Innovation takes on many forms, but in the world of plumbing and HVAC piping systems, change and or progress has been somewhat slow to take place. Copper press fitting systems have been on the scene for nearly 20 years in the U.S., even longer in Europe, but industry-wide adoption is a work in progress. If you’ve been following us here on The Hub you already know my opinion that pressing copper or iron pipe for nearly every application is not only efficient but also profitable for any size contracting firm. But I’m not here to debate the merits of press versus soldering or threading; instead, I’d like to talk about a couple new tools we’ve had in the shop for review.
The new Gorilla™ pressing tool line features two unique tools: the inline battery pressing tool (INLNPRESS-KIT19kN) and the pistol grip battery powered pressing tool (PSTLPRESS-KIT32KN). I’ve personally put both tools to work on a handful of plumbing and heating projects over the last month, and I’m impressed.
Not unlike other press tools in the market the Gorilla press tools will complete a watertight connection, whether pressing copper, steel or PEX, with a 3-5 second cycle time. Here are the features of each tool kit broken down separately:
The larger of the two Gorilla press tools is capable of pressing up to 2″ copper or steel fittings with the included tongs/jaws. When equipped with compatible jaws such as the RIDGID XL-C or Milwaukee M18 ring sets the pistol tool is capable of joining 2-1/2″ thru 4″ copper and steel. Greenlee offers additional factory supplied jaw sets for PEX Press systems (NIBCO) as well.
The key here is jaw compatibility. For contractors who already own other press tools or for those looking at a new press tool as a first purchase knowing what tool is right for you based on its capabilities should be the focus. The PSTL tool is compatible with all of the Viega PROPRESS copper, stainless and iron pipe (MEGAPRESS) fitting systems when either using the Greenlee jaw sets for 2″ and smaller copper or the RIDGID or Milwaukee M18 jaws for XC copper fittings or MEGAPRESS. A list of compatible jaw sets is included at the bottom of this review.
The PSTL-KIT32kN kit includes six V-profile copper/steel press jaws in sizes from 1/2″ to 2″, two 3.0Ah 18V Makita battery packs, rapid battery charger and heavy duty case with foam tool organizer insert. The 7,200 lb (32kN) force is delivered to the jaw set at the end of the swivel shaft. The unique pistol-grip offers an ergonomic design, placing the majority of the weight directly over the users hand and wrist for more balanced control when using the large diameter jaws. A single trigger deploys the hydraulic piston for a 3-5 second press cycle but is not automatic, requiring the user to fully depress the trigger for the entire cycle. However, once the press is complete, the tool retracts automatically, which does not require the operator to hold the trigger. In addition, the tools have the ability to retract the jaws at any point in time. An indicator light illuminates if the tool senses insufficient force during a press cycle and AUTOSTOPP technology stops the piston once optimal force is reached to complete the press of a fitting. The tool carries a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer and boasts the ability to go 40K press cycles before factory authorized service is required.
Inline Press (INLNPRESS-KIT19kN)
This is the more compact tool of the Gorilla lineup. Measuring in at just over 17″ when geared up with the 3/4″ copper jaws this swivel shaft tool is sleek and capable of sitting in tight spaces where only one hand may be appropriate for tool operation. The 4,275 lb (19kN) force tool features a single trigger, swivel head and 18V Makita 2.0Ah 18V battery.
The inline tool is capable of pressing both PEX press [up to 1-1/2″, see video] and v-profile copper/steel fittings (Viega type) up to 1-1/4″ diameter making it prime for all residential applications. As with the pistol tool the inline tool carries a 5-year manufacturer warranty and is capable of pressing 40K times in between service intervals. Press cycle time is 3-5 seconds depending on fitting type and diameter. The user is required to depress the trigger for the entire press cycle until the AOTOSTOP technology feature senses sufficient force, the piston retracts automatically the same as the pistol tool. The kit includes two Makita 18V batteries, rapid charger and heavy duty case with rigid foam organizer insert.
Overall the build quality of the Greenlee Gorilla press tools is high. Having been manufactured in Germany by the Greenlee owned Klauke tool company they’re developed from years of pressing experience and thousands of tools having been in use for many years. The 5-year warranty is impressive and compatibility with other manufacturer jaw sets makes both models very attractive in my opinion. Current jaw offerings open these tools up to the popular Sporlan Zoomlock refrigeration press fitting system as well even further expanding the capabilities and usefulness of these tools to HVAC contractors as well as plumbers. The Inline tool kit should be expected to price out between $2,100-$2,300, the more capable pistol tool will cost a contractor $3,300-$3,500 for the kit making both tools competitive in the press tool market.