In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
In The Shop: The Difference Between a Good Press and a Bad Press
Sep 09, 2010
I've used a lot of hydraulic shop presses over the years to press out bearings and dis-assemble/re-assemble machined parts. Some were elaborate, high-capacity 50-ton monsters, some were home-made out of scrap iron and an old hand-pump hydraulic jack.
Aside from sheer capacity and safety, the thing that made various presses "better" had nothing to do with the actual press itself. The presses that were most useful to me had a good assortment of seal drivers, pieces of pipe, chunks of iron and other metal stock stacked nearby that gave me lots of options for doing things safely and quickly with the press.
One reason the press in our shop is so handy and useful is because my co-worker Sparky is a pack rack who can't walk pass a scrap iron pile without making a "withdrawal." He has scrounged, cut, and sized more than 50 pieces of pipe, tubing, angle iron, round bar stock, square tubing, and thick strap iron and arranged them near the press. It is SO fast and handy to have an appropriate piece of metal within arm's reach of the press. Safer, too, because when we have the right diameter and length of metal stock for a press job, we're less apt to precariously stack smaller, shorter pieces to get the job done.
So, what I'm saying is, when I visit a farmer's shop and need to borrow his press to do a repair, I don't really care if it's a fancy 50-ton with a crank-adjusted table and foot-powered hydraulic system, or if it's a little home-welded H-frame press sitting on a work bench with a 3-ton bottle jack for a power source. What impresses me is if there's a supply of metal stock handy to make that press quick, safe and extremely useful.