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Thread: Broke my Lee Classic Cast

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Broke my Lee Classic Cast

    I was resizing some brass and broke the "Lever Sleeve" on my Lee Classic Cast press.
    Not the first time it broke.
    Hope Lee will take care of it.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Does this happen with one particular calibre case and are you lubing the brass before sizing?

    If so, your loads must be very hot to require so much pressure to re-size a case.

    Secondly, your press looks as if some oil on the moving parts wouldn't go amiss.

    ukrifleman.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master lefty o's Avatar
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    im one of the first to trash lee as i dont think they make a very good quality product, and as you can see by the design where the handle meets that part, it naturally forces it apart which imo isnt very good especially meeting with a cast part. on the other hand, a little maintenance goes a long way to keeping equipment running as well as it can.

  4. #4
    Boolit Man Scorpion8's Avatar
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    That lever sleeve is a design flaw with a high stress area right where that handle exerts pressure against the portion of cut-away. Bad design.
    Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory ... lasts forever.
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  5. #5
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    IMHO, Lee is a genius for incorporating a "weak" link into the design. I have more than one Classic press, I keep a few new extra parts on hand, like the broken part shown in OP.

    Lee use to send out parts like that, free of charge, and shipping on their dime...and they may do that here as well. But it seems more recently that they quit doing that, in favor of offering the part for free, but ask you to pay for shipping. If that is the case, I'd ask for a few other spare parts at this time, if you are paying shipping anyway. parts I'd suggest, if you use the Lee saftey prime, get a couple springs for that as well as a spare large primer arm assembly, they get dinged up easily and a tough to straighten out. If you use a Turret press, get a couple index ratchets. If you use the Pro-Auto-Disk measure, get a couple elastimer wipers. If you use their universal deprimer die, get a extra decap pin. There is more, those are just the things right off the top of my head.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master lefty o's Avatar
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    a genius for making it weak hmmm. a smart guy would have built it to handle the stress of sizing big cases, and built in a little safety margin.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lefty o View Post
    a genius for making it weak hmmm. a smart guy would have built it to handle the stress of sizing big cases, and built in a little safety margin.
    In this case I 100% agree. This isn't the plastic ratchet on the LCT. The ratchet braking before a metal part does is a good thing. My question is what is the OP doing to his presses? The press looks to be in horrible shape. How can you let your tools go like that?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master



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    The OP may have just saved me some money.

    I was seriously considering a Lee Classic Cast as a replacement for my aging Rock Chucker. All the reviews give it high marks and the primer disposal is good in my opinion........HOWEVER.........I was under the impression that the part in the pic was steel like the linkage, not cast iron. Although it can be argued that it is an overstress safety feature, it's still a cast part and not up to repeated cycles evidently.

    I'll give it some more thought, but that really shook my faith in Lee design.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I see the `Lee bashers` are out in force!

    I have used a Lee Classic turret press with the same lever system for a number of years and have never had such a problem.

    I load 17 calibres with it from .357 to 30-06

    I would be surprised if the linkage was cast iron, as it would be too brittle.

    You can subject the linkage to a huge amount of torque if you really bear down on the lever.

    The amount of force to cause such a failure, would be far more than was needed to correctly F/L size any case that the press could accommodate.

    Judging by the state of the press and the fact that the OP has said this isn't the first occasion he has broken this part, In his place I think I would be inclined to revaluate my reloading procedures and how I look after my kit.

    ukrifleman

  10. #10
    Boolit Master dkf's Avatar
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    Looks like the press has seen quite a bit of pressure on a repetitive basis by looking at the sleeve that broke at the notch where the handle goes through. Edges look peened over. The part is either sintered powder or MIM, never looked at mine to close. Having a cheaper and fairly easy part break before other more important and expensive parts is a good idea. If you are putting a lot of force on the press you may want to buy an extra part, they are not that expensive. My Classic Cast is still running along fine.

  11. #11
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    I love my Lee Classic Cast...love it enough that I sold my Rock Chucker years ago...never looked back.

  12. #12
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    Many people use this press for Swaging bullets. That puts a lot more stress on the press than any standard reloading operation is going to do. I don't know how you'd break it once let alone twice.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I have three Rock Chuckers and cannot imagine any situation where I would get rid of one and buy a Classic Cast.
    My advice for the owner of this press is to get the part from Lee to fix it, preferably on Lee's dime (good luck with that); then fix it, clean it up and sell it. Then buy a Rockchucker.

    Now, a couple of comments: A Rockchucker would be unlikely to break like this (or any other way), but if it did, there is zero question that RCBS would fix or replace it with no out of pocket expense to you. Even if you were the tenth owner; doesn't matter.

    I am a fan of some Lee products such as their reloading dies, collet NSO dies, bullet molds (they're not wonderful but they work and the price is right), and the classic Lee Loader kits. But when it comes to the Classic Cast press I am an admitted basher because it deserves to be bashed. I remember when Lee used to publish magazine ads deriding RCBS and others for making big, heavy cast iron presses with lifetime warranties. Now they make a "me too" copycat big, heavy cast iron press for nearly the same price as the guys who always made big, heavy presses, only they fielded a substandard design and omitted the lifetime warranty. They deserve to be bashed for that.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    "Now, a couple of comments: A Rockchucker would be unlikely to break like this (or any other way), but if it did, there is zero question that RCBS would fix or replace it with no out of pocket expense to you. Even if you were the tenth owner; doesn't matter."

    RCBS isn't the be all-end all to the customer service question. I have tried twice to get small parts for the priming system on my RCBS turret. Placed two calls over the span of 10 months, offered to pay both times. Never got any parts from them.

    I just bought an RCBS neck sizing die for 7.62X54R (Lee doesn't make one). Before I had finished 40 cases the threads on the sizing ball stripped and left the sizing ball inside a case.

    I have a ton of Lee stuff and a Dillon 450 dedicated to .223. All are good, none are perfect. My Lee Classic Cast is better than the old 70's vintage Rockchucker that I gave to my little brother.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Cast parts can be very good borderline or not so great. A lot of casting shops are now bringing the metals in molten on trucks. filling the furnace with a borderline mix a couple times makes a weak mix. These shops casting die cast aluminum, mish metals, and pot metals due this as its cheaper than ingots and complete melting and its down time. A properly cast part of proper alloy for it is a good parts and holds up well. But again so many things affect the final product. A cold pour may fill out and look good but be pourous, Same when the shot tube is sticky or sluggish. The pressure to make a complete homogenus casting isn't there. On press where there is a lot of force some parts are better off machined. but that's a more expensive way of manufacturering. Ill bet Lee sends him a new one and all will be good there. Maybe another .050-.100 on side would greatly strengthen this part but again that raises costs of the final product. Most loading presses have cast frames on them if aluminum or iron / steel. I'm betting these frames have more force on them than the part did here.

  16. #16
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    The Rock Chucker is an outdated press w/ poor ergonomics and horrible primer disposal. I have both a Rockchucker and LCC and can't tell you the last time I used the Rockchucker. But I don't bash either brand because I know it's personal preference.

    Now let's discuss warranty. You pay a premium for the RCBS warranty. Which is inconsistent and slow IME. RCBS has charged me for parts and I've waited upwards of a month to receive them. Other times there was no charge and I received the parts quickly. The few times I've had to use Lee's warranty I filled out the online form and was informed the next day the parts were shipping to me free of charge. Everyone is going to have different experiences. But make no mistake, you pay for the RCBS warranty when you buy their product new. Lee doesn't charge this premium which is one of the reasons they cost less.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master dkf's Avatar
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    I used the Rock Chucker prior to buying my LCC, didn't care for it all. I asked myself why people push them so hard because I don't see the big deal with them. Lots of good presses out there.

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by abunaitoo View Post
    I was resizing some brass and broke the "Lever Sleeve" on my Lee Classic Cast press.
    Not the first time it broke.
    Hope Lee will take care of it.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Is that paint over spray or is it corrosion? It's hard to tell from the pictures

  19. #19
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    I would guess corrosion.
    The yellow anodized linkage parts on my presses get some spotty white corrosion on them, where as the bare steel bolts and blued steel handle will get a red/brown rust on them. You can see the color different in the photos.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    The broken part does look like a weak point, but a weak point should not be needed. If it broke during resizing I would suspect the sizing die was set too low and the ram was stopping against the die with more force being applied trying to stretch the frame. Don't believe that frame would have much stretch.

    After seeing this, I would fit a steel band around the part to reinforce it if I ever come up with one of those presses.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check