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Thread: lee collet die issues

  1. #1
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    lee collet die issues

    Last weekend I bought a lee collet die for 303. Tested it it out on a few case and couldn't get the inside neck diameter small than .309 of a inch, I can push the bullet in by hand. My old lee loader and lee FL die gets the neck down to .305 which to me is perfect for optimal neck tension. After some research found out that people with the same issue sand down the mandrel a few .001's of a inch to achieve better neck tension, so I tried it and got the mandrel from .307 to .305. tested a couple of cases and still was getting .309 inside diameter, had to turn the cases in the shell and resize several times and apply at least 35 ft-lb of pressure (used a torque wrench with attachment) to get between .305 to .307. Doesn't seem right because my 243 collet doesn't require anywhere that much work to achieve optimal neck tension. Am I missing something, am I doing something wrong, has anyone else had this much trouble with a collet die?

  2. #2
    ebf
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    Sometines the petals on the collets get "stuck", disassemble the die, use some sandpaper on the cone, and give it a light coat of lithium grease.
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    Almost literate. veitnamcam's Avatar
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    It may also be that your collet is collapsing as far as is possible and not clamping on the mandrel as such and your necks are springing back.

    Annealing the case necks would be the solution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Three O'Three View Post
    Last weekend I bought a lee collet die for 303. Tested it it out on a few case and couldn't get the inside neck diameter small than .309 of a inch, I can push the bullet in by hand. My old lee loader and lee FL die gets the neck down to .305 which to me is perfect for optimal neck tension. After some research found out that people with the same issue sand down the mandrel a few .001's of a inch to achieve better neck tension, so I tried it and got the mandrel from .307 to .305. tested a couple of cases and still was getting .309 inside diameter, had to turn the cases in the shell and resize several times and apply at least 35 ft-lb of pressure (used a torque wrench with attachment) to get between .305 to .307. Doesn't seem right because my 243 collet doesn't require anywhere that much work to achieve optimal neck tension. Am I missing something, am I doing something wrong, has anyone else had this much trouble with a collet die?
    Greetings,
    Lee collet dies are sensitive to brass hardness so the necks of your cases may need annealing. The harder the brass is the more it springs back after its trip through the die. My son found that annealing every third load was required to maintain neck tension. He now anneals after every load in his FTR and FO rifles.
    Regards Grandpamac.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grandpamac View Post
    Greetings,
    Lee collet dies are sensitive to brass hardness so the necks of your cases may need annealing. The harder the brass is the more it springs back after its trip through the die. My son found that annealing every third load was required to maintain neck tension. He now anneals after every load in his FTR and FO rifles.
    Regards Grandpamac.
    These are once and second fired HXP cases from light reduced and subsonic loads. The necks shouldn't be that hard?

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    Quote Originally Posted by veitnamcam View Post
    It may also be that your collet is collapsing as far as is possible and not clamping on the mandrel as such and your necks are springing back.

    Annealing the case necks would be the solution.
    You might be right about the collet not collapsing enough. The slits between the collet fingers don't seem wide enough for the fingers to close all the way. Might have to get out the dremel tool with the cutting disc attachment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Three O'Three View Post
    These are once and second fired HXP cases from light reduced and subsonic loads. The necks shouldn't be that hard?
    Greetings,
    Quite correct they shouldn't but relatively new brass can be pretty hard. I have had .303 case necks crack on their second firing, pretty conclusively hard brass.
    Regards GPM .

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    You want hard brass...try S&B we had some in 308 and threw it away after reloading it once,nearly ripped handle off press sizing it...

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    Update: Polished internal parts, cleaned then lubed with CRC Lanoline lube, tried lithium grease but found it gunked up the die. I've used Lanoline lube for F/L sizing with good results so thought be good for the die. Works great my presses ram too. Now getting my neck tension where I want it with no hassles.
    veitnamcam, ebf and Micky Duck like this.

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    The Lee collet dies can be a little cantankerous, had a couple that were OK then weren't OK. Stripped and cleaned and made the damn things worse... Pulled them apart, cleaned again and reassembled and one worked the other was the same. Couldn't see why, so pulled the misbehaving one down and had a close look at everything, couldn't see any reason it didn't want to go so reassembled it and tried again. Worked fine. Conclusion, just contrary...

    May have been something in the fitting of the die to the press - I realised I never checked that but after the event though.

  11. #11
    Member zimmer's Avatar
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    Lee Collet dies are about as simple as an amoeba. 3 parts not counting the die body and cap.

    Instructions for use are vague about applying a certain press force. IIRC is also says don't cam over. My method, set to just cam over.
    Don't overdue the force. I did and expanded the cone section to the point it stuck inside the die body.
    Size and rotate case thru 3 positions.
    Don't operate the press handle without a case in the die, the petals will collapse and will need levering apart.
    As already stated spring back is the main issue and hard brass will appear to have not sized enough.
    Lightly grease the tapered cone section that squeezes the collet, that's all that's needed.
    If you heavily neck turn you may find the necks won't size. I say may, as I haven't measured to confirm this.

    With good consistant brass (I anneal after every firing) I get very consistant neck inside diameter, confirmed with pin gauges. Translates to a very consistant seating feel on the press handle. And results downrange.

    It's important to note some Lee stuff is not the ultimate in precision. For my 308 Collet die I ordered 2 additional shafts. All 3 shafts mic up different. No much, but different. I currently use the smallest diameter one which just gives me correct neck tension. However, I run light neck tension so another reloader may find it necessary to reduce the shaft diameter slightly.

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    Yeah, that was a fair point. Setting the press to not cam-over didn't result in consistent neck tension and resizing, just past cam-over was better.

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    I’ve also heard the Don’t work the press/die without a case in it warning, it may have even been in the instructions that came with the dies.

 

 

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