Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

50 BMG, Collet, and steel reloading dies plus the Factory Crimp Dies. Also, discussions concerning the Deluxe, Pacesetter, and RGB die sets.

Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby Jeff H » 31 Dec 2019 16

That's weird - the crack. I wonder if that is causing the collet to close too soon, meaning that the raised (it appears to be) edge of the crack is increasing the diameter of the cone at that point. That could make it grab too soon (vertically, as the collet/brass are raise with the ram) - like before the stroke hits peak.

Now, the following is untested blather:
I've only used these on an original Turret press; I clean, lap in and lubricate the parts of the die, make sure the mandrel is smooth and clean, with a light, light coat of oil; vigorously brush the insides of the case necks and steel wool the outsides of the case necks.

I also only resize the necks as lightly as necessary to hold onto the cast bullet during normal handling. I've NOT used cased so-sized in a lever-action, but have extensively in bolt-actions, specifically "CRF" Mauser actions. I cannot push the bullets into the case with my thumb and they don't "stick" in the rifling if I un-chamber a loaded round when the rifling engraves the bullet very slightly. The bullets won't tun in the necks with my fingers.

I've never tested this, but I've wondered about the tiny bit of vertical play in the decapping rods. It would seem likely that the spent primer would offer enough resistance to push the decapping rod up against the bottom of the threaded caps. If the decapping rod is too low, or the bottom of the brass (inside) is too high, that would impart a lot of force against that cap. Maybe the primers are just that hard to push out and the repeated stress blows out the cap or strips the threads?

So, if the decapping rod is pushed up against the bottom of the threaded cap by the resistance offered by the seated spent primer, and as the neck gets squeezed against the mandrel, does the neck slide against the madrel in the final few thousandths of an inch of upward travel? Or, does the mandrel drop back down after the primer is pushed all the way out, allowing it some vertical travel again so it can move up with the case/collet in the final little bit of upward travel?

Lastly, I would never assume you could hold a candle to me and my uncanny intermittent stupidity, but if it were on MY bench, I'd look to see if I'd mixed up madrels or collets or even had the right die. Just yesterday, I caught an unflared case mouth while loading 357 Mags. Since I use a turret press, this is a snap! Just rotate the turret to the flaring die, flare the case and you're all set, right? Wrong! You have to remember to rotate the turret BACK to the seating die. Yeah, I tried to seat a bullet with the flaring die - again. Give me another 50 years of hand-loading and I'll figure it all out. :oops:
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Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby Ranch Dog » 31 Dec 2019 18

Thanks for the reply. I've wondered about the mandrels/punches myself. I am used to checking the diameter of the mandrels as I have one under sized mandrel and three oversized mandrels (.001" increments) for each die. I keep them in individual trays for each die.
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Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby JohnnyEnfield » 01 Jan 2020 22

My 308 collet die started doing that pushed/crushed shoulder thing all of a sudden. It was because the tapered part was sticking inside the cone hole and the cases would just get smooshed. I tried several things and ended up smoothing everything with emery cloth and then polish a few different times. Then putting anti seize compound in there. I have not had the issue since the last smoothing and adding the anti seize. I did not have a visible crack in mine. Disappointing because I really liked the dies.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, means- resize, reload, recycle.
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Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby Joisey » 05 Feb 2020 09

A half hour to turn a new cap out of mild steel or brass and you are set for life. With a lathe there is no such thing as 'non standard' threads. The lathe doesn't care the diameter, it either cuts that may threads per inch/mm or it doesn't. The Lee cap is a standard tpi.
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Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby Ranch Dog » 05 Feb 2020 15

Lee is replacing the die.
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Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby Jeff H » 08 Feb 2020 19

That's reassuring news, Michael.

Regarding the two posts just previous to Michael's last post,...

I believe the "final fitting/polishing," which is often left to the user is important on these dies in particular. I've been in the habit, for several decades now, of "finishing" what the factory started on many, many different products. Every new gun or die, is disassembled, inspected, cleaned, relubed and usually "fluffed-n-buffed" to some degree, so maybe that's why I never had one of these act so badly. Not that I'm that smart - just acting out of habit.

Those steel or brass threaded caps may just represent a means of a fella with a lathe offsetting some of the cost of upkeep on such a tool. If blowing out those caps is common, an upgrade aftermarket cap would seem a logical solution for someone who needs one.
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Re: Collet Neck Sizing Dies have left the bench.

Postby TXPop » 09 Feb 2020 19

Completely agree with this.

I polish die body internals, collet throats and mandrels on Lee collet neck dies. Clean up the collet slots on neck dies and FCD's. Polish and customize seating stems with hot glue or 5-minute epoxy for specific bullet profiles. At $2 ea from Titan, you can have as many seating stems as you like.

The old saying is that the first 90% of the job takes 90% of the time and cost; the last 10% takes the other 90%. Mass production brings us consistent products that work 'well enough.' To obtain full capability we have to do the last 10% ourselves - or pay much higher prices.

I started reloading with Lee and keep coming back to them. My biggest gripe is the use of inappropriate materials (generally plastic / aluminum) where a more durable material would provide longer life or more precise / consistent results.

I understand cost accounting. I'm also pretty sure most Lee customers wouldn't notice the cost difference if FCD dies are shipped with a steel top cap instead of aluminum. I'm retired & on a fixed income and I still feel that way.

Lyman introduced stainless steel dies with a micrometer bullet seater at this year's Shot Show. $299 list. I'll never own a set. If I decide I have to have that precise a seater, I can add a Hornady seating die and their MicroJust seating stem to my Lee dies for about $60.

Michael, those collapsed case look like the neck isn't entering the sizing portion of the die; instead it's getting 'trapped' at the bottom, leading to turtled cases. IDK if the transition could be slightly rounded or polished but it's where I'd look.

When I'm polishing a mandrel I chuck it in a drill. Currently-produced mandrels have a hard transition between the bottom of the mandrel body and the tapered portion just above the decapping pin. While I have the mandrel chucked up, I also break that abrupt edge with a file then polish it with successively finer grades of wet-dry. Makes it noticeably smoother as the mandrel base enters the case mouth.

Looking forward to your reports on the APP!
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