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Hydraulic Iron Works

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Hay Yall,

So I am looken into getting a hydraulic Iron worker for my shop I have used a few different ones in my day.  My favorite was a 55 lbs Edwards, small foot print but great power.  Can anyone out there tell anything different?  Is Edwards the way to go?  I run a small custom metal shop mostly blacksmithing and medium to light metal fab work.  It seem like an iron worker would help me out quite a bit.  I have a good sized shop but it gets smaller and smaller every day so I would like to get the smallest machine that I can while getting the biggest bag for the buck.  Thanks for any and all feedback.

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I want to say the one I used at a buddy of mines was a Geka. He mostly used it for shearing pickets and punching rails for fence. The auto stop was nice. Pretty much feed the stock thru until it hits the stop and it shears the bar and dropped it in a bin. Then you just keep feeding the bar in again until it hits the stop again. He also used it for punching holes in plates, but I never did any of that.

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have a scotchman 207 that I no longer use and a geka, when I got the scotchman it had a missing die holder and a wrecked punch holder, checked up on punches and they were expensive to get made and not kept in stock by a major maker here so had a new punch holder made to take the geka punches as they are common here.

the geka I got from a scrapyard, it had the normal problem of the punch being overloaded and cracking the moving plate near the pivot ( someone had probably altered the relief valve setting on it so they could do more ).

the punch holder was missing and the control box but with a few hours work the notcher, shear and other parts all worked well, at the moment I use the power pack to run my new press but will soon remove and repair the central plate on the geka and use it ( but will be punching to a lower capacity in future.


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You didn't mention budget or if there was a specific process you intended to focus on--Shear? Punch? Form?   The reason I bring it up is that sometimes it's cheaper/better to get task specific machines rather than a "jack of all trades, master of none" machine.  If you will use it 90% for punching, you might actually save money looking at a dedicated punch and sticking with more conventional cutting and forming methods, for instance.

Budget-wise, you need to consider re-sale value also.  Some machines are basically "free" because they won't lose much value over time.  From the auctions I follow, it seems (personal opinion) that the Piranha machines tend to garner slightly bigger bucks. Edwards machines bring some reasonable money but people don't seem as quick to wmpty their wallets on the used ones.   That's completely subjective opinion and YMMV.

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 I've had a Cleveland 50 ton [ made by Edwards ] for many years. Awesome machine, compact footprint , 220V ,single phase. Super useful coper/ notcher on one side , up to 1''punch through 5/8'' plate on the other side  and a 10'' x 1/2'' plate  and angle shear in the middle station.

Tons of standard round and shaped punches available from Cleveland Steel Tool for reasonable prices. Keep it greased and change the hydraulic filter every few years and it should last a lifetime.

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In my opinion there are not many tools that can enhance a general metal shop like an ironworker.  They buy you so much time and open up such a larger range of work, be it bigger railing jobs or more widgets,  you will wonder how you made it without.  What this translates to is way more income, provided you can hustle up the work.  One of my favorite Nakedanvil analogies was something like "you see a lot of dudes driving around in big dumb $45,000 trucks lamenting the price tag on a $15,000 ironworker".   Which one can actually make you money?  Thinking about it this way, the price tag seems more than fair.  


sexy hunk pic---


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OSHA aside........way aside......look for old (pre hydraulic) mechanicals. Most parts are still supported for Buffalo and Wells. There are several outside suppliers that support the tooling. 

Most of those can notch and shear angle, notch plate, punch, shear flat bar and round and square stock. Fairly straightforward mechanics and as 

they were engineered for almost constant duty in a factory they hardly ever break down. A small ironworker, mechanical or hydraulic, can punch through double

capacity if the metal is hot. Bigger punches actually being better for multiples as they won't heat up as fast. However, they're in the metal a very short time as it is. 


ok- Put your safety hats on.

When you push the pedal it's too late to call it off, so know wth you're doing at that moment. 

Build guards for all attachments. Pedals usually are connected to more than one option.

When you hit the punch on my mechanical IW the 3 inch angle cutter above it comes down too. It's the natural spot to put your fingers when you're getting too comfortable on the punch. The manual has a nice 3 inch bird mouth cut as it was setting there and the guard wasn't installed when I went to see it in action the first time. "here's your manual, sorry about that notch"

Grease is cheap, parts aren't. 

My model here. 




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