Colt Identification & Repair

I’ve been given a Colt, which is one the presses that I’ve always wanted to have. What is here is in decent shape, and I am going to spend the next few years getting things fabricated and repaired. However, this press was knocked over, and the flywheel is broken. There are also bent parts on the press, as detailed in the photo. There are two other parts that are broken, and I will follow up with pictures of those in the future. I would like to ask a few questions for everyone, and I apologize if it is something already covered (or if you see this on Briarpress as well).

What are the identifying marks on the press to tell when it was made, and what size it is. I assume that it is an 8x12, it had a 9x13 chase in it that I also assume is a skeleton chase. I could be wrong on either.

Does anyone have documentation on these presses in PDF format, and if so, would you share it?

When a press has sat for a while, what is the best way to get it moving again? Without the flywheel being attached, what is a good way to get the press moving and oiled (or is that entirely a bad idea)?

Last, will anyone who has this press please send me photos of their press, from the front, side, and back. I would love to see what your presses look like. I would especially like to know all the people who have one and have had them restored.

Thank you, I appreciate all of your time and generosity.

— Gerald Flynt

image: colt press proper right

colt press proper right

image: colt press front

colt press front

image: bent/shifted part

bent/shifted part

image: press & broken flywheel

press & broken flywheel

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I have some information over at
In the files section, “illustratedcatal00john_1.pdf” may be helpful, and a couple others regarding the John Thomson Press Co.
Presses of this vintage tend to be driven by treadle or by flat belt. I don’t see indications for flat belt pulleys or shifter, and I don’t know what the connections for treadle drive would be, might not be identical to the crank-shaft of a Gordon platen.

Hi Gerald,

Congrats on the project, looks like a fun one! Your press could be an 8x12, or sometimes called an “Eighth Medium parallel platen press”. I have one that might be roughly in the same state as yours (and I haven’t been able to refurbish it yet). You can see my Briar Press post about it here

Howard Iron Works did a beautiful restoration job on one of these presses:

Also Val Lucas has the same press and it actually works! Her handle on Briar Press is Bowerbox and here is a photo of the press Val is the one who gave me the Serial Numbers list (which I have attached below) and who gave me a link to this digital Colt’s Armory catalog


image: Colt's Armory Serial Numbers.jpg

Colt's Armory Serial Numbers.jpg

Gorgeous! Yes, it looks like the 8x12. So there are at least 4, how cool! I’ll take some photos. Mine is still in restoration mode but does turn over nicely.
You could potentially find a flywheel about the same size and with the same diameter shaft hole to replace this with.
That bent brass part is the impression bar, it needs to engage with the clip underneath to put the press on impression, so a vital part to fix.
Mine does not have any treadle attachment that I can see so I belive it was belt driven, I plan to attach a motor somehow.
I’ll see what other documentation I have. I can email it to you if you message me your email.
Where are you located? I’m north of Baltimore, MD.

We have a Half Medium (aka 13x19) - purely belt driven.

I’ve got some documents in a PDF I will try to locate.

One thing you can do to find other presses/owners is go on Instagram and search hashtag #coltsarmorypress. For several years I’ve made sure to tag every photo I come across with this hashtag for easy reference.