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General Articles - Product Reviews

Harbor Freight 3n1 Press

Article written by Moab Man

Date Added: 11/17/2006

**Update** We test an inexpensive ball joint, u-joint, and truck brake anchor pin press from Harbor Freight.

***Product Update / November 2006*** Virtually every product works great while it?s new or under warranty. For that reason, we like to check on test products from time to time and let you know how they?re doing.

So how is the 3n1 Press doing? Well, it?s no longer as pretty as it was. With over two years of abuse, 10 sets of ball-joints, 3 driveshaft rebuilds, and too many u-joints to count, the 3n1 press has proven itself a workhorse and has a permanent spot in our tool chest.

Removing or installing u-joints / ball joints can be a pain to do, especially when you are on the trail and there isn't a level place to work. A number of very expensive u-joint tools are on the market to make changing u-joints easier. Not wanting to carry an expensive press out on a wheeling trip, we decided to give the Harbor Freight 3n'1 press a try.

U-Joints: As a u-joint press, it is a little on the sloppy side. With that said, the tool is still very useful when you don't have access to ideal working conditions.

Ball Joints: This tool really shined installing ball joints on the trail. During Easter Jeep Safari 2003, a friend snapped his driver's side front wheel off. The u-joint and upper / lower ball joints were all shattered. Additionally, the lower ball joint receiving end was now a curved oval. Normally a ball joint can be "coaxed" in with a hammer and large socket. With the severe misshaping of the receiving end, there was no way to coax the ball joint in. With the press; however, we were able to get the round ball joint into the oval cupped hole. It was not an easy job even with the u-joint press. It required two of us with feet against the Jeep holding onto the crescent wrench pulling in unison to press the ball joint in. As I stated earlier, there was no way we could have put the ball joint in while on the trail without this press.

Brake Anchor Pin: Unfortunatly we have no brake anchor pins to remove. Sorry.

Final Thoughts

For anyone that needs to be self sufficient on the trail, this tool is a must have. It is a little sloppy compared to high end presses, but considering this tool only costs 25% of what others do, it's worth dealing with a little inconvenience.

What is this slop we're talking about? The pin shown in the picture is not locked in. If you turn the tool upside down a bit, it will slide out. Not a big deal, just something to watch out for.

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