Fabricating C&P Riding Rollers

After studying the forums and scouring the interwebs, I’m getting ready to design a vibrating ink distribution roller for my 8x12 OS C&P based of of the designs from the 1922 patents. I’ll be doing this in Sketchup and sending the 3D file out for fabrication. I’ll hopefully be able to include the worm gear allowing the roller to oscillate side by side on the core.

I guess I should ask if anyone has an assembly for sale before I go building one. Or if anyone has already put together a 3D model ?

I figure probably not. If I can get it dialed in, I’ll post what I get back from the fabricator.

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Which patent is that? Several different brands made it to market (Acme, Triumph, C&P, and Kluge had their own too), plus the Vandercook patent (not sure it was ever made).
Some clamped onto the upper saddle, some held on below the lower two rollers. Some screwed on. It was possible to run two riders on a three-roller press.
I once had an Acme IIRC for the 10x15. What might not be obvious from drawings is that the hold of the worm was firm but not fixed. The roller would move in one direction on the down stroke, the opposite direction on the up stroke, and in both cases the worm would spin freely after lateral limit was reached.

Patent drawings tend to be illustrations of a concept rather than a set of plans a machine shop would use to manufacture anything. I have the blueprints for the Vandercook rider roller that R.O. Vandercook developed and patented but as Eric points out, it was never put into production. And I question how feasible Vandercook’s design was. The Triumph one was probably the most popular after the ones made by the press builders.

I expect the patent referred to is the Acme patent. I’ve been working on this same piece of equipment myself using that patent as a starting point. The first prototype didn’t work as well as I would have liked, though, and I haven’t had a chance to build the second yet.

I found that the brackets to hold the rider to the hooks have to be very rigid and very firmly attached. My first attempt rolled quite well around it’s core, but instead of the roller moving side to side the core tried to move instead. Because my brackets weren’t rigid enough nor fixed firmly enough to the hooks this movement racked the brackets back and forth until they would fall off. I think I’ve fixed the problem, but I haven’t had time to make new brackets to test with. I don’t want to share designs until I know they work.

I can share that I used Acme-threaded 3/4-5 rod and nuts from McMaster-Carr for the core. They give me nearly an inch of travel in the just over four turns the rollers on my 8 x 12 make from the top of the ink disk to the bottom of the bed. This seems to have worked tolerably well. They’re not true fast-travel threaded rod, but this solution was also much, much cheaper.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

My apologies for the double post. Not sure what happened there.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Had an Acme snap-on for my 10x back in the day. Didn’t use it often, but when I did it worked well with no problems. I don’t expect to find one for sale any time soon. Therefore
I was thinking of making a rider for my current C&P with out oscillating action….
Simple Rider/roller to fasten to the top saddle. No worm gear, no lateral movement.

Many people including me would like to have an accessory like The Acme Oscillator. Hopefully your product will soon be available .
Please keep us informed of the progress.

James McGraw

Did anyone ever manage to fabricate an effective rider roller or find a source for them?

That is a good question, and an important one. If we (the letterpress community) is to move beyond using old equipment that is a piece of gear we are going to need.

Michael… how did your experiments work out?

Now to be sure, I love my old pieces of equipment. BUT sooner or later it is going to wear out and the surviving examples are going to become very expensive. Look at the price of Vandercooks these days. That is why I’m always building stuff…. (That, and the fact that I love tinkering in my shop ;) )

Life’s been a bit crazy the last couple of years, so I haven’t gotten as far as I’d like on my rider roller (or cylinder press) projects. I have built prototypes and the rider roller itself works fine. It oscillates back and forth almost an inch across the roller travel and takes ink very well. Unfortunately, the brackets have been much harder to make work well while still being relatively easy to manufacture without a machine shop. I’ve made two bracket versions so far and the second ones do work better but they still require more work. They still like to jump off the saddles during operation. This is quite nerve-wracking, I can tell you! I haven’t given up yet, though!

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

If you want to make a rider roller why don’t you start with an oscillator roller from an offset duplicator. Here is an example on ebay now, for a 1250 Multilith:


It is 10” wide and they want $25 for it.

Unfortunately, the offset oscillators aren’t really suited to a platen press. I wish they were. My day job is at a modern printing company with offset and digital presses. I could have snagged several over the years. But they’re designed to oscillate while continually turning the same direction. This requires a double-threaded shaft and a rotating key inside the roller that flips back and forth as the roller reaches the end of each thread.

This is more complicated than you need with a platen press since the rollers already reverse direction at each end of their travel. Also, the offset oscillators tend to jam over time when you try and change their direction of rotation constantly. That jam tends to break the key, sometimes ruining the oscillator. The smaller diameter oscillators especially tend not to be rebuildable. You have to replace the entire thing as a unit. This leads into the second set of issues, having to do with the size of the roller itself.

Any offset oscillator would need to be long enough to cover the image area of the press rollers and narrow enough to fit between the rollers and the gripper mechanism on the down-stroke. The particular roller you posted is both too short and too large diameter.

For reference, on my 8x12 C&P the oscillator I’ve built is 12.75” long and 1.25” diameter. It barely fits between the rollers and the grippers. I wouldn’t mind making it narrower diameter, but this is what I could put together using “off-the-shelf” materials. Smaller would require machining something custom. I’d like to keep this project to something someone with a half-way decent workshop can build without resorting to the expense of machining.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Michael, thanks for the explanation. At first, I thought it was a good idea, but now I can see that it isn’t.

Regards, Geoff