thread the locking nut off the end of the rod. Remove the two screws holding the drop tube bracket and slide the rod upward while sliding the old wad guide bracket off the end. Replace the drop tube bracket and the two screws that secure it, then thread the lock nut back on to the end of the rod. Then, while holding the shell lifter yoke in position, thread the rod back into the yoke, replace the drop tubes and pivot the powder and shot bottles back into position. It's a good idea to adjust the shell lifter before attaching the new wad guide to the rod - with the handle all the way up, the top of the shell-lifter should be flush with the top of the collet or just a tiny bit higher. Once the shell lifter is the right height, you can clamp the new wad guide bracket onto the rod. The bottom of the wad guide bracket on mine rests on top of the circlip in the middle of the rod - I don't know if that's by design, but it's a handy benchmark for the height.

Anyway, if you have an ancient MEC progressive like mine (Grabber 761R) and have been frustrated by trying to find replacement wad guide fingers, take heart: for a little more than the cost of a replacement set of old-style fingers (if you can find them), you can update your machine to the new style wad guide bracket and a set of the new wad guide fingers and be able to buy replacement wad guides locally or directly from MEC or another online retailer from then on. My cost for the two parts needed before shipping was $10.42.
 

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Slightly different topic but I also like the old style sizing rings as opposed tot he newer collet type. Sizing rings just worked & never broke but collets due break & not cheap to replace compared to the rings. I have both styles here but like older style better but then too I am also old.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Slightly different topic but I also like the old style sizing rings as opposed tot he newer collet type. Sizing rings just worked & never broke but collets due break & not cheap to replace compared to the rings. I have both styles here but like older style better but then too I am also old.
Agreed - I felt very fortunate to find a reasonably priced replacement collet for my Grabber when one of the fingers broke. Too bad they are so hard to find and expensive.
 

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When I purchased a used MEC 650 several years back, the metal wad fingers looked to have been oxidized and were kaput. Fortunately a local club had the new style 12 ga wads in stock & an older member walked me through the process.

Every time I see the metal wad fingers, I smile thinking about how years ago my obnoxious bratty sister managed to stick her finger into a 28 ga reloader's wad holder. Yup. She wasn't going anywhere and raised a stink. Thankfully they figured out a way to free the princess from her finger trap. Good times.
 
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