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)

My Harbor Freight 30 ton splitter experience...

Post in 'The Gear' started by Gooserider, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. lobsta1

    lobsta1 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Messages:
    220
    Loc:
    Eastern Ma.
    Funk,
    On my old home made splitter I thought the same thing. I ended up taking a piece of 2 x 2" angle & welded it on both sides starting where the wedge shape turned to straight back. I wasn't sure if that would be to much angle, so I ground down the legs to 1 3/4". After putting another 10 cords through the splitter, I realize I could have left it at 2" & maybe even added on another 1/4" on each side. What I did definitely helped, but I could have been more aggresive in adding to the flare.
    Al

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    FB - I think we both have the same ideas about the wedge shape. As a data point, my friend's 20 ton MTD machine has a straight sided triangular wedge, roughly an equilateral triangle shape, 4" on each side. It shears through knots and gnarly bits just fine... I've had some big rounds where I've had to reposition a few times, and maybe do the "slab off the side" approach rather than going straight down the middle, but the only time I've had something really give me trouble splitting is when I get a round that splits on an angle so that you have a pointy cone such that you can't get the wedge to go into the middle, but if you flip the round and try to split the big side, the tip keeps collapsing. After a few off those I've learned that if you start getting a conical chunk, to keep flippiing it so that you are always trying to put the wedge into the big end... OTOH the straight grain peices, especially white oak, will pop and fall apart almost before ANY actual penetration - the wedge makes contact, you hear the motor "grunt" for one or two cycles, and the log falls apart... I haven't been getting that as much on my unit, but it may be the wood I'm splitting as much as the wedge shappe.

    I'd expect a straight triangular wedge to give me even less trouble on a 30 ton unit. However I would tend to say that at this point that aspect of the machine is way down on my list of "things to fix"

    ============

    LWC - I would agree in general about your method of checking the fluid level, however it won't work as well on the HF tank because of the way the filler is positioned. The HF filler is on the side of the tank, near the top, and is both fairly small and angled so that it would be very difficult to get a look into the tank to see the level.

    =============

    What is starting to concern me a right now is that I'm seeing a slow hydraulic fluid drip from the rear end of the spllitter frame directly under the tank - I sure hope this doesn't mean I have a tank leak! However the only plumbing connection in that area is the suction hose, and that looks OK... I did spill a littlle bit when filling the machine, and that may have gotten between the tank and the frame so that it's now leaking out, but it seems like more fluid than seems likely for that explanation. I certainly haven't bounced the machine arouund at all, it has had the beam up and down a few dozen times if that, and it has probably been rolled about 50 feet total, i.e. in and out of the garage to the driveway a few times, pushed by hand, not even the lawn tractor...

    Gooserider
  3. Funk Brother

    Funk Brother Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Loc:
    Near Dayton Ohio
    Lobsta and Goose - sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you; I was out of town and not webbing. Thanks for your input; I like tossing this kind of stuff around. Lobsta, sounds like a nice conversion. I'm probably visualizing your setup properly, but it would be great to see a picture of it if you have the chance. Goose, yeah, I think we are all on the same page, and it makes me wonder why Speeco and HF used the 2 step wedge, when they might have been better off with something simpler. There must be a reason.
  4. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Another potential issue that may show up for some people with this type of splitter is the tow vehicle hitch height... The fact that HF puts the hitch coupler on the beam is nice for storage, but does leave the hitch height very high. For me this is no problem, as I just move the unit around the yard by hand, and haven't even bothered to install the coupler on it (figure it makes it less of a theft target that way) but I could see how it might be a problem for some tow vehicles...

    The trailer wheels are very small, and even with the axle mounted to the underside of the engine platform still leaves the engine sticking out ahead of the axle and very low to the ground. If the tow vehicle has a low hitch (like a car, or a truck w/ a dropdown ball on a class 1 hitch) then I'd be worried about the clearance between the front of the engine and the road. If the tow vehicle has a high hitch (a pickup w/ a step bumper mounted ball for instance) then it would be less of a problem....

    Gooserider
  5. Catskill

    Catskill New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    168
    Loc:
    Northern NJ / Northern Catskills NY
    I could see how the towing could be an issue for some. Here's a pic of mine behind my ATV. In my situation I have to take my splitter on some trail where it isn't always perfectly smooth (to say the least). Clearence was definatelly a consideration for me.

    Attached Files:

  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Exactly... Picture the hitch being on the bottom edge of the beam instead of on the (non-existant) trailer tongue - this would tilt the splitter downhill, and leave less clearance under the engine platform, which looks to be about the same height as yours - just above the axle on the tires. I'd be worried about high spots in that condition, or want a hitch that was mounted much higher - say on the luggage rack...

    Gooserider
  7. stoweski

    stoweski New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    9
    Loc:
    Altamont, NY
    Hi!

    I have the 27 ton model with a Briggs engine. Bought it three years ago from HF.

    Although I won't go as in-depth as Goose I'll post a few issues I've had with it over the past few years, and roughly 20 cord of wood...

    Leaks. Yep, there are a lot. Although with a little teflon tape I've managed to fix most of them. I also had a leak with the filter but that was taken care of when I removed and cleaned the gasket, oiled it, and reinstalled it.

    Reservoir. Yep, another leak. I'm guessing because of the 'play' where the beam attaches to the base it may have twisted the reservoir tank a bit while being towed and therefore started breaking at the welds. I had it fixed this year. Won't be towing it much anymore since I am now settled down.

    Pins a pain??!! Yep, darn right! I've been looking for longer pins but have been unsuccessful so far.


    My model doesn't have a hydraulic fluid dipstick. The one thing I hate about this splitter is that I have absolutely NO idea how much fluid is in the reservoir! I've been using a flashlight to see if I can shine it through the hole and see if I can see the top of the fluid. It's an absolute pain. They must have realized this and started putting the dipstick in to help people. Go figure.

    My solution to the flexible funnel was to buy a piece of elbowed threaded pipe. It fits perfectly and still allows for the breather to function properly. The problem with the breather? After a while the o-ring stretches out and falls back over the breather.

    Overall it's a decent setup. I think I used a coupon and found it on sale for around $700 at the time. I believe their original price was $999. I looked at the $2k splitters but figured that once I got the splitter I'll simply wait for parts to break beyond repair and then replace the broken parts with better quality parts. For the cost it can't be beat! Now it's time for a new chainsaw. :)

    Keith
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Thanks for the longer term report Stoweski, it's good to have an idea what to expect...

    I figure about the same as you did on the value side... Really most of the parts are pretty standard across all splitters, so if something breaks I'll worry about fixing it then, in the meantime I can get a lot done with the money I've saved...

    At this point, I've probably done between one and two full cords, and have finally gotten my woodsheds completely filled (not as bad as it sounds, nearly all my wood was cut to rounds length since spring or earlier and was stacked outside, uncovered all summer - and I won't get into the most recently split stuff until late spring next year, if at all. Out of the 7.5 cords in my sheds, the first 5 has been cut and split for at least 18 months, and under cover for at least the last 9...) I'm now into rebuilding my overflow / next years wood piles

    The only leak I haven't gotten stopped is the control valve, which appears to be leaking out the end opposite the operating lever - I'll probably call HF and get them to send me a new valve under warranty, and while I'm changing it, see about repositioning the cylinder / valve / hoses to get the valve in a more comfortable place to operate the unit from.

    I almost always operate vertical (never actually used this machine horizontal...) and sitting on my bucket in front of the piston, the lever is on the right sticking out sideways - reachable, but a bit awkward. On my friend's machine, the lever is on the left side of the cylinder, and sticks straight out - MUCH more comfortable to work with...

    Gooserider
  9. keen427

    keen427 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Northern NJ
    Looks like they discontinued the 30 ton splitter with the Robin engine and replaced it with a Loncin Engine. Looks like the same splitter but a different engine. Anyone know if that brand engine is any good?
  10. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I don't know what is going on with HF now - I just checked their site, and while they showed the 30 ton Robin engine H/V unit I got on the home page for $1599, the link took me to the horizontal only 30 ton w/ log lift. The only H/V model I saw was the 22 ton version of my unit - same chassis, smaller engine, pump and cylinder, but still a good machine - I would expect pretty much everything that's been said about mine to apply to the smaller unit, with the obvious difference for the power... However in reality, 30 tons is somewhat overkill, I'd be surprised if there was much that the 30 would handle that the 22 couldn't... (I certainly have had almost no trouble with my friend's 22 ton MTD other than occasionally needing to reposition a gnarly round) I didn't see the variant that you mention of the 30ton w/ a different engine.

    As to the engine, I don't recognize that brand at all - however I've heard there are now several factories in China that are making clones of the Honda engine designs (The Subaru / Robin engine is one of those clones, and is very solid) how good they are is an open question. The Honda engine design is great, the question is how good are the copies?

    Gooserider
  11. keen427

    keen427 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Northern NJ
    Gooserider, go to HF home page and click on new items the new splitter is there. Do you have to run your splitter at full trottel went you are splitting or can you run it slower?
  12. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Ahh... Found it, looked at the pictures, skimmed through the manual... Looks like same machine with a slightly different engine (Though one of the manual pictures shows a Robin engine) However I didn't see a spec for either the cylinder size or the pump rating. The engine is definitely one of the Honda clones so assuming the quality is OK, it should be pretty good. One big difference I noticed is that my manual had virtually nothing on the engine, but the machine came with the manufacturers manual, which was a huge multi-language novel... Given that the manual for this version has parts diagrams and maintainance I suspect it may have less info from the engine maker.

    As to operation, I've found that I run about 1/3 - 1/2 throttle - just fast enough to keep the engine from stalling when the pump kicks into high pressure mode.

    Gooserider
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    After doing some more splitting, - I'd guess I'm now up to about two full cords through the machine, I've gotten most of the leaks sorted out. The filter was just a matter of getting it tight enough, and I had to crank down some more on some of the hose clamps. The only leak that's still a problem is the end of the valve opposite where the handle attaches - There is a plug in the bore where the operating piston slides in, that is secured by a snap ring; the plug appears to be leaking a fairly steady drip when the machine gets hot.

    I called HF earlier this week and they are sending me a new valve... When I get it, I may take a trip to the local hydraulic shop and see if I can get the fittings I will need to rotate the cylinder 180* and thus be able to relocate the valve so the operating lever sticks straight out on the left side of the cylinder instead of sideways on the right - this will fix my biggest grip with the ergonomics of operating the unit.

    Gooserider
  14. Timm40

    Timm40 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Messages:
    22
    Loc:
    Richmond, Va.
    I'm glad I got my 30 ton in September when I did for 1258.00 and some change. So far, I haven't found anything that will stop it......even at 1/3 throttle. Super quiet engine....have only found good reviews of the Robin Subaru engine.
  15. kevin j

    kevin j Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Messages:
    555
    Loc:
    minnesota us
    Robin suburu have been around a long time, many industrial engines and sizes. I don't know that particular engine, but R/S are a good name.

    The clones are simply that: chinese knockoffs. china was licensing the honda 90 and 50 engines and scooters/cycles/mopeds in the 1960's and onward. at some pont when they had the machinery and knowledge and assistance freom honda that they needed, they simply refused to pay the license and kept on copying and pirating.... sounds familiar....
    So the basic design is a clone. The metallurgy and machining is unknown, and the prices are 1/3 to 1/2 of honda.
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I've been told that the Robin-Subaru EX-27 engine on my is a copy / clone of the corresponding Honda, ditto for the other engines in that series (I know the manuals from the website cover several different sizes) with the copy being close enough that the internal parts are interchangeable. I don't know who got the design from who, or what the licensing arrangements are (and I don't care all that much :blank: ) All I know is that it seems to be a great engine, very quiet, powerful, etc.

    I do wear ear protection while using it, but it's marginal how much I really need it. I tend to wear my "ears" any time I'm using an engine powered device, and even for most electric tools just on general principles... I do know that lots of time with my muffs on, I can still hear the wood cracking over the engine... One of the things I thought was kind of cool is the way that the engine was made with a rotating exhaust outlet so that you can point the exhaust in a direction that minimizes the fumes in the operators face. HF did kind of blow it on this - they had the outlet pointed down and back, in the general direction of the operator if using the machine while sitting down in vertical mode. I took the outlet off (three sheet metal screws) and re-posititioned it to be down and forward - this might get the guy pulling the rope and controlling the engine throttle, but the exposure time in that location is minimal...

    I don't know what the quality of the knockoff copies might be, I'll admit that I might be a bit nervous about them, however the word from the "Red Menace" guys (riders of the Russian and Chinese semi-military bikes, which are mult-generation copies of the WWII vintage Wermacht BMW bikes) is that the quality on the Chinese versions has gotten much better in the last few years.

    Gooserider
  17. _CY_

    _CY_ Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    183
    Loc:
    Tulsa, OK
    seems the most common complaint on HB splitters are hydraulics leaks on the Ram. loads of feedback concerning HB owners on AS. some happy.... some not so happy.

    http://www.arboristsite.com/showthread.php?t=78722

    http://www.arboristsite.com/showthread.php?t=74412&highlight=harbor freight

  18. MuckSavage

    MuckSavage Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    South Jersey
    I guess I'm pretty lucky. The only leak I've encountered in 4 years with my HF/27ton/8Hp Briggs is at the filter. I did complain about the vent hole. I put a threaded PVC nipple in the fill hole, glued a 45 degree fitting to it, then hole clamped an old K&N;valve cover breather to that. Hey, I got some chrome "bling" on my splitter! I like the dipstick idea though.

    Has anyone found a source for the Hydraulic Filter? Mine has # 056-115-561G 070-5AF. Can someone cross reference or decipher the #?
  19. NNYorker

    NNYorker Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    244
    Loc:
    Upstate N.Y.
    Try www.fram.com --go to parts catalog--enter your number for a cross reference.
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I haven't deciphered the number, but I would imagine that if you were to haul the filter into a decent hydraulics shop they'd be able to find one that matches it...

    The other option, which I've heard is fairly cheap, would be to replace the filter housing... According to at least one site I've read that changing filters / fluid by hours of operation (difficult to track in any case) or other formulas is less than optimum, and instead one should use a filter housing that has a monitor to show when the filter is clogged - supposedly they have a pop-up indicator that shows when the pressure drop accross the filter reaches a level that indicates the filter is dirty... I haven't found one yet, but haven't really started to search - I figure my machine is new enough that I'm not worried yet, wait to the end of the season...

    Gooserider
  21. MuckSavage

    MuckSavage Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    South Jersey
    I get what you're saying. The air filter on my motorhome has an indicator like that.
  22. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    More updates... I've probably gotten another cord through the machine, and overall it's doing pretty well. HF sent me a replacement valve for the leaking one I mentioned a while back, and I just got around to installing it today, haven't tested it yet.

    I am starting to get very slight leakage on the cylinder - not really enough to notice while working, but enough to drip on the beam when I have the machine sitting in the garage. When I short cycle the cylinder, I get little "rings" of fluid around the piston, which run down into the little cup on the wedge that the piston end goes into. The cup fills up, then dumps onto the beam when I finish splitting and go horizontal to roll it back into the garage... Just enough to be messy.

    Given that the machine is still under warranty, I'm going to call up and complain about it, though it isn't so bad that if I had to shell out the cash I'd get the cylinder rebuilt (yet...)

    That said, I did a bunch of work on the machine today with the intent of fixing some of the annoying features - It will cost me more than I'd planned, but I'm thinking it will give me a much nicer working environment. I've had to make two trips to the hydraulic shop, and one to the hardware store so far, probably will need one more of each...

    Project aims -

    1. Change the leaking valve - since I'm doing that, reposition so that instead of the handle sticking out sideways to the right, have the valve to the left of the cylinder with the handle sticking out to the rear (in vertical mode, straight up in horizontal)

    2. Replace the rather hokey filler / breather plug setup with a better moisture proof breather cap.

    Process -

    1. Attempt to power off cycle the cylinder to get as much fluid out of it and back into the tank as possible so as to minimize spills - NOT easy, but managed about 2/3 cycle, found fluid in cylinder more than space in tank.
    Disconnected some lines, spilled fluid on garage floor (thank goodness for that bag of cheap kitty litter - makes good oil dry...) Detach cylinder from splitter, turn 1/2 turn to put valve on top... (I'm an optimist, some of this will keep me from spilling...)

    2. Take valve off - discover that it's a good thing I bought (on sale) the HF jumbo adjustable wrench set - apparently the fittings were put on by a Sumo wrestler in training, I NEEDED the 24" adjustable to get them loose...

    3. First trip to the hydraulic shop - get a 90* high pressure elbow to replace the straight fitting going into the retract side, breather cap.

    4. Also go to hardware store, get 2" long 3/4" NPT pipe nipple and 45* elbow to extend filler pipe on tank and make outlet vertical (almost)

    5. Figure out that new valve must be installed in exactly the right position and sequence on elbow or it won't clear cylinder when screwing it on. Finally get valve on cylinder w/ the cylinder extend line hooked up (Note, all pipe thread connections made by putting on layer of RectorSeal #5 pipe dope, teflon tape, and second layer of RectorSeal - This is the way our plumber does it, and says he doesn't get leak call backs...)

    6. Rotate cylinder into desired position, put in pin.

    7. Discover both pressure and return lines are now to short, and would go into valve in bad direction.

    8. Second trip to hydraulic shop, catch them just as they are closing (oops...) get a bunch of swivel fittings for pressure side (Damn those high pressure fittings are pricey.....) and a 45" street elbow and straight hose barb for the return line.

    9. Find return line port is to close to cylinder to screw in elbow, have to disconnect extension line, swivel valve to get room to put in 45* elbow, then reconnect things. Get return line connected, discover still barely long enough in vertical mode. Gain a little slack by turning inlet elbow for filter.

    10. Assemble fittings for high pressure line, get it connected.

    11. Decide that while lines now reach, they are awfully tight, need to make another trip to hardware store and hydraulic shop for additional fittings. (Reposition filter in return line, add a "TEE" and pressure guage in pressure line, should give me a couple inches extra for each.)...

    Next up, better pins for beam and making early travel stops for the cylinder (make short stroking easier)

    Gooserider
    (will have pictures soon - need to DL camera)
  23. _CY_

    _CY_ Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    183
    Loc:
    Tulsa, OK
    ahhhhh... the infamous HB cylinder leak issue strikes again. seems to be a common complaint on HB splitters. sure hope you get all your hydraulic issues worked out, while splitter is still under warranty.

  24. Roxburyeric

    Roxburyeric Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    154
    Loc:
    Western Connecticut
    Thanks for this great post as it has been very helpful in my consideration of purchasing a splitter. Here is what I have learned - Please don't take this the wrong way. Given the amount of travel time, work time, assembly time, upgrade costs, gas, time dealing with HF and down time from making the fixes and upgrades, it seems very clear to me that you could have bought a Timberwolf, Iron & Oak or other higher end unit from the start and most likely you would not have had to deal with all the issues you have described to us and you probably would have spent the same amount of money. Maybe I'm wrong and I do realize that some of your work wasn't needed - just wanted to make the unit better. Thanks
  25. _CY_

    _CY_ Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    183
    Loc:
    Tulsa, OK
    without question if you have the $$$, go with high end splitters like Timberwolf, Iron & Oak, American, etc. expect to pay 2x-3x more $$$, but you will get American made quality product.

    max bang for the $$$ belongs to speeco/TSC 22 ton or 35 ton splitters. bent foot issues on 35ton units made two years ago (speeco fixed including labor). loads of great feedback on speeco units. if you buy on sale... expect to pay 15- 20% or so higher than HB, but includes all fluids ready to run.

    35ton speeco for 2 years now, very pleased with splitter's performance. but now want to upgrade to Timberwolf TW-5. notice I said "want" not need... 35 ton speeco has busted the knarly's Oaks, monster rounds. shears right through if crotch will not budge. only negative has been the super slow 15 second cycle times.

    TW-5 at close to $8K new is way over my budget... waiting until I find a deal on a nice used one close by. seems all the deals for used high end splitters pop up on the east coast....

Share This Page