Is my new lee turret and dies rusting?


July 12, 2011, 12:44 AM
I got a new Lee Classic Turret and dies about 6 weeks ago (my first press). I have loaded about 500 or so rounds on it and it seems to be turning a brown color in some spots. I have it set up in a spare bedroom.

Is this rust? Should I be concerned? I honestly not too concerned with the way it looks but I do not want the metal to start piting. Also I just got it and it should not be rusting.

Can I do anything to remove it or keep it from getting worse?

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July 12, 2011, 12:48 AM
I can only tell what it is (for certain) by trying to remove it with different materials; example: will 0000 steel wool remove it?

July 12, 2011, 12:48 AM
Looks like surface rust to me. You should be able to get it off with some scotchbrite pads or the like. You might want to leave a thin coating of dry lube or something on it. you must have some humidity in TN. I have had my Lee turret for almost two years, and no rust so far.....

Lost Sheep
July 12, 2011, 01:04 AM
I'd have never thought. You have a humidity problem.

Clean the oxidation off as Oathkeeper1775 and Chalk22 suggest, then try sealing it with a good car wax (Carnuba, is supposed to be good) and keep the bearing surfaces lubed.

I would not let the wax get inside your dies, but on the threads will be OK. Wipe any lube from the bearing surfaces (case mouth belling mandrel and the sizing ring).

Lost Sheep

July 12, 2011, 01:23 AM
Your press and dies are rusting everywhere you are touching it and the salt from your hot sweaty hands is the culprit. I washed and wax my truck today and did my chrome rims with Mothers Mag and Aluminum polish. After reading your post a little light bulb came on and I jumped up and grabbed the Mothers polish and started rubbing the handle of my 1973 Rock Chucker press.

The arm now shines like it did 38 years ago, so go out and buy some Mothers Mag and Aluminum polish and get busy on your press.

NOTE: A Conservator in a museum cleans metal firearms parts with olive oil and a soft tooth brush and wipes them dry. The metal parts are then waxed with a neutral PH wax to protect the surface against moisture. (NO oil)

Your press isn't an antique so hit it with the Mothers Mothers Mag and Aluminum cleaner wax and put the olive oil on your salads with a little vinegar. :D

P.S. Wash your hands after eating french fries. :rolleyes:

July 12, 2011, 01:33 AM
Thanks. I already have some mother's mag. I will try that tomorrow. Now that you mention it it is definitively stronger on the parts that I am touching most often.

I also have some Johnston past wax I use on my blued guns. If I get the surface rust off and apply some paste wax do you think it would help? I do keep a few guns in this same room. One an old revolver that had some rust and pitting that I cleaned up when I got it and a PF9 (which have a rep of rusting easily) Neither of this show any signs of rust.

Would you call lee and see about sending it back? I hate to go to the trouble and be without my press. If it is something I can easily remove and prevent that would be fine, but if it is doing this after 6 weeks I am scared of what it will be like in 6 years.

July 12, 2011, 04:53 AM
Considering you said you have guns in that room that are also rusting I would move the guns. You seem to have a fairly serious humidity problem, at least in that room. You might want to invest in a dehumidifier.

July 12, 2011, 07:56 AM
actually the guns are not rusting...i posted that to show that other thing in the room are ok


July 12, 2011, 08:30 AM
I would contact Lee and see if they will do anything for you on this. The surface chroming is not (and will never be) impervious to moisture, and Lee's surface chroming is not known for being very thick or durable, but it may be that they simply had a process control issue with this batch.

July 12, 2011, 09:28 AM
I would ask Lee for a new turret ring---yours should not have rusted that fast
under almost any circumstances. Clean the rust off your dies with steel wool.
Coat your dies & ring with Barricade Rust Prevent by Beechwood-Casey--in your case every 2 weeks.
Have fun

July 12, 2011, 10:13 AM
I clean/polish my dies in the vibratory tumbler and walnut media/NuFinish (dies are taken apart and tumbled for about 1 hour to remove light surface rust). It does a great job of removing surface rust and polishing the die surface while leaving some residual coating on the surface to prevent future rusting.

Here are before and after pictures of really badly rusted dies I cleaned/polished for a friend. I guess you could remove the turret ring and try polishing it also.

July 12, 2011, 03:43 PM
all my lee stuff did that in E. texas. I moved to central texas and it all stopped. Now I'm headed back east I'll get out the oil again. I have seen people who degrease their ring, handle, and posts, then paint them red. (not the inside of the ring that gets contact obviously.)

July 12, 2011, 08:13 PM
Do you have an air conditioner vent blowing directly onto your press? I have had several iron/steel items develop surface rust when exposed to the a/c air flow during the spring and summer while other identical items a few feet away were fine.

BTW, Flitz metal polish also does an excellent job removing surface rust.

July 12, 2011, 08:50 PM
Lee does not plate their dies or other steel parts. Bare steel rusts, that's just a fact of life for loading tools same as it is firearms, etc, so it's NOT a manufactoring defect. If you wanna prevent rust on steel items, oil them.

July 12, 2011, 09:25 PM
Lee does not plate their dies or other steel parts. Bare steel rusts, that's just a fact of life for loading tools same as it is firearms, etc, so it's NOT a manufactoring defect. If you wanna prevent rust on steel items, oil them.

I am starting to see the need for oil. As I stating in the original post this is my first press and I am not embarresed to admit I am still learning things. I also do not know my way around a tool box as well as some so things that might be comman knowledge to some is not to me (and others)

While it may or may not be a manufactoring defect, I do not think it is totally absured to be suprised that my new product is showing rust in a month (shipped to me on 06/04/11).

Also since Lee prices it products, and is pround of the fact that alot of people leanr to load on their products, I do not believe it would be too much to ask of them to let the purchaser know that the product can rust within 2 weeks (first noticed it then) if certain steps are not taken. I sm not the first newbie to use their presses and I am sure I am not the only one not to oil their press in the first month.

Unless I am mistaken (and I am wrong sometimes) nothing in my assembly directions mentioned this.

Again I have no problem admitting I am learning a few things about reloading and tools in general, but do you honestly think that these should rust in a couple of weeks?

Lost Sheep
July 12, 2011, 10:26 PM
and not as pretty, either.

Remember the term "Brown Bess"? Before bluing, the finish on firearms was called "Browning". You took your new musket (in the "white") and put it in some brine. After a while, you took it out and rubbed it down with oil. After several trips to the brine barrel, you had a beautiful, polished brown patina that resisted further rusting as long as you kept it lightly oiled or dry. I think the browing helped keep the oil from just wiping off in handling.

I don't think I would ask Lee for a new turret ring. There is no damage. Lee might consider putting a caveat in their new owner instructions, but likely few people would read it that closely. You know how most of us HATE to read instructions and don't do it until all else fails.

Lost Sheep

July 12, 2011, 10:39 PM
TennJed, I hear ya. I had my share of rusty dies, but tumbling in walnut with polish did the job for me.

Manufacturers will put enough protection for shipping/shelf storage/sale while in factory cases/boxes. But depending on the climate/humidity level when they are taken out, they can start to rust rather quickly without further protection. One of many things we do to pistols and reloading equipment when we buy new is to take them apart to clean and properly lube for usage and storage.

If you have a vibratory tumbler with walnut media and NuFinish polish, take apart one of the dies and tumble for 15-30 minutes to test. It should remove light surface rust and polish them to factory "shiny" finish. If you are happy with the progress, toss the rest of the die set (taken apart). Tumble them until all the rust is gone and dies are shiny. I would also remove the turret ring and tumble polish.

Be sure to check/clean the inside of the dies and oil properly for future protection.

Try it! It really works well.

Keep us posted.

July 12, 2011, 11:12 PM
Thanks for all the help guys. I do oil and clean my guns when I get them, but it did not occur to me to do the press and dies. Anyway I did shoot Lee an email explaining what happened, but I did not ask (nor expect) for any replacement parts.

I did get the rust off. I used some 0000 steel wool and then some Mother's Mag polish. I then wiped it down with some oily rags and also applied a layer of Johnstons paste wax.

I like the tumbling idea but all I have right now is some corn media (no walnut) but might try it in the future.

Anyway thaanks again and how often would you suggest I wipe them with the oil rag. I am thinking at least weekly?

July 13, 2011, 12:46 AM
Walnut media's sharp edges remove rust very well. Once I have the rust off the dies with walnut media and NuFinish, they tend to stay rust-free for 6 months to a year or more (die sets that I don't use often).

I normally take apart and clean die sets I use regularly (9mm/40S&W/45ACP) monthly, so I haven't seen any rust return on them.

July 13, 2011, 08:07 AM
Try it! It really works well.
I love this idea - thanks. :)

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