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Posted: 5/16/2005 1:12:00 PM EST
After doing it the easy way a couple of times with weld builds, I'm looking to doing rivet builds for a more authentic look. Been looking into presses at Harbor Freight (went to the retail store too). So, I have a couple press questions (Harbor Freight press questions):

--Is 12 tons enough for barrels and pins? -- even very very stuck pins
--Is the 20 ton press worth the extra money? 12 ton was $125 and 20 was $199. What can the 20 do that the 12 can't? I'm into metal working and welding, so I'm thinking about future jobs (non-gun related) on this one.
--H frame or A frame? Advantages of H vs. A?

Thanks in advance.
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 1:34:13 PM EST
I have some links and such off this thread:


I went with the 12-ton H-press and I really like it. It is more then enough power for most any build needs... I do not recomend the "A" frame however as you lose some of the range...

What I like about the 12-ton is that it is light enough that I can carry around to where I need it or even load it in the truck... The 20--ton is just heavier...

The 20-ton does give you a little more space to work and I know with my flat bending jig that there are times I wish I had just a little more with between the uprights... Just the same, I would buy the 12-ton again over the 20 and if I ever need something bigger I will really get a big press but I have no need as of yet!
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 5:18:19 PM EST
It's personal preference, but I prefer the stability, and compact size of the A-frame press. 12 tons is more than adequate for most builders needs. If you want to upgrade to 20 tons later on, you can buy heavier duty bottle jacks than you can fit into your press. If you do buy a press look to see if they include the press plates. Harbor Freight throws them in with some models. You'll need two. RTC
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 5:49:13 PM EST
i was actually quite disapointed with eh 12 ton press just cause everythang is so loose and when you put alot of pressure to it in twisted
i fixed it with shims and now its great but i didnt think i should have to shim a new press
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 6:06:15 PM EST
I guess for what I would use it for, a 12 ton sounds like it's enough. I originally was just going to make one from a bottle jack, but they're sold for cheaper than I could get the metal for. Crazy, I guess those Chinese get much cheaper metal.... I inspected the press in the store and it looked pretty stable to me. The welds looked pretty good too. I guess stability in the store doesn't translate to stability under load. I guess worst case scenario I could put some more welds if it flexes too much, no? Now to flip-flop with myself between the H frame and the A frame. BTW, the A frame is now $99 and the H frame is $125 (both come with press plates). I hate shopping Harbor Freight, one day something is $200, the next it's $49.99. Really gotta keep up with their prices and specials not to get ripped off.....
Link Posted: 5/16/2005 10:42:08 PM EST
I got the 12 ton press and I think it's a good balance of cheap and effective...not to mention fairly portable.

It does flop around under heavy load, and shims would probably help. Be careful though, I think some of the slop is part of the design and allows it to settle into stress without putting too much force on any one part of the frame. This isn't elegant, I know, but like you said, you will spend more buying all the parts and building one yourself.

I had an AMD kit with a totally frozen barrel pin. I used an air hammer on it for 30 minutes, hit it with a steel punch and sledge hammer at least 50 times, soaked it in penetrating oil for a week, heat cycled it at least 10 different ways without luck. It took all of 30 seconds to pop that frikkin pin out with the press.

Link Posted: 5/16/2005 11:02:54 PM EST
as a matter of fact I just picked up a 12 ton HF H frame press from another arfcommer and can say that for the money its not a bad deal. I used it to slap the locking shoulder into my FAL with ease, then got bored and started squishing things like pennies and 55 grain .223 projectiles. I'll probably be stripping down my AMD kit so I can try my hand at riveting instead of welding like I typically do.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 4:40:22 AM EST
Thanks a lot guys, exactly the kinds of answers I was looking for. Think I'm going to go ahead and get the 12 ton H because it's in the store and would be the same as the A after shipping. Also, seems HF takes forever to ship stuff out. I'm not building a watch, I'll be building an AK and of course squashing pennies...
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 5:13:16 AM EST
It's no big deal either way, but just to let you know, the shipping is only $8.99 from the website. I don't know how they do it that cheap. The 12 tons are currently backordered, though.

The 20 ton is now on sale for $179.

Just some info...
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 6:09:46 AM EST
Damn prices change every time I visit the store or the site. I'm still seeing the 20 ton for $200 on the site, do you have a link for the sale price? I do want to get something on sale, thanks for the info. I guess they ship for so cheap by using cheap Chinese shipping labor?
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 10:22:51 AM EST
the 12 ton is plenty ive never even came close to stressing it
most thangs you do with an ak prolly only take 1 ton
as for what i had to shim was slop on the top corners where it bolted together
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 11:09:30 AM EST
Agreed with Socandyman, but I will say that one AMD barrel pin took about 60% of the press's capabilitiy...was kinda scary when it came loose.

All other projects were cakewalks..

Oh yeah, be careful...wear eye protection, gloves, and I keep a 1" plywood board to hold up as a shield. If things are not aligned right and they come loose, parts can go flying around and ruin your day.

I also tie a wire to the gun parts so if it comes loose they don't smack on the floor and ding up the finish or dent it otherwise.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 6:25:45 PM EST
Got my press (12 ton H) today in store at Harbor Freight for $99. Happy with the price, then I got it home and assembled it... Couldn't get it squared at all even with everything torqued as far as I could get it. I remember the shim comment, so I figured maybe they are rickety. I ended up sanding (angle grinder) a lot of orange paint off, squaring it off perfect, and welding the whole damn thing together. Pretty happy with the result now, much faster than making it myself, cheaper, and I got to weld! Now it smashes pipe great, next is to put it to use on pins, barrels, and rivets... Thanks for all the help guys.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 8:02:46 PM EST
I had ordered one of the 12 ton A-Frames a week or so ago, but seeing as how they are out of stock I called to cancel the order. The rep then gave me the 12 ton H press for $99, and still applied the $5 off coupon I had. (got me $5 off and a hole saw kit for free) How they make money on this I have no idea as shipping on a 122 lb item has got to be a nice chunk of change.

Check out http://www.billt.com/harborfreight.htm for some other coupons.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:06:01 AM EST
I'm wondering, do you guys have to come up with fixturing to hold stuff in place when you start pushing stuff around? How do you hold the trunnion if you want to press the barrel out? How do you hold the whole thing if you want to press the pin out? With that kind of force, everything needs to be pretty square and supported, right?

Link Posted: 5/20/2005 8:45:15 AM EST
Yes it needs to be square and all, but in my experience, I have found that the gun is designed well to sit naturally in the correct positions for pressing.

First is the barrel pin. If you get the rear sight out of the way, the side of the trunion lays flat on the press plates. I often support it without a hole underneath and use a stubby punch to get the pin moving, then put a plate under with a hole and use a longer punch for the rest of the way.

Then the barrel. The trunion has enough "edge" to set up on standard press plates (which usually have square and round indentations) and support it all the way around. Be sure to use a soft something between a steel push rod and the breechface so you don't scratch it... nickels work well.

Pulling sight blocks and such is similar.

Putting the barrel back in is pretty simple. I have seen people support it directly on the bullet guide (through the magwell), but I don't do that as I think that would put too much shear force on the bullet guide rivet. I use the top part of the trunion and hang it on the press plate. It's a little precarious, and I use some brute force, gloves, and of course eye protection.

The best thing to do is take a beater kit for your learning curve, and experiment...pull the barrel, put it back in, etc. If you scratch it, you don't care, it's a beater...
Then you can get good at it and get questions answered from your experience, feel confident, and go on to the next projects...

Good luck..
Link Posted: 5/21/2005 10:20:40 AM EST
I was in line to get an H press in the 12 ton range, but they were out of them at the time. The 20 ton was $269.95, so no way that day. The next week, they put the 20 ton on sale for $179.00. The store is over an hours drive from my house, but I took the day off and went and got it. Yes it is quite heavier and has some slack here and there, but it does more than I have able to do without it and I used it to help replace my wheel bearing in my truck. Well worth the investment IMHO!

Originally Posted By greentimber:
It's no big deal either way, but just to let you know, the shipping is only $8.99 from the website. I don't know how they do it that cheap. The 12 tons are currently backordered, though.

The 20 ton is now on sale for $179.

Just some info...

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