Inking Trouble on my 219

My Vandercook 219os is inking inconsistently. As you can see in the photo, the area near the dead bar of the press isn’t inking as heavily as further back in the bed. I’ve checked with my roller gauge and the difference in line is noticeable.

My question is how do I correct this? If I lower the roller height, the back section will ink too heavily. My rollers are about 4 months old and are in great shape.

Thanks for any input!

image: inking.jpg


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I have a similar issue with my 219os. So far the only way I’ve been able to help it is by putting 2 thin pieces of paper, I think .006 tympan, under the corner of the base, lifting that corner a bit.

I don’t know if the issue is some kind of warp in the bed or something to do with the roller assembly, carriage or eccentrics. I need to test it out more and try other things and have someone with more experience look at it.

Is it consistently that area? Have you turned the base round to see if the same part has the problem, or if the inking issue moves the problem would be with the base or plate.

I had a conversation with another 219os user who said she always had trouble printing from photopolymer plates, was always chasing down and adjusting for weird inking issues, but when printing from metal type had a much easier time. I don’t know why this particular model might have similar/consistent, what about the design of the press maybe causes issues that happen less with later models? Or does mine just need further adjustment.

We should start at 219os support group. Must have 2 pedals and a pain in the neck upper assembly that has to be completely removed to adjust rollers…

Hah! I could really use that support group some days.

Tympan under the base was the only thing I could think of too. I was just hoping there was a more permanent solution that I was missing. I’ll rotate the base and see what that does.

I’ve printed a lot of PP and have never noticed it as drastically as this. I think it might just be a combination of the rich black ink and the layout. I might just move it an inch back and waste a little bit of paper for this job.

Thanks for the reply Widmark. It’s nice to hear from other 219ers.

Well I rotated the base and that did the trick. I don’t get it, I’m just glad it worked.


You might check to make sure your base itself is accurate from end to end. If not, you will have to make underlay adjustments.

You might also need to have your cylinder bearings adjusted to ensure correct ink lay down across the length of the bed. This is not a problem limited to 219s.

A good source for questions about Vandercooks is Vanderblog, a forum run by Paul Moxon. You will usually get very thorough answers to your questions.


Nando248, your quoin is on the wrong side. assuming your side guiding ,from the drive side of the press. best james

Do you think that the fix was because you turned the artwork 90 degrees, or do you think the base is at fault?

I still want to get over to your studio to see your press. I hope we can find a good day in the next week or so. It’s hard to escape sometimes.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Thanks James, I’ll place the quoin on the other side of the bed. Is there a reason it shouldn’t be placed there?

Regarding the inking: I turned the base and backed it up slightly, and it helped the inking situation, but it still wasn’t perfect. I think I jumped the gun on saying it was solved.

And then later today I found the real problem, the screws on the brass blocks that hold the rollers were loose.

You want the quoin to be on the side opposite of the side registration guide so you can be sure that the registration edge remains consistent. If the base is pushed up against furniture on the far side of the bed, the quoin can only push the base against the furniture a set amount. But when you loosen then tighten the quoin, sometimes it’s not quite the same, so the distance of the base from the far side might shift.

Likewise with platen presses you want the quoin to be on the right side (opposite the side guide) and the top.

If the 219 still has brass bearing blocks, those are very likely wearing out—the steel core on the brass will wear an oval shape in the brass to the point accurate setting of the rollers is no longer possible. We sell replacement steel blocks that use Nyliners and that combination eliminates most wear and allows for accurate ink roller setting.


Regarding the issue of the brass bearing blocks wearing out. I shot a quick video of the roller core spinning as well as me pushing on the roller to show how much play there is. Looking at this, would you be able to judge if it’s to worn or if there’s too much play?

Any thoughts?

Since that last post, it’s been suggested that there is too much play there and I’m going to try to replace those bearing blocks with the steel/nyliner combo.

I’ve been having other issues and decided to start to go in depth into them over on the vanderblog, hopefully I’ll get some answers there as well, and anyone looking to follow up on 219 OS info may want to read there as well:

I plan on replacing mine as well. My assembly looks and acts identically to yours, Widmark.

Going over old emails/threads regarding my press. Since this discussion I did go ahead and replace the brass bearing block with the new steel bearing block/nyliner combo from NA Graphic and I’ve had good results. However there is still a degree of play, because even though the baring blocks are not worn any more, I now realize one of my roller cores is. I don’t think it’s so bad that I can afford to get a new roller with a new core at the moment.

What I wonder though is what effect that kind of sloppiness would have on inking. Trying to visualize what would happen. Does it allow the rollers to bounce over the form instead of rotate at a consistent height?

Related to this, I’ve been trying to figure out how people test their roller height. Since you can’t adjust the rollers with the top assembly in place, do you measure without top, or do you put the top on, pull stripes on the gauge, take the top off, adjust, put it back on, etc. On my press, the top assembly weights enough to have a huge difference in roller height. Should it not? If I take the top assembly out and measure a nice thin line, when I put the top assembly back in the line is considerably thicker, so I find it hard to measure for a thin line unless the weight of the top assembly is in place. I just posted to Vanderblog about this. Any thoughts?

Most flat bed ink trains consist of the forme rollers at the bottom of the train and then stacked above that will be two vibrating rollers, across these, probably in a pyramid would be a number of riders . that lot if properly adjusted would in all probability prevent the forme rollers jumping .
The roller height gauge for a flatbed press is constructed type high in diameter and is like a lollypop only 1/2 inch wide ,this smaller dimension allows you to have the gauge orientated below the rollers as you push it under the train and when you are just beyond the roller you want to measure you rotate the tool into the correct orientation and carefully draw it towards you ,stopping once you are clear of the roller rotate again to withdraw without contacting the other rollers . If your gauge wont do this then you have to raise your rollers in succession but note this is not a good way to set the height as the weight born by the train does affect the settings . It is best done as described with a tool that will slide into the press as described .

Yes, I know how to use a roller gauge. My question is how do people measure roller height specifically on the 219os, with the top assembly on or off. It doesn’t make sense to do it with it off for the reasons you mention, but I’ve seen people do it that way.

widmark , It was added into my answer / comment that i tried to make understandable to others who may not have the experience you have .