cannot get even impression or any impression at all


I have a sigwalt table top press and I’m trying calibrate it for an even impression. I am putting type in 4 corners of my chase and adjusting the bolts under the platen for an even impression. This isn’t working for me. When adjusting the bolts, how much should you turn them? I have been trying every which way in adjusting them for 3 hours.
I will either get a little impression on one side of one type and the other three types I get no impression at all. The best I had was two types mostly getting an even impression with the other two getting no impression. Once I adjusted it for the non-impressed type, they were all gone again.

I’m sort of at my wits end with this and I’m wondering if I was sold a faulty press or if I’m doing something completely wrong.
I would love any advice, thanks!

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I do want to add that I am doing research on this forum and reading about past discussions on this problem. I’m just wondering if there’s a technique for adjusting the bolts and/or if there’s anything else to do to get an impression and an even one at that.

I understand that packing determines the impression depth but would it determine unevenness? I am putting packing in but it’s all even. Just want to make sure I’m doing this right! Thanks!

Are you using spacers to center the type? If so, there could be some warping somewhere along the line. I had the same issue but just on one side and there was some warping. No matter what I did to try and correct it, there was still an uneven impression.

Hope this helps!

I’m not sure what you mean by spacers to center the type… Could you explain further? I have one piece of type in 4 corners held by furniture and quoins.

set your type and just print man you can add little peices of paper under the type that doesnt impress. sounds to me like the type is un even or at best worn. i doubt seriously the press is that warped. todd

throw all your type in the press to test my worn type theory. todd

throw all your type in the press to test my worn type theory. todd

Thanks — I mean, this morning I got to a point where I almost had it — I was getting impression on all corners but some were lighter than others. so I made the tiniest adjustments to the bolts, nothing much, then a little more, nothing much… then I lost it all. back to square one.

As for the type — good hypothesis but I’ve switched out the type and it’s the same results.

go with no type at all. make the adjustment to a flat plane to check for warped platen. todd

Are you using a block to make sure that the type doesn’t raise as you lock it up?
The only other thing I would suggest is making sure to use an M or W (the wider letters) in the corners as you play. The platen bolts are very sensitive, so 1/8 of a turn at a time is usually good measure. Set one to get good impression, then move to the diagonally opposite corner. Once you get those even bring up the other 2 corners. Then bring the center bolt up just enough to hold the tension. It takes time, but unless your platen is warped, you’ll get it right eventually with patience.
You may want to loosen all the bolt and check your platen for flatness with a straight edge (check diagonals, horizontal and vertical). Do it with no packing on it and make sure you don’t get any light peeking through under the straight edge.
Hope that helps!

Thanks! I just spend most of the day on this and here’s what I’m getting. Yes, you’re right that the bolts are very sensitive and I learned that just an 1/8th of a turn can do the trick.
Good to know!
I had it set almost there and then decided that maybe I should double check with different type and trying locking it up again. I used the biggest type I had and… barely got an impression!
Are you supposed to calibrate the even impression with the biggest type?

I am using a block to tap down the type but maybe I’m not doing it hard enough? I’m scared to hurt the type. is it like hammering in a nail or like knocking on a door?

I’ll try doing what you suggest with setting one good impression and then moving to the diagonal one next and then bring in the rest of the corners. So the center bolt gets tightened last?

Thanks everyone for helping me out — I know this may seem like a novice problem but hey, everyone starts from the beginning so I really appreciate the help.

Late coming into this discussion. The traditional method was to put type in all 4 corners, adjust so they touched the bed, then back off so they did not touch. If you have a slight impression with large type, back off very gingerly to no impression. When you put in packing and make ready, you will be able to control the impression or depth of (current trend) at will. Depending on what you print with, new type, old type or photopolymer, your type height will vary anyway so you will have to even it out with make ready. Sounds like you are almost there. Keep at it.

every time you change the type or throw an impression remember that it aint perfect you must be smarter than the equipment you work with. dont do specs. run it make it work. its old and unforgiving. someone elses may have done the wrong thing to your press.. or you? Todd

you don’t need to use huge type. It really shouldn’t matter what size type you use so long as they’re all the same…. I guess I’d go with something average and easily discernible like a 12 or 18pt.
as for tapping the type… you shouldn’t have to hit it very hard. you obviously don’t want to damage it, but the pressure you hit it with will not begin to compare with the pressure a press will hit it with. You do want to be sure to tap it while there is enough pressure on it to hold, but not while it is tightly locked up. Basically, you get the type and furniture set in the chase, tighten the screws/quoins so that they have some resistance, but are not super tight, then tap the type down. Once you do that, use the block to hold the type down as you tighten the screws (or quoins, whichever you use) to be sure that it doesn’t raise again.
lastly, yes… the center bolt gets tightened last.

Thanks for all of the responses!
I have been working with it and smaller type seems to be much more manageable for me. I almost have it there now. I had it quite nicely with one impression and then I switched out the type in different locations and added a few more and they’re not even anymore. Kinda close but pretty noticeable that they’re not even. I guess with more type it was easier to notice that it wasn’t even to begin with.

It’s funny to try and calibrate something in this method because what you all are saying is right — with so many variables — type, lock up, packing, level platen, etc — all on a 100 year machine — it’s amazing to me that anyone can get an even impression.
Should I get it to where it was pretty close and then adjust with make-readys each time I”m ready to print?

Thanks again!

Just to update everyone who has helped me out. I got it back to it being very very close and tested a few words out and it looks pretty good. When it comes to larger surface areas, it seems like I’ll have to work on a make-ready for that.

Lessons learned:
1. All type is not created equal — I had bought a lot of old type ( not even labeled properly! ) at an auction and a lot of them are worn.
2. Adjusting the bolts means BARELY turning them. Just a hair makes all the difference.
3. Make sure type is level — I think I barely hit the block to try and level them and so that might have been a contribution.

Thanks again everyone — couldn’t have done it without everyone at Briar Press