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Thread: Should I clean my dies

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Should I clean my dies

    I guess I've never really thought of this and never done it. Should you ever clean the inside of your dies? I got to reading a thread on here about how dirty the decapping dies can get and that got me wondering. Does you guys clean the insides of your dies?

  2. #2
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    I don't, but I decap off my press with my Harvey deprimer. I saw how filthy the process is and didn't want it near my machine.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Sig's Avatar
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    Usually before each session I'll do a quick clean of the sizer/decapper with a Q tip with rubbing alcohol. I'll also look at my seating die for any lube buildup & clean the same way. Mind you I'm not disassembling either die.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Every so often dies get cleaned, brake cleaner sprayed, maybe methanol(gas line anti-freeze) on Q-tip on most dies. Frequency based on usage, how dirty they look, whether bullet lube might build up... Just a judgement call. I also wipe down working areas of press, occasionally a drop of lube at wear points.

  5. #5
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    Absolutely! In fact, loading a lot of heavily lubed bullets will eventually gum up your dies with lube to the point that you almost can't continue without cleaning them. Like most metal parts, I clean with kerosene. They make little wire twist brushes similar to a bottle brush. I disassemble the dies and run the little brush in and out of the die's chamber and scrub the seater plug, etc. with a tooth brush. Not good to have gummy stuff in or on the dies as it can collect dirt and score the inside of the dies which will then forever after leave scratch marks on the brass. I don't do this every session, but will always do it as needed and before long term storage.

    DG

  6. #6
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    I store dies with a real heavy coating of oil, so they get cleaned every time I set up.

    For bottle neck cases, I clean the sizer dies every couple of hundred rounds or so.
    Since I use old school lube, I do the same for seater dies when reloading with cast.

    When done, they get cleaned and wet down well with oil.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy 414gates's Avatar
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    Never needed to.

    If I used lubed cast bullets, I would.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    Absolutely! In fact, loading a lot of heavily lubed bullets will eventually gum up your dies with lube to the point that you almost can't continue without cleaning them. Like most metal parts, I clean with kerosene. They make little wire twist brushes similar to a bottle brush. I disassemble the dies and run the little brush in and out of the die's chamber and scrub the seater plug, etc. with a tooth brush. Not good to have gummy stuff in or on the dies as it can collect dirt and score the inside of the dies which will then forever after leave scratch marks on the brass. I don't do this every session, but will always do it as needed and before long term storage.

    DG
    DG you got any idea where to get those brushes? Never thought about Kerosene as a cleaner before

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Yes, I clean my dies on a regular basis, not after each use, but on a regular basis. I use rubbing alcohol.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  10. #10
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    Damn auto correct!

    Definitely. Take them apart and clean them with brake cleaner and soap and water when they’re brand new to clean off any machining oils or anything else left on from the manufacturing process. Repeat the procedure whenever I deem it necessary. I pay Close attention to the seating die and especially the seating stem if I load a lot of tumble lubed bullets. I figured the last part out after I loaded quite a lot of Tumblr bullets and the next time I went to use the dyes I couldn’t get a consistent seating depth. Oh and absolutely no dirty brass touches any of my sizing dies. All the de-capping is done with the universal de-capping die. Then the brass is cleaned before it goes into the sizing die. All you need is one grain of sand to really screw up a sizing die
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  11. #11
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    I clean mine often. I use a about a 6 inch square of cotton cloth with Ed's Red to pull through as for as I can with the stem removed.
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  12. #12
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    Dies are tools. All tools should be kept clean and stored properly if they will be needed anytime this century. I clean my dies just as frequently as I clean my presses, priming tools, case prep tools and my "mechanic's", general use tools. Cleaning dies is easy. I keep a container of my "soak" (mineral spirts, Kroil, Marvel's Mystery oil) on my bench and can just drop some dies in the container, allow to soak for a while, maybe a couple days or until I remember where they are. Then wipe dry and run a bore mop through a few times. I clean regularly, not after a specific task, but normal cleaning and putting the tools up after use, plus the occasional "deep" cleaning...

    Rant over (I was taught to use an take care of my tools from the age of 10-12 and I still do today. I still have hand tools from my first real job after high school 1964)
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master VariableRecall's Avatar
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    I think the most convenient method of cleaning my dies that I've found so far is using alcohol wipes. Lysol wipes are a close second, but they are not nearly as efficient at evaporating as the other kind.

    As the gunk and oils stick to the cloth, and the alcohol evaporates quickly, leaving the surface ready to lubricate again. You can also cut the cloths into strips to get into the nooks and crannies. I've been able to find alcohol wipes in about the same size as bleach wipes online, but I've yet to find any large sized alcohol wipes at a grocery store.

    It's kind of an odd choice for lubrication, but as a general die lubricant, I use Hornady's OneShot spray to spurt into the threads and small crannies. As far as I've seen with the lubricant, it doesn't gum up over time, and the spray on film appears to keep rust off the dies.

    I'd say peek into your dies every 400 reloads or so to see if they are full of gunk, and if they are, make them sparkle again.
    Last edited by VariableRecall; 07-14-2022 at 01:33 PM.

  14. #14
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    Very rarely. If I was into precision rifle shooting, I'd probably clean my sizing dies. They can gunk up over time. I don't care that much about it though, and only clean those out if I see something off, such as dents in a case. It has been a long time since I've cleaned a straight wall sizer. Seating dies are about the only thing that I clean often. Bullet lube can get into the seating stem and shorten your seating depth. How often really depends on how messy you are. Doing short runs of bullets, you shouldn't ever have bullet lube on a bullet nose. Usually when I get lube in a seating die is when I'm loading from lubed bullets I had sitting loose in a container for some time. One of them is bound to get some lube stuck to the nose.

  15. #15
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    I have picked up imbedded grit particles from time to time .
    A quick patch , soaked in solvet or Ed's Red , pushed through the sizer and seater now and again doesn't hurt them .
    No reason to get all complicated about it ... just a wipe will do it .
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Yup, clean them!

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    “There is more to this than dumping lead in a hole.”

  17. #17
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    With the exception of lube buildup in the seating die, I've NEVER bothered in over 55 years of reloading.

  18. #18
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    Spray mine out every now and then with brake cleaner, surprising how much gunk collects on a decapping rod and expander button. Maybe once a year a full tear down and spray/wipe out.

  19. #19
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    Seating dies and FL sizer dies get cleaned with Q-tip and Ed's Red for every batch of ammo. Anything else will get same treatment on a "as needed" basis, because I inspect the dies before each use and can see if cleaning is necessary.

    The question I have is, do you inspect your dies before each use?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  20. #20
    I shine my streamlight in them and if they’re dirty I clean them. If they’re a little rusty (heaven forbid) I drop them in a mason jar with a strong solution of citric acid and water and they come out looking like new in a couple hours. I do keep desiccant packs in all my die boxes and my turrets storage containers so it’s been a long long time since any rust has appeared.

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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