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Your Lee mold method?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by chris in va, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    Clearly I have been using my Lee molds incorrectly as the steel locating pin keeps rounding out the aluminum groove, no matter how well it's lubed.

    After you drop the boolits, what is your method of closing the halves to prevent misalignment? The new mold design has conical pins, but the replacement I just bought is the old design.
  2. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    Place the mold on top of a flat metal plate, section of 2x4, or anything else that is flat. Then close the handles. It makes alignment much easier.
  3. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Well-Known Member

    I know its kind of tongue in cheek,
    but my solution to my Lee mold problems, many as there were, was to buy Lyman molds instead.
    I've had so many problems with those dang Lee aluminum molds, I've come to the conclusion that its actually cheaper in the long run to buy one good mold rather than keep replacing or rebuilding those Lee's every 2-3k castings.
  4. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    Thanks, I'll try that.

    As for the Lyman mold, I'm pretty much fed up with Lee molds, but man those things are expensive. Is it true you can use Lee handles with the mold blocks?
  5. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Well-Known Member

    I have only used the 4-cavity molds, and for those you could use the lee handles, but you'd have to grind or file the handles a little narrower to fit the lyman mold, which would be a bit of work.
    You can find used handles and molds on ebay, you can get pretty decent deals for molds+handles...right around $50-$75 is what I see good used 4-cavity molds and handles go for.
    Brand new, you are paying about 2x more per mold for the lymans, but I've peened so many Lee sprue plates, and had so many Lee handles fall off my Lee molds, I'm sick of switching parts from mold to mold as parts fail, so in the long run the steel molds are the way to go, for me at least. I'm seriously down to 2 sprue plates that have to be used amongst 5 aluminum lee molds...
    You can also rebuild the Lyman molds, so far I haven't been able to find rebuild kits for the Lee molds.

    The one thing the Lee molds have going for them is the Tumble Lube design, but other designs will use their Liquid Alox lube just fine, and I had to buy sizing equipment anyways to get those TL bullets to shoot worth a dang.

    Edit: I will add that all my problems with the Lee molds have been with the 6 cavity molds, and have mostly been related to the sprue plate wearing to the point that it would no longer cam open, and handles falling off or cracking. Casting wise, they cast fine, I just wish they lasted longer for me. The 2 cavity Lee molds I have so far have been OK.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  6. 472x1A/B

    472x1A/B Well-Known Member

    You might try tighening the mold handel pivot bolt. Just tighten it to where there is slight resistance to closing the blocks. Close the blocks together *slowly*. DO NOT use Lee ALOX as a pin lube. Try to find some synthetic 2 cycle oil and use it, you can also use it on the bottom of the sprue plate and tops of the mold blocks to retard lead smears. Just use a slightly damp q-tip to apply this oil with. Reapply as needed when smearing starts.

    I have some Lee 2 cavity molds that I have cast well over 15,000-20,000 bullets with. If you take care of them they should last a very looonngg time. After every 750-1000 bullets I clean the molds with comet and a tooth brush. If I have a mold hanging a bullet I polish the cavity with mag wheel polish and everything is fine.
  7. Ateam-3

    Ateam-3 Well-Known Member

    472x1A/B - great advice.

    I must be lucky as I too have cast 15-20,000 bullets with my Lee molds and have never had issues closing them. Check the pivot bolt as stated above. I have not found a need to lubricate my molds. I do use a match to coat the inside of the mold cavity with a thin carbon film. This allows the bullets to fall from the mold easier.
  8. Hungry1

    Hungry1 Well-Known Member

    It sounds as if something isn't tightened properly or possibly your mold is defective??

    I've been using 2 and 6 cavity Lee molds for thousands of cast rounds. No problems yet. They've actually become better as they've become "seasoned". Hardly even need to lube or smoke them anymore.

    Good Luck
  9. kelbro

    kelbro Well-Known Member

    I partially close them by the handles with my left hand, then set the base down into my gloved right hand and they seem to line up to close the rest of the way.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  10. cja245

    cja245 Well-Known Member

    Lee recommends holding the mold vertically when you close it. I find it works better to lay it on a flat surface or use my wooden dowel to keep the halves flat when I close the mold.
  11. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    Well what do you know...flipping it vertically works! I'll be darned. They really should put that in the instructions.
  12. TwoEyedJack

    TwoEyedJack Well-Known Member

    I put the bottom surface on a flat piece of wood as I am closing them. If the handles don't close easily, don't force them. I cast for .357, .41, .45 ACP, and .44 round balls with no problems. I like the tumble lube designs because I am too cheap and lazy to buy a luber/sizer with the appropriate punches and heater and lube. The tumble lube boolits seem to group as well at handgun distances as anything else I have shot out of my guns.
  13. kerreckt

    kerreckt Well-Known Member

    "TwoEyedJack" (#12) said it all. I have had great success with Lee molds. I cast about 2k-3k a month of various sizes and have never understood why people will pay high prices for molds other than Lee molds.
  14. david bachelder

    david bachelder Well-Known Member

    Mine work best when I tap them with a wooden stick .... lightly. I sound like a tapping machine when I'm casting. It works for me.
  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    ^ That's what I do.
  16. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Well-Known Member

    I have found turning them vertically to close works fine.
  17. doubleh

    doubleh Well-Known Member

    I use a piece of shovel handle to knock the sprue plate open and tap the mold if the bullets hang up. Then I roll the mold upside down and if it hasn't closed right I tap it lightly and it will snap shut.

    I smoke the heck of of the mold before using with one of the little butane bbq lighters. I preheat it with a propane torch before starting to cast and apply a small amount of bees wax to the alignment pins and sprue plate hinge. I've found that after casting around a 100 bullets I start have trouble getting the blocks to close correctly if I don't apply another dab of bees wax. This procedure produces smooth, shiny bullets and most drop free of the mold when it's opened. I also check the hinge bolt before starting a casting run just in case it's loosened up.

    I love Lee molds but they have to be used exactly like the instructions say. Ignore any step and you will have problems. I also use some RCBS molds and they are great but heavy after awhile for an old geezer like me. I can do a lot more casting with the light Lees before having to take a break. I find the bullet quality to be the same from both brands. Excellent.
  18. Legion489

    Legion489 member

    I have quite a number of Lee molds and have got my share of defective one too. On one they sheared the aluminum off and the shear tear went through the top of the mold, so if you tried to cast a bullet it had a solid line of lead all the way across the top of the entire mold. Not just a little thread of lead either, this thing was HUGE! Finally got Lee to replace it as it was OBVIOUSLY defective and Lee's fault, which generally doesn't matter though. This, unfortunately is typical of Lee QC, either is is acceptable or it is so totally screwed up it is obvious they never even looked at the part.

    The Lee molds have ONE redeeming feature, they are cheap and you can try a bunch of different designs before buying a high quality mold of the proper design for your gun.

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