Difference between a C&P and Dodson

Hi Everyone!

I am a newbie to all things letterpress!  It has not taken me long to fall in love with it all—maybe except for all the kerosene I’ve been cleaning my two new beasts with!  I have acquired two 8x12 platen presses and only need one—I actually thought the Dodson was a 10x15 until I got it home.  I guess I should have brought a ruler!  I’ve been cleaning them up and trying to decide which to keep (I’m actually on a little break right now!)  Maybe someone out there familiar with Dobson and C&P presses can advise me as to which press I should keep.  They are both motorized and working great from all I can tell.  I’ll describe both and post a few pictures as well.  Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I’d love to hear that from an expert so that I don’t make a decision I will regret later.  I’ve had a difficult time finding out much about the Dodson.

One is a New Series C&P that was made in 1916 and has two welds.  One is on the throw-off lever and the other is on the roller frame.  The rollers on it are not perfect but work fine, although if I were to keep this press I believe I can use the rollers that are on the Dodson.  I spent almost 3 full days cleaning this thing, and honestly I still have more cleaning to do on it!  It had been sitting in a old print shop in Florida for at least two years without having been run.  There are some little nicks in the platen-don’t know if that’s a big deal.  The ink disc cleaned up well.  It has a tower power/speed control and plugs into a regular 120V outlet.  Here is the link to the C&P pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=marja.leigh&target=ALBUM&id...

It looks like the Dodson has one weld on the side frame connecting bracket (see the picture).  It has four very nice rubber rollers (which I believe I can use with either press) and it was being used in a commercial print shop. The ink disc is super smooth compared to the C&P and so is the platen.  From what I could find out about them, I think they were made between 1948-1953, so it is considerably newer.  I also read somewhere that Dodson’s could have been manufactured by C&P.  They have many similarities.  Actually if I kept the C&P I think I could move the throw-off lever.  Many of the oil holes have caps on them which you can see in the pictures.  The ink disc rotation works a little differently (I assume it is more advanced although the C&P works just fine).  It has a brake and it has a counter (which I believe I could move to the C&P).  I will need to buy a converter to change a 120V outlet to a 220V.  Here is the link to the Dodson photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=marja.leigh&target=ALBUM&id...

Is either of them worth more than the other?

Which one would YOU keep?!

Thank you in advance for all your help!  :)

Log in to reply   4 replies so far

I would think that the Dodson is a superior press. 4 form rollers, geared ink disc rotation, rail extensions, etc. I don’t know if C&P manufactured the Dodson, as I believe even the Model N presses (C&P’s most advanced 8x12) only had 3 form rollers. I’ve never used a Dodson, so I can’t attest to the build quality of the machines but it certainly has all the bells and whistles of a late model platen.

The downside to the Dodson would be parts sourcing. If one of those welds doesn’t hold up then it’s going to be nearly impossible to find a replacement part (back to the welder).

If you do decide to get rid of one of the presses, I would encourage you not to switch parts around. There may be slight differences in the sizes of, for instance, throwoff levers. I’m guessing the welds on either machine will hold up just fine.

Personally I think the Dodson was manufactured with those welds on the arms… as strange as that may seem. I just can’t imagine a scenario where ALL six of those connection points would be broken and welded back together in the same fashion. The weld on the frame, though, is obviously not a factory weld.

Keep both presses for awhile if you can. Run a few jobs and see what you think. Who knows—you may find that you want to keep both.

Also… I don’t know what kind of converter you would be using the convert 120v to 240v. If I were you I’d look at the wiring diagram for the motor and see if it can’t simply be rewired for 120v. This motor should be well under 1hp and should run on 120v without any problems.

Hope this helps,

Thanks so much, Brad! I really appreciate you responding. I wish I could get in touch with someone who has a Dodson. :) I may keep both for just a bit until I figure each one out!


Not everything, but a lot about Dodsons that might interest you!!

Hello Marja,

I have a Dodson Press, I attach a picture. I bought mine maybe 5 years ago and have (since this picture) added much safer base of several layers of plywood, casters and a wipe able metal cover. I have not gotten around to fixing it up, and at this point I am looking to sell. Would you be interested in the press? I am located in Portland, Oregon.

Manuel Roth

image: Dodson Press.JPG

Dodson Press.JPG