Title:
Automatic bullet feeding mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An automatic bullet feeding mechanism for feeding one bullet at a time into a cartridge casing. The bullet feeding mechanism includes a drop tube that is moveably mounted within an outer sleeve. A pair of cooperating catches are operative to engage and hold a stack of bullets within the drop tube and to release one bullet at a time, the released bullet dropping down into the underlying cartridge casing. To actuate the pair of cooperating catches, the cartridge casing to be filled is moved into engagement with the drop tube and moves the drop tube within the outer sleeve. The movement of the drop tube causes an actuator assembly to operate the pair of cooperating latches which in turn results in one bullet from the stack falling through the drop tube into the underlying cartridge casing.



Inventors:
Fowler, Malcolm R. (Angier, NC, US)
Application Number:
09/798308
Publication Date:
09/05/2002
Filing Date:
03/02/2001
Assignee:
FOWLER MALCOLM R.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F42B33/00; (IPC1-7): F42B33/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TUDOR, HAROLD JAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COATS & BENNETT, PLLC (Cary, NC, US)
Claims:
1. An automatic bullet feeding mechanism for feeding one bullet at a time into a cartridge casing, comprising: a. a drop tube having an interior chamber for receiving and holding a stack of bullets, one over the other; b. a lower catch moveably mounted for movement back and forth between an engaged position and a disengaged position; c. in the engaged position the lower catch engaging and supporting the lowermost bullet, and in the disengaged position the lower catch assumes a position that enables the lowermost bullet to fall past the lower catch; d. the lower catch forming a part of a lever arm that is pivotally mounted exteriorly of the drop tube and moveable back and forth adjacent the outside of the drop tube, and wherein the lower catch extends from a lever arm and moves through an opening formed in the drop tube as the lower catch moves between the engaged and disengaged positions; e. an upper catch for selectively engaging and holding a bullet disposed above the lowermost bullet of the stack when the lower catch assumes the disengaged position; f. an interconnecting linkage operatively connecting the lower catch with the upper catch for moving the two catches in unison such that as the lower catch is moved from the engaged position towards the disengaged position the upper catch is moved towards the engaged position; g. an actuator assembly for actuating said first and second catches in response to a cartridge casing being moved into a position for receiving a bullet from the bullet feeding mechanism; and h. the actuator assembly including a fixed member fixed relative to the upper and lower catches and a connector attached to the lever arm and moveably engaged with the fixed member and moveable along the fixed member which results in the lever arm moving back and forth and the upper and lower catches moving between the engaged and disengaged positions.

2. The automatic bullet feeding mechanism of claim 1 wherein the drop tube is moveable up and down and is operative to cause the actuator assembly to actuate said first and second catches in response to the cartridge casing engaging the drop tube and moving the drop tube.

3. The automatic bullet feeding mechanism of claim 2 wherein the drop tube is driven up by the cartridge casing being moved into a position to receive a bullet from the automatic bullet feeding mechanism.

4. The automatic bullet feeding mechanism of claim 1 wherein the drop tube is moveably supported on a base and extends through a portion of the base and is further moveably mounted for movement up and down with respect to the base; and wherein the drop tube is adapted to be engaged by a cartridge casing such that the engagement results in the drop tube being moved with respect to the base resulting in the actuator assembly actuating the first and second catches.

5. The automatic bullet feeding mechanism of claim 1 wherein the drop tube for receiving and holding the stack of bullets is axially moveable and wherein the actuator assembly is operative to actuate the first and second catches in response to the drop tube axially moving.

6. The automatic bullet feeding mechanism of claim 1 wherein the drop tube is axially moveable within an outer sleeve and includes a terminal end that is engageable by the cartridge casing and wherein the drop tube is operative to move in response to the cartridge casing engaging the same; and wherein the actuator assembly is operative to actuate the first and second catches in response to the drop tube moving within the outer sleeve.

7. A method of automatically feeding one bullet at a time from a drop tube into a cartridge casing comprising: a. holding a stack of bullets within the drop tube; b. supporting the lowermost bullet with a moveable catch; c. engaging the drop tube with a cartridge casing to be filled and moving the cartridge casing so as to result in the drop tube being moved; d. moving a connector connected to a lever arm along a member fixed relative to the drop tube as the drop tube is moved; and e. wherein the connector acts to move the lever arm as the connector moves along the fixed member and wherein the lever arm is operative to disengage the lower catch in response to the connector moving along the fixed member and moving the lever arm, whereby the disengagement of the lower catch results in a bullet falling down the drop tube into the underlying cartridge casing.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein the drop tube is moveable within a base and wherein the member fixed relative to the drop tube is fixed to and supported by the base.

9. The method of claim 7 wherein the fixed member includes a rod and wherein the connector extends around the rod and moves along the rod as the drop tube is moved.

10. The method of claim 7 wherein the lever arm and the lower catch form an integral member and wherein the connector is connected to the integral member and extends around the fixed member such that as the drop tube is moved the connector moves along the fixed member and is operative to move the integral member, including the lower catch, back and forth.

11. A cartridge casing reloading machine comprising a rotatable cartridge casing plate for receiving and holding at least one cartridge casing; and a cartridge casing stabilizer mounted adjacent said cartridge casing plate for engaging and stabilizing a cartridge casing carried by the plate as the plate is rotated.

12. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 11 wherein the plate includes at least one seat for receiving a cartridge casing, the seat including a support surface and a wall; and wherein the cartridge casing includes a base and wherein the area of the support surface of the seat is greater than the area of the base of the cartridge casing; and wherein the stabilizer acts to urge the cartridge casing against the wall of the seat as the cartridge casing plate is rotated and as the stabilizer engages the cartridge casing.

13. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 11 wherein the stabilizer extends around only a portion of the rotatable cartridge casing plate.

14. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 13 wherein the stabilizer includes a wire that is supported in the path of the cartridge casing as it rotates with the cartridge casing plate such that the wire engages the cartridge casing during a portion of a cycle of the cartridge casing plate.

15. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 11 wherein the stabilizer includes a member supported adjacent the rotating cartridge casing plate such that the member lies in the path of the cartridge casing as the cartridge casing rotates with the rotatable plate, and wherein the engagement of the member with the cartridge casing stabilizes the cartridge casing.

16. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 11 wherein the stabilizer includes a wire adjacent the rotatable cartridge casing plate for engaging the cartridge casing during at least a portion of the cycle of the rotatable cartridge casing plate.

17. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 16 wherein the wire includes a generally curved segment that engages the cartridge casing as the cartridge casing rotates with the rotatable plate.

18. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 1 including a frame disposed adjacent the rotating cartridge casing plate, and wherein the stabilizer includes a wire secured to the frame and projecting from the frame over at least a portion of the rotating plate such that a portion of the wire engages the cartridge casing as it rotates with the rotating plate.

19. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 16 wherein the rotating plate includes at least one seat for receiving the cartridge casing and wherein the seat includes a support surface and a wall and wherein the wire acts to engage the cartridge casing as it rotates by the wire such that the wire tends to urge the cartridge casing against the wall of the seat underlying the cartridge casing.

20. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 19 wherein the cartridge casing includes a base and wherein the area of the support surface of the seat is greater than the area of the base such that the cartridge casing can move at least slightly within the seat.

21. The cartridge casing reloading machine of claim 11 wherein the cartridge casing stationed on the plate rotates between a first position where a bullet is inserted into the cartridge casing and a second position where the cartridge casing is crimped so as to secure the bullet within the cartridge casing, and wherein the stabilizer is positioned with respect to the rotatable plate such that the cartridge casing is stabilized during a portion of its movement between the first and second position.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to bullet reloading machines and more particularly to an automatic bullet feeding mechanism that may form a part of such reloading machines.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] As pointed out in U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,687, mechanical devices for automatically or semi-automatically reloading spent pistol or rifle shell casings are well known and have been used for many years. Basically, such mechanical reloading devices typically perform a sequence of operations including: depriming of the spent shell casing, repriming of the casing, delivering gunpowder to the reprimed shell casing, inserting a bullet within the shell casing, and mechanically crimping or sealing the upper end of the shell casing once a bullet has been appropriately seated therein.

[0003] In U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,687, there is disclosed an automatic bullet feeding mechanism that is adapted to be used within a reloading machine. This automatic feeding mechanism includes a pair of cooperating catches that are operative to hold a stack of bullets within a stationary drop tube and to release one bullet at a time from the stack. Once released, the bullet falls through the drop tube and into an underlying shell or cartridge casing.

[0004] While this automatic bullet feeding mechanism is operative and generally successful, the manner of driving or actuating the pair of catches may be subject to improvement. Essentially, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,687, in order to actuate the pair of catches, an external member or rod of 24 is employed to engage a portion of a lever arm 100. This rod or member 24 would, of course, be driven up and down into engagement with a portion of the lever arm 100.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The present invention presents an automatic bullet feeding mechanism that is generally actuated by the cartridge casing to be filled. That is, the bullet feeding mechanism is designed such that when the cartridge casing to be filled is brought into engagement with the bullet feeding mechanism, the act of engagement results in a single bullet being released from a stack of bullets, and once released the bullet drops down into the underlying cartridge casing.

[0006] More particularly, the bullet feeding mechanism of the present invention includes an axially moveable drop tube that holds a stack of bullets, one bullet over the other. During the bullet loading operation, the cartridge casing to be loaded is brought into engagement with a terminal end of the drop tube . The bullet casing is then moved into engagement with the terminal end of the drop tube causing the drop tube to be moved. The movement of the drop tube triggers the actuation of an actuator assembly which then causes a single bullet from the stack to be released and this results in the released bullet dropping through the drop tube into the cartridge casing.

[0007] Another aspect of the present invention revolves around a method of feeding one bullet at a time from a bullet feeding mechanism into a cartridge casing. Here the method comprises holding a series of bullets within a drop tube with one bullet stacked over another. The cartridge casing to be filled is moved into engagement with the drop tube holding the bullets and the cartridge casing moves the drop tube causing an actuator assembly to be triggered or actuated. The actuating assembly is operative to in turn actuate a bullet holding and release mechanism that is operative to release one bullet at a time. Once a bullet is released, it drops through the tube into the cartridge casing.

[0008] Further, the present invention entails a cartridge casing reloading machine that includes a moveable cartridge casing plate for receiving and holding at least one cartridge casing. There is provided a stabilizer mounted adjacent the cartridge casing plate for engaging and stabilizing a cartridge casing as it moves with the plate.

[0009] More particularly, the present invention entails a cartridge casing reloading machine of the type that is adapted to dispense a bullet into a cartridge casing and to advance that cartridge casing to a point or position where the cartridge casing is crimped to secure the bullet within the cartridge casing. In one embodiment of the present invention, the stabilizer is mounted with respect to the plate such that the stabilizer engages the cartridge casing and stabilizes the casing as it is being moved toward the position where the casing is crimped to secured the bullet therein.

[0010] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent and obvious from a study of the following description and the accompanying drawings which are merely illustrative of such invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a reloading machine which incorporates the automatic bullet feeding mechanism of the present invention.

[0012] FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the automatic bullet feeding mechanism of the present invention.

[0013] FIG. 3 is a schematic side elevational view of the bullet feeding mechanism of the present invention shown in a non-actuated state.

[0014] FIG. 4 is a schematic side sectional view of the bullet feeding mechanism of the present invention illustrating a cartridge casing initiating the actuation of the bullet feeding mechanism.

[0015] FIG. 5 is a schematic side elevational view of the bullet feeding mechanism of the present invention showing a bullet being dropped toward the underlying cartridge casing.

[0016] FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view of a portion of a cartridge casing reloading machine that includes a rotating plate for holding and advancing cartridge casings through a series of work stations.

[0017] FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the portion of the reloading machine shown in FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0018] Shown in FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical rifle or pistol cartridge reloading machine, generally indicated by the numeral 10. Such cartridge reloading machines 10 typically include a supporting frame structure 12. Attached to the frame structure 12 is a hinged actuating lever arm 14, which is further connected to a movable, central pedestal 16. Disposed atop the pedestal 16 is a rotatably mounted working platform or plate18. Plate 18 includes a series of seats 142 , which are each adapted to receive and hold a series of cartridge casings 42. Positioned in the top of the frame structure 12 and generally above the working platform or plate18 is an upper die plate (not shown). This die plate includes a series of apertures and adapter sleeves 22 fitted therein, where each associated adapter sleeves 22 corresponds to a particular station or reloading operation. More particularly, the five reloading operations include; de-priming of the spent casing, re-priming of the casing, powdering, bullet seating, and crimping of the casing.

[0019] It will be appreciated that during normal operation the working platform 18 is rotated through each of the series of positions, with each position corresponding to a particular reloading station or operation. Each of the previously mentioned upper die plate apertures and associated adapter sleeves 22 is configured to receive and secure a particular instrument or tool that is associated with one of the reloading operations discussed above. For example, one die plate aperture and sleeve 22 is adapted to receive a gunpowder reservoir 26, while another aperture and sleeve 22 is adapted to receive a casing reservoir tube 28.

[0020] Of particular interest is the die plate aperture and sleeve 22 that is adapted to secure a bullet feeding mechanism, generally indicated by the numeral 50, for use in the bullet seating operation. In the case of the adapter sleeve 22 that is used to secure the bullet feeding mechanism 50, it will be appreciated that a set screw (not shown) is employed to insure that the mechanism 50 remains stationary with the sleeve 22 at all times during normal operation. Furthermore, it should be appreciated that the actuating lever 14, when engaged or invoked, is responsible for initiating the various reloading operations at each of the stations described above.

[0021] The above description generally describes the cartridge reloading machine 10 as particularly shown in FIG. 1. General details of the cartridge reloading machine 10 are not dealt with herein in depth because such is not per se material to the present invention, and because basic cartridge reloading technology is well known and understood by those skilled in the art. Further, cartridge reloading equipment of the general type shown in FIG. 1 and discussed above are commercially available and are manufactured by various manufacturers, including Lee, Inc. For a more complete and unified understanding of cartridge reloading machines, one is referred to the disclosures found in the following U.S. Pat. Nos.: 5,313,869; 5,763,810; 3,610,090; 5,179,243 and 4,331,063. All of these disclosures are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

[0022] Now turning to FIGS. 2-5, the automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50 is shown therein. As will be discussed hereafter, the automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50 is designed to be incorporated into the reloading machine 10 shown in FIG. 1 and is operative to dispense one bullet at a time into a cartridge casing 42 that typically would be supported on platform 18 that also forms a part of the reloading machine 10. The automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50 is similar in many respects to the automatic bullet feeding mechanism disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,687. This disclosure is expressly incorporated herein by reference. However, as discussed below, there are differences in the structure and operation of the automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50 disclosed herein. As will be appreciated from subsequent portions of this disclosure, the bullet feeding mechanism 50, shown in FIGS. 2-5, is basically actuated by a cartridge casing 42 being brought into engagement with the bullet feeding mechanism 50. As will be appreciated from the following disclosure, the cartridge casing 42 is moved into engagement with a drop tube 52 that forms a part of the automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50 and the movement of the drop tube 52 by the cartridge casing 42 causes the bullet feeding mechanism to be actuated, resulting in one bullet B being released from a stack of bullets within the drop tube and dropping into the underlying cartridge casing 42.

[0023] Turning now to a more detailed discussion of the automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50, it is seen that the same includes an elongated drop tube 52. As seen in the drawings, particularly FIGS. 3-5, the drop tube 52 is elongated and includes a bullet holding area 52a. As seen in the drawings, a series of bullets B are normally stacked one over the other and held within the bullet holding area 52c, about the upper portion of the drop tube 52. As viewed in FIGS. 3-5, it is noted that the drop tube 52 includes a lower terminal end 52b.

[0024] Drop tube 52 is movably mounted within a base indicated generally by the numeral 60. As will be appreciated from subsequent portions of this disclosure, drop tube 52 is axially movable up and down, as viewed in FIGS. 3-5, with respect to the base 60. The base 60 in the embodiment illustrated herein comprises an outer sleeve or adapter 62. The term “adapter” is used to describe the base or outer sleeve because it is adapted to be received or held within one of the adapter sleeves. Outer sleeve 62 includes a lower terminal end 64 and a collar 66, extending around the upper portion of the outer sleeve 62. Formed about the exterior of the outer sleeve 62, is a threaded portion 68, that enables the entire automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50 to be secured within one of the adapter sleeves of the reloading machine 10. As pointed out above, drop tube 52 is axially movable within the outer sleeve 62. Thus, the outside diameter of drop tube 52 is slightly less than the inside diameter of outer sleeve 62. This permits drop tube 52 to fit snugly and securely within the outer sleeve 62 but, at the same time, permits drop tube 52 to move in an axial direction up and down within the outer sleeve 62.

[0025] The automatic bullet feeding mechanism includes a pair of cooperating catches that are associated with drop tube 52 and which essentially control the dispensing of the bullets B from the automatic bullet feeding mechanism 50. In particular, the upper catch 70 and lower catch 72 cooperate to dispense one bullet B at a time from the drop tube 52. As seen in FIGS. 3-5, the lower catch 72 is adapted to extend through an opening within drop tube drop tube 52 and under the lower most bullet B the remaining bullets B of the stack lie over and are supported by the lower-most bullet B and the underlying lower catch 72. Upper catch 70, on the other hand, is designed to engage and hold the bullet B overlying the lower most bullet when the lower catch 72 is retracted so as to permit the lower most bullet to fall downwardly through the drop tube 52 as particularly illustrated in FIG. 5.

[0026] As illustrated in FIGS. 3-5, lower catch 72 is formed about the lower end of a lever arm 74 that is carried by the drop tube 52. Lever arm 74 is pivotally mounted between a pair of hinged tabs 76 that are, in turn, secured to the drop tube 52. A hinge pin 78 extends through the hinged tabs 76 and the lever arm 74 and thereby permits the lever arm 74 to swing back and forth between the positions shown in FIGS. 3 and 5. The lever arm 74 and the lower catch 72 are biased toward an engaged position by a spring 80, shown in FIG. 2. Various types of springs can be utilized to bias the lever arm 74 toward the position shown in FIG. 3. However, in the case of the present embodiment, a lightweight coil spring simply extends around the lever arm 74 and around the drop tube 52.

[0027] Turning to the upper catch 70, it is seen that the same is disposed within a holding sleeve 90. Within the holding sleeve 90, upper catch 70 can move back and forth. An elongated opening 92 is provided within the drop tube 52 adjacent the holding sleeve 90. This elongated opening 92 enables the upper catch 70 to move into the bullet holding area 52a of the drop tube 52. Holding sleeve 90 is mounted on a carrier plate 94 that is adjustable up and down along side the drop tube 52. A screw 96 is provided for securing the carrier plate 94 to the outside of the drop tube 52. Note however, that the carrier plate 94 includes an elongated opening or slot that enables the carrier plate 94 and the holding sleeve 90 to be adjusted upwardly and downwardly, as viewed in FIGS. 3-5, with respect to the drop tube 52. Since there is provided an elongated opening 92 in the side wall of the drop tube 52, it follows that the upper catch 70 can be inserted within the bullet holding and receiving area 52a at various positions along the drop tube 52. In fact, the adjustment provided for by the screw 96 and the adjustable nature of the carrier plate 94 and holding sleeve 90 enable the distance between the upper and lower catches 70, 72 to be adjusted. This enables the bullet feeding mechanism 50 of the present invention to accommodate different sizes or calibers of bullets.

[0028] Upper and lower catches 70, 72 are effectively interconnected by an interconnecting linkage 100. This enables the upper and lower catches 70, 72 to act in unison. The inner-connecting linkage 100, as particularly illustrated in FIG. 2, includes a connecting link 102 that extends from lever aim 74 to the upper catch 72. Note in FIG. 2 that the connection between the lever arm 74 and the connecting link 102 entails a pivot connection. That is, the connecting link 102 is pivotally connected to the lever arm 74. The opposite end of the connecting link 102 includes an end portion that is connected to a connecting block 104. Although not shown, connecting block 104 would preferably include an engagement screw that would enable the connecting link 102 to an adjustably connected at various points to the connecting block 104. Therefore, as seen in FIGS. 3-5, as the lever arm 74 is rotated counter-clockwise, the lower catch 72 is moved to the engaged position where it underlies and supports the lower-most bullet B. At the same time, the connecting link 102 causes the upper catch 70 to be moved from the disengaged position to an engaged position with the bullet B overlying the lower-most bullet and the stack.

[0029] To actuate the upper and lower catches 70, 72, there is provided an actuator assembly indicated generally by the numeral 110. Actuator assembly 110 includes a fixed member 112 that, in the case of the present embodiment, extends upwardly and at an angle from the collar 66 secured to outer sleeve 52. In addition, the actuator assembly 110 includes a connector 114 that is secured to the lever arm 74 and extends therefrom where the connector extends around the fixed member 112. Thus, as the drop tube 52 moves upwardly, as viewed in FIGS. 3-5, the connector 114 tends to ride up the fixed member 112 and consequently causes the lever arm 74 to be moved or rotated in a counterclockwise fashion as viewed in FIGS. 3-5. In some respects, the fixed member 112 and connector 114 can be compared or analygized to a cam and cam follower. In such a case, the fixed member 112 functions as a cam while the connection 114 functions as a cam follower. In any event, as viewed in FIGS. 3-5, it is seen where the actuation or movement of the drop tube 52 results in the connector 114 riding up the fixed member 112 and, in turn, causing the lever arm 74 to be rotated counterclockwise. This results in the simultaneous actuation of the upper and lower catches 70, 72. Again, as thoroughly discussed in my earlier patent, U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,687, the simultaneous actuation of the catches 70, 72 results in the upper catch 70 engaging and holding the bullet B that lies over the lower-most bullet B when the lower catch 72 is moved to a disengaged position so as to allow the lower-most bullet B to drop into the underlying cartridge casing.

[0030] In the present invention, the drop tube 52 is actuated by a cartridge casing 42. In fact, the drop tube 52 is actuated by the very cartridge casing to be filled with a bullet B. As already discussed the cartridge casings 42 to be filled are normally disposed on a platform 18 that forms a part of a bullet reloading machine. As the bullet reloading machine is sequenced through various operating steps, the platform 18 rotates and one cartridge casing 42 at a time is aligned with the bullet feeding mechanism 50. In particular, the cartridge casing 42 to be filled is aligned with the drop tube 52 of the bullet feeding mechanism 50. Once this alignment occurs, the platform 18 is moved upwardly and, as shown in FIGS. 3-5, the upper portion of the cartridge casing 42 aligns with and engages the lower terminal end 52b of the drop tube 52. The continued upward movement of the platform 18 results in the cartridge casing 42 pushing the drop tube 52 upwardly. As the cartridge casing 42 moves upwardly, it is seen that at least a part of the upper portion of the cartridge casing 42 moves into the lower terminal end 64 of the outer sleeve 62. In this process, as discussed above, the upward axial movement of the drop tube 52 results in the actuator assembly 110 being actuated or triggered. Again, this results in the simultaneous actuation of the upper and lower catches 70, 72 which results in one bullet B at a time being dispensed into the cartridge casing 42 disposed at the terminal end of the drop tube 52.

[0031] Once the cartridge casing 42 has received the bullet B, then the platform 18 is rotated to where another cartridge casing 42 is appropriately aligned with the bullet feeding mechanism 50. Thereafter, the process continues as described above.

[0032] Now turning to FIGS. 6 and 7, a portion of the reloading machine 10, or viewed in FIG. 1, as shown therein. Basically, the portion of the reloading machine 10 shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 relates to the working platform or plate 18 that is, in the case of the present embodiment, rotatably mounted within a frame structure 140. As discussed herein above, the rotating plate 18 is adapted to receive a series of cartridge casings 42 and by rotating the plate 18 these cartridge casings are incrementally advanced through one or more working stations. For example, at one point in the cycle of the plate, a cartridge casing 42 is delivered onto a seat indicated generally by the numeral 142 formed in the plate 18. Once positioned on the plate 18, the plate is rotated to a position or point where a bullet B is dropped by the bullet feed mechanism 50 into the cartridge casing 42. From that work station or that point, the same cartridge casing is advanced by the rotation of the plate 18, to another station where the cartridge casing 42 is crimped so as to secure the bullet B within the cartridge casing 42. Thereafter the cartridge casing and bullet B are further advanced by the rotation or cycling of the plate 18. As used herein, the term “cycle” means one complete revolution of the plate 18. It should be pointed out, that any number of functions can be performed at certain positions about the rotating plate 18. For purposes of the present discussion, the key functions of concern relate to feeding a bullet B into the cartridge casing 42 and subsequently crimping the cartridge casing 42 to secure the bullet B therein. As will be more fully appreciated from subsequent portions of this disclosure, one aspect of the present invention deals with stabilizing the cartridge casing 42 and the bullet B therein as the cartridge casing and bullet is advanced from the position where the bullet is dropped into the cartridge casing to the position where the cartridge casing is crimped to secure the bullet B within the cartridge casing 42. In other words, as the cartridge casing 42 and bullet B advance from the bullet drop station to the crimp station, it is possible that the bullet B can fall out of the cartridge casing 42 due to the movement of the cartridge casing. Therefore, the present invention entails a stabilizer indicated generally by the numeral 150 which is operative to engage the cartridge casing 42 during at least a portion of the cycle of the plate 18 and stabilize that cartridge casing as it is advanced or moved by the plate 18.

[0033] Referring back to the plate 18, as noted above, the plate 18 includes a series of circumferentially-spaced seats indicated generally by the numeral 142. Each seat 142 includes a lower support surface 144 and a surrounding wall 146. As seen in the drawings, particularly FIGS. 6 and 7, each cartridge casing 42 includes a base or lower portion, and it is seen that the area of the support surface 144 is greater than the area of the base of the cartridge casing 42. This means that the cartridge casing 42 can move or slide within the respective seats 142.

[0034] To stabilize the respective cartridge casings 42 as they move with the rotating plate 18, the stabilizer 150 is mounted to the frame 140 and projects into the path of the respective cartridge casings 42. In the embodiment illustrated herein, the stabilizer 150 engages a respective cartridge casing 42 during only a portion of its circular movement with the rotating plate 18. In other words, the stabilizer 150 only engages and stabilizes a respective cartridge casing 42 during a portion of the cycle of the rotating plate 18.

[0035] Viewing the stabilizer 150 in more detail, it is seen that the same includes a wire. About one end of the wire is formed a curl 152 and there is provided a screw 154 that extends downwardly through the curl 152 into the frame 140. This secures the stabilizer 150 to the frame 140. The wire that forms the stabilizer 150, in this embodiment, includes a support segment 156 and a stabilizer segment 158. Note that the support segment 156 extends from the curl 152 a selected distance. Then the wire makes an approximate 180 degree turn and the stabilizer segment 158 extends from the 180 degree turn. Note where the stabilizer segment 158 extends over a portion of the rotating plate 18, as particularly seen in FIG. 7.

[0036] As seen in FIG. 7, at about the four o'clock position, a bullet B is dropped or inserted into the cartridge casing 42. As the plate 18 rotates, the terminal end of the stabilizer segment 158 engages the cartridge casing 42. As the plate 18 rotates, clockwise as viewed in FIG. 7, the cartridge casing slides along the outside of the stabilizer segment 158 of the wire. As the cartridge casing 42 is advanced towards the six o'clock position, it is seen that the stabilizer segment 158 of the wire tends to push the cartridge casing 42 inwardly to where it engages the sidewall 146 of the respective seat 142. Thus, the cartridge casing is generally stabilized since the stabilizer segment 158 tends to push the cartridge casing 42 into engagement with the wall 146 of the seat 142. At some point while the cartridge casing 42 is stabilized, the cartridge casing and bullet B are subjected to the crimping operation. As noted above, this crimping operation secures the bullet B into the cartridge casing 42.

[0037] The illustrations in FIGS. 6 and 7 are for illustrative purposes to show how the stabilizer 150 acts on a particular casing 42 during a portion of the cycle of the rotating plate 18. Again it is appreciated that the stabilizer 150 can conform to numerous configurations to stabilize a cartridge casing 42 during certain segments of the rotation of the plate 18.

[0038] The present invention may, of course, be carried out in other specific ways than those herein set forth without departing from the scope and the essential characteristics of the invention. The present embodiments are therefore to be construed in all aspects as illustrative and not restrictive and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.