Installing rollers on 3x5 kelsey

I’m new to the letterpress world. I purchased a 3x5 kelsey and the rollers were old. I purchased new ones and am having a hard time installing the upper roller. the bottom one went in fine since the handles came down. My first question is: are the top handle (screws) supposed to stay put or move like the bottom one? and would it be okay if I just used one roller?

thank you

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You might want to post a photo. I’m having trouble visualizing what you mean by “handles” (screws). The roller hooks should move freely with some resistance from the springs. On my 3x5 Kelsey I always installed the rollers with the hooks facing up (toward the ink disc) so they would roll further up the ink disc while printing. Also, be sure you’re using the roller trucks, the wheels that should be the same diameter as your new rollers. I also found it easiest to install the rollers with the press open, so the rollers are positioned over where the type would be when printing.


Hi there,

here is a picture. I can hook my ink roller to the bottom hook but cant with the top one. the top hook does not move in and out. Is it supposed to?


image: Rollerhooks.jpg


Both hooks on each side should move in and out easily, with some resistance from the springs. It looks like the top hook is slightly bent, a common occurrence with Kelseys, and that causes it to bind. The spring is held in place by a washer and cotter pin — remove them and the spring and then try twisting the hook back and forth while pulling on it, with some oil on the shaft where it passes through the casting. Once you get it out you can work on straightening it (it needs to be both very straight and very smooth — a slight ding in the rod will also cause it to bind).


You are wonderful Bob! just in case, do you know where I can purchase a couple of hooks?
thank you!

you can remove the hooks very easily and try to straighten them, don’t try to straighten them on the press or you will break the cast iron that holds them. this press looks like someone repainted it and cleaned it up some. Letterpress Things in Chicopee, MA sometimes has parts for these, also Excelsior Press in Frenchtown, NJ has parts from time to time. Good luck, these little presses are great to learn on.

I’m sure you don’t need a new hook. I would clamp the hook in a vise with wood blocks on both sides to protect the metal, with the bent part sticking out of the vise, and put a piece of small-diameter steel pipe over the rod as a lever and carefully bend ever so slightly, then test it by sighting along the rod to see if it is straighter. It should be very easy to get it so it will slide easily in the roller arm — test it there frequently until it’s good. Check them all while you’re at it — if one is bent there could be another one or more. Even if they move OK, having them be straight eliminates a source of later trouble.