Help-Kelsey Excelsior Model “O” Is this Fixable?

I have posted in the wanted section, but I am hopping for more advice/discussion on whether my press is fixable or if I should scrap it and start new. I purchased a Kelsey via ebay and during shipment it was dropped. It arrived with parts poking out of the packaging. Upon inspection the carriage is broken and the roller pins and springs are severely bent. Should I scrap the press and take the insurance money, or is this possible to fix, and have a decent working press? Any advice is really appreciated.

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Are these the only parts affected? If so, then yes, the press can be repaired. BUT, this is a qualified ‘yes’. Everything depends upon the skill of the craftsman charged with repair. Do not, under any circumstance, agree to a brazed fix on that broken cast. It MUST BE correctly welded using proper heat and rod, and, the alignment must be PERFECT. A real welder will appraise you of the situation; a ‘gobber’ will make things worse. The roller hooks are also repairable. Again, skill of the craftsman determines outcome. Should he pick up a hammer and approach those rods - RUN. There are jigs specific to rod recovery and every good shop will have same.
So, yes, the press is not ruined beyond salvage. You might though, consider the cost of repair vs purchase of another press. Skill does not come at bargain price. And, too, a repaired press does not have attractive re-sale value. In my opinion.

I have to both agree and disagree with Mr Forme about the repair of your Kelsey. He is 100% correct about the quality of the workmanship being important, and that it can be fixed. I’ve encountered several Kelseys with similar damage through the years, and every one was successfully repaired and put back into service.

First…. the broken casting: All of the ones I’ve repaired were brazed back together. Modern brazing when done correctly is actually stronger than the original cast iron. Find a shop that repairs broken engine blocks. Normally they have the right equipment to pre-heat, braze, and then grind away the excess braze metal. When they are done, the repair should just barely be visible. IF it is just the arm that is broken, it’s not a big deal as far as alignment goes since all it holds are the roller hooks, and they are spring loaded.

Secondly…. the roller hooks. Unlike other presses, Kelsey rods are simple. They are mild steel, and can easily be bent back straight. I’ve straightened quite a few of them, and never broken a single one. Forme is right however, in that you should not take a hammer to it if at all possible since you might flatten/dent the hook and cause it to jam in it’s hole. If that does happen, you can carefully file the flat spot until it works freely.

Finally…. resale value. IF the workmanship is good, and the brazing ground carefully, repairs like that do not seriously detract from the value. IF they are done badly, and many are these days, then the value will go down significantly.

Kelseys are tough little presses, and are made of high quality materials. They are certainly worth repairing.

To effect proper repair of cast iron, cast welding is the superior process. Brazing is not “…stronger than the original cast iron.”, simply because of the materials involved. Brazing is done with brass rod having eutectic of 800F; cast is in the 2100F range thus the former is far softer. The joining of cast with brass is accomplished by a molecular attraction between the first layer of cast and the liquid brass; one of the reason cleanliness is absolutely essential to achieve adhesion. And it’s this microscopically thin attraction which is at the heart of failed brazed union. Particularly those undergoing shear stress. Brazing of an engine block (and then only in selected places) enjoys success simply because of the lack of such stress; even then, repeated expansion and contraction of the welded area invariably leads to failure. The Kelsey carriage undergoes considerable stress involving both shear and tension and, as it is a vital component of press function requires correct repair. Has brazing been successful with cast pieces? Certainly. It’s also quicker, cheaper, and easier to do. But it is - because of its inherent weakness (known to be about one-third to one-half of cast) - a poor substitute for proper cast-rod welding.

Thanks for such great response from both of you regarding the braising vs. welding. I am so new to all of this, it is hard to know what to do. I will start asking around for a good machine shop in our area, and bring the press in for them to look at. I have filed a claim with the post office, to see if the damage will be covered, but I had to leave my press with them while they decided the case. Thanks again for your input!

Actually, you would have been right in your assumptions about welding vs brazing a few years ago, but not today. ASME and private tests (primarily by D.R. Totty of J.M. Metals) show that modern bronze brazing alloys produce joints with higher strengths in both shear and tension than the original base metal with none of the adverse effects (such as de-graphitazation and embrittlement) of welding.

The lower temp of brazing is actually an advantage since it minimizes degraphitization, crystaline changes, and internal oxidation.

Please reference ASME guidlelines for welding and brazing, and the related publication “Welding and Metal Fabrication rev 10/80”. I believe that they are available on the Internet.

I agree that poorly done brass and/or nickel based brazes are indeed inferior….. but not all brazes. Alloy “Argo Braze 49 H” which is readily available, is a superior choice for use on cast iron.