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The Lyman 450 Lubrisizer seems to be an industry leader when it comes to bullet sizing equipment. This is most likely because they've been around the longest. The Lyman 450 is adequate to the needs of most users but has always had an annoying flaw that everyone seems willing to live with and only a very few are willing to talk about. The flaw is that it leaks bullet lubricant from its base constantly when in use. It is not a question of whether or not it leaks, they all do. If a heater is used it leaks worse. The Lyman 450 also leaks around the bottom punch in the sizing die but there isn't much you can do about that. The bulk of the leaking comes from under the press which is simply because the bottom of the press is not flat and it's not sealed. The fact that its not sealed also limits the amount of pressure that can be developed for injecting lube into the grooves of the bullets being sized. The question of how badly it leaks and how much it bothers you is largely a personal matter for the owner-operator of each machine. If you are like me, (a serious cheapskate,) the subject of constantly leaking lubricant during use is highly annoying. Seeing the lubricant oozing out from under the machine the whole time I’m using it bothers me a lot. It also makes a mess on the work bench and shop floor. Bullet lubricant of the best quality cost around $20.00 / lb. The Lyman 450 Lubrisizer will leak about a bullets-worth of lube every few bullets, depending on caliber. It’ll be worse if a heater is used. If you’re okay with that much waste and the attendant mess don’t bother with this fix. If you want to stop the leak this procedure will work. You have to make the final decision. After some conversation with a man I think of as a “Guru” of this subject [I'm sure we all know who I mean] I set out on a program to correct the leaking Lyman 450 Lubrisizer. The following is what I’ve done to both of my 450s.

Caution & Explanation:
The leaking Lyman has only one really practical solution, an epoxy seal. Due to the nature of epoxy, the owner-operator of the leaking Lyman must decide if the leak warrants this cure.
Read all these instructions very carefully and be sure you understand each step. Do not begin until you are very clear about what you are going to do. Epoxy can be pretty unforgiving. On the bottom of the Lyman 450 press, there is a dark colored disk that is pressed into the base. (See Photo 1.) This disk is the mounting plate for the pressure screw of the press. It provides a firm pocket for the “foot” of the pressure screw to sit in. If you turn your press over you can see the bottom of the shaft in the center pocket.
This disk has several peen marks around the edge.

Those marks are left by a process called “staking” which is nothing more than a dent being formed at the edge of two close-fitting pieces of metal to keep them from moving. In the case of the Lyman 450 the disk is staked all around it’s edge. It never really made a seal to keep the lubricant from seeping through under pressure. It just creates a snug mount for the foot of the pressure screw so it doesn’t wobble around in use. Its a tight fit but was never a seal.

Another consideration is the fact that once this procedure is complete you will not be able to remove the pressure screw again unless you first defeat the epoxy seal. Ordinarily there isn’t a good reason to remove the pressure screw but you should know this fact anyway. It’s a permanent fix. Its okay to modify this procedure to your own benefit but remain clear about the details of the pressure screw, it must turn freely and it won’t be removable any more without some work.

Step one: Strip and Clean the Lyman 450.
Normally the press has been used for some time before the leaking annoys the owner enough to want to do something about it. You’ll have to clean the 450 of excess lubricant and “stuff”.
Remove the handle, the reservoir cover, the pressure screw and ram assembly, the pressure piston and if a sizer die is installed, remove that too. Remove any part that might be damaged by heat.

Now place the stripped 450 into a metal pan or something similar. I use a coffee can.


Place the whole thing in the oven. Set the temperature of around 200 degrees-F. Leave it in there for an hour or more, (I left it for 2 hours.) Then take it out and wipe off any excess lube and “stuff” with a rag or paper-towel while it is still warm. It doesn’t have to be “squeaky clean” just wipe off the excess lube with some kind of absorbent material like paper towel or a shop-rag. Plan ahead for how to handle a chunk of hot cast iron. The press will be quite hot so be careful. The lube and “stuff” that melted out will be in the bottom of the pan. Don’t let it get back on the press and do what you think is best with that stuff. I use it as flux when making cast bullets.

By the way, this is also the very best method for cleaning out one kind of bullet lube in preparation for using another kind. You can still do this after the fix but keep the temperature below 200 degrees-F and be sure to handle it gently. Epoxy will sometimes let go when heated.

Step 2: Preparing the base of the 450 for the epoxy seal.
Now that the 450 is relatively clean you must carefully inspect the base for things that will cause problems when the seal is made. The pencil [in the photo] is pointing at what I call a “spur”. Its nothing more than where there was a poor fit of the mold halves when the cast iron was poured into the mold. This spur would prevent the new base plate from neatly matching the base of the press as well as keeping the press from resting wobble-free against the bench it is mounted to. Most Lyman 450s have such a “spur” at this location. It only takes a few seconds with a hand-held grinder to make it go away. You can use a file too but a grinder is better. There is now just a shiny spot where the spur used to be. (See the photos.)


Step 3: Prepare the bottom surface for epoxy.
Now you’ll need that hand-held power grinder with a sanding pad or something similar.
Without these tools you’ve got a lot of sanding to do. The bottom doesn’t have to be totally smooth and flat but nearly all of that paint has to go. (See the photos.) Otherwise you’ll just apply the epoxy to the paint, a waste of time and effort.


Step 4. Make a new “base-plate”.
This is where you must do some thinking ahead of time. You will need a stiff, flat piece of metal to make a new base plate. The epoxy is going to hold this base plate to the bottom of the 450 thus giving the epoxy two things to hold on to and making a good flat bottom for the 450.
Your finished product will be better than the original because of this sealed flat bottom.
I chose a blank cover for a 4-inch electrical work box. These are sold in the electrical section of most hardware stores and cost about 95-cents. (See photo.) I used ordinary electric-power tools such as a drill-gun, reciprocating saw, hand-held grinder, etc. to make the new shape.

This plate is going to be marked and shaped to fit the bottom of the 450 base. (See photos.)


The surface of the new plate that will be epoxy-glued to the base should have all of the finish sanded off. This will insure there are no oils to ruin the grip of the epoxy and all the scratch marks will provide something for the epoxy to hold on to.
You can find the location of the spot centered under the foot of the pressure screw by setting the 450 on the new base plate and looking into the top of the 450. (see photo)

A “Sharpie” medium point marker will just fit in there to make a centered mark.

This mark is to help you know exactly where to apply the epoxy. I placed the pressure-piston centered on that mark and drew a circle around that spot. That is so the epoxy will get a good hold on that location, (the whole reason for all of this.)
Put the pressure screw back into the 450 and put a smudge of bullet lube on the foot of it where it shows in the bottom of the press. This is to keep you from gluing the pressure screw in place with the epoxy. A piece of wax paper on the bench where you’re going to mount all this (while its curing) will help keep it from being glued to the bench when the excess epoxy oozes out from between the new base plate and the bottom of the press as you bolt it in place.

Step 5: Apply the epoxy. (Sorry, no photos.)
I used an epoxy product called J-B Weld. It has a slow cure time that gives you plenty of time to get your act together. Smear a coating of the epoxy on the bottom of the press, taking care not to gob it on too thick. Do it like you're buttering a slice of bread. Give special attention around the foot of the pressure screw. Then smear epoxy on the new base plate using the same technique and taking care to get good contact on that spot. You do not need to cover every square inch of either the plate or the 450. Just be sure there is going to be good adhesion all around that staked-in plate and forward towards the front of the press that hangs over the table. Now put the two glued surfaces together and bolt the whole mess to the bench where it was always bolted. Tighten it down just until you see epoxy oozing out from between the new base-plate and the bottom of the 450. It doesn’t take much epoxy or pressure for this to happen so don’t gob it on thinking more is better. A real problem will develop if you put too much epoxy on and it oozes all over your work bench. If you normally mount the 450 to a heater be sure to wax the whole top of the heater or at least place a sheet of wax paper over it before letting the epoxy get on it. Think this matter through before doing it. Do not glue the press to the bench! This is part of the reason you’ll appreciate using an epoxy product that has a fairly long working life. You’ll have time to save it when you say, “Oh Snap!”

Step 6: Clean-up and inspection:
When the epoxy is very stiff to the touch, ( a couple of hours later, ) turn the pressure screw a few turns with the wrench that came with it. This will insure that it still works. You’ll feel a lot better about this project after that. Now leave it alone for at least 12 hours or more. Follow the instructions of the epoxy carefully for complete cure time. Then dismount it from the bench and be prepared to clean off gobs of cured epoxy that seem to have gotten where you wish they hadn’t. (see photos)

Here you can see the bottom of the new base plate. It is a lot better than the original and it will not leak. A moment with the sanding disk of the hand-held grinder will take care of the little gobs of epoxy. These photos show a neat job, (you should have seen my first one!) You can still use the heater which will now work better because of the complete contact with the new base. You can even paint it orange if you want to.
As you can see, this is not really a simple little chore and you’ll want to think on this awhile before jumping into it. The idea I want to press upon the reader is to be sure and use an epoxy that has a long working life. That way if you suddenly find that you’ve forgotten something important, (like not putting the pressure screw back in before you glued it all together ?!?,) you can take it all apart and start over. Using a fast-setting epoxy spells trouble for this kind of project. Let it be a 2-day project and you’ll be glad you did.


Here you can see both my 450 presses, the old gray-green and the new orange. The new one is mounted to a heater that I seldom use. Once I discovered LBT’s Blue Soft lubricant, the heater is just a smooth flat surface to mount the 450 press on. I only use the heater when the temperature in the shop is absolutely freezing and even then only at about half-power. No more leaking from the base of the Lyman 450 for me.
 

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Great article!!! Good idea!! Thanks!
This makes looking at 450's for the bench much more appealing.
 
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