General Advice on Buying a Press and Not So Obvious Things to Look For

First, thanks to the list for the great advice over the last year. It’s been invaluable for me as I am sure it has for others. I hope my question begins some discussion that will be very helpful to the less experienced of us.

What might the more experienced list users suggest one looks for when purchasing a larger (not table top) platen press?

Obvious things are whether there are welds, it is complete (chase, rollers, etc. – although those parts can be purchased), clean (or relatively easy to clean up), etc., comes with a motor or a treadle (one’s preference). I am sure there are others points that are not so obvious and that’s what I’d like to hear about There are several presses sitting in basements in my area and I would like some general ideas about what to look for given that it is impractical to print on each one. Thanks.

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Depending on the age and make of the press, I would pretty near insist on a chase or two, as well as any other missing parts such as ink disc, throw-off handle and linkages, etc. For the very common presses (C&P, Pearl) these can be found, though even Pearl chases and ink discs are getting hard to find. For another odd press the parts may be unobtanium. Check bearings and roller hooks for excessive wear — if things are loose or sloppy it will be harder to get satisfactory work from the press.