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Old July 5, 2010, 01:37 AM   #1
jgcoastie
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Lee Collet Neck Sizing Die... HELP!!!

I have been reloading for a couple of years now, although almost all of my press time has been devoted to pistol cartridges.

I'm having a bit of trouble and hopefully you can diagnose the problem for me.

I'm trying to neck size some 1x fired (out of my gun) cases and I have set up the dies as per the instructions that came with the dies. However, after I neck size the brass and set the bullet in the case mouth, the bullet moves freely back and forth. I can't even get the dang things to hold still long enough to run them into the bullet seating die. They just drop halfway into the case. Sometimes it takes fingertip pressure, other times it only takes me setting the bullet in the case mouth. I'm still trying to load my "dummy" rounds, I haven't even cracked the seal on that can of Varget yet.

FWIW, I've tried Lake City, Federal Premium, and American Eagle brass all with basically the same results. The bullets are 165gr Hornady Interlok's

Any ideas as to why this is happening?
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Old July 5, 2010, 02:47 AM   #2
hk33ka1
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Assuming the die is set up right you are probably not pulling the press lever with enough force. I found I had to pull it a lot harder than I thought to resize the case mouth on the mandrel to hold bullets properly.
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Old July 5, 2010, 03:32 AM   #3
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Make sure you read and follow the instructions for die adjustment. Make sure the collet has not been forced up into the die and stuck. I also recommend taking the die apart, wiping the collet down with solvent, lubing the outside of the collet, then reassembling the die. Sometimes when they are new they are a little sticky.
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Old July 5, 2010, 04:21 AM   #4
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Pay particular attention to pt.2
Lee Collet Neck Sizing Die Part 1
Lee Collet Neck Sizing Die Part 2
Courtesy of Ammosmith
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Old July 5, 2010, 07:47 AM   #5
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Using the Lee collet die has a learning curve, it's NOT a simple "push the case in, pull the case out" thing like other dies. But, once it's learned you won't want to change!

One thing to know for sure is there is a definate, hard limit on how far down you can size the necks. They can't be made any smaller than the mandral allows. Nor do they need to be any smaller; done correctly that die makes necks pretty much the perfect size! Most folks seem to think a high "neck tension" (smaller inside diameter) is somehow better but that's NOT true.

IF you push down too hard on the lever you can strip the threads off the die's top cap and pop it out. It's made to do that to prevent us from damaging the press or another part of the die. Use the prescribed 20# of lever pressure as the directions specify and you will likely be happy.
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Old July 5, 2010, 08:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Make sure you read and follow the instructions for die adjustment. Make sure the collet has not been forced up into the die and stuck. I also recommend taking the die apart, wiping the collet down with solvent, lubing the outside of the collet, then reassembling the die. Sometimes when they are new they are a little sticky.
This! Make sure the "New" die is clean. They come with all kinds of crap and metal shavings left in the die. Make sure you get all the metal shavings and crap out from between the collet fingers. The die should be screwed into the press well past the "cam over" point.
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Old July 5, 2010, 09:24 AM   #7
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I had the same problem and posted on FLF. Here is a link to the responses I received at the time.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=365680

I finally got it figured out but it took a lot of work. One thing I think I will eventually end up doing is having the die cut down slightly. Good luck
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Old July 5, 2010, 09:34 AM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnnchester
Using the Lee collet die has a learning curve, it's NOT a simple "push the case in, pull the case out" thing like other dies. But, once it's learned you won't want to change!

Hm. That's exactly what I've done with 3 different calibers now. I'm quite surprised that people have any trouble with these dies.

Raise the ram all the way, unless you use a cam over press, screw the die down until it's flush against the shell holder, lower the ram, screw the die in one full turn or 1 1/4 turns for more neck tension. (All as per instructions that came with the die)

All mine have worked perfectly, have required no fiddling at all and size the necks exactly .001 smaller than the bullet.

I don't know what could be easier than a Lee Collet die.

Of course, the one thing that isn't mentioned in the instructions, but should be fairly obvious, is to disassemble, clean and relube the die before using it. Mostly, this is to insure proper function, but it also serves to visualize exactly how the die actually works and aides in understanding why it is installed the way it is.
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Old July 5, 2010, 11:05 AM   #9
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This Lee online help video covers this exact problem. Note how hard the fellow pushes on the second pass. He advises 25 lb on the first pass and pushes a good deal harder when he finds the bullet slipping into the case afterward.

Note also that the pressure numbers in pounds only work for the Challenger press with its particular compound leverage. If you have some other press, the force will be more or less depending on what mechanical advantage the press has? The Lee Classic Cast press, for example, has higher leverage and makes this job easier. So, you have some trial and error work to do.

In addition to the above, I find with some brass it can be useful to pay attention to two more things. One is that some cases have slightly off-axis heads or necks, not to mention uneven necks. I always rotate the case 180° and give it a second push to try to even the applied forces out.

A second point is, while the collet dies work the necks less than standard dies (because they never over-resize and expand, as standard dies do), annealing necks so they don't tend to spring back can be helpful to minimizing the sizing force, especially on the first pass with previously reloaded cases.

Finally, once in a long while, no matter what you do, the brass and press you have just won't go. In these instances, you may either send the die back to Lee with some of your cases so they can adjust the mandrel diameter, or you can do it yourself with a variable speed drill and some 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper moistened with mineral oil. You just slide the paper back and forth along the mandrel as it spins in the drill. Don't take off more than a thousandth at a time. Half is better. Make frequent measurements to check progress if you do this. If you polish the mandrel with crocus cloth afterward, the smoother surface will be less prone to rusting later.
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Old July 5, 2010, 04:52 PM   #10
woods
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I use a lot of Lee Collets and this is the way I adjust them

Adjust the lock nut all the way to the top of the threads


this will put the lever in the most horizontal position


which makes it easier to gauge the pounds of weight you are putting on the lever.

The Lee instructions say to not cam the press over or hit the bottom of the stroke. On most presses it says to thread the die in 2 full turns after it hits the shell holder. That accomplishes the same thing but the lever is angled downward more.

Lee used to ship undersize mandrels for $5.00 each


They are much better IMO because it is hard to get 100% consistant diameter if you reduce the mandrel yourself. If you get the part of the mandrel exactly where you want it where the neck is compressed against it, when withdrawn a slight oversize or lopsided mandrel closer to the decapper will expand the neck when it passes over it.
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Old July 5, 2010, 08:01 PM   #11
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Wow, lots of good info. I'll do as suggested later tonight after the kids are in bed. Thanks and I'll update you on the results.
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Old July 5, 2010, 09:54 PM   #12
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I can't add any help to this thread but I did want to add a little love from my corner of the bench. These dies allow you to not only resize your rifle brass without using lube, without the hassle and work of FL sizing, but they also stress the brass quite a bit less than full length sizing does.

I love 'em and would rather buy them in deluxe sets with the other dies than have to buy them by themselves later. (they cost more that way)

For all the folks that burn energy campaigning against "cheap" Lee products, I can't imagine many folks who have bought and used Collet neck-only size dies and didn't end up loving them.
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Old July 6, 2010, 01:57 AM   #13
jgcoastie
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Alright, so I guess I'm just an idiot...

Turns out that I just wasn't pressing down hard enough on the lever. I figured that when the shellholder bottomed out against the bottom of the die then it was all over. But after giving it a bit more pressure after the shellholder and die make contact, every case comes out perfect.

Thanks for your help, and I'm sorry for being such a moron.

I put 10 rounds together for range testing later this week. Hopefully I can get out there tomorrow if it's not raining too bad. Here's my load:

42gr Hogdon Varget
165gr Hornady Interlock BTSP
CCI #200 LRP
OAL: 2.783"

I'll let you know how it turns out.
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Old July 7, 2010, 08:31 PM   #14
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I'd love Lee Collet Neck Sizing Dies even more if they had a little better attention to materials and internal finish. The ones I use have all benefited from polishing the collet and closer, and the aluminum caps seldom fit well. And don't get me started on Lee lock-less rings; I replace them with Hornady or Forster lock rings. Still, the performance and basic design of these dies makes them well worth dealing with their somewhat minor issues.

I also like the Lee collet type FCDs for rifle and bottleneck pistol cartridges.

I guess I like Lee dies that have collets.

Andy
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Old July 7, 2010, 08:56 PM   #15
midnightrider
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I tried the lee collet sizer die on 30-06, I hated it, the amount of force needed to get the neck tension is rediculous. so I took it apart and polised the edges it didnt make any difference. I broke the turret on my press cause after two reloads on the case the neck walls get thicker and need to be turned. I dont have a neck turner so the die was useless after two loads. I use RCBS neck sisers now. I get smaller groups with the RCBS neck sisers.

I love Lee stuff but that neck sizer is a **** for larger calibers. All of my other dies are mostly Lee cuase they work great and are priced right.

Last edited by midnightrider; July 7, 2010 at 09:02 PM.
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Old July 7, 2010, 09:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
I tried the lee collet sizer die on 30-06, I hated it, the amount of force needed to get the neck tension is rediculous. so I took it apart and polised the edges it didnt make any difference.
Sorry you had trouble with your Lee Collet Die. Adding more force will not increase neck tension. The Collet die is set up for roughly .001 neck tension. I never found this adequate. Increasing neck tension is done two ways, call Lee and order a reduced mandrel for about $5, or chuck your over-sized mandrel in a drill or drill press and polish it down to your desired size. I use both. Adding more force will only damage the die and maybe the press.
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Old July 7, 2010, 10:54 PM   #17
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I picked up a set for .223 this week and I think it works fantastic! I have not fired the loads I made yet but, I will report my findings of Friday.

The pressure needed was not all that much but, I am a pretty big guy even disabled I can push and pull still! LOL

I have not tried this die in the Turret press yet and to be honest not sure if it's a real good idea?
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Old July 8, 2010, 02:20 PM   #18
wncchester
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I have an assortment of Lee collet dies from .22-250 to .338, including .30-06 and love them all.

A "neck tension" of 1 thou or a bit less is all the real bullet grip we gonna get. Any neck stretching greater than a thou simply exceeds the elasticity of the brass and gets lost as the bullets expand the neck.

Check it yourself. Mike a sized case neck and then the loaded case neck at a specific point, pull the bullet and mike it again. Probably find a spring-back of .6 to 1 thou, but no more, from the loaded diameter no matter how much smaller the neck was before seating. Meaning, all we can get from a smaller neck inside diameter is more difficult seating and that's NOT the same thing as bullet grip.
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Old July 8, 2010, 03:00 PM   #19
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnnchester
Check it yourself. Mike a sized case neck and then the loaded case neck at a specific point, pull the bullet and mike it again. Probably find a spring-back of .6 to 1 thou, but no more, from the loaded diameter no matter how much smaller the neck was before seating. Meaning, all we can get from a smaller neck inside diameter is more difficult seating and that's NOT the same thing as bullet grip.
That seems to be the consensus of what I read from those who are wiser in the ways of reloading than I.

.001 under bullet diameter, if you need more tension than that, you need a crimp.
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Old July 8, 2010, 07:19 PM   #20
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Actually, I think the brass will hold at .002" under caliber and return to that point even if sized smaller. IOW if you size the neck to .003" under caliber, seat a bullet, pull the bullet the neck will be .002" under caliber. Likewise if you size the neck to .010" under caliber, seat a bullet, pull the bullet the neck will return to .002" under caliber.

I recently did an experiment with cases from my 375 Ruger. The fired case neck ID is .378"


The FL die (Collet Die not available) without the expander sizes the ID of the neck down to .366" (.009" below caliber!)


With the expander ball in, the neck ID is sized to .371"


I then seated a 260 gr Accubond and then pulled the bullets



The ID of each case returned to .373"


I then repeated the exact same operation on each case 2 more times and in each instance the results were identical.

What this tell me is that the elasticity of the brass is maxed out if stretched beyond .002".

Now I have not pulled any bullets with a bullet grip of only .001" but I would imagine that the case would return to that .001" bullet grip after pulling the seated bullet. Personally I like to size to .003" to make sure I get the same brass stretch on each case. To do this I get undersized mandrels from Lee or use a bushing die.
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