I have to do the wheel bearings in my '97 Escort and they are pressed in and out of the knuckle.
Last month it was control arms on a Neon with both bushings and ball joints that have to be pressed (although it’s true those can be done with the big C-clamp tools which I also don’t own). In that case I happened to just buy new control arms with bushings and bearings to make it a simple R&R. So I spent some extra $$ on parts there to avoid the aggravation.
In the past I have taken press work to a shop and paid them to do it. The problems there: 1) I’m pretty rural (i.e. not very close to any shops), and often a weekend warrior. So the logistics of having one vehicle disabled with another on hand to drive to and from the shop at a time when a shop is open are frequently pretty bad. I sometimes delay repairs (some that I shouldn’t) to get the timing right. 2) It costs money - understandably so, but if I had a lot of money I wouldn’t be fixing a '97 escort. (ok - that might not be true).
Anyway…I was working on the logistics for the wheel bearings but came across a 12 ton Central Machinery press (Harbor Freight) on craigslist. I haven’t seen it, but the woman selling it reports that it is new in the box. It was purchased for some car work and the car was sold instead. She’s asking $75. It lists for $129.
I can neither afford to buy nor justify the cost of a professional quality press. We know this one is “cheap.” But this one is tempting me - If it works well enough for occasional basic auto work (1/2 dozen times per year or less), it would save me time, money, and aggravation. If I can expect it to NOT work well enough - it will lose me time, create cost, and cause aggravation. Then, of course, I’d be wishing I had just taken the dumb knuckles to the shop and left the lady her own scrap metal.
The reviews on the Harbor Freight site are quite mixed and somewhat polarized. Lots of 5 stars that give me confidence. But I don’t know any of those people, and many post after first use. I do know enough about people here including those with plenty of shop & tool experience. So if you have any thoughts on the whole thing I’d be happy to hear them. Thanks.
Note: I would still have to learn to use it.