Vandercook 15-21 Form Roller Gear Grinding

Hi everyone,

I’m teaching on a new press, a 15-21 that has been used as a teaching press for a while. While getting students on press today they noticed the ink wasn’t being distributed at all on the middle and right side of the press. They checked the roller height and the form rollers weren’t making contact with the roller gauge at all on the right hand side of the press. When I tried to adjust the height for them, I noticed the screw that controls roller height was sitting above flush with the chassis and not lowering the rollers when adjusted. When I took the form rollers out to examine, I noticed the right rear form roller gear is making contact with the rod that the rollers sit on. Any idea how I can adjust this? Can’t figure out how to attach pictures, but they are here:


image: IMG_9121.jpg


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Is the roller gear bottoming out on the bed gear rack? If the rollers are undersize (and I would guess 2.5” is correct here), the gear side just can’t be lowered any further. Vandercooks work within a very narrow range of roller diameters.
Personally, I ‘d take it all apart and clean everything down to the threads. Bear in mind the bushing blocks in the lower carriage are in mated pairs and usually stamped with numbers so you know which is which. Note where they are now and return them to the same position (and oil holes will be under the notches on the upper carriage). And when reassembling, be careful with the set screw in between the adjusting screws. Do not overtighten, just snug enough that the adjusting screws don’t slip; over tightening can distort the upper carriage.

You might post your question on

Paul Moxon is very helpful with vandercook questions.


I agree with parallel_imp. Exceprt that the roller diameter is 3 inches on the 15-21

One of the photos shows a bearing block screw working its way loose that should be obvious. And that roller assembly is sort of in chaos. When all things else fail, read the instructions. I can appreciate a novice or raw beginner to printing not know which way to turn but there are manuals on the Vandercooks, suppliers who work with this stuff as a business, and research information available through today’s research tool, the internet. I long ago gave permission to BoxCar Press to download the Vandercook manuals onto their website and the 15-21 inking system is basically that of the #4. One very important tool for any press owner or operator or teacher is to have the manual as an immediately available resource—and that applies primarily to automatic presses and presses like the Vandercooks, Challenges, etc. It’s out there—be smart and use Google.

Good thing that the 15-21 lower carriage is not_exactly_like the No. 4, with its clutched gears. Still, the older Vandercook style of upper and lower frames does require attention to detail and careful treatment. They do not like being dropped.
Fritz, it was interesting to see it has the brass bearing blocks. Are steel blocks and Nyliners all retrofits on 4s and 219s?

Yes, the steel bearing blocks are a replacement for those preses that used this system of roller supports. The brass wears badly over time to the point that the rollers can not be adjusted properly. The steel with the Nyliners works well, keeps wear to a minimum and they are easily replaced. Nyliners are considered to be sacrificial. They are also inexpensive.

For those who are unfamiliar with Nyliners, these are sleeves made from thin Nylon that go around the end of the steel roller core and interface with the steel bearing block, thus protecting both steel surfaces from direct contact and consequent wear.

Whether steel or brass, lubrication is essential. I’ve seen these reassembled with the oil holes inaccessible, or ignored and clogged. That’s when the brass really wears, or the steel takes the roller core with it.