Giving the Stank Eye to Lee Right Now!!!


September 10, 2008, 07:44 PM

So I have several sets of lee dies right...All right out of the box needed very little adjusting etc etc...223, 40, 45, 9mm all have functioned flawlessly...

So tonight Fedex leaves a box from grafs on my door all full of stuff to reload 308 on my 550b...Like a kid in the candy store I rip through checking contents and then immediately go to set the dies up in their new toolhead...Done this plenty of times should be childs play right? Well I guess not today!!!!

So I adjust the die per the standard...Decap pin is at the position it came in from grafs...Lube the cases like normal, giddy as a school girl mind you...Case on shell holder, pull down handle...Case goes in about half way until it meets the large part of the decapper and gets stuck!!! Thinking ok no biggy lets get everything apart, wondering though why the "fail safe" from lee didnt alloy the decapper to eject free...So disassemble, check, clean, notice some threads on the decapper pin, hmmmm wrenched too tight from factory? So I try to just size a case without decapper in...Slides in like, well you can figure it out, perfectly no resistance what so ever...So go to put the decapper back in...Adjust blah blah, take the same case that was already sized (partially I guess as it fit in my case gage), re lube a little more just to be extra carefull. Badda bing badda boom, case goes in, little resistance, go to lower lever and WHAMMO!!! STUCK! And not only stuck locked in there like a catholic school girls, we you get the point...Pin didnt eject backwards AGAIN now im gettin pissy. This is what I got....

Go to take it apart and no joy pin will not come out, stuck...So now the temper tantrum starts, wondering what I should do as I now have a case, and decapper pin stuck and wont come out I get the vise ready and rubber mallet...Whack here whack there...NOTHING....Sweaty, tired, aggravated, see my poor savage saying feed me please!! I break out the hammer and this is what I get out!

As you can see the primer definately came out and now im at a loss...I will be calling lee tomorrow to request some assitance but should I expect? Obviously there was something wrong with the decapper, threads in shaft not normal?, but I don't know what else. The case went through the die fine without the pin and everything so I dunno...I have a full set of lee dies that are perfect so I am assuming that I shouldn't hesitate to request a new sizing die be sent should I. I really dont want to mess with grafs with this their shipping times are days and then I have to wait and wait etc...I figure lee is the the place to start. Not a lee bash yet just a rant as the wife is deaf ears about my hobbies at the moment!!!:cuss:

Any comments. suggestions?

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Jumping Frog
September 10, 2008, 08:14 PM
Measure the decapping pin diameter and compare to one of the pins in your other dies.

September 10, 2008, 08:22 PM
Berdan or boxer primers?

September 10, 2008, 08:24 PM
223 pin is .2015, 308 pin is .202

The 308 pin is only .202 for about 3/4" then drops down to .197. (I didn't want to take apart the 223 dies as its set up) However where the thread imprints are is measures at .207 but that may be from the displaced metal from the threads engaging....Its boxer primed, the primer came out fine, most of the "stress" felt like the decapper couldn't get pass the case mouth. And from the looks of it once it did it crushed the case allowing the decapper pin to push out the primer....

I gotta tell you though sites like this are great....After ranting I feel so much better...

September 10, 2008, 08:26 PM
decapping pin diameter

sounds like it may have been assembled with a .311 decapping pin, instead of the .308 pin.

September 10, 2008, 08:35 PM
I had the same problem with my Lee .308 dies. I used Hornady oneshot and stuck the case.I took the die apart and the decapper was stuck just like yours. I wound up using a dremel with cutoff wheel to cut the case in half. Afterwards, I polished the decapper with 1000 grit sandpaper and switched to imperial sizing wax and have not had any problems since.

September 10, 2008, 08:45 PM
Did you lube the inside of the case neck? Without graphite or mica or some other lube, the expander ball probably siezed inside the neck. If that happened, it's not Lee's fault unless the ball was poorly machined.

Once the expander ball siezes inside the case neck, it crushes the shoulder and sets the case off-center in the die. As you ram the case up harder into the die, the case freezes up even worse.

The 0.202" shaft you are measuring is not the diameter of the expander ball. It's just the shaft and has no bearing upon die performance.

You can get a new pin without buying the whole die. Lee might even send you one for free. If you're not lubricating inside the case neck, do it next time.

September 10, 2008, 08:56 PM
Not exactly sure whats happening here but you got the case partway in and it crushed?
Check to see if the expander ball is too far into the die, the expander plus the thickness of the neck are greater than the ID of the die, so if its up too far into the neck area it would jam up like that.


September 10, 2008, 08:58 PM
I've had that happen a few times and I just get a tubing cutter and cut the case in half. The pin falls out easy at that point. :(

September 10, 2008, 09:38 PM
I found that even when lubing inside the case necks that dragging the Lee expander thru a .308 Win case took an enormous amount of force.
(Polishing the expander helped, but not a lot),

I finally switched to Redding resizing dies with the optional carbide neck expander. No need to lube inside case necks and *vastly* reduced effort to pull the expander back thru the resized necks.

September 13, 2008, 03:09 PM

So everyone knows WTH happened at the beginning of this post....So I went ahead and said hey its only 8 bucks to order a new decapper and clamp...So I did and got them today....Go ahead and clean and put the die back together. Lube the cases using dillon lube heavily on the inside and die. Adjust etc etc...And guess what....The first case makes it in just fine no effort at all and LOCKS UP ON THE WAY OUT!!!! YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!

And get this...Naturally the case is still locked in the shell holder so I couldn't even lower the press down...So in an effort to free up the press MY F@^KING WORKBENCH TOP BREAKS FROM THE FORCE REQUIRED TO GET THE DAMN THING FREE!!!!!:what::mad::barf:

I mean *** here! ( I KNOW IM MAJORLY RANTING)!!! I am using everything the same as I just got done doing pistol and 223. Why is 308 giving me such crap!?:confused:

So now not only did I waste 8 bucks thinking I had something to do with it...Im convinced this whole die must just be fubar...With the decapper in the die just wont release the case....Period...This time the case came out, after beating, perfect without a crushed neck....Now I have two decapper pins stuck inside a case from resizing...I need to resurface my freaking bench that worked FLAWLESSLY for many rounds.....DEATH TO MR. LEE!!!! Im not even to going to bother calling...I will get a whole new NON LEE sizing die and move on and slowly replace ALL of my remaining lee crap....

Is this a little extreme....probably, but I don't need to waste my hard earned money and time reordering and replacing items due to a manufacturers screw up....:evil::cuss::banghead::barf:

End rant! BTW...I was using a workmate bench inside the house that took the leverage from pistol and 223 fine...Any ideas for a good surface...Im probably going to remove all the moving parts and attach a good thick butcher block or MDF top directly to the top of the bench....

September 13, 2008, 04:03 PM
So I try to just size a case without decapper in. Your using military brass that happens to be on the thick side. When you sized the case without the expander, this made your next attemp with the expand a much harder process, as the neck was probably
sized down over .010" probably
more. When you put the decapper assembly back and tried to size ,the expander crushed the case then went into the case to knock out the primer, then it got stuck. I see drag marks on the decapper shaft. If you try to size 308 to 243 with GI brass the same thing can happen with Lee dies. The decapper needs to be held in the die like RCBS dies so that it can not slip. Plus the Lee die might be out of spec., sizing the neck tighter then need. A normal die will size the neck down more than .010" , this is normal, then the expander opens the inside of the neck back up to the correct inside diameter, over working the brass. Very common. The second time it happened is the same as the first, the FLRD is taking the neck diameter down to far. The military brass is not helping anything being thicker. I had Lee dies, years ago, went back to RCBS when the decapper kept slipping when doing GI 223 brass.

September 13, 2008, 04:05 PM
No military brass yet...just standard Federal brass..the first time and winchester the second....

September 13, 2008, 04:15 PM
still could be a die problem in the neck area.

Vern Humphrey
September 13, 2008, 04:41 PM
It sounds like a problem with the expander ball, as others have said. I'd see if Lee will replace the whole die (they usually will) just in case it's something different, like an undersize neck area.

September 13, 2008, 04:41 PM
I'm 95% sure its a die problem...the case today came out perfect, but the decapper cannot come out of the case mouth...

September 13, 2008, 04:42 PM
I don't think it's the equipment, friend.

You're going to hate this, but... With two decapping pins stuck, it's probably not be the equipment. I know you said you lubricated 'inside and die'. But since the ball is sticking in the neck you clearly aren't lubricating it properly. Swab powdered graphite inside the neck. Don't use spray lube because you're probably getting 100% alcohol inside, without the lube. The alcohol disolves carbon and lets it harden inside the case neck even worse than before.

Everything happening to you has happened to me. I've made every possible mistake in the book. Rest assured, we can whip this problem easily and you'll look back in 40 years and laugh. I still laugh at the stuff I pulled in 1968.

And please clean up your language when you repost. My family reads this stuff and they understand acronyms.

September 13, 2008, 05:37 PM

And I thought I was toning the rage down by using acronyms and symbols for letters....Oh well can't please everyone...:confused:

Anyways, I used the same process used when loading 223. Same lube, same press, same bench, and same dies...So could it be me? possibly...Why would this lube not work on 308 but work on 223 with absolutely no resistance? Dies are adjusted properly, press set up correctly...I dunno like I said above 95% dies problem which leaves 5% for retarded user error so its possible...I ordered an RCBS full length size die, we shall see if "I" have the same problem...

At least the fury has subsided and now I can think about how to make my little workmate better..

September 13, 2008, 09:02 PM
First you need an anger management course. Second, you violated one of the most important rules regarding reloading, don't be in a hurry. Believe me, this bit me bad when I first started loading handgun ammo, I have the damaged cylinder to prove it.

You sound relatively new to reloading. You need to slow down and think.

Lee makes some very serviceable stuff. They can make mistakes, just like anybody else. But I believe this is operator error.

Sizing without the decapper/expander in the die sized the neck down. Now you go to size again with the expander in. When the expander hit that sized neck, it tried to PUSH through the abrupt mouth, instead of being drawn through the neck from the inside on the case, there's a gentle taper of the shoulder there. It crumpled the shoulder, then managed to get through. Like was said above, to get those expanders out, you'll have to cut the case in half somehow.

You're loading with a dillon 550B on a workmate?:scrutiny: I'd certainly get, or build, a better,(IE heavier), bench.

September 13, 2008, 09:38 PM
This happened to me when I started reloading. The problem? Not Lee, but me. I didn't lube properly. Imperial Resizing Wax solved that problem once and for all.

To get the decapping pin out, I put the shell into a vice and got the hax saw out.

September 13, 2008, 09:52 PM
If you go with a butcher block... IKEA makes a butcher block counter top that is 1.5 inches thick. If you can break that... you have got to get me some of what you are on. I got one that was 73" X 39.5" for just over $100 if I remember right. Ikea makes them smaller too.

September 13, 2008, 10:20 PM
I have a couple sets of lee dies that do this from time to time. With these dies the collet that retains the decap pin must be SUPER tight we're not talking crescent wrench and pliers type tight. I mean two proper fitting boxed and open end wrenches tight.

When you get a stuck decap pin in a case just take and put a small snip in the neck perpendicular to the case mouth with some tin snips grab one side of the cut with some pliers and unroll the case inside out like an old school sardine can.

I'll be amongst the first to bash lee's equipment..........But not their excellent reloading dies.

September 13, 2008, 10:36 PM
Put the case and decapping rod in your shell holder and raise the ram. Screw the die body down until the decapping rod can just be grabbed by the collet and tighten the collet. Lower the ram and the rod will come out of the case.

I suspect the decapping rod is adjusted too high. There is not enough room for the case neck between the expanding button on the decapping rod and the neck sizing part of the die. When the case moves up the neck ID is sized to the proper ID by the button and then it goes into the neck sizing part where the OD is trued up. When the case is pulled back out of the die the button passes through the neck again opening the ID enough to seat bullets without shaving.

If the decapping rod is set too high the expanding button is in the neck sizing portion and things come to a stop in a hurry when you try to extrude brass through the gap. This also explains the case being crushed below the shoulder.

September 13, 2008, 10:41 PM
Yours is not the first instance of this sort I've heard tell of. I decap everything with a Lee universal decapping die - the best piece of Lee equipment I've ever owned. I don't care for Lee rifle dies, as I feel their sizing dies overwork the case neck - they size it way down, and then expand it again. More so than necessary.

I have yet to encounter these problems with any other brand of reloading die that I've used. Not to say it doesn't happen - it just seems to be much more frequent with Lee dies.

September 13, 2008, 11:26 PM
Can't help you with the die situation. I've probably loaded about 300 rounds through my Lee .308 dies without a problem. Did get a decaper stuck once (forgot to lube). Cut the case in half with a dremmel to get the pin out.

My father got one of those Black & Decker Workmates for his press (Lee Classic Turret). We went to Lowes and bought a 2X8" plank. Cut it in half, and drilled holes for the press. After mounting the press to the plank, I just clamped it to the bench with some C-Clamps we bought. I doubt I'd want to run military brass through it, but I've done thousands of rounds of 9mm and .38 Special, and the set-up works like a gem. 2X8" plank is a cheap way to resurface. Most expensive part will be the c-clamps (recommend the ones with the plastic covers.

September 13, 2008, 11:48 PM
B&D reloading bench with plans

September 14, 2008, 03:21 AM
Had a similar problem with .223 brass once.

It was PPU Prvi brass, seized up a bit and required some extra lube, or a case might become stuck.

I switched back to Lake City, and the problem went away immediately.

September 14, 2008, 08:17 AM
I don't doubt that I had something to do with the case in the original pics by sizing it first then putting the decapper back in...Which I why I ordered new parts without complaining to lee...

This is how the second case, yesterdays rant came out...

The decapper was adjusted to be low in the die this I said lubed same way I lube 223. As far as rushing is conerned...This was the first case I was using to make sure I set the dies up both times...this was not part of a large batch...There really wasnt much to even rush into...Besides cleaning and lubing the dies and screwing it into the press...This new case fits in my case gauge just fine but you can see a gap all the around at the top where its not expanded enough....

As far as the bench it concerned, I will most likely use the bench in the garage to size these .308 cases...The workmate was bought to allow me to do it indoors and avoid florida summer heat in the garage cranking out large batches of pistol rounds...I don't feel that sweat and handling powder and primers mix too well..

September 14, 2008, 08:55 AM
That brass was fired by a CETME, G3, H&K91 or PTR91 and has flute marks on the neck. If you fired that get your bolt gap checked. Those cases fired in that type of rifle will be harder to re-size, I know because I load for my CETME and had the same problem when my bolt gap was low and it marked up my brass. Get the gap up higher in the spec range and your brass will be easier to work.

When I get a case stuck like that I use a tubing cutter and cut the case in half. The pin comes out with no problem that way. Maybe more/better lube might help, maybe not.

September 14, 2008, 01:27 PM
Fluted chamber, no wonder, could not see that in the other photos.

September 14, 2008, 04:04 PM
Maybe nobody mentioned this yet. Sizing .223 Rem is nothing like sizing large caliber brass. It's possible to get a 223 case stuck, but it never happens to me and I never lube the neck. I mean that I NEVER lube the neck. A light spray of lube on the outside of the body and the brass just pops in and out of the die without trouble. Since I use mine in 5.56mm semiauto chambers, I never even trim it. Size, prime, load and shoot.

Why is it easier to size a 223 neck compared to 30 caliber? The brass is the same thickness (usually 11 thousands plus or minus .0005) but the smaller diameter neck doesn't spring back very much. Since the larger diameter neck tends to spring back after the ball is withdrawn, it is necessary to use a larger ball to do the same job, which requires more mechanical force and friction is likely to be much higher. So lubrication is critical on larger calibers, but not so critical on 223.

I find 7mm, 270, 30 and 338 caliber brass requires specific care in every step. Trimming, deburring and lubrication are the norm. I use dry lubes inside the case neck. Either mica or graphite work beautifully. I believe lack of lubrication sticks your expander ball. It has happened to me before, but always related to my lack of care.

Do you have any good books on rifle reloading? Have you been able to read explanations of the procedure in depth? In my humble opinion, it's not adequate to read internet forums or the instructions accompanying a press or dies. A good published how-to manual is invaluable.

September 14, 2008, 11:06 PM
Spec26, what rifle was it fired out of?

September 14, 2008, 11:25 PM
Sumptons outta adjustment. Set the case length adjustment to size the neck properly first. Then re-set the decapping pin to suit needs. Case neck looks crushed in your picture. Lee Dies nor any other brand dies come pre-adjusted for one's individual press. cliffy

September 15, 2008, 07:50 AM
Don't know what rifle it was shot out of...Bought the brass from an online once fired store..Very few of the brass has the flute marks...Which is why I was going to set the press up using that brass and not the others that didn't have the to not mess up the good stuff...Out of the 500 I got maybe 20 of them have the flute marks...

Once this gets worked out they will all be shot out of a Savage 10FP exclusively...

September 15, 2008, 07:51 PM
On the flute marked brass, you may find it necessary to ream the inside of the neck. I have some nrass samples that I keep to show others what not to use, but they have ridges you can feel and you will not get them resized short of a hydraulic press. :)

September 16, 2008, 03:38 PM RCBS reply about reloading brass fired in a Fluted Chamer.

September 17, 2008, 07:31 PM
Well the RCBS sizing die showed up today...After dinner I set it up, lubed up about 100 cases and went to town...No problems with my standard process used on 223. Sized up the cases just fine...However, the guy who sold me this brass as once fired neglected to tell me that 1 in 4 are fluted so bad they cant even be sized...Im sure with some serious effort I could do it. But its not worth it...At least they went in farther then the lee die, almost all the way up, but NEVER got complete stuck and came out with minimal extra effort versus non fluted cases...

This RCBS die is completely POLISHED on the inside where the lee was a dull finish. The decapper looks much better machining wise then the lee does as well. Hardly any effort was needed to get these things sized and all fit my case gage perfectly...fits the chamber of my savage great. I could "feel" the case being sized as I do when I load other rounds.

Im in no way bashing lee compared to RCBS...This is my first RCBS die and I have 4 other sets of lee dies which work flawlessly...Im sure I am to blame for some of this (not enough lube) but there is definately something off with the lee die..Like I said I use the same process with both sets of rifle dies and 223 and 308 sized the same day with the lee dies resulted in problems with 308 and with the RCBS die no problems...:cool:

September 17, 2008, 10:12 PM
Glad to hear you fixed your problem. I ask Redding about reloading fluted brass, they didnt seem to think there is any problems using it.

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