uneven inking on boxcar plates/platen press


I’m printing on an Arab treadle platen press (similar to a C&P, but a UK version) with a deep Boxcar base and their deep plates. This is the first time I’ve used these; I have previously printed with lead type on this press with no problems.

The problem began when I had to tape the rails in order to keep the rollers from hitting/inking my new base.

Having done that, when I take an impression, the ink is uneven: the bottom and top of the card have too much ink, while the middle has too little. I’ve done all kinds of different combinations of tape on the rollers, including using thin leads to help stabilize things, and I have tried taping the spots where it’s inking too much. Nothing is working.

I’m pretty sure it’s not the impression; it looks fairly even. And I’m pretty sure my platen and tympan are ok.

I’ve taken the base out and put it back in several times, trying various pressure levels on lockup. No change.

I tried using make-ready on the parts of the text that were too light, but that just resulted in too much impression in those areas.

I have printed with this press before using lead and got a very crisp, even impression on the first try.

I’ve done everything I know how to do and am now at a total loss. Can anyone help?

Please see the attached photo: the type is perpedicular to the rollers. This is an extreme…I had taped as much as I could to see if I still had the same problem when the rollers were barely hitting. (I did!)

Also, this Flickr photo shows how the ink is hitting at the top and bottom of the plate: http://flickr.com/photos/mmechinita/2192726401/

Oh yes, and the one thing I CAN say is that the uneven inking is very consistent. The too much/too little is always in the same spot, not moving.

Thanks for any advice!


image: Photo 345.jpg

Log in to reply   7 replies so far

I’ve had the same problem before. but first, if the non-raised portions of your plates are still getting inked, you might still need to adjust your rollers. i noticed it’s only inking on one side of it- do you have the same amount of tape on both rails? it’s not surprising that you’d have to adjust your roller height when you started using the deep relief plates, by the way.

that aside, if you flip the plate and NOT the base, if you haven’t already, and keep everything else the same, you know it’s the plate and not your rollers, trucks, or press if it still doesn’t ink the same spots.

did you get a proof from boxcar when they sent the plate?


Thanks for this. I did have the same amount of tape on both rails.

But how do you account for the dip in ink level on the vertical axis?

I don’t *think* it’s the plate either, because I had a similar problem with the “v” (the red run) but because it didn’t cover a larger area it didn’t really show up as much.

I did get a proof; what should I be looking for?

How did you solve your problem? Is this something I’m going to have to deal with with every individual plate, or once I figure it out will it be smooth sailing?




I have had a similar problem on my Kluge. The only difference is that I use the standard base and plates. The problem I had was oil on the plate. Regular press wash did not solve the problem but Type wash cleaned up the plate nicely and it was smooth printing after that. If you don’t have type wash try Acetone. Use these hot solvents sparingly and wipe the plate clean with a dry rag right after using them. Use rubber gloves.
Repeated or prolonged use of these solvents may damage
your plate (and your health). If it does not help the first or second try, look for another cause of the problem.
Good luck.


sumner has a very good point… i’ll cross my fingers for you that that is the fix. still, if your rollers are inking parts of your plate that they shouldn’t be, you may need to add more tape still.

if your proof is good/even, then your plate is off the suspect list. i had a bad plate come without a proof once, and it inked much like yours is inking. there was no fix other than to get a new plate. they are very reliable though. once you figure out how to tweak everything just right you can count on consistency from plate to plate- no need to tear your hair out every time you get a new one. however, you’ll have to make your adjustments every time you go from type to your deep relief plates (or from deep relief to other plate types).

it sounds like your rollers and trucks are in good shape since they were performing before you switched, so hopefully your problem isn’t there.

After taking a look at your flickr-posted photos, It appears to me that at least one of your rollers must be not concentric with the shaft, or it could be the trucks. If you notice on the red printing picture, the roller is touching the plate after each revolution, indicating that the roller surface is being forced horizontally back and forth as it goes up and down the bed of the press. It is doubtful that this is caused by uneveness in the rails, which normally would wear evenly (unless tragically smashed).

You can check the rails for flatness by setting a straight edge against them and putting a light behind to see if light comes through at particular points (which would indicate low spots). You can do the same with the roller’s surface as well.

The roller surfaces look in good condition, so I would check to see that the trucks fit the shafts well, and are not being forced to one side of the roller shaft. It is possible that the rollers were made off-center on the shaft slightly. I have had composition rollers which demonstrated that flaw. Generally, “rubber” rollers are ground by being centered on the center of the shaft, so less often are a problem. If you find the trucks are not cenetered, you could stuff a shim of paper or string in the side which is high to even out the rotation.

Let us know what you discover to be the cause once you find it.

Hi Karen,

I not sure if you have check this yet (I havent read all of the replies and posts), but in the photo I noticed, I think you have rubber expansion trucks. I had a similiar problem, and it wound up being the trucks. Althought they apear even and a perfect circle, the rubber wheels were slowing being mis shapend by the pressure of sitting on the rails. I switched to plastic trucks…problems solved, even inking. That being said…I do not use my boxcar base/photopolym, as it was not giving me as crisp of an impression as mag and copper.

Hope that helps!

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I have had to resume my “day job” (clearly not printing, or I’d be horribly broke!) but will check all this out as soon as I have time and let you know what I find.

Thanks again for your time and thoughtfulness!