Heidelberg 10x15 Windmill - Impression & Inking

I am trying to find the perfect impression and inking on my Heidelberg Windmill. I am using Deep Relief plates and having a hard time figuring out the right amount and type of PACKING to use to get deep/crisp impression. Any suggestions?
Also, where can I purchase a ink-roller setting gauge? and How do I use it to ensure my rollers are just touching top of plate? Thanks for your help!

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let me correct my question by stating that I know how ‘much’ packing is needed…just not the right ‘mix’ or type of packing to use that is best for deep relief plates and a deep impression. thanks!


Out of coincidence, I’m looking for info on the same question. What I understand that it might just be a question of trial and error. Fitz at NA Graphics is helpful and he is also recommended the book General Printing: An Illustrated Guide to Letterpress Printing” by
Cleeton, Glen U.

Boxcar Press sells roller setting gauges and has a great series of videos:

Hope this helps.

Most of my life printing is about answering your first sentence! Very well put. That is life in letterpress.
Yes a roller gauge is very essential. I got mine from a Heidelberg bloke many years ago, but I see them on ebay and boxcar. That and a micrometer and a pair of twizers and a quoin key are your essential kit. Pliers too. Some basic spanners and a cutting Knife. Try to get a hard topsheet, like manilla, that can be packed soft underneath.
Good wishes

You shouldn’t be using deep relief plates on a Heidelberg Platen.

Deep relief does not equal deeper impression.

Use standard relief, and you will find much better results.

Deep relief plates should work fine on the windmill press if you have the correct base to bring them to type-high. I have found that a hard packing is best to get the best impression possible. If you are printing on a soft paper as is common today, using a hard packing will allow you to impress the paper and provide a solid backing so the paper doesn’t deform on the back. This will “bottom-out” the impression within the paper’s body and give you a very well-defined impression.

Use very dense materials in the packing under the topsheet of oiled tympan paper. I use polyester (Mylar) film in my press as well as dense index stock for packing. It is difficult to use the packing caliper gauge (on the upright by the delivery) to gauge the packing required as it would give you results for a surface-printed “kiss” impression. You might be well served to experiment with various calipers of stock to use in place of the Lettra (or other compressible stock) when you use the gauge to determine the proper packing thickness.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

I agree with what everything @jhenry has said, but would also like to add that I sometimes use a softer packing for large solids. I think this is in the “Tips for the Pressman” book that Heidelberg put out.

I’ve found that packing (and make-ready) should change depending on what’s being printed. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work.

Good luck!

I agree with all the above comments, just want to reinforce…

Don’t over pack your press. Learn to use the built in gauge.

On the delivery side of the press, at the top of the right paper guide is a “slit” to measure your packing thickness. Not to be forced into, but slide in snug, measure all together.

At the beginning of every job or at the end of every job, always back off your impression some, so on your next job you don’t smash type or a cut. Every job is different.

I read somewhere on the Boxcar site about their plates and bases. The deep relief base / plate will be more forgiving for improper roller adjustment . The other will require more attention to detail to keep the ink off the none type area but will provide a crisper image.

I use a deep relief base / plate on my CP. It works well for me.

It is difficult to show someone how to make a mistake deliberately and look good after . however , winding the impression off after every job is a must regardless of whether the stock is the same or not ,this can save you from smashing type that missed the plane and will give you a warning if you have overlooked a height issue in a mixed form. I have run these platens all my working life among a few other things and one quick lesson you learn is to never take it for granted it will be OK , if in doubt sort it out ..