Buying a C&P

I am currently looking to buy a floor press with a limited budget to do stationary/art letterpress printing. I have been in contact with someone and wanted to know how I should proceed. Here’s his message:

“It’s a 11 x 17 C&P Letterpress. I’ve had it for about 25 years. We used it to print on compressed sponges for a while but mainly used it to slit compressed sponges for Weller Corp. makers of soldering irons. We haven’t used it since last August. I have the cores and trucks for the ink rollers. I also have the chase and some furniture. I believe that’s what they’re called. Attached is a video showing it running. If you have more questions let me know. Be specific and I’ll answer the best I can.” (Here is the link to the video

What questions should I ask and what advice does anyone have?

Thank you.

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The 11x17 is a fairly large (read: heavy) press, so moving it may be a challenge if you’re not accustomed to moving top-heavy cast iron machinery. Find someone who is, this should be a good press to grow into. Then find someone who can teach you how to run one - books are nice, but hands-on training can’t be beat.

Also, you will want a speed control on that motor - the video shows it running way to fast to hand-feed.

(Edit - posted twice)

The press is either a 10x15 or a 12x18. The owner may have measured the platen or the full bed and not the inside dimensions of the chase.

The motor is driving directly from a wheel attached to the motor shaft (no belt) so the speed might possibly be changed by changing the diameter of that wheel that drives against the flywheel. That motor might also be a variable speed motor. You should certainly ask the owner. Search this site for options you might use to change out the motor or control to get variable speed (variable frequency drive or jackshaft).

I don’t hear any “clanking” or other troublesome sounds in the video, do the press might be a good choice to expand your business.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

Bill that looks like a Kimble style speed controled motor, not a perfect solution but I’m guessing it has a lever that slows it down. I have a motor in my shop that has a nearly identical body, where the speed control lever should be is just out of frame.


How do you plan to move this thing, they are quite heavy as said above.

doesnt look big enough for a 12x18, maybe 10x15. Check the motor, may be variable speed, look for a brush moving mechanism on the non pulley end. Speed there is much too fast for you. Look for any extra parts- rollers, trucks, chases, maybe fountain. Sounds ok on the video. You can do a lot of work with such a press.

rmiller021 He says he moved it there in the back of a full size pickup truck, and that he’d get it loaded for me, but I’m a bit worried about unloading it. I’m also worried about the shop I will be putting it in. It has a wood floor but I was planning on reinforcing under it with as much as I can.

I would go with a smaller press if it is a 12x18.

That is one crazy fast platen. From the video it looks like the roller spring mechanism is all in place so once you got recast rollers and the right trucks it would probably be ok. It looks like my 10x15 but it’s hard to tell the scale.

The outfeed tray appears to be missing, but no great worries about that.

The only caveats I would think of are the bearings and the casting. Running the press that fast would be ok if someone’s on top of the lubrication, but if not there could
be some wear issues. And if it’s been running fast and there’d been a mechanical stall there’s a possibility that there might be a crack in part of the frame somewhere so just look for that.

He confirmed that it’s a 10x15

I don’t recommend loading this press on a pick-up. I tried that once. A forklift and a heavy duty trailer. Also to slow the motor down I use a industrial strength Rheostat from Grainger on my 10x15 C&P. Cost about a hundred bucks. The down side to a rheostat is “sparks” on the commutator. I use a commutator stone on my motor. Any comments on this from Briar Press members?