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Lee Collet Neck die w/Forster press

 
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  #1  
Old 03-28-2008, 01:03 PM
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Lee Collet Neck die w/Forster press

Just like the title says, I have never used this neck size die on this press before and I seem to be having trouble getting it adjusted just right...If I follow Lee's directions with the die I end up with the shoulder pushed back...

Can I just screw the die down until I feel it touch the top of a case, then work it down slowly until I feel the collet close? I think part of the issue is that this press has so much leverage that it feels like I am not doing much of anything to the brass.
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  #2  
Old 03-28-2008, 01:32 PM
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I've played with a few collet dies in my day and do like them. They can be very temperatmental to the height of the shellholder and I'm not sure if that press can change the relationship. Screwing the die down further doesn't change where the crimp will hit the neck of the brass. I have several collet dies that have gotten "belled bottoms" on the sleeves and when this happens I have to put a washer on top of the shellholder to make the die crimp higher up on the neck.
Bottom line is this ....if I can paint the picture right with words. The sleeve moves up after being contacted by the shellholder. After a certain amount of travel the sleeve activates the collet. So, by putting a washer on top of the shellholder you make the sleeve move up faster while the brass is actually sitting in it's normal position in the shellholder. So...the collet activates while the brass is not all the way up into the die and.....voilla.....the neck is sized higher up.
I had an almost new .243 collet die that gave me trouble till I added a washer....and a pretty worn 300 wby that did the same thing because of the belled sleeve. I've actually read where people have permanently affixed a washer to a spare shellholder to leave the bottom of the neck unsized thinking it might help chamber/cartridge alignment. I've also heard of people using a die on a different (but close dimension) cartridge to size the case neck by adding a thick washer.
Bottom line...try a washer....maybe about .050-.090" thick on top of the shellholder and see if your problem goes away. Then you can either contact lee for a potential fix, keep using a washer (which isn't all to clumsy for say 20 cases) or try to modify a shellholder.
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  #3  
Old 03-28-2008, 02:16 PM
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This first time I attempted to use a Lee collet neck die I had similar issues. I also have a Co-Ax BTW, but didn't think that had anything to do with the problem. I ended up taking the die apart and after inspecting it closely it occurred to me that the tooling marks and burrs left over from the manufacturing process were preventing the die from working like it was intended. So I took some wet/dry sandpaper (starting with 320 grit and going up to about 600), applied some oil to it and then polished the beveled end of the collet (the "fingers" for lack of a better term) and also the mouth of the collet sleeve (the small round piece with the hole in it for the mandrel) where it compresses the collet. After this I applied a dab of grease around the mouth of the sleeve and put everything back together. To say it worked 100% better after doing this would be an understatement. I've done the same thing to every other collet die I've bought since then and they've all worked fine, but you need to be aware of another potential problem.

After using that first collet die for a while I was going to take it apart, clean it and reapply some grease to it. However, I couldn't get the collet to slide out of the main die body. I discovered that the bottom of the collet had been dented by the opposing sharp edges of the press's floating shellholder jaws. The collet (and probably the whole die) seems to be made of fairly soft metal, plus its design just isn't compatible with the Co-Ax's floating shellholder jaws. So here's what I came up with: First I simply took a regular shellholder, placed it between the jaws where the case would normally go and did my sizing with the cases sitting in the traditional type shellholder. Of course the die had to be readjusted for the difference in height. This worked fine, no more dented dies, but sometimes the brass would stick in the die since there was nothing preventing the shellholder from slipping out of the press's jaws when extracting a case. To fix this I took a dremel tool and ground down opposing sides of the shellholder base, but I left a rim on each side (like the rim of a case) that would fit under the jaws so that during case extraction the shellholder would be held in place. Problem solved, no more dented dies and no more instances of the press failing to extract the cases. I've had nothing but perfect operation from my collet dies and Co-Ax press since.

Last edited by Delta Hunter; 03-28-2008 at 03:05 PM. Reason: to add some relevant info
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  #4  
Old 03-28-2008, 05:30 PM
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So after reading the advice here and calling Lee to talk to a tech guy about what was going on I have come to some conclusions. First, as Kraky1 said the die is not that compatible with the sliding shell holders on the Forster press. The die is (was, get to that in a minute) sizing too far down the neck and pushing the shoulder down, sharpening the angle.

The end of my experimenting came when the aluminum (why, in a steel die body?) cap on the die literally stripped the threads right out of it. I was not using any great amount of pressure...just a bad cap I guess? I think my next move is going to be to call Lee on Monday and see if they will swap the die out. After messing with this thing all afternoon, I think a Redding or Forster bushing die is starting to look pretty good...

Lee's tech guy was not much help...apparently he had never seen a Forster Co-Ax press before?
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  #5  
Old 03-28-2008, 05:56 PM
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Good luck with the swap out. I 've called Lee a couple of times and the tech advice I've gotten has been pretty mediocre at best....just not a real happy helpful bunch. The collet die is a great invention but like most lee products it's made to sell at the lowest possible price and that means cheap materials. Maybe lee has done their market research and that tells them that 90% of reloaders are cheap buggers and thus they design their "products" to sell to that crowd. Any way you look at it you get what you pay for....you just have to replace it a bit more often.
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  #6  
Old 03-28-2008, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kraky1 View Post
Good luck with the swap out. I 've called Lee a couple of times and the tech advice I've gotten has been pretty mediocre at best....just not a real happy helpful bunch. The collet die is a great invention but like most lee products it's made to sell at the lowest possible price and that means cheap materials. Maybe lee has done their market research and that tells them that 90% of reloaders are cheap buggers and thus they design their "products" to sell to that crowd. Any way you look at it you get what you pay for....you just have to replace it a bit more often.
Yep, what kills me is that they have a few really great products...almost. Like the aluminum cap in that collet die today. If that had been steel the die would have cost $1 more and it would not be broken now...I might just find a bolt with the right threads and cut it down instead now that I think about it. I think the very design is not that compatible with the Forster press though so I may look to something like the Forster or Redding bushing dies instead.
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  #7  
Old 03-29-2008, 09:04 AM
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FWIW---I've sure read lots of threads where people have had a real "fiddling game" with redding bushing dies. Apparently if you have a looser factory type chambering and the die has to work the neck down somewhat it takes at least two sizings or the runnout gets away on those too. From what I've read you have to size it down about half way with one bushing then the rest of the way with what you want for the end result.
AS an alternative I understand that you can send a forester FL die to forester and get them to ream the neck area to match your brass so you don't have to run an expander ball in the die. I think it only cost about $15 plus shipping. The only potential problem is that from there on out your casings have to have consistant neck wall thickness. I guess the way I see it you could get it done to the point where the neck would need only a tiny bit of expansion with the expander ball.....the little bit of friction would probably not pull the neck off alignment.....and the big benefit is that you can set the die for just a tiny bit of shoulder bump back.
Almost all of my forester dies make such tiny runnout that I wouldn't bother with the above idea. I do have one set of 300 win mag dies which give me a little trouble.....but I've upgraded that caliber to a lee collet and a redding body die and I am so VERY HAPPY with those results.
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