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Old February 20, 2000, 09:13 PM   #1
Peter M. Eick
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Join Date: August 3, 1999
Location: Houston, Texas
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How often do you all clean your dies, and what do you do to keep them from rusting the rest of the time?

My question is based upon being in the gulf coast region and I picked up some new lee 357 sig steel dies. I was kind of embarassed at how shiny they were compared to my older dies. My older dies (some are 20 years old) have picked up a light petina of coloring over the years. My usual method is to store each die set with a oil wet patch in an RCBS case. I wipe the dies down each time I am done handling them so they are always oil wet. I then clean them each time before I use them. Am I missing something?

P229 Sport and 357 SIG, Perfection!
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Old February 20, 2000, 09:51 PM   #2
Art Eatman
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Do you periodically disassemble the dies and clean and oil the "innards"? The inside is far more important than the outside; I wouldn't worry about any patina. Many of my dies are dull, but after 50+ years they oughta be. Hell, I'm gettin' a little dull myself.

As long as there are no scratches in the sizer or on the expander, they're as good as new.

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Old February 20, 2000, 11:51 PM   #3
Bud Helms
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
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Patina. That's a good one, Art.
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Old February 21, 2000, 08:59 PM   #4
Peter M. Eick
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I rip the dies down about once every 1000 rnds for a complete degreasing and cleaning using hoppes #9 and then I lube, and reset the complete die set. Inside they are all spotless and shiny, it seems to be only the outside that has developed the patina.

P229 Sport and 357 SIG, Perfection!
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Old February 22, 2000, 08:40 AM   #5
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Peter... If you are bothered by the mild "browning" on the outside of your dies you might try Houghton International's Rust Veto 4225. This is a water displacing material which upon drying leaves a very thin transparent film. It provides indoor protection for approximately 12 months & meets mil specs. It can be applied with a brush, by dip or spray. Almost any petroleum based solvent wil remove it- Hoppe's will work.

If you were to split a 5 gallon pail with four other shooters you'd each have a lifetime supply.

National Sales office: Houghton International
800 666 9424
They will direct you to a regional office.
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Old February 22, 2000, 09:35 AM   #6
k in AR
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Join Date: October 12, 1999
Location: Arkansas USA
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I disassemble & clean mine every couple of months or so. I use my regular gun cleaning supplies to accomplish this task.

I take it from your orginal post that you do wipe the oil back out of them before use.
If a person was to leave the inside of the die "wet" with oil, the hydraulic pressure generated when sizing would sure dent up some brass big time, esp. bottle neck rounds.

I have some die sets that are over 20 years old & are just fine using this minimal maintenance. The outside may not be as shiny as new but the outside "don't do the work". k
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Old February 22, 2000, 11:21 AM   #7
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I hose mine out with WD-40 and them wipe out the excess with a Q-tip. I do this about every month (1k rounds). Usually about once a year I take them apart and clean them really well with a bore solvent.

This has worked well for several years.

Good Luck...


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Old February 22, 2000, 03:22 PM   #8
Join Date: January 26, 2000
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No need to disassemble your dies, or squirt anything inside them. When are finished with them simply place them in an untrasonic cleaner with either MEK or TCE for about 15 minutes...
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Old February 22, 2000, 03:49 PM   #9
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Except that MEK and TEC are known high level carcinogens (they CAUSE cancer big time!!!!) I load about 2000 pistol rounds(9 & 40) a month. Mine are all set in a turret, so simply inverting the turret and squirting them out with a little electrical parts cleaner (available from the auto parts store) keeps 'em in top condition after every load session. The stuff evaporates clean, and works great. Over 20,000 rounds in my Lee carbide dies, with no problems!


A "Miss" is the ultimate overpenetration!

[This message has been edited by Banzai (edited February 22, 2000).]
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Old February 22, 2000, 05:20 PM   #10
Join Date: September 15, 1999
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Just a tip that you'll want to keep all oils away from the inside of your belling/powder die, as this will lead to powder 'clumping' and seriously screw up your accuracy.

I received a new set of LEE carbide pistol dies in .45ACP and the factory oil had the powder clumping in less than 100 rounds. I had to disassemble the die, clean it out thoroughly, and then clean out my powder drop tube to get it to throw consistently again. Just keep this area dry and you should be fine.

I think that the hard steel of most dies tends to cause oxidation from fingerprints on the outside, but as pointed out above - that's not the part that counts! HTH,
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Old February 22, 2000, 10:17 PM   #11
Peter M. Eick
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Thanks for all of the advice. I just looked again at my oldest dies (38 special RCBS). They have a light browning on the outside, but the inside is spotless and shiny so the steady use and oiling have kept them ready to go. I will just accept the slight tarnishing on the outside as a tribute to many years of use.

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