kluge motor

hello letterpress lovers!
I have a 12x18 kluge with a very old motor that blows fuses in both the variable speed control as well as the electric box. I can’t get it going at all. Unfortunately, the tag on the motor has been removed and I have no idea the specs. I’ve taken it to a motor guy and he claims I need to spend $1000 to rebuild it. I asked if I could purchase a new motor and variable speed control for less and was told no. I find that hard to believe. I’m no specialist but I have certainly seen presses running on much newer motors.

Does anyone have a Kluge they run on a newer motor? He mentioned if I could get specs on a motor for a similar machine I might be able to get a new or newer motor but he doubts it. If someone is running a 12x18 & has a motor tag they can easily take a photo of & upload, that would be most helpful. Or if you have run into a similar situation and purchased a new motor for a 12x18 Kluge & know who I can talk to, that would be awesome.

Thanks in advance! Looking forward to your insight.

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you can run a newer motor with a VFD. you can run off of a number of electric supply lines. single phase, 3 phase, 120v, 208v, 220v…. the Variable Frequency Drive is a true “magic box”. Many want to keep presses “period correct” , which is fine. I think though, when it comes to electric, it is best to use “current” (no pun intended) technologies. it is much safer btw, than the resistor “firebox”, with an “exposed brush” motor.

I’m not associated with this company.

I know that Matt over at afinepress, used one of their kits for his kluge with good results.


Thanks so much ericm & rmiller021
this is very helpful.

i just looked over the link above. I think for a “hobbyist-medium duty” shop, these are pretty good prices. i just paid $460.00 for a VFD alone. this is for a 14 x 22 press with 3hp motor that runs hard at times. just make sure there is really good customer support when it comes to setting up the VFD. most of the time, the “default settings are usable, but fine tuning them, makes them awesome.
your 12 x 18 will want 1.0hp - 2hp motor i know some peeps get by with .5-.75hp, but these are direct drive, with drive reduction, full power motors. “soft-starting” an under powered motor puts un-needed strain on the system… better off a little over-powered than under.
finally, make sure “line-in” is capable. IE: sufficient wire and breaker size. i would suggest a 208-240v single phase “line-in” supply.(although 110-115v is very usable) most homes or small shop situations do not have 3 phase power.
Someone with competent mechanical ability would prob have to make some sort of way to mount the new motor properly. don’t forget about a belt guard of some sort. You don’t want the neighbor’s kid (little creep that he is) getting wrapped up in there.


That old Kluge motor may be a GE or Northwestern repulsion style motor. These were meant to run with a controller matching the motor. The controllers were multi tap variable transformers—so the motors were operating at variable voltages. If you have a speed control with either a big round knob on a pedestal box (GE) or a tall square box with a 10 position rotary switch (Northwestern) then the problem is either a bad segment on the controller, or a dead short in the motor (rewind land).

Not sure how these old motors would interchange with a variable frequency drive, but I suspect they won’t—since a VFD “chops” a constant voltage to provide varying levels of power. You might get the OEM motor to play with a VFD at full power, but suspect that otherwise you’ll pop fuses on the VFD controller.

The fix is a new motor, ideally a 3 phase one designed to work with the VFD you have (if you have one).

This is very, very helpful ericm!
I dropped th ball when I got slammed with spring orders. Getting ready to get back on this & get her up & running. Thank you.
And thanks justyas003 & mikefrommontana
You guys are amazing!