boxcar base size for 7x11 C&P

I am looking to get a BoxCar Base for my 7x11 C&P. What size base do yall recommend? The website is currently recommending a 5 x 8.5 base for a 6.5 x 10 Pilot press and a 6 x 9 base for a 8 x 12 press. Does the extra inch and half an inch make a big difference? Please help! Thank you so much.

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Hi jacqcarp,

This is a common question asked at Briar Press.

Basically you need to leave some room for (a) the quoins for locking the Boxcar Base to the chase, and (b) room for the paper guides to sit away from the base (so that the guides don’t get squashed/destroyed).

To be safe, I would go for the smaller base (5 x 8.5), which should give you 2 inches of space all around.

Jacqcarp -

While Newbie is correct about Boxcar’s recommendations - and, although their recommendation is appropriate for a base that will be locked up into a chase, we have something rather new to the letterpress community which changes the answer somewhat.

Quite a bit, in fact.

1. We have developed a “chase-base” which was designed to solve these problems for the smaller table top presses but will work as well - and will offer tangible benefits for even a press as large as the 7x11 or 8x12 C&P. We made one just yesterday for a 6 1/2 x10 Pilot.

Our base will allow use of a deep relief photo polymer plate up to the full height of the platen, as well as the full width of the platen - less about 1.5”-2” clearance for the side grippers - which we recommend you leave on the press and use to pull sheets from the form as well as for making a frisket to protect your printed sheets from unintended inking.

2. Our chase-base system also comes with a set of flexible gauge pins - which *cannot* be crushed by any base.

3. And, with a set of new Extension Feed Guides, you can also drop the lower edge of the sheet as much as 2” below the bottom of the platen.

Between our new base and the flexible gauge pins, and the extension feed guides, we have eliminated the common problems and limitations we’ve all been dealing with for years with any traditional locked-up plate base on smaller presses.

We’ll be asking users of the Excelsior Chase-Base to visit Briar Press and report on their own personal experiences so that no one has to rely on our own, obviously biased opinion.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more, please contact me off-line or via our contact form at

- Alan