so frustrated with uneven impression for the golding pearl

hi all,

i am hoping someone can offer some words of wisdom. i have been playing with my press for almost 3 days straight. i cannot seem to pull a tight impression. i am printing a 5X7 card. i have adjusted and readjusted the platen, adjusted and readjusted packing. i am not sure what to do now. :( does anyone ahve any advice? its a golding improved pearl 7X11.

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oh and i am using a deep relief box car base and photopolymer plates.

In the title of your post you mention an uneven impression and in the post itself you mention a tight impression. What exactly do you mean, i.e. what is the exact nature of the problem?

First we’ll want to try and elminate some potential problems: What method did you use to adjust the platen? What kind of packing are you using?


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Thank you so much for responding!!!

Well, basically I have tried everything.
I guess I will start from the beginning again.

It would give a nice deep impression on one half of the 5X7 and not on the upper opposite corner. But then if I packed more on that corner, then the flywheel got stuck.

Then I went back to round zero, repacked everything. Wasn’t pulling a deep impression at all, or it would be uneven. So I fiddled with the four bolts on the platen.

Basically my goal is to have a nice, deep impression that is consistent.

I am printing 5X7 invites with a slight bleed. I spoke to someone who uses manila folders as the top paper to absorb extra bleed., and I tried that. Using red board, and like a 32 lb sheet also.

I was screwing and unscrewing the bolts. I am using photopolymer plates. Any words of advice?

OK, you’ll need to start from scratch, which is fine. The first thing you need to do is adjust the platen properly. There are specific ways do do this and I’ll mention one basic way.

1. The first thing to determine is what will be a basic packing for you. A hard packing is best for most printing. A standard packing is a tympan paper topsheet; a pressboard; a sheet of index, and perhaps four sheets of 20 lb. bond paper. Tympan is an oiled manila paper that is tough and hard, made especially for this purpose. It’s available from several suppliers including NA Graphics. Pressboard is a thick, hard board, usually red. Alpha-numeric file dividers are basically pressboard though they are green. Not hanging files, but the kind with letters or numbers printed on top that slide between files folders for organization. You can get them, index, and bond from Staples. Personally I don’t think a manila file folder is a good option, it’s too soft among other things.

2. Dress the platen with this packing. The order is, from the outside towards the platen: tympan, pressboard, index, and bond. Make sure for this operation that the entire platen is covered. Usually you can leave a margin on each side that’s not covered.

3. Lock up four of the largest pieces of type (sorts) you have in the extreme four corners of the chase.

4. Turn the press by hand with the throw off lever out and slowly allow the platen to close. If the press goes through a complete rotation you can go on to the next step. If not, adjust the platen away from the bed until it does.

5. Tape a sheet of paper to the top edge of the platen so it overlays the tympan. Have several more sheets ready.

6. Ink the press and turn it by hand until it prints on the test sheet. Look at the print. What you want to do now is adjust the platen bolts so that you will get an even impression and good print from each of the four sorts in the corners. You’ll need to take trial impressions, make an adjustment, take another impression with a clean sheet, adjust the platen, etc. This will be a bit tedius but the results will be worth it. Do not try for a deep impression, just a nice clean even print from each of the four sorts.

Once the platen is adjusted properly you should not have to adjust it again except in extraordinary circumstances. The evenness of the impression will now be consistent. You can adjust the amount of the impression by adding or removing the bond, index, or even the pressboard. This will not make up for worn type, imperfect plates, etc. For those problems you will need to do makeready. But this will provide you with a foundation from which to make those finer adjustments, and often it will be sufficient to get good results without anything further.

Keep in mind that the more thin sheets, like the bond, that you add the softer the packing. You’re better off removing some of the bond and adding index or even removing the bond and index and adding a second pressboard. Whatever combination will give you the impression you want while maintaing a hard packing.

People have different ways of course, but what I’ve described is a pretty standard and effective one.

Let us know how you make out.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

P.S. The method I’ve tried to described is explained much better in the excellent book Platen Press Operation. In my view this is a must-have book.

You are amazing, I havent read thru the whole thing, but I plan on following this to a “T” tomorrow morning. Seriously this forum is so wonderrful. Thank you so much for being so helpful and passionate about letterpress!! :)

I actually tried to get this book, and couldnt find it anywhere!!!

And one problem I dont have any type. I ahve been using polymer plates!

Is there a difference between: “adjust the platen away from the bed until it does.” and “adjust the platen bolts so that you will get an even impression and good print”

The platen bolts move the platen in and out, toward and away from the bed. So no, there’s no difference except in the way I phrased it.

You will need to use type, preferably foundry type that is in good condition. 60 or 72 point would be great or the largest you can get. However, I think anything under 18 point would be too small. Use large caps such as M, W, etc. Perhaps you can borrow four sorts from a local printer.

I believe the book is out of print though NA Graphics may have some. Check Amazon for used copies. I bought mine on Ebay.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

P.S. One thing to remember is to tighten the locking nuts on the platen bolts after each adjustment before making each trial impression. The bolt have a tendency to come out of their holes slightly when turned which is OK, but you don’t want a false test. Take your time a be patient and persistent. It’s a bit annoying having to do that but in the end will be worth it.

Copies on Amazon and eBay are priced at 125+. My local libraries have it either withdrawn, or not allowable to be taken out. I was able to find two Ralph Polk books real cheap, The Practice of Printing and Elementary Platen Presswork. I’ll try to check out the Mills book at the library before spending a lot on it, but would you say it compliments and/or goes deeper then the Polk book, or would I be spending money on another version of the same information?

so i just noticed that the trucks are not full rolling down the rails…they roll down part of the way and then are almost “lifted up” and then hit the rails again….any advice?

actually it is only the top roller that wasnt rolling on the rails…so weird. so i took it off and only placed the bottom two rollers.

if anyone could offer suggestions as to why it would do that…or knows some sort of golding guru i’d appreciate :)

if anyone could offer suggestions as to why it would do that…or knows some sort of golding guru i’d appreciate :)

Did you say Golding Guru?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY


It sounds like your problem with the rollers not tracking properly might be caused by the roller hooks binding. This can be caused by the trucks fitting tightly against the hooks, forcing them outward slightly and causing them to bind and not slide in and out of the roller arms smoothly. With the rollers installed as they were, pull outward on the hooks to see if they’re binding; check them also without the rollers installed. If the hook rods are slightly bent that can also cause this problem.


Still having inking problems. I spoke to the man who sold me the press. Said the rollers were rhino rollers —composition rollers that are about 7 years old. So I think I might replace them.

Hi Katesy: I have a Pearl 9x14 and had many of the same problems you had. You could contact me off list if you’d like at [email protected]. Good Luck. Michael