Lee Turret Press Problem


September 25, 2011, 03:56 PM
Good Afternoon,

I did some loading this weekend and encountered a problem with my Lee Classic Turret press.

The little plastic ratchet index thing wore out, so I replaced it with the one new one I had on hand. That one wore out in less than 50 rounds! I'll order some new ones from Midway but please help me get to the root cause.

After the little piece wore out I continued to load the rest of my planned 50 rounds by removing the indexing rod and turning the turret by hand. As I was turning by hand I noticed it seemed to be binding up and sometimes took more force than I expect to continue the turning movement.

Any ideas as to what might be causing the binding? What maintenance should I be performing to prevent a reoccurance? What oil/lube to use on the turret ring? Lube on the index rod?

Ideas and comments are welcome. Thanks in advance.


If you enjoyed reading about "Lee Turret Press Problem" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
September 25, 2011, 04:05 PM
Before you order some new ratchets from Midway, try calling Lee. They sent me some new ones at no cost.

Lost Sheep
September 25, 2011, 06:00 PM
Binding? Without the indexing rod in place, the only thing that should resist rotating the turret is the spring detent. Does it appear to protrude more than it should?

I would take the turret out, clean the ring and turret thoroughly (the bearing/mating/sliding surfaces, principally), lube with a silicone lube (though almost any light grease or oil will do) and make sure there is no excess (which will tend to collect dust, causing binding). Don't neglect the flange parts. They can bind, too.

If that does not cure the problem, email Lee's customer service directly. Their techs generally respond in one day. Keep the question as specific and simple as possible.

The most common way to break the square ratchet (which, by your description is NOT what is happening here) is by turning the turret by hand counter to the normal direction of rotation while the square ratchet is still engaged in the ratchet notches. There are two sure ways to prevent that. One is to ensure that the last movement of the ram is UP (disengaging the ratchet from the notches). The other way is to grab the indexing rod with thumb and forefinger, lift it 1/4" and drop it back down. That also disengages the square ratchet from the notches.

As I recall, Lee recommends a medium oil on the indexing rod, but the oil is not there for lubrication. It is there for drag (and to reduce wear). The Square ratchet is dragged DOWN out of engagement with the notches when the ram is moving UP. The square ratchet is dragged UP into the notches when the ram is moving DOWN, and thus turns the turret.

Good Luck

Lost Sheep

September 25, 2011, 06:46 PM
smearing a little motor oil on the turret and turret ring helps it rotate easier. It will help some, but won't help you with a wearing out after 50 problem. My guess is you installed it incorrectly. maybe upside down or the turret is out of sync.

September 25, 2011, 07:20 PM
The damage to that part was almost assuredly caused by attempting to index the turret when the handle is up / the die is down fully. Always stroke the press to a midpoint before attempting to tweak / turn the turret if you have the indexing rod installed.

This is a common error, and all of us Lee turret users have done it. After a couple of times, you will probably have gotten the routine memorized for the press, and your ratchet will last about 5000 rounds or so--it does for the rest of us.

Jim H.

September 25, 2011, 09:23 PM
Clean, lube, adjust correctly and operate correctly. Figure out which one of these you're not going exactly right, correct what's wrong and you'll not see the plastic piece wearing out.

Based on what you're saying, I'd clean the press, lube it with a light oil, readjust it so that when operated slowly the detent barely locks in, then operate with full press strokes.

I think this will resolve your plastic square issues.

Hope this helps,


wild willy
September 26, 2011, 08:34 AM
I checked mine with the rod out your turrets should turn very easy.How much up and down movement do your turrets have when locked in a station?there has to be some.How easy does your detent ball push in?If your turret turn as hard as you say it will keep wearing out the plastic squares

January 6, 2012, 10:00 PM
I have a 3 hole Lee auto index Turret press at least 15 years old. I have re-loaded thousands of rounds with it. I've changed nylon ratchets in the past without any problem but the last change has caused problems with binding and not indexing properly. I've read and re-read instructions but still have the same problem. Emailed Lee tonight but thought maybe someone on THR has a quick solution. I have tried 3 different (new) nylon ratchets.
Thank you, Nick

January 7, 2012, 03:14 AM
I have had my Classic Turret press for over 6 years now and I never use lube on it. (as per Lee) When I first got the press I went through 2 ratchets right a way until I found out what not to do. I have had the sane ratchet in ever since and there are A LOT or rounds on that ratchet. Some reloaders report they need to change it every 5,000 rounds but I have at least 3X that many on this one and still going strong.

January 7, 2012, 08:41 AM
I suspect you installed ratchet upside down, I use small amount of grease on turret and at the very bottom of index rod where it sets on press, my first ratchet I broke in 50-100 rounds by incorrectly adjusting indexing my second is still in use after 1000's of rounds.

Blind Dog Jake
January 7, 2012, 10:17 AM
Check out the vid at 1:25 to 3:00. It pretty much tells you what not to do.

If you enjoyed reading about "Lee Turret Press Problem" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!