Heidelberg Windmill Hot Foil Unit Questions

Hi there,

I have a Heidelberg Windmill Redball that came with foil stamping capabilities. I am attaching a variety of photos because I’m out of my depth with this thing. I’ve foil stamped before, so I know the general principals and setup.

1) How do I feed foil through this? I might have some kind of bar that could, perhaps, mount underneath the chase area for foil wrap up? Otherwise there is that mystery bar behind the press??

2) How would I lockup this foil base? It has so many cords coming out of it.. (Yes, I realize some of those cords have seen better days, so they might be a safety hazard, haha.)

3) Just any general advice about this foil setup and it’s function would be great. I am uncertain how to search for it to find anything like a manual or anything..

Bonus question: Can I use my fountain with this setup? I cannot figure out how to drop down the fountain tray..was going to clean it/dust it when I first got the press but was unable to. Also there is no numbered gauge for setting the fountain.

Help!! :) Thank you!

EDIT: Of course image uploading isn’t working, hold on…

Log in to reply   37 replies so far


Hopefully this link will lead you to an album of photos! :)

hey there.
PURPLE: is a foil guide rod
BL/YELLOW: is the area to lock plate into the chase. I would find and use a few layers of MICA to insulate the plate from furniture.
YELLOW: looks like the clamp to put cables in. this should keep them from getting mashed.
LT BLUE: is a bunter post for attaching the die. you need a minimum of 2.
ORANGE: is one of the power plugs.
the shielded thermocouple prob screws into the bottom or top.
There is a rod with brackets that mounts down below the chase area. that is where foil goes. The problem with this set up is, there is only so much room in there when it closes. It then forces you into small rolls; A) 400ft? or less; and ordering foil on 1/2 inch cores.
It looks to be fairly complete except for the lower foil rod. I am wondering if they didnt try running foil through the frame . That might explain the extra rod and pillow block bearings on the back. if so, that would Really cut into options as far as working area.
Good luck

image: wndmllhtplt_LI.jpg


Thanks, Ericm!

I should have that rod, I’ll poke through my box of supplies. And a bunch of random foil came with the press, so hopefully it is mostly stuff that will work with this setup!

So do I only need to lock the base up in the one direction, then? As opposed to one vertical quoin and one horizontal?

if you have some short furniture and can work around the wires, then do it both ways. Your set up may change to meet requirements of specific jobs. But, a heat plate like this cannot be locked up “Too good”.

Ok, that makes sense.

I found the foil rod! Now..how to attach it?

The way that seems obvious (unscrew bottom bolts until I can slide notches of the foil attachment on, tighten bolts again) …cannot be done with the chase in there.

My next move would be to attach to the front of those bottom “base” pieces (the first photo)..but there isn’t any spot to screw into? Or maybe I’m not seeing something.

Photos attached, hopefully my explanation makes sense. :)

image: IMG_20180626_153900.jpg


image: IMG_20180626_153842.jpg


image: IMG_20180626_153834.jpg


Or, it is possible that, that specific foil bracket was never in that specific press. Many times, things get “thrown together” and not really looked into. Your best bet may be to find someone who knows a bit of drilling and tapping and have some mount holes/bolts/brackets put in there for you. Look for unused holes down the sides right there. there maybe some “L” brackets used to bring the vertical side surface to horizontal.

Thanks for the input, Eric! I’m not sure, I’ll have to keep investigating.. the notches on this foil bar fit the screws under the platen there (the first picture) exactly so it seems like it was made for this press. But it’s hard to get it screwed on…hmmm… :)

Annie- That’s the correct foil bar for the press.

The two metal blocks hang down and the two slots slide onto the bolts. Basically, turn the bracket 180 degrees from it’s position in the second to last photo.

John, The rail hangs, what looks to be upside down? with the foil roll clamps/guides hanging down then? I dont know. i dont have a foil unit for my mill.

If you desire not to do foil stamping I would be interested in buying the heat plate.

Hi there,

Jumping back in here…

I had mostly figured out how to attach my foil roll and feed it. I was having some issues with even heating though — the wiring that came with the heating rods is pretty beat up.

Does anyone have any ideas about where to get new rods?

Things get hot..so all the connections from the main switch through the press are working..just the wires to the rods themselves are a little fussy.

I could also use another..thing..for holding my foil dies in place. I’m not sure what to call it..the little screw post item. :)

Thank you all for your help as always!!

you can find “bunter posts” at “sterling toggle”. you may need to have an account. if so, reach me. i will get them and have them drop shipped to you.

The heating equipment on the foiling unit can be replaced and upgraded with standard industrial and scientific components like those available from Watlow or, at the low end, Auber Instruments. West Coast Plastics is a distributor for Watlow heat controllers, relays, thermocouples, and cartridges in the US.

You should be able to pull the specs from the casing on the cartridge heaters and find a suitable replacement from Watlow.

As EricM said you’re looking for Bunter posts to attach your dies. One additional note is that you need the low height metric posts to thread into your baseplate. American Printing Supply stocks them in the US and marks them for Heidelberg.

I have a windmill with the foil puller like yours. I had never tried foil before but figured I would teach myself what to do. When I tried the used hot plate I had gotten it was a wiring mess. I did what I could to clean up the wiring slices and mess. The first time I turned it on it shorted out and blew the rods and and controller. I also had an old Boss controller and when I pealed off the nameplate found it was made by Watlow back in day for Boss I guess( long before the internet). I bought new Watlow rods and a new thermocouple. I figured Watlow rods - Watlow contoller should work well. I made sure I got the insulated braided protected wires so the rods could not ground out like they did before. I had to create a work around for the thermocouple to get it seated in my plate. I hooked it all it and it worked fine. I have the undermount foil setup like yours. I buy my foil from Infinity and had them reroll it. By rerolling the foil I had a easier time controlling the tension as it came out up off the spool. It no longer would rub the bracket plus it stays away form the die and stopped the preheating of the foil. If up put a roll in backwards you will see it spools from the front of the roll not the back under the bracket which was why we reroll.

Watlow Heat rods
Todd Seymore
1233 W. Collins Ave
Orange, CA 92867
714-538-7492 Office714-728-8125 Cell714-538-8746

Tom Adamson ( tell Tom it is from Scott his printer in Tustin)
Prime Controls Co
216 Avenida Fabricante
Unit 210
San Clemente, CA 92672
949 498-8700
949 498-8787 FAX
[email protected]

I have recently obtained a 10x15 H platen with foil capabilities like the one Anne has posted photos of - i also have a std red ball platen and grew up running letter press just before offset came in - this foil machine looks like it has not run foil for a long time and is missing quite a few parts to run foil - i did not get a heat plate with it and it looks like i would need a special chase to accommodate the wires etc. as well as a tension roller to for foil draw and the carriage for the foil that sits under the chase - it has an older looking heat controller
does anyone know where i might be able to obtain a heat plate and the connecting wire and a chase etc. also the top roller for the pick up on the used foil? - thanks roger

Roger, we ground out a small portion of a chase to accommodate the wiring (at the top). We attached a small plate over it to keep the wires from flopping around.

I stumbled upon this thread about foiling on the 10 x 15 windmill. I recently acquired a similar press and am needing some assistance. The press I have has what looks like an original heat controller. I purchased a chase set up with a small heat plate. The plate had the two square 4-pin plugs attached to the heat rods and what appears to be a thermocouple with a round 3-pin plug. On my windmill there are only the two square plugs - no place to plug in the thermocouple plug. When I plug the square plugs in and turn the unit on the red light comes on but nothing heats. What should I do to troubleshoot this and get it going? I’m attaching several photos of my setup.

image: 5.jpg


image: 4.jpg


image: 3.jpg


image: 2.jpg


image: 1.jpg


Some basic electrical trouble shooting is needed using a multimeter. Don’t know where you are, but here in the USA, a cheap meter, which is all you really need for this, is 5-10 bucks.
If you not familiar with electricity, and trouble shooting, best to get someone in there who is.
The red light is for either “power” or “heating”. Green light is prob for “At selected heat value”, or “At selected temp”.
A) check for value of supply voltage. The red light comes on, so there is something there, find out what it is.
B) Is this voltage showing up at the plugs from control unit.
C) what is resistance of the heaters. are they the same value., or “shorted out”, with either 0 ohms, which would blow a fuse, or “infinity”, which then just wouldn’t heat.
D) the round connector, is for the thermocouple, or temp sensor. It may be a 3 pin, but only use 2 of them. Look for an open hole in the edge of the hotplate. check with something, stiff wire is fine, just unplug the power, to see how deep it is. If it is in the center, and about half the depth of the hotplate, this is prob where the the heat sensor probe goes. Otherwise, if there is a “kind of oddball threaded hole someplace, this could be where a “screw on”, or, “eyelet” type sensor would screw on to the face of the plate.
I am in Milwaukee, Wis. and would be happy to look the system over for you, recommend parts needed, and repair.

Thank you for your response! It is very helpful to get ideas from someone who is more familiar with this. I did a little more investigating and I’ll bring a meter in next week to do some more diagnostics.

I opened the controller and translated (German to English) the legend on the connections and it appears the power to the heat rod is supplied by two wires which run in a sheath and three wires which feed in a separate sheath to the other 4-prong plug to connect to the thermo sensor. This would lead me to believe you could only power a single heat rod at a time unless the socket pins are connected together in which case you could power two.

The foiling chase I bought didn’t come with this press. It has the two 4-prong plugs. Each one has two sets of 2 wires - so each plug powers 2 heat rods for a total of 4 rods. There is a thermo sensor with a spiral metal sheath shielding the wires and a round three prong plug. My press has no place to plug this in. The way the press appears to be wired, it would plug into one of the 4 prong plugs.

It is becoming more apparent that I’m going to have to rewire either the sockets on the press or the hot plate so the two units will work together. Or add a socket to accept the three prong thermo sensor plug.

Wire block:


1,2 input voltage

3,4 880watt heater

5,6,7 thermo sensor

8 ground

Well, do your testing first, then maybe disassemble the connector for the sensor and see if it is really using three wires or 2. A typical “J” type thermocouple has (+, white)and (-, red) leads. they are polarity sensitive.

The man who I obtained the windmill from told me the cover on the other side of the chase latch came off and underneath the cover was the plug for the thermo sensor.

So I plugged everything back in and the controller seems to work. It seemed like only 1 or 2 of the heat roads which were wired to the plug on the left were heating. So I may have some bad heat rods. I could only heat the plate to 200 degrees.

So not such bad news. I’ll check the resistance of the heat rods in question and go from there.

I like it when I learn something :)

In my case after trying to electrocute myself by fixing the existing wire and such I replaced my my rods and thermocouple. I used only the connectors but changed every thing else. I have a post earlier in this thread of where I got the rods and such. If you cant get the thermocouple out you may be able to use one of the existing rod hole instead. After making my plate safe and sane I still had issue’s or thought I had issue’s with heat. It turns out the laser temp reader I was using was not able to read correctly off of aluminum. For a number of months I had been way to hot so it did not work. I had a Boss foil controller which when I peeled of the nameplate says Watlow underneath. Watlow had made the controller for Boss back in the day. I used that info to find old schematics. I then used Watlow rods since Watlow is still around. You said got the temp up to 200 and the controller says a high end of 200C which 392 F which is to hot for foil.

To make a long answer short I backed off my heat and tried a few sheets. Little by little I increased the heat and tried again. I found that what I thought was not enough heat was way to much and had caused the foil did not stick. When it did not stick I went higher and made it worse all because I thought my laser reader was correct I now foil all the time.

This is only getting up to 200 F or about 110 C, so not warm enough. I wonder if the other two rods were heating if it would get warmer. I can only get two rods to heat as the other socket on the press seems to be dead. I guess I’ll need a meter and do some checking for voltage in the socket. I’m thinking I need 300 F degrees to work properly.

Control Panel: There is a fuse under the Black screw in Knob, start there,

The Label indicates 220 V input, what do you have on it?

Something to try. When I first stated with my plate it had a lot of poor wiring. Another mistake I made was I went to Granger and explained what I was doing and bought wire to rewire all the connectors. Turns out is was the wrong kind and type of wire and I think it effected the thermocouple responce. I ended up replacing the thermocouple and rods with proper braided wires and all is good. In theroy if the control box is working when you turn it on from a cold start a light should go on. After it heats to a a point the therocouple should turn it off and light should change or go off as the system controls the heat. If you start at a very low setting see if the unit heats then turns off as it should. You could have a bad thermocouple or bad incorrect rods or both.

different metal surfaces, textures, and colors will reflect back differently to those laser temp sensors. best to get a contact type if there is a question. you don’t even want, to get into IR camera’s pricing. I you can borrow a contact style from someone for a day, you could, set a bunch of diff temps, read them with the laser, then verify actual with the contact temp. record your results and then the laser is prob usable. you don’t need to be accurate to the exact, “oneth degree”, for the foil to work.

Hi Ericm - In my case I was basing my feedback on the laser reader. I flet going higher tech was a good thing and I was wrong. Because the temp reading was wrong, I was trying to foil at around 400 F or higher which did not work. At the time I gave up thinking I needed a new plate and controller which I could not afford and put foil on the back burner. I discover by chance the laser reader was wrong and could not read from the plate material like I thought. I retried foil starting at temp way to low and stepping it up in controlled amounts till it did work. In fact, Ericm I think you even help is back at that time so thanks again. I used my laser reader to take my temp the other day and see if I had a fever during these strange times. I discovered what I thought, I am not a hoteee after all.

So I had some time today and took the press apart to access the sockets where the heat plate plugs in. I found the problem. For some reason one sockets wires were not connected in the wire block. So I reconnected them and put everything back together. It seems to be heating correctly now, but I need to put a piece of furniture on one end of the plate as I’m losing heat into the chase. The controller is working as it should Green Light on until it turns the rods off. I’m going to give it a try shortly. Thank you all for your suggestions and insight.


So I tried heating things up and it got up around 300 F. I put a Offset underblanket which is very thin against the platen and backed the pressure out all the way. Started feeding and brought the pressure up until it started stamping. I’m not getting a good clean imprint (see outter circle ). The stock is 12 pt coated. Any ideas here?

image: foil.jpg


300F is pretty high. i would inverst in a contact temp measuring device. use “Die Face” readings until you get the “Set Point” figgered out.
Need to figure out which foil to use. gold’s and silver’s have many, MANY, different characteristics. To start out i would recommend either “General” or “Infinity”. They both sell small qty’s with little or no minimums, and have good customer service. Maybe try “Great Western” if you are MST or PST time zones. I have their book but have not done bizzness with them yet.
This project would require a “Medium” to maybe “Tight” release foil. Make sure you are managing your foil tension.
Flopping loose foil that is “Turning” before impression will do what you are seeing. Make sure your foil is not drawing right across the die. You want about 1/8” - 1/4” gap between die face and foil. Foil is too tight if you can see it “Stressing” during or after the advance.
Check the back of the sheet for even pressure. make ready underneath phenolic or whatever you are hitting against to even the pressure.

General: 518-671-6800
Infinity: 800-221-9059 (Universal Dies will answer)
reach if you have questions.
Good luck!

Day 2. Tightened the side tension on the roll. It seems like it doesn’t roll even it is tight then it is loose - but its better now. I lowered the heat. I then took the softer backer blanket for an offset cylinder and replaced it with a place of chipboard which is firmer. So I’m having better results. It could be the foil I’m using is old and has gone bad. I’ll keep fine tuning until I get the best result. Thanks for all your help.


image: foil gold.jpg

foil gold.jpg

First of all every thing ericm said I agree, listen to him. Yes, 300 to hot, start much lower and work up. Run the press as slow as it will go to get the longest dwell time on contact. Also post pictures of the roll puller and roller rod advance setup. Part of your issue my be on the other end of the puller and not just at the roll itself. With the my windmill I have an undermounted roll holders like the picture in the first part of this thread. I see the picture of how I think you might be holding you foil and that may be part of the issue. You need to control foil roll tension so it is not too loose and at the same time not to tight. You might try putting a heavy metal washer next to the foil on each side and then a spring and then another smaller washer then the nut. That will allow you to create a way to tension the foil roll. I use Infinety foil and have my rolls rerolled with the adhesive facing out to move the foil away from my die plate. I don’t know if that will help you or not. You mentioned using a press blanket and chipboard which I think are both sort of soft. I use polyester glass board as a point of contact against my platten. It comes in 15 & 30 pt. I tape a piece against the raw platen and leave a space to slide sheets of packing underneath. I always start by backing my pressure off to the zero on the ring and then use math. You don’t want to damage a die so I try to make sure my first sheet through barley works or not at all and I correct pressure and packing from there. A 12pt stock mean 28pt under build. I like to use the packing to soften the contact a little but not to soft.

I’ve been watching this thread since it started - for tips and an opportunity to lend any help.

Old mag dies - I think age and oxidation affect them. Check it closely under magnification if it is old. I see a lot of oxidation on old dies, and some of them are just as you show; municipality crests.

Old foil - I believe just from practice that foil can “go bad”. Our foil is kept adjacent to a COLD cinder-block wall. Some it very old. I’ve experienced appreciable performance with new foil…but that can also be related to foil better suited to the substrate and job.

12pt coated would be very favorable for foil. Hard smooth surface. With a new die and foil I’d be looking for perfection. I begin foil work without foil. I want to see the impression blind so I know I have an even hit for all the image area. (And there’s days where I have the die too far from correct position. Removing and re-inserting a HOT chase can be a chore if it expands even slightly, which it will!). Even with new dies I have had to spot underlay tissue under areas the size of a small fingernail.

You’ve achieved at least a good image at this point. How large is that area - about less than the size of a silver dollar it seems. You have decent detail for type that small. As Ecrim mentioned, 300 F seems very hot for that image. I have foil that would do it at 200 F and foil I would need to take to 230 F.

When all else fails I wipe every sheet quickly in the delivery tray with a wadded clean rag to remove that outer flaking (too hot).

Best of luck to you.

Wow! Thanks for all the information. The die is brand new so I don’t think the issues lie with it. I really feel it is more the foil isn’t the right type or is old and I’m a novice.

The vector artwork I used for the die was more complex and a different original size. I scaled it down and then did my best to simplify and adjust the point size of the line art and even removing some all together.

One question I did wonder about. If the machine is running at the slowest speed the dwell time of the impression is longer than if the speed is running faster. Is there some rule about the speed you should foil at?

Thank you all again for the pointers!


Speed can equate to dwell time of impression which can affect foil characteristics. I just watched a video from Kluge about their stop-on-dwell/impression ability. It proves the point.

When a job is well setup I can foil moderately fast fwiw.

You noted your setup for foil; others have referenced:
western411 - “I use polyester glass board as a point of contact against my platen. It comes in 15 & 30 pt. I tape a piece against the raw platen and leave a space to slide sheets of packing underneath.”

ericm - “Check the back of the sheet for even pressure. make ready underneath phenolic…”

Phenolic board - you want to acquire a piece/supply. It is a (mostly) durable smooth plastic (?) board to impress against. I think it’s ability to not absorb heat as well as its surface are a deal maker for foil work.

Hi there,

I’ve been reading this forum for months to find out and take my first steps in the letterpress. After many laps I have bought my first machine a Heidelberg Windmill and a heat stamping equipment.

I am going to renew the cables, cartridges and connections of the heating equipment and I have a doubt, I have received two pairs, one with the color BLUE for the LEFT (L) and the other with the GREEN color for the RIGHT (R).

I have checked the connections and I don’t see the difference between left and right. Where is the difference?
I’m going to buy new heat cartridges and connections and I don’t want to mount it, plug it in, and melt something.

Thanks for any info I don’t want to start by melting the controller.

image: cables 3.jpg

cables 3.jpg

This thread has some good information from prior posts. Not sure what type of controller you have. One possible solution is say blue leads are joined to the hot power coming in and the green are joined to the power going out. The rods wires must complete a power loop or you get a short. I had crap wires when I started and tried to re wire the broken crappy leeds. I finally bought good braided wires a good thermocouple and now I can depend on my ability to control my temp was is very important