Numbering Box Jumping numbers

I use my platten for numbering and perforating only.
The numbering boxes are all Liebinger boxes on some of these the skipping wheels occasionally jump a number. What can be the problem?

Your advice pse



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Lubrication. Line up the 5’s and drop some 3-in-1 oil down the slots, then depress the plunger and roll the numbers to distribute the oil. If that doesn’t work you might need to disassemble and clean them, that is if you are mechanically inclined.

I try that in the morning Yes with all battles with these heads I can take them apart



Could also be your roller pressure. I have had numbering machines spin before because of it. I taped the rails to lessen the pressure and also used roller bearers to make sure the rollers were moving well before hitting the machines. so far no more issues. Be sure to always clean your machines well after use.


Thnx makes sense will check
How do you clean the machines?
I sometimes get that the machine does not spin at all what could the reasons be?



Numbering machines? A friend who did his apprenticeship at the same time as I did, but in commercial printing while I was in newspaper, told me a little; apparently ordinary numbering machines can be difficult.

I later worked for 9 weeks in a commercial print shop, which was long enough for me. While I was there, a man who had been foreman came in and spent a lot of time taking their numbering machines apart and cleaning and tending to them; it seemed none of the “ordinary” staff liked to do a thorough job on them. I understood that very thorough maintenance is the answer, and costing into the print job is a problem.

Also, from other comment, I can understand why the amount of pressure on the carcase of the machine when locked-up in the forme can be a matter of considerable skill / “grey-hair” experience.


i only take machines apart if all else fails. I scrub them with a brush that has soft brass bristles in the center, then turn the wheels to get the oil holes facing up and put a small amount of oil in between each wheel (i think the backward machines need the 5 facing up and the forward machines the 6)

Ink and oil are the major source of numbering machine failures. I learned back in the 60’s that oil between the wheels will make the wheels stick…causing in many cases, the wheel next to the driven wheel to turn over. I neven and I mean NEVER oil my machines. If a machine has a problem I simply disassemble, clean all parts, and with a small drop of 10 weight oil on my finger tips I will put the machine back together. This practice has served me well for over 50 years. We run a trade numbering/letterpress shop with over a thousand machines in use. When ever you can, always use lockwheel machines, they are much more dependable. Never lock up machines by squeezing there ends, only apply quoin pressure to the top and bottom of the case. When done with a machine, before the ink dries a take a shop rag that has a hint of lacquer thinner on it and wipe the face of the wheels and plunger, never use excess thinner as it will flow from the rag and wash down between the wheels, causing then to dry out…which in ture will be another premature machine failure. Your rage must be clean and LINT FREE. I always use rubber base ink whine numbering. Take care of your machines…and they will take care of you. Catl

when using rubber based inks my promblems get worse
I use red marking ink from Continental inks

Louis, I’ve been using Van Son Rubber Base for years, it stays open on the press for at least a week. I prefer it because it won’t dry on the machines’ wheels for several days…until you get to cleaning them. When running machines on the press I always use ink sparenly, never allow a glob of ink to be applyed to the machine (always place the ink on the rollers in an area that will not come in contact with the machines for at least a few impressions…thereby allowing the ink to be thinned out and not be deposited to the face of the wheels while it is thick in body. You never want a glob of ink to hit the munbering machine, as it may become impacted between the wheels causing all sorts of pain!!! Carl

Thnx Carl

I believe that way too much oil is causing my problem.
Van Son is available in South Africa , is there a specific one for numbering?

yes I been applying pressure from the sides

Thanks for your input My operator died and I had to start operating with no training at all


Louis, For numbering in red ink I use Van Son “Dutch Fireball” which is PMS 185, for black I use their number 10850 Black. Good luck, Carl.

Carl When do I replace the rollers? do I need to use all the rollers for numbering
I find that I need to put on a lot of ink to get a nice print from the numbering machine. Louis

A blast from the past, which has maybe been over overlooked or hiding well, a very effective system, suitable for virtually any machine, Platen or Cylinder, was that sold by Cornerstone (and others) here, whereby one or more numbering boxes were mounted on and driven by a common shaft, whereby the depressable No, or Letter or Figure, which ever interchangeable was required, was driven down, from beyond the printed area, or cut to waste on trimming and because of its solid/posotive construction wasent prone to locking up problems, and as a plus multiples very rarely got out of sync and of course were a great asset, if you had to flag out the depressable character etc. Dont know if this system exists or existed in The States, look it up might EVEN YET be interesting!!!!!!!

Louis, I do most of my numbering on a Miehle Verticle V50X. I run one form roller. Min. amount of ink. I do keep good rollers on the press and I do keep the form roller adjusted every 6 months or so, If you are having to use lots of ink you may need to adjust your rollers.. Also you may have a slight film of oil on the face of your numbering machine wheels that you may not even be aware of. Oil is the bigest problem when numbering. That is why I use Lacquer Thinner on a rag to wipe the face of the wheels…. use VERY LITTLE, if it is damp on the rag, you are using too much lacquer thinner. I sometimes preink the machines, I do not rake them across the rollers as some people do, when the machines are locked in the chase, but prior to running the job I will run the press off impression 2 times then move the wheels one position, ink them, move one more position, ink them, etc. until all wheels that will be used on the job are inked. I have made “Wheel setting sticks” out of a wooden stick with a piece of 1/8” brass rod that has been sharpened to a point pressed into a predrilled hole in the wooden stick. In the old days I would use a piece of wood sharpened in a pencil sharpener, but found this would sometimes break off and plug up the number face on the wheel. Good luck….numbering can be fun…but not when one goes about it wrong. Carl.

After numbering I generally wipe the face of the numbers clean with regular old Varn press wash, then I let them soak in numbering machine cleaner for a day or so. Numbering machine cleaner has a very slight amount of lubricant in it. Think of it along the lines of diesel fuel or kerosene. It does a great job of cleaning the machines, and keeps them lubricated at the same time. The one I prefer is Varn. I use an old toothbrush to scrub the machines in the fluid. Then I remove them and blow them clean of excess fluid and let them air dry on a shop towel for a few days before storing in the original box. I’ve never had an issue in the 38 years I’ve been numbering with the exception of having to replace a drop cipher that’s been nicked or worn out. When I get the machines out to number I wipe the frame and numbers with a little film cleaner on a shop towel. This is just precautionary. Film cleaner doesn’t really leave behind a residue, so it’s great for leaving the machine squeaky clean to receive the ink.

Hi Metal Man
What is a drop cipher pse
Which part of the wheels wear out


Drop cipher means the zero drops down so it doesn’t print, most wheels can do this except for the unit wheel which is solid, to drop the zero you turn the zero just a little past where it will print while gentle pushing down and it will drop down. There is a tooth in the center of the wheel that will go into a groove in the shaft of the machine, sometimes the tooth wears or the groove in the shaft will wear, then your zero will want to drop or at least it won’t print as solid. hope this helps.

Thanks great help


A young lady came to me with her numbering machine that she couldn’t seem to get working. She would set it to zero and the first impression it would flip over to 99999. I had to explain to her, much to her embarasement that the machine was a reverse operating type, therefore start at 1000 and the machine will operate from 1000 down to zero. She had no idea that numbering machines went both ways. Additionaly the machine was badly neglected and completely contaminated with dried ink. After a thorough cleaning and a better understanding of the machine operation all was well.

In South Africa Plattens are almost exclusely used for numbering and perforating by commercial printers
Reading though the threads I get the impression that in other countries like the UK and USA this is not the case.
Your thoughts pse


Most printing can be done cheaper by offset or on these high tech copiers. Letterpress has been used mostly for numbering, perforating and die cutting. But there is no reason you can’t print with these presses, 50 to 75 years ago most printing was letterpress.

I have noticed that on the single wheels of the numbering machines there are two different patterns on the gear side .
They all seem to work. Why is this ?

The unit wheel is the one to turn the most and so has a larger “gear” surface, as well as a larger driving pawl. The unit wheel turns 1000% more than the tens wheel and 10,000% percent more than the 100’s wheel. Of course this means that you must have a proper replacement if required and cannot mix the unit and other wheels when assembling.

Thnx Mike

While numbering the numbering machine meets the packing with a impact.
Is there any rule as to reinforcing the packing for a better impression ? or to protect the packing
My numbers dont make a very impression on the paper.
Any advice?


It may not be that the numbers aren’t contacting the paper, but that the plunger is lifting the rollers off enough to miss the numbers entirely. If your rollers are very hard this could the problem. A quick way to check is to turn the machine 90 degrees and see if anything changes (not always practical, but a good test).

The plunger does hit the packing/sheet harder than the rest of the machine, otherwise the machine would be unable to trip and advance. If you are running a long run, you might tape some card right where the plunger strikes, or use a frisket on the gripper. Hard to recommend without seeing the problem.

Thnx Mike it could well be the rollers , tuning the machine 90 degrees pse give more detail about this test ..
Would like to try it.