Space/height to operate C&P Old Style

Watch as I reveal (even further) how little I know…

Two more questions:

1) I have a C&P Old Style 8x12 and a garage. How much clear space should I leave around the press for safe operation and maintenance? Obviously my ideal would be to have oodles of space and perfect accessibility, but failing that…?

2) At what height should the printer be in relation to the press for optimal (and safe) operation? I am 5’6 tall, but my press is mounted on a wooden base several inches thick… it strikes me as a bit high. How will I be able to tell/measure whether I’m at the right height?

Thanks for any advice!


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How skinny are you?
You need to be able to get to all the oiling spots on both sides and the rear of the press. One oils the press when it is not running so you can squeeze yourself and your arms in against the metal if you wish. I like to be able to get both hands in and be able to get behind the press with the oil can in one hand and a wiping rag in the other.
Your height at the press is that which feels comfortable and safe. Don’t stand up on a milk crate. Don’t stand too high as there is more opportunity to have your hand in the press when it doesn’t belong there. Get some 2” lumber and stack it up until the height feels right.
Your final platform should be about 2’ long and 1’ deep. You can probably build what you need from one piece of 8’ 2x4 cut and nailed together. This should give you 5” and make the press think you are
Remember that when the platen begins to close, it belongs to the press and not to you.

Helen- Inky is right about being able to oil and maintain the press. You must be able to at least squeeze alongside the press to do this work.

About press height- if it feels too high for you, then it probably is too high. Since you are 5’6”, then the press is probably just right for you without setting it onto a wooden base since that is about the average adult height of yester-year…. which is the height used in it’s original design.

The reason that most printers nowadays pick up their presses is because they are taller than you are. Generally they lift a C&P by one inch for each inch they are taller than 5’6”…. so a 6’ guy will lift his press by 5 or 6 inches. consider yourself lucky.

I am 6-foot-1 and the legs of my 1906 C & P Old Series are bolted to 2 X 4s, three feet long. I still use the treadle. It works for me and doesn’t feel too low.
I have about 18 inches of open space all the way around the press when it is completely open. That’s enough room for me to oil everything very easily, but if you can leave more room, all the better.

Thanks for the great information, inky and winking cat and Kevin!

Well, I’m skinny so I’ve got that on my side I guess. I had envisioned needing a couple of clear feet around it – it’s good to have specific expert advice so I don’t make any rookie errors in positioning.

Inky I’m going to build (ok, have Dad build) the platform you described. And this: “Remember that when the platen begins to close, it belongs to the press and not to you.” …believe me, I’ll remember. I’m still wishing I could find one of those push-away attachments they used to use in trade schools. I’m feeling paranoid about destroying a hand.

And the base my press is bolted onto is about six inches high. I’d be tempted to remove it so the press could stand at the right height for me, but it was built strong and open in the middle so it’s perfect for moving the press with a forklift or pallet jack. Too handy to pass up, considering the Air Force likes us to move every three years or so.

Clearance is far more important on the right side of the press than on the left side. All the oiling points on the left can be reached from the front or back. On the right side you need enough room to squat down and enough elbow room to use a wrench on the impression bolts. A heavy chase is also best placed from the right hand side, rather than lifted over the platen. However if the press is driven on the left side, you’ll need additional room to position the belt.
At the back you need a shoulder’s width (with press open) so you can bend over to reach those low oil holes. The motor has to be considered too.

I mentioned the book Elementary Platen Presswork by Ralph W. and Edwin Polk in another posting I did today regarding safe press operation. The height of the press in relationship to the operator is obviously connected in that regard. Here is part of what the authors write in Chapter 7:

“The pressfeeder should stand directly in front of the press, with both feet squarely on the floor, and body erect. He should not slouch at his post, or lean forward into the press, although a portion of the weight of the body may rest against the delivery board, which will strike the average boy near the line of the belt.”

They go on to describe many practical and safe ways to operate the press and go into more detail regarding stance at the press. As a basis for the height of the press in relationship to the operator this seems to be an authoritative guide and I’d recommend reading the entire chapter.