Niles Tool Works Hydro-static Wheel Press - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    Tape measure, guage max, basic math, and you have it. The Big Boy's had bitchin' large-diameter cylinders. "Area" thing.

    Triple pump sez no less than the 300. Smaller ones didn't need as much flow, had one less.
    I Yes, I can doo all that. And not even removing footware to calculate the tonnage or pressure.
    But not on the one in the pix eh ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    I Yes, I can doo all that. And not even removing footware to calculate the tonnage or pressure.
    But not on the one in the pix eh ?
    No fear.

    Won't harm yah to go barefoot whilst sitting on yer online ass.

    Just "back into it" and yah have the rough diameter needed for the "range" @ 500 PSIG max guage.

    I mean... yah got what yah got, not a blank sheet of paper to start FRESH!

    And there's a two to one tonnage RATIO & GAP beteeen the 300 Ton and the 600 Ton.

    PFO which one yah got even from just eyeballing the working cylinder size?

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    Former RR shop I worked in still had one, but didn't use it.

    It used water for the hydraulic fluid. It was a circa 1914 machine, judging from the year the building was erected.

    Employees playing with the thing turned on the pump and didn't realize that the ram was not captive to the cylinder, squirted the ram right out the end of the bore, where it hung by it's "return cables" ~ as water poured out of the cylinder bore and onto the floor.

    The company ended up selling it off to some other manufacturing company...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE. View Post
    Former RR shop I worked in still had one, but didn't use it.

    It used water for the hydraulic fluid. It was a circa 1914 machine, judging from the year the building was erected.

    Employees playing with the thing turned on the pump and didn't realize that the ram was not captive to the cylinder, squirted the ram right out the end of the bore, where it hung by it's "return cables" ~ as water poured out of the cylinder bore and onto the floor.

    The company ended up selling it off to some other manufacturing company...
    LOL!. Could be worse.. almost in line with that press, Galis had this converted, and converted, and converted again now-and-then planer-mill as must have been already old when God was done building Eden with it.

    Plant manager had forbade the "Day Shift" operation of it - plus a 50-inch Niles former cone-head converted to Morse chain drive off a 50 horse DC motor - because they shook the massive slab the plant was on and disrupted work in the admin offices bout 80 feet away.

    Well.. the planer.. or its abused remains, had about a 12-foot table. Some clever soul, a War or two earlier, had hung a pair of right powerful hydraulic motors on it to bypass all the big old flat-belt pulleys so as to direct-drive a bull gear down under the slab. 50 inch I woz told. Could only see part of it.

    The good news is that gave it INSTANT table reverse.

    The bad news is that twin high-load railroad rail cuts set in four feet of 'crete at each end with about a four-inch total gap had been needed for it to have sumthing to bounce off of .....WHEN it reversed ... and slid the whole machine from one set back to the other at a fair rate of Knots.

    Whenver I woz runnin' it anyway.

    I had not needed to be told TWICE that should I fail to set the limit switches that CONTRLLED those reversals, the table would head of toward Fairmont, WV to perhaps seek other employment at FMC HQ.

    One shift I heard the old dinosuar start its traverse. A Brother named Stanley was on it. Good egg, could hit a spec well enough.. but yah might have to retrain him if he were to run-over on a thirty-minute lunch break.

    The "oh. SHIT" feeling came when those screaming hydraulic motors kept running past the time there shudda been the reverse BANG as the planer slid back to the other stops.

    No Joy.

    12-foot of table about four-foot wide actually made FAR less noise as it went off the end and halfway across the bay that the "Mothership" made if it HAD reversed.

    Damage? Dunno.

    Foreman called the traveler over, rigged it, put it back on the planer. Weren't the first time.

    Ran as well as ever next time I had ganged-up Lee-Norse chain guides to do.

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    My own belief is the Niles wheel press in this thread used oil as the working fluid. The few wheel presses I have seen all used oil, rather than water. While water would work (being an incompressible fluid), it does freeze and does cause rusting. In a drafty old railroad shop out on the prairies or up at the Northern end of Canada or thereabouts, freezing of water within a backshop building in winter was a real possibility. Rusting produces particulates in the water, and particulates can clog valves or cause pump valves not to seat properly. Oil solves both issues as working fluid.


    Nearly 40 years ago, my (then) employer sent me out to meet with the superintendent of a plate fabrication shop who wanted to bid some penstock (large diameter fabricated steel pipes used on hydroelectric plants) work. The shop I visited had been there forever, or so it seemed, and had been a boiler and tank shop before getting into more of the heavy plate fabrication work. They had ancient plate rolls, shears, brakes capable of bending very heavy steel plate, and even an edge planer. This was all machinery left from the days of making riveted tanks and boilers. The shop had neatly transitioned to using welded construction, including submerged arc welding, and had a regular welding program with qualified procedures, welders qualified to those procedures, and all the documentation needed to bid our job. The super took me into a side-room off the shop and showed me the old 'power pumps' and the 'accumulator' for providing pressurized water to work the brakes and shears. the working fluid was water. The 'power pumps' (an old time term) were triplex or quad piston pumps, open crankshafts, open bull gears, open frame motors. The 'accumulator' was a large vertical hydraulic cylinder with a cast iron (or cast steel) body having a flanged bottom end. This was anchor-bolted to the concrete floor. A set of stacked weights was on the top end of the piston rod. When the hydraulic system was in operation, the fluid pressure lifted the weighted ram and held it up. When a move was 'called for' at the control valves of the press brake or shear or punches, the accumulator took care of the sudden increased flow, and the power pumps cut in as needed.

    There was a large coal fired heating stove in the room with the power pumps and accumulator, but it had been supplanted by a gas fired forced air heater. The super of that shop told me that, in winter, they simply drained the water from the cylinders and piping on the press brake, shear and punches since the shop floor often dipped below freezing, particularly at night. That same shop super took me in their tool crib and showed me what he called 'kerosene torches'. These were conical shaped tinware with an angle spout having a large wick, and a handle soldered to the conical body. The super told me that many years ago, before electric lighting, the shop relied more on natural light and kerosene lamps. On winter days, when natural light was limited, let alone coming thru dirty windows, the men on the shop floor all used these kerosene torches to provide localized light to see their work. He said they would put the kerosene torches right on the steel plate to either do the layout (marking-out to our UK brethren), or to see the layout lines and punch marks when using the brake or shear or punch. That shop kept up with modern times, but still relied on the old hydraulics for the plate working machinery. They kept some of the old tools and whatnot in their tool crib more as a reminder of where they'd been.
    I appreciated seeing it, and found myself wondering how many boilermakers lost fingers to the brake or shear in the semi-darkness of that shop on a winter's day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    No fear.

    Won't harm yah to go barefoot whilst sitting on yer online ass.

    Just "back into it" and yah have the rough diameter needed for the "range" @ 500 PSIG max guage.

    I mean... yah got what yah got, not a blank sheet of paper to start FRESH!

    And there's a two to one tonnage RATIO & GAP beteeen the 300 Ton and the 600 Ton.

    PFO which one yah got even from just eyeballing the working cylinder size?
    I can't see if that is a "500 psi" gage or one calibrated in tons.

    Better to check with a new gage anyhow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    I can't see if that is a "500 psi" gage or one calibrated in tons.

    Better to check with a new gage anyhow.
    Calibrated in Tons. I believe it says Tons on a 15" Ram but the 15 part is a little hard for me to make out so not positive on that part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff76 View Post
    Calibrated in Tons. I believe it says Tons on a 15" Ram but the 15 part is a little hard for me to make out so not positive on that part.
    Kinda had a hunch....

    So install a nice new gage in with a tee, and get some numbers.

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    A 15" OD Ram, assuming this is the piston diameter, which it probably is. That calculates out to 176.6 sq.in. of area. At 2500 psi, that's pushing around 441K lbs of force. Way shy of 500 tons of force. The 500 ton presses I used to work with had a piston diameter of 24". At 2500 psi hydraulic pressure would produce a little over 1 millions lbs of force. Yieks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4GSR View Post
    A 15" OD Ram, assuming this is the piston diameter, which it probably is. That calculates out to 176.6 sq.in. of area. At 2500 psi, that's pushing around 441K lbs of force. Way shy of 500 tons of force. The 500 ton presses I used to work with had a piston diameter of 24". At 2500 psi hydraulic pressure would produce a little over 1 millions lbs of force. Yieks!
    I'm wondering what kind of pressure these old presses may have ran at. We have a very old press where I work that I cannot find any nameplates as to manufacturer, but according to information on the replacement seal that was in stock here for it, it is a 600 Ton Chambersburg Press. I cannot say for certain that that is accurate though. The seal for it is for a 16 1/8" bore. That leads me to believe that maybe they ran higher pressures than one might think if the press possibly was in fact a 600 ton press. I do not believe that ours is anywhere near original by any means. The whole hydraulic setup does not look original but has been on it for a very long time I would say. I did look at the pump currently on it and it is an old oilgear unit rated to 5000 PSI. Just curious if maybe they were running pressures high enough to make the press in this post a 500 ton press possibly? If so then maybe the one where I work may also in fact be a 600 ton press originally. I only ever used that press a few times and never really built much pressure for what I needed so not sure what it will build to now. Assuming it would build to 5000 psi in its current setup (which I do not know as it may have a relief in the system set below that) , even that would be shy of 600 ton (I get about 510 ton at 5000 psi roughly for ours) Just curious if higher pressures could have been in use way back then?

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    One way to answer questions as to what working pressure was used in an old press is to do some 'reverse engineering'.

    The nominal dimensions of the ram may be good for a lot more pressure than the pump could develop. This was due in part to needing to have a large enough piston rod diameter to minimize chances of 'cocking' the rod/piston in the ram cylinder as well as to get a large enough bearing surface for pushing against axles or other loads.

    Then, we have to consider the seals in use on the pistons in that era. We had some 12" diameter hydraulic servos on our 1921 hydro units that had step-cut cast iron piston rings, and 'chevron' style packing in the stuffing boxes on each piston rod (double-acting cylinders). Another type of piston sealing used in that era was 'cup leathers'. These were formed leather cups which were fitted to the end of the piston, and fastened with a 'plug' and bolts. The open end of the cup leather faced
    the direction pressure would be applied, expanding it against the cylinder walls. I have no idea what the upper bound on working pressures for cup leathers on pistons would be.

    Trying to establish working pressure by dimensions of the press ram may be misleading due to the two reasons I've listed. My idea of reverse engineering is to start with the pump itself. Begin with the motor and calculate the torque it develops. Then, work through the gear train to the eccentrics and get the 'throw' of the eccentric (which is the piston stroke). The throw of the eccentric, divided into the torque at the eccentric/bull gear shaft, will give the force applied to the pump piston. Getting the 'effective area' of the piston may not be so simple as taking the piston rod diameter. The cup leather and piston itself may be a bit larger in diameter than the actual piston rod. Remove a packing gland and the packing and check to see if the piston rod slides against the cylinder walls, or if there is some clearance. Either way, take the area of the pump piston based on measurement of the cylinder bore. Divide the force acting on the piston rod by the area of the piston and you will have the theoretical maximum pressure.

    Bear in mind that an induction motor, if I remember right, has an inrush current equal to five times nameplate rated amperage. This is instanteous and with a pump started in the unloaded condition, has no real bearing on maximum pressure the pump can develop. The current to work with for calculating maximum torque the motor can develop is the 'locked rotor torque', i.e, a motor stalled by load on its shaft. Not sure if locked rotor current is in the same league as 'inrush current', some of the EE's who are members may be able to answer that.

    Once the maximum pump pressure, based on motor's maximum torque and worked thru to the piston rod is figured, I'd put that value aside for the moment. My next area to investigate is any pressure relief valves (PRV's) in the press piping system. If possible, disconnect or isolate the PRV's and connect them to a pressure source such as a 'Porta Power' hand pump with a 'set gauge'. A 'set gauge' (my term), has two pointers. Both travel together when pressure is rising. When pressure drops, the 'set pointer' stays at the maximum reading until manually reset to zero. A Porta Power pump, using oil as working fluid and a 'set gauge' will give a good idea of what the PRV's are set to. The PRV's are designed to open and bypass working fluid back to the reservoir (or sump).

    This is the easy part of 'reverse engineering' to determine what is known as 'maximum allowable working pressure' (MAWP) for the press. The final portion of the reverse engineering is a bit more difficult. Namely, start with the press 'yokes', and in an unstressed area of them, drill a very small and very shallow hole. My reason for this is to see what kind of chip forms. The chip will be a rough determinant as to whether the yokes are cast iron, cast steel, or a cast semi-steel.
    A die grinder with mounted grinding 'point' can also be used for a spark test.

    Once a rough determination as to what kind of metal the press yokes are made of is in hand, calculate the maximum load they can withstand. This is where it gets tricky since the yokes, while being beams with pinned end connections and a uniformly distributed load over the center 'pocket', have a varying cross section. A rough value for maximum load on the yokes is probably all that can be calculated.

    A more definitive maximum load can be calculated for the press tie-bars, using the least cross sectional area at the openings for pinning the yokes in place. I'd consider the bars as being a mild carbon steel and go with a maximum tensile stress = 50,000 psi, and a maximum yield point stress =36,000 psi. Consider the absolute danger point to be just shy of yield point stress, and for maximum allowable tensile stress in the bars, use a factor of safety (FS) of at least 5. This would give a maximum allowable tensile stress in the tie bars of 10,000 psi. Another approach, based on structural steel design is to use 0.6 x Fy, or 21,600 psi, but given this application and the unknowns, I'd go with F allowable = 10,000 psi.

    I suspect the 'weak link' in terms of load carrying in the press is going to be the areas of the tie bars where they have holes for pins (or bars) to fix the yoke in place.

    Lastly, take the shear area of the pins or bars used to connect the yokes to the tie bars. These are in a condition known as "double shear". Shear stress in steels is a vague item, and published values are either all over the map, or simply take 0.75 x F ultimate.

    My thinking is the PRV's are set to open way below any pressure which would develop maximum loads (or failure loads) in the press's structural components.

    As I've written in a previous post, a piston pump is the ultimate positive pressure pump. So long as the motor can turn the eccentric shaft and keep the pistons pumping, it will continue to build pressure. This will continue until either the motor stalls, or something goes bust. Hopefully, what goes bust would be a 'sacrificial part' such as shaft key, but the reality is something bigger usually fails- like a bull gear (if cast iron), or the eccentric shaft gets twisted all to hell. If the pump holds together, then it is not unknown for a fitting to split or get blasted into orbit.

    FWIW: I reviewed documents and interviewed a pipefitter when doing some forensic work which resulted in the pipefitter's permanent disability. The story was that the pipefitter had been called out to replace a section of 2" socket welded pipe connected to a large piston type pump. When he was done with the job, a foreman for the plant operating company wanted to do a pressure test of the welds the pipefitter had run. The foreman started the piston pump against a closed system (dead headed). The pipefitter was a good 20 feet from the pump and piping. The pump quickly built pressure and then blew a 1 1/2" PRV right off the piping, failure being thru a socket welded joint (not run by the pipefitter, being in existing piping). The PRV struck the pipefitter, seriously injuring him and benching him for the rest of his working life. Investigation showed the PRV was not adjusted to anything like working pressure, but the adjustment screw had been cranked way tight, effectively 'gagging' the valve. The cap on the adjusting screw was covered with many layers of paint, so this was not something done for the pressure test of the new piping.

    The deadheaded piston pump built enough pressure in a hurry, and at a high enough pressure to find the weakest part of the piping. For this reason, some careful investigation of this press would seem a good and prudent idea. I kind of doubt the working pressure for this old style press is much over 1500-2000 psi.

    Retrofitting a modern hydraulic pumping unit such as Jeff76 describes to an older press is commonly done. However, without finding out what the press can withstand structurally as well as what the piping and ramp's piston seals can withstand, is taking quite a chance and invites a catastrophic failure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Michaels View Post
    Retrofitting a modern hydraulic pumping unit such as Jeff76 describes to an older press is commonly done. However, without finding out what the press can withstand structurally as well as what the piping and ramp's piston seals can withstand, is taking quite a chance and invites a catastrophic failure.
    Joe -

    I just quoted your last sentence, which is the end result. But your write up reminds me of a couple of my professors and the connection they were trying to make us realize 50+years ago. You have to analyze the whole system - be it mechanical or whatever - to make sure what you are trying to do it right. Could use this thread as a teaching example for a mechanical design class.

    Which is why I always cringe when on some board a poster - who is not an engineer - wants 'give me the site so I can pick the I beam/truss design/whatever - and then takes offense when someone (usually a practicing engineer) replies that they need someone who knows what they are doing to analyze all the pieces in play.

    There was a reason we had to work hard through all those classes - and gain experience on the job - so as to be able to do the analysis. If it was easy someone's golden retriever could do it.

    Dale

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    Dale:

    Thanks for the validation, and for being a friend and brother engineer/kindred spirit. I came to realize there is a type of 'engineering' or 'design', which I call:
    design by McMaster-Carr. What this amounts to is someone needs a part or fitting to work in some pre-existing application. Not knowing exactly what they want, they browse the McMaster catalog (even easier now that it's online). Seeing something that 'looks like it's gonna fit', often with little basis other than nominal dimensions such as pipe connection sizes or shaft diameters, they order the part or fitting from McMaster. Placed in service, it may or may not work, or if it works, may have some new problems.

    An example is a fellow who ordered a 'pop' type safety valve for a steam boiler (not from McMaster). He had a threaded connection on the launch's steam boiler, and ordered an ASME code safety valve (aka 'pop' valve) which made up to that size connection. The first time he lifted the safety valve at its correctly set pressure, about half the water in the boiler went out the safety valve. The problem was the orifice in the safety valve had never been sized for that particular boiler. The dealer who sold him the safety valve did not ask: "how many pounds of steam per hour are you needing to pass thru the safety valve ?" and sold him a safety valve with the largest possible orifice installed in the valve body. I helped that fellow get things straightened out, and a radical reduction in orifice size based on a rough calculation of how much steam the boiler 'made' was done by me based on heating surface of the boiler.

    Another example, which is enough to make a believer in a Higher Power, happened in the switchyard at the powerplant I retired from. There were some Swiss built high pressure air compressors, producing something on the order of 3000 psi compressed air for some air operated circuit breakers. I happened to be in the switchyard on some other business, when I noticed "quick connect" compressed air fittings on each stage of those high pressure compressors, including the delivery piping. I could not believe anyone would put a 'quick connect' compressed air fitting such as is used on home/garage air compressors on a 3000 psi air line. The crew that looked after the compressors were linemen, not mechanics. They said they liked the quick connectors because they could pop test gauges on and off. Of course, they had ordered the gauges from McMaster. I said it was a minor miracle no one had been hurt by a quick connector designed for maybe 250 psi compressed air blasting into them when hit with 3000 psi air.

    I've seen some other stuff along the way, engineering by "McMaster Carr", which really made a believer out of me in Guardian Angels, aside from a Higher Power. People tend to dismiss engineers and engineering, particularly since the advent of the internet, as something they can do for themselves. Fortunately for the bulk of these souls, God and a platoon of Guardian Angels are on 24/7 watch over them, whether they are deserving of it or not. It gives creedence to the old saying to the effect that "God watches over fools, drunks, and little boys...".

    As for me, it's well past 1700, wife and I had a nice supper, and a good belt of Canadian Reserve whisky (saving the Slivovitz for special occasions). People who would apply a modern hydraulic pump unit to an unknown/ancient hydraulic press/ram will drive an oldtime engineer to top of his own hydraulic system with liquid rye or plum products.

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    Joe -

    That story about the air line disconnects is amazing - but fully believable.

    My sister is 11 years younger than me and still working. Spent her whole career with GE in what she terms 'medium duty switchgear' - the way I take it is the level of a plant sub-station or such. They were sold a while ago. Of course that whole business, like many, has gone 'global' over the years. She and I have discussed several times how the cultural differences, for the lack of a better term, impacts how things are designed. And in saying this I don't mean to be discriminatory at all. But depending upon the culture you receive your education in you can look at things differently. European/US engineers tend to look at design the same way. But once you start adding others into the mix you have to be aware of the different way of looking at things. Part of this is no doubt economic and unavoidable. In my military life we once got involved in a joint project in Guatemala. Upgrading some roads, rural schools and rural medical clinics. I'm a mechanical, like you, but actually did more civil engineering in the Army (31 of 33 years was reserve component). This was a planning trip I was on prior to the work that would be done jointly at a later date. Last day in country we met with the senior military engineer in their Army - nice guy. I was concerned about how we were building - basically concrete block structures pretty much like you or I would do for a building here where we live. Design was to their specs. I asked him in a courteous, low key way if he had considered earth quakes as that is definitely an issue there. He looked at me and said something like 'I understand your concern but even with the cost sharing I have to not worry about that so we can do the most good we can with what is available'. He seemed like a reasonable engineer and understood what was going on. But had to make tough decisions. That made me realize the luxury we have in looking at things the way we do in this country in most cases.

    I got an education in cultural considerations at the professional interaction level later. One part of my job was flight safety (I ran the flight facility and aircraft integration) and I got to go to an aviation safety management course run by the University of Southern California in LA. It was a comprehensive 2 week course - and I was the odd duck being the only non rated person in the course. We spent one day on what is called crew coordination - which got into the cultural impact in the cockpit. One of the students was the senior check pilot for a major non US airline. He told the story of a situation that was amazing. Short version - was a check ride - unannounced review of the pilot in command on a revenue flight. Through a screw up the guy flying copilot was senior to the pilot in command. Error was made in not lowering landing gear on final approach and to 'save face' the senior guy was going to belly land the aircraft rather than call out the error. Luckily at the last moment the check pilot made them go around. Last week or two there was a crash in Pakistan where their first landing had no gear down and the engines hit the ground, tried to go around, lost power in both engines and pranged in - 97 or so people died. Reading I have been doing on it points towards possible cultural issue as a possible cause/contributing. In this country anyone in the crew can question anything going on - not that way in some places.

    Like you, I had a nice supper. Did not have a refreshment earlier but now, by golly Joe, you gave me an idea. No Slivovitz though!

    Dale

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Michaels View Post
    People who would apply a modern hydraulic pump unit to an unknown/ancient hydraulic press/ram will drive an oldtime engineer to top of his own hydraulic system with liquid rye or plum products.
    Yup, as I indicated, I would approach this job with caution.
    Assume nothing is OEM, and gages and the like have been changed out over the years, some not working, etc.

    I did notice this press had what looks like double tie bars, never seen this before in any of these press's.

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    Joe Michales brings up a excellent point. If that press is going to be upgraded in any way, hydraulics or what ever, An engineering team needs to be put together and do a complete design review from the ground up on every critical component of that press. Find out the weaknesses by calculations first. Then verify by testing if those critical area will be acceptable of safe design. Have all of this signed off by an independent PE license engineer. And I say independent, don't rely on a in house PE. Been in that trap many times over the years. If you have all of the leg work done before hand and pass off toe the P.E., cost can be minimal. Regardless what you do just remember, these machines/devices can become detremental if the unknows are not known up front when pressures/forces are applied.

    Getting back to a comment I said earlier, do NDE on the cylinders, especially around the bosses of the pressure inlets. That's where we found cracks. These were flanged faces not threaded holes. I would suspect threaded holes being much worse to stress cracking than flanges are.

    Ken

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    As early as 1903 Niles foresaw the need to keep the press from exceeding it's factor of safety.
    No doubt the later model press will have pressure limits.
    tamper-resistant.jpg
    John

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    This looks like the one I watched operate... same pumping apparatus.

    YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Michaels View Post
    My own belief is the Niles wheel press in this thread used oil as the working fluid. The few wheel presses I have seen all used oil, rather than water. While water would work (being an incompressible fluid), it does freeze and does cause rusting. In a drafty old railroad shop out on the prairies or up at the Northern end of Canada or thereabouts, freezing of water within a backshop building in winter was a real possibility. Rusting produces particulates in the water, and particulates can clog valves or cause pump valves not to seat properly. Oil solves both issues as working fluid.
    This Niles wheel press is around WW1 for vintage.
    It used water. Niles lined the cylinder with copper.

    Here is a link to a 1920 Niles-Bement-Pond catalog that gives a good description of the press.

    Machine Tools ... - Niles, Bement, Pond Company, New York - Google Books

    The press.

    Machine Tools ... - Niles, Bement, Pond Company, New York - Google Books

    Rob

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    Robert Lang:

    I stand corrected as to the working fluid for the wheel press. Water it is, and on pages 456-457, mention is made that the press can be connected to 'shop water supply' to provide a more rapid advance of the ram until it contacts the work.

    Many of my questions and guesses as to the design of the press were answered in reading through the catalog reprint you attached. The fact that the three pump plungers are of different diameters to give different maximum pressures and different ram speeds is quite interesting in its own right. In the era before variable displacement hydraulic pumps or the various types of industrial hydraulic control valves, Niles solved the problem in a "simple but elegant way" to use an engineering description.

    Reading through the information on pages 456-457, the functions of the 'capstan' type handwheel, along with the 'doorknobs' on the photos posted by Gavin, the OP, all became crystal clear to me.

    Of course, in order to get to the catalog pages relevant to this press and this thread, I had to browse through the bulk of the catalog. I had no idea Niles, Bement, was such a prolific manufacturer of machine tools. Combined with Pratt & Whitney, they had most of the machine tool needs of industries of that time covered. The range of machine tools and other equipment such as forging and flanging presses and machinery for planing edges of armor plate as well as machining large gun barrels and projectiles was amazing to me. Reading thru the catalog also answered questions in my mind as to how certain parts of steam locomotives were machined when on something of a production basis.

    It is hard to imagine the magnitude of Niles, Bement, along with Pratt & Whitney. It would seem they employed an army of people and likely had, quite literally, hundreds of acres of shop space, and tens of acres of actual working drawings (if the drawings were laid out on flat land). The engineering force, legions of draftsmen, and tons of drawings (no microfilm or electronic storage of drawings back then) had to have been a huge undertaking in its own right. Fireproof storage for all those drawings and tracings (done in India ink on 'vellum' or similar, used to make actual 'blue prints' from) had to have been whole warehouses.

    Similarly, an army of patternmakers was kept busy, and the storage of thousands of wood patterns and core boxes required fireproof buildings.

    It is hard to imagine that a firm such as the NBP- P & W group is gone, and harder to imagine the numbers and variety of machine tools and shop equipment they produced. I tend to think the extinction of steam locomotives, reduction in railroads as a primary means of transportation, and the extinction of battleships and riveted construction may have been major factors in the demise of NBP-P & W. Add CNC machining and the use of welding rather than heavy castings or forgings, and riveted steel construction and the reasons for the demise of NBP-P & W become even more apparent.

    I am sure that, in their day, NPB and P & W employed tens of thousands of people, and the machine tools and equipment they produced was in use not only all over the USA, but all over the world. Some years back, I know that a RR museum in Tennessee (if I recall correctly) 'repatriated' a Niles steam locomotive wheel lathe and quartering machine from Poland. These machine tools had been built by Niles just after WWII and were shipped to Poland to help rebuild their railroads, which remained 'in steam' until at least the 1970's if not later.

    It is easy to imagine with some solid foundation that NPB-P & W could well be said to have 'tooled up the world' in large part, and adding the efforts of the rest of the US machine tool industry, notably centered around Cincinnati ( though Warner and Swasey was in Cleveland), we did 'tool up the world' in time of war and peace.

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