Supercaster product, victory and defeat simultaneously? When hot metal and letterpress were in the death throes in favour of litho (hell and damnation etc) a lot of us were on bonus in an attempt to keep up, but eventually failed anyway! One side issue was product from the Supercaster as follows. The Super produced strip material from 1 point upwards (as did/can the Elrod) The Supercaster could be programmed to shear strip product to any desired length and provided the mould and ejector blade(s) were monitored and maintained with oil correctly accuracy to within 1-2 point was normal. Usual procedure was cast up into lengths at normal galley length for general use, however under house production methods the super was programmed for galley after galley of product at specific lengths, usually for page make up. For retention and storage upon breaking down (dissing) the printed formes. But there was always “one” who abused the system and sliced up vast amounts of product and wasted even more. Enter Stage Left the super operator with a point to make, silly, childish even dangerous, removed the gag block and fed 6 point strip straight to the funditor (saw) for 5 minutes, probably 50 feet. Obviously took some heat and a b*******g, but did get the rules changed re excessive waste, when the remelting pot was hard pressed several caught the fumes. The principal probably inspired by Monotypes publicity gimmick, re 100 feet of 1 point strip in a continuos coil, this in itself not favoured by operators because the 1 point ejector blade had a habit of folding up under sustained use. And some believed that Monotype had an hidden agenda in producing the vertical space cutter, which could chomp out accurate hair spaces from 1 point strip, ad infinitum, although in fairness it protected the valuable composition moulds from incessant hammering producing hair spaces!! We did pick up on using non constant height moulds (pre 22,000 series) for spaces ONLY. with the space attatchment, and no bridge being battered.

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This is the Mick I hoped and knew was there! What a resource of knowledge. You are needed, Mick, and I send this along in complete frankness.

Its in there you just have to pry it out , he is a moany type hoppergator for certain . In the trade among the few that were alive a few years ago he was well respected for his abilitys on those machines ,as well as for having more auto parts around him than the stuff he was paid to be doing work with .

Vandy 1905, Sir, thank you for your response, it was especially gratifying from yourself as it would appear that you may not be a dyed in the wool Monoype exponent but able to appreciate some retro ramblings (mine) etc. As I lived and breathed (to the detrement of my health) Monotype composition and Display, from 1954 until the death and litho in 1984, it is just possible that I have amassed a certain amount of knowledge for passing on. After the last “E” in monotype my ramblings are just that, ramblings, and never offered as facts just possible pointers for the new ones, it is noted that after I have stuck my neck out esteemed contributors cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s still fair enough! the critics are still helping to get the proper message across. As a result of my efforts in Amberely Museum I.E. rebuilding Their Monotype machine virtually from the base up, and as the result of a visit by 2 Modern Designers/Typographers, for whom I cast up as sorts 2 special characters. 8 point and 10 point “Pilcrows” for there own special project, matrices supplied by The Type Museum in London. Google via “The Counter Press re pilcrows” still shows there little clip of my efforts, and the origin of my “handle/I.D.” their words not mine! a little poetic license on their part, with some of the minor details, but hopefully showing my passion or disease, take your pick. It used to be blondes with outstanding “serifs” but I got better according to my trick cyclist. There is a cornucopia of rubbish about the Monotype waiting to be passed on or set free, on line or off. Hopefully as a born again, second time around, self confessed crackpot, with my newly acquired ancient, machine I can possibly teach online and even cast up a few sorts, which will P*** off the grim reaper a little more. Vandy Thank you, and regards to Sky Shipley if he looks in. MICK

I’m not often to get near hot metal, but I always enjoy the read… for its language and humor, as well as its expertise.

(I confess to also having an overabundance of small diesel engine parts.)


I’ve worked with hot metal all my life, linotypes, ludlows, elrods, and smelting furnaces, but the machine that really gets me is the monotype, I’ve only been around a few of them, never ran one but hats off to monotype mick, the monotype makes all others childs play, lots of respect for Mick, by the way I thought you were coming across the pond to visit, been watching the shore line for a month now looking for your canoe.

A. M. thanks, I would like to think that a little, not too irreverant humour possibly helps the concept to be remembered and helps the new ones most. Peter occasionally spills the beans and in this case yes I was known to have few auto parts in the casting dept, just passing through, Sir! He tends to forget the bits about, for 14 years in glorious downtown Mid Sussex U.K. when Monotype (Hot Metal) was cranking down in favour of Monophoto and Lasercomp, several printers in the area found it very usefull to contact the “The old F**T as in flatulence)” for the odd spare, or repair, or 2 or 3 or 4 and counting………DICK, yes the Monotype is an amazing machine, 50 plus years, down the road I still believe so, considering it is purely 15 p.s.i. air driven but 100% purely mechanical, at 180 characters per minute on 5 point or 6 point, from molten lead to solid type, in milliseconds, is to many onlookers even now, still amazing, it is just sad that it was responsible for tipping Tolbert over the edge. BUT DICK dont put the lino down too much, of course I am a little biased, one has to be, but when one studies the Lino from a mechanical point of view, with respect to some of many intricacies involved just a few deserve respect and appreciation, Otto must have had his share of head scratching surely. I.E. just a few for starters;- the escapement mechanism for the release of the mats, the apparent simplicity of the space bands, the elevators and transfer from/to etc, the complexity of the code(s) on the mats along the distributor bar, the all mechanical cam train, etc etc Even with a hint of Monotype One upmanship (well one has to) still a spectacular machine. Otto didnt have that on the Drawing board and operational 3 weeks later I bet. Dick be a little careful waving the Stars and Bars at me! just prior to Hurricane Sandy, there were moves afoot for me to spend a little time in N.Y. as a volunteer to give a weeks help/instruction on The Monotype, Impossible and impractical in seven days, but I was flying at 35,000 feet while still on the ground for being considered. Still remotely possible but watch out I could still get the spies to give me the location of your Barn Printshop. “VE HAV VAYS” of finding accomodation, I have dossed down in hot metal typesetting shops before now, the pots stay warm well into the night and the time switches come in quite early. You have been warned. Dick, Have a nice day.

Mick if you ever get to the states you will always have a place to stay, I have a camper in my yard that I would be happy to put you up in for a few days, my house is small and full of grand children. If you come and are here on a Saturday i’ll take you to the Museum of Printing just north of Boston, they are only open on Saturday. If you look on line at the Museum of Printing site at their 10th annual printing arts fair, the young guy in the blue t-shirt running the linotype that is me. My shop is about one hour south of boston, close to Plymouth, MA, YYour friend Dick G.

Dick, Thank you, but I may have to do some seriuos homework re time and distance, unless of course I can get some from the (OLD) horses mouth. I have a cousin in Chicago who has teased me for along time about a Seeburg Jukebox “V” 200 which he knows I have lusted after for a long long time, He paid about 1,000 dollars a long time ago, for me to obtain the same here now, I would have to sell the remainder of my soul to the devil at the crossroads, or turn a bank over for about £10,000 pounds sterling, roughly 15,000 U.S. Dollars. I offered my body to medical science for a down payment, in advance, but was rejected “sorry Sir too much Lead, Tin and Antimony” So a night,s stopover in the “CAMPER” sounds very attractive, Winnebago, I presume, with direct Audio link to “The Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee,” preferable but not essential. Dick, as a result of this post presumably I will be your EX Buddy, MICK, Bur regards anyway.

Mick, not a Winnie, its a Coachman, full bath, kitchen, parked in your choice of places in my yard, either next to the chicken coup or in front of the goats barns. Bring your canoe, we are on a lake. You will always be my buddy, Dick G.

go Mick if you can…….have a nice trip

Thank you, Mick, for your response.

I have a Lanston Monotype and a Monotype sorts caster with fleuron mats, but have not mastered either. Some of the greatest printing has been with Monotype forms.

My own casting experience has centered on Model 31 Linotypes and Ludlows. I believe Monotype is superior~I’m thirsty for your knowledge about this.

I read everything you post with enjoyment and respect.

W J M , Vandy Sir, the compliment is reciprocal as above, if my ramblings provoke interest and in depth investigation by the new ones, thats MY bonus!! even if it degenerates to “check the old F**T out put him out of his misery etc” the premise is better remembered possibly. Between 54 and 84 (until the demise of hot metal) it was a constant almost daily boost, especially with a new range of diecases (typefaces) to have at least 2 casters singing at full tilt, reading the type upside down and back to front, for mistakes on the run, and then going kranky over the first proof. New to the Press? Century Schoolbook and Rockwell, had me Flying at 35,000 feet at the foot and UNDER our little bitty South Downs, 600 foot hills. Back then and still now, eccentric, cracked, passionate, YES whats the difference. As far back as 1957/8 the mechanical devils were at work, within! I sent one or two ideas/prototypes to Monotype always received well with appreciative letter of encouregment. Never rejected, declined on development costs, one case in point, if/when one or two outside sorts/characters had to be cast up, in a hurry there was limited options, partially dismantle an operational matrix case (which was fiddly in itself) insert one or two mats, cast a handfull of sorts and revert to standard, Monotype,s crude option was a frame that only carried ONE mat at a time, and that had to be in the centre and consequently involved time consuming jigging, to get the correct size and set. I constructed a carrier matrix case that could accomodate 15 outside sorts/characters on the correct size rows, rip of the sorts without having to breakdown and build up a working matrix case. They Monotype acknowledged and conceeded that the principle was good but declined for production costs. I also constructed a system for churning out very thin spaces, without bending them on the way through the exit gate on the Caster, understandably this was diplomatically declined “A” because they had a system of there own and “B” because it would have encouraged vast amounts of wear and tear to the moulds. I hope shortly to reprise this and other methods and will try to post pics and specs. I have an array of blasts from the past waiting to take flight, before the grim reaper gets me. IF I know it, (IF) and it is possible to pass it on, the portal say “welcome” W J M By the power invested in me by Tolbert Lanston personally you are as of now UPGRADED to “Vandy 1066” it has acertain ring to it and will sit better with the U. K. (home market) chapter. Welcome Friend, Mick.

Barry, Peter and myself have had a whip round and have raised enough for a single ticket, I can look after Tiggy and the Cat let me know your thoughts Mick. Also can you give me a ring I need to talk to you!

Thank you for your recent, generous response.
I have wanted a knowledgable comparison between the Supercaster and the Thompson . Do you have the time and interest?

I almost purchased a Supercaster out of Maine, USA in the early 1980s but backed off because I didn’t know enough about it. The Thompson seemed simpler.

Time is fleeting!

“1066” indeed. I can’t but believe that if you and I and the bravehearts who appear in this particular blog had been at Hastings, the Anglish would have done better. Do you think?

Vandy W.J.M. Sir, Thank you again. Unfortunately for Me my command of the vagaries and workings of the Thompson amounts to zero, therefore as I inadvertantly opened the proverbial *can of worms* myself, I will now spend some time trawling the extensive archives of our Museums, print shop, and hopefully enlighten myself………. With what scant info I have up to now regarding the Thompson, comes to mind one of our expressions *Jack of all trades, and Master of none*……..This is in no way meant to be derogatory, just a comparison with our U.K. three in one machine, Composition machine equipped with attatchments for casting leads and rules, up to 12 point and Display up to 36 point……… I believe in the U.S.A. you call them Orphan Annies, from the prefixes on the Serial numbers?……. Here it is generally considered that basic dedicated machines, that are adapted may well produce serviceable product but not to the standard of the dedicated machine…….. Cases in point, although the Composition machine with attatchments could produce display up to 36 point, on 36 point casting cap “W” cap “M” etc it struggled, with out the sophistication of the speed control and pump pressure, etc of the Super caster it was not on a level playing field……Leads and rules, only up to 12 point, were also serviceable, just, but by the nature of the construction of the moulds were inferior to Supercaster product….This by virtue of the fact that on the Super the nozzle injects (the lead) into a wedge shaped sprue chamber, before the mould cavity ensuring full capacity in/on type body, and sheared cleanly at the foot……With the lead and rule attatchment!!!! the nozzle sits immediately under the product with, just a crude excess chamber on the side, which is why Supercaster strip product would be re used, via the lead racks etc,…attatchment product would be remelted automatically, rather than re used, not cost effective, and degrading the lead on every remelt…..I know I am biased (just a little) but a Supercaster with its multi speed gearbox and the addition of the varigear drive unit *borrowed* from the composition machine (in later models) was very versatile……The point and benefit of the varigear was, on initial start up, to reach operating temperature quickly and then revert to proper/normal specified speed, this could be achieved via the gearbox, but involved uncogging for every gear selection, whereas the varigear gave constant speed control, up and down!…..Assuming you are still awake, Have a Nice Day, Regards Mick

Thanks, Mick. Seems to me your Supercaster vs. Thompson post is well worth reading and keeping. Your manner and content provoke study and close attention.
Consider that some very great literature uses provocation of one kind or another to draw and then to hold the reader.
WJM (Vandy 1066~ in England)

Vandy, Sir, Ta! Really will trawl the archives to gen up on Thompson Typecaster,s…..As you imply previously, some contact with Model 31 Lino, memory banks (mine) have regressed and brought forth the following:- The Linotype/Intertype both produce beautiful Non Continuos border, from a whole plethora of special purpose Mats, but only (in length) to the limit of the the liners in the mould wheel,….where as the Supercaster with the appropriate equipment, auxiliary matrix lifter, could produce non continuos strip by the mile, with the added advantage of utilising a whole range of ornaments, size for size, as corner pieces for certificates/diplomas etc…..Non Continuos on the Super did need a liitle more care and attention, if the *oil* supply to the mould ran low the non continuos ejection system stalled and the pattern was lost, and occasionally a splash!!!….95% of the time way back, no problems?….the other 5% happened when the operator (no names, wink wink, nudge nudge,) was probably chatting up the Girls in the Finishing Dept, …… **The Supercaster traditionally used, on the mould, casting strip, commercial grade unrefined CASTOR oil, (what else on a Caster!**)….. It was known for certain un-named 2 wheel boy racers, late 50,s early 60,s to try to emulate their heros# and obtain the SMELL of “Casrol R” after a massed start at the Racing Circuit. Complete Faliure, it was too sticky….#O.K.73 miles an hour, downhill with a following wind, but the fastest letterpress machines, struggled to hit 3,000 I.P.H.# ….Bert Munro was laying down 200 M.P.H. on the Bonneville Salt Flats anyway ….Vandy Thanks again, we may just provoke a little more in depth investigation as to how it was….I surely must. Mick.

Thanks, Mick. I’m running just now, but please do keep at it.