View Full Version : Observations on making dies for Star machines
06-29-2008, 03:38 PM
In the last week or so I have made three new dies for my Star, Buckshot made mention of how long they take to make and he is correct they do take some time. It take me about 1.5 hours to make one. Making them for money as he noted would be a loosing proposition. I make new punches for each new die because by doing so I have eliminated adjusting of the punch thus making each die and punch boolit specific. I simply install them and start lubing. I can make a punch in just about 20 minutes. Right now I am using plain 1" diameter hot rolled steel for my dies and not hardening, but every one so far has been for a plain base boolit, for gas checked boolits I may turn to O1 and harden and then of course will have to grind the bore and the .749 od diameter and that will take more time. I can do that, just not sure I want or need to. I am thinking that the gas checks will cause rapid wear of a non hardened die. What do you think? As far as using a circlip instead of machining a shoulder on the die, I will make the shoulder, it's just too easy to do, now this maybe because I have a heavier machine than Buckshot who first mentioned the circlip modification which I think is a good one and will definitely save time for those with smaller machines, thus I can make the needed cuts in one rough and one finish for the 7/8" dia and one rough and two finish for the .749" dia. Actually I could make 7/8" dia cut in just one cut, but I make a .010" finish cut.
A couple pics of the dies and punches and the boolits and how I store them.
Thanks for lookin
06-29-2008, 05:56 PM
Very nice work. I just lucked into a Star sizer and will have to think about making some dies as well.
It may be that the Star dies are hardened; the outer surfaces certainly look like they were ground to fit. This would certainly be in keeping with the cost of the things. But I really can't imagine sizing dies really needing hardening for the sizing function. Most of the dies I have for my Ideal sizers (and the ones I make for them) are some kind of low-carbon machinery steel, not even casehardened. I've never noticed any increase in diameter with these, nor a looseness of the "i" return plunger in the supposedly worn hole, even in dies that have had two generations of use before I got hold of them.
I think you could begin worrying about the wearing of your dies (even with gas checks seated) when you notice that the bore of the rifle you shoot them out of has started to enlarge.:)
06-29-2008, 06:42 PM
I also make my own sizing dies, both for Lyman and Star. I use mild steel, even for gas checked sizing, and have never had any problem with wear increasing the diameter.
Star dies from the factory are extremely hard, I learned that by opening the diameter on a few.
06-30-2008, 12:12 PM
I've made a few for my Star sizers. The first couple I used some 1018 stock. I bought some 7/8 W-1 from enco for the later ones. I haven't hardened any and they don't appear as yet to show any signs of wear. The next ones I make, I plan to make two at a time. Start with a piece a little longer than twice the finished length of each. Do all operations on one and switch end for end and do the second. Part them with the parting tool and finish the face on the flange. taper the entry etc. I think you could do two different sizes this way. What am I fergettin?
07-01-2008, 01:12 AM
................dragonrider, my issue with the Star dies in order of the size of the headache is:
1) Drilling the 2 diameter holes
2) The flange if it wasn't really required as in just a remnant of, "We've always done it that way".
A) 7/8" stock is more expensive then 3/4"
B) Turning down 7/8" stock to a critical .750" dimension
3) Radiused leading and trailing edges when merely breaking them would suffice.
In addition to the above, when you're making something for someone else, you normally will do it to a higher standard then you'd do it for yourself. That is, so long as it works as it should :-) You know whereby it came, as it were. Yet for someone else, they're used to seeing something and a change is different. Doesn't mean worse, it just means different and they can wonder what's up, is it perhaps cheaper or in some way not as good simply because it looks a bit different ?
I'm always looking for a simpler way, an easier way, a less critical means to accomplish the same thing. Some way to save some motions and above all, time. In addition, material is an overhead expense. If I were making dies for myself, spending a couple hours for each one wouldn't mean much, as it would be fairly infrequent.
On the other hand I've had as many as 11 lube/size dies ordered by one person. It's averaged out to about one lube/size die a day, per month. These are all Lyman-RCBS types and maybe 10-15 push through dies a month. Off these 2 types the only really critical dimension is the bore that sizes. The Lee types are fairly simple, even compared to the Lyman dies. The Lyman/RCBS types have their nominal exterior dimensions, but they are also tolerant to a few thousandth on the minus side.
Naturally I make up both types of die bodies, as blanks in advance. The Lee types are cut to length in a band saw, are of 7/8" stock and then threaded. The Lyman/RCBS types use .750" stock which I feed in 3' sticks thorugh the spindle using a 5C collet. The tools are set up in their QC holders and they take about 5 minutes or so apiece. I generally run two 3" sticks through for a supply when I run low.
The place where the Lyman and Lee dies are in peril is in polishing the bore. You've spent X time creating the blanks, and have X time invested in machining them (drilling. reaming, boring) then you have to polish the bores to size. My tolerance is nominal to + .0003" on the proof slug. If that is exceeded then the previous time is overhead. You certainly may be able to use the die body again for a larger size, but you have to possibly re-invest more drilling, reaming, boring and final polishing time. Again.
Now you have the Star dies. They have a multitude of operations in addition to drilling, reaming and boring, plus the required polishing. Add to that you have to use more expensive stock because of the flange. In addition you have an additional critical surface, and that is the .750" body. Finally and the biggist headache is the 2 diameter lube holes, which make each die a veritable "One Off", as the die can be bullet design specific.
Each one of the 5-6 Star dies I made looked like this one. Compare it to the simplicity of the Lyman/RCBS die on the right. Speaking of simplicity, I've even deleted the setscrew groove unless the person ordering it has the old setscrew retention type press.
I thought if I was going to also do the Star dies, there had to be an easier way since I don't have a shop full of machines dedicated to Star dies:mrgreen: First up was the flange. I make dies from W-1 high carbon tool steel. ENCO gives a quantity break and 4 x .750" is $37. For 7/8" material it's $56 for 4 sticks. That's about $20 difference, or $5 per. Hense my question in another thread about using an 'E' or 'C' clip for retention instead of the flange.
While my lathe is easily capable of peeling off a .0625" DOC to remove the unwanted 1/8" of material which ends up in the chip pan, why do it if you don't have to? We saved $20 and we'll save time in the bargain. Previously in making that cut, since it creates a critical sealing surface I'd make it in a couple passes. I'd rather make a final skim and have it to a knat's patootie plus a very fine finish, then miss it on the minus side and have trash. Besides, people EXPECT having that fine shiney finish.
So all that's fine, plus swapping out the radiused corners for broken or beveled ones and everything else. Drilling those confounded holes just totally soured me on the entire deal. I have a fixture to clamp the die bodies for drilling. It's very simple, but rigid and you can rotate the die body in it. It's setup in a compound vise on my drill press table.
With the distinct possibility of being bored to distraction, lets verbally drill a Lyman die like the picture above, since I do them all this way. Two rows of 3 holes and 2 rows of 2 holes?
Put the die body in place and set the vise for the first hole. Drill all the way through the die (youve made 2 holes now) advance the vise 1-1/2 turns and drill. Repeat.
Rotate the die body 90*. Retract the vise 3/4 turn. Drill all the way thorugh. retract 1-1/2 turns and drill.
You're done :bigsmyl2: Champher the outside of the holes and place into the lathe for boring, then polish to size.
With a Star die you have a 2 diameter hole. You get to not only drill each hole but lucky you gets to drill each one AGAIN. So this means swapping out drill bits twice for each row. Plus, the customer may want 5 rows, so each row is drilled individually instead of all the way through. Why? I dunno but that's what they want.
Or try this! :veryconfu Alternating 3 holes and then 2 holes. Once again, each row independantly one at a time. Another permutation is staggered lines of holes. One row starts 0.100" from the shoulder and the next row starts 0.125" from the shoulder, yeesh! Yeah but that's what they want and have to have for their boolit design.
I suppose you could call a bit manufacturer and have some custom bits made. I suppose this is what Magma did. But how many do you have to buy and how much are they? Plus you can plug holes with lead shot. Checking the Magma website I notice that if you can't get the shot out, you're supposed to drill it out with something like a #46 bit. Great!
Anyway, Star dies like they are currently designed and sold don't enthuse me very much [smilie=w:
07-01-2008, 04:59 PM
"Anyway, Star dies like they are currently designed and sold don't enthuse me very much"
And I completely understand your point of view, Hopefully you did not misinterpret my post to mean that I disagree with your dislike of Star dies or the making thereof. I agree that the cir-clip idea is a good one and I would use it if all I had was .750 stock, the 1" hot roll I am using is free. I was merely making observation on the way I made them. Drilling the holes for me is a simple process and is about 25 minutes from start to finish, 1/2 that if I use only one size hole. As far as the two step hole is concerned the center drill takes care of the large dia and the champfer at the same time, using a six sided collet block in my mill vise I first c'drill all the holes, in the case of the last die I made there were 18 holes, even so I c'drill all the holes first, change to the smaller drill and drill through each hole. I don't change drills between each hole because I want each to be the same depth and the same size champfer so it does require indexing the collet block 36 times. Drill, open vise, rotate block, close vise, drill,.... less than a minute. However had I been smart I now see that I could have drilled just six holes in two rows in that die, just make em larger and I think I could have covered two lube grooves with one hole. Live and learn right?
Anyway far be it for me to disparage anyones methods or ideas. I meant no offense.
07-01-2008, 06:58 PM
Hwy guys, if you haven't read the thread posted by triggerguard take the time to look it up and read it.
As was my original suggestion many weeks ago, and I'm not taking credit just showing that good ideas are often duplicated, he has taken the time to draw up a cad cam drawing for the Star die "Blanks"! These can be supplied semi finished, at least thats the impression I got from the thread, and finished with whatever innner dimension is needed and with whatever amount of holes one would like to drill themselves!
The crux of the matter will be cost! He has not figured it out yet but if it's less time consuming it must cost less money? Materials will also figure into it, of course.
My thought is if he can provide "Blanks" at a reasonable cost this will save labor / time on the finishing end of the project which might also reduce some costs.
However he will have to go some to beat the price we've had Lathesmith do a few of these dies for plus the fact the snap ring idea works!
Check out his thread and lets see where this goes dollar wise!
I'm real curious about this idea as well!
07-01-2008, 11:00 PM
...............Ah, dragonrider ole buddy, pal, compadre. Mi amigo :-) Even had I LOOKED for offence in you post there would have been none :mrgreen: So obviously no offense taken. Besides I am inoffensable, er un-offenseably challanged, or something like that.
Anyway, if I seemed a bit peeved it was at Star dies that my bad feelings were directed. While nose first sizing is great, and especially in a 'through' die where one movement is made and auto lubed to boot, I salute the Star sizer.
However, the inventer didn't go far enough IMHO. One of these days (possibly, maybe, if I live long enough) I'd like to make a lube-sizer using thorugh dies, and nose first passage. Everything else aside there is one basic premise. That is, lube has to start at some point, and lube has to cutoff at some point. Making a devise to push a slug up (or down) through a die is no big deal.
The cutoff part is the exact same for ANY boolit regardless it's design. This is pretty much the base just above where the pushrod is. The one variable is where to start the lube. That would be some type of adjustable mechanism operated off the ram. There would be ONE ring of lube grooves around the circumfrence. The dies would be of 7/8" OD so you could lube-size up to about .600" slugs.
The dies would either seal both ends via an 'O' ring and be retained by a nut in any event, or have a tapered base to seal (like Lyman's) and sealed on top with an 'O' ring. The lube reservoir would be pressurized so no cranking. Rather then being cast, it could be built of 'pieces' using weldments and gasketing, and simple machine ops, like simple boring and turning.
07-02-2008, 12:08 PM
I'm curious if you have found a way to actually make a single row of lube holes in the die work for a bullet with multiple lube grooves to be filled. I saw the post on the Meepos sizer, which could do this as the operation control for the lube was separate from the ram; but how to control the depth of the bullet for each application of lube so that the lube groove was at the height of the lube holes in the die? A stepped cam setup could do it, but then you would need a different cam for every different bullet and every bullet would also become a multiple step set of operations for lubing. The cams could end up almost as expensive as the sizing dies (low volume problems), and the multiple steps to lube each groove individually (drop ram to step in cam, apply lube, move cam to next step; repeat set for each groove) would really reduce the throughput.
Not trying to criticize, just asking if you have solved a problem that so far has me stumped.
07-03-2008, 12:49 AM
...............Firebird, you'd have a valve to supply and cut off the lube. The valve would be rotary. I haven't worked out the details. In fact I haven't done much thinking about it in the past couple of years :-) But there could be several ways of timing the opening and closing of the valve. A cam disc or ANYTHING that would be particular to each boolit's design would defeat the purpose. It's an issue in the Star setup that is unsatisfactory.
Ideally you'd measure the length from where the lube was to start, and that would be the adjustment, as the lube supply would stop at the same place for every boolit, regardless of design. So a linkage, or an arm, or an eccentric would have a zero spot and this is where the lube stops. The adjustment would be incremental to the 'ON" time, based on the boolit's 'Lube Length'. It would be tied to the ram in some fashion, as that is what pushes the boolit through the die, and what you'd have to time from.
07-03-2008, 07:56 AM
Thanks for explaining, I was thinking that there was a relatively long duration "dwell" time (1/4 -1 second?) needed to let the lube fill a groove so that the bullet had to be stopped for each groove in the correct position. You are saying that this isn't necessary, just moving the grooves past the lube holes with the lube pressure "on" is enough to fill the groove with lube, no stopping necessary.
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