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Thread: Are Lee Pots just garbage?

  1. #41
    Boolit Master

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    My first Lee 4 lb pot lasted me 31 years before the heating element quite working. I wrote Lee and explained the situation wanting a new heating element instead they sent me a new melting pot.
    No complaints from me about Lee produces.
    Political correctness is a national suicide pact.

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  2. #42
    Boolit Master
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    Got no problems with my Lee 4 20. Heats up quick and easy to regulate the temp using the knob and a lead thermometer. Gonna buy a spare for when this one craps out.

  3. #43
    Boolit Master
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    My first pot was a Lee. I worked but temps varied and it was always dripping. I bought that one new. Later bought an RCBS, used, at a gun show that I have been using for years. Also bought a used Lyman Mag Dipper (or something like that, just for a ladle, no bottom pour.) on eBay. Also used. That has been fine as well. So, for me, the used pots have worked out better than the new one. Imagine that.

  4. #44
    Boolit Buddy 4570guy's Avatar
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    I bought the smaller pot when I first started casting. I still have it but bought the large pot a couple years ago just to extend casting sessions between having to add metal. Never had a problem. I have quite a few Lee products. Great products and the one time I've called for service... excellent results! Only product I would not recommend is their hand priming system. Too much slop results in high primers.

  5. #45
    Boolit Mold
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    I just ordered mine for my first attempt at casting. If leaking is the big issue I am good with that.

  6. #46
    Boolit Master
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    Have had Lyman 10# and 20#, Saeco 10#, and Lee 10# and 20#. Only have the Lee 20# now, probably 5 or 6 years, and cast an easy 25K bullets with it. Holds temp, drips sometimes (they all did), and do keep it and my alloy clean. While there are certainly better pots it works fine for me and in within my budget. My experience with Lee molds has been good, when I started casting I could afford them and later when I could afford better bought Lyman and RCBS, but now have gone over to NOE 5 cavity for rifles and Lee 6 cavity for handguns. Lee products, at least the ones I have used, are not garbage but are not the "gold standard" either.

  7. #47
    Boolit Master
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    I have been using a ten lb and 20lb Lee pots for for 30 to 40 years I have not cast near as much as many here do but I have never had a problem with the pots that did not correct with what I would consider to be routine maintenance , I did add a pid and that was a big help with casting.
    But if my 20lb pot quit tomorrow I would buy another Lee for my use I see no reason to pay 3 to 4 times as much for one of the better built pots.
    It's basically a choice of what you choose to spend your money on unless your casting volume is much higher than average.

  8. #48
    Boolit Master
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    I started with a Lee #10, and still have it.
    I did some modification through the years.
    But it still works great.
    I've been using a Lyman 20 because of the larger pot, but it makes no better boolets than the lee.
    I was going to get a Lee #20, but two of the Lyman #20 fell in to me for the price of $35.
    Couldn't pass them up.
    I think I got the Lee in 1989 or some time around there.

  9. #49
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Does it hold consistent temperature though? Sure does.
    This is a bald faced lie methinks. Do you actually have a thermometer? I do and the thing swings all over the place and the thermostat on it doesn't measure the temperature of the metal, it measures the temperature of the pot...or something. The ambient temperature and any cross breeze can wildly effect the pot. This is my main criticism of the pot. They DO NOT HOLD TEMP. They also take about a half hour to get the metal up to a consistent temp throughout the pot. You can find this out with a themometer where you change the position of the sensor in the pot. I've seen differences of up to 50-70 degrees from bottom corners to top centers.

    The other criticism is the pouring mechanism is faulty. Yes, it sometimes works if you spend more time cleaning, and fussing, and valve grinding and all that. You end up fussing with your pot more than making bullets. Seems like most of you have the same problem, which confirms that it is not just me or my pot. It's just that some of us are more demanding than others when it comes to performance of a pot.

    $600 is not a really unreasonable amount to pay for a pot IF it works flawlessly and IF it lasts a lifetime. After all any decent gun is going to cost that.

  10. #50
    Boolit Grand Master
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    The temp control of the Lee pots is a bi-metallic switch that measures the temp of the pot, not right in the liquid metal. That is called inferred measurement.....it may be off a bit, but it is ALWAYS off the same amount. A few years ago everybody jumped on this bandwagon of PID controller-based temp control because of the super dirt-cheap CHI-COM controllers flooding the market. Does digital control work accurately? Yes, if configured and applied correctly. Do we need it on a simple lead melting pot? That is up to you. I design and sell digital control systems (quality 1/4 & 1/2 DIN, that means no magnifying glass needed to read them) and industrial-grade Proportional Integral Derivative controllers sell for $600 to $1800 each and I do not see the need to have Ī3įF control on a simple Pb pot. I get perfect pours with my Lee bottom pour pots ever time (for YEARS) with a dial setting of 6.5! No digital temp control or thermometer needed here. I pre-heat all my feed ingots on my electric hotplate to almost casting temp for quick cycling.

    If you desire to build and put a digital controller on your pot, more power to you. It is just not really needed for such a simple process.

    Good luck out there and be safe and healthy!
    banger

  11. #51
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I would not say there junk. I will say they are priced correctly. The other brands are over priced IMO. I realize itís a small and they will charge what the market will bear. And more power to them.

    Iíve been able to make my Lee pot work by using only clean alloy in it and changing out the valve rod if it does start leaking to much. At $3 itís not like to breaking the bank. And normally when it starts leaking thereís a bunch of oxidization thatís formed on the bottom of the pot thatís causing the rod to not seat completely. At that point Iím tearing the pot down for a cleaning so the rod is already removed.

    My issues are almost always spout freeze and not leaking. But this is due to casting in an unconditioned garage in the colder months.

  12. #52
    Boolit Buddy tmanbuckhunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    This is a bald faced lie methinks. Do you actually have a thermometer? I do and the thing swings all over the place and the thermostat on it doesn't measure the temperature of the metal, it measures the temperature of the pot...or something. The ambient temperature and any cross breeze can wildly effect the pot. This is my main criticism of the pot. They DO NOT HOLD TEMP. They also take about a half hour to get the metal up to a consistent temp throughout the pot. You can find this out with a themometer where you change the position of the sensor in the pot. I've seen differences of up to 50-70 degrees from bottom corners to top centers.

    The other criticism is the pouring mechanism is faulty. Yes, it sometimes works if you spend more time cleaning, and fussing, and valve grinding and all that. You end up fussing with your pot more than making bullets. Seems like most of you have the same problem, which confirms that it is not just me or my pot. It's just that some of us are more demanding than others when it comes to performance of a pot.

    $600 is not a really unreasonable amount to pay for a pot IF it works flawlessly and IF it lasts a lifetime. After all any decent gun is going to cost that.
    After roughly 10 years with my Pro 4-20, with an RCBS thermometer, and very likely approaching somewhere around deep 5 digit numbers of bullets dropped, I'm confident in its ability to hold temperature. I can't speak for yours. The rheostat on top obviously has no bearing on temperature. I crank mine up to 11 to get things going and once the alloy has reached my desired temperature, I turn it down to 6 or 7, and it stays there until I add alloy or the pot starts getting low. It's a simple design and pot at a budget cost, and one can't expect it to have a top notch PID. Does the burner on your stove have a PID? As far as my 10lber goes, I ditched it after the first month once I figured out how to play with the silver dragon. It's in my cabinet in the garage but I don't use it anymore. Like I said, I have no clue about anything they make now. The little bit of Lee equipment I have bought in the last year I have been extremely dissatisfied with it, except for my 577 Snider dies. I can only imagine that maybe their pots aren't that great anymore either. If I were to recommend a bottom pour today it would be a Lyman or RCBS unit, or the new RCBS Easy Melt for the ladle pour crowd. I'll likely pick one up for myself.

    Speaking on time to get alloy melted, it is slow. I have nothing else to compare it to.

  13. #53
    Boolit Master
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    I get really nice boolits with my Lee Pro 4-20. See no reason to spend 3 times as much for a pot that will not give me better results.
    Life long gun nut and proud of it!

  14. #54
    Boolit Buddy
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    Lee makes a lot of inexpensive stuff.
    To do this they use inexpensive materials and use innovative methods and shortcuts to produce a product that virtually any one can afford.
    There are many companies that produce a high quality product that carries a high price tag, are they a good value?
    Some are and some aren't.
    I can buy a Chevy or a Ford to get me from point A to point B or I can buy (I wish) a Jaguar and do it in style.
    Is the Jaguar worth it? I'm sure all the doctors and lawyers think so.
    So far the Lee crap that I own have served me well.
    The Lee stuff gets a lot of people into the hobby that normally would be scared away from the high prices of the "good" stuff.
    Lee has done more for reloading than all the other companies put together.
    Lee gets people's toes wet then they move on to the more fancy stuff.
    If a company like Lee was not there many people would never even enter the hobby.

  15. #55
    Boolit Grand Master
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    never had a issue with my Lee pot,...ever
    I use a ladle
    might want to rethink your process
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  16. #56
    Boolit Buddy
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    I keep my eyes open for an old Lyman or rcbs pre digital, that's been sitting on someones garage shelf or basement for decades in the meantime a dipper on the propane heated cast kettle and small lee bottom pour get the job done

  17. #57
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    This is a bald faced lie methinks. Do you actually have a thermometer? I do and the thing swings all over the place and the thermostat on it doesn't measure the temperature of the metal, it measures the temperature of the pot...or something. The ambient temperature and any cross breeze can wildly effect the pot. This is my main criticism of the pot. They DO NOT HOLD TEMP. They also take about a half hour to get the metal up to a consistent temp throughout the pot. You can find this out with a themometer where you change the position of the sensor in the pot. I've seen differences of up to 50-70 degrees from bottom corners to top centers.

    The other criticism is the pouring mechanism is faulty. Yes, it sometimes works if you spend more time cleaning, and fussing, and valve grinding and all that. You end up fussing with your pot more than making bullets. Seems like most of you have the same problem, which confirms that it is not just me or my pot. It's just that some of us are more demanding than others when it comes to performance of a pot.

    $600 is not a really unreasonable amount to pay for a pot IF it works flawlessly and IF it lasts a lifetime. After all any decent gun is going to cost that.
    Here is my take

    The Lee casting pots have one, and only one flaw. That is the thermostat they use. They do not hold a super consistent temperature, as you have found. For most people, it is consistent enough, at least as good, or better than casting over a fire or turkey fryer. Ladle casting seems to make it even easier.

    There is no design flaw with the bottom pour spouts. I'm sure a rougher one gets through now and then, but mine have been great. I own a 10 lb, and three 20lb pots, none of them leak at all. If you get a rough one, the fix is to smooth it out with polishing compound. It's not that hard to do. THE GREAT MAJORITY OF PROBLEMS PEOPLE HAVE IS LIKELY TO BE DIRT TRAPPED IN THE BOTTOM OF THE POT. This is no fault of the pot.

    Now you ask about consistent temperatures, and longevity. I'll just say this, My 10 lb pot was my grandpa's, bought in the late 70's-early 80's. It still works. I'm no commercial caster, but my main 20 lb pot has likely cast 40,000 bullet in the past 3 years, no problems at all. The other two 20lb pots are low use. This is another thing to consider, is that emptying and remelting alloy is a royal PITA. I now have a pot dedicated to the three alloys I use, pure lead, 20:1, and range scrap/COWW. The 4th for experimenting. It's a lot easier to spend $65 each on a 3 Lee pots.

    Now the temperature stability is an easy answer. Get a PID. That's how every good casting pot gets consistent temperatures, the difference being some are built into the unit, which is not a good thing. I built my own PID, something like $40, which I already had half of the parts. This one PID works on all pots, I also used it for my shot maker, and I even loaned it out to someone to make beer.

    The PID controlled Lee 4-20 is a great unit. The next equivalent I can find would be something like a Lyman Mag 25. Those are over $350, and reviews are mixed. A Magma pot is certainly as good or better, but $600! And that's not including parts. Knowing Magma, an element is no cheap matter. A heating element for a Lee 4-20 is a hefty $9.00 from Titan reloading. There really isn't anything else to fail unless you burn/rust through the liner, which is $8.00.

    Lee pots are all made in the USA.
    Last edited by megasupermagnum; 07-01-2020 at 08:14 PM.

  18. #58
    Boolit Master
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    If you use a lead thermometer with your Lee pot regulating the temperature is very easy. I got an RCBS one when I got my pot and would be lost without it.
    Life long gun nut and proud of it!

  19. #59
    Boolit Master
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    my lee 10lb pot has worked fine for the past 20 years.did have to clean it out once ,my fault for smelting ww with it .cast 1000s of boolits with it from 55-500gn .i would stick with a ford over a jaguar and spend the difference on my hobbies/fun.

  20. #60
    Boolit Grand Master WILCO's Avatar
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    Richard Lee will always get my money.
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    Yeah, I love cast iron cookware.

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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