Ghost effect with one specific ink

Hello all,

Today I am having an issue with one specific ink that I cannot for the life of me solve. It shows up over the complete design which is an A2 card. I’ve tried other plates, flipped the setup, and it seems to be the ink rather than the plates. I’m running with a boxcar base, KF 95 plates, on a Heidelberg Windmill. I’m using brass guides and Lettra 110#.

What I have tried so far:
Adding mag powder to ink to stiffen it.
Adding oil to ink to thin it.
Fresh packing
Various impressions
Super high rollers
Type high rollers
The paper is relatively flat
Tried impressing and bending paper where print lands
Cleaned roller trucks and rails
Ink is pre-mixed (rubber based), so I mixed the PMS using two base colors.
I can’t fit a frisket, but like I said the paper is flat.
Never had the issue with any other ink color, just this dark blue.

Any thoughts?Anything I am missing? I’m going to order more ink, but after mixing it and having the same issue, I’m worried that won’t result in any improvement.


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Log in to reply   10 replies so far

Not easy to see from your pictures. Are you doing deep impression. If you are I would favour the kf 152 plates.
Have you tried oil based inks? Rider roller? Or a harder packing with maybe an acetate sheet under the tympan. You have tried the most obvious options already so it is difficult to make sensible suggestions. Good luck.

First, what is your printing sequence? Are you printing overall gray, then blue, on white paper? Or blue with white stars on gray paper (I don’t use Lettra so don’t know if it comes in gray or not).

It took me a while, but I think I can now see what you are talking about. There is a faint haze of blue to the right of the blue type in the pictures (or below the type if holding the job right side up). Is that correct?

The paper might be slapping (or moving) against the plate just before it is clamped into position by the platen as the impression is made. The paper looks like it is sliding against the plate. I haven’t run a windmill in 40 years, but could the paper be coming close to the plate just before the gripper stops moving, so the paper would be sliding against the plate?

Could you somehow keep the paper closer to the platen and farther away from the plate until the impression is made?

Could it be that you have run into this problem before, maybe to a lesser extent, but it wasn’t as obvious as this is due to the blue being such a dark color.

If you are printing that blue over a solid gray ink, it might be more apt to be causing the problem than if the blue were printed directly on paper. If that is the case, you could probably mix the gray using black and trans white and print the blue first and gray second, without being able to tell you did that. However, you would have to make sure the blue was completely dry before printing the gray, to be sure the blue didn’t bleed into the gray.

Just kicking around a few thoughts.

It rather hard to tell the problem from the pix. It seems like you’ve used the scientific method, change one thing check for results. Have you tried a different color ink for testing purposes to see if it is mechanical, or chemical(ink) related?

Have you tried running a few prints by turning the press over by hand to see what is going on? The images are not very clear, but it appears to me that the paper is dragging against the plate before and/or after impression resulting in the off-register ghost image.

Is the packing nice and tight? Do you have the right amount of packing for the job?


I am also having trouble seeing what’s going on in the photos…but is it a weird smudge/shadow?? I only ask because I was just fighting with my press over the same issue and a similar color, haha. I did not find a solution as of yet.. (Haven’t tried another ink on my plate, I guess I should!)

Thanks for chiming in everyone! I super appreciate it. Attached are hopefully a few better picks.

The stock is just Lettra 110# pearl, but I have the same issue on Savoy (118 & 92#), so it’s not the stock. The packing is set for decent impression with a little push out on the back of the paper, but nothing ridiculous. I always hold back a bit because double sheet feeds can smash a plate real fast sometimes. My pack is a mix of manilla and newsprint, both from NA Graphics. Standard stuff, and I used a fresh tympan just to see if that was it. I did not try another ink, but I print similar art all day every day with many colors from the same company and this definitely never happens. So it’s got to be the ink for some reason?

There is a foil layer printed on the paper, but it’s amazingly flat still even with that on there. I print ridiculous full sheet trap-less bleed prints here and I can always solve any issue that comes up, except for this lol!

I did think to maybe try a different brand of ink and maybe try mixing a new ink to try. Maybe it’s a binder in the reflex blue that Gans uses in their ink or something? Anyway thank you so much for the help. Love the Briar Press support as always!


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These are still low res images, but I think you’re concerned with the slur at the bottom of some of the letters. So, for whatever reason, even though your packing is tight, the paper is flat, same paper, ink, etc this problem is occurring. I would definitely be running a frisket finger to get the plate to release cleanly. Why can’t you get a frisket in there? Because of the base? Then try a copper engraving, wood mounted. I get mine from You could mount your frisket finger where you need to. Just the way I see it. Best wishes, Bruce


So today, different setup, different ink, the same issue is happening. I took advice from y’all and really watched my paper, but it’s rather flat and the plates are good. As I was watching the press closed moving slowly, I noticed that the mechanism that moves my guide bar was dipping ever so slightly as the press was near closed/print position. I cleaned everything up, oiled it, and I don’t see how I could make this action stop. It’s like the spring is bad or something?

Anyway, so I ran some tests without guides, and it came out super clean. No ghost edges below the type at all. Why this started happening now, I have no idea. Did a part go bad somehow? Anyone know why my lower guide bar might dip when it nears the fully closed position?


To finish this up, I determined what was happening for anyone who might read this someday.

The plates were deep relief and I have a standard boxcar base. Because of compartmentalizing here at our shop, and lack of communication, somehow we never stopped ordering deep relief plates after getting a heidelberg years ago. I upgraded to a standard base (we had been using an uneven homemade base) when I started this year, but never figured out the plates were wrong. So, in short, I’ve been getting great results running rollers soooooo high, setting the height with trial and error throughout each week. So with persistence, anything is doable lol, and soon I’ll have the right base to setup to achieve even better print results. Onward and upward!


This demonstrates the value of determining if a plate or assembly of plate and base is type-high or not; also, if everything is level or not. Much trouble may thereby be avoided.