Heidelberg Windmill oiling / noises

Dear Briar Press members,

These days we are trying to run our Heidelberg Windmill for the first time. We have cleaned the whole press and oiled every oiling point that we have seen. After some testing and reading posts, manuals and all the material that we have, we have several questions (it is our first time running it, so excuse us if they are a bit… call it whatever you want):

1) The belt is in very bad condition. We have replaced it with one longer (the original one has a length of 2190 mm and the replacement one has 2300 mm). It was a “present” from the seller. The other belt specs, angle and width, seem to be OK. Could I replace the old belt with this one? We have tested it and the motor vibrates when we stop the press and It didn’t occur with the old belt. Is it better to buy a new one with the same lenght?

2) We have checked all the oiling points but we have seen two “rare” oiling points (see attached pics 1 and 2). Are these real oiling points? The first one is located at the base of the tympan. The second, between the flywheel and the press main body (It is an hexagon Head Screw with the head painted in green. Should I unscrew it and put oil into the hole?).

3) Press noises: we have read a lot about the Windmill noises, but this one seems to be pointing that something is going bad. When the press is running (without paper and pressure), each cycle, when the tympan goes up to the plate, we can hear a strong and continuous noise, like two metal pieces with a lot of friction. Maybe we missed an important oiling point but, what parts of the press should we check to see if everything is OK? The noise becomes worst as we lower the press velocity.

4) When the motor starts the flywheel rotate up to constant speed without any problem, but we can see that the rotary movement of the flywheel is not perfect. It is a bit eccentric, so the flywheel translates a bit when running. Should the flywheel has a perfect rotatory movement? Maybe something related to the clutch adjustment?

Excuse me English, it is quite difficult to explain mechanical things when you don’t have a good language skills. If it is necessary to clarify something, please, tell me and I will try to explain it better.

Thank you in advance and regards,


image: oiling-1.jpg


image: oiling-2.jpg


Log in to reply   31 replies so far

1) I’d use a belt the same size as original, if the provided belt cannot be fit by adjusting the motor.

2) I can’t see any attached pix, but the green bolt is an oil port.

3)Sounds bad. I would try to find the source by manually turning the flywheel with the clutch engaged.

4) The flywheel should have no runout. I’d measure the runout using a dial-gauge and post the results, or post a video on youtube.

It may be a badly damaged press. They can be damaged when shipping, etc. Operating it by motor could be dangerous.

if the horrible noise changes on the back stroke of the platen put some very thick oil on the gear you can see on the left end of the big ink distributor (drum ) turn the press over till the drum is at the left and try to get some oil into the right side of it ,start it up again and see if the sound has mostly gone .
you can also feel for a dry bronze bush in the mainshafts it will vibrate the machine in time with the noise ,its a definate rubbing and you will certainly feel it .
The dry gear grind of a heidelberg is eased by the application of thick oil to the gear on the left of the drum or if you prefer you can add it lower down the gear set but the sound will tell you if you have found it , the gear that drives the drum is a bit noisey on an old and loose machine and we generally learn to live with it !
The oil nipples in the platen mainshaft are situated one each side , keep them well oiled regularly as with any other red point you want to give them a lick of oil every time you switch the press on and at least daily if used evry day ,dont oil it today and then run it next week without oil because you did it today ,that is not how to look after these things .

Hi AnonyMouse and Peter,

Thank you for your fast answers.

I have attached the pictures, sorry. Something went wrong when I posted the message.

Also, I posted a video in Youtube (http://youtu.be/rqB0YBTHPR4). You could check there the runout of the flywheel. Anything to be concerned about? I wish it is just newbie questions…..

Thank you in advance and regards,


You need to watch how the belt sits all through the speeds as you wind the belt tighter , if the belt doesnt move across the flywheel then you can shift the motor sideways a little bit to centre the belt up ,check first as the belt may shift across at a different speed and you dont want to move it over then when you change speed it flips off the other side !

The video shows a small bit of runout at the outer diameter of the flywheel, I don’t think it is a major concern, unless you can hear or see any signs that it will get worse.

(For comparison, the flywheel I measured today runs nearly perfectly, with .005” radial runout and .010” axial runout, measured at the rim.)

The video also briefly shows a dark area on the outer surface of the flywheel rim, I can’t tell if it is a stain or damage. If the rim is clean, flat and smooth all the way around, it should be ok.

Back to question 2:
It is hard to tell from the picture (oiling-1.jpg), but it looks like you are indicating the small tube that carries oil to the lower lay gauge shaft. Yes, that should be marked yellow and oiled weekly. The green bolt is an annual oil port.


The belt sits perfectly for the different velocities, and never exceeds the shaft limits (inner and outer diameters, as the manual points out). Thank you for remarking that!

I oiled the main gear drum, but the noise is still there. No improvement there.


I oiled those points and the press runs better, smother in some aspects, but the noise is still there.

Is there anyway to adjust the runout? what I have to check or adjust?

Thank you in advance and regards,


If the belt sits without rubbing anywhere then i would leave it but if you must have it sitting centrally you just look beneath the motor and you will find the aligning method is just shift the whole motor and mount along the shaft or slide the motor on its plate ,i would advise if there is no movement left re the shaft it hangss on leave it alone .

I don’t think there is any adjustment for flywheel runout, but I would check for play in the flywheel bearings by grasping the flywheel by the rim and try to move it in and out, and back and forth. If you can get any movement other than its normal rotation, the bearings may need replacement.

The main concern is safety: the flywheel carries tons of energy and is the fastest moving component of the press. It might be good to ensure the integrity of that assembly. Vibration can take apart heavy machines with catastrophic results.

to Tinglado

Machinery will not like you if lubrication does not get to where it is needed. Look at the machine, try to visualise which parts need oil, which parts move metal on metal, then look for how that oil is provided. A few places on some printing machinery does not welcome oil, mostly on typesetting machinery.

One of the linotype machines, during my apprenticeship, made excessive noise. Eventually it was found there was a blockage in the tube between the grease-cup and one of the bearings on the motor.

By the way, a company in this district will make a bearing set (ball and race, roller and race) of any size, up to about 9 metres diameter. But the price of a one-off bearing needs to be justified.


Thank you for your responses.

I have uploaded a video (you can check the noise):


It is much heavier than it sounds in the video. In fact, the floor vibrates (and we have a bench with vibration isolator).

Cleaning the press insides, we have found type and lead pieces, a lot of paper from die-cuts (in the pics you can see just a bit, it was almost a 3 liters plastic bag), small plastic tubes… I don’t know how they tubes got inside. Maybe type stucked somewhere could be rubbing? Also, we have checked the shearing collar integrity.

I have been checking flywheel runout and motor vibrations. Now the motor doesn’t vibrate and, after measuring the runout, we can conclude that it is quite good. The visual effect that we see is just a geometry defect of the foundry. The inner geometry of the flywheel isn’t perfect but it is weight balanced and without radial or axial runout.

We don’t know what to do next….

Any clue?

Thank you in advance and regards,


image: type.jpg


image: paper-plastic-tube.jpg


It is not uncommon in an average maintained press to find all that stuff, until all is cleared from the bottom and inside of the press, also stand in front of the press, swing the head all the way out towards you and than look down, use a flashlight (Torch) if needed. Clean the entire press, only than you have a chance to observe any worn parts if present, aside, the cleaner the press, the better your work on it.
I have some pictures here;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

That grunt is pretty loud but not unusual on a well worked machine , it is good to clear all the crap out of the base as too much can interfere with your sheet counter (there is a push rod down there that drives the counter ).
Check the back area of the press where the little door is and look down each side of the gap check there are no clumps caught between the walls of the press and the back or bottom part of the swinging platen . if there is nothing there and the press turns over freely then its just age and wear ,it may quieten some with lubricating the gear on the left with a non throwing oil or grease (the gear beneath the teeth on the end of the drum) ,it will however still grunt a bit ,i have heard worse but as it is louder on the back stroke of the platen i would live with it ,get out and look and listen to others you will find they all make a noise in that area ,it will get a bit less loud when you run slower ,and when you are washing up will sound worse still .

Have you also had a look at your pump and thought about cleaning it etc.

Good to hear the flywheel is in order.

The noise is not very different from the press I occasionally work on. The videos of other presses you can view online should give you an idea of the range of sounds that can originate from the intermediate-gear area.

I would also live with it, ensuring it is well lubricated.

Thank you all for your advices.

Today we have been cleaning further the Windmill.

Now, the pump runs smoothly and all the vacum system is almost noiseless.

The intermediate gear noise is still there.

Looking for the problem, it seems that this gear is fixed to a ball bearing, and maybe it needs to be replaced. Is the ball bearing a good candidate for that noise? is it complex to replace it (SFK 6204)?

It seems that the complete ink fountain must be removed to get access to it.

What’s the weight of the ink fountain?

Thank you in advance,


Your noise is cyclic in time with the action of the large distributor ,it is normal on a machine of this age ,
If your problem was the large bearing it would be rumbling as well , it would be constant.
You inking unit is heavy enough that you need to put up a rig to lift it off but you are going a bit far to eliminate the noise that it will make anyway .
If you dont reassemble carefully you may well create problems far worse than those you imagine you have now , .
It is noise ,live with it , many of us found our jobs listening out for that grunting sound , its possible you will stop the worst of it by replacing some expensive parts , however you will only replace some bits before the cost becomes crippling , wear in a gear train means change every gear that comes together ,if you leave one gear in the train you trash all your new ones in months and the noises will be terrible , Leave well alone ,or get print engineers to have a listen and look , $100. for a hours health check is not bad value when you think the minimum you are going to spend replacing parts will be twice that and much more !
You dont go deep into a machine on guesswork , I certainly wouldnt do it for cosmetic reasons , as long as all your oil points bleed when the pump is operated and the noise changes when the oil gets onto the gear i would leave well alone , if you want to be sure get an engineer confirm it , the parts you will be purchasing will be expensive and paying a bit for a look over may save you from a basic waste of many hundreds of dollars .

Thank you very much Peter for your advices.

We contacted an engineer to check the noise, and he pointed also that the the ball bearing of the intermediate gear could be the reason.

So I proceed to dissassemble (maybe an error…) the Heidelberg and later the engineer will help me during the assembling (save money, that’s all).

Once the the ink fountain was dissassembled we could access to the intermediate gear and check it.

The ball bearings (there are two SFK 6204) were aged and in bad condition, but the main problem seem to be the axis. The ball bearings could be moved along the axis freely, they were not fixed to it (as it is suppossed to be, is not it?). The inner rings of the bearings have a slightly bigger diameter than the axis.

We have attached pictures of the axis. It looks like a not original Heidelberg part (it looks like a replacement part). Can anybody tell me if this axis is the original one of the press? Maybe they made it defective, It is just speculation I know.

We are going to replace the bearing, assemble the parts and check the noise again.

The questions are:

1) The bearings must be fixed to the axis (as it is expected), must they?
2) Is the intermediate gear axis the original one or a replacement part?

Maybe someone can help me.

Thank you in advance,

Lola & Antonio

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The bearing you have removed from the spigot which you refer to as the axis is made for heidelberg to their own spec ,replacement bearing for this must come from a proper source ,although the manufacturers mark may be common the size will probably not be, I dont have the sizes for the internal measurement of said bearing but it should be a neat fit on the spigot ,the reason yours is very loose is A it has seized in the past and been rolling on the shaft orB it is not the correct bearing . Some heidelberg bearings are a wierd out of standard measure 1/2 mm off from a standard over the counter bearing.Parts like this are best ordered from a heidelberg source like your whittenberg or similar , they will supply the correct part .
It may prove necessary to replace the shaft the bearing sits on if the old bearing has worn a mark into it ,there is no point in rebuilding with wear in the shaft .

Thank you Peter for sharing this info.

We will check the specs of the previous bearing, measuring inner and outer diameters, and the shaft diameter.

Also, we will try to find a seller of Heidelberg parts in Spain.

Thank you very much and regards,


You can try senior graphic machinery in the uk for these parts or letterpress services also uk they can ship such small parts easily !
You monly need the parts numbers you require and the serial number of the press , the serial number is important as it will determine the parts correctly fit .

I’m experiencing a similar noise as this but it is not on the backstroke of the platen, it’s when its completely closed. It makes this honking grunt sound.

The gears on the flywheel side of the press are plenty lubricated. The sound seems to come from the ink drum or near there but oil in the worm gear on the delivery side and in the gears flywheel side don’t help a bit.

Any suggestions?

Does it make the sound when off-impression?

Yes, on and off impression.
It doesn’t seem to be the ink drum because it oscillates twice per cycle of the press and the sound only happens once.

It might be best to link a youtube vid so all can hear the sound.

Offhand, I’d guess wear on the big gear. I’m used to hearing a “rrrrum, rrrrrum…” (like an old pirate).

I presume the red cups with wicks inside the press are filled regularly, the other oil points on the platen are addressed and the press is free of debris in the base.


This video shows the press running fairly slowly because that noise is so annoying. Also I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary wear and if something is wrong.

email Peter Luckhurst directly via briar, similar noise to our H at Amberley Museum, but yours is a little more extreme but I would not panic yet by any means………..hope that is ok Peter……

I would peg the pump for the noise, open the top of the pump, pay attention not to damage the gasket and clean the pump out, if you have oil in the pump, the pump is struggling to give you the vacuum needed.

The sound is definitely originating from the ink drum area. The pump is running smoothly and in person it’s clear that that’s not where the grunting noise is coming from

Excellent video… audio clarity is superb.

I think it is only slightly louder than normal, if that. I very much think it originates in the big gear, and rattles the gear train up to the ink drum which resonates with the ringing tone.

I reduced the same type of sound from a Chandler by cleaning the packed ink and dirt from between the teeth of the big gear and pinion. I haven’t tried the same on a windmill, but may try to see if it improves the noise.

I wouldn’t worry too much or stop running the press… Just my two cents.

As Anonymous says the noise is normal , the volume of that noise is slightly quiter after lubrication usually , but will return in a few running hours ,it is age and wear but not a disaster .
The point about the pump is valid as a dry pump can make a horrid rubbing sound ,i have recently had one do this and a quick strip and clean sorts it .

I have possibly some new insight to this issue. In my case, the vibration is affected by the clutch. The noise is loudest when running at about 3k impressions /hr, and much quieter when running slower or faster. However, if I have the vbelt in its highest (fastest position) and I pull the clutch about half way out, not enough to lock it in this position, the press runs so smoothly. The rate of impressions is exactly the same as when the motor is slower and the clutch is fully engaged. This leads be to believe that somehow the motor/flywheel/clutch is sending the vibration through the gears and its just reverberating in the hollow ink drum.

Does this spark any ideas of a solution?