Hairline registering small stock on a Windmill

Hello everyone,

I’m a novice letterpress printer but I have already learned a lot about printing on my Heidelberg Windmill (10x15”) just reading from the manual, following the discussions here on Briar Press and operating the press, of course.

It’s a wonderful machine. We have made a lot of progress at our studio.

But now we are trying to print our business cards and the paper is cut to a small size (aprox. 2.8 x 4.1 inches). We set the machine for guides and installed the extension side guide. Everything good so far and the register is good. We print the first color and then change the photopolymer plate for the final color.

Then we try to adjust the ‘original’ side guide thumbscrew to fine tune the register for the second color. But it doesn’t seem to work as it is being overruled by the extension side guide.

So our point is: if we use the extension side guide we can’t make adjustments for hairline register and once we remove it, leaving just the original side guide, the stock isn’t correctly registered for it is too small.

Is this right? Can’t we fine tune for hairline register (horizontally) when using the extension side guide? Fine tuning (vertically) on the bottom guides works just fine.

thanks so much,

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Hi, Marcelo—

Yes, I think you are right that the extension side guide is not moved by the side guide adjustment screw. As I recall, the extension is mounted to the casting the regular side guide rides in. (I’m at home—away from the press) What can you do?

The form could be moved to register, using thin strips of paper if necessary. Sometimes I’ve wound a strip of tape around the end of the extension that hits the stock. On some presses, the fit for the extension is sloppy, and you may be able to tighten the extension in a slightly different position. Perhaps there are several extensions living in the drawer under the press—one of them may work.

A drastic fix would be to reprint on bigger stock and use the regular guide, trimming afterwards.

Hope this helps, Brian

Hi Brian,

Thanks very much for your thoughts. This is the only extension side guide that we have.

This time we’ll try to register moving the form but from now on I guess it’s gonna be better to work with bigger stocks, as you mentioned.

Feeding the stock horizontally is something that just crossed my mind. It would fall vertically on the bottom guides and still be tall enough to get pushed by the regular side guide.

But I’m not sure that’s a possible solution or not. Will do some more tests.

Thanks again, Marcelo.

There are leads in one and half points or hairline for using to move the form in the chase. But another possibility would be to run two up and if you have just one form use stock big enough for two cards just… print one then…the card around. That way the stock will be large enough to lay against the adjustable side guide. Hope that makes sense to you. Ron

Hi, Marcelo—

Ron’s “work-and-whirl” idea is a good one I think. I’ve sometimes done that. It works well with “shells”, master runs that can be imprinted later with individual names Because you have two guides and grippers kitty-corner to each other, you can imprint one half, cut, and still have a blank half with guide and grip.

Your idea of “dipping” the sheet, that is, running the short side to the bottom guides so that the long side hits the regular side guide, would register if both passes are printed that way. If you are printing just the second pass, I don’t see how you can use the same guides. Dipping is less reliable for register, but sometimes useful because of paper curl or to keep the type parallel to the rollers.

Best wishes, Brian

Brian; The idea of two up would be with the long side by the side guide. We used to use leads etc. to make the adjustments, but that was when we were still using lead type. Ron

Thanks for the info, guys.
Very much appreciated!

— Marcelo

Marc -

Are you using the brass or nickel guides ? For small cards you should be running nickel guides. I run business cards using the nickel guides and hold hairline register on my 1953 black ball Windmill.

But, since you can’t adjust the side guide extension, I’d suggest that you move your form using one point leads, 1 pt brass or 1/2 pt copper thin spaces, or strips of oiled tympan cut to 3/4”.

Turning the card sideways and ‘dipping’ might work on the platen but could be a real trick to feed such short stock.

The side guides should be okay, but the blast might push the stock away from the gripper. I used to tape a rigid business card box to my back guide to get it in closer so that I could feed really short stock…

- AR