I’m done with Taping Rails on my 3x5!

After spending years taping either the wonky rails or the trucks on older Kelsy presses ( and cursing about it incessantly) I finally developed my own permanent solution to the problem. I don’t know if the rails were poorly machined, or were worn badly, but they are fixed now.

No, I didn’t chuck my press into the scrap-heap! ;) Instead, I first ground / filed the rails straight and even with the chase bed. This of course made them too low. To compensate for this, I turned a set of trucks slightly over-sized. It was easy.

To grind the rails, which are attached to the bed on this press, I glued two sheets of 120grit sandpaper onto a piece of birch plywood, laid the bed face down on it, and sanded the rails until they were nice and straight. Since they were now slightly higher on one end than the other, I used a straightedge, a depth gauge and a file to slowly even them up. All in all, I had to take ~3/32” off the high spots on the rails to straighten them up. It took about two hours. If I had a milling machine, it would have taken 30 minutes or so!

Making the trucks was easy: I simply turned them on my Sherline Lathe out of aluminum bar stock, making them 3/32nd (radius) larger than the original. (If you do a lot of press repair, and don’t have a lathe, you really should consider it. I only got mine recently, but it’s already paid for itself by allowing me to make my own shafts, trucks and so forth.)

One concern I had was that the different diameters would cause the rollers to skid across the type…. so I made two sets. One was made with the little indentations to link them to the roller shaft, the other was made to free-wheel on the shafts. As it turns out, both types print beautifully. Now, my little press inks as nice as it did when it was new…. or maybe even better!

I don’t know how much this would help users of non-Kelsey presses, but I’d guess it would work on any press small enough to allow you to handle the press bed and rails easily.

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