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Thread: LEE Classic Loader .45-70 to .450 Marlin modification

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    LEE Classic Loader .45-70 to .450 Marlin modification

    This video struck a nerve with me, make sure audio is enabled:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3duhNVjAu6E

    I bought a LEE Classic Loader in .45-70 after watching the video, even without owning a rifle in that caliber. I bargained on a lever action after som time though, but the caliber was .450 Marlin. So I made ammo using my Turret and normal dies. No sweat. The red box with the Loader kit kept bugging me though. LEE stopped making custom Loaders by the way.

    So how different are these cartridges? Since this is a neck-sizer, the part of the cartridge that is sized is the same.

    The difference is in the cartridge head dimensions:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I needed to ream the bottom of the die out from 12.84 mm to 13.51 mm for the 1st 6.40 mm of the die body. Since the rim of the .45-70 takes care of the 1st 1.78mm, only 4.62 mm is left. These are of course nominal numbers. I decided to ream it out to 14mm for the 1st 8mm of the body.

    The sane option would be to go to a machine shop with a good size lathe and pay someone to grind the walls .4 mm thinner. I didn't do that. I've allways wanted a lathe, and contemplated buying one, but lack of space and funds made me try to do it with what I had on hand. I did buy a 14mm drill bit though.
    Last edited by oih; 05-14-2018 at 09:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    I dug out an old drillpress, a Bosh handdrill, 20mm forstner bit, some wood and the fresh 14mm drillbit:
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    I screwed 2 pieces of scrap wood together, and mounted them in the press vise, making sure the tip of the 20mm forstner bit hit the line between the pieces of wood:
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    Last edited by oih; 05-14-2018 at 10:10 AM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
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    Dismantled the loader, and grabbed hold of the part with partial external threading. The fat end of the die is a little over 20mm, thus the 20mm forstner bit (a 20 mm anything would have worked, I just added precision wherever I could):
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    Drilled allmost through the wood (would have gone all the way, but the press bottomed out):
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    Last edited by oih; 05-14-2018 at 10:10 AM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    I screwed the wood pieces apart, inserted the die, and retightened:
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    Within eye tolerance:
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    Got some oil, and used it liberally when drilling out the die:
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    Since this is not a lathe, centering the drillbit in the die is crucial (This is not were you want to rush it). This is the step where you could ruin it. Drill into the fat end of the die, the one with the shiny chrome surface and no threading. You're also only drilling a mere 7 mm into the die, it's deeper than you think due to the tapered nose of the drill bit, but go easy, measure the die until you have 14mm for the 1st 8mm or so of the die:
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    Last edited by oih; 05-14-2018 at 10:11 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    Of course, a wobbling press, lack of skills and crude tolerances made the enlargement slightly scewed. However, 0.65mm/2 is 0.325 mm, which basicly means that as long as the wall has had some contact with the bit, it will be enough to allow for the very thin belt of the .450 Marlin to pass by.

    Proof of the pudding:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Sized and primed, and a finished cartridge, had to frankenstein a couple of pics to get within the post limit of 10 pics:
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    Last edited by oih; 05-14-2018 at 10:08 AM.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    For me only the very last photo is visible.
    The rest just have a link to an attachment that dues not work.
    EDG

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    My next reloading tool will be a lathe

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I can see all photos now.
    FYI. I have a Lee 6.5X55 loading tool and the die is marked 6.5 Rem Mag. So a little oversize in the body does no harm.

    Yes a lathe is the best loading tool you can imagine.
    Be sure and get one with a collet system up to about 26mm.
    It is much easier to chuck small round work pieces with a set of collets.
    EDG

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub
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    Thanks for the advice.

    I've been using my modded kit a bit more, brought an optimistic 90 cases to reload during the past weekend (Long weekend here; both national holiday, an "in-between" and a religious holiday gave the opportunity for an oval weekend at my parents cabin ). And while I did manage to size and prime all 90, I cannot vouch for mr "Logcabinlooms" claim that the Lee Loader is "Just fast as one of them big turrets". I did however enjoy reloading out in the sun, listening to the birds' spring chirping, even though the speed was less than stellar

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    Norway
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    I ruined 2 cases yesterday. I need a flaring tool or boat tail bullets.

    The LEE flaring tool is inexpensive, and would be my 1st choice. .45-70 (.458) is a custom item, but at 8$ still affordable.

    The shipping and handling LEE charges for sending it to Norway though, makes it less desireable; 15$ handling charge, 29.10$ in shipping. Total of 44.10$, which just exceeds the Norwegian free import limit, and adds another 25% + the 20$ the Norwegian postal service charges for handling the import.

    Let's just round it off to an even 75$

    Sorry for the rant.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    You can use a large tapered punch, needle nosed pliers or a .50 BMG jacketed bullet to expand the thin soft case mouths.
    You could possibly spin a bolt in your drill at low rpm to grind and file a taper and expand the cases by hand.

    You might find the tapered stud from an auto tie rod end removed from a wrecked or junk car. The tapered stud would make a nice expander.
    Last guess
    You might try a fired case such as a 6.5x55 or belted magnum case to expand your .450 Marlin brass.
    Last edited by EDG; 05-24-2018 at 04:32 AM.
    EDG

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    I have been using a large tapered pin punch for years now to bell the mouth of my .43 Spanish and occasionally other odd caliber also. works for me, james

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    Thanks for the advice. I might be overengineering this. Point is I wanted it to be simple and portable. I have a low powered chinese toy lathe. Basicly a dremel with fixtures. I can turn brass on it (though solwly). Managed to scavenge a brass rod from my employers trash bin (Got an electronics production line ar wrk, lot's of diy potential items are tossed daily, whish I had a warehose in which to store my findings...), should be able to turn a punch that would be usable and fit into the little red box. Whish the expander had allready been in the kit though
    Last edited by oih; 05-25-2018 at 07:01 AM.

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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