Kelsey 5X8 Impression and Inking

I am using a Kelsey 5X8 Excelsior and am running into some trouble with inking/impression. Actually, I’m not sure which at the moment, though my bet is it’s a combination of both. I am printing a form in the shape of a star. The lower legs of the star are getting over inked while the top is under inked. The answer to this seemed to be that when I measured the rails, the left rail changes height… type high at the top and perhaps 1 pt lower at the bottom. After I taped the rails and tried to build up the bottom a bit, inking was better, but I still can’t seem to make sense of the impression strength over the page. Is there a way of telling whether it is an inking problem or an impression problem?

I have spent quite a bit of time adjusting the platen, makeready and rails, starting over again and still ending up with results that don’t seem to make sense after what I have done. Could it be that the star shape of the form is the root of the problem, in that it has such drastic changes in density from the inside to the outside?

My hope is this isn’t too big of a form for the press. Anyway, I have attached a picture to help visualze what I’m working with. (As you can tell I ran out of m-quads at the end!)

Thank you,
Richard Worsham

image: Star Forme.jpg

Star Forme.jpg

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Is the sheet of paper you are printing upon small enough that you could run rule to act as roller bearers down the outside of your form, still on the rollers but outside of the paper area?


The paper we’re using is 5 1/2” wide (equivalent to the vertical height of the chase in the picture) so yes, if I’m understanding what you are saying I could potentially run something down the very outside of the form, or at least the chase. Is there an approved method for doing this?

Thanks you,

An 18 point rule down each side, a little longer than your form should really help. Of course the rule has to touch the rollers, and not be hit by gauge pins or the press bales, and be outside the area of the paper. You might need to bevel the edge of the rule a little so the rollers don’t hit it abruptly.


Makes sense. Do you recommend this as a permanent fix for this kind of problem on future jobs or simply to eliminate the variable of inking in order to move on to impression adjustment?


With my Kelsey (and others on here have mentioned them as well) I have a couple of small metal angles that get locked up on the 2 ends of the chase. The rollers ride on these, making even inking much easier to accomplish. If you contact excelsior press or someone else who deals with Kelseys they should be able to help you find a pair. If not, get in touch with me and I can send you photos and measurements to have some -or something similar- made.
I would think it would be better long term for your rollers than using rule would.

Any type form will get more impression on the edge; yours proves that point to the extreme. You will probably need to build up layers of make-ready graduating toward the center, even with bearers. The bearers should give you more even inking, which, on a form like yours is problematic. You will also have to be very careful of the inking, because the outer points will get more ink than the center. Bearers are just one tool in a very large toolbag of tricks that you will have to develop. In my experience with Kelseys, you have to make a lot of adjustments to the platen, there is no one setting fits all. The bearers should make it a little easier to level your platen.


I couldn’t agree more with the once size not fitting all on the little Kelseys and I’m pretty used to it. Yes, the bearers did help me isolate the unevenness of the platen. I leveled the platen using large pieces of type in the four corners of the chase and found that my previous adjustments were pretty close. However, confident that the lower part of the form was not being over inked, I was able to I was able to make some minor adjustments that helped me achieve almost uniform inking once I had followed your advice with the rules down the side of the form. With a little makeready behind the central and more dense area of the form it is printing beautifully. I think it was in reality more of a problem of impression than of inking. However it took the process of eliminating all the variables to discover this. Thank you.