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Thread: Lee Die Loose Threads - Need Old Timey Trick

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Lee Die Loose Threads - Need Old Timey Trick

    Howdy gents and hopefully ladies.

    I usually use hornady dies for most of my loading, but sometimes the only cost acceptable option is lee. I do like lee dies except for one detail. On the bullet seating die, the top adjustment that threads in and out to control the depth of bullet seating, these are always very loosely threaded. Like so loose that they can move with only a bump to the adjuster. I need to tighten this up, or if that doesn't make sense, I need to be able to make it harder to screw in and out.

    I have tried teflon tape on the threads. It worked okay for about a month and then as you would expect the tape moved with the use of the bullet seater being moved up and down.

    I'm not mechanically gifted. So I don't know many tricks to working with threaded parts. Is there a tip that anyone has to get these threads to have just a little more tightness to them?

    I thought about a dab of blue loctite, but my gut tells me no.
    Is there some sort of grease that would make it just a bit harder to adjust?

    I feel like this is one of those things where there are a thousand machinist out there who would say "yerp, just put a dab of XYZ on it and yer back in business"

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Are you talking about the seating die with an O ring to hold the setting ?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    Rattlesnake Charlie's Avatar
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    The "O" ring provides sufficient tension to prevent any rotation for me, and I have four different sets of these dies in various calibers.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Yep this ^^^^.

    Take the adjusting screw out and see if there is a groove right below the threads. There should be an O-ring that fits in the groove. It is 1/2" ID and 5/8" OD.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    The OP is referring to the seating stem being loose. Not being a user of Lee dies, I don't know if the seating stem is out of spec or the die body is at fault. One might try a common bolt of the proper size and see how the threads mate. If they mate well, fabricate a seating stem from the bolt, if you are desperate. Otherwise, send it back to Lee for some of their great customer service.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    The responses are correct. There are two o-rings, one on the lock nut and one on the seating stem. As noted correctly above, it appears the o-ring on the seating stem is missing.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    Rattlesnake Charlie's Avatar
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    The "seating stem" floats until it contacts the "adjusting screw", which should have the "O" ring on it.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattlesnake Charlie View Post
    The "seating stem" floats until it contacts the "adjusting screw", which should have the "O" ring on it.
    /\ that's how they work.
    I have many sets and they all hold adjustment but I guess the O ring could be gone or need to be replaced.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    okay, now i am even more confused. This is a common problem with many of my lee seating dies. And yes to clarify, I'm talking about the seating stem. Not the lock ring and die body adjustment.

    Here is a really crappy diagram I cobbled together.

    A - Threaded seating stem
    B - Floating seating plug
    C - Where the oring sits

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	RifleEZadjBSdie (1).jpg 
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    All 4 of my Lee seating dies have the oring (C on the diagram) but they are still in my opinion too loose for my comfort. I want to be able to set the die in my turrets and then be able to rely on that bullet length. I know Lee has great CS, but i do not think I somehow got 4 bum seating dies over the years. By contrast, hornady dies take much greater torque to turn the bullet seater.

    So is there a trick to making it harder to tighten/loosen? White lithium grease?

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    if you need them tighter you could see if you can find an O ring that is thicker than standard.
    perhaps someone else may have a better idea.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    Oil in the die? By any chance, have you cleaned the dies? If so, did you use a cleaner that left a residue? Maybe a thorough cleaning with acetone, and some soap and water for the o-ring, to ensure the o-ring has a nice dry surface to move against. Avoid alcohol when rubber is involved.

    Beyond that, I'd be tempted to try a wrap or two of something like pinstriping tape in the groove behind the o-ring. Or maybe work a little candle wax into the threads above the o-ring to gum things up. Interesting problem, I'm usually trying to get threaded parts to move easier.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    Does it make a difference if the seating stem has some play as long as at its maximum position under load it ends up at the right depth?

    A little play might even offer a benefit. Allowing the bullet to begin movement gradually as the slack is taken up rather than being struck by a hard fixed object.

    Mine have some small amount of play but nothing excessive. Seem to work too. Set to depth, COAL stays the same.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    You may be able to apply something tacky on the threads ,or some sort of roofing caulk,or you may be able to somehow use a coil spring to apply constant pressure on it,but it's not really worth a lot of time,or expense when you could just buy another seating die that has the conventional stem with lock nut.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy OutHuntn84's Avatar
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    You are right, there is a lot of slop in the seating stem of lee dies. However I have found just like RogerDat mentions above, it doesn't matter as long as you set your max COAL. I have checked, double checked, came back to it every 100 rounds and have yet to have it change COAL on me.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I believe the lee dies are a standard thread, National fine. Take your die body to the hardware store and by a steel bolt the same threads and 2" or so longer. Also a package of J-B weld some floor or paste wax. Below is step by step.

    1) clean die body very good.
    2) with a brush apply wax 2 coats everywhere but the stem threads
    3) apply 2-3 coats of wax to the bolt.
    4) mix J-B weld according to directions.
    5) with the a fine applicator work the J-B into the threads. a tooth pock works well as does a brush
    6) while doing above work bolt in and out until threads are coated
    7) remove any major excess while wet.
    8) install bolt with a small amount on the threads to depth and clean up excess. This area is open and van be cleaned up with a file after curing
    9) allow to cure solid usually 24 hours.
    10) remove bolt and clean up excesses

    This will give a slight interference fit, If its 2 tight for your likes then with the bolt and toothpaste fit the threads by lapping. This will give a snug fit thread with no backlash. Under normall use this will last a long time

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    It sounds like your dies are working correctly but may not be the style of die you prefer I like them I check the OAL at the beginning of every session and the Lees are easy to adjust .
    Most brands of dies have a lock nut on the seating stem so you may be better served getting a different brand of seating die or like suggested above find a bolt that will replace the cap but it is going to be quite large unless you can find an Allen bolt and if long enough you could use a lock nut on it.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    All I need is that rubber O ring. I've been using a few of Lee's seaters a looong time and have NEVER had one to change the depth setting without me doing it. And, after I finally got a concentricity/runout gage, I found that my Lee's load as straight as any other conventional seaters.

    ONLY my Forster/Redding Comp/BR seaters do better, on average. All others are tied in second place for straight seating - and even that has to be tested in selected cases with very straight necks, nothing can seat well in lousy necks. (Most sizers have expanders that distort the necks during withdrawal but my Lee Collet Neck Dies always do good work!)

  18. #18
    Boolit Master KYCaster's Avatar
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    Just put a lock nut on it.

    .....or duct tape. Duct tape always works!

    Good luck.
    Jerry
    Buzzard's luck!! Can't kill nothin', nothin'll die!!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    This is only an untested idea, but maybe a harder O ring? Your standard hardware store O ring is likely a 70 or 75 durometer Viton (fluorocarbon). The higher the durometer, the harder the rubber. Try something like a 90 durometer.

    These are not tapered or interference threads, and without the O ring are supposed to be loose. All manufacturers use some form of lock, and Lee uses and O ring. It is possible too that your o rings are old. I replaced them on two sets I had that were likely 20-25 years old. With a new O ring, there is no bumping the adjustment. It is very secure.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy Cast_outlaw's Avatar
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    If you real ambitious and brave you could try drilling And taping the body and installing a set screw with some lock tight Lee dies are cheep enough if you screw up you can get one with a lock but instead

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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