Gauge pin advise for a windmill

Hello, I am looking for any suggestions or advice for best guage pins (or other methods) for a 10 x15” windmill.

Our press came with a very large base and I am concerned that by using metal gauge pins the pins will enviably hit the base. The base measures 36cm wide by 26cm high and we only have 2.5cm space from the bottom edge of the chase to the start of the base.

We are based in Australia so finding pins here would be a challenge and we would need to order from na graphics or similar in the US.

Any suggestions, advise or images would be a huge help! I would hate to order pins all the way from the US to find that they have damaged both the base and press!


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i foil stamp with my windmill, the hot plate is like a base, i think, the gauges on the windmill should clear the base, i run my base 6 pts. from the bottom of the chase. there are only 2 kind of gauges for the windmill, the brass ones are what i try to use. good luck dick g.

You don’t use gauge pins on a Heidelberg platen. Download the manual from the Boxcar website (in the “You” section) and read it. Heidelberg made excellent manuals that explain practically everything. Don’t try to guess how it works; that is asking for misery.

Bespokepress Gauges Guides Pins etc.
Brass or nickel front lay guides are made to be fitted with pins. Lots of size options purchases or locally mfg. Best to use brass for sheet control but leaves about 14pt of stock below the inside of chase. If you have 2.5cm from bottom of base to bottom of chase you can use any size (guide/guage/front lay) pins you want that does not hit the base. You can make them with stiff wire.Will try to add pictures.

Hi, Bespoke—

When you are making ready, and using brass guides, put a sheet of stock to the guides by hand and insert the pin past the end of the base so that it can’t hit the base. The tail guide should be close to the end of the sheet, but not so close that the end of the sheet may catch on the pin—probably anywhere in the last quarter or so of the sheet will work. If the rear guide is too far forward, and the pin too long, the sheet may tear against it as it leaves the form; if the pin is too short, the sheet may hop over it when fed. If there is no room for a pin, try running without. Sometimes you can stand to the left of the press and see what’s happening to the sheet as the press closes. There is also a little brass guide, painted red—a “dummy” guide, that falls below the level of the actual brass guide. Sometimes a pin can be inserted in it to the left of the actual tail guide, so that the actual guide is in a good place to support the stock, and the pin in the dummy in another place to the left, out of the way.

The front guide should be to the right of the adjustment screw, on the end of the guide bar. Don’t use a pin in it—the gripper will ordinarily keep the sheet on the front guide.

The Heidi feeds paper in a circular motion so that the outside of the sheet (to the guides) is travelling faster than the inside. This introduces whip that can affect how the paper sits (or not) on the guides. Try reducing speed if you are having register problems or problems keeping the sheet on the guides.

Genuine Heidelberg pins seem to be astonishingly expensive. (A business opportunity for someone?) The Goody company makes a wire hairpin that works reasonably well. Use the thicker ones and knock the little lacquer bulb off the end of one prong of the pin, cutting off the other so that legs are of uneven length, just like the genuine article.

Nickel guides are another matter. They shouldn’t hit anything in the chase, but of course the idea is that they should be very close. Since they do not project under the platten, there is also the problem of paper slipping behind them. Probably a good thing to avoid using them if possible.

Good luck, Brian

I’ve been using paper clips as they’re less expensive and are easy to adapt. You’re have to get the guage that will fit into the holes on in the guides. They can be bent easily into any shape you need.

Don’t buy lay pins for the Heidelberg T model! Make them from paperclip wire. If you need taller, build it up with white tape. Even the hardest and longest lay pins will only gently scrape your base. However, watch out for image/type vs. lay pin collisions!

Another thing about using soft paper clip wire for fashioning lay pins: if you accidentally hit a cut rule with the soft wire, it will not take a big chunk out of the rule, as will the hardened steel Heidelberg lay pins.

However, even the softest wire lay pins can damage a mag or photopolymer plate beyond repair. Uhm, how do I know this?

Unless there is plenty of side margin, start with the shortest soft wire lay pin, or nothing at all on the left brass gauge. Sturdy stocks often require no lay pin in the left brass guide, except if there is an upward curl, or when running at high speed. Try running with no lay pin in the left brass guide, and build up from there.

In response to myths and legends:
Nickel guides are a necessary evil when there is zero side margin, as in perfing side to side. There is a sheet steadier (Heidelberg# T 0258 F) that prevents the stock from slipping under the left nickel guide. Or, you can create a smooth ramp of white tape on the tympan, just behind the left hand nickel guide and extending slightly below the bottom edge of the tympan, to hold the tail of the stock slightly away from the tympan as the nickel guides come up.
Be aware that anything on the tympan or steel jacket can eventually wear and peel, causing registration problems.

Lots of good advice here, but everyone seems to have missed one critical and very basic point:

The Heidelberg Windmill has TWO methods of feeding - one, which is generally referred to as “Commerical Register”, doesn’t use any pins at all. The gripper holds the sheet throughout the entire printing process.

It’s “pretty good” register, but relies on both arms being straight and in perfect condition. Typically, one arm will feed and hold the sheet in a slightly different position, so the lay guides are really helpful when doing two color work or when feeding small card stock.

When running “To the Guides”, the brass and nickel “lay pins” do indeed come into play.

Although for 90% of our work, we use commercial register, I have printed 3-color business cards with perfect trapping register using the nickel guides and even some 10x15”++ (oversized) two-color posters using the brass guides.

But it is IMPORTANT TO NOTE that to switch between commercial register and “to the guides”, it’s necessary to loosen a screw on the windmill head and slide a short piece into either end of its channel to position a projection that will cause the gripper to open and drop the sheet momentarily - just as the “lay guides” come up into position. Once the sheet is printed, the grippers close back onto it and pull the sheet out to the delivery.

This screw & slide should be marked and otherwise pretty obvious.

You will also want to mount the removable right-side guide if you will be using either the brass or nickel guides.

And, yes. paper clips make excellent replacements for the fancy steel wires that Heidelberg sells to slip into the small holes on both the brass and nickel guides.

Almost forgot - the nickel guide set includes one odd-looking guide that has a wide extension and is excellent for printing business cards. For larger stock, I suggest using the brass guides - which require a few more points clearance from the edge of the form.

Also - that “lower” brass guide (typically marked in red) is indeed designed to hold a wire guide and goes between the other two brass guides. It sits below the guides and is meant only to add support with the built-in lip or to position a third wire guide if needed to support light, flexible stock.

But - for most work, the commercial register is more than adequate to do a good job. We only run to the guides for multi-color, tight-register work or when printing business cards one-up.

I commonly feed stock cut to less than 2” using commercial register and just finished a 10M run of tickets on 90# index and am about to begin a 5m run imprinting 50# coated labels - also less than 2” wide…

As one of the responders recommended above - if you will be running a Heidelberg Windmill, their operator’s guide is a real asset and excellent reference.

- Alan

The sheet steadier Jim mentions would be a great pickup if you ever run across it, but it’s not crucial. You just have to be considerate to the whip your paper has when feeding and how much it bounces away from the platen. In most cases you’ll be able to move your left guide far right enough with a lay pin high enough to catch the paper while providing a balanced sheet when sitting on the guides.

I can’t stress enough though to pull a print on your make ready sheet before placing pins. Otherwise you may print on a pin and completely ruin your plate. Once you pull a print on the make ready you’ll be able to see a clear and safe area to place the pin.

On another note did Heidelberg make a chase without the leveling/balancing bar on it? (I forget the actual term.) I know there’s chases with different height leveling bars (i.e. for the old foil setup), but the standard type chase is type high. Which means this contacts the paper when printing a 15” sheet. This is advantageous in that it will pinch the paper and help prevent slur on the tail end. However, if printing a large form requiring a fair amount of pressure, this bar can mark the paper. A leveling bar wouldn’t really be needed with a full size form either. Other things could be done to prevent slur if that was an issue. I also tried removing some packing where the bar is. That worked I suppose, and might be what I do in the future. Though I’ve thought about locating another chase and just grinding it off as to not complicate the packing and having to adjust for the difference of impression for each form. Just wondering what other people do.

I am looking for gauge pins to use on an Arab hand fed platen.

Thank you for any help.

Why not use thin quads for lays either glue on or d/sided tape. Thats how I was taught for Arab printing. If you need additional info let me know.

Back to your original post for the windmill…
Boxcar Press makes a swing-away lay gauge that works well. Pricey. It’s like having a lay pin that swings away on impression to protect your plate from damage.

@bppayne I actually have the swingaway lay gauge - but had to stop using as it kept getting stuck in the down position. Too much of a hassle tinkering with it and having to reset it constantly. I’m not sure if it is because I have the GT model (13x18). Anyway, I’m back to using the regular brass lay gauges (Part Nos. T0264F (left lay gauge), T0265F (right lay gauge), and T0276F (auxiliary lay gauge), which work just fine - even as I’m terrified on dropping them into the platen arm hole and never being able to retrieve them again.

As to the pins mentioned in other comments, I’ve found that gauge 20 solid wire will work well for the pre-drilled standard holes in the brass gauges - I believe most normal paperclips are gauge 18 (or perhaps 19) and therefore their diameter is slightly too big. I guess you could find 20g wire in a hobby shop (stainless steel) or in the electrical section of a hardware store (copper).

Card stock cut to about 3P x 10P taped to the back of the brass guide.
Never ruins a cutting rule.
Adapt it’s shape length and angle as needed.
Just sayin’.

Gauge pin material: Just found the wire packaging for the wire I used for gauge pins - I use a brand called Beadalon, 20 gauge, round, 3/4 hardness, 316L Stainless Steel Wrapping Wire. It’s a bit thinner than paper clips. I believe I bought it at a craft store but it is also available on Amazon.