Inspection of a C & P before purchase.

I am a new (very new) letterpress printer and I am going tomorrow morning to look at a large C & P in a basement. I think the press is either an 8 x 10 or a 10 x 15. I think for a first, very uneducated look that it looks to be in decent shape. I’m attaching a really low quality photo so you can get an idea.

I am wanting to know some specific things to check tomorrow to try and judge the rough condition of the press. I am going to write down the serial number, which I believe is on the back of the platen? (Correct me if I’m wrong). I’m also going to measure the chase size and take some good quality photos of it. Measure the areas around it, the doorways, staircases etc… so I can plan how I might get it out of there.

Anyways, I know it is short notice, but I’d appreciate any tips you might have about what to look for.


Michelle B.
Articulate Ink Press

image: press.jpg


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Your serial number should be behind the chase i think its in the upper left corner of the bed of the press. You want to check the press for welds or breaks especially the platen, remove the top sheet and packing and make sure there is no welds. to measure your chase you measure the inside. Also with the chase out of the press close the press on impression (move the impression handle towards you) then grab the top of the platen and try to rock it, a very small amount of play is ok, but if it rocks this will mean the press is badly worn. Ask if there are extra chasses, also rollers and trucks ( trucks are little round things that go on the ends of your rollers, the press should have 3 rollers and 6 trucks), also quoins and a quoin key to lock your form in the chase, maybe some furniture. Hope this helps, good luck Dick G.

Dick is right about what to look for on the press. Something else you might want to do is take a tape measure and determine the sizes of any doorways and stairs you’ll have to navigate to remove the press. Hope for a walk-out basement with a double sliding door.. If not look for places to anchor a come-along at the top of the stairs. Even taken apart into smaller chunks, it is no picnic to get one of these up the stairs with muscle power alone. Newbies shouldn’t try to take heavy things up a stairs without someone with experience on hand to supervise at least.

You might say where you are located; there may be one of us nearby to assist.

It looks like a 10x15 in the photo. I believe these weigh in the vicinity of 1500 lbs assembled. If you have to go up stairs with it I’d say plan to take it apart to get the weight of the heaviest piece as low as possible. Removing the flywheel and its shaft will reduce the width considerably. But Arie is right — look for someone with experience moving such a press to help, or at least supervise, moving it. Cast iron requires special care.


Thanks for all your help it is much appreciated. I am in Regina, SK. Canada. I have an old prof of mine who is willing to be on the team for the removal of the press, and he has quite a bit of experience moving press and taking them apart and such, and I’ve found those detailed instructions on how to take it apart so I’m convinced that it’ll be a big, heavy job, but not impossible…

I’ll post what I find out if anyone is interested!

Thanks again,

Michelle B.

Hi again,

So I went and saw the press, and I believe it is a 12 x18. I thought that I found the serial number, but then when I went to check it with the guide it didn’t match up to anything… the number I found was 06897 and it is definitely an an old style press.

The press itself is in immaculate condition, really tight, still well lubricated, everything turns freely, the only thing I noticed that was missing was chase. Is this something that I could find with relative ease?

As for the removal of the press from the basement, it isn’t really the worst situation… it is most certainly going to have to get taken apart and hauled up the stairs in pieces, there are three doorways and two set of stairs that it would need to go up to get to the outside. The first doorways is 35”, the second is 33” and the doorways to the outside is 3’. The staircase is fairly wide, 43”. Does anyone know that width of a press like this when disassembled? Anyone know off hand if it will fit through these doorways?

The other hard part will be getting it into our studio. We are located on the third floor of a heritage building. There are two very long, fairly narrow (33”) I think flights of stairs.

I know this is getting long, but there are two more things I am wondering about.

1) Like I said, I have a former printmaking prof who is willing to be on the team to help take the press apart and get it out an reassemble it. I think with his know how about presses we should be okay on that front. I am wondering if we should look into hiring some sort of professional movers. The only thing I am afraid of is getting some guys who really don’t know what they’re doing and the press gets wrecked. Is it better to assemble a team of people or to hire someone do you think?

2) This will be my last point, I know this is getting long, sorry. This press is basically abandoned. It is in the basement of a vacant building, and the owner of the building can’t trace who owned the press. I am in the process of founding a non-profit Printmaking collective called Articulate Ink. ( I am now supposed to make an offer on the press. I am thinking that to begin with, I will ask to have the press for the price of removal and explain what a large task it will be etc… and that we are a new non profit startup that don’t have a lot of money… do you think this is reasonable?

Your advice and opinions are greatly appreciated,

Michelle B.

Wow, to begin a chase isn’t too hard to find, if you measured between the rails of the press it might be12x18 but a chase would be about 2” less each way, so you might have a 10x15. i had a press given to me that was on the third floor of a house with narrow stairs, i passed on it and let a friend of mine go get it, so that might not be a problem. It only has value as junk so if you offer to remove it for free and he says no i wouldn’t go higher than $50.00 because of where it is. Professional riggers are expensive, but might be the way to go, these are very heavy and cast iron breaks easily. You could try Don Black, i think he is in Ontario, he might even have one of these kicking around his shop. Good Luck and be safe. Dick G.

I’m in Winnipeg, could hook you up with a chase if needed, I have two new style 12x18s. Feel free to get in touch with any questions.

They should give you the press. Perfectly working with new rollers and a chase it could maybe be worth $1k. Calculate the time and materials needed to move it and you are well over that price.

The press closed and tied up, with inking apparatus and feed table removed, will just barely clear 36”. To move it out of that basement you are going to need to either remove the flywheel and main drive shaft or separate the bed from the base of the press.

From the picture, it looks like a 10x15 to me, though. The distance between rails on a 12x18 is just shy 21”.


Hello again everyone,

Good news! It sounds as if I am going to be able to get the press for free “cost of removal” as I proposed! I am beyond excited!

Now the hard part comes, getting the press out of the basement and into our third floor studio. Where there’s a will there is a way…?!

I am writing now to inquire what kind of riggers or movers do you suggest hiring to move a press like this?

Is there anyone out there in Western Canada who has successfully moved partially disassembled a press and put it back together again? Anyone who’d be willing to travel out to good old Saskatchewan and give a newbie a hand? There would of course be monetary compensation…

Let me know your thoughts… any advice is appreciated.



If the serial number is C6897 rather than 06897 that would make it a 10x15 OS from around 1911, wouldn’t it? If it’s a 10x15 rather than a 12x18 it won’t be quite as large and difficult…

Artie -
I just posted a new page on my site which you may find interesting. It’s about how we move presses like this.

This one shows how we disassembled a (much lighter) 8x12 and removed it from a basement.

The weight, btw of a 12x18 is close to 2500# - ref.

And, last but not least; good luck. You do have a serious task ahead of you and I hope you plan well and execute the move safely.

I guess I should say “best of luck” You can do it. Just move slowly and carefully and plan ahead.

- Alan

Having moved my 8 x 12 C&P several times and having moved other presses I can attest to the quality and accuracy of you instructions.
All of your techniques are great, well written and understandable. This should be available to anyone who ever intends to move a press.
Nicely Done! Thanks

Some day we will be seeing Alan on one of those hoarding shows, he has what i call “Graphic Hording Syndrome”, he can’t say no to anything related to printing, oh yeah Steve cool stuff you sent me, thank you, i really enjoyed it. Dick G.

Hi again,

Alan: Thanks for the post about moving the presses! It is great and will be a wonderful resource for me…

I think the press must be a 10x15… hopefully a little more moveable.

Thanks again for the advice…