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Lee Die Question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Blind Bat, Nov 9, 2008.

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  1. Blind Bat

    Blind Bat Member

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    Is it typical for new Lee dies to require polishing?

    I just bought the Lee deluxe carbide 9mm die set and I noticed the expander die was chafing on the inside of the case mouths. After expanding 100 cases I had quite a bit of brass shavings at the bottom of my press. I noticed the expander plug had circular grooves on the machined end. Lightly sanding (600 grit) and polishing the expander plug seemed to solve the scratching problem. This is my first set of dies so I'm not certain if this is a Lee design trait or poor quality machining on this one particular set of dies.
     
  2. Bozo

    Bozo Member

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    I have a few Lee dies and have never seen that problem. That kind of malfunction I would have sent the die back.
     
  3. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    IN my experience with their dies,not normal.
    I would do what you did..fix it and get on with life.
     
  4. ants

    ants Member

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    I've never had to polish a Lee expander plug, but it is surely possible that a bad one arises now and then.

    I had trouble with the machine marks on a Rifle Charging Die drop tube until I changed to a different powder measure. I don't think it is the fault of the powder measure, but the drop tube.
     
  5. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    I've had to polish a few. But only after they rusted because I forgot to put them away. The garage isn't the best place to leave reloading stuff if you live in Houson...
     
  6. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    All ten sets of dies that I have are Lee and I have never had that problem. Just got a set that somehow missed QA...
     
  7. Blind Bat

    Blind Bat Member

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    I grabbed the expander plug and snapped a couple of pictures. These are obviously after the polish job. Please excuse my poor photography skills.
     

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  8. jfh

    jfh Member

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    This question / observation has popped up before.

    One explanation for it is that Lee incorporates that roughness in the expander die to provide a bit of "shake" at the time of the powder dump.

    The alternative explanation is that not taking the additional time to do a smoother finish is one way to provide the dies at the price they do.

    My own guess is that the QC guidelines have opened up a bit.

    I did fiddle with this a bit, and found that I did get more consistent weights with the rough expander finish--but it was pretty hard to call it significant, and it showed up only if one averaged the range of charge weights for 100 rounds.

    Jim H.
     
  9. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Never had that problem but would have done what you did or call Lee and request assistence. Knowing Lee, they more than likely would have sent you a new expander plug. The're excellent people to deal with.
     
  10. Blind Bat

    Blind Bat Member

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    Thanks guys. I just found this picture of the plug on Lee's website:
    [​IMG]

    I'll give them a call tomorrow and see if they will send me a replacement part. Off topic - I love the note at the bottom of Lee's website: "This publication is formatted for Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.02 and Netscape 3.0" :)
     
  11. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    I just dumped a set of LEE dies. They were scratching my cases. They offered to polish them if I sent them back. But why bother? If they couldn't do them right the first time, it isn't likely they can on the second try. And why should I pay shipping twice? I just ordered dies from Lyman and wrote off LEE altogether.
     
  12. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Wonder if you've done this all your life every time you bought something didn't pass your enspection. Never bought a new car and had to take it back to the dealer to have something fixed? Did the dealer reimberse you for the gas it took to get their? Or a new appliance or whatever, If I trashed every item I've had trouble with and did not even attempt to let the mfg. fix/repair/replace it I wouldn't buy anything and live in a cave. A friend of mone just got a brand new Cooper after the long wait and dame it has a slight ding in the stock, well that trashed Cooper, now where do we go? Your logic escapts me. Bottom line, give, the mfg. have a break and a chance to fix it, we don't live in a perfect world and most humans do goof up.
     
  13. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    No, normally I wouldn't have done that. And I have other older LEE dies that I had no problem with over the years. But this was a new set and it even looked rather shoddy. And the letter I got back just irritated me even more.
    But if you wish to buy their stuff, don't let me stop you. Spend you money wherever you like. And I'd say this is enuff said on that subject.
     
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Every Lee expander plug I have ever seen has looked like the one in the pic with the machine marks. (grooves) I have them from over 20 years old to very recently. Nice deep machine marks on every expander. They are cheaper for a reason. That does not mean they don't work, they do, but they are more roughly machined than any other maker. I have polished all of mine, and replaced a couple with other brands.

    Lee dies are inexpensive for a reason. They load perfectly good ammo, but they are full of it in their advertising about how well they are machined. Machine work costs money, period.
     
  15. Blind Bat

    Blind Bat Member

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    I just got off the phone with Lee. It looks like they going to stand behind their dies. A guy by the name of Pat (who sounded like he was in a machine shop) said they must have had a bad "machine head" when they produced the die and he is going to send me out a new expander plug. Whooo hooo. I'll snap a comparison picture when the new one comes in. Bravo to Lee for good customer service. I only had to spend about ten minutes on the phone with them.
     
  16. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Hey SUPER! Glad everything worked out for you. I know they always taken care of me, even if it was only a question.
     
  17. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    I wish I knew what the problem was. I have ten sets and two of them (I was forced to go look at them because of this). f
    Found one that seemed to be or looked rough. But didn't feel rough. Found one that was rough. Funny...I've been loading .38 Specials with it for 20 years with no issues.

    Blind bat...Could you explain, again, how it was causing you problems?
     
  18. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    If you are loading virgin brass or freshly trimmed brass then its usuall to have brass wire like shavings as the sharp square edges of the mouth are broken by the expander. You can chamfer the case mouth to break this sharp edge and then you wont have the brass shavings.
     
  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yep, it is worst with new brass, as are all crimp dies when the edge is not chamfered. (You will sometimes see a very thin partial ring of brass from crimping new brass that was not prepped.) The rough expander plug also "grabs" at the case when being pulled out. Does not hurt a thing, just bugs me. :)
     
  20. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    for what it's worth, the expander on my .38spl die set is almost as rough as what you pictured.

    It works fine, not causing shavings, but then again, I don't buy new or trim old .38 brass, so I'm not getting shavings.

    I've intended to chuck it in my drill press and hit it with emery cloth, but have consumed pretty much all of my precious little reloading time feeding my long guns. Haven't loaded a pistol round in over a year.
     
  21. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    I bet Blind Bat gets one just like the one he has now back from Lee...;)
     
  22. Blind Bat

    Blind Bat Member

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    FYI, I am reloading once fired WWB brass. Attached are pics of a case before I polished the expander plug. Also, please note I don't have pics of the expander plug before the polish job. The end of the plug is now perfectly smooth and I've belled ~1500 cases since the polish job without any binding or scratched brass. Of course being that the die's expander plug has been worked on it's missing .001+ of material towards the base and doesn't have a smooth taper.

    I think it will get me by until the new expander plug gets here. I hope... It's starting to get cold here in New England. I'm hoping to work up a 9mm plinking load and then stock pile a couple thousand rounds before it gets too cold to shoot at my outdoor range. This stuff will be used to make shooting at my semi-local indoor range more affordable this winter.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  23. isitdeadyet

    isitdeadyet Member

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    The reviews at midway are favorable for Lee dies, so that is all I need.
     
  24. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    "I just dumped a set of LEE dies. They were scratching my cases. They offered to polish them if I sent them back. But why bother?"


    Well, they did offer to fix it for you, so...?

    By far, most such case "scratches" are from tiny bits of brass galled onto the surface of the sizer due to poor luberication before sizing, there's nothing the die maker can do to stop that. It's such a normal occurance, maybe they didn't feel that covering the cost of shipping was rightfully theirs since the cause of the problem was unlikely to have been theirs. When that happens to my dies, and it does, I just polish it out myself.

    If we all take this approach to everything it wouldn't take long before we couldn't buy anything.

    Whatever ....
     
  25. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    I agree with ranger335v to some extent. I don't believe that brass will imbed in steel. It might, but dirt and grit will. That's why you clean or tumble the cases before you resize/decap them. I have Lee die sets that are over 22 years old and they still don't scratch my brass. I picked up a used set of .38 Special RCBS dies a few months back for a dime an a song. They scratched my cases. They don't now because I didn't whine or snivel. I polished the resizer and went about my business.
     
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