Strange anomaly: C&P Pilot adding packing results in less impression…!

So I finally got my C&P Pilot working (I usually work on a Vandercook) and my initial print run with a deep-relief Boxcar base and photopolymer resulted in a very uneven (mostly not even there) impression.

I decided I should add some packing, and throughout this ordeal a weird thing happened - the more packing I added, the -less- of an impression I got! Has anyone experienced this odd phenomenon? When I took out the packing I got my original print/impression (which wasn’t any good to begin with) but which was certainly better than that with the packing.

I’m wondering if I need to adjust the platen itself? But I’m still trying to figure out why this might have happened….

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Updated. I think I know what is going on here. A lot of times the platen on these presses are run too far out. This doesn’t allow the lever to come down all the way when an impression is made.

With your press set as you are trying to use it have a look on the backside of the press. Pull the handle down. See those little stop tabs on each side of the rear saddle? If there is a big gap there when you pull an impression your platen is adjusted too far out and/or your platen is overpacked.

Attempting to get an impression with this misadjustment is fighting against the geometrics of the mechanism of the press. Back off the platen, re-level it and you should find that you get a lot more from your little press.

Let us know what happens!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY


Thank you for your advice. I’m going to try adjusting the platen like you suggested, and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Kristin Adolfson
Still Point Press
Charlottesville, VA

Kadolphson: My best guess is that your packing is covering the entire platen widthwise and is interfering with the platen closing because the roller tracks are bearing on the packing. Try cutting your packing to about 10 to 10.5 inches and center on the platen so it will clear the roller tracks. If you’ve done any adjustments on the platen, you MUST start all over with that to prevent smashing any type. Check any of the many letterpress sites on the Internet, or school text books in your library on how to adjust the platen. Good luck. Let us know how you’ve done!

Yes, you were correct. That solved the quandry of why more packing resulted in less impression!

As you mentioned, I noticed that the packing was extending beyond the print area and hitting the roller tracks. Additionally, I had added tape to the tracks to elevate the rollers because they were too close to the plate. I took that off as well. I have removed the rollers to do these tests (I’m not sure if my trucks are too small or what) but that’s another issue.

Even with cutting the edges of the packing, removing the tape on the tracks, and adjusting the platen itself, I’m still not getting an impression. I haven’t given up yet, it might just be more platen adjustment.

More to come when I’ve made any more discoveries or headway. I appreciate everyone’s response and help…