dangerous faulty equipment


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Oct 20, 2003
Northeast US
As long as I've worked at this place, the vacuum press, a Vacuseal 3646 M H-S, has been held open with a stick when you need it to be held open. Whatever mechanism that was designed to hold it open is broken. The stick works fine, as long as you don’t knock the stick out accidentally, in which case it will fall closed on your hand.

Can anyone give me information about how this is supposed to work, who can fix it etc.?
Around here, we call that a trap!

The 4466 uses gas cylinders to aid in opening the press and to keep it open. I would imagine its little brother would do the same.

There's a tech support number on another recent thread (about the 500T press) to call and find out what you need.
Get it fixed, that situation would make any personal injury lawyer jump and scream with glee. Just the kind of situation they pray for.

I just bought a topper for my pickup and they had a whole rack of pneumatic lifts in varying lengths and support strength. All you would need to do is weigh the platen (divide by 2) and measure the length.
I urge you to obtain OEM air pistons or the ones that were supplied by the original manufacturer. Yes you can go to the truck canopy or car dealer and get something close to the right ones.

It is very critical that you gets ones the exact same extended and compressed lengths as the original ones. Also each piston manufacturer (and there are about 6 different manfacturers in North America and Europe) makes them slightly different and the stud and ball fittings on them vary.

Often the substitute one holds it up too much, making it hard to pull down, or they start to fade quickly and not hold it up properly after a few months. I have a book and a sheet showing how to calculate the proper piston strength. You need more than just the weights and lengths, you need angles and plotted turning positions as well. Save yourself a lot of trouble and buy a set that belong to the machine.

My guess is that they should cost about $150 US$ for a set of two. A lot cheaper than a claim on your workers compensation policy.

Removing air pistons. The end of each piston simple pops on and off the ball stud at each end. However each end of the piston has a small round locking clevis pin to hold it on the ball stud. It is hard to see and you may need to shine a flashlight in to see it as it may be covered with dust or grease. Use a narrow screw driver to pop the clevis pin off and then pull it out of the holes with needle nosed pliers. Then have a second person hold the lid up to the exact ended length of the pistons and with a closed fist hit the top and botton of the piston to dislodge it off the ball stud. When reinstalling the pistons I have never bothered to reinsert the clevis pins. I have simply banged the end of the piston on to the ball stud.

Call the Hunt/Bienfang/Elmers (formerly the Seal Brand) tech line at 1-888-240-6021 They are located in Statesville, NC.

Originally posted by Kit:
I held mine open with a stick for five years. It's not an ideal solution but it does work.
Originally posted by framanista:
...fine, as long as you don’t knock the stick out accidentally, in which case it will fall closed on your hand.
And it will hurt. :mad:
Thanks for your replies everyone. It will be fixed, one way or another.
Sounds to me like a issue of quality. The press at the framing school I attended also had the same problem / same solution (stick). Sounds like a lot of other people do, or have had also. Now I know these things wear out, but perhaps they need to be stronger in the first place. Or maybe a redesign should be done. Remember when car hoods use to be held up with spring hinges? Now they use a stick too!
My 40x60 Vacuseal is, I think, 20 years old and the original lift cylinders work just fine.

The ones on the lift gate of my Dodge Caravan had to be replaced about 3 times/year. At that rate, I would have spent $9,000 on lift cylinders for my press and I'd probably be holding the lid up with a stick.

I will NEVER buy a mounting press from Chrysler.
I have done the rope and hook thing in the past. I stopped doing it about five years ago and started replacing the pistons as needed. They only last a couple of years.

I have a friend who is a personal injury attorney. He stopped in my shop one day, things where slow at the emergency room entrance, and gave me a class about the wisdom of replacing worn out or defective parts.

Part of that lecture involved, as Allen Sturgess pointed out, using recommended manufactures replacement parts only. Do this with all your machines.

You may think because you have little, they will not sue you, think again. Going bankrupt over a little thing like replacing a set of hundred dollar pistons is just plain stupid.

Consider also, it can fall on a lot more than your hand. Machine is hot, you reach all the way to the back to quickly scrape off a little chud on the platen, the lid falls on your head. If this does not kill you, it will probably make you wish it had.