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Thread: Are Lee Pots just garbage?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Are Lee Pots just garbage?

    I've always had Lee pots. I am on my third, having had a production pot and two 4-20s. None of them have ever held steady temp for me. This is not so much a problem with iron or aluminium solid molds, but is frustrating with brass hollow-point molds. I have a lot of lee molds but guess what I hardly use any of them anymore because they simply do not bring me the satisfaction that comes with a top quality bullet from a better mold.

    Also, they have the absolute worst spouts. Endless problems with dripping or freezing up. A torch has been a companion for a while. They are fine when the pot is new but the longer it goes on the worse it gets before you just want throw the thing through a wall.

    That said are the Big Lyman or RCBS bottom pours actually better? They seem to have a built in temperature controller so I expect that to be a vast improvement? Do they hold up better? Is the spout better? Does the mold warming tray actually work?

    I cast a few hundred bullets about every weekend, so I use the thing. Maybe lee molds are just not up to that?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    About the only pot nobody seems to complain about is the ladle dipper folks.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.


    OK folks. Enough of this idle chit-chat. This ain't your Grandma's sewing circle.
    EVERYONE !!
    Get back to your oars. The Captain wants to water ski.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    GOPHER SLAYER's Avatar
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    I have two Lyman bottom pour and they both work very well. I also have two dipper pots, a Lyman 20 pound and a SAECO ten pound but I find the bottom pour much easier to use. A friend gave me a Lee 10 pound bottom pour but I sold it without ever using it.
    A GUN THAT'S COCKED AND UNLOADED AIN'T GOOD FOR NUTHIN'........... ROOSTER COGBURN

  4. #4
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Anybody have thoughts on getting a used pot vs new?

  5. #5
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    I've got both a Lee bottom pour and a ladle pot. Can't for the life of me understand the hate for Lee pots. Yes, the bottom drips but it's a minor inconvenience. Both hold temp, both have casted thousands of boolits and probably thousands more in the future. Not the best in the market but good, solid casting tools at a reasonable price Lee is known for.

    Both are used and if needed, pot parts are reasonable.
    I am become death. The destroyer of worlds

    We all do our duty when there is not cost to it, honor comes easier then. Sooner or later there comes a day in every man's life when it is not so easy, a day when he must choose and live with it for the rest of his days.

    The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it
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  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy metricmonkeywrench's Avatar
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    I am relatively new compared to most folks and have only 3 pots (so far) a Lee 20lb, Lee 10lb and a Potter 3lb. Each has its own character. The two Lee's are manually temp managed with a thermometer.

    The 20lb runs great in the 675-725 deg range and when my range scrap is clean enough it pours real well. Yes a small propane torch is at hand till the mucky lead passes. Drips occasionally (old style valve)

    The 10lb has a cleaner alloy and pours well at the 650-700 deg range. Doesn't freeze up often, but will dump the load of lead if not watched while heating up due to the way the valve sits. Pours real well once up to temp.

    The little Potter eats everything and pours real well both drop and pressure pour. As it is on/off with no adjustability I don't bother with the thermometer. It is my go-to for pressure pouring .38 hollow points.

    All were second hand and had the usual issues found here on the site.

    All in all the 3 do exactly what I need them to do- melt lead and fill moulds.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I've got both a Lee bottom pour and a ladle pot. Can't for the life of me understand the hate for Lee pots.
    It's not that I hate them, it's just that they aren't that good. I finally decided to ditch my 4-20. I am not fighting with it anymore. It has run out the entire pot on the floor one too many times, it drips too much, and I've got better things to do than fart around with a pot. About half of what I cast are hollowpoints, which are very demanding and exacting in what they need to cast well, and shoot well (it is even harder to get a good HP than a good solid since there are additional ways a bullet may become non-concentric).

    My personal standards for cast bullets are near-perfection. If the bullet isn't basically excellent then it doesn't meet my standards and it goes back into the pot. I feel like my Lee pot, the only Lee thing I use other than their dies, is holding me back.

    My lee "perfect" powder measure was terrible. Their scale is an absolute joke. Their molds are notoriously mediocre. Why should it surprise me that their pots are not that good?

    My worry is that the Lyman/RCBS pots are not much better and just cost a whole lot more.

  8. #8
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    Are Lee Pots just garbage? --- They may not be as sturdy (bulletproof) as other pots, but; if you treat them right they will last a lifetime.

    I've had 2 4-20's and 5 production pots for years. After I put a PID on my 4-20 I've found no need to "upgrade"

    With Lee pots (and any other pots) the trick is keeping the pot clean. Only use clean alloy and clean regularly even if not needed as a preventative measure


    I flux everything I smelt at least 4 times ( 2 with pine sawdust and 2 with wax. )

    I flux again with pine sawdust then wax when I put alloy in the pot leaving a grainy layer on top of the pot that stops oxidation, keeps the heat in and prevents splashing when I return the sprues



  9. #9
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    Anybody have thoughts on getting a used pot vs new?
    If you can find a deal on a old, but gently used Pro-Melt with the big black knob on the side, you'll probably like it.
    I've got one from the 90's, and it's had probably 5 tons of Lead go through it, and the thing is still on the job.
    At least it was a couple nights ago.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.


    OK folks. Enough of this idle chit-chat. This ain't your Grandma's sewing circle.
    EVERYONE !!
    Get back to your oars. The Captain wants to water ski.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    pworley1's Avatar
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    I don't know about the new ones, but I have three from 15 to 40 years old, that have served me well.
    NRA Benefactor Member NRA Golden Eagle

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    I've always had Lee pots. I am on my third, having had a production pot and two 4-20s. None of them have ever held steady temp for me. This is not so much a problem with iron or aluminium solid molds, but is frustrating with brass hollow-point molds. I have a lot of lee molds but guess what I hardly use any of them anymore because they simply do not bring me the satisfaction that comes with a top quality bullet from a better mold.

    Also, they have the absolute worst spouts. Endless problems with dripping or freezing up. A torch has been a companion for a while. They are fine when the pot is new but the longer it goes on the worse it gets before you just want throw the thing through a wall.

    That said are the Big Lyman or RCBS bottom pours actually better? They seem to have a built in temperature controller so I expect that to be a vast improvement? Do they hold up better? Is the spout better? Does the mold warming tray actually work?

    I cast a few hundred bullets about every weekend, so I use the thing. Maybe lee molds are just not up to that?


    curioushooter, this is a topic that comes up every once in a while. Like so many products in the reloading sport, some are low dollar and some are high dollar products. Most fall somewhere in between. I've never had a Lee pot, or one from RCBS, or Lyman. I've sold lots of these brand pots while working in the retail end of the business over the last thirty years, and cannot say that any were being returned on a regular basis due to functioning problems. I'm sure they all have had issues of one sort or another. I think to a large extent is just how much to you plan on casting over the foreseeable future, thousands, or just hundreds every few weeks or so. Also, how much do you want to spend, cause to some measure, a few more dollars usually buys a higher quality piece of equipment. When I decided to start casting I already had a number different calibers that I shot and therefore new i would be casting for a number of molds and likely lots of boolits on top of that. So for me I wanted a pot that would hold lots of lead, was able to hold and keep a good temp without great fluctuation, have the ability to get back up to casting temp after adding more lead to the pot without waiting for a long period of time, it also had the ability to pour one or two cavities at the same time depending on the design of the mold and had quality design and engineering built into the product. After lots of research I decided on the master caster from Magma Engineering out of Arizona. Now, why I mention this product is because the very same pot that is used on the master caster is also used on the master pot. Since I had the master caster, and the company sells the stand that is used on the master pot I was able to just move my 40 pound pot off the caster base and secure it to the new base so I now have a master pot for hand pouring those molds I have that are not setup for the master caster. I think for all intents and purposes it's hard to go wrong with Magma's master pot. It's not cheap, but it has for me been problem free. And I very much like being able to swap a orifice plate for either one or two pours from the pot bottom. Nice to pour a two cavity mold in one shot, and to have a pot that will hold up to 40 lbs of lead so lots of boolits made without even having to add more lead.

    Here's my set up.








  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I’m on my second Lee bottom pour pot in 40 years. The first one moved away, it didn’t quit. It drips so I keep a designated screwdriver handy to reset the valve with- not a big deal. I turn it upside down when empty and bang it on a soft cedar bench to knock out molten slag every 5th pot or so. Otherwise happy casting.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy pacomdiver's Avatar
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    mine is just junk. i have a new lee production pot i bought last year since my ancient lyman had the bottom nozzle broken falling off a low shelf onto the floor. it has dripped from day one, from a slow drip to almost a constant drip, have tried cleaning the spout area many times, has never helped. i have gotten to the point, i drilled a 1 1/2 hole in the base and moved it to the edge of my bench to drip into a 5 gal bucket of water . when im done casting, i strain the lead out and put it in a tupperware container to add to the pot when i first plug it in

    im saving my money for a rcbs pro melt

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master


    jonp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    It's not that I hate them, it's just that they aren't that good. I finally decided to ditch my 4-20. I am not fighting with it anymore. It has run out the entire pot on the floor one too many times, it drips too much, and I've got better things to do than fart around with a pot. About half of what I cast are hollowpoints, which are very demanding and exacting in what they need to cast well, and shoot well (it is even harder to get a good HP than a good solid since there are additional ways a bullet may become non-concentric).

    My personal standards for cast bullets are near-perfection. If the bullet isn't basically excellent then it doesn't meet my standards and it goes back into the pot. I feel like my Lee pot, the only Lee thing I use other than their dies, is holding me back.

    My lee "perfect" powder measure was terrible. Their scale is an absolute joke. Their molds are notoriously mediocre. Why should it surprise me that their pots are not that good?

    My worry is that the Lyman/RCBS pots are not much better and just cost a whole lot more.
    Molds " notoriously mediocre"? If you say so. Mine seem to cast fine
    I am become death. The destroyer of worlds

    We all do our duty when there is not cost to it, honor comes easier then. Sooner or later there comes a day in every man's life when it is not so easy, a day when he must choose and live with it for the rest of his days.

    The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it
    George Orwell

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

    gwpercle's Avatar
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    I gave away a Lee bottom pour Production Pot IV that I battled with for several years and got a Lee Magnum Melter and a long handled Lyman dipper .
    Getting a 20 lb. capacity and doing away with the bottom pour feature was the best thing I have done in a long time ... Sometimes you just got to go back to basics and do it the old school way .
    Gary
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Winger nailed it. I had no issue with either of my 4 lb small ladle pots, and I adore my magnum melter 20lb ladle pot.

    Bottom pour, yeah I had one, gave it away after a month. Never wanted to see that thing again.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Ateam's Avatar
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    curioushooter, check your inbox for a PM.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I started with a Lee ten pound pot and finally got tired of fighting with it. Got a used Lyman (Saeco also sold the same pot, model 061 I think) and it made a huge difference in how easy it was to make good bullets when you aren't fighting with equipment.

    Not a Lee basher, but I'll never use one of their pots again.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    3 Lee pots here.................for years....................two bottom pours and one ladle. Never any problems. No PID controllers here, just the good old dial which I know where to set every time. Perfect pours since the 1st one years ago. Perfect melts every time.

    Any bottom pours you guys want to give away...I'll take them all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have friends looking for some.

    Great casting tool.

    banger

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

    tomme boy's Avatar
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    The Lee 4-20 can be very good. Lap the rod into the hole and add some weight to the top of the rod. Never leaks.

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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