Help: Windmill stuck roller arm

At the beginning of the week my first Heidelberg Platen press was delivered which was very exciting. Now however I am finding out a few bits are missing (nothing major, the sludge tray) and more worryingly I think one of the roller arms is stuck. I didn’t notice this until fitting new rollers, one of them moves in and out freely but the air pump side one is stuck rock solid slightly extended. The press is a 1973 model and generally in good condition, it was well lubricated when it arrived.

Am I missing something? is there another reason why the roller arm might be extended like this? What is the spring adjustment at the rear of the arm?

I attach some pics. Any suggestions for freeing the arm would be really welcome.

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Here is the machine.

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They seem to be a fairly simple mechanism. If you look along the side of the arm check and see if someone didn’t stick something in one of the 2 holes to hold the arm extended so they could remove the rollers.

Otherwise maybe something actually broke inside the arm holding it out.

Good Luck and let us know what you find.

Whatever you do don’t try to bend the part while its in the press, i did and had to replace the whole arm, not fun and very costly. I would try oiling it to death but don’t try to bend it. Dick G.

Whatever you do don’t try to bend the part while its in the press, i did and had to replace the whole arm, not fun and very costly. I would try oiling it to death but don’t try to bend it. Dick G.

The bit that slides out (not sure what its called) doesn’t appear to be bent but I guess it would only need to be bent very slightly to cause this problem. I’ve only been banging it from either end so far, in and out, it’s moving about 2 cm but not enough to function with rollers in.

I’ll persevere with the oil.

I’ve contacted the person that sold it to me last week because he must have known about this. I think it had been used for die cutting rather than printing, the arms were locked up when it arrived and their was still a die in the chase.

How difficult is it to remove the shaft to inspect it?

Try penetrating oil, that might loosen it up. Dick G.

I’m not even going to try and fix this machine, after a couple of days it’s no looser with oil. The seller is going to change it for another. It’s a shame because I was happy to have got a relatively recent one and the replacement will probably be older.

I now have all the effort of getting it back on a palette and loaded on a lorry and the unloading of the replacement.

I hope Letterpress is going to prove to be a bit more enjoyable than this first three weeks of setting up the new studio.

It won’t be; quit while you’re ahead if you’re looking for a nice time. If you want to lose your hair and start drinking more, dive into another windmill.

If it was used for die cutting maybe the rollers were locked in the up position for a long time, there might be a lot of paper dust that could cause this, you might try flushing it out with a press wash then re-oil it. Beats moving the press. Dick G.

Maybe PB Blaster, that stuff works wonders.

I feel compelled to admit that this comment made me cringe: “I hope Letterpress is going to prove to be a bit more enjoyable than this first three weeks of setting up the new studio.”

After all the terrible things I’ve had to endure chasing after this letterpress thing - whatever it is, for whatever reason I do it - a stuck roller arm sounds like a pleasant afternoon.

It totally sucks but there is a terrifying, long road ahead for you, and this is just the beginning. If you survive it you may master the craft! I hope I can.

Ha ha, thanks guys for the sobering view lol.

Seriously, I am a quick learner. I started a publishing company two years ago, my first book was voted one of the top ten photo books of 2010. Last year I made my first ever documentary film having never picked up a film camera before, the film was shown at London’s Tate Modern last month.

Establishing a Letterpress studio for my wife is my latest challenge and I do relish it. It’s clear to me the Heidelberg is a superbly engineered machine and although not a beginners machine, I think it’s the right one for us.

I’ll have one more attempt at shifting this arm, paper dust could be fine enough to get between the sliding bit and the collar it slides through and lock it up perhaps.

Thanks for the warnings guys…..Nick

Just got a quote of 1600 euros to replace the roller carriage spindle on this machine. That’s more than I paid for the press last week.

Did you see the press in action before you bought it? One of the most important things to do before forking out the money! Heidelberg platen presses are nice, but expensive machines.

The press was from a bankrupt printers, I drove 5 hrs to view it but they had no electricity on and it was in a dark room.

It also had no rollers so even running, this problem would not have been apparent.

I turned it over manually and everything seemed good.

I got the quote in the hope that the dealer might pay for the repair and avoid having to swap it for another with him.

Got various people looking at it now.

I bought the press from these people based in Paris:

They advertise Heidelbergs on UK ebay though because they know Letterpress is more popular in the UK. There is very little happening in France in the way of Letterpress although the two people I have contacted here have been extremely helpful and generous.

I don’t know if Imperraud is a bad company in general but they have certainly displayed a lack of care during the sale of this Platen. I get the impression it was advertised without them even looking it over themselves apart from obtaining the serial number. The Ad failed to list missing and broken parts or the fact that the machine was not working as a printer. And finally they seem to be in no rush to replace or repair it.

You have one of the newer windmills, my press had the same problem and i was lucky that there is a windmill mechanic not too far from me, i tried to fix it myself but with no luck. I ended up finding someone with a parts press and bought the part from him. its expensive to fix these presses but well worth it, especially the one you have cause its one of the newer ones. good luck Dick G.

Thanks Dick, yes I love this press already which is why I have been so keen to solve it’s problem arm.

When I got the 3 phase electric connected up and ran the press for the first time it was love :-)

I piled up some A5 cards I had and just got the press to pass them across the platen to the delivery tray which it did perfectly. I think I could watch it working all day.

I’m still hoping to find an engineer nearer to me who could fix it for a bit less than 1.6k There are not that many of them here unfortunately.

Have you contacted OFMI-Heidelberg in France? Will you be using the press in France or in the UK? If you’re going to use it in France, you could try Intaglio in Paris and ask them who they use for the maintenance and servicing of their machines.

Thomas all my planned printing activities will be at my French home, the Heidelberg is here, almost exactly half way between Geneva and Lyon. I will do as you suggest, I don’t think there are many Heidelberg engineers near me.

I have met a retired printer here who’s children now run his old offset business. He grew up running six Heidelberg’s for his father. He came to see my Heidelberg and got quite emotional, he did tell me it was recent and in great condition and I should definitely hang on to it. He reckons it might never have been actually used for printing which is why the arm is so seized up. He’s encouraging me to keep greesing the arm and forcing it to work as it should. He fitted the rollers and ran the machine which forced the spindle out of the roller carriage which I was too scared to do for fear of damaging it. The spindle still doesn’t return on it’s own though.

I’ll crack it eventually.

(hopefully not literally)

Still wrestling with this arm.

Today I drilled the pin out that held the guide to the spindle inside the roller inking arm carriage, this left the guide free to move up and down and allowed me to rotate the spindle.
I now know it wasn’t the guide stoping the spindle extending and that rotating the spindle doesn’t free it either.

I then tried to bang the spindle through from the back to the front and it extended a good way before again becoming stuck.

I’m convinced the spindle is bent behind the rear collar and will now have to be removed backwards as the bent bit won’t pass through the collars.

This means I need to remove the head that holds the roller journal box which I was hoping to avoid.

Has anyone removed this head? If I drill out the pin will the head come off the end of the spindle?

I’d feel much happier knowing someone else had done this successfully. If I can get the spindle out I can have new one machined locally.

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The saga continues, this is turning into ‘War and Peace’, just tell me to shut up if nobodies interested.

After locating and securing a new spindle, I cut off the roller journal box and removed the spindle backwards through the Roller Carriage which quickly confirmed my suspicions that it was bent behind the rear collar.

The new parts are coming from in the UK where a guy called Chris was really super helpful.

Hopefully when they arrive the new spindle will slide straight in.

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After returning from London this week I found the new parts waiting for me, had a bit of a fight getting the spindle in because the spring is so powerful which made it very hard lining up the hole in the spindle with the hole in the guide so I could bang the metal pin through the two of them….but got there in the end.

It’s taken a few weeks to resolve but I have done my first big Heidelberg repair which has filled me with confidence.

It seems for this business you need to be half artist and half engineer.

I’m finally ready to print.

Thanks so much for the advice and tips while I’ve been working on this. I hope this thread might of use to anyone unlucky enough to have the same issue in the future.

As you can see below, the old bent arm did not come out without a fight!

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Glad to see you got it figured out and fixed!

I was wondering what was happening with this so thanks for posting!