Help! Broken gripper bar in die cutting jacket disaster!

So here’s what happened:
I was using my die cutting jacket on my 10 x 15 Windmill and the scoring rule and matrix to do some scoring. The gripper bars didn’t clear the matrix and took the whole jacket off of the platen where it got caught under the delivery tray and bent, then the gripper bar proceeded to bend and break. So, now it’s bent and hitting any chase I use on the press. I tried to bend it back but it’s definitely not budging. What on earth should I do?!! Any help is sooooo appreciated!


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The gripper will need to be replaced. Two are for sale on eBay, or you could contact Demers or Whittenburg to compare prices. If you would like to replace it yourself and are unsure how, the Windmill tech at Whittenburg could be helpful—he’s been a great help to me.

Good luck, hope that nothing other than the gripper has been damaged.


After the fact comment: Heidelberg gripper arms when set properly will wipe the surface of the tympan or die jacket, so the use of scoring matrix or counter dies requires the use of a small “ramp” made out of a hard plastic that tapers up to the thickness of the matrix or die and that is applied to the tympan or die jacket immediately before the matrix or die. Then the gripper arm rides up the ramp and safely over the matrix.

Original Heidelberg gripper arms out perform the after market ones currently sold. If used ones are purchased, be very cautious they are not the ones made in Italy or Asian ones as they are one step above junk. There is no way to bend a bent gripper bar like this one back to correct position. This one appears to be an original gripper because of the bend—after market ones are typically castings that break.


Thanks so much for the advice guys! @ Fritz- where should I go about finding or making a “ramp”? Thanks so much!!


This is not a toy….This press and other automatic presses will BITE and could take your hand off or more….why do you think OSHA took most of these and others out of service??? You could get MEGAHURT..I wouldn’t hire you to work for me, sell you a press, or even offer you a workshop…
This is not a slam on you Nicole, and I apologize if I have offended….I’m not a girl anymore…just an old woman that has seen to many unnecessary injuries… parts can be replaced…..fingers, wrists, faces that lean in too far can’t.

I’d sell you a press, cash on the barrel head FTW! I’ve seen my fair share of crazy issues with these machines its just bad luck.

Good luck finding that part, I see Windmills being sold for parts fairly often and sometimes working units go cheap at auctions if you keep your eye out.

Thanks for the help everyone! I was able to borrow a gripper from Dickg who is so awesome I can’t even explain all of the awesome things he’s done for me. He’s also given me some one on one lessons to avoid any such injuries. To girl with kluge I am kind of offended, Why would you even say that? You would turn people away from your workshops they didn’t meet your standards? Letterpress printing isn’t just for the people who have been doing it forever and all new printers need to learn some where. Improper education is the best way to get hurt. No one should just jump into printing without some lessons first. Thanks again for everyone’s help.

Nicole, I’m glad dickg could help you out. Again, I apologize if I offended you….I certainly didn’t mean to…just wanted to keep you safe and save you more $$ on your future press repairs.
is just one example of a press that bites and the damage caused.

Thanks Girl with a kluge. I know they bite, I got the tips of my fingers smashed while trying to print pre-bound journals on my 8x12 C&P. Not quite as bad as the photo on the blog link but they were bruised and I certainly won’t ever do it again. Once is enough! Thanks for your concern, I try to be as careful as I can and believe me I was far away and running to the wall switch once I heard that awful crunch. Lesson learned, make sure your jacket fits PERFECTLY!!

Contact Bob Schmidt @ Schmidt Graphic Equipment for your replacement gripper bar. 770-380-9721. He is just outside of Atlanta. He’s an old school printer who is extremely easy to deal with and very knowledgeable. I recently replaced two old gripper bars on my windmill with new ones that I purchased from Bob and they work great. He goes by the handle “linegauge” on this website.

nicolem wrote:

“your concern, I try to be as careful as I can and believe me I was far away and running to the wall switch once I heard that awful crunch. “

Wall switch? I would think you would twist the control lever arm right by your left arm the moment (well as fast as reflexes go) to stop the machine. Stopping your machine by cutting power means the machine would coast to a stop, which would mean it’d be too late for most situations.

I must be reading something wrong here……..

Perhaps the press was running untended at the time the plate came loose.
John H

My supervisor who’d been running windmills for many years for some reason put the die cutting plate on upside down. The corner was caught and the plate pulled off and bent. No other damage. We had to order a new plate and I make sure it’s on the right way. The side to the top of the platen should have the flange that goes all the way across. I’m saying this just in case you had it on wrong before. Ron

Thanks guys! All advice much appreciated. John is correct, the press was running untended. I did however lift the Heidelberg plate to disengage the clutch, then cut power, damage was already done though. I actually had to run the wheel by hand to get the jacket unstuck from the delivery table area. Thanks for the advice Ron, I may well have had it upside down. I’ll certainly be double checking from now on. At houseman, thanks for the lead I’ll be getting in touch with Bob.