Boxcar press out of stock?!

Hello everyone my name is Anthony and I am brand new to the letterpress industry. I am trying to give it a shot as a young entrepreneur. I currently own a 6x10 C&P letterpress, it is a gorgeous table top press and I have absolutely fallen in love with it. I have been able to play with a few old plates on wood backing but earlier this year I was told that a company based out of New York called Boxcar press sells modifications to my press and then polymer plates. Unfortunately boxcar has been out of stock, since the new year at least, of the boxcar bases. I have been in constant contact with them about when they will be in stock, however, it seems that they don’t actually have an accurate idea when or if they ever will be in stock. Long story but I am curious if anyone knows of an alternative or if someone here is able to make base plates. Thank you!

Anthony Flores
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Log in to reply   24 replies so far

I’ve been in contact with them also! I recently purchased a 6x10 C&P OS Pilot Press and have been waiting for a base as well.

I contacted Boxcar last week and they advised a “couple of weeks” at best, but did give the disclaimer that they don’t like to give an estimate until the bases are on the truck. Crossing my fingers and hoping it’s sooner rather than later because I’ve had zero luck finding any viable alternatives for the base.


This gentleman has some boxcar base for sale
also here..

Elum Designs ( makes very similar bases, although the surface is black with a light-colored grid.

WHY Has Nobody on the entire collective!! able to suggest that LONG, LONG, before the Opportunists were even in existence that Plates, Cuts, Blocks, etc., etc., were mounted, on at least 6 different Mediums, (specified on B.P. several times recently)

It seems ridiculous that in this day and age, that post after post, states that X, Y, Zee are out of stock.!!!

Perhaps the *Good Ole Boys* are too patriotic, too embarrassed, too diplomatic or plain, just do not Know or Remember any of the following:-

ALL Plate Mounting material, Virtually all compatible one with the other, Made up to suit any Format/Chase size, NOT restricted to one size Base, take it or leave it.??
Resalite, Cornerstone, Paxolin, Stereo metal Base, Monotye Mounting Quads, Monotype >HIGH< girder furniture, Elrod >HIGH< strip mounting material, Honey-Comb,with toggle hooks & Adaptor sheet in compound sectional format, *L* shape that make up Ad Infinitum, and more..

From the Eastern Seaboard to the West Coast,! (U.S.) there must be a Few Tons of the above, still around.

The New Devotees, should surely, be given the chance to know how it used to be, even if not available.

Mick, I guess you and I are the only ones that remember mounting plates on all those other things.

I have had much success building a substitute. If you have a table saw or a way to make clean cuts, it isn’t too hard. I took furniture grade ply wood. (.75inches thick, and furniture grade to hopefully minimize knots on the inside) and spray adhesived it to a sheet of grided posterboard I got form walmart. (about the same thickness as a piece of bristol paper) I then adhesived a sheet of .118inch thick plexi on top of that. Then pressed them all together on a surface I knew was uniformly flat. This makes a base high enough for the K152 plastic backed plates. I havent exposed them to anything other than indoor conditions, but the bases seem to hold up well.
Best of luck!

Thank you for the comments everyone. Looks like I have more homework to do this week! :D

@heytonyphoto and @nikc82,

google “metal supply” near you. go the yard and pick up a piece of solid aluminum in the approximate dimensions that you require.

then find a metal fabrication shop that can mill the piece to the correct height (depending upon what plates you’re using) and you’re good to go.

it won’t have the anodized finish with grid but it works just as well and will save you a lot of money.

Hey Mick, thanks for your rant, and I generally agree. I guess Boxcar is the go-to base because the lines make it easy to square up.
I don’t use boxcar, as I only print from copper engravings. I get mine from Owosso, either mounted cherrywood, or on magnesium base. I use the mag base when I need to pound the stock on long runs. Reasonable cost, just let them know what you need. Same day service.
I also still use Sterling toggle base, which is excellent. I can use my old 1/4” foil dies for printing.

There are many ways to make a less precise substitute base, but these bases will tend to cause variation in inking and impression. It’s a personal choice, of course, but I’ve always felt that printing is hard enough without variation in the height of the form to fight. Whenever I print, I want to spend as little time on makeready as possible.

I am deeply sorry for the stocking issues with our bases this winter. It’s true we’ve had trouble keeping bases in stock recently (due to a variety of factors). The good news is that Deep Relief bases for KF152 plates will be in on Thursday, April 6 (in two days). Our Standard bases for KF95 and 94FL plates will be in next week.

Thanks for your patience, and we’re actively working to avoid similar stockouts in the future.

Lo and behold Boxcar calls me this morning and tells me that they have a shipment coming in this week. Thank you everyone for the responses. I am really impressed at how active this community is.

Boxcar, With respect, it is virtually impossible to Better, the Mounting base products, as listed above, M.o M. (author)

50,s 60,s 70,s until THE demise,? most everybody used one or more of the above methods, from the Tiny Table Top to the Giant Meihle,s Tirfing,s Jo,bergs, Kelly,s etc.

Metaphorically, almost literally in some cases, in less time than some of the posts take to write, the pages would have been *Made Up* on pre-make ready galleys, with the factored in Acrylic sheet REGISTER/POSITION system in use, and then 4,s 8,s and 16,s (page forms) on the M.c. one PULL on sacrificial Tympan, - Fed through a 3 M overlay/underlay machine, to give perfect overall and uniform *Height* between Heavy pages of type, Lighter pages of Ads, etc., and full out pages of 4 Colour process Plates.
Not exactly awe inspiring PROGRESS this far.!!

Perhaps look up the Lyrics to Your Own, fantastic,

Woody Guthries, *Grand Coulee Dam* quote last verse:-

…Now in Washington and Oregon, You can hear the factories hum,
…Making chrome and making Manganese and Light Aluminum, etc.

With the above in mind, Stateside, should be light years ahead of all else, all others, of course awaiting supplies from JAPAN must be tricky.??

B.P. Payne, thank you for your little comment, I can handle *Rant* as opposed to Seminar, Epistle, Teach In or W,H.Y. as long as the message gets through, or as Me Dad used to say, If they (P.C. brigade) are slagging Me off somebody else is having an easy ride.!!

Dick, Thank You also,still think it is sad, that so much has been lost, in so short a time.


Well done Mick,
l’m one of the oldies who is still using some of the old plate mounting methods. I mainly use honeycombe base and clips for the kf152 plates, mounting the polymer plate onto lead shim or aluminum plate using double sided tape. I also have some Stevenson Blake mount with the wooden dowels, galleys of monotype woodfilled high quads and also slabs of lead mount for copper or zinc originals. Back in the 1960s I worked in a company that had a foundry and they made their own base using wooden dowels about 1 inch in diameter and lead making slabs big enough to fill a Heidelberg cylinder chase, about 30 inches wide.

The problem with “work arounds” is that there are better solutions. The Boxcar base is very well made, accurate, and easy to use. For production work, work involving heavy impression, and ease of use, the Boxcar base for adhesive mounted photopolymer is the norm. What Mick recommended worked for the days and people who had to make do even though accurate base systems were around since the 1890s. Some shops and printers chose not to employ those methods and they put up with inaccurate base material made up of odds and ends. It has been a long time, and I mean over 100 years, that wood has been recognized as the worst mounting material—it shrinks, warps, expands, splits, and the made up blocking used for photoengravings can compress under impression.

I can appreciate the supply problem Kyle and Boxcar have had in securing new material. I have been waiting since last October for Bar-Plate to complete a new run of hi-speed quoins to the point that I have a standing order now for 40 of the 6” ones and they are finally shipping this week. We are lucky that anyone is willing to make this stuff and invest their capital in what have become hugely expensive stocking options.

Frank, could you show some pictures of your wood filled high Monotype quads please? I’ve only seen them once in a leaflet that was issued by the Amsterdam office of the Monotype corporation. And when it comes to mounting plates, I use standard aluminium material that nearly all European foundries/suppliers sold. Light, accurate, and because of its sizes, easy to combine with type in the forme. Once finished printing, I put them either on the radiator or on an electric hotplate to soften the double-sided tape and remove the plate.

Thomas, I will post some photos hopefully in a few days. I will
not be in the workshop until tomorrow at the earliest.

The biggest problem I see with Boxcar is they do not plan ahead. They have a great product that many people want, but they fall to keep a small supply on hand.

I totally understand, money in inventory just sitting there cost a business money. But, Boxcar has been in business a long time, and they should by now, know, what sizes people are always buying.


Hello Anthony, you could buy aluminum plate and take it to a machine shop and have them flycut it to the correct dimension and make your own base I did and have enough to cover any size needed. You don’t get the grid but thats just another workaround. A little online research for the correct hardness pf the aluminum and your good to go with a proper base.
Good Luck and good printing.
Ted Lavin Artificer press

Another one,? that sadly seems to have *Gone by the Board*
Way Way back, unfortunately, Honeycomb Base for register Hooks (usually Minimum of 4 options) BUT in low height format, exactly as low leads/strip from Monotype/Elrod etc., etc.,

The plates, Cuts, W.H.Y. were mounted with D.S.A. onto intermediate adaptor base, from In House stock 20” x 30” approx., precision cut to required size, (plate/cut etc.) to suit, plate mounted on intermediate sub base,!! Register Hooked into position, inc., 4 colour, the intermediate *base*, (generally Paxolin) was (and still is) the exact thickness to give .918 overall Height, plus the *Lips* of the hooks registered precisely against the intermediate base, for micro register adjustments.

When the Job(s) had >Gone Home< the plates were dismounted, filed or returned, the intermediate base was merely Racked/Stored for future use, As Is/Was or cut down Ad Infinitum.

Yet another, lost L/Press treasure, sadly.!

I’ve had some bases made from my local engraver/mag plate supplier. They don’t have the grid lines, but I’ve found they haven’t really been needed on most presses (probably most useful on a Windmill). And a plus, you can spec whatever size you desire. Augustine Co. in Marshalltown, Iowa is where mine were made, but you may be able to source someone closer to you as well.

why not check out these?????

Hey old letterpress man, supplying customers with a quality product can be interrupted by a lot of things when you have your product made to order and then you distribute it to your customers.
There are all kinds of supply chain problems along the way and you just can’t anticipate everything.

I don’t see them as bad at communicating with their customers or doing a poor job of understanding their customers- and it’s not like they’re closing up shop because they don’t understand their customers, so let’s all try and give them the benefit of the doubt?

Additionally, why are so many people so quick to point out other methods of solving the problem that are not in reach or in the realm of interest (or possibly understanding) of the average consumer of a boxcar base?
The person buying this base is a person who has a press and wants to get quality printing out of it easily, with a minimum of makeready and a minimum of fuss. They want to take the ‘my base is not correct’ part out of the equation and just troubleshoot the press, an they are financially imbued with the ability to do so, so they’re choosing the boxcar base.
As I see it- This is not usually a person who wants to fuss with the right honeycomb or cast a base out of lead or necessarily make a multi-layered base out of wood and other materials.
(Do you want to do that, typical boxcar base customer?)

This is not to say other methods of using plates and getting them to type high are ‘wrong’, but it would be worthwhile to consider heeding the idea that demand has driven this excellent product into existence, and the company making the product and providing a service to our community should probably be a bit more lauded for establishing a new standard rather than disparaged for being unable to keep up with a sector of demand for a particular instance of that product.
It’s not the only way to print, no, but they make it a lot easier to print for a great deal of folks, stocking problems aside, and I gather most of those folks choose to go with the company providing excellent customer support even AFTER the customer buys the base.

I’m just trying to say, we’d all have it a bit harder, without them.

in reply to Thomas Gravemaker, here are a couple of pictures of wood filled monotype quads 6x6 and 6x3

image: IMG_9322.jpg


image: IMG_9323.jpg