The Excelsior Chase/Base

Anyone tried it or know about it? Seems to be a pretty convenient chase-and-base-in-1 for those working with primarily ppp. Question addressed to anyone who’s tried it: how is the impression and inking evenness on the resulting print? would you recommend this as a satisfactory substitute for a boxcar base and chase?

You can find it here (near the middle of the page):

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Wow, I’ve never noticed that on excelsior’s site, but they make it sound great! I think I might have to get one.

Anna & Newebie - Well, so much for a low-key introduction for our latest “solution to a common problem”… ;)

I wasn’t actually meaning to publish the information or start selling these to the broader market yet, but I had written the text about the chase-base and then uploaded the web page with another, unrelated change - about our new leads & slugs starter kits.

… so now, the secret is out…

Yes, indeed. We are making integrated photo-polymer chase-bases for any of the presses we have here in the collection - Kelseys, Victors, Pilots, Pearls & others. We have been developing the design and using them ourselves here for a while and feel as though we have perfected the system.

And, believe me, it did take some testing and R&D to make something that really works well. We did make mistakes and did run into some surprising technical issues, but they have been resolved.

And we do have some users, and they are very excited & pleased with their bases. I will have to ask them to come by Briar Press to leave some testimonials regarding their own experience.

The design is revolutionary, and is the result of a perceived need that clearly exists. In fact, we began making these because of the problems finding chases for some small presses - and the high cost and physical limitations of the more popular metal bases regularly available for smaller presses.

Plus with our complete kit, there will be NO MORE SMASHED GAUGE PINS. ;)

In fact, it was the obvious need that encouraged us to develop this combination solution. And, with the flexible gauge pins we supply with the chase base, you not only can mount a larger photo-polymer plate than with any other base, but you can position your plate anywhere you want on the base AND position your gauge pins anywhere you need to on the platen. These pins will not be crushed by the base. This will make life much, much easier for small press users who want to take advantage of photo-polymer plate-making technology.

On the Pilot, we also found that the addition of a set of extended feed guides increased by more than 2” the options in positioning the image on the sheet.

Alright. Enough sales pitch. I have to get to the shop today and get to work filling existing orders for 4 chase-bases - 2 for the 5x8 Kelsey and another one for the 6 1/2x10 Pilot and one for the 6x9 Cooks Victor.

Since we have such a wide selection of presses in our museum collection, we can fabricate, test and ship perfected and tested bases for many popular presses.

Thanks for your interest. I have just now added an “Excelsior Chase-Base” link to our “Starter Kits” link on the Fund-Raising page to make it easier to find. Watch the web site for photos and details.

And, btw… if you want to set type and need a composing stick and/or a starter kit of leads & slugs cut to practical lengths, we are now also putting together starter kits of leads, slugs and *new* (never-used old stock) composing sticks. (See the link to “leads & slugs” - also in the starter kit links section.)

Thanks for your interest.

- Alan
Letterpress printer since 1962…

Hi Alan,

Do these come in deep relief as well as standard heights?

Newbie -

No. We make one height - only for deep relief, which is what you should be using on a small platen press. If you want to use the other plates, we can include some oiled tympan to shim your base up to match the height required for the thinner plates.

We’re not replacing Box car’s base for larger presses, just solving a common problem on the smaller table tops.

I also want to know more … has anyone posted a review?

Crystal -

Yeah. I think that Megahurt had some nice things to say about his. If you’d like to hear what others think, I can ask them to post comments - or email you directly.

But in any case, The Excelsior Chase-Base is sold with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like it, or find anything wrong, send it back and I’ll fix the problem or refund your purchase price. All you risk is the cost of shipping - about $10 each way.

- Alan

I do enjoy mine for sure. I’ve used it many times, and Alan even helped me correct a small issue I was having.

It’s a very cool tool for the small presses.

First forgive me for my lack of knowledge on this entire issue, but Is it possible for this Excelsior Chase-Base to go on my press as a replacement for the missing chase bed and chase?

Kimberly pratt, the chase base takes the place of the bed and chase, you can only use polymer plates with this, maybe mag dies also, check with Alan at Excelsior press, he makes them. Dick G.

Dick and Kimberly, I may well be mistaken on this, but my assumption is that the chase-base replaces the chase and provides a plate base to mount photopolymer on, but does not replace the chase bed (which has the rails on it, right?). Kimberly, I think you’ll still need to find a replacement bed.

Kimberly, I have a 6x10 Kelsey bed (chase bed) from a broken press, but it’s in Virginia and, unfortunately, I am not for several more months. It’s a little rusty but serviceable. I might be able to get a neighbor to locate it and pack it up and ship it to you if you want it. I ‘m asking $50 for it. Write me direct with a name and shipping address if you want it.


Dave, i thought it took the place of both, but i might be wrong, best check with Alan, i think he will know. Dick G.

In the photo that megahurt posted it looks like the chase-base is the same size as just the chase, and it certainly doesn’t have the rails like the bed has (which I’m guessing you’d probably want!)…

The Chase Base replaces the chase. It fits into the bed.

I sure was wrong, the chase base fits into the bed, so you will need the bed. Dick G.

Kimberly -

As others have pointed out, the Excelsior Chase-Base is only a replacement for the chase; it is designed to insert into a standard bed (aka chase-holder). But, since casting and machining new beds is a very expensive (nearly impractical) undertaking, and spare beds are in short supply, you’ve got me thinking about creating an integrated Chase-Bed-Base to solve your not-so-uncommon problem.

Actually, I think I could do it. I am working now with some new “space-age” materials for my bases, and this stuff may be strong enough to build a good bed. I will look into it.

If you are not successful in your quest for a bed, let me know and let’s see if we can solve both of these problems at one time.

I have plenty of 6x10s in the shop to develop on - and in fact, have some that are also missing their beds, so this is a problem that I face as well.

I also have a very interesting aluminum bed equipped with rollers and a heat plate (an original Kelsey hot stamping kit), so I’ve been noodling about this bed issue for a while already.

But before I tackle yet another project in the shop - and make another rash promise (which history shows can get me into hot water), I better finish the projects already begun and keep the promises already made.

(This week, btw, it’s locking trucks for all size Kelsey - & other small press rollers and an improved method for producing better chase-bases)

BTW - A few weeks ago, I successfully manufactured some really nice ironwood chases for my old Golding Official. I’m really proud of them - and am still trying to break one - but so far they are holding up as well as steel.

Still, don’t give up hope. We may be able to come up with a solution. I certainly know what we need and how to do it. The question is can I do this in a practical, affordable way…

- Alan

Hi Alan, I would like one of your chase bases for my golding official. Can you please let me know if you can help me out I have already emailed you my details on the webpage.


Hey Nick/nickelyacht

Don’t hold your breath on getting a chase-base from Alan anytime soon. I inquired about getting one in July and I’m still waiting. Every time I call to ask about timing there is always an excuse, or “it’s ready to be shipped, I just need to do X, Y and Z. I’ll send you an email when it’s ready to go”.

Got mine with no problem. I dig it.

image: chase-base.jpg


Nick -

I generally prefer to only make Chase-Bases for presses that I have here in the collection - so that I can check the fit and send out something that I have personally tested to make 100% sure that it will work. But I did recently make a base using the client’s chase as a pattern, and I can work from good photos and drawings as well. So, yes. I would be happy to work with you to make a Chase-Base for your Golding Official #6 press.

Although I don’t have an Golding Official #6, I think we can work from the information you send me.

That Golding Official #6 chase, btw is actually 8.25 x 12.25” inside dimensions. The Jobber is 8x12 - and I do have an 8x12 Golding Jobber #6, but it seems that the chases, beds and latches are not identical. Unless I can find one of these chases nearby, It looks like I will have to rely upon the information you send me.

Also: The 5 x7 1/2 Golding Official #3 that I do have here has a pair of short alignment posts beneath the rails which intrude about 1/4” into the chase area from the vertical center of each side of the bed. For that reason, I had to slot the outer walls of the chase at a certain angle. Will I have to do this for yours as well? If so, this could be tricky. Let’s see what your photos and measurements tell us.

I found your inquiry among my unread messages and will follow up shortly via email.

Oh - and I’m sorry, but this will take a few weeks. I have a bit of a backlog of orders to fill as you may have concluded from the post above… ;)

Nonetheless, I look forward to making a Chase-Base for your press - just as soon as I can. And I look forward to being proud of the result - and your feedback on your experience using it.

- Alan

Oh - and a note about Megahurts’ Chase-Base in the photo above:

I have revised the Kelsey Chase-Base designs with a milled edge on all four sides, rather than the sloped edge as shown in Joe’s photo.

Although the slope matched the chase’s slope, it was still too high and could sometimes pick up ink - mostly while inserting or removing the chase - but also if the rollers were lower than they should be.

Since this was not the image area, I changed the design to remove all of that wood - and to give better clearance for the ink rollers - which, if properly set, should not ink the edges… but sometimes do in the real world…

So, when I find the time to update my web site, I’ll add new photos of the latest designs. I have 4 here to photograph.

And - for anyone who currently has one - and has had a problem that I don’t know about, please be assured that I will replace or modify any of my Chase-Bases with the new design for anyone who has a problem with theirs.

The only way the Chase-Base can be a success, is if everyone who has one, likes it, uses it - and finds it useful.

- Alan

thanks alan, i will measure up my chase and send you the info, please send me your email address to [email protected]


My knowledge of the variety of gauge pins is not very extensive… Are these low-profile, flexible gauge pins a brand new product? I didn’t know if they have been specifically made for this application or if they were just being packaged together with the new chase-base product. Would they work with other deep relief bases as well?

I’m not familiar with using deep relief plates/bases or these new gauge pins, is there any limitation to using them within the field of the plate? Obviously they would interfere with an inked area, but didn’t know if the tongue or whatever would mark the paper edge when the plate was the same size or bigger than the paper stock.

i just posted pics of mine today. They work like a charm.

Gerald -

No, these pins are not new at all. In fact, I believe the Edwin Megill developed them in 1891 as a solution to the left-gripper-squashed-the-left-gauge-pin problem on hand - fed platen presses.

I got what I have from the folks who took over Megill’s business. I don’t know about how many more exist - or if they are geared up to produce more. These things are good, though and my stock won’t last for ever so I’ll have to find out.

I’ve posted into about them on my Megill’s Page at

- Alan

Hi there, Alan. Would you happen to have a chase-base that would work for a Craftsman Monarch?

I’m very interested in getting a chase base for my Kelsey 3x5. The boxcar base they recommend for my press is so small (1.5” x 3.5”).

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get in touch with Alan via his website or by phone. He also says on his site that there’s been a recent supply chain interruption that has prevented him from creating new chase bases.

I wonder if there are plans or drawings for creating one on my own? Or better yet a CAD drawing? I have a friend with access to a CNC, I wonder if we could create one?

Alan, if you’re reading this is there anyway I could get a base for my 3x5? It’s such a great idea, I very much hope you can continue selling them. Thanks everyone!

I’ve been trying to get one of these from Alan for about a year now for my Kelsey 5x8. Please let me know if you have any luck.

ShovelPress, I also tried to write to Alan, but no result. No one is responsible for half a year.

Why not just buy a Boxcar base? There is a good reason that they suggest a base that is so small, but if you are determined to go larger, you can order the next size up and have them cut it to whatever size you prefer.


Are these bases still available for purchase?

Are these bases still available for purchase?

as far as I know…. no. I haven’t heard from him for several years now. BUT you can easily make a base to fit any press OR you can buy a Boxcar base.

I’ve got several shop-made bases, but if you are not a handy sort of person, you may want to buy one.