Leather straps on Arab press

I’ve got my Foolscap Arab treadle platen press assembled and running again. Today I made new leather straps for the bearers. I adjusted them using strips of cardboard, as suggested in the manual. I’m not completely satisfied with this set up, as weather and temperature variations might alter the thickness and firmness of both cardboard and leather. Are there any other Arab users who might have suggestions for an alternative. Initially, I was thinking of getting to strips of Delron to the right height, drilled with two or three holes each and to fix them to the existing metal bearers by drilling and threading a small hole in them as well. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Maybe other makes of presses have got leather straps as well, but I don’t know of any. Taping won’t work, as there is at least 4 mm to bridge.

image: strap.JPG


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Hello from Down Under

I have a British “Morfitt’s Empress” Letterpress from around 1890. This also originally had leather strap rails. They had become hard and compressed so I thought I would replace them. I found a roll of some magnetic rubber strip on Ebay which was the same thickness. I measured the length, and cut it down. Next I trimmed it to correct width with a steel rule and Exacto knife, drilled the two screw holes in. It was then a simple matter of washing the steel rail down with methylated spirits to degrease it, lay down some good quality double sided tape and screw on the new magnetic, rubber rails.
Works great and it is really smooth and level.It’s also cheap and easy to replace.

image: rubber.gif


I’ve been using the magnetic rubber strip on my Arab Foolscap for a couple of years now. I punch a hole at each end and attach it the same way as you would with the leather.

As a replacement for cardboard strip for fine-tuning roller height I use thin sheets of plastic. I buy this from the local model-making shop. It comes in a whole range of thicknesses so that you can make minute adjustments. And it’s more stable than cardboard which can compress.

image: magstrip.jpg


thank you for that, I’ve got a roll of 3M magnetic strip lying around and will try that. Do the strips of PVC stay in place, or do you use any glue at all?

This as above mentioned is about as near the correct way to set up low bearer machines as you can get ,admittedly the mag idea is probably a mile better than the leather strap as far as stability is concerned ,the leather straps moved about with the atmospheric conditions drying out being the leasts of the problems from them .

No, I don’t use glue. If the mag strip is tight enough the thin plastic stays in place. Try not to over-tighten though — might cause stretching.

Unfortunately the magnetic properties of the rubber isn’t strong enough to stop them slipping, so you just monitor during the run and push them back into position if they start to move. Or glue it all together I suppose.

I like the fact that if your rollers swell a bit due to the weather, you can just swap out a number 4 thickness for a number 3, and you’re back to type high.

I might try this, and thank you!

Phil - as you are in the UK, can I ask which of the mag tapes you used, and where you got it? There’s a few on ebay, but the descriptions are not great


Hi Ken

The specs I bought are 4.6mm thick, 11mm width in a 10M length. I expect it will last me a while!

I bought from RS-online:

Hopefully that link will work!

Thanks Phil, it does. Appreciated!

Re taping the Trucks, Tracks, Rails etc with every modern substance in existance I.E. plastic tape, masking tape, leather, magnetic strip, etc etc etc ad infinitum READ ON!!! 1953/1954 I started to learn or be shown the rudiments of printing on the school,s Adana! It was only our Secondary School and funds were not exactly in abundance and in any case were being diverted to the NEW school swimming pool!!! Consequently the original Adana company supported Colleges to the limit of there resources but could not run to new rollers at the drop of a hat! Consequently and with a little help and support from the metal work master, was allowed into the metal work room and under guidance and with thin sheet copper *see footnote* manufactured 2 copper slippers to match the contours of the roller tracks with a little soldering on the radii of the ends. Problem solved. 60 years ago. Waiting for the world to catch up??? Obviously Overlays Underlays Make ready bed plate sheets etc were far in the future. But tickets for the school stage productions, school hops, (proms to you probably) were ripped off not perfect but acceptable, pending replacement machine with unworn tracks, or trucks. ** the copper sheet as above was normally used by the students (under supervision and instruction) to build amongst other items “HERO” engines?**

Hi there! I’ve been using a washing machine belt from the local hardware store and it works great. It’s rubber so the rollers run great on it. I also punch holes and tighten as the leather straps would’ve. I adjust the height with heavy duty tape (not sure the technical term it was just in the “man drawer”). I like the sound of those plastic strips from the model shop though! I might try those.

Washing Machine belt, sheet copper, tape.
Excellent !
Gotta love the Art of improvisation…..

Redhand, Sir, yes the Art of improvisation is alive and well, but nowadays the expression seems to be “thinking outside the box” >>way back the expressions would have been, “necessity is the mother of invention” or “needs must when the devil drives” >>respect for your “good ole boys” out of Dayton Ohio and Kittyhawk!! no yard stick for them?>>Vote of thanks, as well, to the many contributors who were flying on a wing and a prayer, a long time ago, and now trying to help the new ones.