I have been on an equipment-buying run lately, and decided to splurge on a Palmgren 1-ton arbor press.
I mostly plan on using the arbor press to push dowel pins into parts, punch small holes in light sheet metal, broach round shafts to hex and possibly square shapes, and for random assembly and disassembly tasks here and there. I have gotten around not having an arbor press by using compound leverage pliers and dead blow hammers.
I didn’t want to scout out the used tool market, nor could I afford a USA-made Dake press, so I went with Palmgren.
Palmgren is (or at least was) a very good name when it comes to small machine vises, and arbor presses as well. I figured that, even though these arbor presses are made overseas, they might still be decent quality.
The price difference between the Palmgren and a generic import press was maybe $20, which isn’t too much.
A 1/2-ton press would have been a little light for some of the broaching I want to do, and a 2-ton press too heavy to move to and from my active work area and wherever I decide to store in.
I figured a 1-ton press might be suitable for the time being while giving me room to grow.
Two features I was most interested in was the handwheel, since most of my intended usage will be light duty tasks, and a reversible ram that can accept custom punches and adapters.
One end of the anvil is straight and flat (or close to it) and the other has a hole for the three included punch shapes. This way I can more easily create a broach adapter or custom punch holders.
First Impression and Initial Problems
I am about halfway done cleaning off the packing grease, and took a break to write this post. Well, that’s part of the story – I first had to make a quick call to Palmgren to order replacement parts.
One thing struck me as odd – I would have expected to see Palmgren’s name on the side of the press, but it only appeared on a small index-card-sized label on the side of the cardboard box the arbor press shipped in. I can’t read into this further without knowing if Palmgren branded their arbor presses back when they were still made in the USA.
When I unpacked the arbor press, there was a bit of plastic tape holding a key to the keyway of the pinion. It was sitting diagonal, which struck me as weird.
This is the handwheel:
Here is the geared shaft:
And finally, the key:
The key mates the handwheel to the pinion shaft to lower and raise and the ram. I couldn’t press the key into the keyway or straighten it from its 45° angle, nor could I remove it by hand, I had to pull out a pry bar.
As you can see from the image, there are bits of steel raised off the sides of the key.
I don’t have a bench grinder, and even if I did, something like this would be tough to grind down. Besides, I don’t have the time to correct a flaw in a brand new product, nor should I have to.
What really frustrates me is that it looks like the key was hammered down into the keyway. There’s no way those steel lips would be created if the key was pressed in by hand. Scotch tape, or a similar light duty plastic tape, was used to secure the key to the keyway for shipping. Or at least I believe that’s what the plastic tape was intended to do. In reality, the key wasn’t floating in the keyway, it was jammed in at an angle.
So, the key was forced into the keyway, jammed at an angle, left that way, wrapped with tape, boxed, and shipped off.
Luckily, there’s good news to this story – I called Palmgren and they’re sending over a replacement key and a replacement pinion. I requested replacements for both parts to ensure I don’t have to call again.
Either the key is oversized, or the keyway was cut undersized. With replacements for both parts inbound I *should* have a properly assembled and working press in about a week or so.
Overall, I’m happy about the press’s features and general quality, at least for what I paid, and Palmgren’s customer service was quick and easy to get ahold of. But it’s still incredibly frustrating to know that this issue could have been caught and fixed at the Palmgren factory in China.
During the call I asked whether Palmgren makes any arbor presses in the USA anymore, thinking that there might be two lines of presses, but they don’t. Before I placed the order for the Palmgren, I priced a USA-made Dake 1-ton arbor press at $350.
This press cost me $56 from Enco. Its list price is $85 or so, but it was $70 on sale, and $56 after additional 20% discount. Shipping was free with a stacking coupon code.
If you look at some of the reviews on Amazon, keep in mind that some are from when the presses were still made in the USA.