Advice on choosing mechanical ironworker
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  1. #1
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    Default Advice on choosing mechanical ironworker

    I am in the market fo an ironworker for several jobs coming up. I think I want a mechanical one and found several that may be candidates. Buffalo 1/2 ($3500) and a couple of mubea kbl 1/2 ($5000 & $6000). Asking prices seem a it high to me. Any advice is welcome.
    Not really interested in hydraulic because of cost but if the right machine had the right price. I do like the speed of the mechanicals when doing multiple parts.
    Thanks in advance.

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    I have an old Peddinghaus mechanical and would recommend it as all parts are still available and they're still in business. (or...all the parts I've ever inquired about).

    I went to look at a Mubea recently and I liked several things about it...I was thinking about buying to flip but didn't.

    The few Buffaloes I've seen were a bit too old school for me

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    Thanks. What did you like about the mubea compared to the peddinhaus?

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    Well they are pretty similar in design, in general. I liked the punch stripper on the Mubea better than mine. It slid fore an aft.

    Mine swings away. Minor thing, and mine has been busted several times in the distant past, beat on and brazed.

    Mubea also had a central lube system where mine has a bunch of recessed grease fittings, many hidden. Half are clogged up, These things run on grease.

    I don't claim to be the expert, but I'd still choose a Peddinghaus because there seem to be more of them here and I know they're still in business. They were great on the phone and sent me a manual for mine.

    Mine is a 210A/16 24" throat on the punch.

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    I am open to any suggestions about what is a good mechanical machine. I only mentioned Buffalo and Mubea because they were the right size and the only close ones I found listed for sale now. I will look at the Peddinghaus. Maybe the reason Mubea is plentiful here is the importer, Heller, was in Los Angeles.

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    Depending on what type of company you are and how much you'll use it makes a difference of what type of advice for me to give...
    A good Iron worker can elevate you to a whole nother level, I have a 65 Ton Scotchmen and love it, it has a 24" plate shear which is the best quality over most any other Iron worker, the smaller 40 ton has a 14" plate shear.
    In the event you get a mechanical, you still need to buy a $ 1,000.00 worth of punches...
    The Pirana is also a good one, the advantage of that one over the scotchman is the coper notcher... to me, I'll give up the coper notcher for the bigger plate shear...

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    Thanks portable,
    I have been looking at the price of punches for any machine I consider
    Of the ones I have looked at the buffalo dies are the most expensive.
    The mubea and peddinghaus are both about $13 each for round punches and dies, the buffalo dies seem to be closer to $25 ea. I have been checking Cleveland Steel Tool for pricing. I do small structural jobs and archetectural work. The larger shears and small press brake are a nice feature of the hydraulics.
    I have a job rapidly aproaching that I need to cut up 300+ ft of 4x4x5/16 angle and 200+ft of 2x3x1/4 (more pcs of the 2x3) Some 1/2 and 3/4 bolt holes in them.

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    I am a huge fan of buffalo Iron workers I have 1 1/2 ran a 1/2 for years great machines
    what to watch out for is if previous operator have no tightened the 2 huge nuts tight enough that hold lower die block on it will round out the surface it sits on ,making adjusting lower die position hard and it will get out of position easily . On my 1 1/2 I when removed the lower die block the front edge radiused down ~ 3/32" The wear went back a bit ~1/12" progressively. I took a large rose bud and heated it back from the edge 1hr? and worked the heat to the edge so as not to over heat it trying to get it red hot with a sledge hammer I pounded the burr back then flattened from the top and repeated all the wile heating [ I had a helper ] I did this till I felt I had moved enough metal after letting it cool then I took a 9" angle grinder with fresh disc and was able to float it over the un worn section and worked down the raised section . There were heavey striations from what I assumed was planer that surfaced the frame when it was made this allowed me to lower total surface very slightly while judging flatness , The fix worked awsomely infinitly easier to adjust lower die and it stays put . the punch is over hung from mounting surface alowwing puching of channels and beams. The machine came with 2 short 2" open end poorly shop made hammer wrenches that it was obvious they had used causing this condition . I use 2 full wrench locke together boxed end on the nut second wrench box end over the firsts open end doubling length of wrench with all my ~200 lb frame can put out looing for ~ 600 ftlb range It is needed for these nuts

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    I am not sure why you prefer a mechanical.
    There are advantages, sure- but mostly in terms of speed. There was a now deceased guy who I respect a lot on this forum who swore by mechanicals- for production work. He had stops set to punch holes in hundreds of base plates a day, and said the return time of a mechanical meant dozens more plates done per hour over a hydraulic.

    But for small job shop/ornamental, a hydraulic is much nicer, in my opinion- because you can locate holes much easier, and more accurately, by slowly lowering the punch until its close enough to locate a center punch mark.
    Also, a hydraulic machine is less likely to break if overstressed- usually they just stall, while there are a lot of cracked buffalo's out there.

    The Buffalo is sturdy, and simple- its almost a 100 year old design, although there were a few version changes over the years, with the last ones using a fabricated frame rather than cast iron. They are technically still in business, but I think they are pretty small these days. Parts for older machines will be scarce and expensive.

    The Mubea and Peddinghaus, both german made, are newer designs, more elegantly made, in my opinion, and have the same reputation of being bulletproof and longlasting as the buffalos.
    If I was shopping mechanical, I would probably be looking at Mubeas- although they have been all hydraulic since the early 70s, so you are looking at a 50 year old machine, most likely. Again, parts are mostly not available- they are just too old.

    There are three punch and die makers in Cleveland-
    American Punch Company - The Punch, Die, and Shear Blade Experts
    Ironworkers, Punches & Dies | Cleveland Steel Tool
    Cleveland Punch and Die Company - Home

    they all make most common punches, but sometimes one is better than another for oddball stuff.

    these guys, in Kentucky, know a lot about Mubeas- and you can call and pick the brain of the parts guy about whether a given model is worth buying- I once almost bought a really cute 1958 Mubea Mechanical, until I found out how rare any parts but blades and punches would be.
    mubeamachines

    I am a big fan of Geka's myself, I think they are the nicest machine for a small shop that is always doing different things, and they have the best gaging and stops, which save a lot of time and make for more accurate locating and lengths. But they do cost more.

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    Another thing to consider- ironworkers dont cut angle as clean and pretty as saws do. They will leave a bit of burr and some squashing of the ends of the cut. Okay, if you are welding all the ends to other things, and you dont need perfect fitup- but if you are used to saw cut ends, it will not be the same.
    There are two styles of angle shear blades- a single shear blade, usually called a cropping or crop off blade, which has a fair amount of distortion, and a plug style, double blade setup, which takes out a thin plug from the center of each cut- better quality, but more waste.

    you need to make sure that the quality of the cut you will get is acceptable for your job.

    I almost never shear angle on mine- we shear a lot of stainless, especially round, flat, and square bar, when both ends will be welded or trimmed, and some plate, but I would say more than 80% of my ironworker use, over the last 20 years, has been punching holes. For that, it cant be beat.
    But for good fitup on angle, channel, and similar shapes, I always use a bandsaw. Takes a bit more time cutting, but saves a lot of time in fitting, welding, and rework, plus, less swearing.

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    Thanks Ken And Ries,
    The main reason for wanting a mechanical is price and availabiliy. The faster speed sound good but like Ries says I would never realize that benifit. One of my friends had a Geka 80 ton that he bought new maybe 12 years ago fo $19k. He recently moved his shop to garage at home and is happy to be "retired" onlly working for select clients 1-2 hrs/day. The Geka would have been the only thing that fit in the new "shop" so he sold it last summer $17k. I really liked that machine and would use it for my upcoming job if he still had it. This particular job the ends of the angles are welded to channel so quality of the cut is not that important.
    Frustrating thing is these people posting either craigslist or ebay do not seem interested in returning calls/emails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post
    But for small job shop/ornamental, a hydraulic is much nicer, in my opinion- because you can locate holes much easier, and more accurately, by slowly lowering the punch until its close enough to locate a center punch mark.
    Peddinghaus and Mubea both have a lever to pull down the punch to a center punch mark...you can actually hold pressure with said lever then punch...as good as or better than hydraulic IMO, plus faster.

    Mechanicals are considered more dangerous, something not mentioned so far I think. But some of that is overblown on the forums. When you hit the switch it's coming down...no backing off like a hydraulic.

    I use the punch and shear on mine...almost never the notcher, angle or other section shears.

    As Ries mentioned angle cuts aren't the cleanest.

    I think I've seen Ironworkers (Don't remember the brand) that cut a slug out of angle...where the distortion goes. The cut was much cleaner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamscal View Post
    Peddinghaus and Mubea both have a lever to pull down the punch to a center punch mark...you can actually hold pressure with said lever then punch...as good as or better than hydraulic IMO, plus faster.

    Mechanicals are considered more dangerous, something not mentioned so far I think. But some of that is overblown on the forums. When you hit the switch it's coming down...no backing off like a hydraulic.

    I use the punch and shear on mine...almost never the notcher, angle or other section shears.

    As Ries mentioned angle cuts aren't the cleanest.

    I think I've seen Ironworkers (Don't remember the brand) that cut a slug out of angle...where the distortion goes. The cut was much cleaner.
    It makes sense that the germans would have a mechanical way of positioning so the punching was accurate- I have not seen that on older US mechanicals, but some might have had it.
    I am just a bit leary of machines that are almost as old as I am- but they definitely will be cheaper.
    I have mostly used hydraulic ironworkers, because, since the 70s, most have been hydraulic.

    But if you found a good price on a clean mechanical, it would definitely do what you want.

    ALL ironworkers are cool, in my book.

    (and you can get the slug dies to fit virtually any ironworker- they just cost more)

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    Thank you guys for all the advice. I ended up getting ahydraulic machine, 65 ton scotchman #6509 for a decent price. Some of the key factors getting it were the guy wanted to sell it and was close enough to drive to get, several other machines had no responses or wanted more money for older 50 ton mechanicals than the 5K I paid for this one. The shop it was in bought a much larger machine to take its place. It came with 24" brake and 6" angle shear and 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 pipe notch dies and a large assortment of rusty punches & dies. Several squares, couple rectangles, dozen slots and 30 or so round punches and 70 or so round dies. They were left in a bucket for a while after it rained.... Most seem to be OK. It had been converted to 480 and I needed to switch back to 240 so ordered coil and overload for the mag starter, coil is still not here. The shear would not cut through a piece of 1/2x8 when I went to look at it and blades had a visible rounding over right about where it stopped cutting, me thinks no big deal to rotate the blades for a sharp edge and good to go. Well after cleaning and reassembleing per the manual it became apparant the sheat blade arm was bent by about 1/8" like someone tried to shear a small piece of metal without it being held down to the table and it rolled over the bottom blade and wedged the upper arm away, bending it in the process. Now I know why there was a LOT of shims behind upper blade. So out comes the the arm and proceed to flame straighten it which I got to be straight except for one 4" section, probably where the damage happened that I could get a .006 feeler guage in. Reassembled the arm into macine and needed to put .006 shim behind the one bolt and the 2 blades lined up with an even .010 gap the etire 24" length. I was able to "help" the 480 coil stay on and cut 25 pcs of 3/8x10 flatbar into 10" pcs.
    So far I am happy with it but it is agonizingly slow when it is working (compared to flywheel machines). I do like the longer shear compared to anything mechanical and the press brake will get use also.
    The other "big" problem with it was the stroke setting for the limit switches was not on the machine. Most of the parts were in the bucket with the dies. I had to make a block and the rod they slide on which I did while waiting for the arm to cool between heats. Aside from a few missing bolts and warped shear table and drop chute it seems to be a good machine.

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    I'm so glad to hear you got the same thing as me..., the 24" brake is a 2,000.00 brake, so you really did well for yourself..., I bought mine for about $2500.00, stripped it down, painted it and new stickers, it looked brand new.
    I would highly recommend building yourself an adjustable stop and buying the big table for the punch area with the adjustable guide, Those 2 items are really nice to have, they really reduce your layout time when doing multiple pieces.

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    Thanks Portable, I had to rig a stop with clamps and angle iron to shear the 10" pcs. I will probably make one of round bar similar to the factory one that will hit all stations. The guys at scotchman said most people make punch tables so I will probably do that, but the sliding guides look really nice. I am making a list of small items to get from scotchman.

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    You need to make some of the stop out of round so it can rotate around.


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