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How do you maintain your dies?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Josh45, Aug 23, 2011.

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  1. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    My brother is reloading at the moment and as Im helping him I had thought, How do you maintain your dies?

    I was thinking of using WD-40 to spray em down, Then use a old toothbrush to scrub em down and wipe them off with a soft cloth or napkin. Im not sure if WD-40 is a great idea. Not sure, But I think someone mentioned here that WD-40 isn't that great to use.

    Also, My brother is reloading 9mm and his Powder Thru Expander Die seems to shave his brass every time he expands. Tried different cases and same results. Backed off the die and it did the same. Opened it up and found brass shavings in it on the expander.

    What would cause this and what would be the right way to fix this problem?
     
  2. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Member

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    I don't do anything to maintain my dies.

    Sometimes new or once fired brass will leave little shavings, but after a few firings it stops.
     
  3. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    So, It is to be expected then.

    I thought the dies may have been out of tolerance or something of the sort.
     
  4. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    I'll use One-Shot cleaner to hose out the ones that deal with lubed cartridges--maybe every thousand rounds. That's about it.
     
  5. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    Speaking of that, These are carbide dies and were bought used. So, A cleaning was in order either way because the past of them is unknown.

    It seems to keep doing it but it's not as bad as it was before.
     
  6. bergmen

    bergmen Member.

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    With my carbide pistol dies I will sometimes use an old worn out Scotch-Brite pad from the kitchen with a little kerosene on it to buff off any brass deposits. I do this when I see die scuff marks during resizing and it helps.

    With my rifle dies, I squirt them out with aerosol carburetor cleaner to remove all sizing lube. I do this each time after I use them. Then, about every 5-10 reloading sessions I remove the expander mandrel and clean with the pad as above. They will accumulate brass and carbon deposits over time and that increases friction.

    You would be surprised how cruddy the inside of dies can get if neglected.

    Dan
     
  7. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    Bergmen,

    I opened up the 9mm dies and lets just say this guy who owned them before must have not thought about it at all.

    Speaking of the rifle dies.....I need to clean that one out tomorrow! It's got about 90 rounds I put thru it and again an unknown past count! Thanks for the tip on what to use.
     
  8. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    Every now and then I take them apart and clean them with acetone or denatured alcohol. But other than that carbide dies are almost indestructable.
     
  9. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I don't do anything except for the seater after using lead bullets. Then, I may hose them out with brake cleaner to get the lube out.
     
  10. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Member

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    Just clean them after use & before storage like you would your guns. Some Hoppes #9 & lightly oiled for storage. Before the next use wipe down with a mostly dry(very lightly oiled) cloth. I don't like rust on the dies.
     
  11. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    WD-40 is great for what it's made for; removing water. WD-40 dries to leave a gummy finish simular to varnish, that isn't very good for preventing rust; I spray or lightly rub on a coat of a quality thin oil (cheep Automatic Transmission Fluid actually) until the next use. I clean 'em well before use, inside with mineral spirts/oderless paint thinner on a swab of toilet tissue wrapped around a pencil. For removing a build up of cast bullet lube a spritz of brake or carborator cleaner does very well.

    Your expander shavings are probably coming from failure to chamfer the inside edges of the case mouths.
     
  12. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    The machine finish on the outside surface of the expander on Lee's Powder Thru Expander dies is typically pretty rough.

    I've read someplace where Lee says this is intentional, as the vibration created when the case is pulled off of the plug helps make sure that all the powder is shaken loose and falls into the case :uhoh:

    If you dissasemble the die and chuck the large end of the expander into a drill press (or drill held in a vise) and then spin the case and smoothe the expander surface with 220 grit emery paper, you will likely find that the die scrapes less off less brass and the case is more easlilly withdrawn from the die.

    If you're concerned about losing the built in vibrator, just tap the powder drop.

    As for cleaning dies, after 1,000 or so reloads, just dissassemble the dies, swab them out with solvent (Hoppes, K1, paint thinner, whatever) and then put them back toghether. Make sure the primer ejector pin in you sizer die is bone dry, with no oil residue when you put it back together. I dip mine in speady dry or kitty litter to get just a little clay dust on it, which helps ensure the collet holds the pin tight, as even a tiny liquid film can cause the pin to slip in the collet when sizing a stubborn case (i.e. one with a crimped primer). Be carefull you don't strip the collet nut tightening it back up.

    these are probably a better choices than the solvents I listed.

    Does anybody really do this with pistol brass??
     
  13. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I keep a plastic coffee can of "soak" on my bench. It's Marvel's Mystery oil, mineral spirits, and Kroil. I use this soak for cleaning my tools, gun parts, and dies. I'll drop my dies in the soak, and let 'em sit for a day or two (or until remember to remove them). Mebbe on stubborn dirt/grease I'll use a brush. Wipe them down and drain them then replace them in their original box. My soak cuts grease/oil, penetrates, and leaves a light film of oil for rust prevention.
     
  14. bergmen

    bergmen Member.

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    That's a pretty darned good idea. Cleans, lubricates and protects. Cool!

    Dan
     
  15. Cop Bob

    Cop Bob Member

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    Jeeze, I don't think I have a to do a thing to any dies that use exclusively jacketed bullets, except maybe wipe them down with a soft rag and a touch of Hoppes.... and some of those are 45+ years old..

    Now my dies that I load Lead Cast bullets in, the seater and crimp dies get a douse of brake clean, carb cleaner, Acetone, MEK, paint thinner, Diesel fuel, heck just about all of those will break loose bullet lube and fouling... Done as needed... Keep and eye on your seating depth, and crimp.. if you notice any change, time to clean...
     
  16. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    Lot of good information on how to maintain your dies. Thanks everyone. This can be useful to everyone, Especially new reloaders.
     
  17. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    I place them in the green box which is in a really dry location. I have not had to do anything to dies I have had for over 25 years and they still work the same as when they were new.
     
  18. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    "Does anybody really (chamfer) with pistol brass?? "

    Yep.
     
  19. jgiehl

    jgiehl Member

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    I use brake cleaner and a rag to clean mine out when I first get them.
    Then randomly after that.
     
  20. Huckelberry75

    Huckelberry75 Member

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    WD-40 would not be my first choice. It's good for squeaks, but you need something that does not leave a film, ie brake cleaner or chem-tool.
     
  21. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    If you were to clean some dies (Hornady comes to mind) with nothing but brake cleaner, they would be bright orange the next day. Gotta replace that oil with something.
     
  22. bds

    bds Member

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    I tumble my dies disassembled in walnut media and NuFinish. Usually after 30 minutes to 1+ hour, all the light surface rust is removed and die surface polished. The dies will stay rust free for 6 months to one year from residual polish on the surface.

    I did a polish job on a heavily rusted dies for a friend that required the use of wire brush/rust remover in addition to tumbling with walnut/NuFinish outlined in this thread - http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=586563

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  23. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    BDS,

    Wow. Those look great. :D Hopefully, I won't need to do that anytime soon :p
    But it still something I will have for use later should I ever need it.
     
  24. bergmen

    bergmen Member.

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    Never bothers mine and I've been cleaning with brake cleaner/carburetor cleaner for over twenty years (RCBS).

    Dan
     
  25. Cherokee

    Cherokee Member

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    I clean the seating dies to get rid of built up CB lube, sometime other dies if I see the need. In 50 years of reloading and living in various parts of the country, never had dies rust on me.
     
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