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Thread: Polishing LEE Die Expander Button?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    DonMountain's Avatar
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    Polishing LEE Die Expander Button?

    I have a set of LEE dies for the 43 Spanish cartridge. I am having trouble forcing the expanding button into and out of the casings after firing, as the angle on the expander button is so steep. None of my other make dies have expander buttons shaped like this. They are more like a football shape and are easily pushed and pulled through a casing. The LEE expander button is also very rough, displaying the machining marks on the circumference of the sloped ends. So, does anybody have suggestions on out to "fix" this problem? More taper? Polishing it? And how to perform an operation like this?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    You could polish it with a wheel and rouge, but are you using lube inside the case neck ? I use the Redding with the dry lube bb’s.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I have been using Mica powder (Motor Mica) and have for years with all of my dies made by another company. This is my first set of LEE dies and noticed their odd expander button.

  4. #4
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    I'd get it as smooth as you can with fine sandpaper then polish it to a shine. You should see a big difference.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Polishing the angle that engages the brass is the way to go. Just be sure not to reduce the correct expansion area.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If you have a lathe the expander can be chucked up and reangled with a fine file and polished to a smooth mirror shine easy enough. But the finer angle will be longer than the existing shortening the expanded sections length. If you dont use the powder thru feature then a new one could be turned easily and made to just what you want.

    If you dont have a lathe then chuck in a drill press and polish it with grades of paper to the mirror finish. Sometimes a light radius between the sections helps a lot.

    Turning a new insert allows for complete control of what you want

  7. #7
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Something is wrong, very wrong.
    Lee's has the patented EZ X Expander, I think they are a big improvment over any other brand I've used.
    I bet they didn't finish machining it.
    it should look like this.
    https://leeprecision.com/custom-over...-expander.html

    I would take a photo and email Lee.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    You can polish it by turning it in a drill and using emory cloth. If its very rough you could start with courser but I usually use 1200 grit. The stuff that I get from the parts store cost more but seems to be better quality than that from Home Depot or Lowes.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    use the ez expander in my 223 and 308 dies make things a lot smoother

  10. #10
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    I would NEVER “SAND” or File or emery paper (sand paper is for wood. Emery paper is for metal. Files for both.) unless that button is COMPLETELY too LARGE!! Diameters will change FAST on a power tool!

    What ya wand is smooth not change diameter unless increased neck tension is wanted.

    Many paste abrasives can be used. I like Flitz myself. I’d chuck it in the drill press and apply Flitz to a pad or patch and spin and polish.

    Also The manufacturer may offer some help with replacement part. Carbide is available for a couple brands as well.
    Generally speaking I polish all mine as I described. Just helps overall.

    Also clean brass and chamfer case mouths before sizing can go a long way here too.

    Good luck

    CW
    Last edited by cwlongshot; 03-20-2020 at 11:04 AM.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    The brass you are sizing must be new unfired else it would not be hard to enter the case. If it is difficult to push into your brass the case is already ready to reload. Fflare the case add powder and fire at will

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Ok, thanks for everybody's response so far. Very helpful suggestions so far. Here are some dimensions of this expander button: There is the typical primer pin, which is inserted into a cone of approximately a 45 degree angle covered with rough machining marks. This cone extends back to a sharp angle where it intersects a straight section (cylinder of 0.4375" in diameter, bullets are supposed to be 0.439"). The straight cylindrical section is approximately 0.725" long, where it intersects another cone that is roughly machined at maybe 45 degrees down to another cylinder measuring 0.285" in diameter for about a 0.168" length, then at 90 degrees down to a shaft that is mounted in the die at 0.202" in diameter for 1.642" length.
    Last edited by DonMountain; 03-20-2020 at 02:09 PM. Reason: Corrected cylinder diameter to .4375"

  13. #13
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    I'd contact Lee. it sounds like not only a poor made part, but the wrong part at that.
    From the pin most any smooth angle should be ok. The cylinder section should be just under your bullet diameter.
    With a .439 bullet the diameter of this cylinder should be .437 or so. The cylinder length should be a bit longer than the length the bullet enters the case.
    Then another angled section to flare the case a bit.
    I have not looked at the NOE site for expanders in that size but it may be worth a look. NOE make M style expanders that fit the Lee universal expander die.
    Leo

  14. #14
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    I haven't had to disassemble my Lee rifle dies in several years and not sure what the expander looks like, is this it? https://leeprecision.com/ez-x-exp-43-spanish.html Before I took a file to it (and never sandpaper, maybe crocus or emery cloth) I would measure the largest diameter, then try and get a good measurement of the sized neck ID, prior to the expander being withdrawn from the case. The amount needed to enlarge the neck ID may be excessive and causing your problem. You mentioned you are using a known good dry lube (Motor Mica) so that shouldn't be part of the problem. I might try to polish the "ramp" area of the expander, carful not to reduce the OD making bullet to neck fit tighter. As mentioned above, and if your measurements are "off", contact Lee and the EZ X Expander looks like a good option...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdi View Post
    I haven't had to disassemble my Lee rifle dies in several years and not sure what the expander looks like, is this it? https://leeprecision.com/ez-x-exp-43-spanish.html
    No, that is not it. Its basically a straight cylinder 0.725" long with 45 degree angle cones on each end, really roughly machined. The intersection of the cone to the cylinder is what stops the expander from even entering. These dies are at least 25 years old. I wonder if their new design replacement might fit these more elderly dies?

  16. #16
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    My mistake. For some reason I was thinking the 43 Spanish was a straight walled case. Just disregard my last post.
    I did look at the link mdi posted. Yours should look like that.
    Leo

  17. #17
    Boolit Bub
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    25 year old die go to the lee website look up the die set click on parts. I bet the part is free you just pay the shipping and a handling charge.. they are great about spare parts

  18. #18
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    Are you wet tumbling with pins? I found that the case mouths NEED some kind of lube as the pins get them so clean you are galling the brass as it is sized.

  19. #19
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    It should look like this. EZ expander is a good description for all of mine. Necking brass up has never been as smooth with any other brand.



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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Contrary to popular "wisdom", a mirror polished sizer wall or expander button does NOT make it easier to use. What's needed is a tad of lubricant between the brass and steel and a matt surface holds sizing lube much better than a slick surface.

    In a general sense I like Lee's tools. Like any other tools, they do well when they are properly chosen for the task and are used as they were intended. Meaning I've been doing this far to long to love or hate any brand of loading tools. I'm mechanically minded and love to tinker and improve whatever I'm messing with so deburring Lee's occasional roughness means nothing to me. And that old style expander isn't "button", it's a longish swelling of the stem itself and it helped produce straighter expanded necks than a button ever could.

    If I had your sturdy old model Lee expander rod and wanted it smoothed, I'd smooth it. Chuck the upper stem in a drill and spin the expander against some medium (320 grit) and fine (400 or 600 grit) carborundum (black sand) paper held between thumb and trigger finger to deburr and smooth the transitions - a quarter sheet of each will be way more than enough.

    If you really want the steel polished, burnish the smoothed places with a small wad of 4/0 steel wool and high drill speed for a couple minutes.

    I'd avoid working on the main diameters very much but it would take a LOT more sanding than some seem to think to change it enough to matter.
    Last edited by 1hole; 03-20-2020 at 07:16 PM.

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