Locking expanding die's position

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Locking expanding die's position

Postby dalek » 04 Feb 2018 11

I have this set of Lee dies:
357dies_01-sm.jpg

The rightmost one is the expanding one. As you can see, the "bolt" that adjust the height of the die is plastic and has no way to lock it in place. When I first tried it by screwing it all the way down, it created a bell-shaped lip (think trumpet or saxophone) on my .357 brass (I only used one). When I insert a bullet and try to seat it, let's just say the brass did not like that:
357dies_02-sm.jpg

I did find out by backing it out just enough I would be able to flare it but not like a trumpet. But without being able to lock it in place I open myself to a lot of future disappointment. Any suggestions?
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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby mr surveyor » 04 Feb 2018 13

are you talking about the "rightmost" die, or "leftmost"

Maybe just me, but I need clarification


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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby Ohio3Wheels » 04 Feb 2018 14

It's been a while but if memory serves me right that black "bolt" is hard to turn accidentally.

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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby mr surveyor » 04 Feb 2018 14

Just looks like to me ....

Leftmost = Powder Through Expander Die

Middle = Sizing Die

Rightmost = Bullet Seater Die

Am I missing something?


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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby Archer » 04 Feb 2018 17

I'd have to agree with jd's assessment of which die is which.
IF that's the case I suspect the die in question seats and possibly crimps. IF so then I'd guess you had it adjusted incorrectly so that it attempted to crimp too much or too soon as the bullet was still being seated.
I have a tendency to seat in one operation and then come back through and crimp in another.
That's worked best for me over the years as it gives me more control than trying to combine the operations.

With regards to belling, although the Lee dies (and other brands) work I've found the Lyman M style expander dies allow me better control to expand for jacketed or get a slight bell for cast or plated bullets to avoid shaving lead while still getting better bullet alignment than seems to be the case with a 'trumpet' style bell. The exception is on my progressives which use a separate caliber specific belling funnel.

BTW you just made me pull out the last 6 sets of Lee dies I purchased.
In all 6 sets, (including deluxe sets of 40/10mm and .38/.357) NONE of them have that black plastic hex driven plug. Both the seating dies and the factory carbide crimp dies have a knurled aluminum finger adjustable plug with an O-ring on it.

The first set that shows up with a plastic hex plug will get sent back and I'll be purchasing a different brand from then on even at double the price.
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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby GasGuzzler » 05 Feb 2018 06

Ditto. I've never seen that either. Did you buy the die set new? If not, call Lee and order the proper part.

The ammo issue is caused by improper adjustment. The adjustment issue is the black thing it seems.
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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby Ranch Dog » 05 Feb 2018 07

dalek wrote:I have this set of Lee dies:
The rightmost one is the expanding one. As you can see, the "bolt" that adjust the height of the die is plastic and has no way to lock it in place. When I first tried it by screwing it all the way down, it created a bell-shaped lip (think trumpet or saxophone) on my .357 brass (I only used one). When I insert a bullet and try to seat it, let's just say the brass did not like that:

I did find out by backing it out just enough I would be able to flare it but not like a trumpet. But without being able to lock it in place I open myself to a lot of future disappointment. Any suggestions?

The die on the far left is the Powder Through Expander Die.

Are these new dies or did you buy them second hand? My bet is the latter as it sounds like you are not setting the die up according to the instructions which are rather easy. The base adjustment is straightforward, one turn off shell holder contact.

Image

When setting the die up, use a freshly sized case each time you test any fine adjustments. Fine adjustments are just that, fine. I take a Sharpe and make five-star points on the mouth of the die and do not adjust the die any further than one point at a time. In that you are using jacketed bullets, you will not have any issues with the Powder Through Expander Die once it is set up properly.

As a note, I've been through aftermarket expander plug route and went back to the Lee expander plugs after I understood them better. I'm using them with cast bullets that are .005" over SAAMI bullet specs for the cartridge. I had a couple of case failures with cases that had been expanded with the longer plugs, catastrophic failures, so I went back to belling the case mouth with the Lee plugs.

The Bullet Seating Die is on the far right. It looks like that someone has replaced the bullet seating stem and adjusting screw with the plastic bolt. My guess is that some 3D printing guy thought he had a good idea. I looked at Lee's website and they have not replaced any of the parts that they have been using for decades. I would call Lee Precision (262-673-3075) and get the proper parts for the bullet seating die. Looks like GG beat me to the advice.

I seat and crimp my 38 Spls in a single pass through the bullet seating die. No problems with a cast bullet that is .003" SAMMI bullet specs. Jacketed bullets would be easypeezy.
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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby barracudadave67 » 05 Feb 2018 13

The die on the right does not look correct to me, never seen a "bolt" like that in any Lee die, specially plastic.If it were me I would just buy another Lee die, and follow the instructions that come with it. Lee dies are very economical.
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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby Ohio3Wheels » 06 Feb 2018 14

Okay, guys, you just had to make me crawl under the bench and dig out a box of older die sets. Here's a picture of a Lee 357 set that probably out dates the OP's. I got my first 357 for Christmas of '69, so this set is some time post '70. I own at least three sets of 357 mag dies for some reason.

old_lee_dies.jpg


The FL sizing die looks pretty much like they do today, the expanding die has a fixed plug and is set by position in the press, the seater is a three piece, dies body, an insert to push the bullet and a black composite adjustment plug. Unfortunately the original box is long gone but they do say Lee on the bodies of the FL and the seater.

Enjoy a bit of history.

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Re: Locking expanding die's position

Postby GasGuzzler » 07 Feb 2018 07

The fix is the same; Call Lee. They might send a new replacement for nothing if your die set is really 45+ years old.
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