Poor inconsistent impression

I had a plate made at owosso for the wedding invitations I am working on. This is my first run on my kelsey 5/8. The plate is approx 4x6 and the proof looks just fine but it is printing really inconsistently. I am looking for a deep impression and it does not even pick up half of the text on the plate. I move it around, adjust with some paper behind it in different spots, but it still randomly picks up only certain pieces of the entire plate. Like one edge will print deep, but then the top half won’t show at all, and there will be barely any impression on the bottom half..etc.etc!
Please help :-( These are for my sister’s wedding and I’m really unsure of what the problem is…

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First step: Is your platen level?

Second step: Take a good look at your prints. Are you getting impression but no ink?

There are several things that could be happening: platen out of alignment, too much packing, not pressing down all the way on the handle, plate not type high, rollers too high…

For deep impression, you first have to have an even impression. Take a breather and investigate one thing at a time….


Hey there ktlee! I cannot believe how similar our problems are. I’m printing my own invitations on my Kelsey 5x8, and it’s just shy of a nightmare. I designed an overall, 5x8 pattern and had Owosso plates made, but in order to get an even impression, after each press, before I peeled it off the plate, I would rub the back with my hand (not at all convenient) and even then it was spotty, but better.

Now I’m into the printing of the text plates which are smaller, use less ink, etc, and it’s going much better, but still not much of an impression. When I get home I’ll try to take some good close-up pics and attach them here for you to see.

I’ve messed with the packing, the screws on the back of the platen, and I think that ink plays a huge role as well—whether it’s too thick or too thin, etc.

It’s so hard! And just plain old card-stock does not take ink well at all. Nor does anything with any texture. Sadly, even the Crane Lettra I bought for my invitations.

Let me know if you have any luck or epiphanies!

Here’s a really good thread about this.

Others with more experience may be able to address this better but the first thing that stands out to me is that both of you are trying to print forms that are too large for the presses you’re using. A 5x8 press does not mean that a form that large can be printed, especially on a hand press, especially on a Kelsey, especially trying for a deep impression.

Bethyq notes that she got better results when the form was smaller and I think this shows the point I’m making. Also, the paper should not be left sticking to the form when the platen opens. Grippers should be used to keep it on the platen and pull it off the form if it has a tendency to stick.

I would check the platen adjustment and packing and I would do a proper makeready but I still think you will have problems printing a form that is almost as large as the chase can hold. This is a problem for any press, even a motorized job press.

rpolinski is absolutely correct…most presses work best with less than 1/2 of the area of the chase used to print (aka “the form”). I tell my students that 1/3 of the chase, whether filled with type or plates, will give you the best print.

bethyq mentioned ink issues: ink consistency should be something a bit thicker than mayonnaise. And it should make a “sssss” noise when your rollers run over the ink disk. A “ttttkkkk” noise means too much ink; no noise at all means too little ink.