Inking Issue

I purchased a Craftsman tabletop press in May and I’m VERY MUCH a novice at letterpress, but I’ve figured out a lot over the past couple of months. Tonight I am having an issue I can’t quite figure out. I am attaching photos so you can see the exact issue going on.

Basically, my impression looks even but I’m not getting even ink distribution on my plate. It’s only at the very tip of the artwork, and even applying 2 or 3 presses at a time doesn’t seems to even it out. I have tried taping my rails, but it hasn’t yet made a difference. (see pics 1 and 2)

I am also taking a picture of the rollers as I move them over the ink plate. See the uneven distribution of the ink? What causes this? I don’t get it every time I print…just every once in awhile, and usually with lighter colors. (pic 3)

Another weird thing I’m having issues with is the grippers (I think that’s what they’re called…) Every time I pull my lever and release it back down, bringing the rollers to the bottom of the rails, I have to hold onto the grippers in order to keep them from not getting in the way of the rollers. Sometimes they rub worse than others, but I’ve discovered holding it down gets rid of the problem. The picture below is what happened when I didn’t catch it in time…the grippers actually went on the inside of the rollers. Any ideas how to fix this? (pic 4)

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you all in advance!


image: See bottom of the anchor? Even impression but no ink on the tip.

See bottom of the anchor? Even impression but no ink on the tip.

image: Same issue. Right has better distribution all the way to the tip but still uneven ink.

Same issue. Right has better distribution all the way to the tip but still uneven ink.

image: Rollers as they move over the ink plate

Rollers as they move over the ink plate

image: Weird issue with the grippers. They get in the way of my rollers and this time I didn't catch them in time and they went on the inside of my rollers, next to the chase.

Weird issue with the grippers. They get in the way of my rollers and this time I didn't catch them in time and they went on the inside of my rollers, next to the chase.

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your grippers should be adjusted closer to your platen, by catching them under your rollers they can do harm to your rollers. your inking problem can be caused by lots of things, if your rollers are old, if your rollers are sliding and not rolling over the type.

There have been times when I couldn’t get even inking. I would take some 12 point rule and lock it in, one on each side of the chase. This will keep the rollers even. However it may not work with every job. As long as your stock or your gauge pins don’t fall in their way it works great.

As a fellow “newbie” to the Craftsmen table top I have encountered some of the same problems- Professor Inky’s words always ring through here- you have to be a little smarter than that machine. It looks as though your form rollers are not getting full distribution of ink and appear to have gaps of no coverage at all. I sometimes put the rollers in the up position (stopped at the top of the ink disk) and carefully lift one at a time slightly and rotate each a quarter to half turn. As far as the grippers go, check the spring to make sure it is holding them away from the form and closer to the platen- if need be, they can be removed easily with one allen screw on the side.

Thank you for the help! I decided to call it quits on that plate for the night and started new yesterday with a different plate and new ink. Seems to be printing much better. Thank you all for the responses! And question—Eddie are you saying I can completely remove the grippers? That would honestly be a huge help. I don’t see their purpose.

if you are printing a heavy form with lots of ink the grippers help to pull the paper off the form, i run a lot of things without grippers. you can stretch elastic bands across your grippers to help pull the paper off the form, there should be a spring hooked to your gripper bar that helps hold them closer to your tympan so your rollers don’t run behind them.

when I print with my Pilot, and even on a larger C+P for a spell, I never needed the grippers. I think if you have thin paper and/or lots of ink coverage they can be useful or often even crucial, but if you’re not noticing the paper sticking to the type/plate instead of coming back with the platen, then you may want to remove them.

What you call grippers i know as friskets , they are more dangerous than anything else we use , they come loose , they move a qquarter inch in one last unnoticed tweak and they do a lot of harm . However they are necessary sometimes and then you use them with care , if a form sticks the jobs you have to use them . if it goes through the machine easily then take them off , less to come loose and when you change jobs you cant forget to move it !!

Yes, all the potential problems with grippers are real, but not inevitable for someone who is aware, as one should be around printing machines. A smash is a warning that you are not aware enough, not that grippers are the problem.
Grippers don’t just keep the sheet from sticking to the form, but can also control slur; used with friskets, fingers or string or rubber bands, they are a powerful tool in platen press printing, and it is a huge loss that so many remove them because of incompaibility with oversize photopolymer bases.

I think I’ll play around with adjusting them before I remove them. I believe something in them bent while I was moving the press from Dallas and that’s probably the majority of the issue. They don’t stay close to the platen…sometimes they do but more times than not, they get caught on the rollers if I don’t catch them. I’ve just made it a part of my printing to hold them after each press of the machine so avoid roller contact. Thank you all for the advice! This is a great forum for people like myself trying to learn the tricks of the trade! Appreciate everyone’s comments!

Perhaps something is bent. That should be obvious. It is more likely that the gripper bar spring is missing, or not working properly. It is shaped something like a safety pin and is located on the left side of the press. Pretty simple device when in place and working.

As an afterthought I thought you may be able to benefit from a visual… below is a photo showing the single allen screw you need to remove to quickly and easily remove your gripper arm. I do it constantly as sometimes they get in the way or make it difficult to work around a large form.

Bottom pic you can see the allen screw, arm spring, and bar with grippers arms attached.

Good luck! and yes this is a great forum- everyone is very helpful and kind especially to the newbies.


image: gripper_arm.jpg


OOPS! my photo got chopped at the top- look for the red half arrow at the top. :}