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Coal Iron 12-Ton Press

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Nice write up, Jon.  Welcome to the forum.

1 hour ago, Jon Kertz said:

The biggest limitation I had to deal with was the inability to draw pieces widthways or draw bevels out,

You need dies something like this to do this on a press.  I used these to make a 4"wide billet for someone.


I realize this is on a 25-ton, but it's set up so that where I'm  standing is the only access point for the press, so it's almost like an H-frame.


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The cart really isn't as bad as it looks: it doesn't wiggle while pressing and there only a tiny bit of movement while rolling it around, so I haven't bothered reinforcing it.


And yep. I made my own width-drawing die out of a 2-1/2 inch 1045 round I decided I didn't want to make a hammer with after all, so that's not a problem anymore.  I've made five different sets of my own dies now (seven if you count two that didn't last). I tried A36/1018, but the dies on the 12-ton are so small they get destroyed almost immediately, so I've been using hardenable stuff at least as a surface plate.

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  • 1 month later...
On 10/10/2021 at 2:21 PM, Ted Stocksdale said:

Yesterday morning, my replacement cylinder arrived. Following KenH's advice, I bought the Wen 4 x 8 inch cylinder, which takes the press from 9 tons to 14 tons. (The "as shipped" configuration has an undersized cylinder and doesn't actually produce the advertised 12 tons). Replacement was basically trivial (once I realized I needed to move the swivel fittings from the gray one to the black one.




I got some shelving to live on the botton to provide storage for dies and other tools. I'm going to put my hardie tools down there too.



The oil finally arrived at almost 5 pm. I discovered the hard (and messy) way that the machine doesn't quite hold 5 gallons: I spilled probably half a cup all over the tank and the floor.  No only did I not need my extra gallon you see there, but I had to find a home for another good cup of oil.




Breaking in at last! That noise is obnoxious, but gradually fades.


That was all for last night. This morning, I got started nice and early and worked on the damascus billets. I need some more practice to avoid the press equivalent of hammer marks. This is more than I could do in three weekends previously, so I'm thrilled.The one with the more visible marks was a bit of a blob before, and now is going to get stacked with the other ones I mentioned in my KITH thread. The narrower one is done - I'm going to use it as it is.




Finally, I tried to draw a narrow but thick bar out sideways with the fullering die. This did not work very well, I'm going to have to make a width drawing die to match the length drawing die (I think I have what I need to do that).




Overall impressions:


It comes set up to have the press on the left and the powerplant on the right. I prefer to hold my piece with my right hand and operate the lever with my left. But it was easy to switch around, especially since I was swapping the cylinder anyway.


It is a bit annoying that the OEM cylinder is undersized, but the Wen tools one is only $133 and you get free shipping.  Still, for what is otherwise a very well made piece of equipment, it is sad that they still sell it as "12 tons" when it just isn't.


The heavy duty cart they sell for this press works just fine, and didn't need any additional bracing.


It is pleasantly quiet. There is only a soft whine from the motor and pump, and it is perfectly comfortable without earmuffs. 


While they hype the "plug it in to any standard outlet" for the 110v configuration, the official requirement is "a dedicated 20-amp circuit". I have mostly 15s in my garage, and none of them are even remotely dedicated.  I do have two 220v outlets, so I got the 220v version.  The cord is quite long, I didn't end up using the welder-rated 220v extension cable I got.


The dies are held in by bolts: changing them when they're hot takes a bit of care. But they're slotted, so you only need to loosen the bolts enough so you can push the die out, so I don't think it's too bad.


I need more practice both in running it and in picking which die to use for various things. It runs very smoothly and pretty quickly: it is very easy to push things further than I want.










Did you use the previous cylinder before the swap? If so did you notice any improvement in metal moving? Got my Coal 12 about a month and a half ago and it moves steel but not very well. Wanting to add a PSI gauge but don't know the t fitting size I would need.

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I was going to originally, but the replacement cylinder arrived before the hydraulic fluid did, so I ended up not. I didn't bother with a pressure gauge since even if it's a bit undertuned the larger cylinder is powerful enough. I am quite happy with how it is now, and if you aren't careful it will merrily move hot steel faster than you might like. 

I have become much better at controlling it and these days I am very happy with how it goes. I would say that with the WEN, it is slightly overpowered for the tiny default die size, and happily flattens and draws with double-width (3 inch) homemade dies.



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