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Arbor Press

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  • Arbor Press

    Around 2009(?) there was an article in Street Rodder Magazine about using an arbor press for forming sheet metal. Certain shapes, like motorcycle fenders, can be initially developed easily and quickly with an arbor press and finished with an English Wheel. It is a very cheap way to shape metal without producing a mark if the right tooling is used. The tonnage of the arbor press isn't as critical as the horizontal throat depth from the ram to the back of the frame. If you haven't made anything with one of these, you should try. If you are into bikes, an arbor press & English wheel is probably the easiest way to make a nice fender very quickly. I had few plans or expectation to have any large machines beyond my English Wheel and saw an arbor press as an excellent way to do easily more work on a tight budget. Being able to shrink without making a mark on the metal is great.

    When the pain set in the day after I started on the RD350 seat, I transitioned to working on getting this arbor press that I've had for a few years mounted on its own cast iron stand that had been waiting. It came out great.

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    Lifting an arbor press on & off a bench or table to use it isn't the best strategy re: aches & pains.... Neither is dropping the big piece of 8" steel channel being used for the top of this stand on your foot while you're getting everything located, drilled. mounted, etc.. You'll cut a hole through your leather boot & break 1-2 bones in your foot. Not cool. At least it didn't cut my toe off.... Between my chest, my shoulder and my foot, it was very uncomfortable for the first week and still is an issue nearly three wks later.

    I'm hoping that using this arbor press can replace some of the swung hammer work. I have a set of Delrin tooling for my CP Planishing Hammer, made & sold by Bill Tromblay. I need to make adapters to use them on the arbor press. I want to try making adapters to reverse the positions of the tooling to work upside down try to gain clearance when shaping certain pieces. Throat depth is a limiting factor, but so is the handle position hitting the work. The ultimate goal is be to add a foot pedal. I'm still thinking on how to satisfy that project.

    I'll try to keep this thread updated with any progress. If others can add to the thread, please do.

  • #2
    Nice to see that you are still at it Cliff.

    Bummer about the foot injury, they can take a long time to get better, so take it easy,

    Cheers Charlie


    • #3
      Feel better Cliff.


      • #4
        Some dies holders and dies could be made,..... the tool could be very useful, pity about the throat length
        Peter T.


        • #5
          Thanks, guys. My wife and I laugh about the aches and pains, not much else can be done about it now. Feeling like I've got a marble jammed between my toes is a drag. Cutting my boot was the bigger drag. They weren't worn out yet. The stone work & related fine sharp dust destroys boots quickly, so I try to get all the use I can from every pair.

          The lathe & mill aren't running yet. I'm planning to make more tooling & fixtures with them. Decided I'm going to get VFDs for each of them and for my big jiggly machine, so that's in the works.


          • #6
            Someone on another forum (forgot which one) used a ratcheting pipe wrench for the handle so it could be out of the way ,

            I am thinking of getting a fly press when one shows up locally , my buddy has used them for years to do his sculpture.

            Let use know when you start making tooling and we can give you some ideas.....


            • #7
              Thanks. I've looked at various ratcheting and easily indexed ideas for the handle. Until I had it mounted on a stand and have a pedal design somewhat configured, I kept looking. The compound pedal I used on the shrinker stand was as much of a trial run for the arbor press application as anything. I thought about cutting the ram off of this arbor press or another one to mount on a different frame for better reach/throat. My neighbor has a couple of big presses, so now that he's back from his state-funded "vacation" I can use his if needed.

              i welded up a quick tool holder today this afternoon. I want to use it for shaping the rear hump pieces for this RD350 seat. The UHMW tooling I've used can still leave witness marks if you're not careful. Peter's horseshoe-shaped hollow in his stump makes me want to avoid creating witness marks with other tools when they can be avoided. Instead of trying to manage a small shot bag in a ring or using a Tuck Puck as the anvil, next I'm going to try using a section of some large black urethane rubber "pipe" I have. It's about 4" diameter with an approx 1" bore, not sure of durometer. It's pretty firm, not too soft or too hard. I used this material to make the the gas tank to frame mounting spacers on my Guzzi Corsa Record project and have some left.. Might not work like I want it to, but we'll see.


              • #8
                I welded up a tool holder from scrap yesterday so I can get to work sooner than later. No handy 3/4" twist drill bit to make it work with my palnishing hammer dies, so today I turned a few wooden tools with a square mounting end. Made one square/flat and 3 with different radii, on the new old wood lathe (another covid trading freebie).

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                Then I found the black urethane pipe I mentioned and sliced off a 2" tall piece. The bore is barely larger than the tools I turned. Very cool-

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                I thought I would make a base to mount hold this rubber anvil in place, but went to work without it and was quite pleased with the results. Easy to control the shaping, especially if you move the anvil a little to work either into the bore or not. Beyond the impression of the upper die, there's no witness marks. With the plastic film held down against the anvil, even the film wasn't damaged while working a piece for the RD350 seat. It was a good experiment. I'll probably shorten both the tool holder and tooling later. For now, all is good.