Shniedewende Washington Bed

The KC Art Institute is about to accept
this 17x22 hand press from a donor.
It has most of what we’ll need
to get started on the restoration.

I don’t expect to find a proper replacement,
even on Briar Press and the cost of
cutting a pattern & casting a new one
would likely exceed our budget.

I’m thinking that perhaps our Sculpture Dept
can cobble one together out of welded steel.
I could then take this raw fabrication
to a machine shop where the bed could be
milled flat & the rail skates trued up.

Does this make sense?
Is steel firm enough for a press bed
or would it flex significantly more than iron?
Should it have a hard quench or get tempered
out to some degree?
Has anyone done this before?
How’d it go?
Who’s got one I can measure for the drawings?


Kansas City

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Calvert, consider another possibility: Find a scrapped 14x22 C&P or Kluge and use the platen as your bed. You’d have to add the rails on the bottom that slide in the bed rails, and corner irons so you could attach the tympan and frisket I’m sure you’re going to want to install. You’ll also want bolt-on brackets for the girts to the rounce. All that can probably be fabricated quicker and cheaper than making a new bed from scratch, and the platen is already machined flat. It’ll be a bit narrower than the Washington’s platen, though.

If you make one out of steel, the printing surface should be 1” plate and the ribs of the same thickness. The only trouble might be that the heat of welding the ribs to the top may warp the top, in which case you’d want to have it machined flat again.

I can probably give you a list of existing Reliance presses that size if you want to get measured drawings of the bed.

But how on earth did they lose the bed?


I have an R. Hoe that has a platen measuring 17x21. I can supply some measurements of the bed on mine if that is helpful.


I have the exact same 17x22 proof press in excellent
condition. I will send photos and the best measurements
if would like.

Thanks, everyone.

Brilliant, Bob!
Makes me think that a large machinist’s iron test flat
could do the job, too. An iron imposing table surface,
maybe, but it would certainly need reinforcement.

What would be the optimum job press platen to use?
The bed need only clear the columns on either side
as travels under the Washington’s platen
so it could exceed 17” in width.
Just what are my chances of finding a job platen,
of any make, at or exceeding 17x22”?
What scrap/parting-out press model
should I look for?
If I’m going to invest real time & budget
to make it operational
I’d like to maximize the bed dimensions.

DGM & Dukesr—
thanks much.
Would you send me your contact info.
I can be reached at [email protected].

I would still like to hear from anyone
who has scratch-built a steel bed.


The bed loss is another all-too familar horror story.
The new property owner called in a scrap metal collector who carted off the bed with the first load of type and other equipment. When the donor returned to pick-up the press he found a forklift trying to crush it.

might be worth contacting H F Rochat Uk for advice as they make new Albions, and repair presses, eg they “stress relieve” press beds to get them true again if warped or bent-basically cutting grooves in the surfaces letting the bed get level/rest then re-milling the surfaces again, so if you have a welded up bed this might do it.

Don’t take it. There is too much fun in printing to spend the time trying to do a workaround and the expense. For that money you could probably buy another one.

Call the Printing Museum closest to you and see if they have something they would part with.

If there is no local machine shop willing to fabricate a new part, give me a call.

I am planning on a road trip to the Kansas City area sometime the first half of December. I would be glad to stop by and see what you are up against.

Depends on the size and any unusual details, but I think that a replacement part could be made that is both cost effective and usable. This press is to be a working press? vs a static display.

A steel fabricated part is easy enough to fab, overall dimensions might be bigger than I could fit in my heat treat ovens. I think it will fit on my planer so that final cleanup and dimensions are doable.

If a exact replacement part is needed then a pattern could be made and new part cast. At that point we would need to find a original part to get detailed measurements off of to make a pattern. Cost will be higher but press will have better visual appeal.

If I can be of any help, just ask.


Calvert - I’m completely confused. Why isn’t there any serious attempt to go to the scrapyard and recover the bed? This is the most simple and direct option you have. Unless the loss happened years ago … ???

j a Sir, Up to a point good thinking, (i.e. visit the scrap yard!) but sadly if, in the States, it is like here, U.K., such luxury is a thing of the past???
To even get through the security gates of the scrapyard, usually means HARD HAT and HI-VIS jacket to even make an enquiry!!
And then it,s *Sorry Sir or Madam, More than my jobs worth, Health and Safety, you must understand*
Or in coarse terms, “Sling yer Hook, B*****r Off, Go away etc”
You can stand at a distance and watch a giant Electro-Magnet pick up 5 tons of non ferrous scrap, (including the bed of your Press) and wave it goodbye, for its journey to the re smelting furnaces!!
Commiserations, but sadly this is how it seems to be, but Good Luck and a fair wind for, Marshall***

The scrapyard question……

While it usually ends up as a waste of time,
now and then, following a scrap wagon
to the junk yard can pay off.
Where there’s even a slim chance to save this stuff
that’s so hard to come by free or cheap,
I say DO IT!

There was in fact an effort to track down the bed.
After we learned last Tuesday,
that the press bed was certainly “long gone”,
Kelly Clark (another instructor) & I
shot over to the site of the old shop
just in case the bed hadn’t been carted off.
The late 19th century, single story, brick structure
was strewn with 3500sq/ft and 75 years
of printing industry debris.
Two workers were struggling with several 25 gal drums
of some solvent and discussing what they would do with it.
When we asked for the boss
a third guy promptly made a phone call.
Very shortly a fellow showed up who told us all was gone,
“JUNK ONLY”. English was not his first language
but his body language was clear enough—-
we weren’t welcome there. The Hamilton utility drawer
filled with printing miscellania I had gathered
was getting glanced at suspiciously.
I told him that I was glad to pay for the drawer.
We only wanted the name of the scrap guy who took the press bed.
Graciously he gave me the guy’s number
& told me I could have the drawer.
That afternoon the scrapper called me back to tell me that the bed had gone to Midwest Metal Management either Friday or Monday. I called the place and the first thing they wanted from me was a Police Report— before they would even talk to me. I insisted that there was no dispute. It was a mere mistake and that I just wanted to retrieve it. They explained that their system didn’t allow for scrap metal accumulation. It was all immediately processed by shredders & melters after arrival. I was passed on to another desk where the message was repeated and I was told that I was wasting my time— politely, but with a trace subtext that indicated I was wasting hers, too.
Hey, sometimes I gotta be an ass….
respectfully though, of course.

Someday I’ll post my tall bookbinders press tale of woe.
Gotta get to class.

Calvert - Well done. I admire your tenacity. You earned a stripe for that effort.