Vandercook Rollers - Hard and Melty?

We recently picked up a Vandercook 4 from a company that used it for proofing thermographic additives.

It came with two sets of rollers—one set on the press, and one set in a box. The set on the press is very hard, without the supple texture of new rubber rollers. Are these just very old rubber rollers, or is this a different material? They’re a dull green color.

The rollers in the box are of the same type, but they are coated with a waxy substance that is melting off in the heat. Despite this, it is very difficult to remove by hand, even with solvents. The areas of the rollers that aren’t coated in the mystery substance are a bit softer than the ones on the press.

It troubles me that the melty runoff is the same color as the roller material. Could it be that this is actually a coating on the roller that has disintegrated? Or could this be caked-on thermographic junk?

Thank you for your insight.

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From your description, both sets sound like old polyurethane rollers. I’ve seen that dull green- grey color several times before.

If that’s the case, the melting ones are probably not salvageable. The polyurethane is “reverting to liquid”. Eventually, they’ll melt and gunk up your press.

The hard ones might be useable, but they too will melt eventually. If it were my press I’d invest in new rollers and not worry about the old ones.

Thanks! Urethane, eh? That’s a tragedy.

I’ve since contacted NA Graphics about replacements. Soon we’ll be ‘cookin’.

I think new rollers are in your future. NA does a great job and there is also a company in my area (NC) that has done many sets for me with excellent results. This is Tarheel Roller in Clemmons, NC. They will produce both composition and rubber, depending on your preference. The number is: 336.766.9823.

Best of luck!

Craig Malmrose
Trade Union Press

NA Graphics is probably your best option, since they own the factory specs for Vandercook stuff.

I just used SI industries ( to get an impression roller from a Nolan proof press recovered. They did a marvelous job. The job was a little odd, because the finished roller is 3” in diameter, and the ends had non-removable bearing casings. The dealt with it without a problem though, and gave me a good price.

The specs don’t seem that hard to figure out. In my research, I discovered an interesting thread at (

The author states that, to determine Vandercook roller size, you can:

“1. Count the number of teeth on the form-roller pinion gear.
2. Add one tooth to that number
3. Measure the center-to-center distance of this new number of teeth on the mating rack.
4. Divide that distance by 3.1416”

This makes sense, because you’re measuring one full rotation of the roller.

On my Vandercook 4, this resulted in 2.5063. The current rollers are 2.375, so they are likely undersized.

While I will still likely order from NA, it’s good to know that the ones I have are way off spec, and that I’ll be able to know if the new rollers I order are exactly right.