Barn Finds DO exist!

You know, life can be funny sometimes. One day you think that all of the “barn finds” and “great deals” have all been snapped up and there’s nothing left to find. Then all of a sudden your entire outlook is forced to change. I’ve come to believe that there are a LOT of old presses out there just waiting for us to find them.

Yesterday while negotiating the purchase of an old lathe, I told the seller that I needed it to turn taper pins and repair shafts for old printing equipment. To which he said: “Yeah? I have a few old presses rusting away in the barn”. You wanna look at ‘em?” Of course I did… and after a short negotiation and a lot of heavy lifting, I drove home with a truckload of presses (and of course a lathe).

Below are pics of what I picked up. I got two 6x10 C&P Pilots, One 8 x 12 Craftsmen, four 12 x 18 chases of unknown origin, 20 pounds of leading and borders, and a really nice 14” Paragon Paper Cutter. (and a 10 x 36 Craftsman lathe) They all have a good coating of old paint, rust and dirt, but there are no broken castings, and all of the parts are there. They are real “gems in the rough”. I’ll have to take them apart, blast them clean and repaint them before they’ll be presentable….. but that’s not a big deal. I’ve rebuilt many presses through the years.

I guess my point is this: There are a LOT of old presses still out there in the world. Finding them and putting them back into service takes a bit of effort and a lot of luck….. but it is certainly possible. “Barn Finds” really DO exisit!

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Wow — wonderful finds!

I always look but I have to come across a single press anywhere! I know look harder..

Excellent finds! I am sure there are a LOT of tabletops out there rusting away just waiting to be rescued.

Looks like you might have to resurface the ink disks and probably the platens/chase beds? Do you have a plan of attack in mind?


Why oh why does this never happen to me??? I go lots of obscure places with old sheds, but – nothing!!

I’m very happy for you … well-deserved, and I’m so pleased they’ve fallen into the right hands. But I’m also quite, quite jealous.

Wow what a great find, are you planning on selling any of these once they have been refurbished? Perhaps the craftsman 8x12? We are in Louisiana and can arrange shipping/pickup.

Winking Cat, you’ve assured me over yonder on the thread about Pilots’ awesomeness that they really *are* all that, so if you do decide to sell one after you have done your magic, I’ll be in line! :-)

Thank you all for sharing the good words!

I WOULD say that such finds are the result of dilligent searching…. but in reality it is mostly just dumb luck. I found my Sigwalt while looking at old furniture at a junk shop.

dicharry- yes, I’ll have to do some resurfacing on the ink discs and beds. I’ve got a lathe and milling equipment, so I can do that myself….. it’ll keep me out of trouble for a few week-ends.

As far as the platens go, I’ll polish them and not worry about it. They aren’t pitted enough to be a problem once the red-board and packing are on them.

Concerning the disposition of the presses once completed: At this point, I have no idea. My shop is very small and already crowded so I can’t keep everything. I know some are going to have to go. I just don’t know which ones. (Selling a press is sort of like watching one’s children go off to college…. except that they never call home and ask for money!)

Congratulations on such a wonderful find! I would have been sick with excitement!

Ha! They don’t call…but they do take your money!

Thats one heck of a washbasket too. Looks rare.

Good eye Waldwick! That appears to be a genuine 1970’s Rubbermade washbasket…. but I haven’t had time to research it yet. It contains the 20lbs of leading…

I’ve got to raid your contact list.
That is an amazing find. You do have some time and work in front of you. The Craftsmen is especially cool.

Excellent find! I too would like to find something like that. Now you have to get them cleaned up. Have fun. I like the paper cutter, I bet it is going to work just like new after cleaned and painted.

winkingcat, have you found a bulk supplier of naval jelly yet?
a rusting hulk is hardly a find and any person who lets them go to that point is a fool. Where do you find time to make gummy bear rollers and refurbish these old pieces of rust?
Maybe out there is a barn full of time… james

James- Beauty…. and the definition of a “find” is certainly in the eye of beholder. One person sees rusting hulks…. the next guy sees what those hulks can become with some effort. You’d be amazed at what one can do with an old “rusting hulk”. I’ve refurbed quite a few old machines through the years…. many in far worse condition than these here. When finished, they’ll be quite nice presses.

(Dealing with the rust itself not a big problem at all when you know how it’s done. )

I DO agree that whoever left these to rust away was a fool. I’d have much rather found almost new presses still wrapped in cosmoline…. but hey, we don’t always get what we want.

As far as time goes…. it’s always in short supply. I’m never real fast at doing anything. I just work steady, and avoid non-productive tasks like mowing the lawn…..

Say, Winking Cat—how did you get that Paragon in and out of your truck? I’m picking up one just like it soon, and while the seller can help get it in, I am not so sure how I’ll get it out! I know it’s heavy—is it also super-clumsy to handle? Should I worry about getting guillotined? Any tips?

p.s. I like your time-management scheme…you are a cat after my own heart. (That’s why my house sports the cruddiest-looking lawn on the street.)

Cloth….. the Paragon weighs about 150 lbs or so. It’s not too hard to handle with two people but it DOES pose some risk. Before you lift it, make sure that the handle is UP and latched in place with the safety latch. Just to be sure, I wedged a couple of wood blocks to keep the blade from coming down unexpectedly.

Another scheme would be to put the handle down all the way, and then duct -tape it securely before lifting it.

As far as the lawn goes…. it’s all a matter of priority and resources. I find it more expeditious to hire a local lawn-guy than to cut it myself.

Well, I’m so pleased that you discovered the “rusting hulks”! What some people might pass up as too much trouble, you will restore to their former glory. So in the end, there’ll be that many more wonderful machines circulating in the letterpress world. In that sense, we all win.

Very good website. I liked it very much. Comments from

Agreed on that, Pepperinapress.

Winking Cat, I went today to pick up the Paragon (also located in a barn—but no presses—don’t think I didn’t look!) and it turned out to be a behemoth—must be 11 sizes larger than the one you got. I am not sure what question I failed to ask to get such a wrong idea about the size of the thing—it will cut the sails on a frigate! (Well…slight exaggeration.)

Anyway, the seller fork-lifted it in chunks into my truck, and now I really gotta figure out how the #^%!!! to get it out. It’s a beaut, though—if a big beaut.

I also got to spend a happy hour poking around in a barnyard shed and picking out a stack of loaded type cases and miscellany that was stored there. (We’ll see how much of it is useable…)

A most pleasant day on the prairie.

i have dream of finding printing press lol nice find!! i envy you!

Rust doesn’t intimidate me anymore, either, so I’m jealous of your lovely barn haul. It is indeed the time that seems to escape us, but obviously if those presses have been sitting around this long, a bit longer won’t hurt them any.

Enjoy the process!

(P.S. What I wouldn’t give to find a few more Pilots sitting around somewhere these days …)