Proof Press Help

I was really looking forward to being able to finally get my hands on a proof press. It is one (second hand though) from UK Art Equipment:

It is sold as a relief press and not a letterpress specific proof press but it does say ‘type’ in the description so maybe I was just being optimistic. Anyway the bed is far too shallow for the roller to pass over type let alone print successfully. I have just contacted them to see if they have updated the fabrication specs since this one was purchased some years ago (I dont mind purchasing the type height bed from them if poss) and to see if they can send me the specs of the bed. If all roads come to a dead end what should I do? I think the easiest option is to get the bed dropped (not the rails) as it sits inside the stand/frame. In your opinion do you think that I could find someone to do this to such a fine standard that it will print well or should I leave it as is - not risk damaging the press, and see if another could make better use of it. I dont think I can house a press that I dont really need - and can put the £ towards a type high proof press (a real one).

Some photos in my flickr:[email protected]/

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Pixieguk, you easily build up the bed’s height with a thinish dense substrate (we call it MDF here, or masonite or some similar material), until it gets close to type-height, then use packing to make up the difference when you print.
That press is perfectly suitable for letterpress printing and has a large printable area, Also perfect for your relief printmaking.

emthree, no you misunderstood. The bed is too shallow, theres not enough space for the roller to pass over the blocks. packing would make it even tighter. the approx gap between the roller and bed is approx 14mm (approx 10mm too tight). I wish it was the other way.
The type sits above the rails and the roller rubber hangs below them inside:[email protected]/15020541695/

It’s a bit hard to tell from your photos but it looks to me like the cylinder is WAY overpacked. The printing area of the cylinder should be the same diameter as the ends that bear on the sides of the bed - if it isn’t the cylinder will tend to drag the paper across the type. It appears in the photos that the wood type is about the same height as the bearers on the sides of the bed, although in one or two photos the type could be sticking up above the bearers. Check also that there is not a bed plate installed which would raise the type.

Some presses of this type have an eccentric bearing for the cylinder so that the height above the bed can be adjusted — check for that also.

If none of these suggestions check out I don’t know what to say.


Ooops, I got it backwards, sorry.
I see now, and I think AdLib is right - any way to back off on the packing around the cylinder?

The cylinder is rubber covered (machined). Its approx 3-4mm thick and removing it all (which I wouldnt do) would still render the press too shallow for type.

And the bed is high and not adjustable and doesn’t have a bed plate added? Unless you want to have a roller shop machine the cylinder surface to the bearer height and find a way to get the bearers up or the bed down, I think you don’t have a proof press. Maybe it was made for proofing etchings?


Perhaps do a little in depth investigation, i.e. are the bearer rails, for the impression cylinder, cast as one with the bed, or are they fitted with, possibly countersunk, Allen Bolts at 2/3/4 points along the bearer rails, implying, has it been modified down? to a very unusual overall height, and could it be simply modified back up to accept .918. plus or minus Galley or Bedplate.?
If the bearer rails ARE separate, not rocket science to have 2 re-machined deeper, keeping the top/bottom bearings at the same distance, or even as simple as elongating/milling the original bolt holes downwards to set the bearer rails higher.?
Some time ago here, we actually cheated, with a proof press with hard rubber impression roller and no packing options, other than under the type as make ready, because the rails were “bolted on” but only basically fixed height, as we had inherited some beautiful continental (French) type at more than .918, as the bearer rails were Not cast in/on we elongated the bolt holes, several Thou, pulled many proofs, used the type as, stand alone, on a parallel approach Platen, and just reverted the press to normal height, covered the bed, virtually full out, but locked in with perfect height, Virgin,! Monotype strip rule, to get back to standard imp. height, very fiddly but better than scrapping the continental type, some of which is still around.
If the bearer rails ARE, in fact cast as one with the bed, sincere apologies for the above rubbish.

I believe they are as one, but will of course double check Mick sounds like you did a great job on that French type (do you have a photo)?
The rails have to be the height they are as the cylinder or bearings underneath do not adjust to fit so if the rails were deeper where they ran on them the cylinder would not fit back onto the rails (sorry I may have misunderstood: ‘If the bearer rails ARE separate, not rocket science to have 2 re-machined deeper’).
I may have to look into having a new bed created or this one adjusted - my question being would you risk damaging the original bed or leave it and look for a real proof press?
thanks for the help guys, its really appreciated!

Pixie, apologies if my terminology was less than accurate, The press we *modified* had separate bearer rails, which meant we only had to raise them, tempoarily by elongating the bolt holes,we did not loose the relationship of the upper (cylinder) bearers to the lower bearings/bearers which are usually adjustable with eccentric bolts, to maintain top/bottom contact, it has to be tight within reason or the cylinder (Imp.) lifts over heavy images, enough to ruin the print overall.
Again Apologies, my 2 new re-machined deeper/rails was a little airy fairy, of course the overall depth between the upper (cylinder) bearer surface and the lower contact surface has to be maintained to accomodate the original system for the traverse of the carriage.
I base my raising the rails with re-engineered parts on (a) my humble efforts previous, above post, but mainly on a proof press I have in front of me, primarily (b) my press (proofing). has separate rails, which are cranked up on 3 x 2 studs, per side with a fine thread adjuster, meaning I can raise or lower the whole carriage, to accomodate image matter over a fair range of varying thickness,s.
My re-engineered rails would be machined as one, (x 2), to give the extra height and/or elongated bolt holes, variation of my crank up, press, carriage.
If possible talk to your local (friendly) Precision Engineer, BUT of course, (several buts) only if your proposed press has bolt on Rails, Only if eventual cost is prohibitive, Only if all else fails, or as the saying goes, only if *Needs must when the Devil drives* comes into play.
Re manufacturing a New bed would probably involve robbing a Large Bank, or bite the bullitt for the real deal, perhaps.
If your rails ARE built in, and you ARE, possibly, able to talk to the aforementioned/suggested Engineer, offer one or two shots/close ups of the carriage and the bearer rails to ascertain IF Steel slippers on top of the rails, with correspondingly smaller runners/bearings beneath may be an option, the overall depth, of the bearers, has to be maintained of course, not clear how much height you have to gain.
Again and possibly only, the engineer given the problem may be able to suggest, auxiliary rails/slippers, with correspondingly smaller ball bearings beneath, hopefully still with eccentric bolts for limited adjustment.
Or you may have to smile very sweetly at the Branch Manager. In any case Good Luck. Mick
P.S. Apologies, No pictures, long since destroyed, may find a few pieces of original over height type.
Another strange stroke we pulled a long time ago, for fun, and with the help of an engineer mate, locked up a block of Continental height type, FACE DOWN on a Milling Machine with an Acetate sheet to protect the face, we milled it down to .918 worked well, could run it alongside and intermixed with normal Monotype Display, but really only done for a fun challenge, and for free.!
Again apologies for my rant/rubbish, but May give a few pointers to navigate the minefield ahead.?

I assume the bottom of the roller carriage runs along on two sealed bearings, could it be possible to get larger bottom bearings to give height increase.
Secondly, and more importantly speak to Arts Equipment. They’re still in business and would be the first point of call.

Thank you Mick, your explanation is spot on, things sometimes are lost in translation on-the-line like. Your not ranting or talking rubbish, I cant tell you how amazing it is to come somewhere where people (you) with so much knowledge and expertise are here to dive in and help, amazing! thank you so much!
Jeremy yes I emailed them monday, no reply today.

I dont quit easily and so managed this today:[email protected]/14859826727/

its a work in progress (reduction 2 colour drop shadow) but I mounted a 4mm lino on a 9mm mdf piece, I also bought a camping foam sheet, rubbish for laying on you feel all the bumps but Im hoping will be great as a felt/packing for the press. The search continues for a type height press but until then I’ll be whittling away and will post pic of print when its pulled.

Pixieguk, Well done that girl.!! Over the (many) years there has been used, a massive range of materials, to bring many items up to type or desired height, and many more ways to achieve this, i.e. Daler Board and card in Many weights, High St Art shops etc, acetate sheet, several weights & very accurate, M,D.F. as you have already!, Blotting Paper, Spongy but very forgiving, if your image is wonky,? Multi layered PLY wood, (Swedish) 8/10/12 ply, you can drive Tanks over it, and a Heidelberg Platen rated @ 50 tons pressure, can NOT hurt it, ruin the plate, yes, fed with a double sheet, by accident. Aluminium or Paxolin sheet at about 1/8” thick, as used, to mount .064” (thou) plates on, with register hooks & keys, for precise register/position, and HEIGHT, to print .
Going up the scale, for height and accurate packing, Litho Machine alloy plate(s) Very accurate, Very thin and cut with ordinary scissors or Stanley Knife, (with extreme care) but best of all, probably Litho machine *blanket* Canvas backed, rubber faced, VERY accurate over all, it has to be to do the same job on the Litho as you need to do on the Proof press, only at several thousand I.P.H. (impressions Per Hour) Jumble sales are also excellent for true FELT hats, Full Marks, you already nailed that one.?
Kitchen Style chopping boards, seem to come usually, now, in Nylon, either very thick and durable, or thinner and sacrificial, new unharmed, thinner ones, are also excellent as packing, accurate, and very D.S.A. (double side adhesive) friendly, i.e. for building up a muti-layered laminate, to desired height.

E mail your postal address and I will happily send a supply of Both, Litho Plate & Litho Blanket, cut down to some acceptable size. Even, as I believe you are over the State Line in the *Borders* i.e. the wrong side of Hadrians Wall, (perhaps I got that wrong as well) or wherever, the postage will still only be the price of a jar of Coffee, Red Mountain, of course.
Good luck and Regards. Mick.

surely the only thing possible is to have two new roller sideplates made and refitting existing roller and bearings that allows for correct type high.

Well I proofed the giant S tonight. Here:[email protected]/14869142918/

first colour. Hard to gauge the depth/packing really as the camping foam sheet was getting thinner each time I pressed with no attempt to spring back into shape, rotten stuff. The S is a little grainy as the lino is rough texture and really needs to be sanded if looking for a smooth finish, but personally (gasp in horror) I quite like the character that texture gives kind of like aged wood type. I just need to sell everything I own to buy a spindle roller big enough to coat it evenly lol. Will it never end … £££

pixieguk, it never ends, bigger type, then a bigger press to print it, more furniture to lock it up, more quoins, more type, more ink, larger work space, more presses.

Dick, dont be such a *Grouch* defined as a Habitually grumpy person. I.E, from one who seems to acquire More and More Goats and by default more a more Barns or Stables. By the way, How is the new family.?
Pixieguk. Again if you could just cover the postage, which may amount to £3, £4 maybe £5 I could send a Thompson Platen roller, at about 13” across, 2” or more diameter, modified with a 2 handed handle, they are two heavy with just a single handle, you can not *FEEL* the ink contacting over a big single image, properly.!! They, My modified rollers, really make excellent hand inkers, (Brayers to the Americans apparently) Perhaps check out, Lawrence in Brighton, I truly believe the best there is for the Medium you are into. Brighton 01273 260260, or E mail, [email protected]
Good Luck. Mick.

The goats are doing well, funny you should use grumpy, that’s what my grand children call me, even my neighbors call me grumpy. I had a young man ask if he could make a video of some of my equipment if you want to see my shop type in The Linotype and Printing Press Jig - You Tube. He did a great job, he only got half my shop but did a great job, I’m only in there for a second (the fat guy with gray whiskers) also check out some of his other videos, he is big time into steam engines, he has a miniature steam engine, interesting guy.

Really excited, just got an email from them (he was on holiday):

“What has happened, is as follows. We purchased Art Equipment in 2007, and continued to manufacture as the previous owner, we then discovered from a customer that the press’s were not “Type High”. So we modified his press, and the rest of that batch to make them “Type High”. Subsequent machines have been re-designed, so they are all now “Type High”.
It is possible to modify yours so that it can accommodate your type.”

I am a little bit excited at the prospect of having such a large proof press!