C&P 12x18 Roller Height

I am looking for some tips on setting the roller heigh on a C&P 12x18. I have purchased and installed 4 new rollers and have a Boxcar “deep relief” base on there. Before inking it up, I have noticed the rollers are touching my base quite a bit. How do you raise up the rollers (other than building up the rails with tape, or is that the only way?)

Also would like to know how much packing is really necessary on this press (I’m used to my Vandercook and Windmill, which don’t require a lot.) Right now, I have 3 sheets of Crane’s lettra 110# underneath and it seems to be a decent impression, but not a lot.


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I think I’ve replied to one of your posts on the letterpress list, you have a C&P Craftsman press correct?

If so, that’s one of the beauty’s of the craftsman series press - the rails are replaceable/adjustable.

I don’t remember if the C&P manual details the adjustment too well - but take a look at the rails on the press, you will see two large hex-head bolts holding each rail on. Underneath each bolt there’s a “jack-screw”. Loosen the large mounting bolts & use these screws to make adjustments to the rails.

My press had abused rails that needed significant repair when I got it - so I took the added step of removing the rails, having some welding done to repair the stress fractures / damage (by someone who knew how to properly pre-heat & weld cast) & then I machined the rails flat & true again. I’d venture to say the rails are as good or better than new, It was well worth the effort.

-If I got that wrong & you have a standard C&P as far as I know, yes, you’ll have to build-up your rails. I’d recommend the UHMW (Polyethylene) tape NA Graphics sells, others should have some more options/suggestions.

-Jason T.

Thanks Jason-

I checked my press and there are in fact screws on the rails. There is a set up at the top (close to the ink disk) and then the ones you are talking about down at the bottom of the rails. Do you adjust the top ones as well, if needed?

Thanks for your post…

Jason M.

The set of screws up top you’re talking about are the ones on the extension rails. These aren’t jack screws like the others - but a threaded stud that has a couple of jam nuts on it (where the stud attaches to the “frame” of the ink disk) but yea, adjustable none the less.

These will affect your inking, but not in a direct way like the the rails on the bed of the press. Adjusting these changes how hard the rollers run over the ink disk - and only to a certain degree. These extension rails essentially have a pivot point where they attach to the main/bed rails - so adjusting their studs at some point causes the rails to not be parallel with the ink disk.

Ideally the extension rails should be set about 1/16” below your ink disk (but not enough to make your trucks loose contact with these rails as your rollers pass over your disk) for the rails entire length. However the adjustment were talking about really only gives you a way to make these rails & the ink disk parallel to each other. On my press I used it for just that, and then to adjust the height of the rails (with respect to the disk) I shimmed up the ink disks “frame” that I’d mentioned earlier instead (which might not be necessary on your press).

P.S. - As for packing on this press, you do need to maintain the proper amount (which is somewhere around 0.030”-0.040”). This is to be sure that your rails don’t contact the platen when the press closes (rails, should be near type-high & need clearance).

Jason- Thanks for the reply. I spent some time this evening adjusting all 4 hexscrews and got it set to a level where it wouldn’t ink my base, but got my plate just fine. Then, I inked up the press for the first time since I have owned it (new rollers) and things went smoothly. I even got a really nice impression without having to mess too much with the impression dials yet.

But, I now have a couple more questions:
1. my impression lever is rather awkward to trip - meaning, it has to be in the perfect rotational position or else it’s kind of “stuck.” Aside from maybe oiling/adjusting that, I can only get one impression on my paper at a time without having to throw it off, let it rotate and back down, before I have to pull it again. This doesn’t seem right, but watching the lever as the press is moving doesn’t really seem to offer any clues. What am I missing here?
2. I have all 4 rollers on for now, do you suggest I take the bottom one off (to use 3) if I am running smaller jobs with less coverage?
3. Any tips on cleaning the rollers w/o taking them off? I used the method of rolling up the press by hand, slowly, and wiping each one at a time. Sort of time consuming (but I’m used to the 3-minute cleanup on my windmill.)
4. I need to buy another Boxcar Base. 9x12 seems too small for my 12x18 press. I’m considering having Boxcar cut one down to 10x15 (leaving enough room for high speed quoins and furniture around the edges.) Any reason why you would think I should do this? I’d like a bigger area to print on.

Thanks very much for your input-

Glad to help…

Some more info on your press is in order. I know your press is a C&P Craftsman, but is it by chance an automatic (not sure if all of ‘em were) or at least had it been at one time (and the feeder got removed).

The reason for asking is that The throw-off action you describe in Question 1: is typical of my Craftsman auto. The short answer is, if you don’t want it to throw-off after each impression - wrap rubber-band around the top of your throw off lever where the smaller impression trip lever is, to keep it “squeezed”. This is the official C&P method - from the manual (if you don’t have a manual download a copy from Boxcar Press).

I’ve still got a little work to do on my feeder, so I’ve been hand feeding my press for the time being but I’ve noticed that throw-off is tied into the suction for the feeder - I believe this keeps the impression trip lever open while the press is feeding paper, should the press miss a sheet it throws-off.

Question 2: NO! don’t do it… don’t load three rollers, ever. Those are double hooks on your press. You can run two or four rollers, but not three. Loading a set of your hooks up with only one roller won’t put proper pressure on the roller to keep it against the rails & that’s when bad things happen (above I told you about machining my rails - I think a roller had come loose in my press {before it was mine} and been closed in the bed - doing some pretty good damage).

Question 3: No real tips for the wash up, you might search around in the discussions. You can run some sheets of newsprint in-between your ink disk & rollers to eat up some of your excess ink (not under power) but it takes practice to keep them from wrapping around the rollers & even at that I blow it half the time. Also, try a couple drops of roller wash on your ink disk & run it into your ink before you clean up. Other than that, its just good ‘ol elbow grease.

Question 4: As for the base, bigger isn’t always better (but its usually the temptation). A few reasons to not fill up your whole chase with a large base would be - awkward feeding (to the far bottom corner) - no room left for your grippers/gripper fingers (you will need these, especially with large sheets, to aid in striping your sheet from the form) - & no flexibility (for different reasons & depending on what you print - you’re gonna want to move your plates to different areas in the chase {left, right or center}). I believe Box Car can cut a large base into two pieces, or at least make you two with matching heights - You might check into that or get a both a small & large base.

But don’t take my word for it on the non press-specific questions, search around the forum a little (or maybe post as a new topic) these get hashed over from time to time & you’re sure to find some more answers/opinions.


Jason and Jason,
This thread really helped us out with adjusting our 10x15 C&P Craftsman so I just wanted to say thanks!

I would not recommend Lettra for packing. Hard packing will provide a solid base for deep impression printing that will not “fade”. Soft packing will collapse during a run, which will yield a less crisp impression.

A nice packing for a platen would be one, or possibly two layers of red pressboard, then three or four layers of coated text/book paper to dial things up or down. Your packing strategy will be dependent on the kinds of paper/work you intend to run.

I learned in school: soft paper, hard packing; hard paper, soft packing…