Blast but no Suction

I am having a problem with my Heidelberg Windmill;
seem to have plenty of blast to separate sheets but the press doesn’t want to pick up stock. I am not 100% sure if it is a lack
of suction or if the mechanism/s to raise the feed table is the culprit or both. Can I assume that if I have good blast that the pump is not the problem and that I have a leak in a hose on the suction side? Have cleaned screens and blown out hoses,
inspected hoses for obvious damage, rubbed proper oil around inside wall of pump, etc.
Any info regarding rebuild kit for vacuum pump OR qualified
letterpress mechanics in central Florida area appreciated.

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I know Demers is in Florida. I’ve used them for parts for my SBG.

There info is:

23350 Janice Ave
Port Charlotte, FLORIDA 33980


(office)1.941.625.PART (7278)
(fax) 1.941.625.2100 (fax)

Good luck,


If you have good blast, the piston ring is likely ok.

I’d pull the hose off the crossover pipe (T 0115) and see if suction is present at the end of the hose.

If not, I’d check the valve spring (T 1816) to see if it is closing properly.

could be stupid, but is the valve front right closed or open?

I would also take a look at the type of hose you are using ,the vacuum hose shouls be of the reinforced type ,watch it closely it should not appear to be “breathing” it is a comon complaint that the vacuum is weak if poor hoses are used ,they get warm in use and become soft ,then thay collapse a little with each draw of vacuum , whislt it will still be apparently fine, a weak walled hose is a real pain .

Perhaps check out COMPLETE & COMPREHENSIVE run down on this very subject by several contributors??? on BRIAR PRESS (archives Dated 28 th November last.*****

I was able to get the tech/mechanic from company in town to my shop. This was no minor feat in itself;
he looked the press over and basically said there is nothing wrong with the machine. I have fought several jobs
through since then using much flatter angle on the sucker bar and more rise on the feed table than the same job used in the past. I am standing with one hand on the clutch
at all times to keep it feeding and try to avoid doubles/trips
instead of building my boxes, oiling, tapping ink, etc.
For the record: A couple of months ago spent good deal of time trying to track down Marvin Beasley who is listed
on this site as a (letterpress) mechanic and located in Port Richey, FL. Dozens of phone calls at all possible and polite times of day unanswered. Point being - I don’t think that listing is now valid.


If you can pull doubles, you might have adequate suction. The table lift may be the real culprit.

Are separator fingers in use?

Can’t comment on the Windmill specifically, but on the related Heidleberg cylinder feeder, proper sheet separation relies on exact pile height and on sheet separators, both front and side, as much as on blast and suction levels. This follows careful winding-and jogging of the stock as it is loaded. Also, control of static is important, through grounded tinsel or anti-static spray.
Pile height is not only adjujsted by the press mechanism, but if it is too high it can be lowered by placing short lengths of split tubing on the pile-height bar, lowering the pile by the thickness of whatever tubing used. (These can also be positioned so that when running a second color wet the bar doesn’t cause a smear.)
As for the sheet strippers, they should keep a second sheet from blowing up with the first, which is where double-feeds happen. On the cylinder feeder, there are spring separators at 90 and 45 degree bends for different conditions, but I only use the separators with rubber hoods: for me, more reliable for a wide range of stock. And the side separators, set corrretly, may pass a single sheet when all the rest is slightly wrong. Now I am using pieces of 18-point Perf-a-Base for side strippers, way better than some of the more flexible plastic I’ve seen.

Nylon colar stiffeners still work well!

Stateside, Yard Sales, Stoop Sales, Side Walk Sales, etc etc (U.K.) Boot fairs, all excellent sources for old wind up type alarm clocks, ( for Cents rather than $,s) taken to pieces, the cogs and gears encapsulated in 2 pack clear resin, (as Paper Weights etc) BUT the mainsprings from a variety of sizes make an inexhaustible supply of perfect Pen Steel (type) seperators, used for many years on H/berg Platens, Thompson Platens, and even on the delivery end of Multilith, Gestalith, and Hamada Small Lithos, to steady the sheets down on to the delivery pile, especially when running thin stock.???. . Although Clock springs by their very nature have a *memory* once straightened or adapted with tiny cranks on the fingers, they will remain to the instructed configuration, and even could be tempered within seconds and an ordinary blow torch at 10-15% at the point of clamping.
In the case of the steadying finger, on the delivery end of the small litho, the clever trick was to utilise the inbuilt part of the (clock) spring, where it wrapped around the wind up spindle, always tempered for the last 2” which made a naturally soft hook, to wrap around the bar on the machine which accomodated the original support finger. Especially desireable for 2 part, 3 part pre collated N.C.R. which tend to be thin stock.
Also, if all else fails, the fine mesh braiding, (brass/copper) as used in carbon brush construction, if sourceable, (big if, admittedely) also make perfect steadying finger, on the delivery, WITH, Combined Static Dispersal as a fringe benefit. Probably still *extant* on modern machines.??
For a few cents, acquire an aforementioned clock, use the spring material, as suggested and show the kids that life exists beyond, the VIRTUAL World on the screen(s) i.e. Insects entomed in Amber, and replicated with clock parts entomed in 2 pack, 21st Century style.!!!

After my 1st Update, I contacted Demers. They said they do not have a mechanic to send out on service calls.
They recommended a service out of Lake Placid, FL-
Levine Graphic Services, Inc.
Herb came out and the first thing he did was take a drill bit and put it into a couple of the sucker housings and when pulled back out the groove/s on the bit were full of paper dust. I routinely blow compressed air through the bar; guess I didn’t have a correct frame of reference on how much air should be coming through there. He tore down the suction head on the press and rebuilt it. Fabricated a pin (Q27 in my old Parts Book) out of a paper clip. Also took the gripper drive housing apart and tightened up the gripper locking pawl or finger inside, this has helped bounce or movement up and down on the sheet somewhat.
I tried the press out on some doorhangers-100 lb gloss stock w/ acqueous and was still having problems
so I called Herb back and he came back out the next morning. After about 1 1/2 hrs tinkering he had the press feeding the job with a setup that I would have thought normal for 2 part carbonless or single sheet. On the mechanical side, he told me to get a new air filter for the vacuum pump. Point of all this is, I think the guy knows what he is doing and will stand behind his work (he charged me only gas/travel for the follow-up)
If you are in Central Florida and are having problems
I would call him.