Spotty Ink Issues

Hello All,

I am so new at this so excuse any struggle to get the right terminology. I have a chandler price letterpress that prints about a 6x9 area. I decided to do some business cards on there. I ordered polymer plates from boxcar and rubberbased ink from vanson. I seem to be able to print small text fine but whenever I have a solid area of coverage I am getting a heathered looking ink pattern (see links below) no matter how much pressure I give it or how well the platen/plate are inked. Any suggestions? I am using a pantone rubberbased ink straight out of the can.

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Let me hazard a guess, are you printing on Lettra? It looks like you don’t have enough ink. Try dampening the paper. My experience has been that Lettra take a lot of ink, more than other handmade cotton papers.

looks like not enough ink, you could try running the rollers over the disc and type a couple of times. the more of a solid you try to print the more ink and pressure it will take to make it work. good luck dick g.

I’d have to agree with LongDay on this, it appears you might need either more pressure or a bit of dampness in the paper to get a good image.

It is odd that even the thin lines (cut marks) are not printing solid. Does it look like the plate is properly inked, or are there some sparse ink areas on the plate itself? Try printing on a different paper and see what the image looks like. Try newsprint first as it is probably the most receptive substrate. Jisk print on a piece you tear off the daily newspaper. Then try some copier paper or bond and see if you get the same mottled look. If you do, then you more than likely need more ink or more pressure.

@longdaypress, Close! Reich Savoy paper… its very heavy and soaks in a ton. The darker testprint was me hitting it twice. I feel like i have it loaded with ink but maybe i just keep putting it on the platen. These tests are like 30 tries in so I know the rollers are coated with a healthy dose of ink.

Someone had suggested putting an additive in there to loosen it up? Good idea? bad? if so what kind of additive?

@jhenry, I have tried several papers (except for newsprint) and I have gotten the same random modeling. The plate looks well inked also. I like the idea of wetting the substrate a bit though, is that what you mean by dampness?

I am pulling the lever as hard as I possibly can is there anything else i can do to increase the pressure?

Interesting. I test printed some 118# Savoy and thought it better than Lettra. I wasn’t printing solids however, Just large type. I was very please with the way it printed. My class printed a 12 month calendar on lettra and it really required heavy inking for solids.[email protected]/4219423154/in/[email protected]

Try what you would consider too much and see what happens. You will see it quickly because your reverse type will start to plug. When you say 6 x 9, is that your print area or press size. If you are using an 8 x 12, it should be able to get good coverage on that area.

Good to note. I will try inking the crap out of it. It is an 8x 12 but 6x9 is like my printing area.

i should also mention that I am using a pilot press

i too use van son ink mostly, to thin it they sell a tack reducer, if you don’t want to spend money you could try a drop of oil or a drop or two of press wash on the ink disc to loosen the ink, if that works then invest in the tack reducer. good luck dick g. also if your rollers are old you could get the same result?

“I am pulling the lever as hard as I possibly can is there anything else i can do to increase the pressure?”

This is probably where you need to be looking

Pulling the lever hard(er) is not in itself a guarantee of increased pressure between your plate/paper. Things like rails bottoming out against the platen/packing & mechanics of the press (like if the lever hits a stop at the bottom of its stroke) could be rendering the harder pulling useless.

Does your image show any/much impression into the paper? It should fairly easily with a soft paper like that. If it doesn’t, then that says to me you might need to check your packing & adjust (add more) to increase your pressure.


Packing the platen more should help you out. Adding too much ink will give you more and different problems. After knowing what your paper stock is, the photos look to me that you are not getting enough impression.

The Pilot has stops beyond which pushing down on the handle will not go further. It is by adding packing to the platen that you can add impression.

For kicks and an amazing result, dampen a few sheets with a damp (not wet) sponge and wrap them with plastic wrap for a few minutes. Pull them out and try printing, & I’ll bet your image is improved.

To reduce the ink I use a product called Sterling Varnish that I get from my ink supplier. The main ingredient is linseed oil, so I don’t see any reason that some quality linseed oil shouldn’t work.

I am not sure about the Sterling Varnish, but pure linseed oil will darken the ink color considerably. If you are printing with black (it looks like you are) it shouldn’t matter…

I’ve used Sterling Varnish in yellow with no compromise to shade or hue.

I’ve had good success with dampening paper. I use thinner binder board cut in pieces and brush water on it with a japanese hake brush. the binder board soaks up the water and then I stack the paper in between the sheets of dampened board with a weight for maybe 15 minutes. Often the results are dramatic.