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The Lee Case trimmer pilots are really an excellent value and are very versatile. The pilot shaft itself can be adapted easily to other cartridges that fall within the length of the particular pilot shaft. For instance, I have taken a pilot for the 30/30 Winchester, chucked it in a drill press and filed it down to the diameter needed to fit the neck of a sized 7-30 Waters case. As you know the Waters case runs the same length as the 30/30. My latest modification has been a pilot for trimming a wildcat based on the 444 Marlin case. Called the 358 Bellm, it’s based on a necked down Marlin case with a longish neck which is nicely suitable for cast bullets. I simply chucked a pilot for the Parent Marlin case into the trusty drill press and filed away until I reached the proper diameter for the case neck of the sized Bellm case. I also have a slightly shorter trim to length on this case so, I simply stoned the guide pin down on a sharpening stone as this pin is hardened steel. Now it is a simple matter after case forming to trim all cases to the proper length.

The beauty of these trimmers is that they are very fast to use relative to a lathe type trimmer as the length is already preset. No trial and error as with a lathe type trimmer. They also provide a quick check for case length. The base can be either chucked into a cordless screwdriver or a cordless drill, set on slow speed for increased production rates.
A drop of light oil on the pilot shaft also helps when using this method every 5th case or so. Then simply deburr and toss the cases in the tumbler to clean for an hour to remove all oil residue.

As a handgunner, I no longer look at trimming new cases to square up case mouths as an excersize in masochism. You would be surprised how lengths vary on new brass also. Helps with crimping uniformity to boot.

Lathe type trimmers have their place on the bench but, for the majority of my case trimming, I find I'm grabbing for these Lee Trimmer pilots more and more for case trimming chores.

At about &#365 for a pilot  and shellholder, they are certainly reasonable enough to try. The cutter and base are interchangeable and only purchased once for about &#365.


Regards,
Ray


:cool:



(Edited by Contender at 12:37 pm on Feb. 24, 2001)
 

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Hi, Contender. I see you posted this back in February, so I hope you get to respond to my question.  I like your idea about the Lee trimmers.  I took a look at them on Lee's site.  I saw that you hold the trimmer itself in your hand.  Have you had any problems with cases being square?  What holds the case square as you trim...the case length gauge?  I also saw the Lee zip trim. What do you think of that?  It has good portability...no electric necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello Southpaw,

The pilot has a pin in the end that goes through the primer pocket hole and rests against the hardened base surface. This is your case length guage. Granted, the pin is not the exact diameter as the primer hole but it has enough precision to not really make any difference. As a matter of fact, I have trimmed new cases with this trimmer and it has squared up the case mouths by removing metal from one side. So that tells me it works fine. Also the pilot is sized to just fit into the case mouth with a slip fit thus holding the cutter head in alignment. Just make sure that you screw the pilot into the cutter head firmly by hand only, so it makes contact evenly.

Crimping cases trimmed with this unit has proven to me that it does cut square and true as evidenced by a uniform crimp around the case. I even trim/check case length on a new lot of pistol cases and from then on have nice uniform crimps.

I normally for light trimming use the unit with hand power only. When you feel the unit ease up and no longer cutting, you are done. For cases that need a lot of metal removed, I'll chuck the base in a cordless drill and go. Fast and easy. I do have a Zip trim but must confess have yet to use it. Like my other ways better for now.


Regards

:cool:





(Edited by Contender at 10:39 am on May 15, 2001)
 

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My trimming set-up...

I welded the Lee cutter to a 5/8" open-end wrench. Fits the locking collar perfectly. I can mount, trim, inside/outside chamfer and dismount a case in 25 seconds. The tool never leaves my hand. Half-inch chuck. Fits magnum cases if you need to stuff one in it mouth-first. The hand-powered lathe was made by my dad per my design. It's truly a one-off. So is my dad...



 

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I've used the LEE cutters/trim guages ever since I started handloading. Finally last year I got the Zip Trim and the cutter with large wooden ball. MAN! I wish I had those two from the git-go. My fingers always got cramped and sore after trimming a hundred cases holding that little cutter.
 

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Never thought about using a 5/8 wrench on the collar. Looks like it will save a lot of wear and tear on the hands. Thanks for the tip.
 

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Somebody must have been digging in the archives as this thread started ten years ago. As the OP stated its easy modifing Lee case trimmers for wildcat and cartridges that Lee doesn't make trimmers available. Done it on several older wildcat cartridges that one would believe to be available. Only problem I've encountered is sometimes you need too buy two sets - one for the case holder and one for the pilot. Another couple items of interest. Older trimmer pilots the pin was a hardened insert while newer pilots they are a turned portion of the pilot. Newer trimmers have a steel shell holder while older ones were alumium. Finally I've noticed the run out on older pilots is better than newer pilots. That might be why Lee switch from turning the cutter/pilot too spinning the case instead.
 

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I have been thinking about one of these as I have a bunch of reformed .348 to trim down to 45-90 length, is this the way to go
 

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Call Lee and give them the diameter and length and tell them what parent case and they'll cut one and send a shell holder with it. I had one done for my 264 Win mag.
 

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NVShooter, I like your setup. I use a cordless drill that just sits upright on the flat bottom of the battery pack. That is what your nice wooden frame simulates. The wrench is a great idea too - it looks like it gives you lots of purchase on the trimmer, but as Jakeway said, the trimmer Lee sells installed in a wooden ball grip works wonders!

One thing about nice tools like you've got is they add pleasure to the process. Anytime I make something that performs a function, it adds that personal touch to whatever I'm doing. Good job and kudos to your Father ( he made the box, right?).
 

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One thing that bothers me about the Lee trimmer is since they use the flash hole to center the trimmer. I've seen more than a few cases which didn't have the flashhole punched in the center of the primer pocket.

That being the case, you might be unevenly trimming the necks.
 

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The flashhole would have to be quite a bit off-center to be an issue and if it is, you've got bigger problems than uneven trimming. ;)

One thing I like about ShootersForum is how a 10 year-old thread can be resurrected! One thing I like about the Lee case trimmer is the numerous different applications for the shell-holder portion of it. When fire-forming cases, it is common to get a fair amount of soot on the case neck and shoulder, before it seals in the chamber. By chucking up a case in the Lee trimmer base, you can use a drill to rotate the case while you use a cleaner or mild abrasive to clean 'em up! This really saves wear and tear on the old fingers and wrists. :)
 

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The flashhole would have to be quite a bit off-center to be an issue and if it is, you've got bigger problems than uneven trimming. ;)

One thing I like about ShootersForum is how a 10 year-old thread can be resurrected! One thing I like about the Lee case trimmer is the numerous different applications for the shell-holder portion of it. When fire-forming cases, it is common to get a fair amount of soot on the case neck and shoulder, before it seals in the chamber. By chucking up a case in the Lee trimmer base, you can use a drill to rotate the case while you use a cleaner or mild abrasive to clean 'em up! This really saves wear and tear on the old fingers and wrists. :)

Oh I have no doubts the bullet would go out the barrel. There was a previous post about how precise they could trim the necks.... I just don't see that tool as being precision.
 

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Alright ... I'll bite Monty ... why don't you see the Lee Trimmer as a precision tool?

I've measured lots and lots of cases that were trimmed using the Lee too and found them to be remarkably consistent. You don't have the luxury of adjusting the length (only shorter if you file the tip) but it does a fine job trimming.
 

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Oh I have no doubts the bullet would go out the barrel. There was a previous post about how precise they could trim the necks.... I just don't see that tool as being precision.
The thing to realize is that the cutter face is kept flush to the case mouth with a caliber-specific pin that just fits into the case...all that little "decapper" pin does is determine trim length. On the rare occasion that I find a case with flashhole that is so far off-center that the little pin won't go through it, I toss the case. In fact, they rarely get that far because I usually find the problem with the flashhole during a much earlier inspection; either when they are brand new or after the first resizing/cleaning, at the latest.

You would be truly surprised at how consistent the trimmed lengths are from this little tool. You have a steel pin contacting a steel base, so it is very precise. It's also just about as fast as the rotary trimmer tools, especially when you factor in the length is preset by the gauge pin. If you haven't tried it, you would be very surprised by how simple and effective it is.

The large wooden ball or drill motor makes the process faster and less stressful on the hands. I recently used one to trim-to-length 400+ mixed cases for the 30-'06, in a little over an hour.
 

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The large wooden ball or drill motor makes the process faster and less stressful on the hands. I recently used one to trim-to-length 400+ mixed cases for the 30-'06, in a little over an hour.
The Lee trimmer is the only trimmer I have and use. However, I do get tired of tightening the shell-holder/base because the knurling starts to make my fingers raw.

Have you used the three jaw chuck that Lee advertises or the zip-trim tool?

The other problem I have had has been when I have a batch of cases that are UNDER length yet need to be evened up. I hate to file down the pins on the length gauges to allow for the short ones only to give up that length in the future.
 

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I'd agree with you guys the Lee trimmer is fast. If you weed out the off center primer flash holes I'd say for all intents and purposes it's reasonably accurate. No doubt it will trim to a uniform length. My beef is that it references off the flash hole which isn't the most accurate or consistant part of the case.

Jason, you must discard lots of potentally useable brass. I just bought a bag of .308 Win. cases and all the flashholes were off center a noticeable amount.

If you guys are wondering what I use for a case trimmer, for tapered cases a Wilson. For straight wall cases a Pacific.
 

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evan - I have the 3 Jaw Chuck but not the Zip Trim. I use the 3 Jaw Chuck in a drill press and it works great. I will add that it's operation was a bit sticky at first so I took it apart and dressed the jaws with some fine emery paper. Now it's very smooth and the bigger size is a lot easier on the hands than the small shell holder. It is also self-centering which I like. You use it in the same manner as you do the shell holder, you tighten it down until it cinches the case against an anvil. The Lee Trimmer & Case Length Gage works exactly the same way as the original shell holder. Also, if you get one, don't lube it with oil, the oil collects crud and eventually clogs the jaws. I lube mine with graphite powder and it stays dry and is not prone to clinging onto dirt.
 
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