Adding a motor to a C&P or Golding platen press

Does anyone have schematics or instructions on building a motorized version of a platen press? Ideally, I’d like to have a variable motor to change speeds using a dial rather than switch. Thank you in advance for your suggestions!


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I am going through this same thing right now. I have a 10x15 C&P and it was lacking a functional motor and pulley system. I managed to track down a 22” pulley and also purchased a universal AC 110v motor and a rheostat potentiometer to control the speed. The whole package cost about $100.

I have heard mixed reports on how this will perform over the long term, but most experts have assured me I will be fine as long as I generally keep the motor at or above 50% of its rated RPMs.

Finding the parts was the hardest part for me. I didn’t want to run the belt straight to the flywheel, but most people do just that. All you would need is a belt that is the appropriate size and a motor that is 1/3 or 1/2 horsepower (perhaps larger depending on the size of your press).

What kind of press are you trying to motorize?


Look out for overloading motors. I rigged a motor like that, and it burned out on a long print run. And I mean burned out. It actually caught on fire!

What you need is a DC motor with a variable speed control. McMaster Carr has everything you need if you want to spend a mint. Otherwise, you can always track this stuff down at flea markets and surplus stores.

I have this setup on my 12x18” C&P. I’ve got a DC gear motor wired to an electronic DC controller. It has stop, reverse, and a speed knob. Since it’s a gear motor, it has fantastic torque, and it can start the press from a dead stop.

An over-heating motor may also be the result
of dry bearings or bushings. Keep ‘em lubed.

Keep your motor clean, too. Blow out the dust
& wipe off the grit regularly.

A little belt dressing now and then can give it a
tighter grip and a more efficient use of energy.
A slipping belt wears faster & heats up.

There are several commercial motor mounting
systems that use a motor’s weight to keep the
belt taut. A large door hinge works just as well.

Calvert Guthrie
Ragpicker Press

Where did you find the “steam” pulley, the one opposite the flywheel, I also want to add a motor, and run it from the steam wheel side, but the pulley is missing ??

I found mine on eBay of all places. It’s not the steam pulley, but a 22” pulley that was supplied with motorized presses.You could also get a flywheel from an 8x12 C&P and use that as the right side pulley.

I thought about purchasing an 18” cast iron pulley (available from many stores online) but I ended up stumbling upon the 22” C&P pulley.

Hope that helps,

Thank you everyone for your suggestions! Will try the DC motor as soon as I can. Happy Holidays!

The old printer who sold my C & P 8 X 12 to me back in 1975 had several motorized job presses. On each one, he used a little electric motor salvaged from an old washing machine. The belt went on the flywheel. Two round leather belts from treadle-style Singer sewing machines, stapled together, formed the long belt needed. It takes very little power to keep the flywheel turning after you have given it the initial shove to get it turning. Mr. McPherson (my old printer friend) printed this way for decades, and he made a living at it.

kevin, i grew up next to the town dump, for 20 years we ran our 8x12 and 10x15 c&p with the sewing machine belts and old washing machine motors salvaged from the dump, when one motor would quit, just go to the dump and get another. from about 1963 , think i still have a washing machine or two kicking around. dick g.

Necessity (and thrift, and poverty) is the mother of invention. Oftentimes, people with money feel recessions a lot more than poor folk do.

I am also looking at the way to best apply an electric drivemotor to my C&P 12 x 18. My findings to date:
I will stay away from gearmotors, because I want to be able to run check prints by hand - moving the flywheel. That is impossible with gearmotors.
I will stay away from DC motors because of the maintenance required, and the low efficiency.
I will likely use a V-belt because it allows me to go to a real small pulley size at the motor and is readily available.
I will use a 220V single phase to 440V three phase VFD because it allows me to use a relativley cheap & rugged 3/4HP motor, and it allows me to play around with sub cycle speed control. (I’m new at this and I want to die with all my fingers in place).