Before assembling the press, I took the two middle crossbars to Fortin Ironworks, a local metal fabrication shop here in Columbus, OH. They viewed an image of the assembled press on Harbor Freight's website, measured the crossbars, and proposed a design. Two days later the parts were ready.
The job cost $107 for labor and all that steel. So this 20 ton hydraulic press ended up costing me about $300.
The new platens are SUPER heavy. I can't lift them. All the installation was done by someone larger.
Here is a shot of the original center section of the press. The two black X-shaped steel pieces came with the press. We decided to use them as spacers under the bottom platen but they can be set aside to make more vertical space.
The top crossbar in this image hangs from springs. The bottom crossbar height is adjustable and can be moved lower on the frame to accommodate larger work.
This is the new bottom platen. The craftsman suggested a removable solution to retain flexibility in how the press can be used. He welded a section of large square pipe to the plate and it drops right between the crossbars of the press to keep it securely in place.
My plan was to cut off the round vertical rod and weld a new platen to the top crossbar. Instead, the craftsman proposed welding a pipe onto the new platen to fit over the vertical rod. I decided to go with the adapter simply to preserve the original functionality of the press.
To install it, we placed the top platen on top of the bottom platen and then pumped the jack to lower it. Once the rod was completely in the cylinder with platens pressed tightly together, the pressure screw was tightened.
When we released the pressure, each platen was securely in place and ready to go.
Pretty darn cool if you ask me :-)
- The jack didn't work well until we pulled it out and added fluid-- works great now. Regardless, the manual jack requires a lot of pumping-- good exercise. Electric ones do exist but I know nothing about them.
- This setup has no pump gauge so pressure is guesswork. I may wind up buying this torque handle from Potter USA but still need to contact them and ask questions.
- Dimensions are going to vary based on the press so I won't share measurements for these square and cylindrical adapters. The steel platens are 8x12" and 3/4" thick but that was strictly a choice we made.