Decades ago I picked up a big drip pan. I have no idea where it came from. It had been stored numerous places over the years, outside in the weeds, in the garage, stacked with lumber. Way to handy to toss, and yet for all the many decades I've had it, it was never used. Until today.
Apparently, when a hydraulic seal is doing it's job, there is a significant friction force. Hundreds of pounds of force in this case, and when the seal is dry, it's even higher. So, I've got the pneumatic cylinders pushing up trying to fill the back side of the piston with salad oil, and gush, as the piston lifts the cylinder off the lower seal, spilling the contents into the drip pan. And there you have it, years of neglect, vindicated. And that's why you should hoard! Save everything. As long as you remember that you have it, it will be there some day to save it.
It should come as no surprise that the press is a very dangerous machine. The pneumatics are especially dangerous as they are extremely fast. Throw the switch and WHAM. Things move very, very, fast. Hundreds of pounds of force. Better not have any body parts in the way!
The leads of the thermocouple were reversed at the controller. Now, when the heaters are powered, the temperature goes up, rather than down, which would be wrong. Got to love those really inexpensive process controllers from China!
The top cap is now suspended by a set of springs that allow a simple placement of the top cap against the cylinder. A set of 4 linear slides would fix the issue, but that would involve a complete disassembly, flow jet water cutter time, several hundred dollars for the linear bearings, etc.. Perhaps later when all the issues are understood.
So apparently, despite my frustration yesterday when everything was going the wrong way, everything pneumatic and hydraulic is working exactly to plan.