Question about Milwaukee Tool Milwaukee 49 59 2081 1316 Hss Annular Cutter 2 Cutting Depth

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Old ATOM G.888 Press head comes down and won't stop

I have an old ATOM G.888 20-ton Hydraulic press. This press has run near flawlessly for over 20 years. However it's decided to give us some trouble. Currently it runs about 6 hours a day. And as of a week ago it started coming down even after you take your fingers off the buttons.

In short, you press the two buttons like a normal cutting stroke, only the cutting head does not come to a stop, it continues to go down even after you remove your thumbs from the two buttons, continues past the limit switch in the head that is supposed to trigger it to go back up. It continues to push the cutting die through the cutting board until the board breaks (has happened twice already). The only way to stop the head from coming down is to shut the press off. Once you do the head travels up and then continues to work as normal until it once again decides to descend unabated.

The problem occurs randomly. Sometimes within two minutes of running the press, sometimes it goes the entire six hours without issue. But the trend seems to be every two hours or so. Can't keep wrecking boards at 200.00 a pop so I'm wondering is maybe there's someone out here that has some knowledge of these wonderful presses.

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  • GAM1968 Apr 27, 2010

    Actually there is a physical metal washer that, when the head travels down, triggers that limit switch. The washer is attached to the head via a large metal pole. The pole is essentially just a physical stop so that you may set the clearance under the head. But all of these things appear, visually anyway, to be working fine. The head travels down and the metal washer triggers the limit switch.

    The metal post that triggers the limit switch is stopped by a user-controlled setting (you can lengthen the stroke of the head with it...the length of the pole determines when the metal washer hits the limit switch and tells the machine to stop). However, the pole hits the limit switch and then the head continues on down. Moreover, the machine is set up with a standard safety feature where you must depress two buttons (with your thumbs like an old Submarine video game from the 80's). If you do not keep both buttons pressed then the machine is supposed to stop and the head is supposed to stop coming down and return to the starting position.

    To summarize, the problem happens with no warning and infrequently. The head starts to come down as normal, after depressing the two thumb buttons. But then the head travels down on it's own. Past the limit switch at the top of the pole. Regardless of whether or not your hands are on the thumb-buttons that actuate the motion in the first place. The head continues to come down making an awful noise and putting it's full tonage into the stroke. The only way to stop it is to rush to the power button (literally) and shut the machine's power off. Once you do that the head travels back to the starting position at normal speed and then is again ready. You can turn the machine right back on and it might run fine for another hour. Or it might do it again in a few minutes.

    I'm still trying to fix the problem. It would actually be better if the machine would just break so I could repeat the problem regularly and get a better look at what might not be working.

    I have heard that possibly the hydraulic swtich might be sticking, wich would explain why the head travels down regardless of the thumb-buttons being released and triggering the limit switch. But I have heard it might possibly be electrical since the head travels back up at a normal rate as soon as the power is shut off. That if it were a sticky hydralic vavle somewhere that it should take a little time for the fluid to reverse and send the head back up.

    I can usually fix these old machines with enough time, but this one truly has me baffled. And when it comes to hydraulics, even something as relatively simple as this, I am lost.

  • GAM1968 Apr 27, 2010

    Thanks so much for the advice! You have mirrored what the local electrician, who is sincerely a master electrician, has said. He is not however a hydraulics man and as such can't be sure. I did notice today in trying to get the problem to repeat that at one point I got the head to travel down at an uncommonly slow speed. Did not continue to drive downward, just went down and up very, very slow. And to the best of my knowledge there is no electrical component that adjusts the speed of the head's travel. Wich points me to hydraulic problems, just as you have mentioned. I do know the name of a heavy machinery mechanic who I will probably call tomorrow. Please accept my sincere thanks for helping with my problem. I'll update when I find any news. Just wanted to be sure to thank you for your time and effort. "Thank you!"

  • GAM1968 Apr 28, 2010

    I got off the phone this morning with someone from the company that makes these presses. He was an old salt and seemed to know the machine almost from memory. And was willing to answer questions. He seems to think that it's either a "cracked manifold" for the hydraulic valve. Or there is a spring inside the valve that pushes the valve shut that might be gone or broken. He also mentioned that there are o-rings in there that, when they go, can really gum up the operation of the valve. He also said that the weakest part of these older machines was the wiring harness above the head. That it's a bunch of wires in a cheap plastic tube that travel back and forth with the head...for years. And that he has seen some shorts do some weird things. And had not ruled that out either. So at this point I'm going to remove the manifold and check to see if there is any debris or eroded o-rings that might be hanging the valve up. And if I don't see anything there, I'll pull the valve itself apart and check the spring in the plunger. he said that it too can sometimes hang up with debris and cause the valve to stick. this point I have a lot of information to check out. I need to make time in the day and go from there. Hopefully within a week's time I will have checked all these possibilities, and if I'm lucky, find a problem. I'll post the solution if you're interested once I figure it out. Hopefully it won't include buying a new press. The man I spoke with did say that the machine is obsolete so, not surprisingly, so are the parts. We'll see!

  • GAM1968 Jul 02, 2010

    Hi Larry. I actually got the machine going. It was a long process. I essentially too the entire hydraulic apart and reassembled it. Changed the hydraulic fluid. Etc. I did find that this press had an old brass limiter that was on the end of the magnetic manifold. This limiter was removed after the first or second year of production due to it's lack of real use and the unfortunate problem of the o-rings corroding and then gumming up the manifold's operation. I was told that most people were told to remove these and anyone that knew the machines removed them years ago. In any case, ours still had it. The o-rings were long since gone. And I did find small bits of debris throughout the manifold. Wich I assume might have made the magnetic plunger (not sure what the correct name for it is) hang up in the down position at times. I also found the hydraulic fluid to be very sticky, wich I wonder if that might have been the problem itself. I found and old log that mentioned the last time the hydraulic fluid was changed was sometime in the 1990's. For now the press works. Though it has an annoying habit of being very, very slow to go down when you first turn the press on. I almost think there is a bubble in the hydraulics that takes 10 or so minutes to work itself out before the press operates correctly. That or there is possibly a pocket of air is trapped in the hydraulics? Not sure why this is happening. But it's better than the press not working at all. I would LOVE to have the wiring diagram if you can email it to me. We have a very old one and I'm not even sure it goes to this machine.


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If the machine is still not working properly please try the following;

Depending on which model 888 yoiu have there is a wheel on the front or a long lever on the front that controls opening of the hadraulic valve. This is used to set the cutting pressure. The lever or wheel when turned to the right will supply hydraulic fluid to bring the head down slowly. When you get the head to the height of the cutting die you will close this valve and the head will stay down so you can set the stroke end cutting microswitch on the right side of the head. There is a knob on the right side of the head that must be loosened so the shaft will come down and you can then lock the microswith in that positon. Then you will open the valve on the front (lever or wheel) alowing the head to go up. This valve must be opened all the way in order for the head to travel up and down at operational speed. If the head does not go up and down as it should then this valve is not opened completely. As far as the head comming down and not going up, this would be the wiring harness traveling from the head down to the left side of the machine into the electrical connections. When the head moves right to left this cord will flex and over time you will get shorts in it which can cause the head to keep going down. There is a wiring diagram that shows the wiring of the machine which is necessary in order for you to figure out which wires are shorting out. If you do not have this please let me know and I will e-mail you the wiring diagram.

Posted on Jul 01, 2010

  • GregA52 Jul 13, 2011

    Hello Larry Hillman
    We bought a g888 with no operational Manual. Do you have one I can purchase?

  • Mary Ellen Sisulak
    Mary Ellen Sisulak Nov 08, 2013

    We have an Atom G.888 die press and it was working fine, but now we haven't got enough pressure to cut through cleanly. Checked oil, checked belt. Replaced plastic cutting pad. Makes that grunt sound if we use more pressure. Not sure what to do next. Anyone have ideas


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It seems like it could be a problem with the lower limit switch. Is there a way for you to replace that switch? If so, I'd start there.
Is there a shaft or some mechanical way of contacting the limit switch at the bottom of the stroke? If so, check to see that the piece is secure, and making contact with the limit switch as it should at the bottom of the stroke.

Posted on Apr 27, 2010

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  • Bill Ganton Apr 27, 2010

    Thanks for the follow up.

    This initially does sound like an electrical issue, however; i have recently experienced a similar set of symptoms with a pneumatic solenoid. The valve would stick open, causing air to flow to the motor. Using the manual button on the valve would reset it, but the next time is stuck could be 1, 5 or 50 cycles later.

    I know this is a different setup, but i believe that the solution could be similar. We replaced the valve, and everything now works as it should.

    Depending on costs of replacing the valve, (which shouldn't be as important as the safety of the operator) and the cost of damaged / scrapped parts, changing the valve would probably be the best place to start, followed by checking for electrical shorts. The buttons should electrically kill the stroke if released, but if the valve is sticking open, the system won't respond.

    I hope this helps my friend.

  • Bill Ganton Apr 28, 2010

    Great, Please keep me updated.


  • Bill Ganton Apr 28, 2010

    Great find talking to that guy! Best of luck with the repair.


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