Roller/spring tension on Chandler & Price

Hi all!

So now I finally have everything I need to get my press going. I’ve purchased an aluminium base, a roller gauge and some deep relief plates.

When I run my press manually (I don’t want a motor set up yet until I get the hang of hand pushing it), I realise there is extreme tension when the rollers are pushing just over the curve of the rails right before they hit the disc. I’m quite a small person, but even for my fiancĂ© it’s quite hard to push the rollers over this point. I have seen videos of people manually rotating the press and it looks like they can push the wheel so effortlessly that the rollers roll smoothly up and down.

The person who owned this press before me had used it to die cut, and I have heard before that more tension is needed in the press to die cut, so I’m wondering now how smoothly and easily the press should run, and if i need to adjust, where exactly do I make the adjustments?

Help is appreciated!



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Roller arm springs would not be a factor in die cutting as the rollers are removed from the press for this process.

Are you sure you’re feeling spring tension and not resistance from rust, dirt, etc. that might be built up on or around the roller arms? My first suggestion would be to wipe down the area and then liberally apply a good oil to see if that reduces the issue.

What sort of 10x15 is this? Old style, new style, or craftsman?


Hi Brad,

The press is an old style C&P 10 x 15”. According to the serial number it was created circa 1912.

It’s in really good condition with no rust and is also very clean. The guy who sold it to me used it quite often and has oiled it very well prior to sending it to me, so now I’m not sure what the problem could be. Is there any sort of tension at all that can be adjusted in the C&P old style if not the spring tension?

Also, can the spring tension be adjusted at all? It’s possible that he never looked at the spring tension because his purpose was to die cut, so it could be tight from before he had the press himself.


Hi Angela,

There’s no spring tension adjustment. Did you find it difficult to install the rollers on the press? Difficult to pull the roller saddles up? If that process is not difficult there may be something else going on with the press.


I haven’t tried that yet. Will give it a go in the morning. Is there a way to adjust the roller height on this model?

Is there any noise as the rollers pass the high point of the rails? It should be fairly noiseless at that point of the travel. Even if the press was well oiled, on a machine this old there may be wear causing binding. Also, have you tried rolling the press over with the rollers removed and if so, does it run smoothly? Do you know for sure if the rollers and trucks are proper to this press? If their dimensions are wrong they may be binding in the saddles.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Have you oiled it since you received the press?

The way to adjust the rollers is to adjust the rail height by taping.

It’s unlikely that the tension has adjusted over time, as those springs are not typically the cheap kind which fail on any bit of a regular basis.

Have you oiled the saddle rails, the print arms or the machine as a whole since you’ve received it?

Since you are operating the press by pushing the flywheel instead of using a treadle, you may be running it very slowly. The point where the rollers cross that “hump” before the ink disc puts the maximum tension on the roller hook springs, and most presses will slow down at that point when treadle operated, or even motorized, if running slowly. Try timing your pushing to run the press a little faster and give the flywheel a harder push as you approach that point of maximum resistance. The flywheel is supposed to help overcome such resistance (as well as impression resistance) but it needs momentum to do it right.


Turn on the motor and it will no longer be a problem. Rolling the press around by hand will not give you a sense of how the press really operates. The inking will be poor, and the impression will be less consistent. Being a bit afraid of the press is healthy, but in this case not productive. Thousand upon thousands of people have operated these presses safely with no injuries, no matter what the naysayers in this list say. Pay close attention, and avoid distractions, and don’t put your fingers where they don’t belong.



I’ve tried running the press without rollers and it runs faster that way. There is existing tape on the rails and when the rollers are on, there is absolutely no noise at all. The press (with rollers on) runs extremely smooth, even at the point of most resistance it’s smoothly running, but requires a lot of force to push through - if that makes sense. What I mean is that there is no catching, bumps, noise or jerking. Perhaps I can take a video later on and post that.

I got the machine about a month ago and it was fully oiled on the day that it was send over to me. I haven’t used the machine for printing yet. Should I be oiling it again?

I will definitely get a motor installed soon, I’m just worried that if there’s something wrong with the tension, putting a motor in May cause the press harm by pushing it quickly through such resistance.

Also, it wasn’t easy to get the rollers on and off.

As you have clearly stated/observed, *no motor in the mix as yet*, that issue could be disregarded as a red herring!
As has been touched on, albeit briefly! the springs are under compression 3 times in the cycle,i.e. at the top of the disc, (1) at the bottom of the forme (2) and at the pinnacle (hump) of the tracks (3) close observation will show that their is as much compression at (1) & (2) if not more than (3).? How does that check out for resistance OR NOT at those 2 points.
It is generally accepted that diecutting is usually without rollers and therefore, if it has been packed and impression set, for basic normal, letterpress impression, with the power to weight ratio of the flywheel, (even turning by hand) should make no perceptible difference in terms of resistance.
I offer this, as a direct result of a an In House job @ our Museum Print Shop, on Sunday Last, (Amberly U.K.).
Envelopes were being printed, on The Museums C.& P., took a long time for very small output, BECAUSE it was a comparatively large solid, involving a lot of ink, on rubbish stock, 2 frisket fingers were in use, with rubber bands, as pull offs, the operator was obliged to mainly crank by hand, although the machine is treadle, it was too fast, to pull the stock from the forme, even with the rubber bands, the problem also compounded by the fact, that in a crude attempt for H.&.S. reasons the spokes of the flywheel have been covered with a hardboard disc, meaning that it is slightly easier to push the flywheel than to pull it!!!
Which itself is well documented and discussed on B. P.
I.E. Pulling forwards is potentially less dangerous than pushing away, by implication *throwing Fingers,* etc OUT rather than in.
There has also been discussion on the pros and cons of the seldom seen machine,s that have a Dwell angle at the point of impression, by implication, need to turn in the correct direction.!!! Probably rubbish, but maybe an extra clue/pointer. Good Luck.

I’ve just gone out and tested it again, I pulled it forward this time and I was able to get enough momentum to get the rollers to go up and over the peak, but getting them down to the base of the chase was another story, even with the momentum I had built up, the press slowed down almost to a stop at this point and I had to use two arms on the wheel to push it over. I have attached a photo of the rollers for you guys to see if there’s anything wrong with them. Side view and top view. Third roller has not been put in yet.

What is confusing me is that the guy who sold it to me told me that he adjusted the tension himself so that he could get his die cut to work, he said I will need to loosen it when putting the rollers on. When I asked him how, he said it’s easy, just to loosen the bolts. He didn’t explain it to well and now I’m wondering what the hell he was referring to.

image: IMG_7164.jpg


Couldn’t upload the second photo earlier. Here it is, top view of the roller. Please let me know if you can see anything wrong with these rollers.

image: IMG_7165.jpg


It sounds to me that the previous owner was referring to the platen bolts instead of the springs.

It’s hard to tell from your second photo, but it looks possible that your rollers/trucks could be too wide and flexing or torquing the roller saddles.

What are the diameters of your rollers and cores?


The diameter of the trucks is about 50mm and the core (if you’re referring to the shaft that fits into the holder) is 10mm.

If anyone else is using an old style 10 x 15 C&P, I’d love to see a quick up-close pic of the rollers fitted onto your machine to compare in terms of size and placement to see if there’s something wrong there on my machine.

I agree with Brad. It’s hard to tell for sure due to the camera’s close proximity to the subject matter, but it appears that the rollers may be too long for this press. It looks like they’re pushing the hooks outward a bit which could indeed cause binding. Do the hooks actually bend outward as they appear, or is it a distortion of the photograph?

It also appears that these hooks have a mounting point for a distributor roller. I’ve never seen an Old Series* with a built-in distributor roller mounting before. I wonder if these hooks were an after-market addition? That could be affecting things as well.

* An aside to this discussion, but all Chandler & Price platen presses are “Old-Style” presses. The company licensed George Phineas Gordon’s first Franklin Press patent (Which Gordon himself wound up calling the Franklin Old-Style), not his later, revised patent for the Franklin New-Style. Chandler & Price’s machines were therefore “Old-Style Gordon” presses. This is how the company named them in the 19th century. Google Books has a copy of Marder, Luse & Company’s Specimen Book from 1890 which shows this naming on page 120.

After the introduction of the revised castings in the early 20th century, Chandler & Price called the two styles “Old Series” and “New Series” presses, probably to keep people from thinking the new presses were based on Gordon’s Franklin New-Style patents. This can be seen in the database of serial numbers that’s floating around online, which is scanned from an internal C&P document and clearly calls them Old Series and New Series.

As far as I know, Craftsman presses also used the same basic mechanism and are therefore “Old-Style” presses as well.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

You guys may be right. I just had a look at the press. The hooks do have a slight outward bend. Not as much as appears in the photo, but it would be approximately 3-5mm on each side, which I guess could be causing the tension as it’s pulling the rollers close to the rails. I have also had a look at other images of rollers on C&Ps and in most there seems to be a slight empty gap between the trucks and the rubber. My next option is to find someone who stocks rollers for the C&P and to compare the length.

Not sure about the ink distributer feature. This model has a fountain bed and roll, but it is missing from this particular machine. Is this necessary to have when printing - keeping in mind I’ll only be doing short runs.

I’ve tried googling other C&Ps circa 1902 and some have the fountain bed, some don’t, so I can’t tell if its an after market thing. How hard would it be to change over the hooks if the distributer feature is causing problems?

It appears to me that the rollers are not made properly. The rubber is too wide on the cores and is pushing the truck up against the saddle. There should be a small gap between the truck and the saddle, as well as between the truck and the rubber. I’m not near my C&P to see rollers on a press, but I have sold maybe a thousand of these over the years. The core has to have the truck crimps placed properly to engage the truck, and then the rubber is cut back far enough to clear the limit crimp and provide for space between the rubber and the truck. It may be as simple as cutting away about 1/4” or 10 to 12 mm of rubber next to each truck all the way to the core to see if that eases the trucks from binding against the saddle. If the crimps are not placed properly (assuming there are crimps on these rollers to start with), then new rollers made to proper C&P specifications would answer that problem.

From the two photographs, I don’t see evidence of oil on the core ends in the saddle or on the shaft that the saddle is pinned to. If the previous owner used this press only for die cutting, his normal oiling routine would not have included the roller core ends since he had the rollers off the press, or the saddle shaft that has to move freely in the side arms as those remained idle without rollers in place.

Length of impression dwell has nothing to do with the direction the fly wheel is turning. It is the same either direction. C&P’s instructions were that the fly wheel turn away from the operator and what is affected is the opening and closing time for the platen—slightly longer going into impression vs. a faster opening of the press when coming off impression. That’s primarily a safety and ease of feeding issue. The slower the press speed, the longer the dwell time on impression.


Thanks heaps everyone, this has been very helpful. I’m now looking into getting some new rollers. I believe the rollers I have are made for a different/slightly larger press. Pity that I have 3 brand new rollers and can’t use them. I’d like to find out what press they’re suited to so I can sell them.

Thanks for the oiling guide. I’ll need to get some sort of check sheet of where to oil the entire press. If anyone has anything like this, please let me know!

Looks suspiciously like, (from the first shot) the stocks/cores are, (A) different diameters inside the hooks, and (B) seriously binding between the hooks, there must be a little lateral clearance, presumably!!!
When the stocks are sent for recovering, as opposed to outright purchase, generally, (apart from some small tabletops) the cores have to have the recessed/concave configuration, at both ends, for mounting between centres on the lathe, with contra rotating grinding wheel, for grinding down to eventual size (Your *Tarheel* out of Clemmons N.C. will probably verify this)???
Cores/Stocks as pictured are not of the same origin!!!
Here U.K. until comparatively recently the stocks/cores were cord wound to secure the compound to the stock,s now, although the stocks may have different internal diameter the exposed steel is always the same diameter , whether 2/3/4/ rollers comprise the full train, modern recovering technology, involves chemical bonding of the compound to the core, irrespective of the size of the core, but obviously close diameter core size is preferable, probably to ensure eventual Shure Hardness and, ink distribution can be specified/maintained.!!!
In both shots, the non existant clearance of the truck to the hook does not look correct.??
Possibly as an experiment, ascertain, if it is possible to fit either roller with just the tiniest/thinnest nylon washer between the truck and the hook, to PROVE or DISPROVE any clearance during a full cycle, by hand, top to bottom of the full stroke, including swapping rollers top to bottom & 180 degrees.!!! and possibly, include 4 card feeler,s between the the trucks and the hooks, with a second pair of eyes/hands during one full cycle, to see if any feelers grip tight or fall out.???
Some small lateral movement should be desireable, possibly examine the steel of the spindle, and with a dentists mirror, look for “Tram Lines” either on the spindle(s) and/or the (U) of the hook,(s), indicating binding and or lack of lubrication. Apologies for rubbish, or Good Luck.

Angelaris, what I meant by distributor roller mount is the pivoted block with the hole through it on the top face of the roller hook. This is for mounting a roller that rides on top of the two forme rollers and smooths the ink out on them as they roll down the forme. The best designs use a roller that oscillates right and left to smooth the ink even more. This produces more even solids and reduces or eliminates image ghosting. They were once quite common as factory equipment or add-ons to many presses but are very rare now. I’ve never seen an Old Series with rider roller mounts before. As far as I know, they were never sold as a factory option, so this must have been an add-on. Looks like the mount is permanently attached to the roller hook via tapped holes drilled in the face of the hook. It’s an interesting design.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Oh, and as for oiling, there’s a chart for New Series presses that’s fairly easy to find online. I don’t know of one for Old Series, but it should be similar enough to get you started. On the hooks, there should be small oil holes drilled in them. Since the press was used without rollers, I’d pull the rollers out and run a straightened paperclip or other stiff wire through the holes to make sure they’re clear. Put a few drops of oil in every time you print and sometimes even during a print run, if it’s very long.

I printed out the tiff versions at the bottom of the page, laminated them, and keep them near the press. Ultimately, I intend on putting them on the wall near the press, once the wall is finished.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

I have a C&P Old Series 12 x 18 with the same pivoted block on top of the roller hook - I have always wondered what it was for, so many thanks for enlightening me! Do you know if the roller would have been the same diameter as the two that ink the form? I have a friend with a C & P OS 8x12 which also has them fitted, maybe it was more common in Australia.

Michael Richards
Vagantes Press
Murrumbateman, NSW

It’s likely they are the same size rollers, as they would need to be, to match rotation during the inking process, otherwise it would negatively effect the inking of plates by causing smearing.

OnderkastPress, size will be irrelevant to that. In this case, the contact between the rollers is surface to surface so the speed of rotation at the surface will be the same. Now, the centers may travel at different speeds, but that hardly matters as the cores aren’t connected. And anyway, part of the point of the distributor roller is to smear the ink to even out the coating on the forme rollers as they travel over the chase. It’s the reason why many of them oscillate side to side as the rollers travel.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Thanks Michael! I’ll print that out now and get the press well oiled. Had a look at my rollers, and discovered at which point the trucks are pushing the length out too much, so with the help of my dad, I’m going to get the trucks shortened, which should solve the problem. The third roller I have appears to be different and when that one is in place, the press moves freely and very smoothly.

Seems like you’d do better to simply cut about 1/4 inch of rubber off each end of the roller covering, to allow the trucks to slide a bit further onto the cores and fully engage the “ears” that lock the trucks to the cores. Since the rollers are apparently the right diameter for those trucks, you’re half way home already.


I agree with Bob. Don’t modify the trucks. They’ll probably not work with any other rollers you may later get if you make them thinner. Just trim the two wider rollers to the same thickness as the one that doesn’t bind. You already have rollers that don’t work. You don’t really risk anything by trying this. You do risk things if you thin the trucks. To trim the rollers: take a sharp knife, put the roller on a flat surface, and roll it while holding the knife against it parallel to the table and perpendicular to the roller core. This will let you cut down through the rubber to the core evenly.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN