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  • Harbor Freight press

    Do any of you guys have any experience with a HF hydraulic press? I am looking for something in the 20 ton range but at the price for the HF outfit I am a bit skeptical and have to wonder if it is even worth bringing home.


    But then again $179 for the metal cutting band saw seems too good to be true and that thing is really good, I have used mine for nearly 6 years with zero problems. Maybe the press is as good as the saw?

  • #2
    Ive heard on pirate 4x4 forum that the presses are fine but the plates that come with them are some kind of crappy cast steel-iron and they shatter when put under a load and several people have been injured by them. So throw the plates in the scrap and get some good ones instead.

    And by shatter I mean like a bomb with shrapnel flying!
    Last edited by dave727; 08-18-2009, 11:25 PM.

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    • #3
      Hmm, Don't need shrapnel I have enough scars now! If the press itself is ok then I could just chuck the plates into the scrap heap and cut some new ones from 1" plate I have on hand.

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      • #4
        I have a 20 ton press that I bought from another local company about 15 years ago. It was Post Tool and I think they are out of business now. It's identical to the present-day Harbor Freight 20 ton model.

        It's been a very good press. I've used it extensively on motorcycle work. I added a longer handle on the screw that controls the ram for ease of use.

        I agree that the cast iron plates are scary, athough I have other metal plates so I haven't really used them. If I get serious sometime, I'll cut some to the same shape out of 1" plate as mentioned above.

        All in all, the press represents a good value. There are some good items at H.F. and the presses are good. They also have good cherry picker/engine hoists that fold. I have one of those as well as one of theiir bead blasting cabinets that I've highly modified with added, protected lights and a gun with carbide tips.

        I bought one of their 6" mill vises about ten years ago and just replaced it this week with a Kurt D 675. The H.F. vise is really worthless since it lifts and there's no adjustment. It's serving as a 100 pound doorstop in my barn now.

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        • #5
          And a related story to the exploding press plates, I heard of a guy killed by a chunk of brass that flew off a part during a press operation.

          It went into his neck and hit an artery. So full face-neck shield a very good idea when using a shop press.

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          • #6
            I have one with their pneumatic 20 ton jack on it. It seems to be ok, if you won't be using it 12 hours a day. The fit of sliding table is real lose, but that can be adjusted with sheet metal shims. So it isn't as sloppy, Do remove the wire bail on the pneumatic over hydraulic jack as it seems to fall in to the on position at all the work times. I did add a large pressure gauge to the line so repeat procedures are easier.

            You also may have to raise it up on solid cement blocks as it is short in height.

            I haven't used the plates much but that info is nice to know.

            Again the biggest caveat would be for a weekend warrior/hobbyist it is a nice addition even better when on sale and you have a 20/25% off coupon in your hot little hand.
            Glen
            Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
            I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
            All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only

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            • #7
              'Do remove the wire bail on the pneumatic over hydraulic jack'
              Can you clarify on this? I have been thinking of buying one of these but have no idea what a wire bail is.
              Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gnm109
                I added a longer handle on the screw that controls the ram for ease of use.

                I agree that the cast iron plates are scary, athough I have other metal plates so I haven't really used them. If I get serious sometime, I'll cut some to the same shape out of 1" plate as mentioned above.
                I have the HF 20 ton press and agree with the above. Adding a hand lever to the pressure release screw makes it much easier to use IMO. I have gotten to the point of hitting the pressure bypass on the jack (once) and the factory plates held. I would not want to do that again though.

                I keep telling myself that I will pick up some steel plates one of these days, but you know how that goes.....

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                • #9
                  OK, Seems like maybe they are one of the good deals from HF, I have gotten some good items and some bad so that's why I asked.

                  Thanks everyone and I will let you know how it works.

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                  • #10
                    Ditto what the other posters said.

                    I'm happy with my HF 20 ton.

                    I replaced the jack control knob with a larger knob.

                    The cast plates do make me nervous but they are holding up despite severe use.

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                    • #11
                      I have the 12 ton unit from HF. Had it maybe 10 years or so, never a problem. I did have to set it on some 6" tall blocks to get a decent working height.
                      Chris
                      Merkel, Tx
                      http://raceabilene.com/kelly/hotrod

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                      • #12
                        I am taking the warning(s) about the plates very seriously, as the old saying goes if there is that much smoke there must be some fire so I will chunk them into the trash as soon as I get home with this thing. I have lots of 1" plate on hand so I can cut out some new ones in various shapes as needed.

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                        • #13
                          Why throw the plate out in the trash, thats such a waste.

                          Use the plate.. Just not in a press.
                          Maybe an metal forming anvil (in an of itself, to be used with a hammer), or a setup plate if its flat enough. Or as a tooling plate on the mill, or as pratice for your oxy/fuel cutter
                          Coffee table. Iv allways wanted a 1" thick steel coffee table.

                          the plate explodes in use because its hard, brittle, and being exposed to 20+ tons of force flexing a large steel structure untill something critialy fails.

                          Its not just gonna explode in your face while its siting on the desk next to you, or as you smash it with a hammer (ok maybe you could chip it with a hammer, or shatter with a sledge hammer. But the same is true of the hammer head itself! Wear safty glasses when using hammers.)
                          Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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                          • #14
                            Tossing it in the trash is really just a figure of speech and I probably will find some use for it, something has to be REALLY useless to me in order to be considered trash!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Black_Moons
                              'Do remove the wire bail on the pneumatic over hydraulic jack'
                              Can you clarify on this? I have been thinking of buying one of these but have no idea what a wire bail is.




                              I had the valve the other way and it would hang up and only would allow the valve to open part way. Was just easier to flip it and pop the bail.
                              Glen
                              Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
                              I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
                              All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only

                              Comment

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