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Thread: Lee Mold Handle Problem

  1. #1
    Boolit Master oldhenry's Avatar
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    Lee Mold Handle Problem

    I confess that I don't own much Lee products.

    I have 3 of their 6 cav. molds that work OK (originally one was not aligned properly, but Lee exchanged it for a good one-I paid freight 1way). However: their mold handles have been my favorite. I have 9 that gave me good service, but the 10th. one has given me problems.

    They did not align properly. I had an extra pair, so I disassembled both pairs (marking the problem pair) and switched them around & found that one side of the problem pair was the culprit. I emailed Lee & attached a photo of the misalignment problem. Their "engineer" pronounced them useable, but the nice lady in customer service sent me the metal part of a handle side (they call it "mold handle clamp") @ no charge, but I had to pay the freight + tax ($7.42).

    Well, the story does not have a happy ending & the attached images tell why.

    Images:
    #1: original mold alignment # mold end
    #2: original mold alignment from handle end
    #3: original mold handle on right & replacement "mold handle clamp" on the left.
    #4: original mold handle on left & replacement "mold handle clamp" on right.

    The only explanation is that recent Lee mold handle clamps have a problem.

    I emailed Lee today with these same images & I await their response. I bought the original handles from Midway for around $14.00 as a part of a larger purchase. Counting the $7.42 freight charge for the replacement handle, I'm currently out $21.00. If I am require to pay another $7.00 to return the replacement handle I may just call it quits & get some MP handles on the next GB. The MP handles are obviously better made, but I like the Lee size better (they but the mold 1/2" closer to my hand).

    Added: I'm also thinking that I could clamp the ends into alignment in my vise & heat the pivot part with my oxy-acetylene torch.
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    Last edited by oldhenry; 03-17-2020 at 07:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    You will likely break the mold handle clamp if you heat and try to bend it. It is sintered metal(steel or whatever) and doesn't respond well to the stress of bending. I had them replace a set with similar misalignment issues a few years ago. I also broke a clamp doing the same thing you are proposing. if it works for you, great, apparently it is unusable now as it is.

    I did not use the O-A torch, so extra heat may allow that to work for you.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master oldhenry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BK7saum View Post
    You will likely break the mold handle clamp if you heat and try to bend it. It is sintered metal(steel or whatever) and doesn't respond well to the stress of bending. I had them replace a set with similar misalignment issues a few years ago. I also broke a clamp doing the same thing you are proposing. if it works for you, great, apparently it is unusable now as it is.

    I did not use the O-A torch, so extra heat may allow that to work for you.
    Thanks for the response.

    Lee says that "sometimes the handles are damaged in shipping". I sent them 2 images of the undamaged box that the replacement "mold handle clamp" arrived in & also an image of the box that the individual original handle assembly was in (undamaged).

    They also said to squeeze them in a vice & that would straighten them.

    They probably have some smart people up there, but I'm not dealing with one of them.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    How snug is the hinge bolt? I recall having a set with an alignment issue and gently applied pressure on the jaw of both halves to bring them into alignment without breaking a handle or the metal clamp. Adjust both jaws a little bit, do not try to bend just one until it is right.

  5. #5
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    I notified Lee months ago about this, they said to loosen the bolt and let the mold pins align the mold that's a good way to ruin a mold. I know of 1 person that ruined a brass mold that way.

    I put the handles of my misaligned lee handles in 2 holes on my Lyman 8 press,

    stuck a flat bar between the tips and "tweaked gently" checking often. they work fine now -- I did get some thread marks on the handles but no biggie.

    you could do the same thing putting the tips in a vise and "tweaked gently" the handle part.

    make sure the alignment pins line up when closing before using the handles.

    I returned for exchange MANY handles from several suppliers. ALL THE NEW ONES I GOT BACK WERE BAD

    I thought Lee would take care of this problem ----- guess not. this saddens me, Lee used to have good customer service and stand behind their products.

    It is cheaper for you to ship defective items to Lee, they will pay return shipping and not charge a handling fee.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    tomme boy's Avatar
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    Contact Midway and let them deal with it. They will refund you or replace and don't have to pay shipping. They will send a call tag from UPS. Certain things I deal straight with Lee. Others I deal with the dealer. If it is broken I deal with Lee. Not right from the start I go back to the dealer.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    tja6435's Avatar
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    NOE has very nice mold handles
    8500' Wet Mountain Valley, Colorado

  8. #8
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    You get what you pay for.

    Lee used to

  9. #9
    Boolit Master oldhenry's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone for their comments.
    To prove that the Lee person's suggestion to put the ends in a vise & squeeze would not work I did it & it didn't work. I then removed the wood & put the 1st 2.5" (mold end) in the vise & applied heat (not enough for the metal to change color). This didn't work so on the 2nd. attempt I heated the circular flats @ the hinge pin area until it turned a dull red (barely perceptible). I let it air cool a while & then wrapped it with a wet rag. I later poured water into the rag until it cooled. Alignment is perfect. I followed by draw filing the flats (they were not even: minor twist) & ended with 220 grit paper. A little Brownell Oxpho blue made it look new.

    In the meanwhile Lee answers my email & said send it back & they'd repair or replace @ no charge (no offer to pay shipping). I declined & told them about my repair job. If the heat didn't ruin the strength of the metal, I'm OK. If there is a next time I'll do my own alignment & leave Lee out of it.
    Last edited by oldhenry; 03-19-2020 at 07:37 AM.

  10. #10
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    OP, I put the ends in a vise then stuck a flat bar between the handles and gently twisted them, it worked for me.

    Reaal curious, how hard to mold handles need to be? How hard are people squeezing them?? Light pressure when closed is all I've used.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master oldhenry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conditor22 View Post
    OP, I put the ends in a vise then stuck a flat bar between the handles and gently twisted them, it worked for me.

    Reaal curious, how hard to mold handles need to be? How hard are people squeezing them?? Light pressure when closed is all I've used.
    I don't think hardness would be an issue. I don't know what metal we're dealing with & am more concerned with being brittle. I had a new Lee handle break out @ the hole drilled where the mold attaches. Fortunately that break came @ a time when I wanted a shorter handle for a 2 cav. brass HP mold. It worked out so well that I considered altering a new one for another 2 cav. brass HP mold.

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