Linotype for beginers

Hi, is a Model 5 any easier to use than any of the others? I got three different models, a 5, 8 and 32. I am going to set the 32 up because it was actually used the day before I went and got it so I hopefully will not have to tinker on it much. The 8 was used up until the 70s when the shop closed, it was never messed with and pretty clean other than some light surface rust, I got a parts machine with it. The 5 I know nothing about but I got a parts machine with also, it came from my home town paper so it would be nice to get it going sometime. Right now I just got room for two of them and the model 32 is a no brainer because its recently ran and ran well but can someone who has ran a 5 and 8 tell me if one has advantages for the beginner over the other? Hopefully, someday I will have room for all three but not now. Thanks for any thoughts, ideas or suggestions. :-)

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The Model 5 is the simplest of those. It should be the easiest, but machine condition counts for a lot, and a machine that has been in use may be in better condition and adjustment than one that has sat idle.
The basic difference between a 5 and an 8: the 5 is single magazine, and the 8 has multiple non-mixing magazines. But there are a lot of other variables because the 5 and the 8 were made for such a long period, especially developments in the controls of electric pots, from the earliest mechanicals to late solid state controls. And not having one, I’d also say a quadder would be a huge advantage.

A Linotype is a very intricate machine. An inexperienced individual can do some real damage — very quick!

A “beginner” should not touch the machine without some instruction from an experienced operator or machinist.

A model 5, as well as a model 8 are both about as simple as it gets.

I didn’t notice where you are. Most folks in our tribe would be glad to help you with this endeavor.

The only difference between a (5,8) and a 32 is the additional magazine and keyboard setup. It’s not that big a deal. My first machine is the Intertype equivalent of a 32 (model C-4-4) and I got through it, though my machine had been idle for a long time and took 9 months of off and on tinkering and cleaning before I felt confident enough to turn it on.

Read the book “Linotype Machine Principles”—and read it again and again. It’s an awful dry read, but a lot of what’s in there is valuable.

Also be careful in moving the Model 32, DO NOT use the auxiliary end as a “handle” for moving it. There is a delicate casting that supports the keyboard and is easily broken when pulling on the auxiliary end of the machine. When this casting is broken, the auxiliary keyboard will either not work, or work well.

Beyond that, spend plenty of time focusing on things in the mat path, and likely as not, you’ll have to clean your keyboard (full teardown). This is all covered in the book. Also get some graphite (if you don’t have it) and a pine board—for cleaning the spacebands.

Feel free to ask questions, or pm other operators, and most important—Welcome to the wild wooly world of Linecasting. Glad to see you here!

What’s your experience with machinery, particularly old stuff?

The Model 32, especially if it is equipped with a Hydraquadder, will maybe be less prone to squirts… Mergenthaler added more safeties over the years, and with the Hydraquadder came a number of electric safeties as well. If your Model 32 is equipped with the Electromatic safety, then there’s even more stuff trying to protect you from a squirt.

There’s two significant vintages of Model 5’s. If your model 5 looks more like your morel 32, then all of the above might apply. If it looks more like the Model 8, then your reflexes are really the only safety mechanism on the machine.

What are the serial numbers of your machines? I’d love to add them to the Linotype Registry:

Photos would be awesome too! Shoot me an e-mail through the Briar Press thingy, or at keelan at

Hello all and thank you for the replies. I waited to post until I could get some serial numbers as was requested and I will get that out of the way first.

The model 32 is #57691 and I got it from the son of the fellow who bought it new in the late 40s. Oddly, the 1 appears to be a factory overstamp and a previous number had been sanded out?

The Model 5 from my local paper is #19475R and was supposed to be complete other than the magazine gone but it has been in my storage shed for over 25 years. I would like to get it going because it was original to my newspaper building I have moved in.

My Model 8 parts machine that came with the building also and I am only calling it a parts machine because I have a cleaner Model 8 that was used at another paper until the day it closed. That was much more recently so it should be easier to get going? My parts machine # is 28836. I have a parts #5 also but it was not easy to get to.

The good Model 8 is #42867 and came loaded with Magazines. It came from a total hot lead shop and I also got Ludlow #03056 with it but not any mats so that is my next big purchase. I got a smelter for Stereotype casting with that shop also but have not fully grasped that yet.

Hopefully, I can eventually build on to my building and have all three set up. If I can find some reasonable mats for the Ludlow I would like to start out with it as it appears much simpler to run and before I get into the Linotypes I hope to find one operating that I could go and spend some time with. Here in Kansas I have not found any running regularly but their is a printing museum in Peabody that has operational ones at times as well as a county museum in Oberlin I hear has one running on occasion.

I am pretty mechanical and used to old machinery. I rebuild antique farm machinery like binders and tractors as a hobby and have a full machine shop with lathes, mills and what it takes to fabricate about anything I might need.

This is a long term project and if I can just get get my building replastered and the machinery moved in this summer it will be a major accomplishment but I am trying to evaluate what I need right now. Thanks for any advice and pointers you can give me. :-)