Pilot VS. Sigwalt tabletop presses

I currently have a C&P 8x12 NS w/ motor. I am looking for a second tabletop press and have the option of a Pilot or a Sigwalt. Since I am used to the big floor platens, I am wondering if I can get some pros/cons to each and which you prefer. It seems like the Pilot is the “it” press to get for newbies but I feel like experienced printers tend to lean towards the Sigwalt. I am curious as to why and what I can expect from each press.


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Oh, this is going to stir things up. What fun. I’ll start! I like Pilots, but, think they are not the best presses out there. They often are the most expensive however. Many presses work on the same engineering as the Pilot but don’t command the same price because newbies are unfamiliar with them. The list is large. The Pilot design was most likely copied from one of these that predate it. The Sigwalt works on an entirely different engineering system(toggle). Both the Nonpareil(round base) and Ideal(square base) models use the same design. They are copies of the revered Golding Official line. They are good copies, well built, really good impression adjustment and strength. Rugged, rugged presses. If the Sigwalt is a 6 x 9, I would select it over the Pilot in a heartbeat. Especially if it was less money (often is). I really cannot back this up with definitive science, but, I believe the Sigwalt has one of the largest available percentages of chase available for use.


John Horn makes the following list on Don Black’s site:

1. Hohner
2. Sigwalt
3. Golding
4. Pilot
5. Superior
6. Daugaday
7. Baltimore
8. Kelsey

I happen to own a Pilot, and am happy with it, but that was more a function of the best available to me at that time.

You asked for it John. I’ve had kelseys my whole life, although i’m not as old as some (John), but lately i’ve seen a few different presses and i must say the golding seem very well built. Seems like there is more people with pilot problems than any other press. The craftsman is a pretty solid press. I still like the kelsey. No matter what press you get it all depends on your experience, i’ve seen lots of good work turned out on all kinds of presses. Dick G.

Thanks for the info. I would love a Golding but can’t seem to find one. I think I would prefer the Sigwalt but another Pilot has popped up for a really good deal so I may start there.

Dick, what are the issues you most often see people having with Pilots?

I’m so used to my C&P 8x12 platen that I fear any table top will seem far inferior. I had a tiny Kelsey 5x8 that I couldn’t stand because it was a weakling. ;)

Now, can either the Sigwalt or Pilot accept paper larger than the tympan?

I’ve printed 9x12 paper as well as 4x35 paper on my 6x9 Sigwalt — the latter much harder to do with the Pilot. I also like the feel of the Sigwalt on impression and the way the handle is arranged. I have had a couple of Pilot-like presses and still prefer the Sigwalt.


I’ve seen some posts of people having problems with inking on the pilots. I’ve had a few presses over the years, the craftsman was a well made press, very heavy, i think craftsman is still in business and has some parts for their presses. i still have the press i started with a 3x5 kelsey, also have a 5x8 kelsey that i found a foil stamping unit for, they aren’t as strong as other presses but i’ve foiled covers 5x8 with the kelsey, it depends on the experience of the operator. Any press will be stressed if you try to get deep impression, they weren’t made for this, but with some experience you can get good results on most presses if you get to know the presses limits.

The best press is the one you don’t have, but want.

I have a C&P Pilot, and have had no difficulties with inking, given it has only two form rollers. I have mine because I wanted a small press I could feel comfortable having young people use without a flywheel and continuous motion.

If a Pilot were available at a reasonable price, and others not, I would take the Pilot and work with it.

John Henry

Thanks… Well I picked up the Pilot today. Everything looks great. I think I got a great a deal so down the road I may trade it in for a Sigwalt. I think I would prefer a stirup handle.

A few questions… this one is painted sort of an industrial green color… I assume this was done after market? Though I’ve seen some other ones online this color too. Should I leave the paint or attempt to remove it for restoration sake. Also, is there a way to date these like I did with my 8x12 floor platen? It is a new style.