inking on windmill


we’ve been printing letterpress for a few years now. we’ve always used our trusty c&p’s and our poor windmill has gathered dust while it waited for a new motor. well, now it has the new motor, so we’re trying to get ‘er going! we’ve gotten pretty much everything figured out, except for an issue we suspected we might have…

when we print on our c&p, we throw the lever off between each print to allow the plate to double ink in order to achieve a nice solid, even coverage. with the windmill, that’s not an option, obviously. we had it up and running today and the first print looks great, but the subsequent prints are too light. we’ve tried adding ink, but the color is not holding up enough still. what are we doing wrong?

we have two rubber rollers running along the metal inking roller (i’m pretty sure i just butchered the name of that part). we’re not using the ink fountain because our runs are usually pretty short. are there additional rollers we should be using?

i’ve attached a photo of the press with brown ink on it so you can sort of see the set up.

suggestions? thanks!

image: Photo 7.jpg

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I have not used a windmill but on Kluges i have just turned the feed on and off to allow the rollers to cross the type twice for better coverage. can you do that?

It is possible (with a good bit of practice) to skip-feed a windmill—I’ve been doing it for many years for the exact same reason—short runs and good coverage without overinking. The way it works is that you keep the left hand on the vacuum knob (the one that activates the suction for the feeder) and the right hand on the impression lever. Then it’s a matter of developing the coordination required. You pull OFF the suction when you pull ON the impression and you push ON the suction when you push OFF the impression. It will take a bit of time to get into the rhythm of it but I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results. Hope this helps,

You picture doesn’t seem to show a rubber roller riding on top of the inking drum and with the metal oscillating roller on top of the rubber roller. When not using the fountain you should be using three rubber rollers. Also, there is a ductor roller that can be bolted onto the roller carriage that is in contact with the form roller to prevent ghosting - but also carries more ink.

OK, I was thinking that we weren’t using sufficient rollers, it seems as though there are some empty slots hanging around. So, from what you’re saying, it sounds like we’re missing three rollers? One on top of the inking drum, a third rubber roller (where does this go? and is the same as the two we already have on there?) and a ductor roller. If you happen to have a photo or can take one with the proper roller setup, that would be a huge help. I assume NA Graphics will carry all of these additional rollers?

I really would hope we don’t have to skip feed, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the windmill? It was one of my concerns with this press though since we do skip feed our C&Ps.


The roller that is missing is the same as a form roller and it drops into the vertical slot above the inking drum. The metal oscillating roller rocks forward and down and rides on the rubber roller and is held down by the two spring loaded hold downs that swing into place and into the recesses on the oscillating roller. Your form rollers count as two rollers and then the roller on top. If you use the fountain that would use a fourth rubber roller and they are all the same as the form rollers. Make sure the oscillator roller turns freely and you may need to oil it on each end - not too much so that it doesn’t drip onto the inking rollers.

ok, we’ll give that a try! thanks.

Definately invest in the parts described above, and you should have good results.
I too have done skip feeding in the windmill, but it is very rarely necisarry. When properly setup, you should get good results.
When ordering from NA graphics, see if they have a manual for your windmill, or you can download a pdf of it from boxcar:

It should have plenty of pictures and illustrations that can give you a visual on what your press should look like, as well as tips on how to use the other accesory rollers that you can aquire.
good luck :)

Updated. It’s true that skip feeding isn’t needed on a correctly set up press, but at my shop where we must (unfortunately) keep an eye on the clock, it comes in handy on the short runs. Significant time is saved not having to set up and adjust the ink fountain and subsequently washing it up. Skip feeding is just another trick of the trade that with time can play an important role. But first, order those rollers and manual and learn to use your fountain correctly, and figure out skip feeding later. The shortcuts will come naturally when you get the experience under your belt.

I had a pretty large coverage area on a RSVP last week and the skip feeding took a bit of practice. Before long I was pulling and pushing with the left and right hand. I did use the rider roller. It worked out great. I agree on long runs it would be a workout.

almondine2, I dont want to sound to critical.The ink train
was designed to be adhered to. So when its not, your going to make problems for yourself. Also from the picture your lock up is sloppy. james

Talk about a workout! Besides two 10x15’s we also have a 13x18. It should have three form rollers but has never had the third. Sometimes I have to skip feed the 13x18 and it does become a challenge. While we’re on the subject of inking it seems that ink tends to get heavier toward the right side of the drum and rollers. That’s without the fountain being used. (10x15) I had to sheet off some of the ink but lightly adding some towards the left side. Any ideas? We are planning on getting the fountains back into operation as we have some rather large runs coming up.

lock up looks ok to me must be on of those neet freaks. Couldn’t help but notice the lines in the ink drum and the roller lockout but no foil draw. Are there wires for a foil unit rubbing aginst the drum. You can pull those numbered plates on each side of the chase clip out (just spring clips, pop right up) and look underneath the drum. All the windmills I have ever seen with lockouts were foilers so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but they run the wire harness for the heaters and the thermistor under the drum on top off the oil pump and the wires have a tendence to rub on that. Had to mess with one of my plugs the other day and still trying to find a spot were the heater wire is happy.
ps want a real chalange, try running with only one gripper bar.

Lock ups should use two adjacent quoins to the form,basicly one parallel and one perpendicular as to clamp in 2 directions for a secure lock up. I must be blind as I only see a one quoin lock up,from the photo.Must be my “neetness”. One quoin lock ups are sloppy. A Parachute Jumper has 2 chutes, One main chute and one reserve chute, just in case the main fails. Being careless
is ones own personal choice,like running a windmill with
one gripper bar. For real challenges, logic and safety come to mind.Best James

Kind of wondering how you do that with a factory heat plate full of heaters or for that matter cross perfs, scoreing, 2up numbering 8 1/2x11 carbonless paded on the 11” side, or many other things a working trade letterpress driver does everyday.
As far as safety goes with the single lock if something gets loose a person might see it in the printing before life gets really sucky. If one of those coins and its associated furnature falls out while the press is running, the form being held firmly by the second lockup probable isn’t going to make things any less ugly. To each his own I belive the least amount of stuff in there that gets the job done. the smaller the mess if it does go bad. In 28 years and a lot of impressions I have never had a single lockup done with chalange hi speed coins get away. I have had some wierd multiple lockup, build a cutting die in the chase, forms fall apart, but always when I was moving them, never when in a running press. Guess I’m just lucky.