Me and my Challenge (15MP)

Hey everyone, this is my introduction & request for help from the community.
I’m Daniel, currently located in San Diego and am rather new to letterpress, but have experience in other forms of printmaking: b&w photo, zinc & copper etching, and woodcuts. And now I have a press!
This is my new (to me) Challenge 15MP
I’ve only pulled a few prints from it so far, my time has been mostly spent on cleaning and learning how it all works.
One thing I’m puzzled on is setting roller height. I have the gauge from boxcar and I can set them pretty close to correct.
What would cause the roller height to be different in the beginning of the print than at the end? The tracks are all clear and clean and so is the cylinder.
Anyone with a SP-15 or similar have a technique for getting these dialed in?

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Log in to reply   11 replies so far

Glad to see the enthusiasm for your 15MP Challenge. I’ve done some edition printing on our 15MP and loved it. We dismantled the rollers and hand inked the forms with a double hanfled form roller for each pull. Beautiful results.Thus we’ve never undertaken to adjust roller height as you are seeking to do and so must disappoint you on your specific inquiry. However, I did want to be responsive about the use of the Challenge model. One doesn’t run into the Challenge proof press as often these days. May I ask where you acquired your particular press? They are lighter than Vandercooks and much more compact. While I believe that the Vandercook is unsurpassed in precision of manufacture, the Challenge has the advantage of easier handling where the space limitations of your shop are an important factor. If you plan to do straight job work on this press, the lightness is doubtlessly easier on your flesh and bones. Your photos are great~the two form rollers look fabulous. Bon voyage!
Bill Murray

I actually found it here in the classifieds, it was located out in Oklahoma City and I had it shipped to my place in San Diego. The rollers I had replaced by Advanced Roller Company for a good deal and they ink up beautifully. So far I haven’t been able to find the oil holes like the sp-15 would have. what were common things you did for maintenance?

If my memory serves me, I was a common sense oiler~hitting the moving parts. I kept it cleaned with the
usual shop rags and made what discoveries I could along the way. A very simple, friendly machine. I wonder if there are not oiling charts for the Challenge proof press out there, but I’ve never seen one.
Bill Murray

I recently acquired a Challenge 15MA - the same as your press except that it has a manually operated inking system.
Haven’t put it through the paces yet as I’m still carving out a space for it in what used to be the garage. I’ll be interested to follow your path. I’m sure you’ve discovered that Paul Moxon has the manual and other info for this on the Vandercook website (
Good luck with your press.

I owned one of these presses years ago and also uploaded a manual to Boxcar Press.

Over decades of printing some presses can have a minimal dip in the center of the press bed from consistently printing in a single area. This could be true for your press.

See page 2 of this manual.

Inky Lips Letterpress


I’d like to add your press to the Challenge press census:

Please send me the serial number, your name and location.



I need to replace the auto-washup blade on my press, any suggestions on where to buy a new blade?
I considered the screenprinting squeegee blades but they are too thick, any suggestions?

NA Graphics has auto-washup blades

Hi Daniel,

I also own a Challenge and am needing to have it moved. Can you tell me what movers or moving company you used to have it shipped to you?


The original seller organized the freight company and I don’t have any record of who it was. But I’ve moved it 3 times since then with a friend or two and a u-haul trailer if that’s any help. good luck!

You can put wheels on the 15MP and roll it, with a push from a couple of people.

I recently move a 15MP by rolling it up the ramp of a U-Haul truck and then tying it down securely - this is a lot easier than putting the press on a pallet. It took 4 to roll it up the ramp - 3 pushing and one inside the truck with a rope to prevent it from going back down the ramp

good luck