Uneven impression - permanent fix?


I just got my first press and all is well except for the hours I have to spend strategically packing paper to get the impression closer to even - but it still doesn’t feel just right. Without any particular packing, the impression and inking are stronger towards the bottom of the chase. It also seems to be uneven on the sides as well.

Does anyone have any advice? Or is there anyone in Boston that would be able to help?

I have a Golding Pearl No. 3.

Here’s a photo of my packing for a 5x7 card and the result:

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Result and Packing:

image: 2invite.jpg


image: 1packing.jpg


You are probably going to break your Pearl, if you haven’t already (check the frame where the large shaft that the platen pivots on passes through the frame — that is where it will break first — a crack across the top, usually. The Pearl was not designed strong enough for that kind of heavy impression, especially in such a large area.

The heavier impression at the bottom is due to the platen not being parallel to the face of the plate at maximum impression. If you adjust the top and bottom bolts together to even it up with that amount of impression you will increase the chance of breaking the press.

The Pearl #11 Improved is stronger than the #3, and I bought two from someone who had broken one doing what you are doing, and combined parts from the two that were still useable, to get one working press. If you need to continue doing what you are doing I suggest buying all the old Pearl #3 presses you can find, as spares.


Hi Bob!

With my packing, the press runs very smoothly and quietly as normal. What are signs that I am pushing it too hard?

Even with just minimum packing, the impression and ink are heavier towards bottom (left side of card). I’ve attached a photo here. Any suggestions on how to fix this?


image: img.jpg


I assume that the lower edge of the platen is to the left of your photo. As I said in my earlier post, the platen is not parallel to the bed, or to the plate which I assume is mounted on a Boxcar base (assuming photopolymer), and thus should be parallel to the bed. The Pearl platen should have what look like five bolts on the back of it, four toward the corners and one in the middle. The middle one holds a spring which pulls the platen down against the ends of the other four bolts. To adjust the platen (you need two wrenches, one to loosen slightly the lock nut and hold it while you turn the bolt with the other wrench) I would back off the bottom bolts 1/4 turn (counterclockwise) and tighten (clockwise) the upper bolts and try it, remembering to snug the lock nuts again as you move from one bolt to another. If it improves but still isn’t even, repeat. Or reduce the amount to 1/8 turn (to avoid over-shooting). The key to it is to go slowly and always adjust both sides — if you just tighten the upper ones without loosening the lower ones you increase the overall pressure. Once you get an even impression, you can then increase the packing if the bite isn’t deep enough to suit you, but bear in mind what I said earlier.

The other adjustment to know is if one corner is heavier than the diagonally opposite corner — then you adjust the corners that are off and leave the other two alone. The key is to get the platen parallel to the bed, and also be sure all four bolts are touching the platen — if it rocks on two of them adjust until it doesn’t rock. And before you start printing check to be sure you snugged up the lock nuts, or the adjustment will change on you while you are printing.


I also recommend that you do not continue on your present path, or you will break the press. Even with a kiss (the opposite of a deep) impression, I wouldn’t recommend a form more than 1/4 of the size of the chase, or 3.5 X 5.5. With a deep impression, which I do not recommend on that press, I wouldn’t go more than a business card size, or 2 X 3.5.

If you must do this 5 X 7 job, at the very least cut the plate in half and print half at a time.

You may own the press, but think of yourself as the person who has the press in your possession for a period of time, and who is keeping it in good condition for the many who will use it after you. They aren’t making any more of them.

Hi Geoffrey, thank you for your advice! I think the lighting certainly makes the impression in my photo appear deeper. I’ve read a lot about being careful with impressions on my Pearl and don’t think I have been pushing it hard at all - I don’t get any pushback and everything runs smoothly. So, apart from looking at a photo do you know of any signs that would let me know if I am pushing the press too hard?


You need to adjust your platen and make it parallel to your bed. That would be the permanent fix for the pressure.
But the fact that you mention that inking is lighter towards the top as well makes me suspect your boxcar base might not be set correctly on your chase.
You need to make sure that everything is completely flat and parallel to the roller rails.

You might find this tool useful: http://www.perennialdesigns.net/?page_id=1358

A typo in the second line on the invitation?

“Requests” should be “Request”.

Don’t touch the bolts, make a progressive and insert it under the packing. The thin end of one sheet is at the bottom and the thick end of 4 or more sheets at the top. Basically it is a paper wedge

image: progressive.jpg


Small hand platens are NOT designed for such deep impression. I can post images of Adana “Eight-Five” machines with serious fractures in the main frame, caused by attempts at printing in this way. Caslon (who sell the “Eight-Five”) are now making a new model (the “8x5C”) which has a main frame which is reinforced at potential fracture points to cope with this kind of deep impression.

You will wreck your press if you persist with such heavy impression.

Re some of the posts, as above and for some time previous on related issues, inc., leveling the Platen, with respect, advising *refrain from touching the bolts* seems to be a little Off the Mark… i.e.if the very first step is wrong, there is very little chance of all/every subsequent working.???
O.K. if the machine is known to be Ex Factory of origin, where the often quoted spiel states, imp. bolts, (factory) Set Tested any ready to go, Fine and Dandy a long long time ago.… This far *Down the Road & the Decades* how many machines are still likely to be, EX FACTORY set ??

Here in the U.K.the majority of Table Tops seen are Adana,s in clamshell format over 5 different sizes, at least,! Excluding Flat Bed Quarto,s, SqintaniS,s & Ajax in 2 format(s).

All of the Above Clamshell Adana,s employ the same basic system for Imp., adjustment and Bed retention, with 4 impression bolts and 2 Bed retaining bolts, BUT, in every case, with 2 very forgiving 3 (coil) COIL springs, providing tightening and Bed retention, while still allowing free play for *Tweeking* with safety.

For some considerable time, the following, basic initial method and FIRST step for Leveling has been advocated:-

(1) Back off all 4 impression screws to the point where their is literally no threads visible out of the main frame, implying that the Bed will be free to float, but still retained.
(2) lock up in the chase at the 4 corners, any 4 identical height pieces, preferably 4 Virgin pieces of Founders 72 Point, Or 4 pieces of Wood type/Poster type, as long as all 4 are identical height, !!!
(3) with the chase in the M/c., NO Ink NO Rollers bring the M/c., up to impression proper, there will be no resistance, because the Bed is Floating free,
(4) with the impression still held down, bring all 4 bolts up until gentle contact x 4 is felt, Then progressively and diagonally tweek all 4 up gently, delicate finger and thumb ONLY will indicate fair contact AND/OR 4 slivers of stock, as feeler gauges between the Bed and the Bolts, fiddly but accurate up to a point,
(5) mark all 4 bolts/bolt heads with Tippex/Yellow ink or similar, to provide an accurate point (as in the minute hand of a clock) for subsequent advance or retard adjustments and keeping all 4 in Sync.even >5 Minute increments< with fairly coarse thread on the adjusters is easier..

Time consuming and Fiddly, Yes, but an excellent starting point for all subsequent operations, but still with the Proviso that with Deep Impression, AND such a wide range of stock, potentially envisaged, AND from Clamshell style Machines altering the packing ONLY is not the whole answer.!!!

Q, when you say you don’t get any pushback, do you mean that if you run the press slowly, by hand, through a cycle, it hardly gets any more difficult to rotate the flywheel when you make an impression than at other times during the cycle?

Are you running the press with a motor or with a treadle? If you are running it fast, or with a motor, you might not realize that there is a critical amount of pressure during an impression.

Many of us are worried because the press is made of old cast iron, which is brittle. It’s almost like the press is made of china, or stoneware. Golding Pearls are lightly made to begin with, in my opinion.

One of the side frames of my Pearl #3 was cracked right through where the shaft holding the platen goes, and was braised back together long before I got it.

Best of luck to you and please respect your antique press. It is hard to describe in words when you are stressing it too much. If you work with machinery a lot, over time, you will eventually develop a “feel” for that. We’re just trying to keep you from finding that you overstressed it, after it is cracked or broken.

There are ways to do bigger jobs on a Pearl by printing parts of the job at a time and not printing the whole job at once, and this is certainly better for the machine.