Handpress tympan/frisket assembly

I have a Schneidewend Reliance handpress that is missing it’s corner irons, tympan and frisket. I was hoping to have Steve Pratt build one for me, but I’m on my own now. I found a local machinist who is on board for building one. What I need now is concrete info on how others have done it. I have Rummonds’ book. There are some great internet sites (http://www.shendesign.com/images/resurrection_reliance.pdf answers all sorts of questions). I’m hoping for more pictures of the tympan hinge and how it attaches to the corner irons. If anyone has has a Pratt tympan/frisket, I’d love to see pictures of his work.

many thanks,

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As far as I am aware, the Pratt operation is continuing under the direction of Steve’s son Ben.

Juliet Shen prepared a rather comprehensive and informative article on the fabrication of a tympan and frisket frame for a Reliance. Email her and she might be willing to send it to you as a .pdf.



Heather, check to be sure the press ever had corner irons — I’m pretty sure it never had a tympan. You can tell about the corner irons by looking at the underside of the bed at the corners, there should be four bolt holes, 2 on each side of the corner. If there are holes the press was made to take corner irons, which does not necessarily mean it ever had them. No holes, no corner irons. Of course you can make your own holes!

I suggest fabricating corner irons out of about 1-1/2x2x3/8 or 1/2 inch angle iron. The hinge sockets can be something like short pieces (about 2 inches long) of schedule 80 steel tubing welded onto the corner irons for that end of the bed at the correct height to place the underside of the tympan at just over type height above the bed. The corresponding hinge half on the tympan can be the same material, threaded internally for a bolt that has the end threads machined off to the ID of the corner iron half, and welded onto your fabricated tympan hinge.

If you want I can draw up what I’m talking about. I am pretty sure any competent machine shop would be able to make these parts for a lot less than you would pay Pratt Enterprises.


Did I really miss that you posted Juliet’s pdf, or did you add that later? If I missed it, I am not drinking enough coffee.


Yes, Bob, there are holes for corner irons. Thanks for the info on the tympan hinge. And, yes, Dan, the Shen pdf was in the original post; it sure is a good one. I wrote to Ben Pratt and haven’t heard back from him, so I figured I’d go it on my own.


I always suspect that a handpress that is missing the tympan and frisket means that it was set up for proofing electrotypes or engravings and not for printing type-high. I can see no other reason for removing them if it was actually used for printing.

The press most likely was used for proofing engravings, but that doesn’t negate it printing anything else. I’ve got it set up now to print type high and it does a great job. I just can’t register the paper to the form, so I need to add the tympan and frisket.


Hi there…. sorry for the very late comment but I just ran across your question
I Just received my Tympan & Frisket for a large Schneidewend Reliance handpress ..I had two corner irons but nothing else… The Pratts built the T&F & the irons as well & it is rather beautiful (&was notably expensive…but I had been saving up for years…& was determined that it be an accurate T&F) I have been standing at the press like a fool just raising and lowering everything .. great fun at long long last
Sadly the elder Mr Pratt passed away in the midst of the work and after a long wait his son Ben finished up with grace and patience.. I suspect this has been a very very rough year for them….
if you still have not heard from him email me and I will bc his email (as opposed to his father’s)
[use subject PRINTING PRESS] so you do not get lost!
all best