Pilot Handle

Hey all,

I’m (hopefully) in the last stages of getting my Pilot up and running and I have a couple questions that I’m hoping one of you (or many of you) can answer.

My first question is about the small rectangular hole on the handle itself. I’m pretty sure it’s not tapered… I assume something should go in there, I just don’t know why or what. Any thoughts?

I have also decided (or my press decided for me) that I need to switch my handle to the right side of the press. Why? Well, the hole for the screw on the left is not really a single hole anymore and when I pull the handle down, even the smallest amount of pressure makes the handle loosen.

For some odd reason I have two different screws for the handle, one is flat and one is pointed. Which one should I use?

Thanks in advance,

MLK&toast Press

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Log in to reply   11 replies so far

The rectangular slot in the surface of the handle socket is designed to hold a “key”, a plain piece of steel bar stock whic would eliminate any movement of the handle on the shaft. My newstyle Pilot has a slot in the shaft one both sides of the press so that the handle could be reversed.

The key would eliminate the cutting of the bolt into the shaft which is your current problem. Perhaps the shaft has been replaced at some time, or more likely, the handle you have has been replaced with one designed for the newstyle Pilot.

The shaft coukld be removed and a slot milled in it by a machinist. You could change sides, but wull eventually have the same problem on the other side if you don’t do something different.

The pointed screw would be best the point should go into the hole in the shaft. The handle is cut for a key, but the shaft it fits on should have a matching cut. Good Luck Dick G.

the shaft definitely does not have a matching cut.

I assume there were handles that did not have the cut in it, and that the cut was an upgrade of sorts.

Once I have a little more money in my bank account, I’ll look into getting the shaft milled out.

Other than not punching into paper, is there any other way of making sure I don’t destroy the fresh side in the meantime?

Be sure the hole on the undamaged side is actually conical the same shape as the conical end on the bolt, otherwise the point will bottom out and the bolt will not hold. If the threads are standard threads and you found a slightly longer bolt with those threads you could put a jam nut on the bolt to prevent it from backing out when tightened in place (I’d also look for a hardened bolt for this). You could also get a drill bit meant for drilling plastic, which has a steeper angle cut on the end, and after figuring out just where the hole should be on the damaged side, drill into the damaged area in the right place to make a new hole the conical bolt could seat into, thus enabling you to keep the handle on the left side of the press.


You will need to get a “machine key” (short piece of metal with a square ends) to fit into that hole. I’m not sure about the size of the key for the pilot, but I’m guessing either 1/8 inch, 3/16 inch or 1/4 inch (square).

Here is a site where I have bought machine keys:

Hope this helps.

Maybe you could put the handle on and drill a hole thru the handle and shaft and put a pin in it. Dick G.

Dick- I’m thinking of doing that. I have a 2nd handle that is much more home made… and isn’t cast iron. I’m thinking of drilling through that and the messed up shaft.

But I feel like I should use a nut & bolt, not a pin… right?

Nut and bolt should work. Dick G.

Whatever you use should have zero play in the shaft and handle, otherwise you’ll have a slight movement on each impression and that will wear the parts. That’s the reason for the conical end on the set screw — zero play. A set screw is your best bet. Some manufacturers use a tapered pin driven in tight, which also has zero play — but drilling a tapered hole is not easy!


What about threading the shaft to match the handle and getting a longer screw?

to use the set screw, i would drill the hole in the shaft a little deeper then use the blunt ended screw. you can grind the end of the screw to match the angle on the tip of your drill bit. tighten this very tight. possibly get a longer screw then use the jam nut idea from above.