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  1. #1
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    I have a british made 5 tons fly press. It has been very useful for all the years on my craft. Mine is a real pleasure piece of machinery as pieces are joined by tapers, spindle runs on machined ways,...
    Everytime gets harder to find one...so my question is if is there room for this kind of tools on the modern time? Anyone using them?

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    Hello,
    Fly presses are all the rage with some blacksmiths, because of the controlability, There are some good smiths putting out amazing work with a fly press.

    fly press page 1

    fly press page 2

    Thanks!
    Richard

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    Rhode Island used to be the epicenter of the US jewelry manufacturing industry, and in the R.I./CT./MA. area, there were at one time hundreds of factories with rows of fly presses in them.

    So in the northeast, there are still a few used fly presses kicking around.

    But in most of the rest of the USA, there never were many, and most have been scrapped by industry 20 to 50 years ago.

    So many blacksmiths are buying new ones, which are coming from India. I doubt they are as good as the old British and American ones, but I know several blacksmiths who have bought them, and are using the heck out of them.

    Grant Sarver, of Off Center tools, who produces interesting and popular blacksmith tools (he has sold something like 30,000 pairs of tongs in the last 10 years or so) makes most of his output on a 100 ton mechanised flypress.

    Those are his, in the second link above, which he brought over from Korea.

    The asians still believe in simple hand operated tools, as manual labor is still cheap there.

    Meanwhile, in the US and Europe, the work that used to be done on fly presses is now done on half million dollar TRUMPF and AMADA CNC turret presses.

    A fly press is on my personal wish list- probably one of those Indian models, as there are virtually no used 1900 era american ones for sale within 2 or 3 thousand miles of me.

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    I have seen German mad power presses called squeellers for hot closed die forging. they squeel

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    Back in the days of chrome plated bumpers on automobiles, I watched one in operation in a small bumper repair business in Mobile, Alabama.
    The operator was an artist with that electric motor powered machine, from the initial straightening to taking out the final bit of waviness.

    Jim C.

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    Richard -

    Enjoyed learning about fly presses from the links you posted! Thank you! New to me.

    Amazing that you operate these things by spinning the flywheel on top. What is the drop-down (vertical) bar on the wheel for that shows in all the pix of the new fly presses? Seems that it would be in the way, big time, when you spin the wheel.

    I have an old Jarecki die tryout press that followed me home 1,200 miles from NE Indiana some years ago. Cost $150 (future tool gloat only if I can manage to restore it without incurring too many medical expenses). It too has a large horizontal handwheel and ratchet (for a cheater pipe) with double thread screw. The pipe is inserted horizontally into the ratchet mechanism, not dropped down like the fly press pix in your links. However, its body is more like an OBI press - has supports on either side of the platten and head, instead of behind them, like your links illustrate for the fly press. Wild guess is that it has about 30 tons capacity.

    The wheel on the die tryout press is not as massive at the perimeter as those in the pix of the fly presses. Never occurred to me to use it like the fly press. No pictures - do not have a digital camera.

    Question: Is this used like a fly press? Should I spin the wheel and drop the punch hard onto the die? Or is it made to lower the punch slowly onto the die and then put the pipe in the ratchet mechanism and put plenty force on the wheel (and punch) that way?

    Thanks! A.T.

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    ttok-

    the "hanging down bar" is the handle you use to work the press. You don't exactly "spin the wheel" in most cases, but sort of "pound" by yanking on the bar in the direction of tightning. You can do gentle squeezes, harder taps, robust thumps, and yes back it up a good ways pull really hard and sort of "spin it down" as you say. But the intertia of the balls on the end of the top bars combined with the leverage of the screw in a slippery babbitt bearing/nut applies tremendous force with just a little motion of the handle.

    That is what makes them so useful; and so impressive to watch with someone doing something interesting who knows how to use it. I haven't any practical experience with one, but get a kick out of watching my brother's. Among other things, he reportedly (didn't see this one in the happening stage) bends wide steel flats -edgeways- on one to fair curves of somewhat small radii.

    smt

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    Ries, I'm really surprised there were never many flypresses in US apart from the jewellery trade in RI. They have always been popular here,and now that British industry has croaked, the place is heaving with redundant machinery with flypresses all over the place. $30 would buy you one. I have an old Qualters & Smith and a small Sweeny & Blocksidge. Other well known British makes were Norton, Edwards, Nielson and Denbigh.

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    I bend, curve, stock straightening, bearing setting, removing old bearings, stamp...etc. Even once I broached a keyway on a pulley! My press is as valuable as my lathe, drill and shaper....

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    Ted, compared to the UK, the USA is one BIG place.
    I live in the state of Washington- we have 6 million people, 71,000 square miles, (all of Britain is only 80,000 some square miles) and in the entire history of the state, I would be surprised if there were 100 flypresses ever brought here.

    You have to remember we are 24 hours of solid driving, about 1300 miles to the nearest big industrial city, Los Angeles.
    It would take me 5 days of hard driving to get to Rhode Island.

    I think you could probably go to Istanbul quicker by car than I can get to a cheap used flypress.

    That is why blacksmiths near me are spending $1000 and more for new Indian made flypresses.
    Unfortunately, shipping an individual press from Blighty would cost about that much.
    I suppose if I went to the UK, bought a container full, and shipped em back, my per piece price could get down to a few hundred dollars, but I just dont have the time or money for that.

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    So that is what this thing is. I bought one at the Clearing Niagara plant last year and thought it would make a good straightening press. The press had never left the building since it was made not 50 feet away from where this photo was taken. The flypress was made by Niagara Machine Tool Works

    Niagara Fly Press Photo

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    Reis:

    I have looked into shipping some fly presses from the U.K. At the prices they are available there and the prices they fetch here.....

    Stopped looking into it when I found a large old one here priced (cough cough) reasonably. Then after I got it shipped home found out it weighed 1725 lbs not the 1000 the used tool dealer quoted. :mad: The springs on my little Toyota pickup will never be the same. :rolleyes:

    Phil

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    The fly press is largely replaced by the hydraulic press, so the demand in the US is probably not high enough to justify production here. But the reason I value my flypress is because of the tactile feedback I get. The fly press truly shines in tooling and shaping hot steel by compressing rather than hammering. With various tool holders in the top, and dies on the bottom, I can coax or squeeze steel in all sorts of ways with remarkable control. The hydraulic press isolates you a bit from feeling the steel move. That's good for production stuff, but for one-off things that can be tougher.

    As Steve said, with my old #4 (equivalent to slightly larger than what passes for a #6 from India today), I routinely bend 1/4" x 2" bar on the flat into arches for fireplace screens, and have done much thicker quite easily. Usually to impress friends, I just stick a 1" square bar under it to bend and straighten, but as I said it's real value to me is in hot forging/tooling. It is one of those tools in a blacksmith shop that you wonder how you did without once you have one.

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    I had a vacation job using several of them when I was 16 or so. Great for small brackets and also just shearing off smaller rod stock to length.

    Good for right arm strength. Never saw a lefty version.

    Chris P

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    Nobody has mentioned why Fly Presses are of particular interest to machinists- the main reason they are so handy is because of the multiple start threads on the main screws- it means that a full revolution will move the ram down a large distance.
    This is what makes them quick enough for use in hot forging. With an acme screw, single start, the metal would cool before you could get the tool engaged.

    Most fly presses use 3 or 4 start threads, though, so they are very quick.

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    Given their apparent utility and practicality, quality of supply comes up. How good are the current Indian fly presses?

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    As I was browsing through the linked site, I saw that they were being used ironworker punches. So I’m assuming they are rigid and guided enough to be used without a die set. Is this correct?

    Tooling link

    If so what a handy tool to use with homemade and purchased tooling. That and the quick advance would be a huge advantage over a hydraulic press for a lot of small shop applications.

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    The tonnage on these is pretty small, by ironworker standards- my ironworker is 50 tons, and I curse myself all the time for not buying a bigger one- so fly press tonnages, in the 3 to 5 ton range, are not gonna push a 3/4" ironworker punch thru 1" plate.
    And most blacksmiths do their punching hot, anyway, for esthetic reasons.
    But there is no reason you couldnt punch sheet metal, up to maybe 12 ga, in reasonable sizes, with one of these.

    As far as quality on the Indian imports- well its kinda early to tell. The old american ones are often close to 100 years old, but we dont know how many of them have dropped by the wayside over the years due to frame breakage, etc.

    I do know that Blacksmiths are tight with their money, and that probably at least 50 to 100 of the Indian ones have sold so far, and if there were a way to break em easily, a lot of guys would have done it by now- so my guess is they are pretty sturdy.
    I havent seen any complaints anywhere yet.
    I doubt the machining is as good as old american or british ones, or the metallurgy, but its a pretty simple machine, and a thousand dollars is not 35 bucks Harbor Freight territory.

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    Jon,a lot of people use punches and dies in flypresses.Look for a thing called a Hunton Bolster.I have never seen one bigger than a number ten so you are limited on what you can punch.The number equates to tons so an number six produces six tons imperial.I call the presses with handwheels a forcing press and they are not near as easy to use as a proper flypress with the two balls on the top and the drop down handle.The balls do the work,a good operator swings the handle and lets the press hit the stop with it`s own momentum and holds on while it rebounds to the starting position.That`s why you can see little old ladies working these things all day but you and me have a sore arm after half a dozen strokes.I have only ever once seen a British made flypress break and that was a Norton number ten.The screw fractured right through.A tiny little old woman was using it,perched on top of a high stool when it broke,fortunately the screw,balls and handle fell over the back of the bench on to the floor.
    A number ten would fetch $1000 at auction at one time here,now you would be lucky to get $100.All that type of work has moved offshore to the cheaper economies.
    I still have a number eight just in case but it hasn`t been used for years.
    Mark.

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    Yeah, I was thinking in terms of sheet metal for cold work. Punching holes and bending brackets, maybe notching. Not having to use a die-set is the part that I really like. I found a coupe of charts on one of the sites for tonage needed for punching holes and riveting. Having never seen one before, this has gotten the wheels turning as far as building one.


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