Newbie & unidentified press

Hi all,

I’m new to this board and to letterpress in general - I’ve just finished a short course have started looking around for a press of my own to continue learning at home.

I came across a listing for an unrefurbished tabletop press, but I’m not sure what brand it is, what it is worth or how much work would be required to bring it up to scratch. The seller says the print area is 6x9” and thinks it might be a Kelsey.

Can anyone help? Some pics below.

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Log in to reply   9 replies so far

Presses are measured by in side of chase, part that holds your type. So a 5x8 Kelsey older model, By handle design. Good starter press is that color of paint or bare metal, if restoring some parts should not be painted. Looks to be sand blasted pretty hard if so that may be some problem inking it is small so you can try to manage. Will need a set of rollers, paint, rust removed, oiled.

Congratulations on some excellent pictures. Often lacking by those that need the info most.! Identified already possibly, but with an *angle* maybe, but Hey, *Business is Business, my boy*?
From the shots, looks very reminiscent of a machine that has been in a draughty garage close the ocean, from the appearance of the steel parts, nuts, roller hooks, shafts, bale arms etc.,.rust and more rust!! oxidization generally on the rest, probably aluminium, try testing with a magnet?
Would suggest that the only minute colour (apart from rust) is on the roller r/h track and probably the last vestiges of Plastic/P.V.C. “Tape” i.e. to raise the original rollers, above the image.
Suggest possibly, if purchased, and before attempting to refurbish, for a very modest outlay, soak or immerse in a small vat/tub of ordinary Auto Diesel, the best bar none, as penetrating oil, left for (or basted) hours, days, etc, and then refurbishment proper.
A gallon of Diesel must surely be peanuts compared to cans of W,D. 40, and much more effective. Good Luck.

Thanks for replying! The seller is in Sydney, Australia (I’m across the other side in Perth) so it quite possibly has been in a draughty garage close to the ocean. I wouldn’t be able to pick it up in person as it’s a good few days of solid driving, so unfortunately I’d have to pay for a courier or trust it in the hands of AusPost. There haven’t been any serious bids on it yet, if I can get it for a steal then based on what you’ve said it might be worth it. Otherwise I might have to just be patient and see what comes up locally.

Be very careful having it shipped to you — they are kind of fragile and often break one or more parts in shipping due to not being properly packed. It looks to be complete except for rollers and trucks. You could probably do to clean up the surface of the ink disc but otherwise oil and ink and it should print fine.

A good way to pack it is to screw the base firmly to a piece of at least 1/2 inch plywood cut to fit the bottom of a box large enough to accommodate the press with a bit of room to spare. After the press has been set in the box, cover it completely with a plastic trash bag tucked in around the base, then fill the box with the canned spray foam used for sealing around doors and windows to make a house weather-tight, which should be available at a home improvement store. The foam will expand and hold the press firmly in the box. The plastic bag will prevent the foam sticking to the press and make extracting it easier. You’ll probably want to cut the box away when the press arrives.

If the seller doesn’t pack the press like this expect broken pieces when it arrives.


To get a better idea of the date of your press, you might have a look at the chart of Kelsey Excelsior presses that I made with David MacMillan:

image: Excelsiors.jpg


And the ink disc actuating dog assembly is…..where?

AdLibPress - I’m now quite concerned about buying it unseen and having it shipped cross-country. I’m not sure that it’s worth the risk as it’s just the first one I’ve come across, although I can see from the Classifieds that I’m not the only one in Perth looking for a press. Might be better to just wait and see what comes around locally. Thanks for the suggestions in terms of packing though, if I do decide to go for it I’ll discuss the best options with the seller.

Stephen - I did see that, what a great resource! To my untrained eye it’s not obvious to me which of these it might be, especially as there aren’t any shots showing labels or words.

forme - I’m not sure what that part is unfortunately. Is it something that would be able to be replaced, or a deal-breaker?

I would say you should pass on this one. The piece forme mentioned is an arm that should be sticking up from the right side, I believe, of the roller arm assembly in your photo #2, where that pivots on the frame, and it appears to be broken off flush. If you had the broken-off piece it would probably be possible to repair it by brazing, but without it you are stuck with either trying to make a replacement or find that roller arm assembly intact somewhere. The missing piece makes the ink disc rotate after each print, so it’s important. (see photo)


image: Kelsey broken part.jpg

Kelsey broken part.jpg

Ink disc lever, maybe missing, possibly actuated, with a graceful Swan Neck arm, originally situate on the rusty stub out to the right, as pictured, of the roller arms, assembly! Would have been logical to safeguard a delicate protruding piece.! Maybe still in existance.
Perhaps Pass on that one, but keep tabs on it, with that much oxidisation & rust, it would have been, (although tiny) a big headache to bring it back to life:- i.e. especially withdrawing rusty shafts from well oxidised alloy main frames, always tricky, brass & copper drifts and big hammers, etc. are Not good bed fellows.
Well documented, Engineers/Mechanics ploy for un-siezing is heat from a blowtorch, to free up, but only if it were steel shafts out of cast Iron main frames. Die-cast alloy, which it appears to be, catergorically Non starter.
In an outside atmosphere (and with safety) pre-doused with penetrating oil/freeing agent, and several containers of boiling water tipped over, often has the same effect as blowtorch. The problem with putting a lot of heat into Aluminium, unlike virtually every other metal, Alloy/Aluminium, does not change colour at all, just before it becomes liquid, & Melts, I have tried and failed, luckily on my own project.? Once.

Refurbishing with all the generally accepted methods would be O.K. but the Bed & the Platen (with that apparent amount of pitting) would probably need fairly major surgery, possibly *milling* down to acceptable surfaces, even light damage from ill treatment, tends to show through, even on light or kiss impression, can be overcome with fiddly make ready, but frustrating.
One case and I quote:> 2 years ago, (ish) a new, keen, L/press, novice, landed the job of hole punching, tie on tag labels, on his fair condition Adana 8 x 5, acquired a steel .918 punch, 3em x 3em body, locked up/in as normal type (about 3/16” hole) punched 300+ holes, but did not know about putting, even a small piece of 1 point brass rule, on the platen to protect IT, (the platen) *** Severely marked the platen, fortunately, successfully, fixed with a tiny, alloy weld repair, but it cost more than the job fetched in price, expensive learning curve, but a good one. He has not done it again.!!
Recap, perhaps, Hang in there, keep tabs on it, keep ones ear to the ground, possibly have a little linger around your local Road Train Depot, Laugh maybe, but a tiny machine would not take up much room, in the Sleeper Cab of a Big *Western Star* Road Train Rig, on long haul, especially if there was a pack of Castlemaine XXXX on receipt/delivery.

It HAS been done, for myself, i.e. from Toowoomba, QLD, to Albany W.A. Took 6 weeks, but was Cheap??? Small but critical Monotype parts, taken in Hand luggage, with a returning home, Buddy in QLD. for a mutual friend in Albany.!!!
Which ever route chosen, Good Luck.

***New devotees note, BEFORE, you try to use steel perforating rule on your Adana,s >>right up to and including the H.S. 3, (8 & 1/2 X 5 & 1/2)<< in virtually every case the Platen is only lightly webbed, cast aluminium, therefore, even a piece of perforating rule, as little as 10/12 ems long, for raffle book tear-outs or similar, needs platen protection, maybe not to the extent of a cutting jacket, (as per the Big Boys Toys!!) just a piece of 1 pt. brass rule or similar, stuck to the top or tympan sheet.

Seminar ends, with the obligatory, Apologies. Mick.