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Swifty
02-27-2008, 12:23 AM
Hey guys, does anyone have any special tips for properly adjusting a Lee Collet Neck Sizing Die? Do you just color the neck with a permanent marker and keep screwing the die down until it is sizing the better part of the neck or is there a special set-up needed?

DaRealViper
02-27-2008, 01:06 AM
For non Lee Presses Such as my RCBS Rockchucker, 2 turns past the mandrel
touching the shell holder. Use the lock nut to index the 2 turns then tighten down. 1 Turn for Lee Presses.

I've tried marker doesn't seem to help I've had to replace the collet the mandrel and now the aluminum cap stripped out the top. Insides do not slide freely and the mandrel must be removed for cleaning with a combination of a vice then a dowel and hammer.

If adjusted, after sizing little ridges appear after use where the collet squeezes the brass to the mandrel. Use an extra fine steel wool for 2-3 turns to polish the necks after use.

J. Valentine
02-27-2008, 01:50 AM
It does not size like that , it squeezes in on a central mandral. The only way you can reduce the length of neck area sized is by placing a machined washer over the case onto the shell holder. The thickness of the washer is the length of reduction.

Using The Lee Collet Die.
I started using Lee collet dies when they first came on the market and have found that they are very good for the purposes for which they were designed .
I have found that there is a lack of understanding of how to use the die properly and as a result people fail to see the advantages that the die can deliver over standard neck sizing dies.
This is not the fault of the product , it is just a lack of understanding of how the die works and what it will feel like when you operate the press correctly.
Standard dies use a neck expanding ball on the decapping rod and size by extruding the neck through a hole and then drag the expander ball back through the inside neck.
The collet die achieves neck sizing by using a split collet to squeeze the outside of the case neck onto a central mandrel which has the decapping pin in it’s base .
One advantage is that there is no stretching or drawing action on the brass.
The inside neck diameter is controlled by the diameter of the mandrel and to some extent by the amount of adjustment of the die and the pressure applied to the press .
This results in less misalignment than can occur in standard dies because of any uneven neck wall thickness in the cases .
Cases will last longer in the neck area and require less trimming. If cases have very uneven neck wall thickness then this can cause problems for the collet die they definitely work smoother and more accurately with neck turned cases but it is not essential.
When you first receive the die unscrew the top cap and pull it apart check that everything is there also that the splits in the collet have nothing stuck in them then inspect the tapered surface on the top end of the collet and the internal taper of the insert to make sure there are no metal burs that might cause it to jamb.
Next get some good quality high pressure grease and put a smear onto the tapered surface of the collet .
Put it back together and screw it into the press just a few threads for now . The best type of press for this die is a press of moderate compound leverage that travels over centre .
Over centre means that when the ram reaches its full travel up it will stop and come back down a tiny amount even though the movement on the handle is continued through to the stop .
eg. is an RCBS Rockchucker.
This arrangement gives the best feel for a collet die sizing operation.
Place the shell holder in the ram and bring the ram up to full height then screw the die down until the collet skirt just touches on the shell holder , then lower the ram .
Take a case to be sized that has a clean neck inside and out and the mouth chamfered and place it in the shell holder.
Raise the ram gently feeling for resistance if none , lower the ram.
Screw the die down a bit at a time .
If you get lock up ( ram stops before going over centre) before the correct position is found then back it off and make sure the collet is loose and not jammed up in the die before continuing then raise the ram feeling for any resistance , keep repeating this until you feel the press handle resist against the case neck just at the top of the stroke as the press goes over centre and the handle kinder locks in place .
This takes much less force than a standard die and most people don’t believe any sizing has taken place .
Take the case out and try a projectile of the correct caliber to see how much sizing has taken place.
If it’s still too loose adjust the die down one eighth of a turn lock it finger tight only and try again .
Once the die is near the correct sizing position it takes very little movement of the die to achieve changes in neck seating tension .
This is where most people come undone , they move the die up and down too much and it either locks up or doesn’t size at all .
It will still size a case locking it up but you have no control over how much pressure is applied and some people lean on the press handle to the point of damaging the die. A press like the RCBS Rockchucker , that goes over centre each time gives you a definite stopping point for the ram and the pressure that you apply .
There is a small sweet spot for correct collet die adjustment and you must find it , once found , how sweet it is ! Advantages : With a press that travels over centre it is possible to adjust the neck seating tension within a very limited zone. No lubricant is normally required on the case necks during sizing .

If you still cant get enough neck tension to hold the bullet properly for a particular purpose then you will have to polish down the mandrel.
Be careful poilishing the mandrel down and only do it a bit at a time as a few thou can be removed pretty quickly if you overdo it.
You can't get extra neck tension by just applying more force. The amount of adjustment around the sweet spot is very limited and almost not noticable without carrying out tests.
For example , to go from a .001 neck tension to a .002 or .003 neck tension you would be talking about polishing down the mandrel.

There are some other advantages but I will leave you the pleasure of discovering them .
One disadvantage that I have found with the collet die is that it needs good vertical alignment of the case as it enters the die or case damage may result so go slowly.
Also some cases with a very thick internal base can cause problems with the mandrel coming in contact with the internal base before the sizing stroke is finished.
If pressure is continued the mandrel can push up against the top cap and cause damage . If you are getting lock up and cant get the right sizing sweet spot, then check that the mandrel is not too long for the case you can place a washer over the case and onto the shell holder and size down on that.
It will reduce the length of neck sized and give the mandrel more clearance. If it sizes Ok after adding the washer then the mandrel could be hitting the base.
This is not a usually problem once you learn how to use them .
The harder the brass is the more spring back it will have so very hard brass will exhibit less sizing than soft brass because it will spring away from the mandrel more. If this is happening to excess then use new cases or anneal the necks.
Freshly annealed brass can drag on the mandrel a bit in certain cases because it will spring back less and result in a tighter size diameter.
I have experienced it. I always use some dry lube on the inside and outside if I get any draging effect . Normally you dont need lube.
I make up a special batch 1/3 Fine Moly powder. 1/3 Pure graphite. 1/3 Aluminiumised lock graphite. Rub your fingers around the neck and It sticks very well to the necks by just dipping it in and out and tapping it to clear the inside neck . After a few cases it coats up the mandrel .
Other dry lubricants would work also.
Use the same process for normal neck sizing also.

I noticed a definite improvement in the accuracy of my 22-250Rem. as soon as I started using a Lee collet die instead of my original standard neck die.
Readers are encouraged to utilise the benefits of responsible reloading at all times. Although the author has taken care in the writing of these articles no responsibility can be taken by the author or publisher as a result of the use of this information.
John Valentine. 21/01/2002.
*****

J. Valentine
02-27-2008, 01:56 AM
For non Lee Presses Such as my RCBS Rockchucker, 2 turns past the mandrel
touching the shell holder. Use the lock nut to index the 2 turns then tighten down. 1 Turn for Lee Presses.

I've tried marker doesn't seem to help I've had to replace the collet the mandrel and now the aluminum cap stripped out the top. Insides do not slide freely and the mandrel must be removed for cleaning with a combination of a vice then a dowel and hammer.

If adjusted, after sizing little ridges appear after use where the collet squeezes the brass to the mandrel. Use an extra fine steel wool for 2-3 turns to polish the necks after use.

I think you are using way too much force to size.

DaRealViper
02-27-2008, 02:35 AM
Nope the Die body wasn't machined to specs I believe.

Why? Because the die wouldn't work properly when adjusted as mfg instructions and yes I used to place white lithium greese on it before I replaced the mandrel and collet with new ones.

Now, I have to replace the cap if possible but the collet will no longer come out of the body so wood dowel and plastic mallet time.

deburred the collet and polished the mandrel worked ok for awhile slight mis-adjustment the press would cam over at the top.

Must have got a bad one. It happens.

Is it possible for brass to lose springiness or tension so that it is no longer sizeable?

J. Valentine
02-27-2008, 03:04 AM
The harder the brass is the more spring back it will have so very hard brass will exhibit less sizing than soft brass because it will spring away from the mandrel more. If this is happening to excess then use new cases or anneal the necks.
Freshly annealed brass can drag on the mandrel a bit in certain cases because it will spring back less and result in a tighter size diameter.
I have experienced it. I always use some dry lube on the inside and outside if I get any draging effect . Normally you dont need lube.
I make up a special batch 1/3 Fine Moly powder. 1/3 Pure graphite. 1/3 Aluminiumised lock graphite. Rub your fingers around the neck and It sticks very well to the necks by just dipping it in and out and tapping it to clear the inside neck . After a few cases it coats up the mandrel .
Use the same process for normal neck sizing also.
I have five Lee collet dies and I use two quite regularly and I have never had that kind of failure.
If you buy a new one , I will be interested in hearing if the problems persist.
A faulty piece of gear is always a big possibility in this game.
One problem is that the manufactures instructions are wrong! If you use my instructions I feel with a new die you will be much better off.

John Kielly
02-27-2008, 03:16 AM
John Valentine,

Can I occasionally show your excellent description on adjusting the Lee collet die to acquaintances - with (totally) due acknowledgement?

cheers

John

PS: Why didn't I see it before I learned the hard way?

J. Valentine
02-27-2008, 03:22 AM
John Valentine,

Can I occasionally show your excellent description on adjusting the Lee collet die to acquaintances - with (totally) due acknowledgement?

cheers

John

PS: Why didn't I see it before I learned the hard way?

Yes you are welcome to use it that is what it is posted for to help other shooters.

BJS6
03-02-2008, 10:41 PM
John,

Good work. I have used collet dies for many years set up like you said. They worl very well. Like you said, Lee's instructions really are not the best way to set them up. Also a proper locking ring like the Forster ones are a big help, the Lee ones should be thrown away !!

The set up is one of those things that is very simple to show somebody but hard to actually describe, you did a good job.


Mr Viper, if you blew the alloy cap out the top you used FAR to much force. Used properly the amount of handle pressure on the press is very small. In a cam over press you can darn near do it with just the weight of the handle if you let it fall a short way. The handle with just "click" over centre as the case neck is sized. Jammed collets, blown tops and marked mandrels are class ic examples of an abused and misunderstood collet die. Ignore your own method of setting up and read and understand what John has written.

You don't need to alter the handle pressure to gain more neck tension, once the neck is on the mandrel you can't push it any more. If you want more neck tension just polish the mandrel down a smidge. For a 223 collet die I have three mandrels, one standard and a -1 thou and a -2 thou for greater neck tension.


The collet die is about the best way to size a case neck for a non neck turned/tight necj chamber and may be better than bush dies in a lot of applications. I'd be tempted to try one with my bench rest 6PPC if I could be bothered sizing the neck and body in two operations every loading !!

Swifty
03-03-2008, 12:50 AM
Hey guys, I just received my Lee Collet dies and gave them a try. I did as John instructed and ran the press to the top of the stroke and screwed the die down till it touched the skirt. I slowly turned the die down and kept running a case up until it seemed like the neck was sized enough to hold a projectile. I found that by the time I was getting enough sizing taking place that I had to have the die adjusted so that I needed a considerable amount of pressure (say 20 lbs ?) Anyhow, I also found that the amount of tension created by the collet die was considerably less than the amount of tension my RCBS expander ball neck die creates. When I seat bullets on my .220 Swift using my RCBS neck die, I have a hard time pulling them off with a plier, but when I seat one with the collet die, it comes off relatively easy with a twist of my plier. (yes I know using a plier on a projectile ruins it). Anyhow, is this normal?

John Kielly
03-03-2008, 02:04 AM
When I seat bullets on my .220 Swift using my RCBS neck die, I have a hard time pulling them off with a plier, but when I seat one with the collet die, it comes off relatively easy with a twist of my plier. (yes I know using a plier on a projectile ruins it). Anyhow, is this normal?
Swifty,

You're a precision scientist after my own heart.

We were chewing over this fact a couple of years back & came up with a couple of theories:


The Lee doesn't use as much neck tension as the standard dies do, so release tension might be lower. But we were all converts, so it wasn't an issue.


Conventional expander balls aren't at the high end of engineering finish, so maybe dragging one thru the neck roughs up the throat causing extra & quite possibly inconsistent tension.

In your case, does the 220 still have thicker necks than the average 22 case, which might just result in more tension with the conventional system than if the same ball were dragged thru a .223 case?

John

Swifty
03-03-2008, 03:14 AM
John,

In response to your question about my neck thickness, yes I am using a group of brass with unusually thick necks. So when I think of it, your theory makes alot of sense.

J. Valentine
03-03-2008, 07:20 AM
Hey guys, I just received my Lee Collet dies and gave them a try. I did as John instructed and ran the press to the top of the stroke and screwed the die down till it touched the skirt. I slowly turned the die down and kept running a case up until it seemed like the neck was sized enough to hold a projectile. I found that by the time I was getting enough sizing taking place that I had to have the die adjusted so that I needed a considerable amount of pressure (say 20 lbs ?) Anyhow, I also found that the amount of tension created by the collet die was considerably less than the amount of tension my RCBS expander ball neck die creates. When I seat bullets on my .220 Swift using my RCBS neck die, I have a hard time pulling them off with a plier, but when I seat one with the collet die, it comes off relatively easy with a twist of my plier. (yes I know using a plier on a projectile ruins it). Anyhow, is this normal?

The neck tension sounds about right. What kind of press are you using ?

Swifty
03-03-2008, 02:24 PM
I'm using an RCBS Rockchucker

J. Valentine
03-03-2008, 03:18 PM
I'm using an RCBS Rockchucker

An RCBS Rockchucker is very good for a Lee collet die.
Are you sizing to a point where the press goes over center and kinda locks the handle inplace . Just like BJS6 is doing.
Your post does not give me that impression .
If you are using just handle pressure against the die without it going over center then you have no controll over the size pressure , no stopping point .
If this is the case then go back and readjust the die a small amount at a time untill it starts to go over center while resizing a case and the handle locks in place.
Then try a projectile in the case . If it needs extra sizing from that point only move the die a very small amount at a time.
If it stops going over center you have gone past the sweet spot.

J. Valentine
03-03-2008, 03:38 PM
John,

Good work. I have used collet dies for many years set up like you said. They worl very well. Like you said, Lee's instructions really are not the best way to set them up. Also a proper locking ring like the Forster ones are a big help, the Lee ones should be thrown away !!

The set up is one of those things that is very simple to show somebody but hard to actually describe, you did a good job.


Mr Viper, if you blew the alloy cap out the top you used FAR to much force. Used properly the amount of handle pressure on the press is very small. In a cam over press you can darn near do it with just the weight of the handle if you let it fall a short way. The handle with just "click" over centre as the case neck is sized. Jammed collets, blown tops and marked mandrels are class ic examples of an abused and misunderstood collet die. Ignore your own method of setting up and read and understand what John has written.

You don't need to alter the handle pressure to gain more neck tension, once the neck is on the mandrel you can't push it any more. If you want more neck tension just polish the mandrel down a smidge. For a 223 collet die I have three mandrels, one standard and a -1 thou and a -2 thou for greater neck tension.


The collet die is about the best way to size a case neck for a non neck turned/tight necj chamber and may be better than bush dies in a lot of applications. I'd be tempted to try one with my bench rest 6PPC if I could be bothered sizing the neck and body in two operations every loading !!

Thankyou BJS6 for the encouragement.
The Lee locking nuts are not great thats for sure.
However I do something radically different . I turn the Lee lock nut upside down and use the o ring under the Lee lock nut . I also put an extra lock nut on so they cant move.
I only tighten the die , finger tight and have a mark on the die I line up on the press head .
This allows the die to float a small amount as it is sizing , to reduce press ram misalignment, die misalignment etc.
For my 223 I also place a machined washer over the case onto the shell holder to reduce the length of neck sized .
This leaves a small extra shoulder at the base of the neck that is never sized to tighten up the neck in the chamber. Cases are neck turned to just clean up.
This works well with a Body die as it does not touch the neck area at all.
This is a technique for a bolt action mostly.
If anyone is interested I can post a more detailed explanation.

Swifty
03-03-2008, 04:02 PM
I have actually been sizing just how you described. When I size, the handle cams over center and locks in place (and fairly tightly too since it seems like I am applying quite a bit of pressure). I think that if I screwed the die down any more at all, that I would not be able to apply enough pressure to let the press cam over center without damaging the die. Does this sound like I am pretty close to the "sweet spot"?

BJS6
03-03-2008, 04:21 PM
Swifty,

Back the die out just a little bit at a time as you lower the handle so the ram comes over centre. Get the die set and the lock ring locked up so that the handle just sort of "clicks" over centre.

At that stage you are applying all the pressure needed to size the neck. Having the die down any further will only add load to everything and not do much of anything to the neck tension.

If with a just firm load on the handle and a nice positive "click" over centre you don't have enough neck tension then remove the mandrel from the die, measure it accurately at the neck area and polish it down 0.5 - 1.0 thou. Reset the die if needed (probably not) and check the neck tension again. I held the mandrel in the chuck of a drill and polished down with about 600 grit paper, it doesn't take much.

The collet dies I have used seem to create about a 1 thou neck tension. That is fine for carefully handled ammo but if you magazine feed or maybe carry a pocked full of ammo in the field then maybe 2 thou tension might be better. Try the loads at 1 thou first and see how the shoot.

Just be aware that oncce you have applied enough pressure on the die to close the collet and press the neck on the mandrel all the extra force in the world will not make the neck size smaller, not unless you compress the mandrel. The force needed to press the neck on the mandrel is quite small, no need to press on the handle much at all when you have the die set so that the press does that nice firm "click" over centre thing.

Bryce

J. Valentine
03-03-2008, 06:17 PM
I have actually been sizing just how you described. When I size, the handle cams over center and locks in place (and fairly tightly too since it seems like I am applying quite a bit of pressure). I think that if I screwed the die down any more at all, that I would not be able to apply enough pressure to let the press cam over center without damaging the die. Does this sound like I am pretty close to the "sweet spot"?
Thats good .
It sounds like you may be past the sweet spot a small amount , Try backing the die off (UP) a small fraction so it still goes over center but does not apply as much pressure on the collet. Then check the bullet neck tension again.
Also have you dismantled the die and greased the tapered end of the collet?
If you still cant get enough neck tension to hold the bullet properly for a particular purpose then do as BJS6 has outlined .
Be careful poilishing the mandrel down and only do it a bit at a time as a few thou can be removed pretty quickly if you overdo it.
You can't get extra neck tension by just applying more force. The amount of adjustment around the sweet spot is very limited and almost not noticable without carrying out tests.
For example , to go from a .001 neck tension to a .002 or .003 neck tension you would be talking about polishing down the mandrel.
BJS6 has raised a very good point and I think I will include this info in my instructions.

Swifty
03-03-2008, 07:04 PM
Ok sounds good, I'm not sure I understand your instructions about putting the grease on however. Do I need to take the collet out of the die to do this? If so how? when you unscrew the top all that readily comes out is the mandrel right? How do you get the collet out to do this?

BJS6
03-03-2008, 07:10 PM
Swifty,

Once the top is taken off the mandrel, collet and the collet closing piece should all come out. You may need to push the collet out from the bottom, press it on the table with the cap off the die. Sometimes they can press on the sides of the die a little but should come out without undue effort.

A small amount of grease on the tapered outer area of the collet where it presses into the recess on the collet closer.

While it is apart make sire there are no machining dags anywhere that might jam things up.

Bryce

IanRobertson
03-03-2008, 08:00 PM
It is easy to use more pressure than needed with a collet die. My Forster press will easily reform the die until it will not work properly. The way to set up for the max resize is to measure the neck as you screw down the die. When it no longer gets smaller it's time to actually raise it until it start to get bigger and be happy with the least force to get the smallest neck. If still too large the mandrel needs to be made smaller. No "feel" required, just measure it!

J. Valentine
03-04-2008, 12:04 AM
It is easy to use more pressure than needed with a collet die. My Forster press will easily reform the die until it will not work properly. The way to set up for the max resize is to measure the neck as you screw down the die. When it no longer gets smaller it's time to actually raise it until it start to get bigger and be happy with the least force to get the smallest neck. If still too large the mandrel needs to be made smaller. No "feel" required, just measure it!

You are assuming that all users have micrometers or calipers and know how to use them .
I have used neck diameter at times to indicate amount of sizing taking place and considered it for my instructions . However I opted for an explanation that will also work for people without such tools.

milanuk
03-04-2008, 09:34 AM
A workable set of dial calipers costs $20-30 USD... far less than most people spend on dies, press, etc. It's considered minimum standard equipment. Someone who doesn't have a set of calipers has no business reloading with anything more sophisticated than a Lee Loader (the one that uses a powder scoop and a mallet), IMO.

Doug Eckhart
03-05-2008, 12:29 AM
The way I remove the collet is to pull it out from the bottom of the die . By pressing it up with the cap and mandrel removed , still presses the collet into the taper of the die . The collet is held in place by a floating ring that pops past a slight lip in the bottom of the die body . Just pull down , by hand and slightly twist and it will come right out . You don't even realy have to remove the mandrel at all .

I also , every so often , like every 4 or 5 rounds sized , slightly twist the collet a little . This keeps the collet from getting a wear pattern inside the die body .

And lastly , do use a good grease on the outside of the collet / inside of the die body . The ones that I have gotten are coated with a rust inhibitator that does nothing for lubricating the contact points between the collet and body . These dies work very differently than standard dies . On the standard dies the case is slid inside the die doing the sizing , and you do not size the case dry . On the collet die the die itself is what does the movement , collet sliding on the die body . Every few hundred sizings it is also a good ideal to pull the collet out through the bottom and clean and re- lubricate the die .This can be done without removing the die from the press.

Doug

John Kielly
03-05-2008, 01:01 AM
I was recently convinced of the benefit of not dropping primer crud on my good press, so I deptime in a separate step, something I haven't done for all that long. It's not totally incorporated in my loading routine yet &, as a consequence, I have one extra mandrel. That one is set up with a short decapping pin - one that doesn't quite protrude out of the bottom of the flash hole but still aligns the mandrel- which allows me to neck size when I've already primed the cases.

I've only done that twice, but boy, was I sweating until I nutted out a workaround.

While I'm in the confessional, should I say that my depriming die is a Redding Competition neck die with the bushing removed? Well, you have to amortise that cost somehow when the Lee does a better job.

milanuk
03-05-2008, 01:09 AM
John,

Another way to contain all the nasty primer crud... Forster Co-Ax press... all the nastiness goes down the pipe into the spent primer cup, and unlike other designs... there are no 'escapees' ;) The Lee Collet die does work in there, but I think a Forster die ring might work better on it than the Lee o-ring affair. Haven't tried it, but planning on it.

Monte

Swifty
03-05-2008, 02:30 AM
John,

Another way to contain all the nasty primer crud... Forster Co-Ax press... all the nastiness goes down the pipe into the spent primer cup, and unlike other designs... there are no 'escapees' ;) The Lee Collet die does work in there, but I think a Forster die ring might work better on it than the Lee o-ring affair. Haven't tried it, but planning on it.

Monte

Speaking of which, where can a guy buy a few replacement locking die rings. I don't need anything fancy, heck an RCBS type locking die ring would work, but like you said the o-ring deal on the lee dies doesnt really fit my fancy. I like to be able to lock them so I can just screw it in the press or unscrew it and put it away whenever I want.

John Kielly
03-05-2008, 03:23 AM
Another way to contain all the nasty primer crud... Forster Co-Ax press...
Monte,

Yeah, but I had the bubba press & I'm figuring to spend my spare cash on a nose former & a new stock - besides, I don't think we see many in Australia since they lost the Bonanza brand.

John

milanuk
03-05-2008, 09:24 AM
Swifty,

Midway USA sells spare die lock rings for several brands... I dislike the set-screw type lock rings that Redding/RCBS use almost as much as I do the Lee rings... a while back I purchased several packs of Hornady split-clamp rings - they have a wrench flat built in, handy for conventional presses and such.

John,

Gotcha. Well, Lee's classic cast press (the one built kinda like a Rockchucker) happened to nab that particular feature from Forster/Bonanza as far as I can tell... its another option, depending on how bad you want to keep the primer crud contained. I never realized how bad/annoying the mess was until it was *gone* and I had a clean press...

Monte

Ted Winterman
03-05-2008, 07:09 PM
I have been using collet dies for about 2 years and always wondered
how much pressure was enough to apply. After reading Mr. Valentine's article,
and making the advised adjustments, sizing necks has been a breeze.
Thanks for a great article!

T. Bear (Ted)
:)

J. Valentine
03-05-2008, 10:56 PM
Speaking of which, where can a guy buy a few replacement locking die rings. I don't need anything fancy, heck an RCBS type locking die ring would work, but like you said the o-ring deal on the lee dies doesnt really fit my fancy. I like to be able to lock them so I can just screw it in the press or unscrew it and put it away whenever I want.

I like Hornardy locking rings. The style that are cut and an allen head locking screw clamps them for a positive lockup, but is very easy to unlock.
Nothing goes in against the 7/8 x 14 thread except the thread of the lock nut.

J. Valentine
03-05-2008, 11:01 PM
I have been using collet dies for about 2 years and always wondered
how much pressure was enough to apply. After reading Mr. Valentine's article,
and making the advised adjustments, sizing necks has been a breeze.
Thanks for a great article!

T. Bear (Ted)
:)

Thankyou Ted , You are most welcome.

Paul Tummers
03-13-2008, 04:09 AM
I came around this forum when Googling Lee collet die, and have learned a lot about the adjustment of them, thank you!
I only do not know, how to change the decapping pin in the mandrel in case it breaks or bends- looks to me, I need a new mandrel then.
I bouht 2 sets of Lee collet dies, one in .222Rem., and one in .308W and use them in my Forster press.
First thing I did was discarding the locking rings and put on Forster rings.
After taking the die apart I totally cleaned it, removed some burrs and added a high grade Teflon grease at the inside of the forcing cone and on the lower sliding part of the collet unit.
I also worked my way up to sufficient neck tension by gradually lowering the die, seating a bullet and removing it with a kynetic bullet puller.
Within these attempts the play of the mandrel in the hole of the forcing cone already made the decap pin almost break down on the bottom of the case, and I cured this by taking the mandrel out and slipping an O-ring over it which forces the flat end of the mandrel against the top-cap, thus semi-locked but still movable due to the elasticity of the O-ring.
I really like the concept of these dies, just a pity, the finishing of the parts is not what it could be!
Regards,
Paul T.

J. Valentine
03-14-2008, 02:34 AM
I know what you are saying Paul , the decapping pin in Lee Colet die is a tad short. I have had the same trouble with some old brands of .308 cases that had a thicker base than newer brass some time back .
This could explain how dies get damaged to the point of stripping the top cap as one poster has explained.
I have not broken one yet " touch wood ".
You have raised a very good point . I had forgotten about this potential problem because I have not had a problem with it for some years.
Another way around the problem of a case with a too thick base is drop a thin washer over the case and onto the shell holder then size on that . It will reduce the length of neck sized and give more room for the mandrel to miss the case internal base .
The pin appears to be pressed in or crimped someway.
The only way I can see to repair a broken pin would be , drill the broken pin out and press in a new one or buy a new mandrel.

Paul Tummers
03-14-2008, 03:44 AM
About coming off the top-cap; I heard sometimes talking about this, but some folks seemed to try to fine-adjust the die by unscrewing this cap, which should not be done,because the allumin cannot take to much force at the tread, thus screwing the cap as tight as muscle-power applied with bare hands can bring is the thing to do and adjusting only can be done by screwing the die downward/upward in the press.
I had no trouble yet with the decap pin being too short, always use Lapua brass for my .308W.,which is really good brass, and R-P in my .222Rem. which is OK too.
If it happens a decap pin breaks, I will buy a new mandrel, because drilling the old pin out will be difficult because everything has to be concentric afterwards.
The only thing I can imagine is making a mandrel in a lathe, drilling the pin hole and drilling another hole from the side, threading it and put in a maggot screw to keep the pin locked in its place, and if this hole is located half-way at the end of the decap-pin hole, there is an opportunity to push the decap pin out in case it broke just at the junction mandrel/decap-pin, which leaves nothing to be gripped with a pair of pliers, or, even simpler, decap with an universal decapping die as an exta stage is an option to consider too.
In the .308 this can be done easily, but with the smaller .22 mandrels there might be not enough material left to accomodate a maggot screw.
If the mandrel is kept concentric in the die, however, and some care is taken in placing the case in the shell-holder and during the upward stroke of the press, the decap pin should almost last forever.
Greetings from a rainy Holland,
Paul.

Paul Tummers
03-14-2008, 03:48 AM
I have been using collet dies for about 2 years and always wondered
how much pressure was enough to apply. After reading Mr. Valentine's article,
and making the advised adjustments, sizing necks has been a breeze.
Thanks for a great article!

T. Bear (Ted)
:)

You are right!
I can perform the act with 2 fingers on my Forster press!
Regards,
Paul.

John Kielly
03-14-2008, 03:58 AM
I decap separately these days, because I was convinced that I could save wear & tear on my good press by not dropping all those abrasive residues over it. While I use a separate die mounted in one of those kiddy Lee pot metal minipresses, it wouldn't take much to make up a simple lever to activate one of those base & pin style travelling decappers.

Paul Tummers
03-14-2008, 05:52 AM
I decap separately these days, because I was convinced that I could save wear & tear on my good press by not dropping all those abrasive residues over it. While I use a separate die mounted in one of those kiddy Lee pot metal minipresses, it wouldn't take much to make up a simple lever to activate one of those base & pin style travelling decappers.
Hi John,
My Forster press does not get fouled by decapping, everything is dropped down a metal tube and collected in a small plastic container, should have bought this press 25 years agoo, wanted too, but could not afford it-raising children isn't cheap.Things are changed now-children are on their own, my daughter is preparing to make me a grandpapa, ha ha!
An extra press on my bench is nice, but I already have the Forster, a Dillon 650 and a Redding turret installed.
I could however decap with the old steel built Lyman 310 tool I have with complete dies in several calibers, but there is no need for me.
Good to hear, these pot-metal presses can be used anyway!
I think, a press should be made of steel, if one wants to perform other things on it than neck-sizing/seating bullets.
Regards,
Paul.

Dew
03-14-2008, 12:40 PM
With all of this good information on setting up the Lee Collet die, it would be good (perhaps) if a copy of some of this thread be sent to Lee. I'm sure they are looking for better ways to explain setting of their products.

Just a thot,
Dew

J. Valentine
03-14-2008, 06:19 PM
Done that! Wrote a letter years ago ! No reply .

Paul Tummers
03-14-2008, 06:28 PM
Done that! Wrote a letter years ago ! No reply .

I think, they read the postings in this and other forums, an easy way to get reasonable accurate user feedback, Other brands do the same.
Regards,
Paul.

J. Valentine
03-15-2008, 03:59 PM
You are most likley correct Paul.
I only wrote one letter so who knows it could have got chewed up in the mail or lost or I might have miss addressed it. Just because I wrote a letter does not mean they actually received it .
There are plenty of manufactures who have less than perfect instructions .

Paul Tummers
03-15-2008, 04:35 PM
I just put the .222Rem die together after having very carefully reworked every part of it exept the body in my lathe,it is a real improvement. just a pity, I cannot cut the thread for a brass or steel cap on this lathe; it is just a very basic one.
I otherwise was thinking of a cap which could acomodate a spring tension for the mandrel and making some mandrels to my requirements but with a taper underneath the mandrel head to have it centered by the spring load by a ball pushing on top of it.

keithcatfish
03-15-2008, 07:35 PM
J Valentine,

Thanks!! I use an older RCBS RS2 press, that, like the Rockchucker, toggles over. Using your instructions, I can size cases with barely more force than the weight of the press handle.

I have a question for the peanut gallery; is .004 neck tension too much?

Keith

J. Valentine
03-16-2008, 05:49 AM
J Valentine,

Thanks!! I use an older RCBS RS2 press, that, like the Rockchucker, toggles over. Using your instructions, I can size cases with barely more force than the weight of the press handle.

I have a question for the peanut gallery; is .004 neck tension too much?

Keith

For what cartridge and weight of bullet in what kind of gun ?

J. Valentine
03-16-2008, 05:53 AM
I just put the .222Rem die together after having very carefully reworked every part of it exept the body in my lathe,it is a real improvement. just a pity, I cannot cut the thread for a brass or steel cap on this lathe; it is just a very basic one.
I otherwise was thinking of a cap which could acomodate a spring tension for the mandrel and making some mandrels to my requirements but with a taper underneath the mandrel head to have it centered by the spring load by a ball pushing on top of it.

The thing with the mandrel is that they are a sloppy fit on purpose so they go with the collet when it closes and dont add any sideways thrust against the closing action of the collet .

keithcatfish
03-16-2008, 07:53 AM
J. Valentine,

RE: neck tension

Its for a 223 Savage VLP and a rebarrelled Mauser 308. With Winchester brass, the collet die provides .004 tension for the 223 and .002 for the 308. Federal brass for the 308 has .004 tension. I use 50-69 g bullets in the 223 and 125-178 g in the 308.

Both guns shoot well, the 223 a bit less than 1/2 MOA with several loads, the 308 a bit more than 1/2 with its pet loads. I'm primarily a paper puncher but I do a bit of feral hog and groundhog hunting too.

Thanks again, I sized a bunch more brass last night. WOW its easy!

Keith

J. Valentine
03-16-2008, 08:28 AM
Look if they are shooting well then leave as is.
With the Mauser just make sure that any ammo feeds through the magazine without loosing concentricity of the seated projectile.

Ted Winterman
03-16-2008, 09:45 AM
With regards to the de-capping pin, I just cut them off with a DREMMEL
cut-off disk and use other ways to de-cap primers.

Tbear:rolleyes:

Paul Tummers
03-16-2008, 10:53 AM
Was thinking about that too, at the other hand does the decap pin contribute to centering the mandrel , and everything that helps...;)
Regards,
Paul.

J. Valentine
03-17-2008, 06:00 PM
Every thing is centered by the two tapers as they engage and the body of the collet as it slides in the die body , one taper on the collet head and the internal taper bush.
Once the mandrel is in the case with or without a decapping pin it just goes along for the ride.

Paul Tummers
03-17-2008, 07:53 PM
Every thing is centered by the two tapers as they engage and the body of the collet as it slides in the die body , one taper on the collet head and the internal taper bush.
Once the mandrel is in the case with or without a decapping pin it just goes along for the ride..
I agree, but try to save the decapping possibility by centering the mandrel, sounds unbelievable, but I already had almost the decap pin broken or bend because it was not in line with the flash-hole, and of course the mandrel was in the case mouth at that point, had none of these trouble after I attached the O-ring.
Paul T.

Silverfox
03-18-2008, 02:48 PM
This post is WAAAAY late, but I haven't been on this site for quite some time. Anyway, I'm not at home so I don't have a link to my photos except where I have them stored on PhotoBucket, so I'll insert the photos when I get home in a half hour or so. Have patience. The first one will be a photo of the guts of one of my Lee collet dies with a little explanation on how to improve the functionality of this fine die.

First photo in the post below :D

I use the same grease on the nose and collar of the collet die as I use on the lugs on the bolts for my rifles. Use it sparingly.

I hope none of you have had the collet fingers lock into the beveled collar when you have been running you ram up against the bottom of the die. I would NEVER recommend running the ram up on the bottom of a collet die and putting 20 to 25 ft. lbs. of pressure on the press handle unless you have a casing in the shell holder. Why? You might wind up locking the collet fingers closed and then when you run a casing up into the collet die here's some examples of what your casings will look like:

Second photo in the post below :D

Those were brand new WW 22-250 casings and, YES, it took me about three casings to decided I needed to disassemble the die to find out what was wrong. As mentioned above, the collet fingers were stuck. After figuring that out, I used some fine emery cloth to sand between the fingers, and smooth out the nose a tiny bit. Then, a thin coat of gun grease on the collet nose and the squeeze collar and I reassembled it. I have never had a problems with the fingers sticking since I did this. I do take the die apart periodically and clean it and reapply grease to the appropriate spots.\

I think Lee recommends about 25 ft. lbs. of force on your press handle to properly size the necks. Personally, I DO NOT set my collet dies so the press cams over though. I try to gauge the pressure by guess and by golly.

Silverfox
03-18-2008, 04:36 PM
Here's the two photos I mentioned in my post above. I couldn't figure out how to add them when I tried to edit that post.

I hope these photos are of some help.

J. Valentine
03-18-2008, 06:32 PM
The only reason Lee does not recommend the " over center method " is because their press will not do that.
Also if a really bad operator uses a stupid amount of force to make a press go over center it will damage the die from the high leverage.
If you have a press that will go over center then that is the best way to do it in my opinion as it only takes a slight ammount of force on the handle and you have a definate stopping point for the force applied. I have been doing it that way since the first Lee collet die appeared on the market. It is common for me to reload 400 rounds at a time for .223 and with Lee's method at 25lbs of presure each stroke for 400 resizes it is pure murder on your arm.
Going over center I can size with one finger on the press handle in a Rockchucker.
When a compound leverage press goes over center it is at its highest leverage point . When you use the constant pressure method you have to stay below the highest leverage point so it is way harder on your arm to apply the same pressure.
For a very short distance at the top of the stroke the leverage is multiplied many times and a collet die only needs a very short stroke to do its work.
Lee has an instruction that suits their press but does not help anyone with other types .
You got the collet stuck because you followed Lee's instructions.

RedDelPaPa
07-12-2009, 09:01 PM
I use a very similar method to what has been described when using a toggle over press. I use the Lee Classic Cast Press. I set the collet die so that the Lee press comes to the stops, and also gives me the neck tension I'm after. That way, your force exerted on the collet die is exactly the same for each case cycled through the press. I will admit, it is still harder on the arm using the Classic cast press, than when I do the same collet resizing operation on my dads old RCBS A2 press that toggles over. But nevertheless, it works, and is fool proof once adjusted.

Clark
07-12-2009, 11:07 PM
I broke my Rockchucker with an 8x57mm Lee Collet die adjusted for 100 pounds of handle force at top dead center.
I sent the Rockchucker back and they sent me a new one.
I realize now that force gain is infinity minus friction at top dead center.

My Lee Collet dies sat around for 8 years, while I assumed that more expensive dies were better.

This year I did a controlled test on brass growth and concentricity with Redding, Forster, RCBS, and Lee dies on a population of 223 cases over many firings at ~66kpsi.

The Lee Collet die is the winner.

I cut a washer down to fit over brass, but inside the jaws of my co-ax press. This makes for partial neck sizing.

I got some more, and have been polishing the Collet, Collar, and Mandrel.

wncchester
07-13-2009, 08:04 PM
Valintine, your posts should be read by everyone who ever uses a Collet Neck Sizer. Many people cuss that excellant tool simply because they don't seem to know, or try to find out, how it works and how to make it do so.

Few understand that the fine thread cap that holds things together is SUPPOSED to strip out if someone leans on it too hard. Like an electical fuse, it "blows out" when overloaded to prevent damage to the press or die body!

Part of what causes non-concentric seating with conventional dies is the excess "bullet tension" that bends necks during seating. Lee's collet die tension is light specifically so the straight necks it provides won't be ruined during seating. Some folks sand their die mandrel down for additonal tension, tending to defeat part of what the die is doing best.

dmschmidt
01-16-2010, 09:37 AM
I love the collet die, however, with my A Bolt, when I use it, I really have to work the bolt to chamber a cartridge, I assume because I'm not bumping back the shoulder? Any input?

Boyd Allen
01-16-2010, 10:58 AM
Use a two stage sizing process with a body die set for a MEASURED bump, plus the Collet die, and your hard bolt closing should no longer be a problem.

dmschmidt
01-18-2010, 11:37 AM
thanks, will try this weekend!

rebs
05-27-2019, 03:43 PM
When I ful length resize with my RCBS die I get 0.242 and when I neck size with my Lee collet neck die I get 0.244 on Lake City 5.56 cases. Which is the right size ? I am reloading these cases for my Tikka T3x Varmint in 223 cal.

Boyd Allen
05-27-2019, 05:02 PM
What is the diameter of the loaded neck. over the largest diameter of the bullet? In other words I want to know how much neck tension each method is producing. Bottom line, your targets should tell you, although there are other variables. Lee will sell you mandrels in smaller diameters. When I was helping a friend with his, I had him order two, one each .001 and .002 smaller than standard, so that he could play with different amounts of neck tension.

retired
05-27-2019, 05:08 PM
1st post on a 9 year old thread.
should have just started a NEW thread
answer:
we cannot tell from your question.
is the brass necked turned ?

if not it will be hard to answer

what is the neck dia of a loaded round with THIS brass ?
you need 1-2 thou under bullet dia on the inside, 1-2 under
the loaded round od.


When I ful length resize with my RCBS die I get 0.242 and when I neck size with my Lee collet neck die I get 0.244 on Lake City 5.56 cases. Which is the right size ? I am reloading these cases for my Tikka T3x Varmint in 223 cal.

Wilbur
06-03-2019, 08:24 AM
retired...good post with the exception of the first part. I'm pretty sure it's not your call on whether a post is made in the right place or the right time. Pretty sure it's not my call either!

glp
06-17-2019, 11:22 AM
retired...good post with the exception of the first part. I'm pretty sure it's not your call on whether a post is made in the right place or the right time. Pretty sure it's not my call either!

I already have one traffic ticket from him on another thread in another forum. he may be a retired police officer?

retired
06-17-2019, 12:46 PM
no, but maybe you can explain the "value added" by your post above ??
all you had to do was read in the other thread.

I already have one traffic ticket from him on another thread in another forum. he may be a retired police officer?

chris
06-25-2019, 01:58 AM
WHO guarantee the flash hole is in the center of the cases body :cool::cool::D

chris
07-01-2019, 08:07 PM
no one THAT FOR :SURE :rolleyes: