Heidelberg Windmill Stuck Open

Troubling question,

The press is a 1928 (from my best research) Superspeed that we got running maybe 9 months ago. Its clean and has run with regular and appropriate daily oil. I’ve maybe put 8,000 impressions on it over 6th months with not a single problem.

Today I was running a job, 70# text with light coverage and light impression. I got through about 500 sheets with good success when, all of a sudden, right as the gripper arm opened to deliver the printed sheet, the press stopped and the belt was moving across a stationary flywheel.

I went through everything I could think of, removed the roller and chase and wet through all of the mechanical arms, and to the best of my knowledge, nothing seems jammed or bent…

Currently, the press is the the open position, I’m able to back the press up about 1/4 turn of the flywheel, but no advance further without incredible resistance, the flywheel will turn, but at some point it slips around the shaft.

I’m at a loss of what to do, I’m not in any rush, I just don’t want to do any further damage. Any ideas would be very appreciated.



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Is press on impression? Can you release impression? At the bottom of imp. lever there is a shear pin. If this broke you may be able to unscrew the whole imp. lever. The pin fits in the shaft at bottom, hard to see, you’ll need a flashlight to replace it. Good luck.

The press is open, and the impressions lever is movable, and it adjusts the position of the platen as would in normal function.

I just looked over the impression lever, is the shear pin accessed through the back? Not sure if I’m looking in the right place, through the back hatch I see a bolt that is connecting a lever to the main body of the press which moves with the impression lever, this seems to be in good order, is clean of any grim, but is well oiled.

Whats stumping me, is that the press is open, yet it won’t advance past the the point where the gripper is i the feeding position of the feed tray.

First, I’d unplug the machine and ensure the main cavity is free of debris, lost furniture, loose hardware (watch out for sharps)… anything that might prevent the platen from swinging.

I would gently rock the flywheel while watching the major internals (crankshaft, toggle, platen) to see if one part stops moving before the others… that part would be suspect, and/or mechanically connected to the root of the issue.

Anything that can stop a windmill in its action is major, and anything you do inside a machine is a risk for severe injury. I’d never work inside a machine without someone nearby who can call 911.

I think Anno Mouse nailed it, same here, late to the Party, but this smells of crap down the rabbit Hole, take a Flashlight and shine it straight down, front of the Press, open the open the hatch in the back and have Gander, remove all that, the presses have an open base, but they have a Floor right below the openings on the side (holes) you insert bars to lift the press. A lot of stuff can be down there.

Hello again,

As soon as the issue presented it self. we of course turned everything off and made sure we were working on it unplugged, and with extraneous part removed (chase, rollers, paper).

I took your advice and spent the morning toggling the flywheel slightly back and forth, and watching every possible mechanical connection, and I can’t find anything that looks like its stopping earlier than the other.

The press is stuck open, the rollers were moving from the top of the occilating roller down, and are stopped about 1/2 way down the form, about 3” from the chase clamp. I have about 2” of toggle with the platen, if I move the flywheel forward, there isn’t a hard stop, but more a a gradual tightening until its tight enough the that clutch is tripped. This makes me thing that it isn’t a stuck piece furniture or anything blocking mechanical movement, but possibly something fiberous or some paper matter stuck somewhere in the tooth of a gear. I went over all the gearing I could without major disassembly, to no avail.

The second observation, is that there is move movement of the gripper arms. I understand that because the press was approaching completely open, there wouldn’t be much movement, but its the only system that has no movement, and no play so I’m wondering if there might be something off with the gear head in the gripper assembly.

I spent some time with the manual, and it warns of not backing up the press more that 3/4” otherwise there might be a need for realigning of the gripper assembly, wondering if that might be our issue.

My final ask, is if there is a recommendation of someone in the New York City area that might be interested in coming in for some repair work, I’m slowly starting to think this might be a bigger Issue than I can we can handle on our own.


If this is actually a 1929 Tiegel platen then it might not have a shear collar. I seem to remember they were introduced in the early 1930s. I think the ‘Superspeed’ was released around 1931 and this was a major feature. I could be mistaken as this is all from memory. Benjamin Jones (letterpress mechanic.com) would be the man to ask.


just thought -check to see if the vacuum pump has shifted on it’s base connection causing the bind up good luck

Were you able to get it fixed?

Also interested in how this was resolved!

Hi all!

Thanks for the interest in our issue.

It has not yet been resolved, as we are taking it slow, as we use our Heidelberg mostly for small demonstrations, and not as a production Machine (though it is nice to have when the odd long run job walks through the door)

I’ve been going through system by system, making sure nothing looks out of place, at a pretty slow but steady rate. We’ve also been in contact with some repairmen, and are just working inside our budgets to see if we can have someone come out.

So right now, not a whole lot to update, but we are working! Slowly, but a little bit every day or so. I’ll keep you all updated if we make any breakthroughs or if I have any questions as they come up.

I appreciate all your interest!



@justyas003 - We are located in the South Street Seaport, in Lower Manhattan.

I think I mislabeled the press as a “Super Speed” as I now believe it to be a “Commercial Improved” from 1928.

A quick Update,

I checked the vacuum pump, and the two stop guides which align the base had worked their set screws out, and were able to shift around the shaft the base that the air pump sits on. We checked slightly repositioning the air pump, but it didn’t change the action of the press, and the piston rod seems to still be moving in normal function when we rock the press back and forth.

I’ve cleaned out everything that was in the base of the press, and while there was some paper shards, nothing that I could imagine that could physically stop the platen.

We are starting to think that we’ve gone over every system that we would feel comfortably trouble shooting, and are now starting to work out how to move towards bringing in a more specific technician, which is more of a budget challenge than anything, which is why I wanted to see if there was anyone New York local that our community could recommend.

Thanks for all the help so far, and I will post an update when we find out whats going on.

P.S. Here is a picture of the press, for those curious. Also a side note, we have been fabricating an oil pan, which will be installed in a few weeks.


image: IMG_1983.JPG


Apologies about the double post.

Just spent another amazing 7-8 Hours in our Museum Print Shop, and against the background of Your partially seized/stuck Heidelberg, spent a little time, investigating, In/Under/Inside, front and back, *** with the M/c., ticking over!! (slowest poss.) and cycling by hand, with in depth attention to the Arc & Stroke of the Platen Proper.

It would seem to be some heavy, substantial part, giving Your gradual seizure. - Like something compressing.

It appears that when the Platen is fully open and the Gripper Arms are fully horizontal, the REAR and BASE of the Platen (proper) is in exactly the correct position to COMPRESS foreign bodies, that possibly could not be seen, with line of sight or inspection lamp, normally.?
Mostly obscured by the Crank Pin assembly.

Apologies if the above be a Red Herring, but may prompt further investigation(s)

***Heidelberg 10 x 15 Platen, Black Ball.***

Good Luck Mick

I tend to agree, Mic…

An inspection mirror and/or flexy video-scope would be my next move. They are both very affordable and useful for more than just this machine.