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Hydraulic press or fly press

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Adam Harris29/04/2019 01:50:18
451 forum posts
19 photos

I want to get a small hydraulic bench press maybe around 3-5 ton capacity for press fitting bits and bobs. I don’t fancy the enormous weight or the swing room for an old fashioned fly press. Am I missing something about the advantages of a fly press as they do seem to go for more than some new hydraulic presses . I read somewhere that best to avoid the bottle jack on springs type as they can be wobbly and annoying for working on small stuff. I was thinking a ClarkeStrong Arm Hydraulic or Draper or similar . Any recommendations much appreciated

Hopper29/04/2019 03:16:09
4423 forum posts
94 photos

A fly press is better for repetitive production work stamping out large numbers of small parts etc. Hydraulic will suit most home workshop jobs better. More control over how far you press something in etc.

Paul Lousick29/04/2019 07:35:39
1378 forum posts
532 photos

An arbor press using a rack and pinion would be more suited if you only need 3-5 ton capacity. They are compact and not overly expensive.



Edited By Paul Lousick on 29/04/2019 07:37:56

Michael Gilligan29/04/2019 08:03:22
15499 forum posts
670 photos
Posted by Paul Lousick on 29/04/2019 07:35:39:

An arbor press using a rack and pinion would be more suited if you only need 3-5 ton capacity. They are compact and not overly expensive.



Do you have very strong arms, Paul ?


Speedy Builder529/04/2019 08:07:45
1988 forum posts
139 photos

An arbor press can be made to do "Slotting" for keyways etc which would be very laborious on a hydraulic press.

Clive Foster29/04/2019 09:23:06
2163 forum posts
73 photos

The bottle jack on springs type are indeed miserably wobbly. Even if you make great efforts to guide things. I saw one YouTube contribution that repurposed a set of motorcycle tele forks with the bottoms of the sliders cut off as guides. A for effort. Not sure if it was worth it. My home brew has a 2 1/2" diameter pusher in a 4" deep guide which I expected to work but, in practice I had to open up the hole a bit to provide clearance as it tended to jam when a nice running fit. Much better than the usual but not as good as it ought to be. Running the pusher in its own bearings with no mechanical connection to the jack is probably the only way of getting true stability.

If you only have small work in mind consider building something around one of the "12 ton" hydraulic rams used with various puller kits. Can be got inexpensively as spare parts from E-Bay, Amazon et al. I imagine something taking components in the 4 to 6 inch wide range should be practical. Thick bottom plate with suitable hole for to locate the support and for things to go through when needed. Thick top plate threaded for the ram. Two joining rods and Bobs your mother brother.

I faked a 3 and a bit inch capacity one up very quickly using the ram and slotted bar unit out of my big hydraulic puller set using studs from from my inexpensive import milling clamp set for tie rods. My base was about 3/4 inch thick. Found a slice of round steel bar with a hole in it out of the come in handy box. Drilled and tapped two short lengths of 1" Ø steel off cuts to screw the tie rods into. Milled some short flats on the sides to give a decent register and welded them together. Used standard nuts on the top of the tie rods with hefty T style washers to guide the rods properly through the slotted bar.

Did what I needed. Maybe I'll make a proper one someday but nowt so permanent as a temporary job. If you are short of space a device of this style is easily dismembered and packed away. Proper presses, even arbor ones, take up a lot of space and don't really justify the room given their relatively infrequent use. But when you need one you need it.

The (relatively) inexpensive universal push and puller bush replacement kits and bearing insertion pusher kits are are a good source of push and support accessories. Probably not worth buying for this purpose alone but if you can justify for car fixing duties go for it. After years of rooting around for bits that might do I'm so happy that I bought both for car jobs.

The monster G-clamp style pusher thingies sold for automotive ball joint removal look like they might also do for an improvised system. Unfortunately they deflect under decent loads and cannot be relied on to push straight.


Simon Williams 329/04/2019 09:42:21
499 forum posts
78 photos

Fly press is good at a high force over a short stroke, which is what it is designed for when used for punching or folding. The actual thread converting the handle motion into downwards force is pretty coarse, so it's not the best for use as a pusher in of bearings or a broaching press. You find your self pushing in successive "bumps" so it can be done but it's not ideal. It's big advantage is that the bolster (coming down on the tool) is located well by a dovetail so alignment and pushing square come easily and are built in. But its a big heavy thing that you can hardly put away after each use, so your space constraints may dictate that it's impractical anyway.

A hydraulic press will give you better control over a long stroke, but is much slower to operate. You could motorise it, but I'm assuming this isn't for repetitive use. Various sources of the components exist, the body press kit made by Clarke isn't expensive and gets you started. Enerpac is another option but tends to be pricey. Here's one I made earlier:


This is a very controllable and versatile tool, I use it for pressing bearings, universal joint replacements, also folding sheet metal as you can see. Love it to bits but it's quite difficult making sure you are pushing square. The last broaching job I did with it went through crooked. It's relatively portable so it lives under the bench and comes out when needed.

HTH Simon

Dave Halford29/04/2019 09:49:22
705 forum posts
6 photos

You can do this **LINK**

or this **LINK**

They are both the same item, though the second might come with Harbour Freight documents, it is however a little cheaper.

They both give you removable 10ton hydraulics that come with the automotive bodyshop sets.

Adam Harris29/04/2019 11:57:28
451 forum posts
19 photos

Thank you every one! I am clearer now on the benefits of each. Broaching small keyways would be good but I can do that slowly with the lathe using vertical slide on carriage. I have thought about doing it more quickly with the big pillar drill quill over compound table and round boring bar with appropriate HSS bit but accuracy easier over the lathe bed. I think I will go for the Hydraulic bench press with its space and weight advantage, the overriding factor being to protect myself from physio expenses. I am now thinking the smaller and lighter 4 tonne Clarke at Machine Mart would suffice as I am not going to be doing anything serious like car wheel bearings. As for Sealey, many years ago i made the mistake of buying one of their big pillar drills very cheaply and it was so sloppily made that I am never visting their products again. I have a Draper engine hoist and socket set that are pretty well made and I have seen Clarke Strong Arm stuff and I think they look good value as well. I think I will stick with those 2 at the budget end

Edited By Adam Harris on 29/04/2019 11:59:30

Edited By Adam Harris on 29/04/2019 12:01:26

John Flack29/04/2019 12:37:35
169 forum posts

Assuming your bits and bobs are a similar size to mine😈 my ancient bench vice is often "pressed "into service for this purpose. Motor cycle small end bushes in and out, smaller model stuff in a similar manner all in a reasonably controlled manner. All depends on your ambitions or the size of your vice.......

Adam Harris29/04/2019 12:42:04
451 forum posts
19 photos

Thanks John. I don't have bench space for another vice and the press will sit on top of a tool roll cab. I do like a shiny new toy if not too expensive!

Adam Harris29/04/2019 12:47:36
451 forum posts
19 photos

I do manage ok now with bearings etc, using home made screw pullers and use vice and /or gentle tapping with heavy metal mallet for pushing, but fancy an upgrade toy especially useful for more accuracy pushing on small stuff like press fitting small gears onto shafts

Edited By Adam Harris on 29/04/2019 12:48:49

Neil Wyatt29/04/2019 12:53:36
17741 forum posts
698 photos
77 articles
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 29/04/2019 08:03:22:
Posted by Paul Lousick on 29/04/2019 07:35:39:

An arbor press using a rack and pinion would be more suited if you only need 3-5 ton capacity. They are compact and not overly expensive.



Do you have very strong arms, Paul ?


There's this for 3 tonnes, but whether or not £365 is 'not overly expensive' is for others to judge.

As for strength, it's all down to a sensible gear ratio and lever length

Adam Harris29/04/2019 12:58:12
451 forum posts
19 photos

I regret anything over £200 is definitely out of my range Neil.

Howard Lewis29/04/2019 16:36:41
3154 forum posts
2 photos

If you are pressing bearings in or out, you can make dollies and use a thread and nuts to deliver the force.

(I have a Sykes Pickavant Bearing puller/remover set that works in just that way. Not fast, but it would remove Ford half shaft bearings, so must be fairly powerful. I've known them resist a 6 ton hydraulic jack! )

If you can lay your hands on one of the Sykes Pickavant hydraulic pullers, (Screw up on the thread by hand, and then screw in the hydraulic plunger ) you have a really potent bit of kit. Not long range, but enough to press most bearings/bushes in or out.

For this sort of work,speed is likely to be secondary to accuracy and care. Unless you are on repetitive work, which is likely to be commercial rather than hobby use.

I started with a home made frame, using a 6 ton hydraulic jack, but eventually got hold of a 5 ton press, intended for micro samples in a materials lab. Less versatile, but easier to use.


Adam Harris29/04/2019 16:44:20
451 forum posts
19 photos

Howard I can do most extraction jobs as is, it is the pushing jobs for small press fit parts that would benefit from greater accuracy and ease

Michael Gilligan29/04/2019 17:24:30
15499 forum posts
670 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 29/04/2019 12:53:36:

As for strength, it's all down to a sensible gear ratio and lever length


I'm perfectly aware of that, Neil

and Paul specifically mentioned a rack and pinion

... hence the question.


Michael Gilligan29/04/2019 17:26:46
15499 forum posts
670 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 29/04/2019 12:53:36:

There's this for 3 tonnes


dont know missing link ?

Pete.29/04/2019 18:22:20
217 forum posts
36 photos

Adam, I own all three, a number 2 Sweeny Fly Press, a nice Jones and Shipman Arbour Press, and a cheap general purpose hydraulic press, 'fitting bits and bobs' it a bit vague, but from experience, if those bits and bobs are smaller than a wheel hub, scrub the cheap Hydraulic Press off your list, as pointed out by others, they are so wobbly, you need 6 arms to hold things in place, unbelievably frustrating to use, a used Fly Press is the best value for money, for £100 to £200 you can get something far superior.

Adam Harris29/04/2019 18:57:06
451 forum posts
19 photos

Hmmmm... those fly presses even a No.2 weigh over 50 kgs don't they . I saw an No.3 that was over a 100 kgs!! At over 60 I am trying to cut down on lifting heavy things!!

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