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Thread: Educate me on decapping pins

  1. #1
    Boolit Master blixen's Avatar
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    Educate me on decapping pins

    My rag-tag collection of dies includes a CA, Pacific, Lyman, Hornady and Herters that have broken decapper pins. Where do I get replacements?

    I found various pins on the E-auction site, but I don't know if they are interchangeable. Will a RCBS, for instance, work in my mid-century CA?

    Any guidance appreciated.

    Until then, I'm making do with the extra step of a Lee Universal Decapper.
    Last edited by blixen; 04-02-2016 at 11:24 AM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master blixen's Avatar
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    Maybe I solved my own problem. I replaced the pins with bits of drill shank and a bit of old rod I dug out of my "doomsday" can and cut to fit with the ol' Dremel.

    I don't know if the DIY pins will be too brittle or too soft until i use them for awhile.

    Still open to other solutions.
    Last edited by blixen; 04-02-2016 at 12:23 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master


    mold maker's Avatar
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    In a pinch, I've even used a very small finish nail cut to length. Even the LEE universal can be repaired when it's several days for a replacement.
    I've collected extras now, to avoid the delay involved. Most are the same OD and can be cut to length. The headed RCBS being the exception.

    When using the LEE universal to be-prime 223 Rem, tapering the shaft at the pin makes for more joy, and fewer lost cases due to damage.
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  4. #4
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    Use a caliper to measure the diameter of the old pins and that will give you a starting point. For the RCBS, you just have to call them and they'll send you some new ones.

    Some hardware stores sell various diameters of piano wire in 3' lengths. I keep several different sizes in stock for making temporary, or permanent pins and small tools, for when I need them. A short piece of piano wire epoxied into a wooden file handle makes a handy little tool for clearing tumbling media from flash holes.

    Anyway, for everything you mentioned, with the exception of the CA, Pacific and Herters, the replacement pins are available from the companies who made the dies.

    Whenever possible, I replace straight decapping pins with headed pins, too. Sometimes I have to modify the decapping stem to do it, but it makes life easier afterwards.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    One of the other brands pins will work in the Herters, but I don't remember which one. Midway has all of the major brands.
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialismóby vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    On striaght pins I use drill blanks purchased from a tool supply shop here. They are the correct size and hardened already. I cut them to length ( sometimes a little long and stone a full radious on one end in the drill press polishing it with 800 grit paper, this helps to keep it from sticking and also keeps spent primers from sticking to the end and being pulled back into primer pocket. I have hand decappers I use for alot of calibers. Decapping off the press and before cleaning the brass this keeps the primer crud out of the equipment.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    The drill rod is a good idea if you have a place to get it. I've used the pins from pop rivets before too. I really don't know which pins will interchange.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master blixen's Avatar
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    Second problem, I broke a Herter's pin and bent the rod both when I was sizing some military 30-06 brass. One of the cases had an off-center hole.

    What's the best way to straighten the rod. Or is it time to break down and get a new die?

  9. #9
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    I've tried straightening them, but unless you're really good, or have the proper equipment, they're hard to get perfectly straight. Sometimes it works to leave the spindle a little loose so it can find it's own way into the flash hole.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I found Most of the times The Lyman Or the RCBS Headed pins will act just fine. Drop them in the expander ball and Tighten
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  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy ryokox3's Avatar
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    On amazon there is a guy that sells hardened lee pins. I think they are in a 3 pack. Don't know what other dies they will fit, but sounds like a good upgrade to the universal decapping die. I plan to go that route when I go through my extras from titan I had been stocking up on. Beveling the tip of the pins works wonders for 223.

  12. #12
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    I once replaced a bad u-joint that had small diameter needle bearings that worked as decapping pins. I cannot remember what it came out of, and I haven't replaced a u-joint in years, but it might be worth a look if you have any old ones laying around.

    Now that I said something, I will have to replace seventeen of them in the next month....

    Robert

  13. #13
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    Hobby shops usually carry K&S music wire. It comes in lots of finely spaced diameters and is already spring tempered. Easy to cut with a Dremel cutoff disc, inexpensive and comes in 36" lengths. Also available on Amazon if you don't have a local hobby shop.

    David
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  14. #14
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    When I buy a new type/brand die, I'll bookmark the matching decapping pins, and buy them when they are on sale. A few months ago I ordered two spare stems/pins for the Universal decapper, just a few bucks and I hate downtime due to some little part.

    I decap first with a universal decapper die and then tumble, so a missing decapping pin is not a big problem. I still like to have a pin in my resizer, just to clear any debris that might be there, or find an undersized or malformed flash hold. Same reason I like to keep an undersized sizing ball on the stem, even though I use neck bushing dies, sometimes it points out a problem to me. Last week it found a problem, it was another sizing ball in the bottom of the case. That had me scratching my head for a while.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master blixen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HangFireW8 View Post
    ... it was another sizing ball in the bottom of the case. That had me scratching my head for a while.
    The pins I'm replacing are the victims of something similar. One was taken out by a stray Berdan case and the other failure to fire load in which the boolit fell back in the case.

    No huge loss because I also use a universal decapper. Unfortunately, the sizing rods got bent a bit and I can't easily find replacements for CM and Herter's dies.

    Straightening out a decapping rod really straight is tough--I don't suppose anyone has a trick for doing that? (with hand tools!)
    Last edited by blixen; 04-13-2016 at 07:49 PM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    Find 2 different size nuts (to protect the threads), put the big nuts on the ends and bang on the small nuts in the middle.

    (Did I just say that?)

  17. #17
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    Go to the bicycle shop and get spokes. They come in several diameters.

  18. #18
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    holy cow just buy some pins.

    if you bent the jezus out of your de-capping stem and you don't see an obvious replacement you probably toasted that die.
    you can generally buy just a sizing doe and run with it.

    but since your doing that you might as well buy a universal de-capping die and some replacement parts.
    they were made to de-cap stuff and if you break the pin or stem you still have the sizing die to work with.
    I think a new replacement decapping stem for the LEE universal die is like 3 bucks, probably a much chaper option in the long run then replacing a bunch of pins here and there.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Consider making yer own decapping pins from drill rod.
    Its available in all diameters that could POSSIBLY be of interest for decapping pins.
    For example , GONRA's replacement CH4D .50 BMG die decapping pins
    are made from 1/8 inch oil hardening drill rod, 1.638 inch long.
    Found no need to harden and temper, but that may be necessary for other applications.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master blixen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by runfiverun View Post
    holy cow just buy some pins.

    if you bent the jezus out of your de-capping stem and you don't see an obvious replacement you probably toasted that die.
    y.
    actually, between my Lee universal decapper and the pin-less sizing dies, I'm in hog heaven. But I'd rather--if possible--mend, rather than end, equipment. So I've enjoyed discussing creative work arounds. Thanks for the ideas, folks!

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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