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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone used one of these yet? I'm putting in an order at Lock, Stock, and Barrel on Monday and was considering getting one of these to try it out. If you've been lucky enough to use one of these and compare it to either Veral's or Saeco's tools, that information would be especially useful. I know that Lee makes some tools that are innovative, useful, and easy to use, I'd like to know if this tool falls into that category. The only review I saw on Midways site was that the optical pen can be hard to focus, but I don't know if the reviewer is trying to look into the optical pen with the wrong part of his tri-focals, or if it's a poor tool for the job.

Any info on this, even vicious rumors, will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Jack,
I think I saw that tester in a thread that you or someone else posted here. I guess that settles it, I'm going to have to be the test case. From what I can see of the way it works, you're likely trying to dimple the lead against a know stiffness spring and then measuring the dimple against a scale in a simple optical pen. I'm going to go ahead and order it if they have one in stock. I picked up a trio of new RCBS two cavity moulds from them on GunBroker.com for $36 a piece, which I would guess is at or near cost, I don't want the shipping to go to waste! I wonder what else I can get in there to justify the shipping! :)

If I could get a couple bullets of a known hardness to compare to some lino, wheelweights, and chemically pure lead I have it might give my results in the comparison some validity, or at least a point of comparison to see how accurate it is.

If I do get one, I'll let you know how it works.
 

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I just got an instruction sheet for the Lee unit that they were kind enough to send me.

You have it about right as far as the units operation.

There is a plunger pin at the top of the die that must stay flush with the top of the die during alloy testing. (when indenting the alloy sample) That is in effect, your calibration and guarantee of repeatability.

The optical pen has a scale that you put the "zero" on the edge of the depression on the left and read the measurement on the right like a ruler.

The reading coverts to a given hardness on a scale that they supply you with on the instruction sheet.

I would imagine it would take some use to become familiar with and get the right technique. Like using a Mic, etc.

This thing looks like the unit depicted in my Lyman Cast bullet manual that they used in their lab.

I have the Instructions scanned on the tube if you want to see them via e-mail.


Regards
 

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Jack Monteith said:
Hi, Steven:
The one I've been hearing good things about is the Cabine Tree unit. Seems that everybody is waiting for somebody else to order a Lee and report.
http://www.castingstuff.com/welcome_to_our_new_site.htm
It's 2/3rds of the way down the page, past some other interesting stuff.

Bye
Jack

Jack,

I was checking out their site, have you used their mould handles? The workmanship looks good, and it seems like a novel idea.
 

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Hi, jpsw44:
No, I haven't even seen those Cabine Tree handles, up close and personal. I'm just wondering if you can open them with one hand. Sticky moulds will open at the bottom easily, but not at the top, since most of the bullet., maybe all, is in the top half. Most new moulds are sticky. It works better if you open a sticky mould by squeezing the handles apart by pushing your thumb and fingers between the handles and squeezing the bottom of the mould with your other hand. The bullets often drop into my hand when I do it this way, but if I yank the handles open with both hands, it takes a couple of whacks with a plastic hammer on the hinge to get the bullets out. Need I add that I wear insulated roper gloves?

I also prefer to open the sprue plate with my thumb instead of the hammer. It gives you a good indication of how hot the mould is. If a firm push is needed about 8-10 seconds after the sprue flashes over, it's about right.

Bye
Jack
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Hick, now that your nose has been re-plumbed and you have some time on your hands, sounds like a good opportunity for a 'Tech Note' on the new Lee Hardness Tester!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
MikeG,
I'll let you know how it works when I get it. If someone has a few bullets of a known hardness it would greatly enhance what I would consider an evaluation of the tool. The chemically pure lead I have will be a good starting point, but I don't know if this tool, as is the case with other types, is very accurate in working with very soft lead. I'm pretty sure my lino supply is lino, as I melted it from print metal myself, but who can be sure? The big thing would be to compare it with the results of someone who has a few bullets that they have tested with a LBT or SAECO tester to see if there is consistency, or if the calibration is good. The hardness measurements are kind of muddy to me, since you rarely ever REALLY know what the hardness should be and the many other variables that come into play after metal has been heated and cooled, etc. etc. There is a good technique on the Antimony Man website, provided you have a good thermostat, for determining what you metal is, but I don't know how helpful it would be in this instance.

As far as a tech note goes, my unorganized rambling would need a lot of editing, especially when I'm on pain medication. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Jack,
I just sent an email to him outlining what I hoped to accomplish, and to see if he could provide some samples that would be useful. Thanks for the information.

Steven
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Jack,
I've got the tester in my hot little hands. It looks like a simple enough device. I'll be alloying some metal tonight, so I'll pour a couple different bullet mixtures and see how it works. I'm sure it's going to be a few days until I get my "control" metal from The Antimony Man, that will be the true test, or close as I'm likely to get to it.
 

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Hi, Gents:
I'm breathlessly awaiting your report, Steven. Meanwhile I've be playing with the bathroom scale, drill press and some ball bearings. I found an article on the web by William C. Davis, Jr. telling how to do a Brinell test by forcing a ball bearing into a lead sample with a drill press. You put the sample on the scale to measure the force. He recommends a force of 200 lb. on a 7/16" ball. I scrounged some balls from my supply of defunct combine bearings and tried it. Results seemed accurate on pure lead, wheelweight metal and what I think is Linotype. Anyway, it's hard. The hardest part is accurately measuring the diameter of the indent, as the useful range is 2 to 5 millimeters. The Lee tester makes a smaller indent and the pocket microscope is necessary with it. I couldn't find a pocket microscope for anything near the price Lee charges for the whole unit. Edmund Scientific used to have low priced stuff like that but now they start at $60.

If someone wants to try it too, the size of the ball bearing makes surprisingly little difference. 7/16" = 11.1mm but most balls are metric. It's those Swedes, you know. Going from a 7.5mm ball to a 15mm ball changes the BHN by 0.5, if you go by the following chart. The formula in Mr. Davis' article lost some factors in printing, but if anyone wants one that works, I'll post it

Bye
Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Jack
I was informed of a technique like the one you mention by Dave Corbin. You would take two bottle caps, I always seem to have some of those around :), and pour one with pure lead and the other with the alloy to be tested. You would then put a stainless steel ball bearing between the two of them in a vice and crank it down until the bearing was about at full diameter in the pure lead sample. While this procedure did prove useful, the measurement phase was a pain the butt, hence my interest in the Lee product. I don't doubt that the technique you mention is useful, but I buy metal from a lot of different places, and it is anything but convenient or UNIFORM from what I've seen. It works in a pinch, but I'd hate to bet the well being of a set of swaging dies on it.

My hope with the Lee unit is that I can test a 1/2 lb, or .225 KG in your case, ingot from a Lee ingot mould and test it along it's length and come up with a consistent reading. I'll try the bullets also to see if the reading is consistent with that given from the ingot from which they where cast.. I think this type of test will go a long way to see if the Lee unit is a useful product. Repeatability and consistency in measurement is the key here for me. I would be very happy to find that the testing of the actual cast projectile and the ingot would yield the same results, or something close enough to be meaninful.

Well, I'll let you know what I find out.

I have heard some reports, from the feedback on the midwayusa website, of the optical pen being hard to get a good focus with, but I've yet to see that outcome in my very limited experience (two bullets tonight is the sum of said experience).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've finished playing with the Lee hardness tester. I was going to write up a report on this, but the inability of the tool to provide any meaningful readings has prevented this from taking place.

My bottom line assesment is that you'd be better off taking your $35 and throwing it down a outhouse. I've elaborated below.

The means by which the tool creates the dimple in the lead that is to be measured is a sound technique I believe, it is siimilar to the technique that Bill Ferguson mentioned to me in the discussion we had when I was ordering the test alloy. The problem with the unit comes into play with the optical pen that has marked measurements which you use to determine the width of the dimple in your test bullet, which allow you to determine the hardness based on the literature that Lee provides with the unit. This optical pen is worthless in my estimation. I have 20/15 corrected vision and I could not use it to any reasonable effect with or without my contact lenses. My wife who has 20/20 uncorrected vision couldn't make much use of it either. I tried everything in the included intructions as far as lighting, as well as some additional tips from the Lee customer service rep that I spoke with. Once in a blue moon, if the planets where in proper alignment, you could create the perfect, unrepeatable, reading if the surface of the bullet was not too shiny or too frosted, and the lighting (I used a flexible halogen work lamp like you would use for doing very fine work) was perfect. If one was willing to black out the the surface of the bullet, it might work, but I don't think you'd be able to reliably black out just the area you don't want to measure. Another way might be to put a drop of molten bullet lube over the dimple and then shear the excess off at the surface, leaving the dimple filled with a good background contrast color to measure by. I don't feel either of the two methods I just mentioned would give any repeatable or dependable results either way, plus it would be a bunch of jacking around to make something work that should work straight out of the box. The tester is a good idea with poor execution in my estimation, a usable optical measuring device would make all the difference in the world.

I will ask Lee if they'd like to send me another unit to see if the problem is unique to the one I have, provided they are willing to pay any shipping involved in the transaction. Beyond that, a full refund of the cost of item and shipping is in order as the unit is less than useful.
 

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OUCH! Steve, thanks for the report, and I'll be interested in what Lee actually does for you. I too have used lots of Lee equipment with perfect satisfaction, but another of their "better ideas" was the Lee Load Master, progressive loading press. I bought it because I was on a budget when they first came out, and I had nothing but problems with the primer feed mechanism, and it would put primers in upside down or sideways, or not at all about 40% of the time. I sent the unit to them twice, and they provided spare parts twice, but the outfit still didn't work and is gathering dust and rust as it has for the last seven years. Never did get satisfaction from that product, or a refund, just more parts until such time that they said they'd done all they intended to do.

Hope your experience with the lead hardness tester isn't similar.

Let us know, please.

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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Well, that's a real shame. This can be quite typical of Lee with regard to product design. Great ideas executed poorly. Another is their "Perfect" powder measure. But, I won't throw stones. :D

What I would do is just send it back to their factory and either demand a full refund or exchange for other merchandise. I've done that before myself.


Thanks for the report.


Regards
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Contender,
I've used enough Lee bullet moulds that I should have known better than to believe the thing would work. I'll admit, I've a used their 10lb furnace with no problems, and I even have a bullet mould (out of the half dozen I've used) that actually works. I used to use one of their push through sizing dies, and it was a good product, well at least it worked as advertised.
 

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Ray said it best - good ideas, poorly executed.

Make 'em give you some factory crimp dies for it.... now THAT was one of their better ideas, and does work....
 

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[I've been using one of Gussy's, (Cabine Tree), units for a couple of years and I like it a lot. It's simple to use, easy to read and repeatable. It works by pushing a spring loaded cone point a standard amount into the sample. A dial indicator reads off the actual depth of penetration. While it doesn't read in Brinnel units, he does provide a chart for conversion until you get used to using the actual readings. Light years ahead of the Saeco Unit I had used in the past. I really like the fact that only a small meplat is needed to get a good reading from a bullet,so you generally don't have to cast a sample just for testing. There's also room for most ingots to fit in the unit. BD
 
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