Taping the rails with masking tape

Hi All —

I need to tape the rails of my Golding Jobber #6 in order to get everything type high.

I’ve decided on masking tape for now, since it’s so readily available and inexpensive, I may move to another method at a later date.

My question is…what’s the proper way of doing this?

I’ve read that you should stagger the tape, so the trucks almost have a ramp of tape to build up to. Do you have the highest piece of tape cover the length of the chase? I know the possibility exists for the left and right rail to need a completely different amount of tape, but for finer tweaking, is it a good idea to tape the trucks after taping the rails, or should I stick to having tape on just the rails? What’s the best way to go about making additional tweaks if adding to the rails isn’t enough?

Any guidance and/or email assistance (particularly this weekend!) would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!


Log in to reply   7 replies so far

Taping the rails would the best choice. Using your roller gauge would determine if more or less tape is needed. Don’t assume that staggering tape is a solution. You would need to check the roller hiegth on one side in a few places like a few inches from the top and a few inches from the bottom. Then on the opposite side. This should inform you how much tape is needed. I would think masking tape would very quickly compact. I have used a metal sticky back tape cut to the width of the rail.

Morgan trucks may be an option you could consider.

Inky Lips Letterpress
Mckinney, TX

My roller size did not match the truck diameter, so as a temporary measure, I taped my roller trucks with duct tape (I’m lazy, and it was easier to get to them than the rails).

Going to have some new trucks made soon…

I believe Kristina’s “staggering” is like this:

so the rollers hit only one layer at the top and bottom start to the tape to keep the rollers from bounching or catching on the start of the taped surface. This makes sense to me.

If using masking tape, make certain you check the height after running for a while as the masking tape will be a crepe surface which will flatten out in time. You may have to add another layer to account for the flattening over time.

You will want to trim the tape flush to the edges of the rails so that it doesn’t catch when you remove the chase from the bed.

Proper way to solve this is to install roller bearers in each end of chase. These are a medium gauge of steel or aluminum at a right angle with the height being .918. For lack of these you could substitute a heavy rule 24 point or larger (or a combination of smaller size rules) on each end of chase with the ends of the rules being filed round to keep them from tearing up the rollers. Placing tape on rails or roller trucks (trunnions) would probable subject you to immediate dismissal if you’re working in a commercial shop.

I use fiber-reinforced packing tape, I picked up a large 2” wide roll at the hardware store for $5. It seems to hold up well and it stands up to roller wash very well. I can get at least 3 rail-width pieces from a length of tape, so I think the large roll should do me for a long time. Immediate dismissal? I guess that’s one more reason that I’m glad I don’t work in a commercial shop anymore!

Roller bearers have a very limited effect on roller height, depending on the roller’s hardness, but a significant effect on roller travel, and so reduce slurring or wiping. Taping the tracks is an effective, controlled, repeatable way to adjust roller height when the problem is low tracks. Off-size trucks are a different problem and they should be re-sized (taped when smaller, replaced when larger). These things are pretty simple when you learn how to look and to measure.
Roller bearers also complicate printing of large sheets since grippers and pins must clear them, and packing must be cut back or ink on the top-sheet may foul the sheet you are printing. Tape is so much simpler.
Personally I alternate layers of .005” white drafting tape and .0025” frosted tape; alternating layers make it much easier to peel back where needed for a specific form (and I regularly strip them and start fresh). Photopolymer benefits from a lighter setting than metal and if you print both, especially in mixed forms, then fine adjustment is a neccessity.
Back when our presses were newer and better maintained, and forms put together professionally from fresh type and plates, maybe, just maybe, in some shops taping would be a dismissable offense. It was certainly not an industry-wide standard, and with today’s worn eqiuipment, we need all the tools available to get results.

For what its worth - I bought an 8x12 platten press that had seen a lot of work and the previous owner’s solution to low (very low!) rail height was to attach a piece of hard harness leather to each rail! I have not as yet removed it as I have had no problems with it. Harness leather comes in a variety of thicknesses and is very solid and compact. I can’t tell if the flesh side is up or down as it has been smoothed over the years.