Heidelberg 10 x 15 Platen Pump

Hopefully someone can help me with a 1950 - 10” x 15” Heidelberg Platen.
I have plenty of air (blast) but cannot pick up 65# cover stock no matter what I do.
I have cleaned the sucker bar, even swapped out for another, added clamps to all hose connections, swapped out filter, adjusted the feed table lift as well as the angle of the suckers. Spring fingers are totally out of the way.
It just won’t pick up, Don’t want to take pump apart if I don’t have to.Please help.

Thank you-

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I’d also check the flapper valve at the bottom-front of the pump (clear any debris).

Have you checked the hoses that supply the vacuum to the sucker bar.? Even if the correct hoses are/were fitted and if they are the proper hoses i.e. twin wall with steel coil wound sandwiched between the walls, to stop collapsing, the outside may look perfect but it is not unusual for the inner membrane to collapse and effectively restrict the flow.
Usually 2-3” at either end of the hose that connects the sucker bar to the push/pull valve.
What has been done here U.K. many times in the past, either purchase a cheap vacuum guague (now it would be E bay) probably less than $10, scour your Auto/Car breakers, for maybe $5 or less a vacuum guage used as an economy meter or fuel consumption guide.
With most modern Autos it reads depression/vacuum in the inlet tract, or if the worst comes to the worst, talk sweetly to your good buddy with a Vertical Miehle and borrow the vacuum gauge from the V.M.
With most V.M.s it was a standard fitment, gave a constant reading of vacuum produced and usually carried a tell tale needle.
Although on the V.M. it was calibrated to 20/25” Hg (inches of mercury) V.M.s, H/berg Platens, Thompson Platens, could generally manage in the region of 15” Hg (inches of mercury) Figures approx., it was along time ago, but even so with our Heath Robinson temporary test rig we could pin point the problem without too much trouble.

Occasionally we would put a simple “T” junction in to the vacuum pipe that supplies the sucker bar, and leave it in permanently, 2” gauge sourced, from the instrument panel of an Auto, ex Scrap yard = Price of a Beer, or a Jar of Coffee, or let it fall into the tool box, they new we did it so everything you bought was factored in.!! .

Do you still have the original hoses on the press?

I have found that over time the original hoses have become cracked and if you grip your hand around one you can actually feel some suction through your fingers just from the body of the hose leaking from cracks that have developed. It can be rather hard to see with that outer coating.

Not sure if you can see the small cracks that are starting in the pic below but other original hoses that I have had were worse than this and when you gripped the hose in your hand while press was running you could feel the air move through your fingers every time it was on a suction.

image: photo(11).JPG


So like Mick said…..but it can also be both inside and out side cracks in the hose to look for.

Sounds like you have another press you are swapping parts from. If so I would remove the hose to the sucker bar and put your thumb over the end of the hose. While standing to the flywheel side start the press in cycle (slowly) and push the suction button in and feel how much suction there is at the hose end, then compare it to your other press.

If not your hoses then it may be the pump.

I will be checking things out this weekend, deadlines you know.
Thank you all for the input, Mick, I was wondering how much vacuum there should be.
I’ll update after I check this weekend.


I looked at a couple of the hoses and I can see cracks, I will replace all of the hoses and see if that helps.
Some of the cracks are hard to see, but are there.
I got this machine 3rd hand so I do not know how old the hoses are, but after this weekend they will be new.
Thank you for the tip

Recap, well documented in previous posts, generally if/when replacing hoses, without obtaining genuine H/berg originals, pressure/blast side normally replaced with twin wall pressure hose, that has spiral wound nylon insert to withstand pressure build up.
Volume of air passed rather than overall pressure does create considerable heat.!
Vacuum side, as before, without sourcing H/berg etc, Spiral Steel wound INNER core, akin to vacuum cleaner hoses, same principal, i.e. to stop collapse, and probably still available Stateside as here U.K. basic repro of H/berg original style, but fraction of cost, “Michelin Man” pattern hose,s. Very flexible, no inner winding, but vacuum resistant from the *RIBS*
Much used here U.K. on older Cars/Autos for replacement hoses in the engine bay, as pressure hose on the cooling side & vacuum hose on the induction.
As a crude but simple test, short of my ramble above, the pump on the vacuum stroke should produce enough lift to pick up a small glass paper weight, a pool table ball, a kids type Alley, (large marble) a large ball bearing,*** in every case until the dump valve on the pump operates.

***In times past, a lot of Print & Print related equipment, in Finishing houses etc were a marvelous source of Large Marbles/Alleys and Ball Bearings.
I.E. Camco, Stahl, Cundall and other Folding machines plus, on many larger cylinder presses with stream feeders, it was quite normal to see lines of tapes with alternate marbles and ball bearings, to track the sheets down the feed board and into the grip.?

Hence when a machine was scrapped, it was usually the Marbles for the Kids and the Ball bearings for the “BIG” kids.

I rest my case, and where did the “therapeutic” desk top, Click, Click, Click, suspended ball bearings come from.?

Probably from the Crankshaft of a Big Miehle, a big Jo`Berg, a big Tirfing, etc. etc.

I cleaned the flapper valve and put on replacement hoses, not the type I want but good enough to test with. It work like it is supposed to. Thank you all for the input and hopefully this will help someone else who has the same issue.
Now to order the correct hoses and get the press back to work, if she gets a vacation so should I.


Glad to hear that you have it up and running good now!

I don’t know what the correct hoses cost but every time an original hose needs to be replaced on any of my machines we have always used 5/8” heater hose from the parts store and a hose clap on either end.

I will probably be chastised for not using the proper hoses but with 7 10x15’s and 1 13x18 Heidelberg I would imagine that would get a little expensive over time. I have also been doing this for nearly 20 years and have seen no ill effects so far from using such hoses.

Good Luck!

I have a garden hose on one of my windmills. It’s worked great for years. I’m sure dickg has a few them on his presses.

I have bought my hoses from the local hardware store, windmill hoses are very expensive. have had a garden hose on one windmill and also my kluge for at least 40 years.