No clue where to start

I was given a Multilith 1250 (about 30 or so years old). However, I was given no instructions on how to get it running, what it needs, or anything. If someone could give me some ideas or point me in the right direction to a website that would help me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thank you in advance!

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There’s a Multilith 1250 operator’s and service manual on Ebay for $60 that would give you pretty much all the info you’d need to get printing with it. Did you get any supplies with it (blankets, water roller covers, washup sheets, plates, etc)? You could also find a small shop near you that has a 1250 and ask for guidance and help — unless you’re planning to go commercial they might not perceive you as competition.

Good luck!


My advice is to paint the word “mooring” on it then call the yacht club.

Thats harsh dick, we have two here one running and one laid up in case of need , they are wonderful tools for the price and you can whack delivery notes through them like lightening !
There are even sweatshops in the east end of london banging out full colour menus for take aways ,they dont look so good but thats down to the lack of proper register .
One golden rule is to try to always keep the sheet full out to the machine size as they need to get rid of excess water all the time and if you print small sheets on them they tend to drip and its a royal pain once it starts !
Minimum damp minimum ink ,keep the dampers clean and never leave the water fount tray with fount in it of it will corrode your meter roller in a few days , keep the ali rollers in the fount train desensitized and gummed up just like you would a plate , the roller sitting in the fount ought to be knurled if it isnt get it done or the machine will never run well at slower speeds .
You can do good solids on them four up business cards size ,i will impinge upon the intelligent one to add a pick of one if i can find it before the weekend .
Be prepared for some frustration and much filth till you get to grips with it .

Mulits haven’t been made in a while, parts might be getting harder to find, there are many ABDicks and Ryobi presses around and they are so much easier to run.I’ve owned a few multis over the years, they register great but i found they are harder to run than abdicks. I saw a multi once that had a numbering unit on it,, the only thing you could do was number on this press, it ran pretty fast and it did a good job.

Since you are on a letterpress site the chance of any good advice is on the low side. The manual is a good place to start. Consistant feeding is the first thing to master, the press is best run with stock between 4x6 to 8.5 x 11 from 20# bond to a 110# index. The feed table should be level and have a hard board slightly small than the stock to be run. At the feed end of the press is a knob to set the pile hight. With both vacumn and air blast turned off the pile should stop some where around a 1/4 inch below the cat wiskers or stripper fingers, there should be two of them on either side of a center bar. Suction feet should be placed equally spaced on either side of forwarding roller right over the stripper fingers. Then slowly add air blast tell the paper floats to the fingers, now slowly add vacumn untile the paper pulls into the feed rollers. You still have to set the double sheet detector so read a manual on that there really is a lot to learn. Feeder first then registration table, ink and water units, printing unit and then delivery. Let me know how it goes maybe I can be of some help in the future.

There are different editions of the US Navy Lithographer’s manual that have specific instructions for the Multi 1250 as well as for pre-digital offset printing in general.
Some few Multi parts may still be available from the different Printier’s Parts Store outlets. I haven’t checked recently.
My first paycheck came from in-plant-printing of scratchpads on a Multi 1250, when the shop used suppies bought directly from Addressograph-Multigraph. Today even offset supply sources are disappearing. I still prefer Chiefs, have two, but then they were made by ATF.

I prefer the Chiefs too.

I Say Dick old Chap some of your recent posts have been a little Frilo Frivo Filof, “O” S***E sarcastic, recently, Rattle Rattle etc.>>> And it has been noted that PETER has/is very secretive about the “HAMADA” ? that he has been lusting after for a long time!!! Which I seem to remember Him stating is the Dogs what names and runs rings around Multis, A B Dicks, Ryobis etc, in their class??? And another thing Dikc,>> Mulits, here in the U.K. are either a type of fish, or a slang term for a haircut, get the first word correct at least!!!

OK, Mick and Peter, if you guys are going to gang up on me then i guess i’ll have to behave. Hamada so i’ve heard is a great press, i’ve never run one but they look like a copy of the multilith (is that better Mick??) That’s a joke at my house, my wife always says what are my going to do with all this heavy iron you keep bringing home, if anything happens to you, i just tell her to paint mooring on it and call the yacht club.

dick yes the hamada is a much better machine ot the two as it does have the sidelay that works better , the inking power is similar and the overall construction is similar ,the worst is the monkey metal roller locks and the silly locking screws tapped into them ,once you strip them they are shot …
I dont really lust after them as such but of the pair the little A4 (i think they were called QT 500cd ) is a nicer machine to run once you remove and alter a couple of bits in the dampening system .
However you still dont get letterpress black quality !!
We dont have chiefs over here ,i have heard of an indian chief though yum yum …….

Not an easy press to learn on. Can do great work in the right hands. Usually the water system will have to be replaced on a press that old. Best thing to do is replace the water system with a Kompac system, go for a used one since they cost around $140 and inch for a new one. It sure makes a beginner look like they know what there doing. Bearings and blanket cylinder journals are another weak point on those high mileage presses. To get it to register you will need a new lower feed roll and bearings. Offset can drive you crazy without good ink rollers Once your up and running you can usually maintain a 1250 with replacement items from you local hardware store - if your handy. Seems most of the good 1250’s went to Mexico and South America in the late 80’s and early 90’s. At one time I purchased 8 - 1250’s of various ages for $250 dollars and made 3 running presses - but that was then. For the record 1250 pressmen usually had the largest bag of tricks of any pressmen I ever knew.

Ever tried the wider one ,1850 , it was just nasty !!!
Last one i saw sold was £1500 , there are single colour GTO 52s out there for £5000 tops as seen , says a lot that really, the 1250 still stands out and the GTO shows the damage digital has done to small offset print market !!

to all

If you can find it, note my comments on producing a church newsletter. It involved the use of a small offset, table-top model.

I do not remember now, what the name or model of small offset was probably Multilith. The clergyman who owned and ran it seemed very experienced, it seemed to run well unless other people tried too hard to help.

In this district, a man who knew how to do the work set up a “Pocket Trader” of what is really free classified advts, charging a fee for the booklet at point-of-sale; the local daily newspaper now carries small classified advts of low-priced items only on Saturday; the rest of the week carries things like yachts, motor-boats, machinery, cars, rental accommodations, dogs and other animals.

Several others similar to the Pocket Trader have entered this field.

Like everything else, there are always solutions waiting to be found. A dentist friend of mine had a small fan to keep patients cool, before air-conditioners attracted enough market to make them viable. The fan blades were damaged, the only ones he found were for opposite rotation, so that they drew air away from instead of blowing on to the patient. Have you seen the obvious solution? I have, but about 50 years too late. When he did go to air-conditioning, he got the engineers to work out the refrigeration capacity, and when they had done so, he told them to double the cooling capacity. I think this proved to be the correct way to go about providing reliable service.

I think I have deduced ways of overcoming problems we had with an Elektron, but 50 years too late to try them. I partially overcame a problem we had with a display machine, when the operator tried to hurry the workload, but lost out on time because this led to back-squirts; he should have changed to other sizes of type (and moulds) more frequently.


to all

Just for the heck of it, does anyone know of an Elektron in normal production today?


I scrapped my 1250 about 10 years ago and now I sort of regret it. Kind of miss the old thing.

The Gestalith 201 was very similar to a multi 1250, but had interchangeable ink unit. We kept 2-3 ink units inked up all the time for quick change colours. (Rubberbase ink)

I have a design and print business, and part of that includes wedding invitations. I’ve done a lot digital printing, but I now would like to offer letterpress. Can some advise on a starter letterpress machine of a beginner?

Product size image area , mechanical mindedness , bank account , available space , location of space/ access to it , your own ability to learn and natural coordination ability are some of your most basic questions . Where in the world ?
A little info here will help get some suggestions rolling but geographical location will quickly limit your choices unless you have the funds ,these things can be costly to move and things get broken or go wander off.Local , is where you look first .
If you find one locally you may then have a source for help and tuition if its former owners have time etc.
Your present post leaves too much scope for a useful answer .

Thanks Peter, I’m located in fayetteville, nc. The maximum size invitation i would like to produce is of a 6x9 size. I’ve seen some table tops that could work, as well as a heidelberg 10x15 windmill, but as experts I’ll await recommendations. Space and funds is not an issue as I’ve gutted out and barn and turned it into a studio.

Check in the Charlotte area — I’m not sure about a dealer but there have been some good things offered near Charlotte. Their CraigsList might be a good resource too.


Well, I’m assuming that since this thread is over a year old you probably figured out what it was you needed? I’ve been in the printing business all 50 years of my life as the shop was located in the basement of our home…large home. Anything I can help you with gimme a shout. I started ‘officially’ 40 years ago when I was 10 with a Kelsey 5x8 Model U and moved up to Heidelberg and then offset. I currently own and operate 2 Multilith 1250, a Multi 1860, a Multi 4610K, two Heidelberg Windmills and I still use the old Kelsey and a C&P pilot. And yes, I still own and operate a Ludlow typecaster and have several cases of ATF hand type, along with a couple cases of 1890s wood type and a early 1900s Child-Acme 40” cutter…find information on that baby if you can!! As for those who say that AB DIck is easier to run? You obviously haven’t had enough experience with anything else. Multilith was and is still the best made, easiest to run, best registering, easiest to maintain small offset on the market. And as far as parts; they are easier to come by now than they were in the olden days. I say this from experience as a life long Multilith owner, and someone who’s run just about every kind of offset press manufactured. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the big guns when I attended RIT from 1982 thru 1983….nothing like running a 5 colour Heidelberg and not having to pay the high price tag of ownership!

OK… I have to add my defense of the 1250 here: There were great machines in their day, far better than the AB Dick machines. I made my transition to offset from letterpress on a 1250, and the machine worked like a charm. Back in the 1970’s, many many printers earned their entire living with them, myself included.

Unfortunately for those who still have and want to use them, they are not very supported nowadays. However, they do indeed make excellent fishing reefs.

If one is handy you can keep a 1250 running forever. New rollers are available, worn parts can be retro fitted with new bearings and there are several suppliers that have cylinder parts and shafts. Seems like you had to be much more mechanical minded with a Multi than an AB Dick, probably that was the reason they fell out of favor. I personally think they were one of the best small presses made. Have had the bug lately to find one to add to my home shop.

OK 1250 Offset. I am a letterpress tradesman. In the late 70’s I moved over to offset onto a multi 2850. Load 100 masters (paper plates) it ran them straight into the collator. Or you ran the first side then attached the collator. Automation late 70’s. Then into self running a business and so I bought a 1250 with chain delivery and powder spray and made metal plates but still had a paper plate facility. Made lots of money and jumped onto the desktop thing when it started. Got lots of stress. Here’s the crunch. Got sick of all that, went off and became a photographer and guess what - built a Letterpress studio and darkroom/studio. I think Multis and offset are over. Its funny isn’t We had letterpress dominant for hundreds of years then for about 40 years we had Offset - now its Inkjet and digital. In the mean time we Letterpress people just keep printing like always!

dickg you are right. Compared to what we do it aint healthy either.

I did letterpress from 1961 till about 1980 or so from my mom’s basement, always worked a full time job mostly running linotypes, Ludlow and the last job I had was setting hand type. So I had very little offset experience, I did buy a offset press in the early 1970s, was told it was a multi, when I got it in my shop I noticed the feeder said Davidson, come to find out Multi bought Davidson feeders for their presses when the first started out, it ran and registered great, later in the mid 1980s my wife and I bought a print shop that did letterpress and offset, they had a multi, me and that 1250 never got along, had a friend that ran offset presses, he would come by to help me, he could make that press print excellent, I couldn’t get anything off that press. ended up getting a Ryobi and had pretty good luck with it, ran a copy center for a while but technology was changing so fast in the 1990s that I finally moved my letterpress home into my garage in 1999 and now just do letterpress. Lasimp, you are so right, offset is about over, lots of free offsets around, you can’t give them away but letterpress is making a come back, funny how that worked out.

I have the Hyton Dampener Covers for your 1250 Multi.I have 28 and would like to sell all to one person for less than half their value. If interested call me at 623-939-5142. Ed.