Buying a press with welds and damage…is it ok, or should I run away?

I recently found an ad in a local newspaper for a C&P 12x18 press about an hour from my house. I’ve been looking to upgrade from my tabletop, but I’m not sure if I want to go so big.

I went to see the press this weekend, and I have some concerns. The press has been sitting unused for quite a while and has some rust, but the picture makes it look worse than it actually is. I was wondering if some more experienced printers could offer me any advice or comments on the condition that would help my decision. I am looking for a “fixer-upper” for a fair price, but I don’t want to get something that is in such bad shape that I can’t use it. I attached a picture from the seller for reference (sorry, it is hard to see the press).

Even if I don’t get the press, I would still like some feedback so I know things to look out for next time I look at a press. Here are some of the things that I saw that worried me:

1. My biggest concern: welds. The press has a number of welded areas. The press comes with two chases. Each has two welds. The biggest weld is on the wheel on the left hand side of the press (not sure of the name, but it is the inner wheel, not the flywheel). The weld on this piece extends the entire diameter of the wheel. If you look at the picture, you can kind of see it. Finally, the assembly that turns the ink disk is also welded. I know this machine is very old, but is it common for a press to have so many welded areas? The seller told me that they never had any problems from the welds

2. The platen. The press was used for die cutting back in its hay day. It was suggested that I closed the platen and tried to rock/shake it to check the bearings. The platen didn’t budge, but I noticed something else that bothered me. In an attempt to raise the platen height (I guess that’s what they were trying), someone screwed a thick piece of sheet metal to the platen. There is a screw drilled into the in each corner of the platen. I don’t know what the platen looks like under the sheet metal and I don’t like the idea of the platen having holes in it.

3. The rails. The rails are not completely smooth. There were small, yet visible, dips on both rails and you could definitely feel some dipping when you ran your finger over the rails. I am worried that I won’t get proper coverage when I use the press. Is it common to expect uneven rails, and how uneven is too uneven?

4. Will any of these problems affect the printing quality? I would like to have the press, but only if I can use it.

5. If anyone would like to take a stab at what a press in this condition is worth, I’d like to know.

I’m still in contact with the seller. I am the first person to come look at the press, but two other people have expressed interest. I’m still thinking about it, but like I said, even if I don’t get the press, I am looking for answers so I know what to look for when I do go press hunting.

image: press2.jpg


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1) this is alot of welds. the weld in the head cam, is prob from someone trying to remove it for whatever reason. welds in cast iron are tricky is not impossible to weld cast successfully , just tricky. hard to say if they will last. the welds in the chases are biggest concern. if these are cast chases find steel ones. the cast ones can be used but i would not flex them much with quoins. if they are steel ones, you are fine.
2)in the closed position, the gate lock locks into the rocker. the platen prob won’t move with this locked in. if it did,,, run away! check the platen in the open position. some play is okay. the holes for the plate are common practice. you do your makeready under this plate. different thickness is available.
3) the dips in the rails. if they are big enough for roller to drop into thats a problem. if they are way up high/down low, then don’t lock up image there. if in the center then fixing them or replacing them is needed. they can affect your printing.
5) when putting a value on this machine, don’t forget to include all your moving costs, cost for cleaning products, etc. i think this weighs in at about 1500? lbs. so find out what scrap iron is going for in your area.

I have a friend selling a New Style C&P 1911 in perfect working condition, no welds, 6 chases with a Kluge Auto Feeder, plus new rollers for $300.00 total. Does that help with the value of that press?

The weld on the inner wheel concerns me, if done right it shouldn’t be a problem, i would turn the press over by hand and make sure it moves freely, the chase welds are common, be careful locking up and you should be ok. The steel plate on the platen is a common practice for die cutting, if the screws are in the corners you will never lock type up out that far anyway . If the rails are worn i would use morgan trucks lkie i use on my rollers and you should be ok, i use lead type and mag dies on a 10x15 with rails that sound like you describe with no problems, i don’t know if polymer dies will work. Check where the rollers go and make sure the journals aren’t worn too bad, the good thing about a c&p is parts aren’t too hard to find. Good Luck Dick G. ps this is quite a step up from your kelsey!!!!

I’m going to guess that since the press was motorized there is no provision for a treadle, usual with the larger sizes. I would not suggest that a person with no experience operating a floor-model press, even a small one like an 8x12, should start with a motorized press — you need to be able to start and stop the press quickly and run it very slowly until you get the rhythm of feeding down pat — too many opportunities for damage to you or the press. Though you didn’t say how much this press would cost, but be sure you factor in the cost of having it moved — it’s pretty tricky moving such a big machine on your own unless you have lots of experience.

So it’s not an impossible thing, but use caution — check the archives for pictures of a similar-size press that fell off a truck lift gate and landed in the street upside-down!


The press was run with a motor, but can be run with a treadle. If I buy the press, I am planning on returning it to treadle operation until I feel comfortable operating it otherwise. I am also planning on taking some classes so that I can have someone experienced teach me how to properly operate the press. While I care about the safety of the press, I’m more concerned with keeping all of my fingers!

Also, the seller doesn’t have a set cost, which is why I asked about the value. The price is “best offer” I have looked at it in person, but one of the other gentlemen interested who only saw pictures told the seller he would probably offer around $300 or a little more.

I probably won’t end up with this press because I would really like a smaller press and I think the other buyer will be willing to pay more money than I am (my maximum is probably $350,).

Send this one to the junkyard. FIRST CONSIDER YOUR SAFETY in running this press! One weld is too much to have on a press. This one looks like somebody dropped it down the basement stairs. Two welds on each chase, worn, bumpy roller tracks, the weld on the small cam wheel are the obvious problems. What else? Excessive wear from heavy diecutting. Also look under the press, if there are not oil spots under it then it has been neglected and not oiled, and most likely has wear on the sidearms, roller arms, crankshaft, etc., etc. Grasp the flywheelmand pull up on it and feel the wear frommlack of oil. Push the throwoff, if you can’t trip the press using your left elbow it hasn’t had much tender, loving care. Let the other interested parties have this machine while you patiently wait for a fully functional machine to show up. Your patience will pay off, and think of yourself trying in a few years selling this poor decrepid mass of scrap steel.

I think Stanislaus is right. One weld is more than enough. This press appears to be abused.

I might be tempted to go as high as $150, but no higher. $300 is not unheard of for an unbroken press of this size. Since the 12 x 18 presses are huge and hard to move, they can often be had for less than an 8 x 12.

You may read that a 12 x 18 is not a good press for a beginner. I personally think it is a good idea to buy as big a press as you have space for. You can always print small on a big press, but you cannot print big on a small press. Be patient, and you find more presses than you can fit in you shop.

I paid $200 for a 10x15 C&P Craftsman that needed a weld, and I found an additional weld when cleaning. Luckily neither have compromised the function of the press. I used a fork lift to load and unload the press from a flatbed. Both drivers required only a handshake for the service. Good deals can be had if you’ll be patient.

I agree with everyone about the welds. The amount of work I see from the photo to get this press in operation is NOT worth the time or money.