Vicobold C Restoration

Well, we wrestled this out of its current location last weekend, and it is now residing in my garage (after some battles involving pallet trucks and wasps nests which I shall not bore you with).

After some elbow grease today, and a liberal application of WD40, I was amazed at well she scrubs up. The gold lettering on the Vicobold titling is lovely, and by the end of the afternoon, the twenty years of standing grime had gone, and she was gleaming.

I’m not being naive here (well, maybe I am, but not entirely). I still know that this is a huge job, with potentially very little hope of it working out. I guess for me this is more about the process, the learning, and the attempted rescue - I had to try.

It seems like a lot of the muck and rust were just surface, and we found some chases lurking behind the actual press, which was a huge surprise. I just wanted to run the cleaned up photos past you all, and your collected wisdom.

My next ports of call are to try and get the belt replaced (I have the original, and it is intact but just a bit withered, so I shouldn’t think it will be too hard to get someone to make me a new one). The motor also needs some attention. It looks intact but I am going to get it checked and reconditioned before reattaching it. I also need to remove the lurking piece of twine at the base of the fly wheel - it doesn’t seem to be holding anything vital on or in place, but I guess I won’t know until I try. I will also need to get the broken roller arm re-welded, if possible.

Those are my initial thoughts, but I wanted to ask if anyone notices anything massive from the pics that I am missing. I’ve literally only spent an afternoon with this so far, so I have a long way to go yet - I’m not trying to rush this one through.

Also have a question about the numbers on it, but will post a separate thread regrading those. Thanks in advance everyone :)

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Log in to reply   19 replies so far

I’ve long thought a colts, geitz, or vico would be pretty much my grail platens. Good luck with your restoration.

Grail platen? Fine press printers used to agree, but that perspective is fading fast. Jobbing is another matter, and although the smaller parallel-impression presses are much faster than the larger models, they are still slower than any Gordon platens or Windmills (Windmills being the Grail platen for the photopolymer era). The Vicobold is the smallest and fastest of this type, and one thing the Germans and then Brits did to improve Gally’s original press was to add a clutch; the press shown has a clutched flywheel, something just not seen on American platens. This is a huge improvement especially when it comes to safety (at least when the clutch is adjusted correctly). This particular press does not have the fittings for safety guards that automatically stop the press when anything gets between the platen and the guard, but then most pressmen would have removed them anyway.
Instructions for adjusting this clutch can be found in the manual “VICBOOK1.PDF” in the files section at my yahoo group:

Another thing: earlier photos show the removal of the hand-lever, which has not been put back in place in these later shots. That hand lever is what activates the clutch, unlike Gordon presses where it controls impression. On this press impression is controlled by the knob on the back of the platen, and adjusted by the slider. What I don’t see on this press is the normal roller check knob that usually is at the feeder’s left knee. I do see a tube at the left side that is suggestive of the pneumatics of an autofeeder, if it goes back to a piston. Perhaps there is no independant roller control on this model.

hiya-pic from The Logan Press Finedon nr Northampton? where Patrick Roe has one for sale(does repairs too) -for you to compare or visit-
-just in case you have not seen message on facebook,check out your domestic elec. supply is suitable for supply, Monotype the Mick might advise you here if you give specs(also can do minor repairs maybe), Peter Luckhurst’s mate Barry operates one at Amberley Museum on certain days,so maybe the best thing is is to actually see one in operation to take photos/video(eg at Amberley or one much nearer you if anyone else can offer or local British Printing Society member has one). I have had a couple of goes and is a nice steady straightforward press.Best.

you probably know already , Jacqui Sharples has one for the love of wood etc

Thanks Jonathan, I have been Googling like a fiend these past few days, so did see for the love of wood. I was amazed by the pics of hers being craned in through an upper floor window. Makes our mission to pick it up look trivial.

The one in Finedon looks great (Must not buy. Must not buy.)
The link didn’t work but
should I think. I have emailed Patrick to ask for some advice.

My questions to him - and to Mick and Peter, and anyone else who might have some vital gems are:

-My press is missing the lever to the direct right of the flywheel. I have the lever, but it has come unwelded. I wanted to ask what this lever is for, and whether getting it rewelded is vital to the machine’s operation.

- I am aware that the press is meant to be motorised, and it did come with the motor attached, but we took it off to move the press, and I am a bit loathed to put it back on yet, as its pretty rusty. My partner’s boss is an electrical engineer, so I’m going to get him to take a look at it. Worse case scenario I am happy to pay him to recondition the motor.

I noticed in the Finedon images that his Vico does not have the motor attached. I wondered if he took it off to run the machine manually? I wondered if this would be possible, as I will not need the machine to work at high speed necessarily. My only concern is, turning the flywheel manually does not seem to move the mechanism and get the platen rolling etc. I can see that there is a pretty complex set of mechanisms between the flywheel and the gears etc that move the press bed up and down, so I’m just wondering if this mechanism is managed by the motor too, or if there is a way to do this manually.

My press does not have the piece at the base of the image - I have seen these are usually attached to the top of the machines, but wasn’t entirely sure what that bit did.

Thanks for all your help :)

Also, many thanks parallel_imp for your input. I have requested to join the yahoo group so I can access that file - seems like it will be really helpful. Really appreciate it.

Hiya=Finedon press was just in storage as Patrick buys/sells, hence no motor attatched; Vicobold is not a treadle everything is motor driven and the speed (which is slow enough to hand feed from my very limited experience)can be adjusted by changing “gearing”/drive shaft belts etc (Mick and others can advise) so you will need motor and the lever next to the big wheel which takes off impression via a clutch(hence press not turning over and needs re-affixing.The “cage” at bottom of pic from Patrick(sorry link not work)is what parallel imp. mentioned, the safety guard which stops the press- many letterpress groups on flickr remember, oil up the bearings and bearing surfaces correctly to really let them soak, there may be dried up oil/rust/crud? etc in the bearings which could get damaged by scoring if you run the press perhaps so these may need flushing though/at worst taking apart and thoroughly cleaning, as you said press had not been used 20 years/ cheers keep optimistic

Mine is also missing this lever:

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Vicki, as Jonothan implies perhaps do a little off line liason and planning, visit Amberely, when He,(Jonathon,) Peter, I, and Barry are all in the Shop, I speak for Barry without consultation but as He has Worshipped the Vickobold for a long long time, loves to use/demonstrate it you will not find a better expotent (still alive) Bring a sample of your Type for identification, between us, and possibly with reference to the archives and specimen books, identification may be possible. Possibly do a little more detective work, on your type, I.E. Check the height, (its almost certain to be .918 English)** appears to be in El cheapo Adana style cases, and keying in to your search engine the ROUND nick on the Front the Square nick on the foot, and closer inspection and identification of the (apparent) founders imprint on the side, entered in to your on line request, will give more of a fighting chance. Over the course of many years, Adana did Cast and Market their own type but also bought in and marketed type, for their customers and to use on their own machines supplies from Bona Fide typefouders. In passing if/when (and hopefully you will) get to print a nice Wedding invite, Christening invite or similar prestigious job and you think, “feather in my bonnett” on My Vicobold, in Silver or Gold, and in Palace Script, and of course from TYPE, as opposed to modern applications! Be aware!!! Adana Supplied Palace Script, was was cast with Monotype Moulds and Matrices, which have long since dissapeared and/or been shipped to South America. So if you see or are offered a beautifull font or fonts with virtually no Aa, Ee, No, Oo, Rr, St or Tt,s, play it cool.? This applies to most other ordinary display fonts 18 point up to 72, the most used characters, as represented by the size of the compartments in full size cases, on the lower case side. The situation arises usually because, standing jobs use a lot of the above mentioned, and dont get dissed back in in time for the sale/purchase of ranges of cases with type. I believe (but not a known fact) that One Typefounder still markets Palace Script, on an all cranked body. At a PRICE! But with Virgin type, in Gold or Silver, Straight Ink or dusted! chundering out of your Vickobold, and SEEN to be chundering out of Your Vickobold would I am sure raise you profile and status. ***In case you havent yet acquired, the following, would be desireable additions to your tool kit , roller height guage, usually described as “lollipop” and and very least type high guage, several forms from simple “C” shaped wood, brass, aluminium, go or no go for making ready, individual plates, blocks, poster type etc. Next best 1 inch Micrometer, will give good read out of .918 plus or minus, and be boon with your packing and your printing stock. The weight and thickness of stock appears to be still a minefield? And best of all (if ever and hoping) a composing room type high Machine, with built in clock guage and .001 of an inch increments. You can measure Bible paper, Air mail, Tissue paper, Rubbish Photocopier, Expensive Water marked, etc right through to Beer mats, on your parallel approach Vickobold, will/may put you ahead of the pack, and the deep relief merchants!!! And the waiting minefield of re motorising your VickieBold is navigable.

I am beginning to think you have taken a large bite on something that is going to be difficult to chew , I dont know if you can print off the drawings that parallel has pointed out but if you can do so then it would be useful to note the bits you are missing on the drawing ,compare the machine with it and see what else you are lacking ,bit for these presses are not exactly common unless there a wreck worse than yours that can be used as a donor or vice versa . Some parts can be repaired , some may even be made but it wont always be cheap .
It seems from a post above that the handle you have missing (broken) is the clutch engagedrive lever , i expect that could be welded as is would not have much load on it ,however you do need all the broken bits to do this properly .
Will be interested to see who it is in person that has begun to show symptoms of print madness, it worsens over time and is incurable , soon you will begin to drool at piles of rusting metal , you will spend your foreign holidays wandering down alleyways trying to find the source of the hiss , clack , crump …… the shhhh, tock , whirr and obvious swearing in whatever language !!

will try to take a video of Amberley Vic next Sunday when we are there, and will attempt to put on youtube……

Thanks so much, Jonathan. We have a visit booked for 29th but its kinda a bad time for everyone with the bank hol etc.
So a video would be amazing if possible. I’d really appreciate it.

should anyone else be interested,, video on you tube of Autovic printing press….

Bit of an update - Boyfriend’s boss is an electrical engineer, he’s had a look at the motor and its in pretty good shape. Just needs some general cleaning up but its not a very big job apparently. He also knows someone who will be able to weld the lever back on. This was done superficially before - you can see close up that its just soldered around the edges, so he’s going to file it into a wedge to be able to attach it more securely.

Kind person got in touch re a new belt, and rollers in progress too. Jonathan’s helpful videos gave me a better idea of how it will look when fully operational.

Next steps once all those bits and pieces are gathered will be to put it all together and see what occurs. I’m an optimist - its already gone from something rusting away in a corner, to something that has cleaned up well, and looks much better. I know that appearances can be deceptive but, its been smoother than I had hoped so far (except for that whole being attacked by wasps while moving it bit, and the nearly breaking hydraulic lift… I like a challenge).

I’m interested to hear that the print madness only gets worse. I kinda assumed that was the case as I now can’t even pass a pile of scrap metal or a skip without observing closely for discarded print paraphernalia. I think I might already be at the drooling stage. So yes, it would be good to meet up with others affected by this strange and incurable affliction.

yup that one Haven

There is a cure. Sell everything and never look at a piece of paper again.

That’s not a cure, just a therapy! Just as alcoholics are never cured but can only ever be recovering, the same is true of Gutenberg Disease.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN