So, some have said "My Lee collet die is a POC" or "It takes too much pressure to make my Lee collet die work, it's a POC." or "All Lee dies are P'sOC ."
Well I HOPE
to shed some light (as per request) with photos this time, on how to tailor the mandrell of your POC Lee collet die.
All you need is a drill, pedal powered, plug in or battery powered electric or drill press, some 400 grit emery cloth, 000 steel wool or crocus cloth and an inexpensive set of dial calipers.
First, zero you calipers:
You'll notice I have two types, neither of which may be up to some machinists standards, but for the average Joe reloader, they are more than adequate.
Now measure the mandrel (this one's for my .243 die set) at the tip and at spots further up the shaft. Mine measured .241 all the way up.
Run a few cases (or the same one, it doesn't matter) into the die to "mark" where the neck is being sized on the mandrel. Then after you've determined where the neck is actually being sized, chuck the top of the mandrel up in your drill (the top has a wee "mushroom on it) and with the 400 grit emery GENTLY
squeeze the cloth between thumb and forefinger in the area already determined. I use 400 grit cloth to prevent the removal of materiel too quickly. Stop the drill and re-measure. Remove at least
.001 to start.
Reassemble the die and try (a different case this time) sizing without readjusting the die itself. You should notice two things.
1. The force needed to size the case (over center your press) was substantially less and,
2. When you raised the handle, you felt a bit of a pull before the case was clear of the die.
No? Well, chuck the collet back up and remove more materiel (not much) from the area where the neck is sized, NOT the whole shaft and repeat.
AH!!! Success!!!! The required force was reduced and I felt a bit of pull as the case cleared the bottom of the mandrel!!!!
Now measure the mandrel again:
Here's where my .243 mandrel ended up.
.0015 smaller in the area where the neck is actually being sized.
Too put a nice smooth finish on the mandrel I chuck it back up in the drill and using 000 steel wool or crocus cloth I polish the whole mandrel, not too much, just a little.
You're now saying "But the top of my mandrel got damaged by chucking it up in my drill!!! RJ, your idea is stupid", no you didn't hurt it just because it's got a couple dings in the end, or "RJ, I removed too much materiel form the mandrel, you're an idiot", Sue me. No, seriously, call Lee and tell them what you did and chances are (if you don't do it too many times) they will send you a new mandrel for free.
Another thing you will notice is that as your brass gets work hardened the "tug" or "pull" felt when the case clears the collet is reduced. This means your cases are springing back more as they work harden and may need annealed.
Here's what I use to lubricate my Lee Collet Dies:
It's a lithium grease, not as good a molybdenum disulfide, but it's working.
You can also use anti seize, but it's more mess than it's worth.
I lubricate the "point" of the collet, not the inside (where the light is)
You can see by the grease lines how little there is. I don't want it getting in unwanted places, plus it's easier to wipe off that little bit and reapply than to degunk the whole die.