Why is everybody always picking on Miehle?

Everyone seems to be very opinionated on the Miehle verticals. I recently got a Miehle v50 that I am in the process of setting up for print. It’s my first press. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the pros and cons of this machine. Especially any specific problems to this machine or why exactly people look upon these as “undesirable” presses.

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I learned to run a 45 and 50 in high school, they turned out some beautiful work with these. Seen many verticals over the years, picked one up about 20 years ago, never got it to run as good as it should have, finally a gear stripped and i gave it away for parts to a man near me who only runs verticals, he has 4 or 5 and works full time on these. The thing i liked about the 50 was you opened the press, swinging away the feeder and could stand close to the bed to put the chase in, this makes a huge difference when you have a heavy chase or when you are old and can’t lift those heavy chases very well. They are a good press, but you either love or hate them, me and my meihle just didn’t get along. i’ll stick to my windmills. Good Luck Dick G.

This is a great question. The answer at least partially, resembles so many other topics like Ford vs Chevy. Opinions are formed based on personal experience and what we hear (media and advertising included). The masses flocked to Heidelberg. There were more of them and therefore more operators experienced on them. Just like both Ford and Chevy will take you to Florida…both presses will print, and until you can look at a product and discern which press printed it…they produce equal results. One may get there faster, easier or less expensively. I have run both and will only offer that the V-50 requires a bit more finesse. The feeding requires experience to set properly while the Windmill is a bit more forgiving. Those that learned on a Miehle generally love them while those that learned on Heidelberg generally HATE them…or strong dis-like. -Clay

If the discussion is going to turn to one pitting Miehles against Windmills, then there are some fundamental differences to note: One is a cylinder press and one is platen, they both have advantages and disadvantages.

A Miehle cylinder seems much more convenient to run than a Heidelberg if you want to have an automated cylinder press in your shop.

As a mechanic, the Miehle is a great press, as long as it has been taken care of. Unlike the Heidelberg presses, parts can be a problem, and the Miehle cylinder assembly has a lot of them. I used to do maintenance for John Harland Check Printers back in the 70’s. They had Miehles everywhere you looked. They even had their own rebuild facility here in Atlanta at one time. They not only rebuilt the machines but made improvements to them, especially in areas of high wear and failure. When they shut the plant down, there was a warehouse with at least 50 of the machines on industrial shelving, completely rebuilt and ready to go. I bought several as did other dealers. One of their rebuilds today actually brings a good bit more than a standard press.
But I digress (as usual). A Miehle can be a little intimidating when you first start using it. They tend to “take off” when you pull the handle and there is sooooo much going on and pieces flailing around that the tendency is to run. (Kind of like a Kluge on steroids.)
Be sure that the cylinder grippers and the gripper bar are in good shape. Make sure the impression bladder is working correctly or you will never get anything on the paper.
Lastly, read the manual - twice. If you don’t have a manual, Get One.

Great machines, I’ve run them for years. Have 4 v50x’s on the floor now. They run every day…all day. Like ALL letterpresses the feeder is the hardest part to learn…. it just takes a little experience. I will say a couple of things that I will generally do on the windmills that is I try to most of my die cutting on the Heidelbergs as well as jobs that require perforating and or scoring ARROUND the cylinder..(.that is to say the 14” deminision in the chase) Other than those 2 exceptions I run all letterpress jobs on the verts. I do all foil work on klugies. Good luck., Carl.

Thanks everyone for chiming in on this post. You guys have all been really helpful. And by the way I love the Ford vs Chevy analogy. I’m not discouraged at all, and never was really. I was just curious at any of the Miehle’s short comings. I actually heard a guy in an online letterpress seminar say that “the only good thing about a Miehle vertical is it’s small footprint, and that’s about as far as it goes” Seems like an extreme thing to say about a machine that’s backed so hard by all the folks that know how to use em. Will be getting a phase converter in the next week or so. Should have her up and running soon. - Mike.

Printers are an opinionated lot, but never mistake opinion for fact. The Vertical was made and sold and used for more decades than any other job cylinder press, and they are still in use today. The fact that most dealers can’t even give them away says more about the skill and understanding of today’s lot of pressmen than it does about the press, and your online informant is an unfortunately typical example: “it is a poor workman who blames the tool”.
Any press has strengths and weaknesses. There are things that can be done on a Vertical, on a Kelly B, on a Heidelberg cylinder, that cannot be done on all of them equally well, and you can add Windmills and Kluges for more possibilities. Presses just were not sold in the tens of thousands if they were inherantly flawed. They can come up lacking when put to uses not envisioned by their makers, and that is another problem with the fad of heavy impression.
I’d think that with its small cylinder, the Vertical would have more problems with paper grain than larger cylinder presses. Off hand I can only think of two fine press printers who used the Vertical, Henry Morris and Amaranth Press. Many other book printers struggled with Kellys before the Heidelberg cylinder started hitting the used market; that seems to be a common trajectory. It is true that the Vertical has a very small footprint, you could practically fit in two in the space my Heidelberg KS takes for a similar size sheet.

Two biggest reasons I think people whine about the Miehle Vertical:

The feeder, with it’s shoes does have a learning curve and of course the sheet detector doesn’t catch a well fed double.

The ink fountain/roller train aren’t push button easy to clean.

That said, I can also say that a Heidelberg feeder (both on an S series die-cutter and on a Windmill) can be seriously cranky as well.

If you are able to get good training on a Vertical, and are trained on all the neat things the press has built in, you’ll find it a wonderful machine. Sure, it doesn’t have the hypermassive cylinder and rigidity of a Heidelberg, but it’s a far more nimble press to makeready and run.

I have a V-36, a Kluge and a Windmill. I probably run the Windmill the most, but the Kluge will print a better solid without skip feeding. The V-36 is always my choice for long runs. It won’t feed 220 lb. lettra and it hasn’t got the strongest inking system in the west, but it will print more paper in a day than either of my other presses with far fewer problems.


An excellent letterpress choice provided you get all the do’s and don’t’s down pat.
Correct me if I am wrong - but - concerning double-sheet eliminators or detectors….the stock detector was vacuum controlled? Being an old Harland pressman and having “cut my printing teeth” on the vertica, I am aware of the two types of electronic two-sheet detectors that we used which were an incandescent bulb with a light receptor that needed to be set to the density of the paper and a later infra-red emitter and sensor that was similarly set.