Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shaft Treatment

Yes it has been unbearably cold! So I got done litte with working on the cold cast iron. But there are some new pictures of what I have been concentrating on lately: Polishing shafts. Here are the throw off linkage shafts.

And here is the flywheel shaft after the sequenced emery cloth treatment.

And the back shaft with the side arm still to be done.

And this is what the rear of the press looks like right now. On some of the parts I noticed the old ink remaining here and there seeping through the paint. So I will have to go for another coat.

And this has me considering changing the banner picture for my blog!

Oh and I was able to pull out the key holding in the pinion for the main gear that I talked about in the last posting. Seems every time I even think about leaving something and then get at it I discover more. This time it was that the key was not the right width, but was too high and had been filed to a taper - and then was driven in only one third of the way! Good thing I got it out, now I have a new propper size gib key on order.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gear Misalignment?

Is this a problem I'm asking anyone who has an opinion - don't hold back.

The main gear and the drive pinion are out of alignment by about 1/4 inch (on the left side). By the corrosion on the main shaft it looks like the pinion did at one time sit about 1/4 inch to the left, which would bring all of the gear-teeth surfaces into full contact. Is that something I should correct? Looks to me like the pinion is shrunk onto the shaft as I don't see any pin or screw holding it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Main Gear Camwheel Cleanup

I just about overdosed on gasoline vapours. Right now it is -22 degrees F out there, and it is fairly cool in the garage. I removed the right side arm and the large gear cover, and proceded to clean off the grease and junk off the main gear and it's pinion.

That took a lot of gasoline and a lot of rubbing with a terry-cloth rag. But the gear and the pinion are nice and clean now. And then I looked over every tooth, and aside for a little piece of metal that was embedded in the root between a couple of the large gear teeth, everything looks good. The pinion is not aligned very well with the main gear (it's out be about 1/4 inch), and I am wondering if the pinion is deliberately moved towards the press frame to keep the shaft positioned in place. But there is hardly any wear on the gears.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Grippers and Gripper Bar

Last night I thought I'd attack the gripper bars and the rail they mount on to. Turns out the bars are kind of bent and not even. One has definite signs of type embedding into it. And there are a lot of hammer marks from bashing the bottom of the grippers when they were being adjusted.

So I filed the edges for a better appearance. I noticed all the gripper pieces were originally painted black. Because the grippers will have to be moved back and forth for various size work, I don't think the regular paint is a good idea. So I am either going to try a thinner epoxy finish or maybe leave them unpainted. Here the gripper bars are at the first stage of cleaning with a die grinder attack. Next I have to rig up some anvil surface to hammer them straight, and then do the final polish.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back Shaft Polishing

After most of the week away I decided to spend some time on the back shaft (the one connecting the press bed and the roller frame, and onto which the side arms connect). Now that the items around it have been painted it really looks bad.

The shaft rotates only within the limits of the throw-off linkage, so it's mainly stationary, and dirt and stuff built up over the years allowing some serious corrosion to happen on the upper surface of that shaft. Scotch-Brite, air tool and emery cloth were applied vigorously and I worked up a sweat. Tomorrow after some final polish I will apply some clear coat to the shaft. I decided to try out this product I found, to highlight a few of the machined areas of the press. As mentioned before, I am not going to apply pinstriping and a work of art paint-job. But the machine does not have to look boring either. I am aiming for a "serious machine" look.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Cleaning & Painting

I took off the ink plate support braket, cleaned and painted it. The disk advance leaver as well got the same treatment. As I was working on that I realized that it is easier to shim the whole braket up (to make up for the ink disk machining hight loss), then to make a bronze disk to put on the disk journal. Then I takled the rear of the press bed (under the ink disk), with those deep pockets formed by the web of reinforcing bars. That area is a real trap for dirt and junk and is also the place where I have found the worst scaling (likey from the original casting process).

After yet another night of cleaning and painting the rear and sides of the press bed are painted. For a while now I thought the paint I'm using (Tremclad dark blue) was too soft. But I'm changing my mind on that. The first items I painted more than a week ago now are getting harder every day. I was worried about being able to wipe oil of the surface if it stayed relatively soft. And I'm getting used to the colour as well - I thought that it was too light, but it's nice to be able to see all the parts even when the light is not right on it, and also I'm just getting used to it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A New Surface on the Ink Disk

Tonight the ink disk got machined. There was significant run-out, although not as bad as it looked when we put the straight edge across it. There is something about the light coming through that little gap formed by the straight edge and the surface being checked that really amplifies any error.

The gap looked huge, but on the lathe with a dial indicator it "only" measured 0.020". In any case, to get a decent cut and a feed rate without chatter resulted in 0.030" being taken off the ink surface.  A big deal was to have secondary support at the ratchet ring to the lathe chuck. Before that the cutting tool action on the disk was just screeming with vibration. The surface is not perfect, but it is perfectly flat and I can polish the rest in position on the press. Now I've got to get myself a machinist straight edge so that I can measure if the disk sits too low, and if I have to make up a bronze washer for the bearing to bring it up the 0.030" that it was sitting higher before.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally Moved Inside

After a bunch more moving stuff around, throwing stuff away and recycling - the press is inside! Its mot pretty, and there is a lot more stuff that will have to go, but it's inside before the snow!

And if that is not enough, the first piece has been painted. I took off the ink platter, cleaned it and painted the under side.
The top side will take some more work. When the press was shut down and stored something was left on the platter - it was likely ink - and that has eaten into the surface. The Scotch-Brite pad on the die grinder is cleaning it up but there are quite a few pits left. So I took the sanding disk and tried to get more agressive in polishing the marks out. I'm not happy with the results. I'm going to look for a machine shop to grind the surface on a lathe so as not to remove too much metal. But its a start!

I found a machine shop, but that started some real concern: We put a straight edge across the ink surface and discovered either the platter is seriously distorted - or it is supposed to be crowned (the center being sone 3/16" higher than the sides). I will have to wait until it is put on the lathe before we can be sure. In the meantime I'd appreciate if anybody can check their C&P ink platters to see it they are crowned or really flat?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Better Tool

What a difference a better tool makes! I visited a machinist tool shop and came a way with an air operated die grinder, a disk mandrel and a selection of sanding and cleaning disks. The tool runs at 20,000 RPM and does a real nice job of cutting through surface rust. So far I have only used the polishing disks, I really don't want to take off metal unless I can measure the results.

Now I just have to deal with the fact that my air compressor is waayy too small to power the tool properly. Right now I have to wait 30 seconds, make a pass, wait another 30 seconds and so on.
What I really went there fore is a machinists straight edge, so that I could check the bed and platten for straightness. They did not have those in stock and I got talking with a real helpful guy behind the counter and I came away with this real fine tool. Now I'll have to rent a better air compressor for a few days.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When do you stop?

It has been cold, and the progress of getting the place for the press clean is slow. But there was a good day a few days ago and as I looked over the back side of the press I felt that some good cleaning would be all thats required. After all, what could be wrong with the simple spring with the attachment to the chase clamp and handle? And with all that grease and dirt on it, it would just jump like crazy when I got it off - and who knows what a pain it would be to get the spring back on after.
But then some sort of a guilt mechanism clicked in place and I removed the spring attachment to the handle, and then the handle hinge bolt. Sure enough the spring jumped around just to prove me right. After cleaning up the spring though, here is what it looked like:

I'm sure glad I took it apart, it's worn almost half through! When that spring lets go the chase is loose in the press - that would make a mess! There is a lesson in that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Anybody Need a Motor?

The motor that came with my press:

It's for sale!

Saddle Post Spring Detail

Turns out there are two different springs. one. the shorter one for the double saddle post & rod:
Length 31", 190 turns of 0.079" diameter spring material, wound to 0.465" inside diameter (0.620" outside diameter).
The longer spring is for the single saddle post & rod:
Length 34", 196 turns of 0.070" diameter spring material, wound to 0.467 inside diameter (0.608" outside diameter).

To be able to get the spring off the rod you need to be able to compress the spring a bit while removing the cotter pin at the end. I found a pice of 1/2" PEX pipe (for residential water pipe use) handy as it has just the right inside diameter and enough wall thickness to push in the spring. Once you get the pin out and release the pressure on the spring be ready to have the spring jump right into your face. A set of leather work gloves on your hands go a long ways to contain the spring force, letting it go more slowly.

Notice that on one end the springs have a little straight tail, that is the end near the saddle post (keeps the spring from yurning).
It'll be fun  getting the springs back on...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Rust, Dust & Gunk Removal

For a few days It's been very cold. Since the press is still out in the driveway I haven't got much done. Today was a good day. Worked most of the day on the press, removed the saddle stud & rods and the gripper bar. Noticed a difference between the double saddle stud and sthe single one. The double saddle stud springs are shorter than the single saddle springs. I wonder if that is because the single saddles were not used on the press (by the previous owner), thus never got compressed or cycled? Or is there a technical reason for it? Tomorrow I will measure and document the springs. Made good use of degreaser and cleaners today. The platten cleaned up real nice with the rust remover.

Made a decision on the oil holes today. While I have things appart anyway I will redrill the top part of the oil holes and get oil hole covers to try to keep these locations from accumulating dirt, and make them more obvious for long term maintenance.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Interesting Encounter, Speed Calcs

Had an interesting encounter today at the farmers market. When I was looking to sit down to enjoy my danish and espresso, there was no table free. So I shared a table with an older couple. We got to talking about things and surprize surprize the gentlemen used to feed a C&P letterpress many years ago in a little town west of Red Deer. I asked about the speed and he insited that they were doing about a hundered pieces a minute top speed. Hm, that seems a lot. The other production number I have heard a few times is about 2000 impressions per hour (iph).

I am going to aim for half of that, 1000 iph. My press has a 24" diameter drive pulley. The smallest I am likely to get for the motor side pulley is 2" diameter. So that works out to a 12 to 1 speed ratio.

Here is a picture of the press as it arrived, with all the ties and chains removed, free at last.

With 7 turns per impression on my press, that is 7000 rotations per hour, or 116.7RPM. On the motor side that is 116.7 times 12 = 1400RPM. For an 1800RMP motor, operating at 1400/1800 = 78% speed of maximum is not that bad, but there is something else I have not mentioned before. I would like to increase the time available for the paper removal and placing task (while the platen is open) by manipulating (reducing) the drive speed depending on the press position (when the platen is open). During the three truns of the drive wheel while the platen is open I'd like to reduce the drive speed to about 40% (for a 1800RPM motor that would be 720 RPM). And during the four turns while the platen is closing/opening I'd like to run it at full speed. My press was equipped with a 1800RPM 1/2 HP motor, I have the original motor but not the motor pulley. My plan right now is to use an inverter duty 3/4 HP motor and VFD to be able to handle the cyclic acceleration/deceleration.
An 1800RPM motor actually runs at about 1750RPM at full load. Assuming that it will take half a turn (on the press) to accelerate from 720RPM to 1750RPM, and half a trun to decelerate back to 720, that makes one turn at an average speed of (720 + 1750) / 2 = 1235RPM.

So here is what my prediction is for overall rate:
3.5 turns at 1750RPM (at the press that is like running at 1250iph)
2.5 turns at 720RPM (at the press that is like running at 514iph)
1 turn at 1235RPM (at the press that is like running at 882iph)

Working out the average speed for the time weighting that each speed applies:
(3.5/7) * 1250 + (2.5/7) * 514 + (1/7) * 882 = 934.6 iph average speed, pretty close to the 1000 iph I was aiming at, and I gain a safety advantage with long platen opeing time. Let's see what that would actually work out to: 720RPM / 12 is 60RPM at the press, that is 1 rotation per seconds, so for the 2.5 turns the platen is open - that makes it 2.5 seconds. Plus the bit of time the drive is speeding up and slowing down. So maybe close to three seconds time for the paper shuffle. That seems lots. We'll see! One other feature I have been thinking about is to have two buttons on the feed table that have to be depressed before the press will return into the high-speed mode (or possibly if they are not pressed bring the press to an emergency stop via dynamic breaking). If anyone can think of holes in this reasoning, I'm open for suggestions.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some Days are Easier than Others

Today was another day of rust removal. Now my order at Acklands came in and I have better emery-cloth and some rust remover to try out. Had bought a new set of wrenches at Home Depot, an open end - close end ratchet combination set in the typical heavy plastic packaging that you need a set of shears to open. When I came to use the 9/16" wrench I find the ratchet did not work, and looking at it closer it was a used wrench of a sightly different style (still a Husky). Back to Home Depot for a refund, but that was not so easy. Even though the packaging claims lifetime warranty there was a lot of waffling going on, I felt they were of the opinion that they were letting me get away with something. Frustrating.

Here is my friend Tom at the top of Rogers Pass, with the press in tow.

Then a slight, could have been bad mishap. I had attached the thow-off leaver linkage and left the lever pushed forward. Then I worked on cleaning rust off the platen and the tympan bale areas. I left the top bale folded down while I got busy with something else. As I turned the flywheel cleaning the main rocker shaft I felt a bit of resistance on the flywheel. Hm that's not right. As it turns out there id just the right amount of extra space left in the throw-off position so that the bale just gets squeezed a bit - without damage.
Note to self:
1. Never leave anything on the platen that could cause damage.
2. Always turn over the press for a full cycle by hand, and check if anything seems to take too much force!
3. Never leave the platen bales open!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Turn Over! Lubrication.

After a fair bit of reading and searching I have found the right lubricant for the press. It is a way-oil with just the right properties. (Way-oil is made specifically for metal working machinery where the oils has to stay in place even on vertical sliding surfaces and has to maintain lubricating film properties even under high loading and slow movement). Likely a better oil than was available at the time the press was built or in production. I am hoping use of this oil will extend the usefull life of the press far beyond my own.
When I first laid eyes on the press I was looking for evidence of oil remaining at the journals ind linkages. There was a lot of oxidized oil heavily caked with dust and dirt in those places, a good sign. When I removed the retaining bolts for one of the connecting rods, sliding the rod off a bit, the journal area was still shiny with good oil. I filled every one of the oil holes and proceeded to move the flywheel back and forth just a few inches. Hearing no noise, and feeling no resistance, I increased the rocking motion untill I finally made a whole turn. Seeing the oil in the oilholes sink down a bit gave me the assurance I was looking for: The oil was flooding the journals. The press moves with absolutely no noise, smooth as silk! The only thing you hear is the little clack of the ink disk advancing ratchet action.
I had to buy a 5 gallon pail of the oil and if it works out as I'm thinking now, I will package the rest of the oil in half liter bottles and make it available for anyone who would like to try it. But I have to try the motor test run first.

I was surprized about how the platen mechanism stays open for quite a long time. One press cycle on my press takes seven turns of the flywheel. For three of those turns the platen is wide open.

The drive wheel is 24" in diameter. Next I want to work out what speed motor I should get. The original motor is a 1926 half horsepower motor that looks like the size of a three to four HP motor today would. I will not be using it since I will want to go with variable speed drive and that requires the use of an inverter duty motor. Those have a lot better insulation than a standard motor and vastly better than what was done even just twenty years ago - never mind eighty years ago.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rust Removal

Many many years ago as a first year apprentice I cleaned a lot of machine parts. And before embracing this endever I looked at some old presses, and I read a lot about the methods other people use. And then I went out to the local industrial supply store and got some emery cloth, scotch-bright pads and wirebrush. And then I met reality! The unmovable hulk of rust. A couple of hours every night, I promissed myself. It is quite satisfying to climb into bed with sore arms, sore hands and sore fingers - leaving behind another small reclaimed spot on the press. At this rate I hate to even project how long it might take. Long!

I've read about a shop that undertook a press recovery of a press very similar to my moder, also a C&P 12x18". You can read about it here. They really did some detective work on the surface treatment and paint. Their final result looks like a piece of art. My primary motivation is to make the press productive, create art with it - but not make it into a work of art. My paint job will be more utilitarian, but with some appropriate highlights. We'll see if I can do justice to it before I say too much.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Here!

It finally is real. The garage is nowhere near ready, but due to my friend Tom's extra-special efforts the press is there, sitting on the driveway

just outside the garage.

There was this little incident with a blown trailer tire, and that is a great reminder for all who might be tempted to do the same thing: Whatever you do, get a two axle trailer. The friendly U-Haul staff was trying to get us to accept a single axle trailer, when the one I had reserved the week before was not returned in time. Take my word for it, go two axle!

And there she sat in a high speed curve on the Coquihala Highway:

The emergency service arranged by U-Haul was great. Hope Towing rules!

It took me three hours to get her off the trailer, man is she heavy!

And now there are a lot more decisions to be made. 
The press had been in storage for 39 years and while there is a fair bit of surface rust, the important rotating surfaces, bearing areas and joints all had lubricating oil remaining (even though quite oxidized and sticky with dust and dirt). So the first task is to take apart all the bearings, remove the connecting rods and evaluate wear, clean lubricate and re-assemble.
I'm getting the idea that it might be worth while to measure and document all the components while I have things appart as well. I have not been able to find a schematic of the machine assembly yet, so maybe I could make a contribution toward that.
Tonight I removed the ink fountain, I will prepare it for long term storage as I will not likely use it for my rather short run work. And I removed the ink rollers and scraped the ink disk. Looks like the press was stored with some ink left on the disk. There is discolouration where the surface deposits were. I applied some penetrating oil and we'll see in a few days if I can emery cloth polish the surface defects out. It looks like the ink disk sits in position just by it's own weight. I wonder if people remove the disk off of the press to clean the ink - rather than cleaning it in position. That might be less messy. We'll see how heavy the disk is, and if it is reasonable to lift it out. After dinner I worked for 2.5 hours applying penetrating oil to bearing areas and looking over the press.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting Closer - Just Another Week

So it's just another week until I get to lay my eyes on what I bought. The trailer rental has been arranged. A double axel open trailer that should be able to handle the weight. I have to get a bunch of tiedowns to secure the press on the trailer, and I have been thinking about the process of getting the press onto the trailer. Tomorrow I plan on looking at the trailers and measuring some details. I think I should prepare some blocking for the rear of the trailer for when the weight of the press lands on the deck. There is supposed to be a forklift available, but even with a forklift - or especially with a forklift - there is only so much reach. The trailer is 12 feet long and has boards and rail around the front and sides. So the only way to get the press to the center is to drop it on the back and push-slide it forward. For that the back better be supported well.
More after the visit to the trailer place...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cleanup & Cleanout

Oh what a painful exercise! Cleaning out even just one bay in the garage where the printshop will be situated. We moved rather suddenly about 10 years ago. And since, we have made at least three, no four moves in Calgary. There are boxes that I have not opened in more than 10 years. It's like Christmas sometimes, and I cringe other times. A lot of it is destined for recycling and the garbage. There is soo much good stuff...
So there it is, wall to wall boxes and stuff.
I plan to build a wall on the left to separate the space, and to be able to heat it in the winter. Not looking forward to -25 C weather right now. I have given myself a month to have the space ready. But in between there is a wedding at the Coast and a bike trip and some out of town work committments.
Really there are not too many days left, and the press is coming!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Picture of New Press

Here is the first picture. Basically I bought the press based on description only. Yes, it is the big one to the right, or the rear. The other one got scooped, just as well - one learning curve at a time.

About 1926 C&P (Chandler & Price) is the best I know at this time. The serial number makes it a 12 by 18" new style model. More to come...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Horay I Got One!!!

This morning I got the confirming email that I am the proud owner of a circa 1925 large 12 x 18 new style C&P letterpress! It is in Seattle. And I am in Calgary. So there is a 2000 pound press move coming up in a couple of weeks.

I had been making enquiries about the suitability of the press that I was looking for and was told that I really should be looking for a larger press. Due to the rather large solid colour impressions required for my artwork the press needs to be of a larger size. One person said I should really look for a Vandercook. I tried, but could not get close to any in a month of trying. And then the cost...

I can hardly wait to get my hands on the machine.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why Letterpress for Art?

I have come to art rather late in my life. I started painting nine years ago, in acrylics first. Then after three years due to Ted Godwins influence, I moved to oil. I love it! But the process of finishing a painting takes way too long for me, mainly due to a personal defect that makes it difficult (and takes a lot of time) to get to the right colour, it involves a lot of scraping off. A side effect of that is that my paintings cost way too much.
Then I discovered a method by which I could be more productive. Scanning my pencil sketch into a computer I can redraw the image using software tools, and then apply colours at my hearts content until I get it right. So originally I used that process to make a printout, that I could then use as a guide for my painting.
Then, via an interesting detour that I will have to write up some time, I came to printing my art with a fine art printer. Now I could sell my work in a much more affordable manner.

But this has left me in a real art no-mans land. I can't get my work into any shows or galleries because they insist that they will not accept "reproductions". I guess it will be some time before competition administrators and galleries will come to accept original digital art. Some actually think the computer does all the work (by computer magic), but most seem to like the final result. People who like it, like my digital originals a lot - and it's for those folks that I do it, providing the best quality of materials and production.

I took time during our holiday this year (due to the less than optimum weather), to do some soul searching and research into what I can do to make my work and the process of producing it come into better alignment. What was the problem you say? Well, I always feel that I have to explain the process and why I am using the fine art printer. Even though, and maybe even because, I do all my printing myself (not that I'm a control freak you know).

A chance encounter with one of the Glenbow museum archivists pointed me in a new direction here. Amazing what happens when you shut up and listen. Took me a while to get what she was talking about though. But after a detour looking into wood block printing, etchings and pochoir, I came across letterpress printing. What a realization! The solid black lines that I have in my work are exquisitly suited to letterpress. It gives an almost embossed quality to the work printed onto heavy paper. And then the machinery. The old cast iron presses that are used to produce letterpress printing are just up my alley. A lifetime spent designing and fixing machinery now comes in handy. What a match, to bring my art and the production of it into such alignment, and then to be able to make the end result even more affordable! I am real exited to make it happen.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Well, after some explorations the owner of the "remains of the press" and I could not come to terms on a price. He felt that he had invested some $2500 in the press, type and furniture and wanted to recoup a lot of that. Well, since I am/was only interested in the press for printing my artwork, that was way too much risk - and time committment to get it into working condition. He felt that the press was working before he "stored" it, and there would be "nothing too it" to put it back together. I had guesstimated eight weekends to fully dismantle, recondition & repair the press. And in re-evaluating why I want the press in the first place, it struck me that I want to print, and the repair - while I can do it - it really is secondary. So I declined and we parted ways on that subject.

Since then I've actively searched for another press, but so far have come up empty.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Looking Ahead

I visited the press resting place once more. As time has passed I imagined the rust worse and worse, and I convinced myself the press would be writeoff for sure. While there I moved the part where the main shaft is poking deep into the ground. That is the part that I was most worried about because the big connecting rods attach there. A piece of thread with the retaining nut on it was covered with moist dirt, and there is fairly severe corrosion at that area. Worst outcome if I can not get that cleaned up I might have to reduce the bearing diameter and put a bushing into the connecting rod. And the connection rods, some levers, the flywheel and the ink platter were found. I'm almost giddy with exitement.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Post

Hi! This is going to be a record (and hopefuly a discussion) about the rescue and rebuilding of a C&P old style letterpress.

This is what the main frame of the press looks like at this very moment. It is laying in a pile of gravel, outside - and has been there a few years. I don't know really how long. There is a thin layer of rust on all parts.

I am going to recover it in the next two weeks. Then I will start to remove the rust and first evaluate the shafts, threads and bearings to see if there is enough to work with, to make it work again. Part of me wants to say "no thanks - too much work", and part of me is a sucker for the challenge...