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Old 07-15-2008, 12:10 PM   #1
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Do dies require maintenance?

I am using Dillon carbide dies for .38 special. I think I am somewhere around 15,000 in total.
The only thing I have ever done is replace the decaping pin and occasionally check to be certain I am resizing the entire length.
Do dies require any maintenance such as cleaning or lubing?
The only lube the cases get is any residual polish from the cleaning.
I guess a secondary question would be if I should be lubing the cases and if so, what kind? This lube would then find itself inside the sizing die.
Thanks, all.
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:30 PM   #2
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

The simple answer is yes. Dies collect whatever is on the outside of the cases you're loading. Sizing dies can begin to get sticky if they're really dirty and seating dies often collect small brass shavings and lubricant from cast bullets. When you clean them, you'll be surprised at what comes out, because your dies are probably still working perfectly.

Clean them in the same way you would clean the chamber of a pistol. Remove the internals and run a bronze bore brush with nitro solvent. Finish with a few patches to remove the oils and grime.

When you get to dies that require lubrication for sizing, then you'll need to clean them much more often. The carbide dies on my progressives get cleaned about every year, or every 10,000 rounds; whatever comes first...these days, it's the year that comes first.
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Old 07-15-2008, 05:03 PM   #3
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Cleaning yes, lubing no. No brushes required though. You're just removing lube gunk.
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:06 PM   #4
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

I think a brush wet with solvent is a good first step for all dies. Carbide pistol dies don't usually need more, but both expander and seating dies may. Expander buttons often have a build up of brass scraping that can be removed with fine steel wool. Seating dies used with cast bullets often get a ring of lube that can srew up crimp and seating depth.

Seating dies for jacketed bullets probably don't need much beyond a wet patch.
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Old 07-17-2008, 10:36 PM   #5
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Thanks, everyone.
Once disassembled, is there is an easy way to put the dies back into adjustment, especially the crimp die? Or maybe the sizing die is the only one that needs cleaning?
I shoot the .38's out of a Marlin lever rifle, and it is very crimp sensitive. If I don't have enough crimp, the cartridges hang up as they feed. Too much and the cases don't last as long, or so it seems.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:08 AM   #6
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

There is really no need to remove the lock ring for cleaning the inside but if you do you will almost always have to readjust.

One trick is to make a dummy cartridge and use it to reset the die. Just srew the die down until you feel the crimp ring contact the dummy and then adjust the seating stem.
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Old 08-03-2008, 09:24 PM   #7
 
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

I clean all my dies with automotive aerosol brake cleaner. I also dis-mantle the dies and run the appropriate mop/chamber brush into them. Before sizing I squirt a tad of lube into the sizer and use the same press handle stroke. For the bullet seating/crimp(where necessary) I use a 'dummy' case to set up the seat and crimp
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Old 08-13-2008, 01:33 PM   #8
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

WD-40 works really great for this. I buy it in one gallon cans at Home Depot or Lowe's. I keep some in a glass jar with one of those cheap paint brushes. I cut the bristles down so it's stiffer. Afterward I blow them dry with compressed air, and lightly oil them. They come out cleaner than new. This works well for cleaning guns as well. I used to use Kerosene, but it's getting hard to find, and WD-40 smells a lot better. Bill T.
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Old 08-17-2008, 11:47 AM   #9
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Just read this post and never thought about cleaning the dies. As Charlie said, take a bore brush/bore mop to the insides with some solvent. Well, I just did and the dirt came out in big lots. The 4 dies I use most are .38 spl, .357 magnum (I have a separeate die for this calibre), .45 ACP and .45 Colt. I guess it been 15 or 16 years since I got them and were they ever dirty.

All my dies are RCBS, Lyman and Hornaday and they work just fine for me.

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Old 09-01-2008, 02:06 PM   #10
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

I just got around to cleaning those dies and also discovered something really nice about a Dillon 650.
Pull the two little pins, lift off the powder arm, and everything comes off for easy access to cleaning.
I didn't have to remove the dies but I did take out the decapper and seating. Not much junk on the seating die, but there was plenty of junk inside the sizing die.
Funny thing. I thought that doing a really good job in cleaning and polishing would be enouhg. Over time, it isn't.
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Old 09-03-2008, 05:18 PM   #11
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Along this line. What do you do when dies rust externally?

I've been given some rifle dies that appear to be ok internally but, have red rust on the outside of them. What do you use to get the rust off?

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Old 09-03-2008, 05:53 PM   #12
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

You'll never be able to get them to look new again without a bead blaster or similar but you can get a lot with a stainless steel brush or a steel bristle brush like welders use. You can get a lot off with it dry but then you can wet it with oil or something and get more. Let it sit for a day and repeat.
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:03 AM   #13
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Thanks Charlie,

I think I knew that.
Being essentially a lazy fellow, I was hoping for some magic passwords or an elixier that would fix them, good as new

Thank you for the prompt reply.

DaninDayton
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Old 09-04-2008, 01:28 PM   #14
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Almost any machine shop would have a bead blaster and it wouldn't take 5 minutes to do it.

I guess it just depends on how lazy you are
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Old 09-05-2008, 10:12 AM   #15
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Re: Do dies require maintenance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Petty
There is really no need to remove the lock ring for cleaning the inside but if you do you will almost always have to readjust.
[snip]
Well, I recommend removing the lock ring for cleaning dies for bottleneck cases.

Ran out of Dillon's case lube a few months ago so I tried the spray kitchen oil thing (butter-"flavor" or scent, no less). Stuff works okay, but 6-8 weeks later the die started smelling a little bit like...rancid cooking oil. Then the vent hole plugged up and I got a slew of .223 cases with AIR dents in the shoulders.

The dents didn't go away until the 3rd cleaning, when I removed the lock right (right over the vent for the Dillon toolhead) and poked some wire through the little hole.

Food-grade oils oxidize, harden up and start to smell. Even little bits of dust can goo up with the lube and clog your vent.

I use Hornady One Shot lube now. REAL easy to clean off.
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