Please advise on what to do with old C&P press

I know nearly nothing about letterpress printing, but BriarPress has certainly provided a crash course! My parents (82 yrs young) have a Chandler & Price press, which was given to them 20 or so years ago. They are trying to decide what to do with it - scrap it or sell it to someone who might appreciate the age and condition of such a piece of machinery.

From the other information available on Briarpress, it is definitely the Old series, it has the curved spokes on the flywheel. The serial no. on the press is 26387.

The press has been stored in a garage (never outside, to my knowledge) , and so is in decent mechanical shape. It is a little dirty and dusty, but has no serious rust. With a little oil on the joints, I had no problem turning it over by hand. There is a lot of lead type (over 100 lbs) with the thing.

Here is the odd part. We can not figure out how the thing was operated. None of the manual drive parts (treadle, linkage, etc., as shown in the various pictures and the New series parts manual) that would operate the crank shaft are with the machine. There is no flywheel on the main shaft, as might be expected with an external electric drive motor.

However, there is a 1/3 HP Kimble Electric motor (110 volts AC, 60 cycles, 3.7 amps) serial no. 22637. There are a number of patents marked on the motor, from 1909 - 1915.
Since I make a living working on industrial electrical equipment, I was intrigued, and so I cleaned up the commutator and brushes on the motor, and got it to run quite nicely (with minimal sparking). The speed of the motor can be varied by shifting the brushes (it is a dc motor, series wound, so it is a “universal” motor that can run on AC or DC). There is a simple linkage to a handle, clearly for speed control. I am a bit concerned about running it at full speed, because of the obviously very old windings and banding in the armature.
The motor does not have a pulley, as might be expected for a belt drive to a pulley on the main shaft in the printing press. What it has is some old (now dry-rotted) rubber wrapped around a hub on the shaft extension. The only thing we can think of is that the motor (which is mounted on a stand, placing the shaft about a foot off the floor) was mounted so that this rubber-covered hub was in contact with the main flywheel. It was probably necessary to start the thing by hand, but once this was done, maybe the motor would drive the machine. I know this sounds a bit far-fetched, but my parents remember the guy that operated the press as something of a Rube Goldberg type, so I certainly can not rule this out.

The only other negative thing I can see is that the flywheel key appears to have been driven in too hard. There are cracks (3/4” to 1”) in the hub of the flywheel on either side if the keyway.

If you have any thoughts on how we should proceed with this, I would welcome them. If it would help, I can supply pictures of the press and motor. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Log in to reply   3 replies so far

Sound like you’re describing the remains of a friction drive.

Suggest you post a photo or two, give the size of the chase - (is it an 8x12, 10x15, etc.?), and let people know where the press is located. You might get offers of assistance or interest.

I often help people find new homes for presses.. I have a list of people looking for presses and other things in certain areas of the country.. Where is the press located? I might be able to refer you to someone who wishes to purchase it!

Dunno if you still have your press or not (this is a dated post); but I just brought home my C&P 12x18 it’s run the same way—a leather covered hub butts against the flywheel. Apparently it’s always operated that way. Works amazingly well, too.