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Thread: Sure-Fire Lee-Menting Technique (Aimoo Post Revisited)

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Post Sure-Fire Lee-Menting Technique (Aimoo Post Revisited)

    I'm not trying to repeat myself here...however, by request...

    The title and following text are a copy of a sticky post I made on the old Aimoo Cast Bullet forum on 03/20/2004.

    ...well at least for my 6 Lee moulds.

    I lik Lee molds for their price and light weight...and in general their bullet designs (most are well tested copies from over the years). I have disliked them because they've never dropped bullets to my satisfaction and frequently suffered from poor fill-out. One was so bad I resorted to prying the bullet out of one of the cavities with an awl applyed to the bullet base. I checked for burrs, smoked it, cleaned it, used mold release, all I could think of...to no avail. I was ready to throw it, when I discovered the following solution quite by accident. That was three moulds ago. I now apply the following lee-ment to every new mould. It's worked every time. Bullets drop as well as they do from my RCBS and Lyman molds...first time, every time.

    In my opinion, Lee moulds suffer from three main flaws...bad cavity finishing, poor venting, and bad handle to block fit. Higher end moulds don't...but the extra finishing and quality control adds to cost. So...expect to spend a little time to improve the Lee mould

    Those of you who've given up on Lee moulds, I recommend you give the following a try. In addition to usual tools, you'll need a carbide tipped scribe and an aerosol graphite mould release (not for the reasons you suspect), and "Comet" cleanser. Several of the "lee-ments have been described by others and I used their experience in developing it. It's an hour well-spent to avoid "Lee frustration"

    1. Look for any obvious burrs in the mould cavity and remove them with a sharp knife. Clean and lube the mold per instructions, smoke the mould if you wish, and begin casting. If your bullets fill out drop as advertised, consider yourself lucky, you need read no further. If not, cast 4 well filled-out bullets(hopefully the handle bolt pounding trick will free them) and save them (you'll likely need only two, the others are spares). While the mould is hot, carefully loosen the spue plate screw until it falls free under it's own weight. I've found that if I do this cold, it's too loose while hot. It you back it off too much, you need to tap a screw to hold the spue plate screw in place. Carefully (you don't want to drill the mould), place two bullets back in the mould and using about a 3/32 bit, drill a hole about 1/4 inch deep in the bullet base.

    2. Clean the mold again. Now spray the entire cavity and mould face with graphite mold release. Let it dry and spray a second coat. The surfaces should be black. Remove the bolt holding the handles together so you can easily get at the mould faces. With a cloth, and "Comet" clean the block faces. The fine venting lines will stand out...filled with graphite. Take the carbide scribe and run it down each vent line, deepening and widening them (not too much but enough to be noticeable) between the mould cavity and the edge of the block. Put the handles back together. Fill-out problem solved.

    3. Screw a 1 to 2 inch long screw into the hole in one of the bullets, wet the bullet, and sprinkle some Comet on it. Place it into the bullet cavity and with a drill at slow speed and the mould closed on the bullet, rotate the bullet in the cavity. Continue until the mould fully closes on it. (Comet as a polisher is another board members idea...don't remember who...but thanks...it works). Repeat a second time. Use another bullet for the other cavity, if you have one, and repeat. Now rinse the molds and with a toothbrush clean them. Carefull inspect the mould cavities. Burrs and high spots that were previously unnoticed will be seen easily as bright spots surrounted by black...depressions as black surrounted by white mold metal. With a sharp knife, scrape the burrs off and smooth any sharp depressions that represent an imperfection. Go back and repeat the Comet trick twice more for each cavity, clean and inspect the mould for burrs once more. Most of the graphite will be gone, some will remain but will be highly polished, and will help fill the inperfections...it is an aid...not a hindrance so leave it. You now have a polished and repaired cavity...it will drop bullets with the best of them. I don't need to smoke the mould...my old "impossible mould" now works beautifully...it had several imperfections in one cavity that I couldn't spot without the graphite trick. I found it by accident, In desperation had tried the mold release (don't use it for its advertised purpose...bad release problems lie elsewhere), but discovered its real value while trying the Comet mould polishing trick. Bullet release solved.

    4. I use a 6 gallon plastic bucket when casting. I fill it with water and place a cloth with a four inch slip in it for water-quench bullets. For air cooled, I fill it with rags as a cushion. However, I lay a flat piece of wood (1X4) across the back half of the bucket. Most Lee moulds have bad handle alignment...especially the double cavities. They frequently don't meet squarely when opening or closing. This wears the block face as the two rub together ...eventually wearing off the vent lines. If you lay the rear of the mould blocks on the flat board when opening them, they will open squarely...same for closing. This saves the mould and aids in bullet release. Handle alignment solved.

    Sorry about the long post...however, thought it might be of use to those of you who've given up on a Lee mold. If you're not satisfied with the performance of your Lee, I suggest you give it a try. I've had 100% success to date...it works!

  2. #2
    Banned Bucks Owin's Avatar
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    This is an informative post and I may give this treatment a try with a couple of Lee moulds that are kinda "sticky" with slight imperfections....

    One thing I've noticed about Lee moulds is that when the blocks don't want to align after a casting for awhile, a litttle lube on the "Vs and pins" will fix it....

    FWIW,

    Dennis

  3. #3
    Boolit Master



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    Bucks Owin;
    I have been using BullShop's Sprue Plate lube for this purpose and have found it a superior lube on the Lee aluminum moulds. Anything else that I have tried has "burnt on" and actually caused a build up which is detrimental to good casting. BullShop's lube does NOT do this.

    Dale53

  4. #4
    Banned Bucks Owin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dale53
    Bucks Owin;
    I have been using BullShop's Sprue Plate lube for this purpose and have found it a superior lube on the Lee aluminum moulds. Anything else that I have tried has "burnt on" and actually caused a build up which is detrimental to good casting. BullShop's lube does NOT do this.

    Dale53
    Thanks for the tip amigo!

    Dennis

    (What a great forum....)

  5. #5
    Boolit Man motorcycle_dan's Avatar
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    Lee mould maintenance. I just got back into casting. Very pleased with the lee 6 cavity I have. Some issues cropped up but I'm working on them. The last casting session it seemed the alignment pins were sticking. It would go all way together but you had to squeeze hard and then opening was equally difficult. Where does a caster acquire some of this "Bullshop's sprue lube"
    Thanks, Dan
    Dan, A fast bullseye shooter or slow action pistol shooter.

  6. #6
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    motorcycle_dan
    Scroll to the bottom of the page to shootin links and you will see a link for bull shop. Go there and click on links and you should find a contact link.
    There ya go.
    BIC/BS

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    C5-A works good too, you might just have that handy.
    Some where between here and there.....

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy rigmarol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorcycle_dan
    Lee mould maintenance. I just got back into casting. Very pleased with the lee 6 cavity I have. Some issues cropped up but I'm working on them. The last casting session it seemed the alignment pins were sticking. It would go all way together but you had to squeeze hard and then opening was equally difficult. Where does a caster acquire some of this "Bullshop's sprue lube"
    Thanks, Dan
    Same problem here only what I found was the alignment pin wasn't seated all the way. Try tapping your alignment pins to see if they seat a little more. Use a soft faced hammer (mine is plastic ) fixed my "sticky" opening and closing right up.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by motorcycle_dan
    Where does a caster acquire some of this "Bullshop's sprue lube"
    Thanks, Dan
    Dan,

    I actually ordered my Bullshop Sprue Lube earlier today by sending a check to them after receiving an email in reply to my question about how much $$$ to send.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Bull Shop
    The shipping is $5.40 (postage and insurance) for up to 4 bottles. You can send payment to

    Tina Congiolosi
    The Bull Shop
    HC 62 BOX 5640
    Delta Junction, AK 99737
    Michael

  10. #10
    Boolit Man rebliss's Avatar
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    6 Cavity Mod

    I recall reading about someone putting a steel screw in the corner of their Lee 6-holer for the sprue cam to press against, but can't find that post.

    Anyone who knows how, could you please post instructions on how to do this? Thanks.

    -Rob

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebliss View Post
    I recall reading about someone putting a steel screw in the corner of their Lee 6-holer for the sprue cam to press against, but can't find that post.

    Anyone who knows how, could you please post instructions on how to do this? Thanks.

    -Rob
    I believe this is the thread you're looking for:

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=4790

    Boomer
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for the great post MTWeatherman!

    I use the same process with lapping compounds with some of my iron molds to resolve release problems and mild rust issues. This process can do wonders to restore an otherwise useless mould to better than new condition with round cavities.

    You can imbed grit on the body bands of your lap boolits to get an extra .0005" in the body or imbed grit on the nose of your lap boolits to increase nose size. You have absolute control over this process by selecting the grit size you imbed your lapping boolits with.

    I use 600 for light surface rust removal and polishing, 320 grit works well for body and nose size modifications followed by a polish with 600 or 800 grit.

    You'll be surprised how long it’ll take to enlarge a boolit cavity .0005" with 320 grit.

    Brownell's has polishing compounds as fine as 1200 grit. I'm going to guess that Comet Cleanser is twice that at 2400 grit.

    To prevent surface rust store your iron moulds in a Rubbermaid food storage containers with airtight lids or an old GI ammo box and throw some of those silica gel packs (aka descant) that came in the packages of your electronics items.

    Boomer
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks Boomer!

    That’s a great post yourself with some good information!

    Sorry to be late in responding…been occupied recently…not enough to miss checking in fairly regularly but did somehow overlook your post until now.

    The method you describe is certainly the preferred method of lapping moulds. With care the finished product will produce an upsized mould no more out-of-round than standard factory versions. Good information also for those many posts I’ve seen questioning the best method to remove rust from steel moulds. Appears you’ve turned the mechanics of mould lapping into a fine art.

    I’ve lapped out more moulds than I’ve cared to do. I’ve had the bad luck to have more than my share of oversized groove diameter firearms and minimally sized moulds. First time around I used a method similar to that described in the Lee-Ment post, but changed it in using lapping compound, embedding it by rolling it between steel plates, then carefully wiping off the excess compound. I used 320 grit bore lapping compound…as I remember, I didn’t get .0005 in two hours of work so switched to 220. I spent the better part of a day in lapping .0015 out of the SAECO mould. I couldn’t agree with you more…ITS SLOW. The required time was compounded by the extra bullets needed, mould cleaning, and mould heating and cooling required.

    However, since honing has become such a regular event for me…and far from a favorite hobby, I’ve found the need to shorten the time involved. Now, before beginning I don’t just determine the minimum size of the bullet is, but where that dimension is. Using a micrometer, I measure the dropped bullet at the parting line and perpendicular to it…if it is sized OK at the parting line but undersized perpendicular to it, it works great to simply Beagle it (thanks for posting that information Beagle). If it is undersized at the parting line (and most of my undersized moulds have been) or in both dimensions, I then hone it. Since Beagling increases bullet size perpendicular to the parting line…and honing with the spinning bullet method (even with care) tends to increase bullet size more along the parting line than perpendicular to it, I use a combination of the two to yield a much more rapid mould hone. Depending on whether its iron or aluminum, I embed coarse (120 grit) or fine (280 grit) valve grinding compound and leave some excess on the drive bands. I then hone until I get the desired diameter at the parting line (You’ll get a relatively fast cut so if anyone tries this use some care the first time around…you obviously can’t undo it). Once I get the desired diameter at the parting line, I recheck the diameter perpendicular to it. If it’s close to that of the parting line…great, I’m finished. However, odds are that it’s narrower in the perpendicular by .001 or so (due to a faster cut at the parting line). If that’s the case, I simply Beagle at this point to round the bullet out.

    I realize that, to some, using coarse valve grinding compound on a mould is not unlike using an axe to accomplish brain surgery. NO, I’m not recommending this for everyone. It is certainly not the method to use if you want to keep your mould as near to round as possible. Your method, Boomer, is definitely the way to go there. However, if the intent is to turn a useless undersized mould into one that produces a decent bullet in a relatively short period of time…it works well.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I've been casting at least 40 yrs almost steady, mostly with Lee molds.
    Have at least ten 6 holers.
    The only problems I've ever had is they don't dump well.
    I've just rubbed the edge's with some hard wood and knock the burrs
    off and they're fine after that.

    They get problems, or worn, damaged etc. send 'em back to Lee and they'll
    replace w/new one's.
    George so I can:

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    Boolit Master




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    Had the drop problem on a 160 gr. .309 mold I just got and a WC mold .359 both from Lee. I started casting then smoked casted then smoked casted then smoked. It seemed to help. After they started dropping ok the thing was turning out some good bullets. That was with the rifle mold. I got upset with the WC mold after the first cast and haven't used it since. I like my 158 gr. RFN better and they drop like a dream.

  16. #16
    Boolit Man
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    The tip about going over each vent line has got to be some kind of sick joke. There has got to be over a million vent lines in a Lee 6-holer, which would make days, if not weeks, worth of work to get every single one! I was just going over one of mine, and there are a couple hundred lines per inch cut into the thing, they are so small that you can barely see them, and the tip of a carbide scribe doesn't even fit inside them. Did Lee change their vent lines after this post was originally made?

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Although not directlly stated, that original post was directed at the one and two hole Lee moulds...particularly those creating problems. Quality of the six-holers is significantly higher and and need for the various phases of Lee-menting is not nearly as common. I haven't picked up a new six-holer lately so can't address any issue of changing vent lines.

    One of the issues with Lee moulds is shallow cut vent lines that frequently don't vent at all because cutting of the mould cavity itself produces burrs that effectively dam up those vent lines...or for the simple reason that poor quality control fails to cut the lines completely to the block edge. (Again...we're primarily talking single and double moulds here). This causes poor venting and results in poor fill out of the bullet...a common Lee complaint. The purpose of the carbide scribe is to open these lines up enough to produce venting lines more characteristic of a Lyman, RCBS, Saeco mould etc. No the scribe will likely not fit well inside those lines...however, the lines serve as enough of a guide to allow the scribe to run down the line and carve a deeper and wider line and thus do its job.

    The imprinted Lee vent design puts a cross hatch pattern on the block. However, the actual vent lines on the Lee are diagonal and run at about a 30 degree angle to the block face...between the cavity and the edge. These are ones to open up. I haven't counted the number of vent lines on the Lee moulds but the density is at least twice that of a Lyman. However, once I've cast a couple of bullets from a Lee double mould and let it cool, it takes me little more than an hour to do the whole Lee-menting method described...to include every one of those vent lines.

    To shorten the time further, would expect you could cut every other vent line...with the result likely just as positive.

    I'm in the habit of Lee-menting all Lee moulds when new. Those vent lines are a major reason for that. Once the mould has been used a significant amount, those lines tend to abrade off the mould surface. Without those existing lines, the cutting of vent lines becomes much more of a chore.

    Unless you're having problems with that six-holer, I wouldn't see the need for you to touch those vent lines at all. However, if you've got fill out problems opening up those vent lines goes a long ways toward providing a solution.

  18. #18
    Boolit Man mauser1959's Avatar
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    OK , this thread does not seem dead , but where do I get the aresol graphite mold release; no I have not taken time to look in my midway catalog . Is there any other aresol that would be available locally; I just got back a mold from lee that had screwed up and now you about have to beat it with a ball bat to get it to drop the bullets.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    1959, did you try a light lap of the cavities ? As far as spray graphite I would check out a locale auto parts store, they should have it in the dry powder form also, just don't get the de-icing stuff for locks, they should have the graphite lock stuff tho.
    If you need a lapping compound and have some baking soda around make up a little paste with water and give them a light polish as you only want to remove the burrs and go slow, cast a few and when you have a full fill out of the bases leave the boolits in the mold and let it cool down, drill a small hole in the center of the bases and get a decking or long sheet rock screw and cut the head off it, chuck it up in a variable speed drill and let it seat in the hole, might have to open the mould a bit to get it to turn at first tho, just go SLOW and EASY and you should get a mould that drops or one that takes a couple taps from your fingers to get them to drop, at this time I only have 1 mould that I have to tap lightly with a stick to get the boolits to drop out of, and you might have to do it a couple times, one other thing I would do is take a nice flat sharpening stone and lightly go over the face of the mould also as them burrs can stand up and the lapping won't touch them, nothing hard and heavy tho as you just want to knock them over so the lapping will take them off.

    YMMV but remember SLOW and EASY works best as fast and furious make it go oblong and we do like round boolits


    Good luck and don't get frustrated, patents makes for a nice dropping mould here as it does with most anything we do with our weapons.

    Keith
    Last edited by Buckshot; 10-16-2007 at 10:48 PM.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Man mauser1959's Avatar
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    Thank you very much , I shall try that today.

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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