Heidelberg Windmill side guide not working.

Oh Heidelberg gurus, please help…

Is there a way to adjust the function of the side guide? I have a Heidelberg 10 X 15 “black ball” windmill from the ’50s, I believe. I’ve just started trying to print using the guides, and it seems I’ve hit a snag. That little side guide that is presumably supposed to sneak in after the gripper arm has opened and give the paper a little push, putting it in register right before the impression… isn’t doing anything. I read through the shop manual about the guides, and I could only find the bit about adjusting the side guide’s thumbscrew to fine tune one’s “hairline” register. (Pgs 53 through 60) That’s great and all, but… I need something that will get that side guide working in the first place…

After poking and prodding a bit, I suspect that the culprit on my machine may be either the guide arm or the assembly that supports the side guide. It seems that the guide arm that runs along below the platen, over to the right side to connect with the side guide assembly, may not be rolling back far enough to allow the side guide’s bottom little wheel to drop down into the depression in the piece that it rides on. I’m suspecting that if it COULD ride down into that valley, the guide would slide forward, start doing it’s thing… and I could happily go off and start worrying about “hairline registers” and such!

So, my question is: Is there a way to increase the rotation of that guide arm? Or, is there an adjustment in the side guide assembly, on the right side underneath the platen, that would help me here? I do see a bolt holding a ramp shaped piece that connects with the piece that the side guide wheel rolls on… and I’ve been wanting very badly to turn that bolt and see what happens…. but, I’m afraid…

Does this make any sense to anyone?

Thanks for any input!


Log in to reply   14 replies so far


If you work the register bar below the platen (the bar on which the lay gauges fit) and follow the mechanism to the left of the press, you will see a knurled knob that traces an arc over a cam. The pin actuated by the knurked knob must drop into the hole in the cam. The pin is probably locked out. Merely turn the knurled knob so that the pin drops in and the side guide will work. You lock the pin out when running “commercial” register. I hope that my explanation is sufficiently clear. Good luck and let me know how it works.


Yes, i second Jim on this one. If you have not been running on guides thus far, then your guides have been locked out of activity, and simply need to be clicked on, via the knurled knob that jim recommends. Should be a quick fix.
If your guides have not been active for a while, consider lubricating the mechanism a bit to help things run smoothly, and also be sure that the little space on your gripper bars that allows the side guide to peek through is not obstructed by any tape or anything.
Good luck :)

Thanks guys - I appreciate your helpful and speedy responses!

Well, ok. I do have the knurled knob in position as it should be to operate the guide mechanism. However, the arm doesn’t want to rotate far enough for the side guide to activate. I had a breakthrough today, though. After a bit of head scratching and grunting I got brave and (while the platen was forward up in the position to make an impression), I stopped the press and reached in and grabbed the guide assembly and gave it a wiggle and a tug… and it grudgingly gave way a little bit. I worked at it quite a bit more and was able to get the arm to fully rotate, allowing the assembly on the right to do it’s thing, in turn allowing the side guide to advance as it should to affect register. Viola!!! (This was an exciting moment for me.) It’s VERY sluggish though and gets stuck more often than not. I remember my friend I bought the press from saying he hadn’t really used the guides in 20 years or more. It seems I’m going to have to lubricate a good deal and run the press, stopping here and there to tug at that guide arm to get it to loosen up and operate fluidly. I think I see how it’s supposed to work now, though. I’m guessing that your machines are slick and fast and that your guide arms slide easily to the right as they operate? If that’s so, I’m jealous.

Say, once the guide assembly is operating well I’m guessing the register is pretty tight, yes? I’m wondering if you’ve noticed any differences in register when running with the guides at high versus low speeds? Do things get sloppy as you speed things up?

Yeesh, it seems like a lot of thought went into designing these presses! My hat is off to the good folks at Heidelberg for coming up with all of this…

Thanks again for your help,


Yes Ken, when your press is set up correctly, your registration will be dead on. We’ve run 4 color process on windmills. It is dot for dot accurate.

As far as registration versus running speed, you will find that each job has its own appropriate speed. This has more to do with the paper and size of the sheet than the press. The press will do the same thing every cycle regardless of the speed (within reason of course). So your jobs will always register if set up appropriately.

Updated. Good to know! Thanks.

I’ve been making due with “commercial” register up until now, obsessing over accuracy in the paper cutting and hovering over the feed table as the job runs. (I’ve been whispering encouraging words in German too, but my vocabulary is limited… and I’m not sure it hears me.)

The prospect of being able to do long runs of tight register jobs is exciting. I’ve been doing all of that on our C &P to date, which is fine, but tiring. We just did 3,000 invites which we had to hand feed and, well… that prompted me to investigate the guide situation on our Heidelberg.

Thanks for your response!


Updated. With my press, if I have my guide set to the extreme lengths of its capability (too far to the left or right) my paper will often smash or even jump the guide. Like it was said earlier this often depends on the paper and the speed of the press. I have had this happen on a few presses I have run so I don’t think that it is one of the many happy quirks of my press.

Mark raised a good point. Although I haven’t had registration problems with the guide set all the way back (away from the platen), when the guide was set far in, the paper will hit it too hard and bounce back. When we need to adjust the guide all the way in, we use “cheaters” as we call them. Heidelberg calls them flat rods. They hook over the front lay guage and hold the paper back 6 pts out of the gripper. When the cheaters are used, the paper wont hit the side guide too hard and good registration is acheived.

Updated. Oooh, see, now you guys are talking about fancy stuff…

For the uninitiated - how does one adjust the side guide to be “all the way back”, or “all the way in”? Or, presumably, somewhere in between? I’ve been assuming that my guide assembly is just frozen with years worth of funk, and would operate in only one way once the mechanism was all shiny and clean.

I have a set of those “cheaters”, and have only used them really to help set register. I’ve been taping them down on either side of the paper on the feed table to “frame in” the corners so it doesn’t wiggle around as the sucker bar comes down to grab the next sheet. It kinda helps…


Ken, sorry to get technical. Your guide most certainly could be frozen with years of funk. But after you clean it off good, you will find a chrome knurled screw with a regular flat head screw next to it right behind the guide. Take a flat head screwdriver and loosen the screw a half turn. This will enable to adjust the knurled screw. This screw is what moves the guide all the way in, out, or somewhere in between for micro adjustment of the job. Dont forget to tighten the screw back up after it is in position.

That is a good use of the cheaters. I had never thought of using them for that purpose. You learn something everyday.

Wow. Thanks for getting technical! I think I know exactly what screw you’re talking about - and I didn’t know what it’s function was. I was figuring that it was just there to keep that piece it’s in fitting nice and snug. I can’t wait to get back to the print shop tomorrow and fool around with it…

Thanks again!


Ken -
As the other Heidelberg operators have alluded to, it is quite likely that your ‘to the guides’ system is gunked up from years of running commercial register. A thorough cleaning is in order - as well as a careful reading of the Heidelberg Manual, which is priceless, not only for a novice, but for experienced operators as well.

But I did not see anyone mention the adjustment needed to the gripper head assembly (the one the windmill arms rotate on) . There is a set screw on there which will let you slide a small cam actuator out of position so that the arms will momentarily release the sheet as the guides move into position to support it. If this slide is not moved, the grippers will not release the sheet, so the guides will not be able to push the sheet into position.

Then there’s also the question or nickel or brass guides and the little wires that slip into them to hold the sheet agains the platen. Look into that and if you don’t have some good wire guides, you can fabricate some from very thin paper clip wire.

Running to the guides is indeed a way to get dot-register on the Windmill and I have used them to great success over the years - but you must also match your press speed to the paper you are feeding. Too fast, and you might make the stock bounce as the guides move it up into position…

Have fun!

- Alan

Hello Ken,

Our presses had broken brackets that the the frisket bar holder pivots in. If a numbering machine or furniture comes out of the chase during a run and the press closes on it that bracket can crack. Look for an impact point in that bracket area and then see if you can wiggle the bracket. It should be solid with no movement. The cracks are usually between the bolt holes where the bracket bolts to the back of the platen. The stiff pivot rod could be an indicator too.

Since both of our presses had that damage and they came from two separate sources I would guess that it is a common thing to have happen.

The parts ran about 350.00 and it took 8hrs to swap it out.

The best advice I have seen so far in this thread is for you to get the operators manual. Get it and read it!

It took me 4 months of trial and error to finally figure that this was our presses problem!

Good luck!


Thanks guys. Thanks for the advice.

Sadly, I only had about 10min of free time today to fool with that screw, and no luck yet. It seems there’s a pin going through that rod as well as the screw holding that knurled knob piece in position. That pin doesn’t seem to be adjustable, so it seems that I’m stuck with it where it is for the time being. I’m going to fool around with it a bit more tomorrow…

Thanks Alan, for double checking me on the head assembly thing. I do have that set screw piece on the head assembly in the top “with guides” position, and the gripper arms are working flawlessly! Pretty neat to see them snap open, drop the paper onto the brass guides below, and then snap closed again after the impression to whisk the card away. I DID have to reduce the thickness of my packing to get the card to drop onto the guides without getting caught between the gripper arm and the tmypan sheet. (Being the newbie that I am, I’ve been all into the cushy thick packing, trying to get a deep impression. I also didn’t want to put any unneeded stress on the press having it bang away on rock hard packing… trying to get that all important “letterpress impression”!)

Thanks Michael, for the note about the cracked bracket. I’ll have a look. A lot of numbering was done on this press….

I may put a couple of pics up for y’all to have a peek at, just to make sure I’m not missing something…


Hello Ken,

Here is what you really need!


They also have the parts manual available for download too.

They will save you a lot of time and grief plus you will be able to use correct nomenclature for the parts you are having difficulty with. These manuals have not changed at all so if someone else has a manual you can be “on the same page” while discussing the issue.

In my opinion the best way to get the sculpted impression is to use a soft stock with a hard make ready to keep the impression inside of the paper.