C&P 8x12 Motor

Folks- I’m about to lose my mind. I’ve been to the grainger store (yeah, I know, not the least expensive alternative out there, but they worked in a pinch) 4x in the past 2 days swapping out supplies/motors, etc.

My issue: I’m trying to motorize my 8x12c&p with absolutely no luck at all. I replaced the ‘old motor’ a 1/2 hp tiny Dayton motor—- it literally went up in smoke with the new-fangled replacement and about made THAT turn into a smoke bomb just 3 min. into it turning the wheel on the press. I stepped it up to a 3/4 hp motor and it’s so fast I can hardly see whats happening- no way am I printing on that. I bought one of those variable speed controls, and while it helps, when i put it low enough to feel confortable enough to print, it just stalls out the motor.

… for those with a motorized 8x12 c&p, what are YOU doing that seems to work? I honestly don’t want this to pump out 1k prints a min, but speed up the ‘treadle’ process.

The electrician has just left (had to put power in the studio), and i’m unhooking everything from the motor. it’s just too damn scary to print like that. I like my fingers.

Any advice?

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I also wanted to slow down my motor.

read everything in the thread below


Hope something in there helps.



i grew up next to the town dump, i would remove the washing machine motors and run my presses with them, using a leather sewing machine belt to drive the press. i would get a year or two out of a motor. Dick G.

Horsepower and speed are not the same—you need to look for the RPM on each motor. Usually 1725-1800 RPM.

You say you bought a ‘variable speed control’. What exactly did you purchase? The best solution would be a 230v, 3ph, 1/2 or 3/4hp motor connected to a VFD that has 115v input (from the wall).

If this doesn’t make any sense just let me know—I’ll be happy to walk you through what you need and how to get it going in a very safe manner.

Dicharry— you’re right on the money. I’ve called grainger (for the eleventy-billionth time) and discovered that the motor they sold to me, was NOT the one I needed.

Dickg— as much as I would love to go scouring through my horrible washingmaching (really, I would love to kill it! haha), I would have NO idea how to make that thing run on my press. ;) Any photos you can share of your success with your find?

… I’m on the hunt to find the 3ph motor with the vfd (I sound like I know what i’m talking about- I don’t…) and HOPING that it works before I scream at the paper gods for bringing me such challenges. ;)

Thanks for the help, folks!

I have always had really good luck going to small electric motor repair companies. There are usually 1 or 2 in every town. Alot of times they will have used and rebuilt motors for a fraction of the cost of a new one. I’ve used small shops to clean and rebuild several motors, at very good prices. They may even have some technical information on the kind of motor you need for the press you have. I would be willing to bet that Fritz Klinke at NA Graphics would have that info as well.


Paul— right on the money there, my friend. I called around town to find someone who refurbed and a nice gentleman not but 3 miles away from my studio had 2 motors in hand that may work. I’m on my way to lug them back to Gable (my press) and return to him (with a smile) whichever one doesn’t work out. They’re tracking down a switch at the moment to save me from reaching down and ‘dialing down’ the motor right on itself— I don’t want to get smooshed!

thanks for the feedback, all!

How are you controlling the speed of your motor? You seem to have a speed control in place‚ I’m just curious what kind.


You can run the 8 x 12 on a half HP motor. 3/4 HP is better. In either case you want to help the motor when starting the press by giving the flywheel a spin. There is a lot of iron the motor has to get moving.

If you want a full range of speeds, then a motor speed control device (and more purchase money) is required.
If you want a fixed and comfortable and safe speed, you can do it with speed reduction pulleys. I have a two speed motor on the press I use for students and with a double reduction with the pulleys, it operates at either 10 or 15 impressions per minute. The little motor runs at the full designed speed and is happy. The student is comfortable and confidant with the slower speed.


As a self taught, novice print maker, I’ve been thankful that our motorised C&P came with a slightly agricultural, but very functional, speed reduction pulley and V-belt system (see attached photo). This allows the antiquated motor to run full tilt whilst running the press at approx. 8 impressions per minute. This will allow me to increase the speed in small increments as my skill and confidence improves. The pulley bar is clamped to the base of the press, as is the motor, so the belt tension can be adjusted to suit the pulley being used.

image: IMG_0209.JPG


Hi folks— just a quick update. Got the 1/2hp 3phase motor with a frequency converter hooked up to Gable (the press). I am astonished how much more efficient I am!

The frequency converter (purchased through Grainger) was the most expensive of the project (no, I take that back, it was the electrician….) and could literally operate a space craft its so advanced. I can control the speed, turn it on and off- everything, it’s amazing. The electrician rigged up a light switch as a ‘kill switch’ in case anything went ary.

Gable runs like a dream on it- I don’t even need to ‘jump start’ the motor with moving the flywheel. I’ll try to post pics soon!

Thanks for the advice everyone!!

What model is it, i am also trying to slow down my press and would love speed control.


Sorry Paul- that would have been helpful to post before. Here are the items I got from Grainger.

It’s been 10 print orders and nearly 10k prints, and that motor is working like a champ. LOVE IT!


Frequency Inverter (what will control the speed for you):

I would recommend Dealers Electric for the Variable Frequency Drive (Inverter). The same model costs about 1/4 the cost of Grainger:


I’ve bought from Dealers in the past and have always had excellent service.


Here is another way to do it; I originally posted this a few weeks ago on this site. Personally, I like the work-out with the C & P treadle, I find a good shot of oil in all the lubrication holes before I start noticeably reduces the foot power required.

The motor has a few pulleys of different sizes to change speeds, this is the slowest.



Brad— You’ve got me- what a great deal. and it looks nearly exactly to what I have from Grainger (damn).

I was able to purchase an extended warantee on the one purchased from Grainger, and for some reason, that made me feel better (it shouldn’t have, these should last forever).

I had the electrician rig up a ‘light switch’ to allow me to turn off the press quickly if ever necessary— did I need to do that? no, but it made me feel a bit safer if something ever happened. I also had him rig up the wiring away from the frequency drive since it is prone to getting hotter than the sun while in operation. Again, an unecessary step, but I felt more confortable.

Dan… I really like the overhead pully system you have! it looks like it’s able to work on 2 presses at once from the video; it’s always nice to invite a friend over while printing for the day. ;)

I’ll try to post photos tonight of what the set-up on Gable looks like with the motor & frequency- it may help others who are trying to figure out how this should all go together.

btw— do alot of folks have the motor mount that comes with the c&p—a metal peice that connects right to the press (or anything specific that seems to be designed for their press)? Mine came with it when I aquired my 8x12, but i’m noticing that many folks have made their own mounts/boards for mounting the motor- wonder if there is an advantage to either. I tend to notice a slight vibration when I first start up the press, but it seems to stop after about 30 seconds so printing is just fine.

I prefer the press-attached motor mounts because it allows you to adjust the tension of the belt by tightening/loosening the threaded shaft that attaches the motor mount to the press.

The light switch is a fine idea, but keep in mind that the press will keep moving for some time after the switch has been flipped. The best insurance you can have is a brake located on the left side of the press. Step on the brake to slow or stop the press—just don’t stomp the brake as cast iron doesn’t like sudden jolts.

I look forward to seeing the photos of your setup.

Don’t know if these images will appear… Tried to mark them up for you all.

I quickly realized as we got the press working, that the old belt wasn’t going to cut it. In fact, it broke in half as we were tightening everything up.

wow, thanks for all of this good stuff!

hi everyone thanks for all the info above.

I am wanting to add a motor to my currently treadle driven C&P 8x 12 old-style. I have virtually no understanding of electrical motors and currents and such. So, I want to see if I am getting the picture. If someone could confirm or clarify, I’d be much obliged.

speed control is of the utmost importance. I want to be able to keep it slow.

Seems like I have two options: 1) Find an old motor and learn how to play with belts and pulleys to regulate speed. Are older motors single phase and will older motors generally plug into modern 120 residential outlets or should I expect to make some modifications? If there is a basic general how to about this I’d love a link.

Option 2) Buy a new 3 phase motor and then get a Variable Frequency Drive. Is the idea here that my garage only has single phase 120 power, but the motor needs 3 phase power and the VFD converts the single phase to the necessary 3 phase?

I am actually remodeling my garage currently and putting in a new electrical panel. Do I need a specific circuit type to set this up correctly? Or can I assume that some solution will let me plug a motor into a standard 15 or 20 amp circuit and 120 outlet?

As far as belts go, my press only has the large flywheel, it does not have any kind of wheel on the opposite end of the drive shaft. So what are my belt options and where does one find large rubber or leather belts for this kind of thing?

thanks so much, Josh

I really don’t know what all the fuss is about. My last 8X12 NS C & P had a system simular to MrClifford’s post. Only mine went straight from the motor pulleys to the flywheel. Had 3 different young ladies running this. When I felt they were comfortable enough w/the press, I would walk around behind the press, using my foot I would nudge the belt up to the next pulley to speed it up. First action from anyone operating the press was the throw-off! However, they learned real fast how to “kick it in 2nd or 3rd”. BTW, yea, we all sill have our feet, toes and fingers. If you don’t want to use your foot, a long screwdriver, or pry-bar, or 2X4 will work. It’s no rocket science after all. I would like to have all the money spent on these vfd’s, rfd’s tfd’s or what ever they’re called. What did the old-timers do? I know, Ive got A Kimble VS too. Also do my own maintenance,What I’m trying to say is don’t buy in to all the hype. Ask around before spending big buks on something you don’t need. Just because someone as plenty of money to burn and hire’s some expensive engineer to solve his problem does not mean that’s the only way.
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press


All valuable information in your last post— but for folks that are a) unfamiliar with motors and their operation with regards to a press and b) looking for a fix NOW as opposed to ‘trying to figure it out later’, the options we’ve posted above are decent and valid.

Admittedly, I {just speaking for myself here…} spent too much to get my press motorized— thanks to Dan for posting a more economical option—but in MY case, I was tired of working on this project, and just looking to ‘throw money at it’ and get it working the RIGHT way. Sure, I learned the hard way- which is why I was diligent at posting my experience here on briarpress so others won’t face my same fate, but if someone came and told me to operate a press the way you just described, I would walk out of that building; I don’t even trust myself with a coffee pot some mornings, let alone directions like that to change the speed of a press.

You might try putting a smaller pully on your motor

Hey Folks,
It has come time for me to consider adding some horsepower to my treadle driven 8 x 12 C&P.
I have read many posts and can see there are many ways to approach this. I am sure that most of the purists on the BP site will tell me the “right” way to do this.

I am looking to do something that is outside the box, as they say. I don’t have a pulley flywheel on the right side, nor its the shaft long enough to add one. I am not keen on the idea of putting a belt on the flywheel.
I am actually thinking about using a motor with a rubber tire on a lever system. A system where the motor would be mounted on a see-saw like board and the spinning tire would be brought into contact with the flywheel by stepping on one end. I’d start the press by hand and treadle and then stepping on the operator side of the lever device I push the tire into contact with the flywheel to give it an occasional boost.

I know this is a little off the wall, but has anyone done anything like this? Or any other alternative variations to the “right” way. What are your thoughts?

Couple of things-
Well, the right way is to install a flat belt pulley, but if the shaft isn’t long enough, there goes that idea.

Having a moving treadle when the press is under power can be a hazard- usually it gets disconnected (the treadle, that is); I certainly wouldn’t want it.

A flat belt on the flywheel is just fine, many people do that. It’s also easier to do the speed reduction from motor to press with the larger diameter of the FW.

Probably the biggest problem is getting the speed right. 600iph = 10ipm, with 3* cranks/impression that’s the crankshaft running at 30rpm (not fast). You’ll have to do the math for speed reduction from motor to press.

*don’t know if it’s 3 or 4 on that press

There are a lot of good ideas above, too.

A few weeks ago I said I was going to try and come up with a way to motorize my 8 x 12 C&P without going through a major process that included a heavy motor, belt, speed rheostat, and an electrician. I had done a proof of concept using my 18Volt electric drill and a pipe plug as a driving wheel. When that worked I started looking for a possible motor. When I came across a motorized skateboard on Amazon I figured it was worth a try. So initially I just held the skateboard up to the flywheel to see if it had enough horsepower and torque to drive the press. Oh yeah! I will try and post some other pictures that show the mount I built. So far it all seems to work well. It has a wireless hand-held speed control which includes a braking capability, forward and reverse, on-off, and a battery indicator for the power pack. I have yet to print using it but don’t expect any issues. There was some finessing that I had to do to align the drive wheel of the skateboard with the flywheel, and I set it up so that I could use a bolt as an adjustment screw to increase or decrease the pressure between the drive wheel and the flywheel. If there is more interest in the details I will post more pix and information.

Sorry, couldn’t add images, so here is a link to images and video.