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Some pics of my press build. Not really a WIP.

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Salem Straub, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    I had meant to do a WIP of my press build, but- I just kinda got caught up in welding this thing together and didn't really have the inclination to shoot it. My apologies.

    I got a good chunk of 8" I-beam, already had the motor and cylinder. I designed the rest of it around these elements.

    It's a low-boy style c-frame press. This allows me to use less steel for the frame, keep the height way down, makes it not so top heavy, and even limit the length and thus the cost of the hoses I'll need. The tradeoff is that I'll have to get used to lifting the billet handle as it comes up with the lower die. I hear it's not too hard.

    The cylinder I got from Ray Rogers for $80. It has about a 16" throw, and is a 5" cylinder with a 1.75" rod. It's nice to have that long stroke, ultimately it should help me to do things like have the daylight to split a billet down for feather pattern. I'm even going to cut my firewood a bit shorter this year, and build a wedge die to split wood with!

    Much of the parts were flame cut out of 1" plate, and wherever they are welded in a high stress area, they are fully beveled for full penetration multipass welds. I used 6011 hot for the root passes, and built up afterward with 7018. I used my 225 amp Craftsman AC stick welder for all of it.

    Areas of concern right now are the overall strength of the frame- the I-beam is only 3/8" web. I priced full gusset plates to throw into the sides- for 3/8" plate total cost would be about $84, for 1/2" plate total cost will be about $110. I figure I'll fire it up and very closely observe the frame and cylinder mounts for movement, then throw the plate gussets into the I beam if necessary.

    I'll cut some extra brace wedges out of 3/4" plate for the lower pin plate/cylinder mounts of they seem to pull out of shape or anything happens.

    The motor is a 5hp Baldor TEFC. It's single phase, 1725 r.p.m., 230 volt. Runs great. Since most splitter pumps are rated for 3450 rpm motors, instead of using a 11/2 gpm 2 stage pump, I'll use a 16/4 pump. I believe this is what Don Hanson uses on his press, if it's good enough for him, it's more than great for me. The slower motor speed should cut down on noise and vibration as well.

    I calc that with my 5" bore cylinder with a 1.75" rod, at 2500 p.s.i., the press will yield 49,087 lbs. push force, or nearly 25 tons.

    Using the pump at half rated speed halves the GPM, so it'll be running at 8/2 GPM. This should yield a low-pressure extension speed of 1.6 inches per second, with a retraction speed of 1.8 IPS.

    The die plates are 3/8" plate, 6x6" square. I meant to use 1/2" plate, drove 40 miles home before I realized the steel supply had cut them from 3/8" by mistake. Whatever, I figure it's heavy enough. With square plates I should be able to throw any die set in two different ways.


    The welding on the frame is all done, including the die holders (except for the die locking mechanism.) Now I just have to obtain the hydraulic parts, and plumb it all up. I have a list made at SurplusCenter, about $350 and shipping, and I'm good to go. I'll post more when I add more to it. Thanks for looking.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  2. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Forgot to add, I had a tank for it that's about 12 gallons. It's just a little plain. Then, had a gig last weekend, and saw that the owner of the brewery had a BUNCH of old 30L beer kegs from Germany behind the building. That's about 8 gallons- and the conventional wisdom is that you want to have a tank at least as big as your gallons per minute. So just about right, I'll have to buy considerably less fluid, and I'll have a freaking BEER KEG for a reservoir. I'm going to use timing chain to bind it to the frame for a "rat rod" type look.
  3. John Katt

    John Katt

    Mar 19, 2012
    found myself wanting to reach in and save that poor little can of PBR from certain death ;0)...that things a beast:thumbup:
  4. Phil Dwyer

    Phil Dwyer KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 28, 2006
    Geesh Salem, you never cease to amaze! GREAT welding! (Not sure I can recommend the torch cuts though. ;)) You must have burned up some rod! Wow, that seems like a long stroke on that cylinder. Do I see feathers in your future (upright billets being pressed)?
  5. Bob Katilus

    Bob Katilus

    Feb 18, 2005
    yeah, you'll find a press takes knifemaking to a whole different level. Good stuff and good luck with your new squisher!
  6. tryppyr

    tryppyr KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 5, 2010
    Salem, what are you going to name it? A beast this size needs a name.

    May I suggest Sasquash!
  7. winterbear


    Jul 24, 2009
    How about some overall dimensions? the height is what 60 inches ? looks great by the way
  8. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Greg, "Sasquash" is a great name, I'm now seriously considering it. Thanks! Funny stuff. Thanks Phil for the compliment on my welds, you are right as well about the cuts- I put more effort into the welding then cutting pretty. That rusty plate really needs to be ground along the line before cutting to get decent drag lines IMO.

    The I beam itself is 54" tall. The entire height is about 62", so very close, Chris.

    Jonekatt, sorry man, that's an empty tall boy. If you ever drop by I'll have a full cold one for you.
  9. efleming


    Jun 6, 2007
    Good stuff Salem. Looking forward to seeing hot metal being squished by Sasquash! Nice build.

  10. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Thanks Eric! Mine won't rival the engineered quality and pristine symmetry of yours, but I reckon if it squishes stuff I'll be happy. I'll post more when I can.


    Apr 25, 2010
    I do not know what to say..
    The man can weld and cut steel ..
    Thats a mean press.. What grade bolts are them and how tough are the hoses going to be ,and length..
    I run a 23 ton splitter and this thing will smash it...
  12. Mike Davis

    Mike Davis

    Feb 7, 2006
    Very cool stuff Salem!!! Nice build. Now for some feather PBRmascus?
  13. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Thanks, G.B. I'm using 3500 p.s.i. braided hoses from Surplus Center. The bolts are grade 8. The hose lengths will have changed a bit from the earlier design iteration- I was planning to make a Tommy McNabb style angle iron H-frame press until I got this chunk of beam. First I have to find the final pump, valve, and tank placement and then take new measurements for the hoses.

    Mike, great idea. PBRmascus it is! That does make me think about making a powder/nickel PBR logo mosaic tile... maybe when I have the skill. Then I'll make cutlasses of it and sell them to pirates. Arrrr.
  14. woodwrkr221


    Jan 28, 2011
    Great looking press Salem. Word of advice though, in college my instructor in strength of material and structural design classes went to great length to teach us that the strength of a wide flange beam ("I" beam as y'all call it outside the construction industry) isn't in the web, the strength is in the top and bottom flanges. If you need to strengthen the beam, instead of adding gussets parallel to the web, you need to be thickening the top and bottom flanges.


    Apr 25, 2010
    I agree with woodwrke . Weak links the top and bottom ,if at all.. it may flex but not to measure much ..Weld process actually weakins some spots ..I would get it done and give it a few tests. I think after working wrecked locomotives for a while ,,and dealing with heavy steels welded beyond and on,, it will be fine...The load pressure will move once its run up to pressure and again off...Still think about full on tight up to its max, hold it, and then think where is the pressure now... A magnaflux look would be nice after its used ..
    Stay safe . Your name thought for the beast is sounding right....
  16. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Good thoughts there guys. I threw lots of extra weld into the top and bottom, but for sure will be keeping an eye on those points. I'm gonna break it in gently as possible under two party observation with a straightedge and/or dial indicator to watch for movement.

    The inside lip of the slider comes in 1 inch on each side around the beam edge. If I do reinforce the beam, I'm gonna stitch the gussets with some intermittent chain welds, parallel to the web and up to within 1/4" of inside of the slide way. That way the gussets will pass directly under the cylinder tang mounts (fully welded at that point), and fairly close to the edge of the flanges. I figure it should add good strength that way, maybe not as much as thickening the flanges would, but that's more problematic. Don Fogg has a beastly c-frame press that's made of I beam reinforced in this way and he states that there is no perceptible movement.

    I'm gonna have to wait for a little while to afford the rest of the parts- it's going to be hard to be patient. The wife is starting up a cafe in town and all extra money goes to that for a bit. Maybe if I work REAL hard and make some big sales I can swing it a bit sooner. A friend may be giving me an open center single spool control valve tonight...fingers crossed on that.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  17. Greg Obach

    Greg Obach

    Apr 16, 2003
    awesome wip, looks like a beast !!
  18. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Thanks, Greg- it IS a beast. Another Greg did me the honor of naming it, it's officially Sasquash.
    Dammit, no control valve. (Sigh.) Oh well, should be getting that keg for a tank tonight.
  19. John Katt

    John Katt

    Mar 19, 2012
    Wow Washington is a long drive for a PBR... now if you would have said Bud Ice... ;0)
  20. Salem Straub

    Salem Straub KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 20, 2008
    Hey man, that's just ONE of the perks if you visit. That said, I lived in Hawaii for a couple years, there's not much PBR out there and I did miss it. It's one of the few cheap beers I like, don't know why. Normally I'm an IPA or stout kind of guy.

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