Platen too far from chase!!!

Ahh… the first few weeks of working with the press sure is stressful!

I locked up some type in the chase so I can start playing with the impression screws. Unfortunately, there is something else I need to fix first. The platen bed is approximately 1/8” too far from the type as well as the roller rails. My press is a Victor 6x9 with four impression screws (one on each corner) and a hex bolt with platen back spring in the center. I have a feeling that adjusting the four impression screws won’t bring it forward that much, but am not sure how to adjust the center bolt. Am I correct in assuming that the center bolt moves the entire platen while the four screws level the platen? If so, I am having trouble moving the bed closer to the bed. Do I turn the bolt clockwise or counter clockwise to move the bed forward? When I tighten (or turn the bolt clockwise), I can only go so far before the platen back spring is compressed to the max. I know pictures would help but my camera battery just died so I can’t post photos until tomorrow.

Can anyone please help?! Is the spring too big and preventing me from bringing the platen further out?


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Online version of the Kelsey Printers Guide, required reading for all Kelsey owners. Thanks to Don Black!


Thanks for your comment! I’ve already read the Kelsey Printers Guide about 4 times and I just can’t seem to bring the platen any closer to the bed. Here are some photos to show the distance.

image: Platen screws.JPG

Platen screws.JPG

image: Side view of gap.JPG

Side view of gap.JPG

image: Gap between type and platen.JPG

Gap between type and platen.JPG

image: Side View of Press.JPG

Side View of Press.JPG

The main function of the center bolt and spring is to keep tension on the platen by pulling it back against the four adjustment bolts. Screwing the four bolts in moves the platen towards the bed and visa versa.

However, the center bolt probably needs to be unscrewed (counter-clockwise) some more in order to allow more space for the spring between the head of the bolt and the platen rocker (the cast iron part directly behind the platen that the adjustment screws are in.

Since the press was completely disassembled for restoration it isn’t surprising that some adjustments here may be needed. When it was reassembled the bolt was probably just screwed in until it stopped, which was too far.

You will only be able to back off on the center bolt so much because it is only so long, but you should be able to bring it out enough since the press did work at one time. Unscrew that bolt a little bit and screw in (clockwise) the four screws a little. Keep alternating back and forth like that a little bit at a time, checking the platen’s distance from the bed as you go. Once you get to the point where the platen is close enough to the bed (about type high would be good, you’ll move the platen back farther later during final adjustment), back off another half-turn or so on the center bolt just to make sure there is a little room for movement.

Doing this will provide the foundational position from which to properly adjust the platen for printing. You will still need to use a standard method of adjustment using only the four screws. That will move the platen away from the bed the correct distance to compensate for packing and get it parallel to the bed. The Kelsey manual describes this I think and I believe you’ve looked at that already.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ


That’s exactly what I did this morning (for about 2 hours) and got the platen adjusted closer to the bed. Then I put in some standard packing (oiled tympan, pressboard, oiled press sheet) and start adjusting only the 4 platen screws. Since I didn’t have four large type, I used the four ludlow slugs (courtesy of Alan Runfeldt!) of my name on the four sides of the press. I know this isn’t the proper way to adjust, but it was all I had. It took a lot of playing around since adjusting one screw also affected the other three. I pulled test blind impressions after each adjustment until all four slugs had an even amount of impression. I am really happy with the results! Here are some pictures of the final prints I pulled, one of the top slug and one of the bottom slug. Alan had given me two large and two small ludlow slugs of my full name. =)


image: The top and bottom impressions (I had two slugs of my name).JPG

The top and bottom impressions (I had two slugs of my name).JPG

image: Closeup of blind impression.JPG

Closeup of blind impression.JPG

image: Adjusting the grippers.JPG

Adjusting the grippers.JPG


How close were you able to get your platen to the chase? What paper did you use for your blind impressions?



After loosening the center bolt (only a little at a time) and adjusting the platen, I was able to bring the platen to just a tad further than type high (to account for packing and the actual print sheet later). It took a lot of playing with the screws to get the impressions even, but it finally works! I am using Crane’s Lettra 110# stock in Pearl White.

When I bought this newly restored press, I was told it’s more like a C&P Pilot than a typical Kelsey (it’s a Kelsey Victor 6x9) in that it is capable of more impression and also was better engineered. It’s true!!! I don’t feel I am pushing my press to make the impression as I have heard horror stories of parts snapping under pressure. I can easily pull the lever of my press to its full motion and no extra pressure on the lever is required at the end to produce the impression. Definitely a great investment!