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Harbor Freight 20 Ton Press questions...

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basenjib123

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#1
So I have been reading a lot of information on this 20 ton press from HFT. I see a lot of conflicting information on the bolted vs welded models?? Which do you think is better and why? Just FYI for anyone interested ... they are offering the 20 ton press for 137.99 black friday weekend. I have never seen it any lower than that. Thanks and happy thanksgiving to all!! .. Joe.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#2
Happy Thanksgiving Joe,
i would think that a welded section is way stronger and stiffer than a bolted section of steel
you could always compromise and bolt it together and then weld the joints too if safety was a concern, but it is not necessary.
the $137 dollar model is bolted together if i had to guess, otherwise filling a shipping container with welded frames would be economically unfeasible.
either press will do the job you ask of it
 

jcp

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#3
I chose the bolt together model. Like most Harbor Freight items it requires a bit of finessing. I spent couple of hours tweeking things and it's works OK.
Northern Equipment has a similar model that has a much better traveling press bar arrangement. If I had seen it before I bought the Harbor Freight unit, I would have purchased it.
 

talvare

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#4
I have the welded model. Of course, as with most HF items I've purchased, I had to return the first one because it was welded together crooked. The second one was o.k. Had to do some little improvements to make it work satisfactorily. If I had to do it again, I'd just wait for a good used American made press to show up on Craigslist or one of the used machinery dealers. They show up on CL fairly regularly.

Ted
 

Bob Korves

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#5
When I was looking at them several years ago, the online advice I found was "get the gray one, not the red/orange(?) one." I bought a model 60603, the same one that is currently on sale. It has been just fine. As with most Harbor Freight stuff, corners have been cut in the design and execution. Still, it works just fine as it is, and the price is outstanding. I have not made any modifications at all to it, it works fine just like it is. I don't use it that often, but when I do, I wonder how I got along without one all those years.
 

TomS

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I have the welded one. It works as advertised. Not the best quality but it hasn't failed me yet and the price is right.

To answer your question I would get the bolted frame press and do what Ulma Doctor suggested.
 

epanzella

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I've often thought about building a press but gathering the hyd jack, the stock for frame members, the return spring, the pins and the plates would probably cost as much as the HF unit. Think of it as an almost completed kit. Bolt it together, true it, and if necessary, weld it. Just don't let welding warp it out of true.
 

Djl338

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#8
i have the welded version, very stout for HF, I welded in a few braces as well.I don’t know if they made any changes with supplied press plates, but they were cast and can shatter, get a good steel set (set I bought were almost as expensive as the press!) I changed out the bottle jack with the pneumatic jack, makes it much easier and faster to work with.
Air bottle jack
 

vocatexas

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#9
I've got a bolted version. I've used it several times pressing bearings and straightening shafts. It works fine. I did replace the manual jack with the pneumatic jack. I carry the manual jack in my pickup to change tires, so it wasn't a complete waste. I don't believe they sell cast press plates anymore; mine are steel.
 

basenjib123

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#10
Thank you very much for the replies ... Happy Thanksgiving to all!!! oh and the Welded and Bolted are both on sale for that 137 bucks..it just depends on the particular store that you go to. My store says that they have both there #60603 (bolted)...and #32879, 97022 (Welded) ... So I guess there are actually 3 models out there depending on locations. Thanks again guys..Joe.
 

basenjib123

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#11
KEEP THE REPLIES COMING....Guys!!
 

Cooter Brown

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#12
DO NOT USE THE ARBOR PLATES THAT COME WITH THE HF PRESS! They will explode under pressure and hurt you very badly!

I bought a set from Swag Offroad. Or you can just get some scrap mild steel plates....
 
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basenjib123

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#13
I guess its 6 of one and 1/2 dozen of the other then?
 

Cooter Brown

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I guess its 6 of one and 1/2 dozen of the other then?
NO. Just dont use anything as an arbor plate that is made from cast iron it fractures into huge chunks that shoot across the room faster than you can react. Steel, Brass, and aluminum will just bend and not kill you. A 20 ton press can be an extremely dangerous tool, never stand in front on it when applying pressure to anything.

Take those arbor plates that come with it and throw them at the ground they will shatter..... Scrap them. Other then that the HF press is a great tool I love mine I have the bolted version and I stuck a 20 ton air jack on it with a foot pedal.
 
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Groundhog

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#15
I bought the bolted version a couple of weeks ago. Thought I'd weld it if needed. For now I hammered the sh*t out of the bolts with an air impact (and they didn't strip!). It was on clearance sale for $140 or something like that but the new sales clerk applied my 20% coupon (I had for other stuff) to the press so it ended up costing me about $120. I didn't say anything - just loaded it up and left!
 

8mpg

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#16
So the differences in the presses are where they are made. When a product has multiple part numbers, they are from different factories.

The welded one comes with the cheaper arbor plates I believe. The bolt together one comes with the solid steel ones.
 

Djl338

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#17
Can’t say if the cast iron plates are related to welded or bolted, I just bought the set that was in the local store. I welded more struts on it anyway. I had some arbor plates, 1-1/4 steel cut with openings that I thought would be useful , and I don’t think you could really go wrong with any of them for the money and a few mods, like any HF stuff
 

Djl338

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#18
Can’t say if the cast iron plates are related to welded or bolted, I just bought the set that was in the local store. I welded more struts on it anyway. I had some arbor plates, 1-1/4 steel cut with openings that I thought would be useful , and I don’t think you could really go wrong with any of them for the money and a few mods, like any HF stuff
I would have thought with all the feedback and potential/possible accidents caused by the cast plates all versions would have switched to steel
 

basenjib123

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#19
Well I ended up buying the Bolted Model today. I talked to the manager and he told me the following...The Cast plates are all being switched to Steel regardless of which model you purchase. He confirmed that there have been a few incidents of shattering cast plates. I then inquired about the Welded Frames vs the Bolted and he said .."I got one and I chose the bolted model" and he said he had to leave it at that, so make of that what you will. Good prices on this right now... 137.99 until Sunday I guess.
 

basenjib123

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#20
So the differences in the presses are where they are made. When a product has multiple part numbers, they are from different factories.

The welded one comes with the cheaper arbor plates I believe. The bolt together one comes with the solid steel ones.
I believe they are both now being shipped with steel plates. I'm sure there is a supply of them with the cheap plates in inventories out there though. When I looked at the two of them I thought the bolted model was a bit better built...The manager in a round about way told me the same....or maybe he was just trying to get rid of the bolted models ..LOL!!
 

ericc

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#21
Can the cast iron plates be repurposed into machine tools, or is the cast iron too low in quality? I have some junk cast iron which is really low in carbon. Very dead, soft, powdery chips, threads, cuts and files like a dream. Useless for fabrication, but good for machinist uses which do not put the material in tension (too much).
 

epanzella

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#22
I picked up the 60603 yesterday for $137.oo. It bolts together and the plates are 1 inch steel. I haven't assembled it yet but the jack works, all the parts are there and it seems heavy enough to do the job. I want to put castors on the bases before assembly as it's to heavy to work on after it's put together.
 

PT Doc

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#23
Thank goodness that the plates are steel and cast iron are a thing of the past.
 

fkrel

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#24
I have a 12 ton I got from Northern tool years ago not much different than the harbor freight and it is bolted together and have maxed it out a few times without any problems and its plenty of press in my home garage, One of the upgrades I did was to get a 12 ton air over hyd jack and replaced the hand pump jack, makes it alot easier to hold pieces in place and lower the jack on to them also lets me get out of the way when pressing something stubborn in case it flies sideways.
 

basenjib123

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#25
I have a 12 ton I got from Northern tool years ago not much different than the harbor freight and it is bolted together and have maxed it out a few times without any problems and its plenty of press in my home garage, One of the upgrades I did was to get a 12 ton air over hyd jack and replaced the hand pump jack, makes it alot easier to hold pieces in place and lower the jack on to them also lets me get out of the way when pressing something stubborn in case it flies sideways.

Yeah, my brother has a 20 ton Northern Tool Press and like you said its very similar to the HFT press....he seems happy with it.
 

epanzella

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#26
I picked up the 60603 yesterday for $137.oo. It bolts together and the plates are 1 inch steel. I haven't assembled it yet but the jack works, all the parts are there and it seems heavy enough to do the job. I want to put castors on the bases before assembly as it's to heavy to work on after it's put together.
I changed my mind about the casters as I was worried about CG changes when they swiveled. I went with AZEK pads on threaded rods instead. The threaded rods allow me to adjust the feet to get rid of the "wobbles" and also lifts the unit high enough to get a hand truck under it. DSC_0491.JPG DSC_0492.JPG DSC_0493.JPG
 

basenjib123

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epanzella

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#28
Cleaver idea, must have a smooth floor though as you appear to have. What is CG change mean?
When the casters swivel, the spot where the wheel hits the floor changes by a couple of inches, altering the center of gravity. I was concerned the unit would be topheavy and might be prone to tipping over when being rolled around. It moves easily on a hand truck.
 

basenjib123

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#29
I see what your saying.. yeah they are a big top heavy for sure. I think if I had to ever roll mine for a long distance I would take the jack off first.
 

PT Doc

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When the casters swivel, the spot where the wheel hits the floor changes by a couple of inches, altering the center of gravity. I was concerned the unit would be topheavy and might be prone to tipping over when being rolled around. It moves easily on a hand truck.
You could use double locking casters. These lock the rolling and swiveling ability. Once locked, they limit this pivot type of movement that you experience with the casters that just lock the wheel from rolling.
 
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