Stuck gripper - vandercook Uni 1

Had the furthest gripper from the handle on my Uni 1 get stuck in the upward position this morning. I was mid edition and on a deadline so I moved forward with the other 3 grippers still functioning. A couple times through the edition it worked itself free but only to become stuck again. Before I start dismantling anything I thought I’d check in with the experts here for any advice.
Thanks in advance!

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The gripper will stay up either because it is dirty or it is bent. A gripper button stuck in the up position can lead to damage.
Take off the gripper bar, remove and disassemble the grippers, clean the gripper assemblies (Q-tips to clean the holes), make sure the gripper shafts are still straight and the heads perpendicular, and polish the shafts with powdered graphite as lubricant (oil will get to the paper and so will solvent if you use it to free a sluggish gripper).

Alex Brooks has some disassembly instructions and images here:

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Hello ajmasthay,

I took an exploded-view photo of my gripper bar when I disassembled it. This is from a No. 4, but it might be useful to you.


Universal I presses have 2 styles of gripper bars, the very early models are a rework of the #4 gripper bar that Barb shows, then it was changed. On the #4 style, the common problem is a bent stem or the sliding sleeve is distorted because the set screw was over tightened, and on the newer style, most likely dirt and crud. Not fixing it can lead to plate/type damage and/or a bent gripper, and I’d love to sell you replacement parts.


Thank you all so much for the information/advice. Turned out mine is the different style that Fritz referred to, it has a lever arm on the bottom that swivels to push the gripper heads up. Anyway, $12 worth of simple green and some graphite lubricant and everything seems to be back in working order.
Thanks again, this forum never ceases to amaze me with it’s depth of knowledge.

Masthay Studios