Miehle V50X and Heidelberg KSB

We are a small letterpress shop with a need for a larger format than our current equipment can handle. We have a C&P 12x18, C&P 10x15, and a Heidelberg Windmill 10x15. We have a project that needs us to print longer runs of a format larger than our Windmill can help us with. And, we don’t want to use our larger C&P for runs of 1000.

We recently purchased a Miehle V50X for a very low price, but have not had it delivered yet. It will need us to get it into “printing condition”.

In the mean time, while trolling for a KSB, we found one in Germany that is said to be in excellent condition. The cost to purchase and ship it is $7200. We are considering whether or not we need to bite the bullet and get the KSB or not. If the V50X will print well we would be fine with it. But, if the KSB is significantly better in production, then maybe we should get it.

I have not seen what a V50X is capable of, and that is why I need opinions of this forum…for advice and opinion to make a wise decision.

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The press you’re looking at in Germany- will it fit your requirements, and do you feel the work you’ll need to do will pay for it?

I am assuming you will have someone on staff who can competently run the machine, and run it well enough to turn out work of the quality your previous projects were up to par with- if this is true and the answer to number one is the case, and you have the power and facilities requirements for it, faced with a choice between the first time use of these two machines- I would personally gravitate towards the Heidelberg. My own decision is based on opinions I hold in high regard having explained that the Heidelberg is generally a more user friendly, dependable, and repairable machine.
It may also be worth considering- and this is an assumption based on searches of rebuilders and engineers- that there aren’t as many people familiar with the insides of the v-50 as there are Heidelberg mechanics who can work on the KSB.

Personally I would get the VM working if your in the states then you do have a choice of engineers and spares are available, Germany has a different type height to Anglo/American ours is 0.918” and there’s is 0928” so you will need a bedplate which can be a pain, believe me.
The Heidi are good for printing, cutting and creasing and perfing, the VM is the same but with the tighter cylinder its perfing isn’t the best. The VM will do everything you want it to.

If you already know the Windmill feeder, the K feeder will be easy to learn. And the K manuals are excellent.
There was a third-party operation and maintenance manual for the V50X that Speed Gray copied for others a while back. Anybody here familiar with that?

Consider the electrical as Germany is 50 cycle vs.the US standard of 60 cycle. Miehles were the standard job cylinder press in the US long before the Heidelbergs started coming in, but in larger shops the Heidelbergs rapidly replaced the Verticals as being a better press. My old printing instructor, George Mills, swore by Miehles though at the end of his career added a KSBA for publication work to supplement the 2 Verticals he had in his shop, and I own the 3rd one he had. Parts are readily available for either press though knowledgeable repair people are hard to find. The US has 2 major Heidelberg sources for used parts, Demers and Whittenberg, which is a definite plus, and new parts are generally still available from Heidelberg. The Heidelberg is substantially heavier than a V-50X. For short runs, the Vertical can be up and running faster than the Heidelberg, though for longer runs, and 1000 is not a long run, the Heidelberg will out perform the Vertical. The larger diameter cylinder plus a very rugged construction, means less makeready and better impression for the Heidelberg. Both are excellent presses in their respective ranges of work. The V-50X line was introduced about 1966 and the end users were primarily the check imprinting industry, like Harland and Deluxe that ran hundreds of these presses at one time.

I would wait and see your v-50, it can run the same speed as the ksb, it has a smaller footprint, can run postcard size sheet if you wanted. I think you will find it easy to operate, the ksb prints a larger sheet so you can’t compare apples to apples, there are lots of verts. still around and running. By the way your longer and larger job, size sheet and quantity will help you pick, you don’t want to runout to the max. sheet if posiable, hope this helps.

I bought a V50 last year and it is excellent although I am not a commercial printer and I did run a V50 as an apprentice 50 years ago. I have also run Heidelberg Cylinders K series and S series. Plus points for the Heidelbergs, better impression, better inking and integral anti set off spray which is a bonus if you are printing. My V50 needs a Compressor for the spray unit. However you will find the V50 a great addition over the platens. (I have a windmill as well) If you think you are likely to print large solids then the Heidelberg will win hands down.

By the time you factor in a larger electrical service, and a bunch of other things, the Heidelberg will be around $10K. If your focus is on printing, I would possibly lean towards the Heidelberg, but much of that depends on the overall capacity of your bindery in terms of largest sheet size.

A V-50 can run up to a 14 x 20 sheet, and can run 15 point board (grain long though). The Vertical also has a straighter paper path in the delivery, which can make a difference in running die-cut work.

Except that the Vertical is likely to be more affordable, it’s really six of one and half dozen of the other.

You might not have to go to Germany to get a Heidelberg K series press. Here is a dealer in the Toronto area which often has them for sale:


Even though they are listed as cylinder die cutters, the 15 X 20.5 machine listed, appears from the pictures to have its ink fountain and perhaps some rollers as well.

This company also sells rollers and parts for a wide variety of machines. And, the Canadian dollar is way down in value right now, so the exchange rate will be in your favor, if you are in the USA.

(I have no connection with this company, other than I am on their email list. I have never bought anything from them).

Thank you, to all that have responded! Your responses have helped us capture and “discipline” our thoughts around what we need to do…should do, into a much better framed process. There is wisdom on Briar Press, as well as experience/knowledge freely given. All of your thoughts and feedback is appreciated, very much…and we are very thankful for you all taking time to help us!

THANK YOU, all of you, very much!!


I am in Connecticut and have a KS 15 x 20.5 that has the inking unit as well as rollers that seem to be in good visual condition (never used for printing only die cutting/perfing) that I have wanted to replace with another KSBA 18x23 if you are interested at all……just throwing it out there for ya.

Dave L

Dave - Thanks! I will contact you. Gale

I should’ve closed this loop quite a while ago! Forgive me for not doing that….please!

I ended up with the V-50, and the Heidleberg K that Rubicon327 offered. The V-50 was horribly misrepresented by the seller, and it is still not running. The Heidleberg K that Rubicon327 sold me was much better than he described! The K has been running since it was placed in our crowded press room, and producing excellent results. It is also a joy to run. So far, we have only “inked” with the K. It has proven much easier to control inking and maintain consistent density throughout a run than our Windmill. Initially I thought we would use the K only for longer runs and heavier coverage, because of my thinking that it was more time consuming to set up, with more set up waste. We are now setting up as quick on the K, and sometimes running within 2 set up sheets. Yesterday we ran a job requiring 90 finished pieces on the K.

The “moral” I learned from our V-50 versus Heidleberg K question is that I should’ve depended on Briar Press in my search to find a V-50, instead of going off on my own without leaning on the wisdom you all can offer. But, in the end….without the generous contribution of all of you, I would not have found the K that has “made us happy”.

SO! Briar Press contributors, and especially Rubicon327….THANK YOU!

Interesting that that is a KS currently on Bogg’s Wire Bid site:


The one we got from “Briar Presser” Ruicon327 was clean and in ready to run shape. We did have the form rollers recovered, but that was it. Our little K is a great press! Bob Schmidt also made an adjustment so we can hold impression for the deboss that most folks want now. It is fun to run.

The Curwen Press in the UK had V.Ms, and used them for the very highest class of work, eg covers for Fabers paperbacks, by pretty long runs. We had Heidelbergs too
but much larger sheet size so they mostly ran sheets of text - superbly. eg the guides to our National Trust houses. The
tennis playing girl on the poster (!) was ours too, but that was offset litho , two passes on two colour presses would you believe. .