1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Harbor Freight 24 ton hydraulic splitter review

Post in 'The Gear' started by BurningIsLove, Feb 15, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Saw some posts on the HF 30 ton splitter which I think is reasonably similar to the 24 ton, but here goes for completeness.....

    Four of us went in together on the 24 ton (the 30 ton was not in stock, but same ballpark size/weight). Delivery was quick but semi-painful. Harbor freight trucks do NOT have a lift gate. The delivery guy showed up with no idea how to get it off the truck. We eventually used some ramps we use for our tractor and built a belay system to slide it down the ramps. He also didnt show up when he said they would.

    the splitter itself is nice. The engine is quality (6HP) and easy to start. It is definitely more than powerful enough to split well. The engine barely even changes pitch when splitting even very large rounds of red oak. So far it's been able to split everything we've thrown at it with ease. I'm quite confident that we could put a 4-way ram head on and it would be plenty powerful to split each round twice in a single cycle. The ram head doesnt have an easy way of acomodating one of the star (4-way) heads, but we think we have a solution.

    Another nice feature is how well it's balanced since it can be pivoted to run in horizontal and vertical modes. Even tho it's darn heavy, it's takes little effort to rotate the main beam up & down depending when we flip it from horizontal to vertical. We found that bleeding the air from the system is not easy, and one of us is very mechanically inclined. We also got a 2nd opinion from the family mechanic who is brilliant with all things hydraulic. In the beginning we called it the 'wood exploder' since it would literally explode the wood since the piston wasnt moving smoothly. It's still a little jittery in horizontal mode. We found it works better vertically since the air bleeds out better. Maybe this will improve over time.

    It tows nicely for a trailer w/ no springs. The trailer is DOT rated for 45MPH, have not tried faster since it doesnt have springs and the roads around here are ripe with frost heaves & pot holes. Be careful if you do tow any splitter that they are usually completely invisible behind an SUV. I cant see it in any of the 3 mirrors. It doesnt have an OOB mount for attaching trailer lights (not req'd in all states), but we thought it best to have them for safety reasons. A simpler trailer light kit & bungee cord is fine for non-highway speeds.

    It does have a slower recycle time than the splitter we used to rent, but I've found that if you're using it alone, the person is the weak (slow) link with loading, throwing the splits into a pile, etc. A small amount of time percentage-wise is spent waiting for the piston to retract. if you have help, say a 3-man operation, then the slow recycle time becomes more apparent. For fans of horizontal use, it would be nice if the beam you set the wood on had 'wings' on it to hold the round in place when the piston rams it. The beam surface is painted and very slippery, so you have to hold the round with both hands to keep it from falling off. It doesnt seem dangerous cuz the ram is moving so slowly, but in our first attempts with the 'exploder', it was dangerous which is why I prefer vertical mode probably.

    The biggest complaint is that Harbor Freight corporate was (IS!!!!!) a total PIA to deal with. In MA, its a grey area as to whether such a small trailer requires a registration/plate/lights. A Certificate of Origin (basically a bill of sale) is required in order to obtain a registration (we are erring on the safe side). Harbor Freight has utterly refused to issue one. At one point we got a supervisor to agree to send us one, but then another supervisor overrode their decision and we still cant get one after 3 months. A friend of mine (also in MA) who bought a trailer from harbor freight had the same problem, and it took months to resolve.

    So if you dont live in MA or other states that have inefficient/corrupt DMV, overall I'd recommend it highly. A powerful splitter for the price. For reference, the rentable splitter we really liked sells new for more than 2x this one and $1800 used.

    If anyone else has this splitter (or the 30 ton), I'd like to hear your experiences/suggestions/modifications.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,440
    Loc:
    middleborough, ma.
    Nice review

    Now, take the nameplate off the machine and register it as a homemade trailer :)
  3. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Yep. thats just about what we're going to do. I'll write a bill of sale to one of the other guys as a 'splitter mounted on a homemade trailer', and take that to the RMV. Its rather annoying that we have to lie to be in compliance with the law.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,688
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I have the 30 ton but have not used it much yet. My truck had a lift gate, but it still was an adventure. Assembling it alone was a little dicey since the beam is quite heavy. Is the motor really 6hp? I thought the 24 ton'ers were the same as the 30 ton'er as far as the engine goes and mine has a 9hp Robin. I hadn't thought of getting a license for the trailer, but since it's really just for me maybe it won't come up. I did recently buy a HF trailer though and had no problem registering it in NY with the docs that HF provided. Hmmm, I guess I could trailer the splitter! :)
  5. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Yer absolutely correct, it is a 9HP engine, not a 6HP. I must have confused w/ other splitters we were considering.

    I have a registered home-made trailer that I use to haul rounds from the area in southern MA we routinely get our trees from. So lately I've been using that plate onto the splitter, I'd be very surprised if someone pulled me over and could make the distinction in the registration of one home made to another. I've noticed that none of the rental places in MA that we've used have any license plate on their splitters, so Im not too worried. It's more the liability/insurance if an accident occurs.
  6. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Messages:
    184
    Loc:
    North of Boston
    Nice review! I wish I had some local woodburning friends to go in on a splitter with. The rental deal gets old, but I don't use the machine often enough to buy one...
  7. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Yeah, I dont use it enough to justify a solo-purchase either. Given the choice, I would split all my wood by hand using my splitting maul, which is how I've split the last 4 cords. However time/age is an issue for some of us in this splitting co-op, so we decided that sharing the cost was worthwhile. Two of us in the group have gotten grapple load deliveries (7-11 cords), so splitting that much by hand was too much of a time commitment for them.

    The ideal scenario for me is to use the splitter in place of splitting wedges to half the round, then use the hand maul to split the half rounds to the desired size. The splitter is also darn nice for stubborn pieces like stumps & heavily knotted rounds.

    Where U live north of Boston out of curiosity? U get much snow the last 48 hours? About 8" here, fortunately the rain stayed south of here.
  8. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Messages:
    184
    Loc:
    North of Boston
    Hey! I just noticed where you are. I'm in Burlington, just one town south. We got about 8" too.


    I can't really claim age as an excuse, but time is certainly an issue. Even if my time is free, I can't say that I necessarily want to spend it splitting by hand. I don't mind it, but trying to get a year's worth of wood put up early enough in the year for it to season...

    I'm buying by the grapple too. 4 cords last time. Maybe 6 this time. I got a lot of knarly stuff last time that I couldn't split efficiently by hand. Wound up renting a big Split-fire to finish the job.


    Who are you guys buying grapple loads from?

    -Dan
  9. brownie

    brownie New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Messages:
    21
    Loc:
    Michigan
    I got the 24 ton last year, have ran about 26 cords through it. It is heavy to lug around by hand but works well behind a tractor.I have had some Hyd.oil leaks but no big deal. My biggest complaint is checking the Hyd.oil level. This splitter has split anything i have put in it. You will be glad you got it ,i am!

    Have Fun
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,688
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
  11. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Loc:
    SE PA
    I'd be careful about towing the splitter on the road. The axle is welded to the hydro tank, and I can just see the welds cracking. Maybe low speed, but with PA Potholes, even 15mph is tough.
    How was assembling this splitter?
  12. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    The trailer is DOT rated to 45MPH, but like you said, towing requires caution since it doesnt have any leaf springs. I avoid highways and limit routes to well maintained roads that dont have significant bumps. For the bumpier roads immediately near the source/destination, I keep the speeds low (around 15MPH).

    As for assembly, it was quite simple. Mostly it was attaching the wheels to the axle which was actually nice since we were able to verify that the construction was of good quality. The only other 'assembly' step is adding hydraulic fluid and bleeding the air out of the system, which as I posted above, is a bit of a pain. But one has to expect that in any hydraulic system.
  13. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Turn-n-burn, I myself havent been successful yet in getting a grapple load delivered. I have lumped them into the general bucket that I put most general contractors in, where they would rather chew their own arm off than return a phone call.

    But there are several tree service companies in the Billerica/ Burlington that I haven't tried yet, or haven't given up on yet. Right now I can't get a delivery with the snow on the ground and the ground not frozen. My wheelbarrow full of splits sinks into the mud, can only imagine what a flat bread truck would do.
  14. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Loc:
    SE PA
    The HF manual says, on page 4, that the splitter is not to be pulled on the road:

    "The wheel manufacturer states the maximum speed is not to exceed 40 MPH. The tires
    are DOT approved for public roads; however, this item is not for use on public roads or
    highways."

    But, then, on page 6, it says
    "Do not tow the Log Splitter at speeds
    above 45 MPH."

    So, I guess, if you can drive 45 mph down your driveway, you are ok. Sounds like lawyers wrote the manual.
  15. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Oh yeah, we all had a good laugh at the inconsistencies in Harbor Freight's manuals/web sites. I couldnt agree more that lawyers had a hand in confusing the matter. We spoke to people directly at the company about this inconsistency, and they honestly could not conceive why anyone would ever WANT to tow a splitter (or they were convincing liars). So we asked, 'why sell a trailerable splitter if you don't think people should tow it?' <silence>

    We did take the splitter to our family mechanic who confirmed that it is reasonably well constructed for towing, but to avoid the hazards posted earlier in the thread whenever possible. Having rented splitters from Home Despot and other local rental shops, I dont seen any differences in their approved, public road trailers and the Harbor Freight one. Again, blame the lawyers.
  16. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Yeah, I was concerned about possibly cracking the hydraulic tank, because the axle is welded directly to it, but then my splitter arrived and, well, the sucker is built like a tank. No worries.

    Anyway, the Lisle bearing packer arrived today, and a pail pump for getting the fluid into that tank, so tomorrow, it all comes together.

    "This item is for display and educational use only and not intended for actual use. Harbor Freight, it's affiliates and/or employees assume no responsibility if said article is used as intended. Item received may differ from description. Photo is for promotional use only and is not representative of the item that you will receive. No refunds, store credit or green stamps. Please include first born male child with order. Offer not valid."
  17. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    Now THAT'S funny....and unfortunately not terribly far off the mark when it comes to Harbor Freight. Fortunately their equipment is better than their policies & attitude.
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I'm posting this on any of the threads I find with serious discussion of the HF splitters since I think it's an important note that is NOT in the manual... Sorry for the many copies but I want anyone searching to find it...

    I just got off the phone with Harbor Freight technical support and they gave me a very emphatic message - I was asking about the specs on the hydraulic fluid, as I could not find ANY information on what I should use in the actual manual… The tech support guy I talked with sounded like he knew what he was talking about (much better than some that I have encountered)

    He gave two useful items of information - First off, even though the manual says the thing takes 2.5 gallons, it really will take more like 4.5 gallons.

    More importantly, and most emphatically he said

    DO NOT use DEXRON III or Mercon III ATF!!!

    The given reason being that the ATF’s have a solvent in them that does not like the nitrile seals being used in the valve - actually he wasn’t 100% clear on whether it was the seals inside the valve, or the ones at the hose/valve body junctions, but either way, he said that the use of ATF would cause the seals to rapidly get eaten, and cause leaks…

    The HF recomended fluid is AW 32 Hydraulic oil - other hydraulics would work, but aren’t as suitable.

    Gooserider
  19. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Thanks for the info.
    I've been running Pennzoil Hydra-Trans in my HF 30T splitter, without incident.
    The valve is starting to give me problems, though, come to think of it. Keeps popping into neutral on return...Hmmmm

    Attached Files:

  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    My understanding is that if it's a Prince type valve, (probably is) there is an adjustment you can make to control the pop-out. The idea is that it's the pressure increase from the cylinder reaching the top of the stroke that makes it kick out of the detent - if the kickout pressure is to low, it will pop just on the operating pressure of the cylinder retraction, and if it's to high, you make extra heat and work. Over time the valve detent wears and the pressure it kicks out at drops, so you sometimes need to crank it back up a hair to get it back in the ideal zone.

    On a seperate question, I noticed in the photo that you seem to have a handle extension of some sort? how does that work? My plan is that I will be running in vertical mode 99% of the time, and the existing handle position looks a bit awkward from the pictures - figured I'd wait to see how it was in person before trying to make any mods. My friend's splitter that I've used in the past has the valve on top of the cylinder, with the handle sticking straight out, which works nicely. I was thinking of trying to make a handle extension that came out at a 90* angle, or possibly a new handle. (Maybe something in a "U" shape that would wrap around the front of the cylinder?)

    What has your experience been?

    Gooserider
  21. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Yeah, I've fiddled with the valve and can't strike the balance between not popping out on the down stroke and closing at the top of the return (the real problem, I now remember, have not used the splitter all summer). The dowel that I added to the actuator lever is a real handy item for horizontal or vertical use. As you can see, it's just cobbled together. You could do much better with a quick trip to the hardware store. The end of that lever is threaded, so putting a better coupling on there would be easy.

    Attached Files:

  22. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,071
    Loc:
    Silicon Valley
    Just curious, but is there a brand(or marking) on the compression x MNPT Elbow? I used to work in the fluid system components worlds and wondering who got the bid.

    Thanks!
  23. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    89
    Loc:
    SE PA
    There is a "12" on it, which I guess is 12mm?

    Probably made by The People's Hydraulic Fitting Factory No. 12

    Attached Files:

  24. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Thanks for the info - will have to see what it's like once I actually get the unit in hand and am able to use it for a bit, but it looks like a definite candidate for a bit of modification.

    Gooserider
  25. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Got the call from the local freight co. this morning, it is supposed to arrive tomorrow (Tuesday) between 9 and 3, with a 30 minute warning call...

    I've got the hydraulic fluid - I found a local place that sells 5 gallon pails of AW32 for $37.99 - though he was about to raise his price, $7.60 / gallon is not bad - I'd been guessing $10.00/gallon. The HF tech support guy says the splitter should take about 4.5 gallons, but I bought two buckets to be on the safe side, the stuff keeps...

    This is dang near as much fun as waiting for Santa used to be... :lol:

    Gooserider
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page