Help - C&P Rocker and Cam Roller are Scraping and Binding

Hello everyone! I’ve been a many years-long reader and browser of Briar Press, and found fascinating the breadth of knowledge and information out there. Well, I’m finally at point where I could really use some specific assistance.

I’ve disassembled and moved a 10x15 OS C&P dated around 1907. The press came from a basement, and was well-coated with oily sawdust and gunk. I’m giving it a bit of a cleaning and working at reassembly, however I’ve hit a snag.

When the bull gear is turned, there’s some resistance and a scraping / grinding noise. Here’s a video of the issue:

I’ve cleaned and re-oiled everything, tried getting the press as close to level as possible. (I still need to replace the oily runners.) I’ve removed the collets and everything looks good. I haven’t yet lifted the rocker out of it’s journals, but could give that a try.

I’ve noticed that the cam roller travels inward and outward at times throughout the cycle. I’m not sure whether it should somehow be more snug?

I’ve reviewed this discussion thread for some advice:, and I’m wondering if anyone has any other suggestions what to investigate or re-investigate?

Thanks for considering it!

- Drex

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The cam roller stud (part 33) that rotates inside the cam roller gear has a small oil hole. If it hasn’t been getting oil, the roller is probably sealed and not rolling smoothly. From the shiny look of it and the inside track of the cam roller gear (14), I would say that may be the source of the noise and resistance. The other possibility is the main shaft (69) which has two large oil holes to the shaft bearing. If they are worn, they will also make noise and lastly, the treadle hook at the main shaft needs to be oiled.

Thanks for the feedback.

The cam roller and stud had been cleaned and regularly oiled throughout troubleshooting the source of the grinding and resistance. The main shaft is also well-oiled.

I removed the cam roller and stud to check that both the rocker and the main shaft move freely and quietly on their own, which they do.

The press is mostly disassembled, so the treadle hook, as well as the flywheel and crank-shaft are out of the equation.

When the cam roller was cleaned and replaced I made sure to put it back with the stamped “1” facing into the gear. I’ve also very briefly and carefully tested it the other way, thinking perhaps it had been installed incorrectly in the first place. Same results in either scenario.

I’m wondering if the cam roller is supposed to move freely along the stud inward (toward the press) and outward (toward the inside wall of the gear)? It seems that there’s quite a range of travel for the roller itself. It doesn’t always run all the way inside the track, but sometimes runs along the edge.

Also, could the rocker arm be out of alignment? Is there any way to assess or adjust this?


I don’t know enough about the older style presses to give you too much specific advice regarding lateral movement of the roller, or adjustment of the rocker arm.

I can offer some general advice: it might be worth pulling the roller out, cleaning all oil off, and colouring it all over with permanent felt marker. Put it back on the press and run one cycle. Pull the roller out and see where the ink has rubbed off.

What weight oil are you using? The metal on metal sound you’re in your video sounds not too unreasonable for steel on cast iron, especially if the cast iron surface is rough and the oil is thin. A heavier weight oil that has better cling might help calm the sound down.

i am not sure how far back in age this goes, but, try removing the roller and turning 180 degrees on the stud. as far back as i understand, the roller and way that it travels in have a slight taper to them. your press is very old but that is what i would try first.

Keelan -

It’s nice to know that the sound itself is perhaps not a big issue, however I’m still concerned with the bit of resistance to the gear’s rotation.

I’ve been using SAE 10W30. I don’t know a lot about oil weights, but I’d be willing to try anything. Could you recommend anything specific?

I took your advice and coloured the roller with sharpie. After the test, It showed some interesting wear marks. It seems that the roller is rubbing on the rocker arm somewhat, as well as mostly along the centre of the roller, which I would expect. It doesn’t appear to be contacting the wall of the gear, however the stud protrudes the slightest bit from the roller, so that would be the contact point, if anything.

I also see that there is a raised portion on the roller that corresponds with the amount it hangs out of the “track” on the gear. I guess it’s not as worn as the portion that makes contact. (This can be seen in image 5.)

I also was able to take a closer look at the track inside the large gear, and it looks like there might be some flat spots, unless this is just an artefact from machining?

ericm -

I’ve tried the roller in both orientations, with the same results. There is a slight wear pattern on the roller that suggests the “correct” orientation, with the stamped number facing into the gear, is the way it’s always been installed.

Thanks for the help and tips so far! I’m looking forward to getting this sorted.

image: Wear_in_Gear_01.JPG


image: CAMPhoto_06_in_gear.jpg


image: CAMPhoto_05_wear_marks.jpg


image: CAMPhoto_04_wear_marks.jpg


image: CAMPhoto_03_wear_marks.jpg


image: CAMPhoto_02_wear_marks.jpg


image: CAMPhoto_01_toward_arm.jpg


Part of the problem may be that you’re using a modern multi-viscosity engine oil. 10W30 means that at room temperature, the oil has viscosity similar to that of basic 10 weight oil at 0 degrees C (i.e., quite thin), and a viscosity similar to that of basic 30 weight at 100 degrees C (i.e., it hasn’t thinned as much as basic 10 weight would have). This is achieved through the addition of synthetic compounds to flatten the viscosity curve. It’s specifically designed as a high-speed oil for a broad temperature range. It also probably has detergents to help keep high-speed engine parts clean, which are unnecessary to our use.

All this means it’s probably too thin at room temperature to be a good lubricant for these presses. This may be why you’re getting noise. You can buy old-fashioned, non-detergent 30W at most automotive supply company like O’Reilly’s or AutoZone, or at most hardware stores. Or you can buy actual gear oil (which is basically the same thing) from industrial supply companies.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN


Thank you for posting detailed photos!

From the wear you’re seeing, I don’t think that the roller is the source of the binding — there’s nothing really out of the ordinary there.

Is the rocker arm stud maybe rubbing on the rear wall of the cam? That might explain the binding you’re experiencing.

Those flat spots you see on the cam are just a result of the process used to make the cam. Most likely, the cam would have been milled by manually following a template. If the operator fed the machine too fast, the cutter would have created that scalloped look.

A similar process used for cutting Linotype cams can be seen here:

A template can be seen bolted on top of the cam. The machine was fed by hand with the two big cranks to the left of the table around the template to produce the final profile. It would have been fascinating to watch the coronation required to do this task quickly.

2 or 3 possibilities? Without structural modifications to ones finger tips, and BY Hand, offer the cam roller up to and into the track and clock/observe if it rolls over and down the pinnacles high or low, implying excessive wear and slack allowing the roller to chatter inside the track, at any specific point, ?
I suggest this because on the Monotype there is an almost identical situation , although in horizontal form, rather than vertical, the track forces the cam roller to traverse a wide range of highs and lows, consequently, although oiled very often, the hardened steel roller wears the softer cast track and raises a rough edge, which eventually breaks of in minute particles and because, the track and roller are horizontal the particles drop into the trough.
Eventually being trapped and almost imperceptibly squashed and increasing the wear especially just on or just after the apex(s),
With *safety* and a dentist,s mirror is there any evidence of such, again with *safety* and possibly with a long wooden handled screwdriver, used like a mechanics stethoscope, ascertain, if possible where the noise happens in a complete cycle or cycles.?
Lubrication!!!>> Just for an experiment, obtain /buy just one Aerosol propelled canister of Molyslip, COPPERSLIP, one quick shot, whilst the machine is running, you will probably think the *Complete Silence Fairy* is looking over your shoulder,
As, possibly too much lateral movement with the roller on the spigot/shaft is implied, either a nylon washer, or an “oilite” (impregnated brass) washer between the roller and the inner bearing surface may be an option, ie to keep the roller working in relatively fixed track.?

those marks in the race are typical. no issue…

the only really bad ones are where the race goes closest to the shaft, on the inside. if the metal surface is disturbed there at all , the press has been abused.

many people who hand feed set the machine up to place image at the top of the platen, or upper center.(to be able to not reach so far into press on smaller sized jobs) this is very bad for a C&P or kluge if a lot of pressure is applied.

AND TO ALL WHO KNOW THIS!!!! I don’t need the “I don’t do that: emails LOL

Thanks so much everyone for all the feedback! It’s very much appreciated.

Mephits- Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve picked up a 30 weight non-detergent oil, as well as a significantly heavier gear oil to try. I’ll hope to test them this weekend.

Keelan- I’m relieved that the marks on the cam are from the milling process! It seemed too precise to have been created accidentally, but it’s good to rule that out! I suppose it’s possible the stud is contacting the inside-wall of the cam. I’ll check that out too.

Mick- Thanks for giving this some thought. I’ll see how the change to a heavier oil goes, and whether it’s necessary to take the assessment further. I could definitely see how a washer might make a difference. I’ll see what the hardware store has for nylon washers.

ericm - Thanks for the advice!

I’m hoping to spend some time tomorrow testing this all out. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Thanks again!

again.. i will submit… switch a 30 or 50w full synthetic oil. if someone has an argument. against this, i will listen but the oil is better for “bushing” style presses that we run