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Bessey Rapid Action Clamp
The new twist is no twist!
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 9-14-2012
One of the more frustrating traits of clamps that use a rotating spindle to apply pressure has been applying some amount of rotational forces on the pieces being clamped in the process. Even modest rotational forces can cause the pieces we are trying to hold in place to move out of position, especially if they have glue between them. When the pieces shift we are forced to stop applying pressure, re-align the parts and then add pressure again and hope no further movement is caused. The Bessey Rapid Action Clamp eliminates the rotational forces entirely and that can make your clamping way easier and faster.
The Bessey Rapid Action Clamps are based on the proven Bessey bar clamp technology. The upper fixed and moveable pressure arms are ruggedly formed from iron. The steel bar on which they are mounted is drawn from Bessey’s own steel from their German facilities to insure optimum strength and rigidity. The bars are serrated on one edge to interact with the hardened setscrew in the pressure jaw that eliminates slippage under pressure.
Isolating the Twist
The new part of the Bessey Rapid Action Clamp is the mechanism that converts the rotation of the threaded spindle to a non-turning cylinder that makes contact with the material and applies the pressure. Below the moveable jaw we still see the precisely formed threads on a spindle that uses a sliding Tommy bar handle to increase leverage. However, above the moveable jaw a cylinder emerges from the boss as the threaded spindle is turned. This cylinder has no rotation at all so there is no rotational force to be transferred to the pieces being clamped. The end of the cylinder has a heavy round plastic non-marring cover that is free to rotate on the cylinder to further isolate it if you inadvertently rotate the whole clamp.
The threads on the spindle are moderately coarse so the application of pressure is quick. Bessey has struck a balance in this thread between speed of application and the power to generate clamping force easily. Between the design and manufacture of the threads and the leverage provided by the Tommy bar applying remarkable clamping forces between 1320-lbs and 1620-lbs is easy.
In the Shop
This is going to be a very short “In the Shop” section because the Bessey Rapid Action Clamps work exactly as advertised which means that they clamp stuff together and do nothing to hinder that operation. That translates to applying clamping pressure much faster than we are used to, something that left me thinking that I had forgotten something when I applied the Bessey Rapid Action Clamps the first couple times.
The new plunger mechanism certainly has not reduced the clamping pressure that can be applied. If anything the Bessey Rapid Action Clamps are a bit stronger in that regard. The frame and jaws are also up to the task and I could not find any distortion under clamping pressures I would even vaguely consider normal. Bessey just makes tough clamps and these are no different.
The most remarkable thing about the Bessey Rapid Action Clamp is the way the lack of rotation clamps parts up. I have to admit that I first thought that Bessey may have over-hyped this idea a bit but once I tried them it seems more likely that Bessey forgot a bit of hype. The Bessey Rapid Action Clamps work better than I expected and I suspect the same will happen for you. This is simply a very good idea that Bessey executed in their normal fashion – perfect.
If you clamp things up, especially things with glue between them, the Bessey Rapid Action Clamp will make your life a bit easier. The total lack of rotation at the contact point makes far more difference than we expect and that is a nice surprise with a new tool. The Bessey quality and durability mean that the Bessey Rapid Action Clamps will be around as long as you are, another great point when considering a tool.
The projected street prices for the Bessey Rapid Action Clamp range from $40 for the PZ4.012 to $55 for the PZ6.012. Other sizes should be priced on roughly the same scale when the street prices settle out.
The Bessey Rapid Action Clamps are currently available in six sizes. The PZ4.012 has a 4” throat, 12” clamping capacity and generates up to 1320-lbs of clamping force. The PZ4.024, 4”-throat, 24”-capacity and 1320-lbs of pressure. The PZ4.036, 4”-throat, 36”-capacity and 1320-lbs of pressure. The PZ6.012, 6”-throat, 12”-capacity and 1620-lbs of pressure. The PZ6.024, 6”-throat, 24”-capacity and 1620-lbs of force. The PZ6.036, 6”-throat, 36”-capacity and 1620-lbs of pressure.
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