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mrriggs

20-ton press project

24 posts in this topic

I finished my drill press project so, keeping with my theme of getting the shop put together, it's time to move on to the hydraulic press. A few months ago I was given a 55-ton press frame that was missing the hydraulics. After moving it into the garage, it took no time at all for it to get completely buried. I had to move some stuff just to get this picture.

BigPress02.jpg

The new power head for this press will be a $35 20-ton bottle jack, modified to work upside-down.

BigPress03.jpg

The first step was to remove the rubber plug in the side of the reservoir and drain the hydraulic oil. I didn't have a wrench big enough for the huge nut on top so I flipped it over and clamped the nut in the vise. Using a pin spanner that I made for a Husky flywheel, I was able to unscrew it from the bottom. The nut holds both the ram and the reservoir to the cylinder. I tried removing the cylinder from the base with a strap wrench but it would not budge.

BigPress04.jpg

The first modification was to drill and tap a port for a pressure gauge. This isn't necessary but I figured that since it is already apart I should just do it now. There was a thick boss in the base opposite the pump. I drilled an 1/8" hole deep enough to go under the cylinder (a simple task with my "new" drill press).

BigPress05.jpg

That was followed with an 11/32" drill then an 1/8" pipe tap (not shown).

BigPress06.jpg

An intersecting hole was drilled down through the base of the cylinder. This was really awkward with the cylinder still in place. I had to place the center punch with needle nose pliers then hold it up with a drift to get enough height to hit it with a hammer. I used a drill bit made for a cordless screwdriver with several extensions. It was wobbling all over the place when I fired up the drill press. After only a few pecks the drill centered on the punch mark and went right through.

BigPress07.jpg

The other internal modification was to add a "straw" to the hole that feeds the pump. This is what will allow the bottle jack to operate upside-down. I cut a chunk of steel brake line to length, ground a slight taper in the end, dabbed on some Loctite, then tapped it into the hole.

BigPress08.jpg

Before reassembly, I ground the rivets off of the reservoir that held on the carry handle. Then just pop the ram back in the cylinder, set the reservoir on the base, and screw down the big nut. Notice there is a pipe plug in the new hole since I do not have a gauge for it yet.

BigPress09.jpg

That is as far as I got last night. Next step, mounting it to the frame. Stay tuned...

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Nice! Wish I had the know-how to get projects like this done. I'm still trying to figure out how to set up my lathe that I don't know how to use. heh. Gotta start somewhere right? Keep the pictures coming, I love this kind of stuff.

-m

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...Keep the pictures coming, I love this kind of stuff...

+1

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keep it coming. Ive wanted one to make cap ends for projects but no idea how to make dies, or amt of pressure needed to do it.

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I always wondered how that was done. When setting trailer homes some years back, 91-92, I took my jack in to a local place to have it modified so i could use it sideways or any other direction. I think they charged me $50.

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Looks like my area where if I turn around too fast I knock something onto the floor. Except my tools aren't as cool.

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Looks like my area where if I turn around too fast I knock something onto the floor.

This is the corner of the garage closest to the kitchen door, the wife's dumping ground. I've just learned to accept that it will always be too cluttered to walk through. No matter how much stuff I throw away, donate, or stick up in the attic, there always seems to be more.

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Looks like my area where if I turn around too fast I knock something onto the floor.

This is the corner of the garage closest to the kitchen door, the wife's dumping ground. I've just learned to accept that it will always be too cluttered to walk through. No matter how much stuff I throw away, donate, or stick up in the attic, there always seems to be more.

I know how that goes :brickwall:

"Honey. can you put this in the garage? You got plenty of room out there".....WTF ?

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This press was made with a sliding head. The ram mounts to a 1" steel plate that is suspended by a track. This made mounting the ram simple. Drill some holes in the base of the bottle jack, then pop the mounting plate from the press frame, set the bottle jack where I wanted it and mark it with a transfer punch. Move that over to the drill press and put the holes in it. Finish up with a tap. I also reconfigured the pump linkage with a shoulder bolt from the junk box.

BigPress10.jpg

A hole was drilled and tapped in the base plate for the shoulder bolt. I cut off the hex portion and drilled a cross hole for the linkage pin. This allows the linkage to mount "backwards" which reverses the throw. I want to pull the handle to extend the ram. With the stock linkage I would have had to push up on the handle since the bottle jack is inverted.

I also had to drill out the "pimple" that kept the jack handle from sliding through the back (now front) of the lever. A cotter pin was added to retain the handle.

BigPress11.jpg

The screw adjuster in the tip of the ram was made so it could not be completely unscrewed. I want to be able to remove the tip so it can be faced in the lathe when it gets beveled or mushroomed. It would also be nice to have interchangeable tips to suit different jobs. Rather than remove the original tip, I simply extended it, cut it off, slotted it, then screwed it in with a flat blade screw driver until it fell into the ram. The ram is hollow so it fell way out of the way giving access to the threaded portion of the ram.

BigPress12.jpg

BigPress13.jpg

I dug out a steel bar from the scrap bin and faced / chamfered one end.

BigPress14.jpg

The other end was center drilled and turned down for the threads.

BigPress15.jpg

I ground a HSS tool bit to match the profile of the original threads then got the bar and tool bit all mounted up in the Atlas to turn the threads. It wasn't until I went to setup the change gears that I realized I didn't have what it takes to turn a 6mm pitch. The lathe is capable and I had the right gears, but that thread requires a third gear bushing which I did not have.

I was nearly ready to throw up my hands and say, "Well, there is nothing I can do until I order that part." Then I noticed that the third bushing simply held an idler gear. There was no need for the special keyed bushing. I dug through the junk boxes and found appropriate hardware, then turned an loonynum bushing out of a gate stub. The new hardware would only allow the idler gear to mount in the "back position" so I had to flip the entire gear arrangement front to back, including the "stud gear". It all went together and worked like a charm.

BigPress16.jpg

Chasing the thread was pretty straight forward. Its a metric thread so the half nuts stayed engaged the whole time and the motor was reversed to return the tool for the next cut. The depth was limited to 0.003" per pass. Seriously, even at 0.004" things got pretty scary since it's like threading with a parting tool.

BigPress17.jpg

I finished up the thread right when it was time to leave for work. Unfortunately, it does not fit. :hairpull:

BigPress18.jpg

I need to turn down the OD a bit more but that will have to wait for another day. All-in-all, it was a very productive evening.

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Very impressive work my friend! That sucks you didn't have the satisfaction of screwing the ram tip in before leaving for work but it's still cool to have gotten that far, especially considering the setbacks you faced. Really well done.

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I turned down the OD and it still wouldn't fit so I put it back in the Atlas, picked up the thread, and peeled a bit more off of the minor diameter. Success!

BigPress19.jpg

Next up is the bleed valve. I wanted something more permanent and convenient than the end of the jack handle to operate the valve.

BigPress20.jpg

I dug around hoping to find an old spicket handle or something. Once again, a gate stub came to the rescue. This was actually a riser where the metal flowed out of the mold.

BigPress21.jpg

All I had to do was cut off the gate and drill two holes in it. I tapped the pin out of the bleed screw, slid the handle on, then tapped the pin back in.

BigPress22.jpg

The overflow makes a perfect handle. It's just the right size and has nice smooth edges.

BigPress23.jpg

All that's left now is the return springs for the ram. I haven't found anything off-the-shelf or surplus that will work. The bathroom scale says it takes 120 lbs to retract the ram, so minimum 60 lbs per spring. With the stock spring hangers it would need 6" springs but with some modifications 8" springs could be fit. The trouble is finding springs with that length and force that can stretch 6".

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Can you use multiple springs, as in 4 or 6, etc.?

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Can you use multiple springs, as in 4 or 6, etc.?

Four would work using the existing mounts. Put a pin through the hole with a spring on each side.

Any more than four would make it dificult to mount a pressure gauge.

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I've determined that it is impossible to get springs that would retract this ram. So I took a step back and asked, "Why does it take 120 lbs to retract this ram?" The answer is simple... it only cost $35. At that price point you are basically just buying a "kit". The fact that it comes assembled does not mean that it is finished.

In this case, the issue was the o-ring seal in the top nut. The groove had not been cut deep enough so the o-ring was too tight on the ram. The jack came apart again and the nut was setup in the four-jaw, indicating off of the center bore.

BigPress24.jpg

I ground a tool to fit in the groove and held it with a fly cutter. I didn't really know how deep the groove was supposed to be (and probably couldn't have measured it anyway) so I just cut a little at a time, test fitting after each cut.

BigPress25.jpg

Once that felt right, I assembled the jack again, filled it with oil, and bled it. On the bench, just the weight of the jack was enough to retract the ram, that's a good sign. I put it on the bathroom scale, holding some of the weight, it takes less than 20 pounds to retract the ram. :thumbsup:

I should have no trouble finding springs for this thing now.

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I stopped by the hardware store on the way home from work and picked up a couple springs. The final piece for this project is a bracket to tie the springs to the ram. I dug a plate from the scrap pile, cut it to size, and mounted it in the big four-jaw. I drilled a 5/8" hole then bored it to size. I also added a counter sink so it will fit snug around the OD of the ram.

BigPress26.jpg

Then it was just a matter of slapping it all together.

BigPress27.jpg

Ram fully extended.

BigPress29.jpg

I am going to cut down the spring hangers and drill new holes to give the springs a bit more preload. Right now it stops retracting about a half inch from the top. I intentionally left the springs a bit short because they were only rated to five inches of stretch. I extended the ram six inches and the springs feel like they have plenty of "boing" left in them, so another inch of preload shouldn't be a problem.

I'm calling this one done!

BigPress28.jpg

Total out-of-pocket expense for this project was $50 ($35 for jack, $15 for springs), and about 20 hours of labor.

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Just a quick follow-up. I finally got around to putting a pressure gauge on the ram.

BigPress30.jpg

There is a 90° elbow coming out of the ram, then a 45° elbow, a quarter inch adapter, and finally, the 15,000 PSI gauge.

BigPress31.jpg

I did a test run up to 12,000 PSI and was actually surprised that the ram held that pressure. That works out to 18 tons and I physically couldn't pump it any further without a cheater bar (which I will never do). So all said and done, I put together an 18-ton press for about $100 (not counting the tooling).

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Nice build!

Dusty

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I stopped by the hardware store on the way home from work and picked up a couple springs. The final piece for this project is a bracket to tie the springs to the ram. I dug a plate from the scrap pile, cut it to size, and mounted it in the big four-jaw. I drilled a 5/8" hole then bored it to size. I also added a counter sink so it will fit snug around the OD of the ram.

BigPress26.jpg

Then it was just a matter of slapping it all together.

BigPress27.jpg

Ram fully extended.

BigPress29.jpg

I am going to cut down the spring hangers and drill new holes to give the springs a bit more preload. Right now it stops retracting about a half inch from the top. I intentionally left the springs a bit short because they were only rated to five inches of stretch. I extended the ram six inches and the springs feel like they have plenty of "boing" left in them, so another inch of preload shouldn't be a problem.

I'm calling this one done!

BigPress28.jpg

Total out-of-pocket expense for this project was $50 ($35 for jack, $15 for springs), and about 20 hours of labor.

nice work... but wouldnt it work just as well if you put a heavy plate on the bottom with a boss or threaded rod to fit your push pin.... then you would need to do all the work to turn the jack over ?

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nice work... but wouldnt it work just as well if you put a heavy plate on the bottom with a boss or threaded rod to fit your push pin.... then you would need to do all the work to turn the jack over ?

That's how my old cheap Chinese press is setup and I never really liked it. The whole setup was wobbly and would tip while pressing. It also weighed much more and required heavier springs. Even then, it wouldn't fully return on it's own and had to be pushed up by hand the last inch or so.

The inverted jack is more rigid and it puts the pressure gauge and bleed valve up out of harms way. The ram is compact so it doesn't interfere with the work, and light weight so it doesn't need heavy duty springs. It also allowed me to retain the sliding-head feature of the press. Best of all, I didn't have to buy any metal to put it all together. Steel is spendy these days.

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I made one more revision to the press. Bottle jacks are made with a sealed reservoir so that the oil will not spill when moving it around. The sealed reservoir was causing issues with the pump feed because it pulls a vacuum as the ram is extended. Since this ram is permanently mounted, I can vent the reservoir and spilling will not be an issue.

I pulled the ram from the press frame and removed the reservoir. Then I drilled a hole in it and soldered in a tube.

BigPress32.jpg

Put it all back together, filled it up with oil, and put the ram back in the press. I found a small filter in the junk box that slides on over the tube to keep bugs out of it.

BigPress33.jpg

Having the reservoir vented to atmosphere made a huge difference in the pump action. Plus, now I can squirt oil into it without having to remove the ram.

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Very cool and a fun read! nice job

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