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My Harbor Freight 30 ton splitter experience...

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

  1. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Interesting thread, thanks for the pointer... judging by the end of the page stats, must be lots of people following this - they showed 4 folks were reading the thread, which isn't bad for something as old as that one...

    I'm not sure I like the idea of a roll pin to hold the nut as they just rely on spring tension for staying in place, but cotter pins IMHO are a better option since they have ends that get bent over to keep them from going anywhere... The red locktite might also work with enough surface prep, and if one can get the thing tight enough - which seems iffy for a home shop - I have a pretty decent tool collection, but would have trouble doing more than about 150 ft/lbs of torque with the stuff I have.

    Gooserider

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  2. kevin j

    kevin j Minister of Fire

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    Once the nut comes off, putting oil into either end of cylinder turns into a single acting ram. The pump flow is no longer working against the 4 inch area either way, but against the 1.5 inch (or wheatever) rod diameter. It will move at 3 or 4 times normal speed extend. Same principle as regeneration. Could be dangerous, as the other recall noted.

    Looking at the seal pics, they apparently use two orings in a single groove. No backup rings or extrusion support. Read: the absolute cheapest way for seal cost and installation labor to do it. Not very long lived.

    I would inpspect the bore ID and make sure it isn't damaged or poorly machined. If rough cheap machining it will eat up new seals also. Then take the piston to a hydraulics supplier, measure the groove dimensions, and fit a U cup seal or solid wear band type of seal. They will last longer than orings. At very least, fit some Parker ParBak backup rings. Supplier will know what they are and likely have them in stock. Thoroughly clean the threads, Loctite Red on it, and fully torque it up.

    I think the upgrading will give you a better seal than a new one. New means just another one of the low end china cylinders.

    Frustrates me that so much low quality, and in this case possibly dangerous, stuff is their because the american consumer buys usually on price. Really hard to explain or sell quality in the consumer market. Even the industrial market is tremendous pressure because the decisions are made by bean counters and MBA managers, not users, mechanics or engineers.

    k
  3. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    Yes, thanks for the pointer. Seems like an identical failure....
  4. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    This is interesting as my hf 30ton is from 2002. I have no idea how many cords have been through it, but there were 20 this year so far. Maybe it is time to pull cylinder apart as this thread has me slightly concerned. Leaking valve I have also,just haven't replaced it yet. Filter head was installed backwards at factory so that was my very first problem. replaced it with a higher flow unit from Northern. I have had the rear retaining block separate from the main beam a couple years ago, very poor weld no penetration, typical of a robotic weld lately. I see a lot of weld failures on the snowplow frames that looked the same way. Blew the high pressure hose at the edge of the coupling a month ago, another trip to Northern and got a replacement hose. Mine is at the point of needing to be rebuilt or send it down the road an purchase/build another that has a lift. The toe plate, beam and kick off shoe are all bent/twisted, but it is still splitting.
  5. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    UPDATE

    I received a call late this morning from a man who identified himself as HF's "head tech" guy. He had read my email outlining the problem, seemed concerned about the problem, and more so about the CPSC recall of the other splitters because, as he said, they are all made in one place. He claimed that mine was the first such complaint. I tried to tell him that other people had been stonewalled by HF Customer Service, or had not reported the problem to HF because the splitter was out of warranty. I'm not sure if he was listening. Doesn't matter, really.

    About an hour after speaking with him, the nice woman from Customer Service called back and offered to send me a new cylinder. I thanked her, but declined the offer unless they could prove to me that the cylinder design has been changed to make the retaining nut stay where it should be: on the end of the piston shaft. She agreed that was a reasonable demand, and said she would get back to me with an answer. That was in the early afternoon, and no answer has been forthcoming. So I have to assume that this has been kicked up the food chain at HF.

    As they say in old time radio:

    Stay Tuned for the Exciting Conclusion!
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I'm figuring I'll eventually be buying a large wrench to crank on the nut...from Harbor Freight, lol.
  7. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    I have an I-R impact gun that hits 550 '#'s, but, damn, I'm hesitant to trust anything made by HF that has the power to kill you....
  8. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    If I remember correctly, you bought your splitter in late 2006 right before I bought mine. How has it worked out for you?
    Thanks...
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    As mentioned earlier, I sent a message about this to the CPSC - I got this response back -
    So I guess the gov't may be interested in this as well, and it doesn't look like a "form-letter" type response... I will try giving them a call tomorrow, rather than doing the web form, I figure a person might be better able to deal with something that doesn't quite fit the standard form...

    Gooserider
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Sorry for the slow reply.
    I only put about 6-7 cords through it.
    It leaks from the ram seal. Seems to stop after a while.
    I've been buying my wood split-it took a heck of long time to split that log-length load, and I'm no spring chicken.
    There's not that much of a price differential, for me, to make it worthwhile.
    I still might take a look as you did, but I've got other stuff to do now as well.

    It'd have to held pretty tight to get it that tight.
    But, why does it really have to be that tight, with the loc-tite on it?
    It's not like it's a rotating piece of equipment.
  11. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    I've held off posting again until I heard back from Harbor Freight. I received a call today from their corporate office. They informed me that they are waiting for a response from the importer, who is, in turn, waiting to hear from the Chinese manufacturer. The woman that I spoke with said that it would be a week until she got back to me again. Of course, I told her that was not acceptable, but the long and short of it is that they are not going to do anything until she hears from the cylinder manuf AND she speaks with the Hf attorney. I suggested that they just ships a new splitter and she refused to discuss it.

    I think that it is time for me to file a CPSC complaint and talk to my lawyer.
  12. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    Yes, LOL, buy a bad tool to fix a bad tool. All HF tools should come with more HF tools to make repairs.

    Get a 10ml bottle of Loctite Threadlocker 277, and you should be in good shape....

    277 Threadlocker High Strength Red - 10ml.

    277 Threadlocker locks fasteners up to 1 1/2in. (36 mm).
    Protects threads from rust and corrosion.
    Removable with heat and hand tools.
    Removable with heat and hard tools

    Specifications

    * Capacity Vol.: 10 mL
    * Packing Type: Bottle
    * Color: Red
    * Viscosity: 7000.0 cP
    * Torque (Break): 275 in lb
    * Torque (Prevail): 275 in lb
    * Temp. Range: Minus 65.0 Degree F [Min], 300.0 Degree F [Max]
    * Fix Cure Time at Temp.: 60 min at 77 Degree F
    * Full Cure Time at Temp.: 24 h at 77 Degree F
    * Thread Size: 1 1/2 in [Max]
    * Chemical Compound: Acrylic
    * Applications: Thread
    * Applicable Materials: Most Metals
    * Curing Method: Anaerobic
    * Resistance: Corrosive Process, Motor Oil, Hydrochloric Acid-10 percentage, Moisture, Brake Fluid, Unleaded Gasoline
    * Odor/Scent: Mild
    * UNSPSC: 31201600

    Technical Information

    * Applications: For Metal Parts Thread Sealing and Threadlocking > Threadlocking > Removable Medium Strength
    * Chemistry: (Meth-)Acrylates (monomeric)
    * Media Carrier: 100 percentage liquid and paste
    * Cure Type: Anaerobic
    * Specifications Met: Military Specification
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well, for whatever it is worth department, I procrastinated a bit, but after swapping some e-mails with Woodsroad, I ended up filing a complaint on his splitter with the CPSC... They sent me a copy of the report to verify and correct, and I just sent it back to them, along with a more detailed narrative.

    This is a lightly edited version of what I sent - I removed names, contact info, and a bit of personal stuff that I will let Woodsroad decide what he wants to say about.

    Gooserider
  14. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    Hello, Folks

    When Gooserider filed that initial CPSC report, I was a bit surprised, but in retrospect, it was very much the right thing for him to do.

    In my absence since my last post, I've really had the go-around with Harbor Freight. At first, they refused to help me, and only offered to sell me a replacement cylinder. I didn't want a replacement cylinder, I wanted a new cylinder that didn't have the same design and manufacturing defects as the one I already had. A cylinder that is designed and built so that the retaining nut stays in place. I was trying to get Harbor Freight to look in to the problem of the loose retaining nut, but it seems that they buy these cylinders and/or entire splitters through a middleman, who then deals with the Chinese manufacturing rep. It was literally a slow boat from China getting any info about the cylinder, and nobody was being forthcoming about design and build information. The guy at Harbor Freight who is the self-described "Head Tech Guy" told me that it is very likely that the cylinders on all these similar splitters come from the same factory or middleman in China. With no information on the cylinders available, I suggested that they just send me a new splitter. They can take the old one away. "No can do", they said.

    Well some more time went by, and eventually I get a call from their Claims Department. We discussed the matter back and forth some more, and after their Legal Department got involved, they finally called me and said that they would refund the purchase price of the splitter. One small detail: I would need to sign a release, get it notarized and mail it back. Here is a link to that release with names and private info redacted:

    http://www.mtfgfa.org/hf/1.pdf

    As you can see, the release would restrict me not only from discussing the proposed settlement and the log splitter that I own (which I understand and would agree to) but it also restricts me from ever discussing Harbor Freight and any of their products in any way which they may construe as derogatory or defamatory. I attempted to get HF to raise the payment (enough to pay for a non- Harbor Freight Splitter) AND lift the gag order on everything but my splitter and the settlement agreement, but they refused.

    Gooserider must have anticipated Harbor Freight making a settlement offer to me, one that would bar me from discussing the matter, and decided that the CPSC needed to know about the problem. My wife said that what he did was brilliant. He never spoke to me about what he was going to do, he just did it. Smart man.

    But the gag order was a non-starter for me. Knowing that there may be other splitters out there with the same problem as mine, I could not just shut up and wait to eventually hear that someone was injured. How anyone could rest with that on their conscience, knowing about a potentially life-threatening situation and saying nothing about it, I do not know.

    So, if you have a Harbor Freight 30 ton log splitter, I would strongly suggest that you either dismantle the cylinder and examine the retaining nut, or, at the very least, stop using the splitter as soon as even the smallest leak begins at the seal. That is how my splitter's problems began. A seal leak can be a sign that the shaft is coming loose and is no longer straight in the cylinder housing. Also be aware of the cylinder "popping", or the shaft moving quickly or jumping just a little bit, in the forward or retracting mode. This is indicative of a loose retaining nut and shaft.

    What people do in the future about log splitter purchasing decisions is up to them. I am not passing judgment on Harbor Freight or their products. I only know about my splitter, and now, you know about it, too.
  15. coolnick73

    coolnick73 New Member

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    I caught wind of this thread from tractorbynet and just got done reading the whole thread. Did anybody find out if HF has resolved the loosening nut problem? Is there any way to determine that this is not going to be a problem for any of the splitter manufacturers?
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Far as I know there hasn't been a resolution - I haven't heard anything from either the CPSC or HF, and I haven't heard any reports that anyone else has. I don't really know what to suggest, as I don't really have a "good" solution.

    Obviously since we don't know
    1. Who the supplier is on the HF splitter cylinders,
    2. What other companies might be using the same cylinders,
    3. If / when the cylinder maker might have done something to resolve the apparent defect,

    It isn't practical to suggest getting a different brand of splitter, or swapping out a cylinder for a new one in an effort to avoid the "bad" cylinders - we can't tell which ones are "bad" and could even end up swapping a "good" one for a "bad" one...

    There aren't any checks one can make to see if your cylinder might have a problem, short of pulling the cylinder out and taking it to a hydraulic shop for overhaul and check - which is likely to be an expensive job, and hard to justify given the low number of known issues...

    All I can really see as a suggestion is to keep a close eye on the way the splitter acts, and treat any changes in the way it acts, the noises it makes, or any excess signs of cylinder leakage as warning signs... If you do have any work done on the cylinder, be sure to mention this issue and emphasize that they need to give that nut some extra attention...

    Gooserider
  17. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    Yes, I'm in agreement with everything that Gooserider says. Well put.

    Please pay close attention to any leakage from the ram seal area, as this was my first indication that something was not right. I mistook the leak for a bad seal, when, in fact, it was the retaining nut coming loose. If the retaining nut does come loose, you will have ample warning before it backs off entirely, and I urge you to heed that warning, no matter how much wood you have left to split.

    Harbor Freight has shown little interest in the details of the cylinder failure problem, and they have not indicated to me that they have made any changes to the design or construction of the cylinder. They may have fixed this problem, we just do not know.

    The CPSC has not contacted me. I suspect that they only follow up on product malfunction reports if there are injuries involved, or if it is politically expedient.

    Caveat emptor.
  18. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Just a note that the unit with the log lift & a couple others disappeared from various issues of the fliers as well as the internet for several months, they have now reappeared. I do not know if this has any bearing or not just the timing seemed to coincide.
    I see that the log lift model (30t) now has the tank as the axle (recent flier), can not remember if it was that way prior or not. The 22t is the same construction physically as it was last summer/early fall. Judging by the pictures.
    Just checked the internet sight,30t w/ log lifter not listed. their standard design for 30,22, and smaller are listed.
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Another possible reason is that around the time in question they also seemed to be changing engines - The older units had Subaru-Robin engines, those models disappeared for a while, and then a new model number appeared that looked the same, but had a "china-clone" copy of the Subaru-Robin engine. For a while the log lift version still had the SR engine while the others had the clone engine - I'm suspecting is they finally burned through the backlog of the SR engine log lifters, and are in the process of replacing them with the clone engine version...

    Gooserider
  20. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    The cylinder appears, outwardly, to be unchanged. Appearance doesn't mean much, though.
    With a Chinaru engine, however, the splitter becomes MUCH less of a bargain. Not much there worthwhile now, aside from the Haldex pump, and even that is an OEM spec item.
  21. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I know it's been a while.
    I just took the piston out, and yes, the huge nut was possible for me to loosen, by hand, with a big channel-lok on the nut and a stake through the eye on the other end.
    Definitely no 400 ft-lbs on that nut, lol.

    The seals look okay to me, but what do I know.
    The nut seems to have a lock washer under it.

    The question is, what do I do now?

    I guess I could re-attach the eye end to the wedge to hold it while I crank on the bolt with something or other.
    I'm going to have to buy that something or other however.

    Any ideas?
  22. Woodsroad

    Woodsroad Member

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    OK, refresh my memory here. The ram was leaking at the seal?
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Yes.
    It also looks there's a seal missing - there's a channel but no seal.
    I'll take a picture.
  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    There's a channel that looks empty.
    I'm going to see if I can find the extra seal kit that came with the splitter.
    I read another thread about a loose HF retaining nut AND a missing seal (yes, I did reply in that thread back in 2009):
    http://www.arboristsite.com/firewood-heating-wood-burning-equipment/102050.htm

    The nut wasn't threaded off-but only lightly hand tightened - I only put 7 cords through it.
    A missing seal could do it.

    I'm thinking of buying an air impact wrench that'll go pretty high - I wonder if there's a large driver in half inch drive?

    Attached Files:

  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    There are TWO small o-rings on the seal kit. One of them fit perfectly! Naturally, I can't find where the other one goes!

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