Expansion Question

I have been printing for about 6 years off and on as a hobby. I have always used clamshell-style and flatbed presses. I own a 10x15 C&P, and a commercial paper cutter. A windmill press, a couple of C&Ps 2 Miehle vertical presses and an older Nu-Arc plate-maker are coming up at an auction tomorrow, and I have been considering attempting to purchase the windmill press. I usually print small runs (150-600 pieces generally 1-2 colors) I was wondering if jobs of this size would be worth running on a Heidelberg 10x15 windmill press, or if the setup time would outweigh the benefits. I would like to expand my shop and my capabilities, but I am not sure if I should be looking for a flatbed press to do poster-size printing, or purchasing a plate-maker ( I do not own any type) my end-game would be starting my own print shop eventually. Would be open to all opinions. I have about 10k in hand, but I want to spend wisely. Cost-wise I would be interested in putting 20-25k total into this over the next couple of years, but I am looking for a way forward. Any thoughts would be welcomed.

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Hiedelberg easier to set-up than C & P/Kluge

Since you have the 10 x 15, I’d almost suggest you get a Vertical for a couple reasons:

A Windmill is pretty handy for the press sizes you’re looking at, but the inking system is not the greatest for large solids, and you are limited to a sheet of 10 x15 with an image area that is smaller than that (10 x 13.5 or so, tops).

A Vertical can’t quite run the same kinds of stock a Windmill can, but you can print a 14 x 20 sheet (12 1/2 x 19 image). Also, because it’s a cylinder, with four impression rollers, two oscillating vibrators and a decent fountain, you can lay ink on with much more command.

The Vertical will certainly be a much stronger poster printer than the Windmill, and can adapt readily to many other kinds of printing (from bookwork, to numbering, to die-cutting).

One final thing too: The Vertical will sell at best for half the price of the Windmill, which leaves money for you to invest in platemaking, type, or what have you. The machines still are supported and, though finicky feeders, solid performers that can do great work (including running 150 line screens if you like).

I would place a vote for the Miehle Vertical as well, even over a 10x15 Heidelberg, but it depends on the type of work planned. I have successfully run posters on the Vertical, it is relatively easy to set up and get running, and my longest run was about 70,000 11x17 sheets printed 2 sides. In the past, I have started with a galley of type, locked it up, inked the press, and ran off 100 8 1/2x11 menus in 20 minutes. And that was hand set type— https://www.flickr.com/photos/53177163@N00/4943271018

The Heidelberg I have is fine, but I purchased it when I had a large recurring envelope job and the Miehle is a dog with envelopes.

I will use the Vandercook SP-15 for short run posters and when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to lockup a Vertical chase—they are getting heavy for this old geezer. That is one drawback—the Vertical chases can be quite heavy to lift into the press especially when using any amount of metal type. Make sure the Vertical you buy has an ink fountain as these are often removed and they are important for runs of any length.


This is a bit tricky. i had a similar opportunity, went for the Vertical V50. Excellent press but slow to set up and I had trouble roller setting with photopolymer plates. Brand new rollers too. Then, when I sat down and thought about it, only a small percentage of my work was Meihle size. Setting up is slower than a HB platen. So I changed, lost a bit of dosh but gained a windmill, that is a joy. Over the years I searched out the rider roller for the forme roller and all I seek now is the chase register device. If you ever make a mistake with a “vert” you can wreck it easily, platen is slightly more forgiving.
both my brothers are “Vert” fans though.

Thanks for all the advice! everything went relatively cheap, so I ended up with a windmill and a vertical press, a cutter and a platemaker. Most of the bidders were metal scrappers, so they weren’t really willing to bid much higher than 50-100 bucks on stuff. Now I just have to move all this stuff :)