My first print on my new C&P 8x12… now what?

So here are the results of my first print. I don’t really know what to do next to make it better. Not sure if I need to add some more packing. Do something with the inking? From the 1st to the 6th I added more packing and cleaned off the plate. That fixed it so that the letters weren’t as thick but it also looks like the ink bleeds outside of the impression if that makes sense. Is there too much ink? Also the inking looks grainy and not as solid as I would think it needs to be.

Any advice?
Huge images attached of 1st run and last run (6th)

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Looks like you may have too much contact with the rollers. Are your rollers “kissing” the form, or are they mashing down on it? Normally, the edges of the plate should not be inked…

You may need to add some layers of tape to the rails (or trucks - just as long as each one gets the same amount of tape)

Okay, that is something I’ll try. There was definitely ink on parts of the plate and I didn’t understand why

Hmmm, ISN’T JUNE 5, 2013 A WEDNESDAY????

Ha, no need for concern that’s definitely a fake invite I made for practice purposes

Put the rollers on your press with no ink, and a form in the chase. Turn the flywheel by hand - as the rollers travel down over the form, how much contact do you see? If the rollers are mashing into the type, there is too much pressure. The rollers should contact the top of the form, just enough to transfer ink to the printing surface.


Your problem is definitely too much roller contact. Go to Boxcar Press and order a roller setting gauge.

You want the stripe on the guage to measure 3/32.

paying attention to roller settings and care will help alleviate 80 percent of your headaches.

Make sure and watch the video on how to use the guage as well.

Congratulations on the first impression!! That is always the best. Have fun on the journey.


Okay, I tried adding tape to the rails. It was taking forever to see any difference because I only had scotch tape so I tried adding a piece of my 320gsm paper. It seems to make a difference in the ink getting on the plate but still got on the edges a little bit.
Maybe that blue or black tape will work?

This is crappy picture of how it was looking on the rollers but the rollers kept moving the paper off so this wouldn’t work in the long run. I couldn’t really ink up the plate so I just tried with the unfinished inked plate.

This is what I got
I’m assuming and hoping that the inking is light b/c I didn’t fully ink the press. Also I think the lines across the text have to do with the fact that printed onto the back of something I already printed.

Hi Jane,

A few things:

1. from the photo it looks like you have morgan expansion trucks. My advise is to replace them as they vary over time depending on temperature and humidity. Get 6 new trucks made of Delrin from NA Graph for about $75.

2. While you’re at it, buy a roller-height gauge from them. It looks like a steel lollipop. If they don’t sell them, I think Boxcar has them. Basically, without a chase in the press and with the rollers on and inked, you put the lollipop behind the rollers in the bed and pull it up against the roller and through until free. At the proper height, the rollers will leave a line of ink on the lollipop about the width of a nickel’s edge or just a hair wider.

3. Fritz at NA Graph sells a high grade tape for taping your rails. If you’re feeling cheap as I was when I first started, buy 1” blue painters tape and put about 15 layers down until the gauge measure the right height. It will hang off the edge of the rails, you can trim it with an X-acto knife. Some people eschew blue painters tape, but it served me well my first year while I was learning and it can be added a few thousands of an inch at a time and is cheap if you add to much and need to pull some off.

Good rollers properly adjusted to the correct height with the right amount of ink on the press is probably the single most important thing you can worry about to get good quality printing. Even perfect make-ready with bad inking yields a bad print job.

BTW, how much ink is the right amount? Well, once your roller height is correct, when you print with the right amount of ink you’ll get great coverage, but it won’t squeeze off the edge of the type and make the printing fuzzy. Too little will be obvious, and too much can be seen with a little training. I keep a 4X loupe in the shop to inspect the first few impressions to make sure I’m not over inked…

Welcome to the craft! I have a C&P 8x12 too and I love that press!


Thanks so much for the responses Bill, Douglas & Alan. I’m definitely going to invest in that gauge. And for the mean time I’ll pick up some painters tape.

Now I’m still doing some briarpress research but I came across a very passionate post by a user saying that you should tape the trucks and not the rails. Anyone know anything about that?

Alan, I’m going to pick up a 4x loupe, I can’t believe I didn’t think about that. Thanks so much!

Judging from the picture, the rollers are worn out and the trucks need replacing. Alan Dye’s comments are appropriate and rather than trying for make-do fixes, which will not work, my suggestion is to replace what is bad and then concentrate on developing printing skills. This is first a mechanical problem that is easily solved, then a skill problem that is solved with experience.

Although I make the Morgan Expansion Trucks, they wear out, as these obviously are probably years past their prime, so I recommend the Delrin trucks for photopolymer plates as being the same diameter on all the rollers. Morgans develop flat spots, end up being not concentric, and if measured, each one of these is a different diameter. Taping these trucks is a pointless misadventure, trying to use worn out rollers will lead only to continued frustration.


Okay, after 15 pieces of tape on the rails I finally got the rollers up high enough.
I’m obviously going to invest in new rollers and trucks but I thought the results that I got were pretty good. I sure wish I had that loupe right now. I sure wish I had a better camera but here are the results.

Jane, it looks great. Definitely improved. But I would still like to know about the date. The calendar says that June 5 2013 will be a Wednesday and not a Saturday. :-(

Lmao thanks enriquevw.
This is just something I whipped up to get a plate made. No one is getting married. No one will be mailed these invitations. The people don’t exist, I have no idea if there is a Trump International in Chicago… I just needed a plate to practice with. No one will even see this except for my press and you Briarpress folks.
Sorry for the confusion to folks, I didn’t know it would be a problem.

:) oh phew.. good.. well the impression definitely improved, so you are getting there.
It’s not a problem, more a concern I think.

Haha. But yeah looks like I got the impression issues fixed somewhat but now I can’t figure out how to get a deep impression :/
I’ve just spent the past couple of hours in my garage adding & taking away packing, dampening, using different paper and nothing. I actually ended with a less deep impression than when I first started lol.

It looks vastly improved to me, nice work!

What kind of packing are you using? I’m sure traditional letterpressers will be turning in their graves when I say this, but I’ve been able to produce a deeper impression by adding paper towels under the tympan paper.

Congratulations and welcome aboard.
There is plenty of good advice in the posts above. It seems you are on your way.
You made one comment that gave me pause. You said you printed on the back of something that was already printed. Since you are setting up the press, every step is new and must be pure of other possible impediments. Using the preprinted sheet adds a possible reason for uneven impression. Using this example you should use a fresh sheet for each impression. In fact numbering them as you go will let you know if your making progress or going backward. Use the scientific method, one change at a time. Then you can eliminate other possible problems without confusion. Good luck.
Steve V