Serious Gauge Pins

Looks like Two Paper Dolls is using some serious alternative to gauge pins:

Anyone have any idea what these are? Looks like they are made from blue anodized aluminum…


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Now if you could only combine them with the double grip way of holding them to the tympan.

They look amazing. Any idea how much they cost?
and click on “Low Profile Adjusto Guides”
How’s about spending a part of your kid’s inheritance….$185.50 set of three, that’s…One hundred eighty-five and 50/100 Dollars!

Bar plate guides I have 3 sets of 3 and use them all the time. One of the best invesments ever made.

Anyone have experience using these with the boxcar base?


Crikey! Won’t be investing in any of those anytime soon!

Do these work with Boxcar plates (deep relief) or will they get crushed?

Depends what you mean ‘work.’ Like any other gauge pin, yes, they ‘work’ but they need to be set outside of the base area.

Deep relief plates are something like .060” under type high if I remember correctly. You will need to find gauge pins slimmer than .060” to use inside the base area. I think The Excelsior Press makes some of these for the chase-bases they make, but they’re not nearly as useful as these Bar Plate guides.

To use any gauge pin with a boxcar base, just make sure you have 3/8” margin on the two edges of your paper feeding into the gauge pins and set your plate in the bottom corner of the base. The gauge pins will end up not contacting the base and you’ll still have enough room to use the very useful register function of these gauges.

Well now, be careful with the use of the term “ANY gauge pin”… I use Megill Flexible Gauge Pins 99% of the time, and they work perfectly within the boxcar base. They don’t get crushed and I don’t need to worry about setting them outside the base area.

I was just wondering if these Bar Plate guides were also capable of this, but assuming it was not the case.

Yes, there are pins that you can use anywhere in the base area, but you don’t need to be careful using the word ‘any.’ Using the method described above, ‘any’ gauge pin can be used with any size and height of base assuming the base is correctly sized for your press (if the base occupies the entire chase you are SOL)

Do you think it would be possible to make up a set similar to these using that flat magnetic plastic sheet stuff they put on the back of fridge magnets? As I recall that stuff comes in varying degrees of magnetic strength.

Megahurt, Where can you get these Megill Flexible Gauge Pins? I’ve looked all over and cant find any.

I have also been very interested in these Megill Flexible Gauge Pins!! Please share.

i think that Excelsior Press in New Jersey has those pins for sale.

We’ve sent email to Excelsior Press, but no response…

Check out a new pin design which allows positioning anywhere within the footprint of the base is available niw from NA Graphics.

The pins are repositionable and reusable, and I have been using them for about 6 months with success.

John Henry

John I also use these pins with great success, wonderful gauge but you do have to run them out side your base area.

Hey Inkandhammer:

I think jhenry means these:

These gage pins are described as…

“The new Henry Compressible Gage pin is designed to be used with photopolymer plates mounted on bases that do not allow enough room for setting regular gauge pins in the area of the base. For small image areas or smaller sizes of paper, or for tight register to the edge of a plate, the Henry Gage will allow feeding of the paper stock on the platen without the possibility of crushing a gage pin or damaging an expensive base. These have a peel off adhesive backing for attaching the gage pin to the tympan. The adhesive will allow for repositioning of the gage pin to achieve register. There are 12 pins to a package.”

These are available at NA Graphics at $10.00/dozen.

Has anybody out there used these and have comments?

That’s right, I should have indicated that you should read down to the bottom of the page I linked.

There have only been a few people testing them as of this point. Fritz just added them to his web page this week.

John Henry

Those are great and all, but why pay 10 dollars for some when you can get the same thing by using stuff you may already have…. If you’re like me, there are scraps of some leftover 2 or 4 pt museum board, double stick adhesive that’s used to mount photopolymer plates, and a little super glue (to stiffen the feeding end of the board, before you put the adhesive on the back).

Just set your cutter to 1”, chop some 1” squares of museum board so it has a nice straight edge (I use rising which I already print with on the platen), superglue one edge to harden it up (sparingly- just enough to stiffen it, not form globs, wipe if you’ve used too much), let it dry and then stick them to a piece of scrap pressure sensitive adhesive leftover from the last set of plates you made (wait, you make your own polymer plates, right?).

I use these same guides to position screenprints on my handfed Svecia (I know, I know, not a letterpress- whatever!), and have also used them with great success on the C&P Model N (use the 2 point, which is .030 thick, for thinner stocks where the packing is a little thick so the 4 pt, which is .060, doesn’t bottom out at all).

Another pro-tip?
Go to a craft store or art supply store (or find it online) and purchase some clear mylar stickerpaper, then take a bit of talcum powder and rub your fresh sheet of tympan with it (to absorb excess oil); apply the stickerpaper your whole sheet of Tympan before mounting it on the platen- What you will have now is a cleanable, solvent resistant surface that really is a bit more durable than straight tympan, too, and is much more receptive to adhesives than oiled tympan ever has been for me.
Also- this way you can reposition your guides, too, without ripping your tympan apart if the adhesive clings too much. I have also had good success with using it to carefully hinge makeready flaps of tissue and such into place on the platen (sometime I’ll post pics of this for those who do not understand what this means or how it’s being done in this case- I’m not sure how to verbally explain).

Oh wow Stanislaus Pekala and jhenry I did not scroll to the bottom of the page! Those look to be pretty cool! I wish those were on NA site the other week when I ordered stuff, I just had a customer come to me with already cut down paper and had to order her some new paper because it just wasn’t going to work. I could have tried these out!

Thanks for the heads up on those, I might just get a set to try!

re: Another pro-tip?

why do that instead of just using mylar as a topsheet?

And why use oiled tympan if you’re going to do that? Why not just a piece of bond paper cut to size?

I find mylar to slip and dent at the creases and when it goes under the bales sometimes it pops out when I try to adequately stretch it. On my Vandercooks, I also find it to slip out from behind the gripper bar, and if I feel like I’ve made enough tension on the reel to hold my packing in place/flatten out the tympan- I also find the mylar will pop and stress apart over time. Essentially, I have found it to be too brittle on it’s own, the frosted kind particularly (something with the mfring process maybe?); I swear I’ve had better luck with tympan gripping than mylar. So, I coat my topsheets with sticker paper and gauge it into the packing. I also just charge the customer for the sticker paper unless I’m printing something for myself ;)

Also, the sticker paper I get is inexpensive and I buy pretty big sheets of it. I like that I can choose to hinge it up during the makeready phase if I put a plastic barrier sheet down, then and place some tissue pieces right onto the adhesive, thus cutting glue out of my equation when approaching any complicated pressure related makeready.

I prefer the oiled tympan to bond paper because it is more durable and is also calipered to an appropriately flat tolerance (as evidenced by inspecting with a packing gauge), and is thicker than your typical coverstock. It doesn’t compress as much under pressure.

(Also, because I came into a large supply of topsheets when I bought my C&P Model N. I got about 300 topsheets with it, so I’m not running out anytime soon…..)

I’ve never had the mylar slip on a vandercook. I’ve found I always need a bit of tape at the end to attach it to the reel rod, then when I tighten it it wraps around itself and stays tight. It’s a little more annoying to do it that way then to just use paper which creases more easily and tightens on itself better, but the other benefits of the mylar outweigh that.

I’ve never tried using mylar on a platen press.

I use Duralar (a cheap Mylar variant) on both Vandercook and Heidelberg cylinder, but would never use it on my platen which requires gauge pins. However, on a platen with lays such as Windmill or Kluge, and no need to slit the topsheet, it is possible, if you can control static.
On the cylinders, I carefully score the bend, and put cellulose photographer’s tape on the hem; there is no slippage then unless I go overboard on tightening the reel. Feel is part of the process in tightening a reel: tap the tail, tap the surface, examine the bend, watch for the slighest slip. If you aren’t doing that, don’t blame your materials.

on the Western proofing press-licensed copy of Vandercook 4 -I asked a mate to make(to replace a lost one) a thin bar with spikes on that locate into coned holes in the drawsheet securing bar, so this really spikes and holds the mylar in place…not sure if this unique to Westerns or do all Vandercooks have this??

Parallel_imp and widmark,

I typed that up pretty late. The reel rod is the part where the creases and denting are a huge problem, and the fact that the mylar doesn’t wind around it without tape is another thing I take issue with as well- I don’t like adhesives on metal and scrubbing to remove and slippage, but I sorta like parallel’s solution of the photographer’s tape; it didn’t occur to me to try that, should I ever want to use Duralar (which I keep a roll of around for screenprinting register checking and litho register checking on hand-printed plates and stones).

I also should have mentioned though, that for some reason it always seemed that I could put less tension on the actual tympan packing than on the mylar, and get a flatter/tighter draw. What I mean is that I have to try and ratchet the reel rod a tooth or two longer before I see the mylar is really stretched and the undersheets lay flat against the cylinder. This causes some slippage wherein the mylar would come out of the clamp between the gripper bar and the cylinder- no matter what I tried. I used thick and thin mylars and had the same problem.

Maybe one of these days I’ll try winding the duralar around the No. 4 again, but for now the stock of stickerpaper is doing a good trick for me.


My vandercook No. 4 has grooves/score marks that run the length of the gripper bar assembly, and correspond with grooves which are similarly engraved on the cylinder. These do a pretty good job of gripping things; but out of the 3 Number 4’s that I’ve had the pleasure of examining/using, I’ve not come across spikes as you describe. Maybe it’s quite useful though!

@havenpress said Those are great and all, but why pay 10 dollars for some when you can get the same thing by using stuff you may already have….

Because many of us don’t want to spend time re-inventing the wheel. We’d rather be printing. John Henry has done us all a great service by making these. $10 is little enough to pay for a great product.

Hi Haven—-just confirming-thin bar with spikes locates into holes drilled into takeup reel rod/ bar..grooves at gripper edge like the Vandercook as you say.

@MarjorieAPA722 stated
Because many of us don’t want to spend time re-inventing the wheel. We’d rather be printing. John Henry has done us all a great service by making these. $10 is little enough to pay for a great product.

“We’d rather be printing” lol.
So would I, and I’d rather not spend 6.00 plus shipping on someone else’s product when it’s available in my shop RIGHT NOW.
10 dollars is triple what I would pay for using what some of you may already have in your shop/wouldn’t consume anyhow if you mostly do make your own plates as I do- No offense to John, but since you commented on his product’s worth/value, I actually think it’s a needless product in most cases. The same thing can be duplicated easily again and again and is available at your local staples in some way or another. Hell, it probably already existed and is being re-packaged/purposed and sold through the convertor. I’d like to know how much R&D went into them little squares.

By the way- Using the leftover trimmed pieces from stickyback that would have been trashed (strips that are too small for plates), to produce what is essentially the same thing as his ‘product’ is hardly ‘reinventing the wheel’. More like recycling and keeping things out of the landfill where possible.

In response to the compressible gauge pins idea.

I make my own very quickly using photopolymer. I simply ask Boxcar to leave the trim edge on the plates they send (thus it’s thicker). I also use scraps from plate I make. The adhesive for photopolymer is super strong and ‘infinitely’ reusable as long as you put the backing back on.

This means I can use my sticky gauge pins many times before making new ones. Takes about three minutes to make, and it’s essentially free, since I had to order the plate anyway.

What I do is cut a bit of the thicker photopolymer (the untrimmed, exposed edges I ask Boxcar to leave on), and then I take a thinner strip (washed out) of photopolymer and use a snippet of their adhesive backing to attach it halfway onto the the thicker strip (this creates the overhang that holds the paper in place)

I love it, and they never smash. Plus, I can reuse them tons of times and make them different lengths to suit awkwardly shaped paper. I can create a whole “shelf” pin for the bottom of the paper and prevent any slipping. I can make the overhang taller or shorter to hold heavy paper in better also.

Hope it works for someone else out there! I learned it from an article Boxcar did.

Oh, and another note. The nice thing is I don’t have to stick it through my tympan paper and slowly ruin sheets. I usually put mylar as my top sheet but have stuck these straight to tympan as well - as long as you peel them off slowly they don’t seem to damage the typman paper - though their stickiness will fade quicker.

Panthera- I am using the same adhesive for the situation described above- difference being that the stock I use is paper, and so it is ‘compressible’ should it be hit by a plate. Yours is a good idea too!



And you have said in the past that I am “starting shit”. ;) lol

Each to his own. It seems that many folks do not have the out of the box / engineering type thinking or desire to solve the problem. Just like some people pay someone else to mow the lawn or iron shirts.

Regardless, there are many ways to skin the cat. We have a set of the Bar Plate guides and love them. I use them on our C&P and our Vandercook for an operator side guide (this idea came from Gerald Lange). They give you the same micro adjustment capability we have on our Heidelbergs and Kluge.

@havenpress. Mark. Nobody’s going to convince you, because it wasn’t your very own idea. I can see that. But I have my first package of Henry Compressible Pins right here, and I am very impressed with the simple elegance of the design. You can use what you like, but don’t run down what you have not seen and/or used. And BTW, good for John if he did recycle!

I can hardly wait to try the gage pins. I’ve smashed a couple in my day, and also smashed a sort or two I could ill afford, so these look to be the perfect solution. Rock on, John!

PantheraPress and HavenPress

Um, yeah.


Yeah, Bar Plate rules. One of these days I am going to buy that torque speed quoin key. Maybe.


Gerald- you mean a torque (limiting) wrench for quoins? :-?


Yeah, Bar Plate has this speed quoin key that is limited by torque.

Someone once asked what the limitation of a speed quoin might be on Letpress and someone worked out something based on a bathroom scale. I mentioned that Bar Plate had already such a limited toeque quoin based on industry standards and boy did I get dumped on. By friends of the bathroom scale method (didn’t even know there was such a group). I was completely shocked. :—) Ah, Letpress. No longer a member.


hahahahahaha good story Gerald.
I’m more familiar with those wrenches from bicycle wrenching and the torque limits of carbon fiber parts.

Didn’t know about the barplate quoin key, but it is not a first. Cornerstone made a ClickTite quoin key that could not be over-tightened. AWT sold them in the US. Unfortuneately, they were square-shank, useable only on Cornerstone and Wickersham quoins (and Notting and Hancock and others).


Well, during the back and forth I did mention that Bar Plate provided the technical specifications. Okay, that really added fuel to the fire. Then it was how you can’t trust technical specifications. I’m thinking, what? you are using a rigged bathroom scale to measure torque. Lost that one by a mile.


look at this - someone answered all our prayers!