Yard long pipe cleaners?? (Miehle v36)

Any better ideas on how to team out the vacuum lines on my good old 1920s Miehle V36?
The vacuum is just not strong enough to carry a 100# sheet reliably and there doesn’t seem to be enough suck on the feedtable.
The sheet will either drop before it gets to the table or will fly past the gripper bar into the form!
I’ve got the #4 suction in place. Have tried a 3rd suction as well, but then get no pickup at all. Pumps seem fine-lots of blast.
Seems like it would make sense to try reaming out those lines after 80 years, no?


Ps got new rollers and figured out why the vibrator wasn’t contacting them-the latch post is quite worn out!! Duct tape over the post gets it all tight for now!

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I have cleaned out oil lines with metal guitar strings. For larger I.D. tubing, there are cleaning kits, available through aquarium supply places (a small brush on a long felxible body, to clean lines in water filtration systems). Also make sure the connections are tight with no leakage.
Sometimes it is easier to replace the lines, if your hardware store has plastic tubing with thick walls. Thin wall tubing can crimp at a bend.

Hi, Peter and Parallel—

A few thoughts. I’ve blown out lines on a V-50, using a compressor, which seemed stronger than the built-in blast connection at the feeder. Solvent might help, but gas is too dangerous and kerosene too oily. Jack Beall may have new or rebuilt pumps, if they prove to be needed. As I recall, under the pump is a set of reed valves to check. If you replace the tubing, try to find oil-proof tubing.

Long ago, an old printer told me that the number 3 suckers were actually stronger than the number 4 suckers—that is, that the ascending order in suction is 1, 2, 4, 3, then rubber, and rubber “plunger” types. I think that’s true based on my experience. But sometimes I think there’s a fair amount of “superstition” involved in Miehle feeding—moving the suckers back and forth, changing the curve and inclination of the stock, bending wires. I’ve never had much luck trying three or four suckers instead of two, but sometimes I use unlike suckers to good effect: I understand that pressure or suction is supposed to be everywhere the same in a system, yet the press seems consistently to have a weak side.

Hope I’ve said something that helps you. Brian

pfraterduce,since you have a v-36 there are piston airpumps on the back of the press their rings might be
worn.You can oil them with light weight vacume oil. Open up the air lines and blast them with compressed air,open up the petcock below the feeder when you do this.Make sure none of your flex airhoses colaspe during sucktion cycle and you might try 3, # 2 suckers. There are also telescoping plunger suckers for heavy stock. best james

Many thanks for the tips!!
I’m hoping to get this old bird flying soon!

BTW, if anyone can use some brand new 1.75” diameter Miehle rollers from Advance (I thought I needed narrower, now back to 2”!) I’d be happy to recover some of the cost….

Telescoping suckers?
Sounds interesting. I sure can’t see how I can feed anything but a smooth wove or coated stock given the current setup…

I’ll see if Jack Beale can provide these…



The popular story is that the pistons for the V-36 pumps are Model T pistons. Leastwise, that’s what I’ve heard, though I don’t know if the specs are the same for both—if they are, then there’s another source of rings.

pfraterdeus, just a thought… I have a v50x and last year I had the same problem, just too weak of suction, after trying everything else I tore apart the valve body located under the ink fountain. It was so impacted with paper dust and oil there simply wasn’t any room for the press to move air to asperate. It took a couple of hours but was well worth it. It isn’t necessary to remove the valves per say, just split the body and DIG out the years of DIRT. Yes I would be interested in buying a couple of your 1 3/4 diam. rollers. Are they Rubber or Urathane? thanks, Carl. cell 1 559 730-1596, located in California, Pacific time.

Just to let you know… if you’re going through plastic or rubberized tubing, you’ll have issues with using solvents as it will degrade the interior surfaces (potentially leading to flaking) if it’s not oil-safe. Replacing lines with fuel line tubing, while thick-walled, will allow for cleaning with petroleum-based solvents.

If you’re still looking for a way to clean out the lines and need something over 3 feet long and the line is at least 3/8” ID (this works great for metal lines), go to your music store and buy a cleaner brush for a trombone. Spit-sludge cakes up in those all the time. If you’re just looking to WIPE through the lines, get a cleaner-drop for a bassoon. Basically it’s a wad of lint-proof cloth stitched to the end of a string that has a metal weight on the other end. Drop the weight down the tube, weight comes out the other end, pull the string to drag the pad through. That’s used for lots of woodwind instruments to clean spittle out of them after use.

For metal lines, a box full of BB shot and a little stub of metal rod to drive it through works wonders - like cleaning out bent oil lines for pressure-feed lubrication in a large engine or mechanical assembly, or even getting the gak out of your oil-burning furnace’s delivery line to keep from clogging the filter. Pour the BBs or ball bearings (the closest you can get to the ID of the tube/pipe) and ram them through with the stub rod. There shouldn’t be any curves too tight for the BBs or ball bearings, as if there are that would indicate a constriction in the tube and that it is improperly fit and should be replaced anyway.

At any rate, hope these ideas help. My main forte is in maintenance and restoration of antique equipment and am just getting into letterpress stuff. You’d be surprised how many times little tricks like this come up in repairing equipment.

Tim Fuller

Tim, thanks very much for the great descriptions!
I expect there are many such conditions in many presses ;-)
I like the BB idea for sure!

I’m assuming that Orange based solvent would work pretty well for these lines, although, that’s (in my mind) more to make sure there’s no oil in the line, rather than gunk removal, which surely will require some physical scrubbing (or BBs!)

Carl, I answered your inquiry about the rollers privately.
Thanks also for the thoughts about the valve assembly.
I’ve had the cover off it once or twice, thinking that after 80 years (well at least 50 years of service) the cams have probably worn enough to merit some adjustment of the riders there. Certainly it seems like the vacuum lets the sheet drop before it ought to.
However, cleaning is a less invasive procedure, and as you say will probably be well worth the effort!


pfratedeus,I would think twice about ramming bb’s down
your airlines, you’re not cleaning a blunderbuss. The lines
have a couple of 90degree turns and they should be 3/8
in diameter. Carls advice is sound. james

Indeed. Not really intending to try the BB trick, but it’s certainly a good option in an appropriate situation.

I’m going to dig into the valve shortly!

Thanks all!


Hi, Carl, I’m attempting to split the valve case, having removed six screws which seem to be all there are holding the valve cage to the top of the air chamber.
However, it’s apparently sealed on there with 80 years of ink and crud. I’ve drenched the screw holes with breakfree solvent, been banging around the perimeter edge with a ball-peen and chisel, but hesitate to whack any more for fear of damaging the piece.
Are there just the six screws holding it together, or am I missing something??


Thanks All!


Looks like there are 8 more screws where the seam is “stuck” which makes sense, since there wouldn’t be another way of keeping that sealed. Leastwise they look like screws (socket head cap screws). If you have to pound on a casting, get a nice chunk of lead, it is a “deader” strike and less likely to make something bread. Old toasted stereo(plate)s are good for this.

Hi. Mike
I’ve removed the screws completely.
In the photo I’d left the lower set (along the seam) in loose, since I didn’t know if there would be spring tension in the box. Not.

There are only six screws on the top of the seam, four on the corners, and two visible next to values 1&2.
Or are you saying there are other screws I’m not seeing?
Many thanks!


No, I don’t think so, just didn’t know if the lower 8 were tight.

I dug out the parts book to figure out the problem and it appears the rocker arms are attached to the valve stems with pins (rather like automotive valves). There are also 8 more cap screw on the bottom of the air manifold. Now I don’t know if undoing those screws will let you lift off the rockers arms with valves on them (maybe) or if you should find a valve spring compressor and pull the keys so you can remove the rocker arms and tend to the actual valves separately.

The offending pin for the valve springs is part 105 of page 24 of the parts book. The Boxcar Press PDF doesn’t show it very well, but there they are.

Curious what you find out!

PETER, 1) disconect all the air lines from the valve body. 2) Remove the valve body from the press. 3) On my presses (V50X’s) there are 8 Allen Bolts holding the top of the valve assembly to the center of the assembly, and 8 more holding the bottom plate to the center assembly. 4) once you have it appart you should find all sorts of CRUD. 5) clean all parts, reassemble and put it back on the press. 6) there is one final setting, there is an adjustment between the rockers and the valve stem top, going by memory it was .001 on one of them and .002 on the other 2. I wrote this down on one of my presses valve body covers, if you need this info, I would be happy to go look for it for you. Verts are great presses once you get used to it you will love it. Carl.

Mike, Carl

Thanks much. I’m going to try to get this done this week, as I’ve got pretty much zilch in the shop right now in the way of paying work! So a good chance to dig in!

I’ll send a postcard when I get there ;-)


well, I’ve managed to clean about a quart of slimy crud out of tthe vacuum line leading to the feed table. that was clearly a major culprit, at least as far the feed table. I also cleaned out the valve chamber, nice and shiny in therre now.
All went back together very nicely, indeed.
HOWEVER, while I’ve now got very strong suction at the moment the sheet is picked up, the suction drops completely well before the sheet is pulled across the feed table.
I’m now back to wondering if the timing on the valves has been thrown off by wear on the cams???
There’s lots of suction in the system at this point… I’ll bee checking again for leaking lines, but it all seems tight up to the point that the sheet just drops from the suckers!!

BTW, I was unable to remove the top of the valve chamber, even after the bolts were out, as it appears the valves themselves are holding the top to the main chamber. However, it all seems clean and as I said, plenty of suction and blast.
Carl, thanks for the tip on the vale spacing I will find my feeler gauge and check on that next! As noted, I think it may well be in the timing there.

Ay ay ay.
This thing is wearing me thin.
I took the air-pump off the press today, checking for leaks, and excess gunk. No problems to speak of… other than getting the pistons back in the cylinders (the old-style V36!)
Ended up using a loop of 12 gauge insulated wire as a ring clamp, twisting the wire with a small vise-grip… All back in place, all pumping away, and I still can’t feed a full sized (13x19) sheet of 100# cover.
I know this would be the ‘edge case’ for the press, but SHOULD it be able to pick this stock up, and deliver it to the feed table??

The sheet will pick up a half-inch only to drop off the suction feet before it moves over the table.

I can more or less feed a stack of legal size copy paper, but how exciting is that? Not very. I need to be able to move real paper, like Strathmore Cover, RIves, Cranes, etc. through this press, and ledger sized plus, if possible. Maybe it just ain’t possible with an old V36 and I wasted all the effort to get it in the door, etc etc etc?

Oh well. When I have a dollar, I’ll get a Heidelberg cylinder.


Time for another beer or two.


Try a #4 in the center of the sheet and #2 about 1/2” in from each end. but look at the stock to see if there is a wavy edge, if so adjust the suckers for high spots. I have also had to wedge the outside edges of the stock so they are a bit higher than the center. You have to play and experiment with air, suckers, paper placement on the feed table ( be sure it is not binding as it is lifting) as there is no sure fire set up that works everytime.

Hmmmm. I guess I’ll admit my ignorance of Vertical suckers, but were I running a sheet like this, I would see if there is any flex in the stock—if the stock is really stiff (grain across the cylinder) I would be more inclined to run with two suckers with the built in rubber suckers. If I was dealing with really porous stock, I would possibly add a center sucker, but might not have good luck getting it to feed. Less suckers yields more suction per sucker.

In any instance I would set the side blowers to give me at least three to five sheets of seperation and the center blower to give at least three sheets, I would check that the side standards are not binding and I would wedge up the rear corners of the pile, though sometimes I’ve had to wedge the sides of the pile roughly 1/3 of the way back from the side blowers. Also, setting the rear standards can be an art form, as they must not bind, but not let the sheet fall back too far (from blowers) or that will mess up register.

If you have a vacuum gauge, it would be interesting to put that on the pump supply line and see how much vacuum you are pulling. I take it the press provides vacuum timing sufficient to move a sheet from the feeder pile to the register board-so that probably isn’t the issue. I suspect I would be fighting to move a maximum size sheet as well, even on a V-50.

Hope you can get it to settle down.

OK! I bought a set of “BigFoot” sucker feet from NA Graphics, and the BigFoot does the job! Excellent!!
Feeding 110# Cover 12”x19” perfectly.

Now I’ve got a problem with the pickup fingers. The whole pickup bar seems to be slightly off parallel so that the fingers at the right side of the press are just enough too far back that the tabs on the pickup don’t always push the sheet clear of the last gripper, and it catches and rips the whole corner off the sheet as it pulls clear!!

I don’t see any obvious way to adjust the parallel of the pickup bar… maybe I’ll just have to bend those tabs out a bit. Not much would be needed.

Any thoughts?

No, don’t dinker with the delivery pick up fingers. The only time these should be bent about is if there are tension issues with the delivery fingers not holding the sheet. There is an adjustment, but I can’t remember where it is, however it involves adding shims at one point in the deliver motion.

If someone has the technical manual distributed by Speed Gray some years back, it might indicate in there how to adjust for this. Wish I could answer that question better, as I know I’ll be facing the same problem down the road.

You either have to be desperate or crazy to try this, but it worked for me. The delivery fingers on my v-36 were not square with the cylinder when I got my press. The fingers on the drive side of my press came to the cylinder before the fingers on the operators side.
The first thing you have to do is determine which end of the gripper bar is in time with the press. Be absolutely sure which arm you want to move. The arms are not pinned or keyed to the shaft that moves them. The arms are just held in position by the caps that are bolted to the bottom of the arm.
In my case I wanted to move the arm on the drive side away from the cylinder. I loosened the cap bolt closest to the bed 1/2 turn, then I tightened the cap bolt close to the drive shaft 1/2 turn. This moved the arm away from the cylinder. After a lot of tinkering I was able to square the gripper bar with the cylinder.
Also, on the arm on the operators side there is a cam which adjusts the timing of the closing of the grippers at the cylinder. I had to adjust that to get my press to feed.
Good Luck


Hi, all—

There is a cam at the top of the frame on the operator side that opens the press cylinder grippers at the top of cylinder travel. I have sometimes shimmed it more to see if I could get the gripper buttons to rise higher, to avoid that tearing problem. Sometimes the stock can be run out of center to avoid a problem gripper. Sometimes a problem cylinder gripper can simply be removed.

I shim the delivery grippers when I run closed manila file folders by sliding a length of 2-point steel “leading” between the flat bar atop the delivery grippers and the mounts of the individual grippers. It will “work” out during the run; make sure it doesn’t hit the frame of the press as the delivery operates. This steel material is available from Bar-Plate, and others I suppose; or something else could be improvised. For reliable delivery of heavy stock I sometimes rubber-band the back gate to the standards so that the stock doesn’t push the back gate away, failing to deliver.

Best wishes, Brian