Chase Lockup


I’m anxious to start printing on my recently acquired 14-1/2 x 22 C&P NS press, but while I’m still waiting for materials I have a question.

Because the press and chase are so large, and my Boxcar base is only 9 x 6, I have a lot of space around the base. I’m wondering if this lockup (photo attached) looks more or less right, or if anyone spots some obvious problems.

Thanks for entertaining my question.

image: lockup.jpg


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Your lock up will work. It is important that the printing look pretty. The lock up only has to be functional..
Your lock up is fine for the Boxcar base. Not so fine if it was a form of type.
We oldsters were taught to have wood against metal and not metal to metal. We are biased as some forms are locked up using all metal furniture. You have a couple of slugs in there and probably because you do not have reglets. Reglets are the skinny pieces of furniture and come in 6 and 12 point.
You have two pieces of furniture that butt to the top and bottom of the base on one dimension and extend beyond the other edge. This is the basis of the chaser method of lock up. Start at one corner with a piece of furniture butted at the corner and extending beyond the next corner. Continue around the form in the same manner. Then build out to the chase edges with furniture and the quoins. I like to have the furniture longer as I approach the chase so that I have a nice long piece against the chase to distribute the pressure. Note in your picture that you have some smaller pieces on two sides. They will work, but I think it better to have longer pieces. If you tighten the quoins too much the little short piece of furniture can bow the chase. Too much pressure and bowing will break the chase.

Now get the plate on and

Get some ink on your shirt


Thanks again Inky, you’ve always got great advice. I was wondering if I should seek out some longer furniture and if shorter pieces should be closer to the base or the chase.

I’m sure I’ll continue to have more questions.

Good advice from Inky, after all his teacher was a guy named Ben.

>Good advice from Inky, after all his teacher was a guy named Ben.


Well, your lock-up will do - just. If you lift one side of your form a noticable ‘wow’ will be evident. When printing, the actual type area will wave back and forth. Try pressing on the type area with your fingers; it will bounce. There really isn’t much support in that chase, and what is there is somewhat ‘spindly’. Mounted on the press as it is, I suspect it does not lay firm to the bed thus it will eventually work loose. A pied form on an imposing surface is one thing. A burst form on a moving press is quite another.
However, you have identified the cure. Longer furniture at chase edges, shortening - if necessary because of insufficient furniture - toward the actual type form. Never have furniture shorter than the actual type form. Picture, if you will, a Maltese Cross configuration when filling a large chase. And the caution to place reglet next to a quoin (both sides) is sound advice; metal on metal WILL slip. Too, it is easier to replace quoin-indented reglet than the more expensive furniture :o) Should you not have reglet, tag stock sleepers will do in a pinch. Also, unless you have such variety of printing that the full chase must remain clear, fabricate a fill-in spider for the chase. That will ease furniture demands, plus ensure quick, secure lock-up. Just a thought.

Fantastic advice, thanks!

Attached are three of many ways of locking-up a form taken from Ralph Polk’s The Practice of Printing. A secure lock-up depends on the materials you are using. Wood can swell an cause spring in the form, but with care is the most often used way of filling the space in the form. The way you did it is appropriate except for the upper right part of your picture where the furniture being clamped touches the other furniture being clamped. The furniture on the top side could keep the furniture on the right from compressing properly.


image: Lockup_3.JPG


image: Lockup_2.JPG


image: Lockup_1.JPG


“Good advice from Inky, after all his teacher was a guy named Ben.”


No, Old Ben Kenobi. May the Fount be with you.

The guy on the $100 bill.

Also to add, if your side lay is on the left then the quoins go on the right and if you use an auto platen with a right side lay the quoins go on the left.

Another point for the consideration is to keep the forme in the middle to upper portion where possible to enable safer feeding ,you dont want to be reaching deep into the press to remove copy as it makes life as difficult as it is dangerous .

I wondered why the fingers on my right hand are shorter than the left. :-)

are they shorter or just flatter??

Thanks, guys. I’m going to keep working on it. The images are more helpful than the ones in General Printing.

Should I try to find some reglets? Of course I’ll have to move the slug(s) still.

Regarding the position of the form, I read somewhere about the “sweet spot” where the impression is the best. This is also a huge press (as I’m truly understanding as I work my way around it) and reaching down is not ideal, so even if the form is a bit higher I should still get a great impression? Or maybe I should just get printing?!

That is one big press. You will get better ink coverage and have good impressional strength. If i were you i’d lock smaller forms up well above the center of the press, you don’t want to reach way down into this monster. You are fine using slugs, you don’t have to run out and buy reglets, take your time and i’m sure you will run across some treasures near you. Always stand straight at the press and never reach down into the press to retreive a misfed sheet, you can always get more paper but fingers are hard to find. Good Luck Dick G.

if you move the slugs be sure to watch where your guides
are going to be placed. Anything taller than furniture can hit guides( depending on what you use ) and can damage them.

This may be heresy, and I could get burned at the stake, but if setting up a base for polymer plates, I have found it useful to use quoins on all four sides of the base so that I can “tweak” the position of the base rather than lifting the plate and moving it on the base. It is quite difficult to move the plate just a hair, but I can slightly loosen one quoin and tighten the opposite, giving me better control over the image placement.

I don’t always do this, but tend to do so when color register is involved. I have a box full of color register quoins which are designed to go on all sides of an image plate and can be loosened and tightened as described above. I can even use these to slightly angle the base in the chase, to allow fitting of one color precisely with a previously printed one.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

Burn him at the steak. Although it sounds like it would work. But why not lock up the regular way and just move the whole base???

Locking up? from the horses mouth (Hawthorne Baker/Cornerstone) not mine, mid seventies, sent on a course, to above company, to learn the rudiments of moulding press etc, but of course, The Company!! just happened to show of, some of their other products, (just so that you might drop hints to the firm that sent you!!) One such product was (amongst others) JUMBO FURNITURE, 30, 40, 50, ems girder type in one piece.>>> First they demonstrated by locking up a dummy forme, full of mix and match furniture, tipping one edge up, on the stone, and with the minutest pressure, on the middle of the mix and match furniture,>>> popped it out because of the flex and give,>>> especially with only one, long series quoin, butted against one, piece of furniture, of less than the length of the quoin. The next demo was the same forme locked up with 2 or 3 pieces of Surprise, Surprise, (Their own Jumbo Furniture) given the same test with (their own!!) newly marketed rubber hammer and planer block, which then needed a fair whack to spring the forme. Of course they (Cornerstone) just happened to include a nice coloured flyer in the students certificate of competance back to the firm???>>>Obviously as the saying goes “neccessity is the mother of invention” and as a new starter with as yet insufficeint materials, improvisation, probably has to be the order of the day. For the time being, GOOD LUCK.

The ‘tweaking’ of a form using quoins at each side is especially handy should humidity fluctuate in the shop. Astonishing how the trap roams when laying a second colour after the first, or even following runs - and there often is noticeable difference in the paper dimension during a long run. I found that the colour reg. quoins were sometimes too small to effect secure lock-up in a large form, (plus I could never find that tiny key!) thus resorted to hi-speed quoins to ensure safety on the press. As the old saying has it: “Whatever works!” :o)

If you cant maintain constant temp and humidity in your shop,
print first on a acetate and place on previous printed color for reg and adjust as needed.

Hope I’ll be able to find all these comments in the future, when I actually encounter the above issues!

I made it a personal rule that if i had to lock with quoins on more than two edges in a form never put wood in the lock up . Same rule for runs lasting more than two or three hours locked up “conventionally ” no wood .
reason being solely temperature and humidity changes .
I work very long die cut runs and check the tension on the formes every hour or two ,a lesson i learned the hard way long ago !!! That doesnt mean i havent had a quoin hop out and be ploughed across the plywood of a die ,thankfully to fall into a gap in the furniture and stop there .
This trade is full of traps many are predictable ,you find them all during the journey .

THREE related and interrelated observations (of no consequence but just a blast from the past) Forme, if you think you had troubles with your teeny key, going walkabout? how about the TEENY WEENY key for 4 colour register hooks on Honey Comb base, 30/40 years before boxcar maybe!!! Of course there was a smart a**e who devised and made 4 legged key with standard key, on one leg, narrow margin key on another leg, wickersham/hempel on 3rd leg, and 4 colour register hook key on 4th leg, and yes!*!* did make a little money (to pump into the Juke Box on Saturday nights)>>> Typenut was/is your (good) acetate solution, modern adaptation of the system used by comps,a long time ago,>> with their pre-make ready galleys and acetate sheet (GRAPHED)>>with pin bar register, onto the lay edge, of the galley. Could this concept help some of the recent post(ees) with their lay pin, and register queries?>>>Way back there seemed to be a wide variety of Quoins, with a host of applications, but now with the current revival of letterpress in full swing, with the wide variety of smaller machines, being pressed into use,>> one special quoin, would seem to be a valuable asset, for getting the most from the least, (forme capacity wise) The one I have in mind,>>> was a narrow margin quoin,>>> constructed in the form of 2 opposed plates, (about 4 ems square) with an ordinary spanner operated machine screw, in the middle,>>> used exactly as normal quoins, in any multiple(s) as normal lockup.>>> If they still are/or ever were available (down home!) Would they not be very useful for smaller Kelseys, Sigwalts, Adanas???

That forme looks ok, but I’d swap the right hand quoin over to the left and get used to doing it that way as most platen presses have their bottom and side lays on the right hand side, apart from that it looks ok

Elrodfk, haven’t you ever used a hand-fed platen jobber? Almost all are designed to feed right-handed from a high feed-table on the right, and deliver left-handed to a lower table in the center. Guide edges are to bottom and left, and the lockup diagrams above reflect that correctly. Switching side guide edge for backup has become an advanced technique by present standards.
The only hand-fed platens which are by design ambidextrous are the parallel-impression platens with separate paired feed tables.

When you put the chase in the press, you can probably move it side-to-side slightly. To avoid putting the chase in a slightly different position every time, with the associated misregister, get in the habit of always sliding it as far to one side as possible. I always slide my chase to the left as far as it will go, because my side gauge pin is on the left and my side quoin(s) are on the right.