Tympan or DIY for Kelsey 5x8 - advice please!

Hi all, just restoring my Kelsey 5x8 and I just got my rollers and am now on to the need for Tympan and a Base. I have read as much as I can find on old threads, but a lot of the “you can use tyvek or rubber sheets” isn’t for a Kelsey. I can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be a hard backing or a soft one? I am located far away from resources and people to question in real life, so I hoped that someone here might educate me. I don’t have a lot of $ to spend and am going to be a hobby art printer - so investing in tympan seems silly at first if there are cheaper alternatives, or a DIY solution. Any advice would help. Thanks!

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Tympan paper, also called the draw sheet serves to hold the packing in place and also to hold gauge pins. The old oiled kraft paper had a hard smooth finish that allowed the sheet to be printed to slide smoothly into the pins. The sheet was oiled and then run through rollers to remove the oil and leave the sheet dry with a nice smooth finish.
A sheet of butcher paper or even a sheet of copy paper will serve the purpose.
Unless you wish to do smash printing and punch through the back of the sheet, your packing should be hard.
Get some ink on your shirt.

I use old brown envelopes for the top sheet. As for the packing a common starting point described in the old manuals was half a dozen sheets of newsprint with a card underneath.

A rubber sheet packing used to be sold with Kelsey’s and some other presses, on one press I have just a piece of .5mm rubber bought on eBay with the top sheet.

I have used the poly-coated butcher-paper for packing in the past and found it acceptable, but for the most part, I use regular prepared tympan paper on my presses. I have purchased cut-to-size sheets from NA Graphics in the past.

John Henry

You guys are the best! Thank you!!

Okay - next question - is the tympan oiled so that it doesn’t absorb moisture and rust the platen?? Will poly coated butcher paper keep that from happening? Trying to understand the whole purpose of the paper to know if it’s worth the investment right now. Thanks!

A set up called ‘Swiss packing’ has a mylar plastic top sheet, some very hard calendered middle sheets, a material often called ‘Tympan manilla’ - stuff a bit like business card stock,
but not quite so hard, and against the metal of the platen a piece of second hand litho press blanket. with the canvas towards the type forme, and the rubber face towards the metal of the platen.
This sandwich is varied for various jobs a forme only of
type needing full hardness, blocks sometimes needing newsprint in the middle instead of the tyman manilla. The mylar top sheet will last quite a few jobs, the bottom blanket more or less for ever. Devised in Switzerland during WW2 whilst the UK had other things on its mind!