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Thread: Problem with Lee Loader primer tool problem

  1. #1
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    Problem with Lee Loader primer tool problem

    I recently purchased a used .38 Lee Loader off of ebay. The pieces are all there, everything looked ok. But I realized the priming tool isn't working correctly

    If you've seen the device, it's a chromed disk will a hole in the middle that holds the primer. You set the shell in it's hold on this, and tap the device to seat the primer.

    I've never used one of these things, but I thought the chrome disk piece was movable, I think on a spring. So you can center the primer in it, but it moves out of the way for seating. In mine, the chrome disk is pushed all the way down and stuck there. So the disk and the center primer seating portion are level with each other.

    Has anyone experienced this? I just cleaned it in a sonic cleaner and have it soaking now in WD40 to try and free it up.

    I just can't think of a safe way to use the Lee Loader without that. If I use a hand primer, then I need to bang a primed cartridge into the resizing die for filling/installing the boolit.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    The Lee Loader can be tricky when setting the primer. Everything must be clean and free of grit that can touch off a primer. Following the printed instructions, just use the metal rod to set the primer by driving the case down over the primer. It all must be set in there evenly and force provided straight down. Don't cant it. The learning curve is pretty short, so after a few you should have very few discharged primers to deal with. Always gives me a start when I light one up. As far as the moving disk goes, yes I've had one get stuck, but I just wiggled it around and cleaned it, which fixed it. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    I watched several vids about using it--the problem is the priming tool itself seems to be jammed. The chromed disk that rides above the primer seating thing is stuck all the way down. So now the chrome disk and the center primer seating protrusion are at the same height. I can't figure out how to free the disk. There is no place to try and get under it to lift it free. I tapped gently on it with a brass punch, but it doesn't seem to be something I want to really beat on.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I would first put a little Break-Free or PB Blaster on the edges of the disk and center post and let it soak a while. Then a couple of light taps on the disk should free it up. It is spring loaded, and since primers are involved, it really should work smoothly!

    If that failed, I’d go with the old style hand held Lee priming tool and never look back, since that’s my first choice anyway! Lee Custom/Mequon figured this out and in their later Lee Loader sets included a nice red plastic priming tool. Which was great if you just had one size case head to load. Lee Precision later offered the Auto Prime hand tool series as a separate purchase.

    An advantage of adding the hand primer tool is that accidental primer discharges are eliminated and having to stop to clean your skivvies is eliminated this way as well!

    Froggie
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    I'm wondering, using a hand primer, how the rest of the process works. That would require priming the case, then sizing it? How can that be done safely? I know squeezing the casings into the sizing die can require some significant beating.

    Ugh, I save $15 on buying a used tool, then spend the rest of the time screwing around with it trying to make it work!

    I had a Lee Loader for 12ga when I was a kid, and had no idea that lighting off a primer was a thing. I was working out in the garage and my mom and dad were doing some fall cleanup. All three of us nearly had a freaking heart attack.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Have you called LEE? Once the case is sized and then removed with the priming rod the case is set on the depriming chamber. If it is not all the way in the sizing die tap it in with the decapping base on the bench and then charge and seat you bullet. The priming chamber is for priming only.
    Last edited by Rich/WIS; 09-20-2022 at 10:27 AM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I have used Lee Loaders with an alternate priming method (I like them and own 7). I size the case, knock the case out of the sizing portion of the die body, prime then return the case to the charging/seating end of the die body. I do this mostly because it fits my batch loading methods. I would suggest you soak the priming tool in some solvent for a day or two, try to get the disc free by pushing on one side then the other and hopefully it will free up.

    I have one Lee Loader, 44 Magnum, that would pop 2 primers out of 10-12 tries. I got tired of changing my skivvies and worked on the problem. I cleaned up the tool making sure the disc was free, made sure there were no burrs in the disc or priming stud. Then I chamfered the primer pockets with a countersink, the same as I did to remove military primer crimps, and no more unexpected explosions...
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    How do you check the disk? Is there a way to disassemble the tool and get it free? I can't figure out how the thing is assembled in the first place. If it's some kind of friction fit retention ring or what.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    I sent a picture to LEE, and they simply sent a link to order a new one. Free, I pay shipping.

    For $10, I'm not going to mess with it anymore. But thanks for the thoughts and help.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  10. #10
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    It has been quite a while since I used my Lee Loader, but I never managed to set off a primer when seating them. I would push the case onto the primer by hand, rotate 180 and push again. Then if the primer had actually started I would tap it down with the rod while rotating the case between taps. If it did not start with hand pressure I would chamfer the primer pocket slightly and then seat the primers. Loaded with it for a few years before getting a Rockchucker and dies for the .308.
    Spell check doesn't work in Chrome, so if something is spelled wrong, it's just a typo that I missed.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Used properly the Lee Loader can produce excellent ammo. The only real “weaknesses” in some sets were/are the lack of full length sizing. For rounds that thrive on neck sizing, the former is moot, and as I stated before, the original hand priming tool is light years ahead of the original stick and anvil method. IMHO, the late Mequon sets were the best of the best.

    Froggie

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  13. #13
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    "IMHO, the late Mequon sets were the best of the best."

    Just sold this one. Bought it new, I do not think I ever reloaded a single round with it.


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  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy

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    Get on Youtube, everybody and his brother is showin off how they work a a load all.
    “You should tell someone what you know. There should be a history, so that men can learn from it.

    He smiled. “Men do not learn from history. Each generation believes itself brighter than the last, each believes it can survive the mistakes of the older ones. Each discovers each old thing and they throw up their hands and say ‘See! Look what I have found! Look upon what I know!’ And each believes it is something new.

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    Boolit Buddy wilecoyote's Avatar
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    if someone knows a way to make work a brand new (or two) .44mag. L.L. without bashing the hell out of it to resize a case, I will be glad to learn_ I mean without other tools than a plastic hammer and some Imperial sizing lube_(no bench vises, hydraulic jacks, presses, etc.)_ and without damaging the plastic or wooden hammer and/or the case's head_
    at today I can't, and I've considered the opportunity of some oil & sandpaper to ream his inside, but I would like hear first someone more experienced here_thanks to all_

    (I have two L.L.s in .44mag: none of them seems defective_
    the cases can be brand new, or previously resized with other dies (!), or from my S&W M29s. _any brand_ no difference _
    I've all traditional dies and presses to do this work, Lee Hand Press included, but I'm mainly interested to know here If I'm doing something wrong or if the instructions are a bit optimistic, and if it I have a way, if any, to to make properly work these L.L.s following their leaflet before chucking them in a lathe etc. etc.)_
    Last edited by wilecoyote; 09-21-2022 at 08:53 PM.
    ...next thing you know they'll want your pistol and your tobacco...

  16. #16
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    I mostly use a lead ingot from tipping over what I have left over in my lead pot.
    It takes the ding and clang out.
    With the 44 mag I used vasalene as case lube and a lead hammer after I wrecked the plastic insert.
    I just wrapped cardboard around the hammer head and kept it their with tape.filled the screw section and cardboard reservoir with a large ladle/tin can of alloy I was using.

    Makes for quieter loading and less case base beating.
    I only had to neck size a wee bit. Like a thou to finger seat the cast bullets I was using.

    I tried some other lube but it didn’t work to well.

    Annealing the necks really helps.

    I didn’t crimp for the single shot they were used for.
    The de primer pin I taped up till it just fit into the neck of the case.
    I found it difficult to get it into the primer hole at times.
    I think the cases are hard worked and the bases are soft.
    Hope it helps.
    Last edited by barrabruce; 09-22-2022 at 12:22 AM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by wilecoyote View Post
    if someone knows a way to make work a brand new (or two) .44mag. L.L. without bashing the hell out of it to resize a case, I will be glad to learn_ I mean without other tools than a plastic hammer and some Imperial sizing lube_(no bench vises, hydraulic jacks, presses, etc.)_ and without damaging the plastic or wooden hammer and/or the case's head_
    at today I can't, and I've considered the opportunity of some oil & sandpaper to ream his inside, but I would like hear first someone more experienced here_thanks to all_

    (I have two L.L.s in .44mag: none of them seems defective_
    the cases can be brand new, or previously resized with other dies (!), or from my S&W M29s. _any brand_ no difference _
    I've all traditional dies and presses to do this work, Lee Hand Press included, but I'm mainly interested to know here If I'm doing something wrong or if the instructions are a bit optimistic, and if it I have a way, if any, to to make properly work these L.L.s following their leaflet before chucking them in a lathe etc. etc.)_
    What are you lubing your cases with? Are you lubing your cases at all?
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy wilecoyote's Avatar
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    Imperial Sizing Wax. I ever lube, Sir_
    ...next thing you know they'll want your pistol and your tobacco...

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master

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    44 Magnums seems to be one case that is harder to resize than most handgun cases. My method was a good lubing (Mink Oil Boot Dressing) on a clean case and my plastic mallet (a dead bow hammer works well too.). I most often used a lead ingot/puck as an anvil and made sure I was hitting the case square in the bottom. The blows need to be a "forceful push" rather than a "tap, tap, tap". I have done hundred 44 Magnums and not damage any cases or the tool.
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    In my pre press days, I used a bottle capper as a press with my old style Lee loader.....no wack a mole, smooth and easy!
    Chicken Little has finally found an audience

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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