Friday, October 31, 2008
Well, the title is a little misleading. It's not a new discovery, we've had this press out in the barn of the Settlement for about ten years, now. As far as hunting, that's not far from the truth. I had to work my way to the back of the barn for this entry. What made it a bit easier is that some of the stuff was cleared out for the Anual Jamboree. But I have come across presses such as this stored in similar environments over the years here in Central Florida and in the Tampa Bay area. So I thought I might use Casey's Sister here for our subject. Casey is the 12x18 in the Print Shop.
In Florida, we don't have basements. We have garages, carports and . . . barns. Years ago, before U-Haul and Penske had air conditioned storage, we had carriage houses, sheds and other outbuildings built off the ground about three feet to guard against floods or incessant humidity. The wood of choice was cypress. The roof of choice was galvanized tin. You never know what you'll find in one of these structures. At the Settlement we have a rather large, aged barn large enough to hold the Grand Ole Opry in. And tucked in the corner behind the stage sits our subject.
The Pioneer Settlement is having their annual Jamboree this weekend, so they have a stage set up in the barn, but they couldn't move the big gal. You need a pallet jack and some steel pipes to roll this press around. As it is, they built the stage smack in front of her. So I had to shoot these images thru bales of hay. You may notice that lever: it's not common on C&Ps. I believe it is a break for the flywheel shaft. It's a powered press, and it looks like the break is automotive. That is, not a simple friction block, but actual break shoes and cylinder! Either that, or it's a speed control clutch. Hmm . . . a four speed manual with overdrive!
She's a 12x18 NS Chandler & Price. At one time she printed shopping inserts for the Daytona Beach edition of the Orlando Sentinel Star. She was meant to be power driven, unlike her brother Casey, which is treadle operated. I took some time out up at the Settlement to take some photos of her. She is wholly unspoiled . . . and un restored. Fortunately, she's all there!
The barn is actually pretty good about weather. It's not insulated from the humidity from atmosphere, but it is insulated from mother earth. Thus, she has gathered dust and rust. But not all that much considering the time she has spent out there. I shot some photos as sort of a photo primer of how you may find a press in Old Florida Storage. While the canvas hood of a 1950 Pinin Farina may not survive this environment, Iron and Steel presses actually do fairly well. A lot has to do with the grease that inevitably covers them. Very few presses are cleaned off, degreased, then parked out in a barn. They are usually lifted straight from their former place of employment.
I opened the back barn door to get a flywheel side shot. The powdery stuff you see is dust settled upon the grease. There is a little surface rust in most places. The straight spokes give her away as a New Style. Because she's dead up against that wall, I cannot open the "clam shell". Also the key is missing from the flywheel so it freewheels. Not bad if you want to remove the flywheel and move it. Because the press is in impression position, as well as against the wall, I could not move the impression throw, but inspecting the linkage shows it's there. It may need to be freed up a bit, lubricated, wire brushed, but it's there. No problem.
This is the platen just in front of the delivery table. The shaft upon which it rotates is typically surface rusted. Also no problem, in fact, what I usually do is clean what I can, keep a coat of oil on it and leave it go. The metal actually making contact with moving iron where the oil ports are is the point of major concern. Usually they are clean, protected by the oil that was there. So long as you clean out the oil ports, and lub her up again before you run her, she'll be fine. I use a combination of dremel drill, Q-tip or even paper clip to get gunk out of a clogged oil port, then shoot WD-40 in it to displace any water that may have gotten in there. Q-tip it out of the larger ports. Even the smaller ports you can use Q-tips, just pull off some of the cotton.
This is the bottom rear hinge shaft. Most of the rust on this press is here, actually. Like the Platen's shaft, it looks like it's got a layer of rust. Nothing a wire brush wheel on a good drill couldn't handle. The castings which hold the shaft have rust on them too. I scraped the rust to see how deep it was. Nothing that couldn't be cleaned with a wire brush, primed with Sherman Williams Iron primer and painted with Rustoleum for protection.
This is the shaft on which the rollers pivot. It gets a lot of pendulum action. A lot of it just needs to be degreased, some wire brush work. The oil ports looked clean, and again, regardless on the cosmetics, what counts is the integrity of the metal where friction happens. See those streaks? Dust and condensation from humidity. Many of the surfaces have a coating of grease which, while messy, had offered protection. In fact, a few places have the original green paint. Now, even inspite of a greasy grime layer, dust IS hygroscopic, and will convey moisture. A close examination reveals small rust pits even in some of the "clean" areas, but I wiped a lot of it off with a rag. So the oxidation process was impeded, at least. The saddles, springs and spring shafts look amazingly clean!
The Flywheel shaft has no key, as can be seen. The flywheel freely spins. This is actually a positive clue. I would have been nervous if the flywheel was frozen, because it would have meant rust in the glideways. If an exposed area such as this is clear, despite oxidation and surface rust, the more internal parts have a great chance of being at least as clear, if not even better.
We are back at the rear hinge, here. This is a closeup of the rust. This is about the worst rust on the press. Nothing to write home about. It will take a little pressure with the brush wheel, but there is certainly no structural compromise. I took a blade and scraped some of it, as you can see the lighter coloured swipe. Automobile restorers would be pleased as punch if all the rust they found on their project restorations amounted to this!
The green you see is actually the original press colour. The roller's spring shafts on that side can be seen, and fairly shiney at that! Crazy! The linkage here is for the "dog", or ratchet that turns the ink disk. Not very much rust, here.
This is the bottom of the ink disk. The roughage around the bottom of the disk lip edge is from years of ink that crept around the disk and was not cleaned. This is pretty common, I've rarely seen disks that didn't have this build-up in an unrestored state. Nothing a wire brush and Rustoleum can't make short work of.
This is a shot from the rear of the type bed, left roller rail (left that is, if you are facing the press from the delivery board.) All you find here is dust, some grime, and very little rust. Clean this area with a Dremmel wire brush, the areas are fairly tight here. Whenever you wire brush, you abraid down to bare metal. You must protect this bare metal either with a coating of oil or grease, or with appropriate paint. A lot of press owners simply rub their presses down in oil or something like it. I have used a 50/50 mix of Diesel fuel and motor oil before with good success. It can darken the iron a bit. In fact, this mixture is used to break free frozen bearings and shafts by many Smiths. I've also seen Diesel / Transmission fluid mixes used, too. I think the Diesel gives increased penetrative properties to the oil.
Here are some 12x18 specs:
Floor space: 55-1/2 x 60 inches (only 5 inches more than the 8x12!)
Space through which press will pass:
Assembled: 46" / Flywheel and right side drive wheel removed: 36 / stripped:25-1/2"
Centre of Flywheel to floor inches: 21-1/2"
Flywheel Revolution per Impression (RPI): 7
Max Impressions per Hour (IPH): 1800
Drive Motor Horsepower: 1/2 hp.
Weight, Assembled: 2400 lbs.
All for now.
Good Providence in all your Letterpress Endeavours!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It's dawned on me that it might be a good thing to show what the original Christmas Seal looked like. This was the first issue of the first . . . uh . . . issue. There were two versions, actually: One simply read "Merry Christmas". The other issue came after Christmas (like mine did) and so had added "Happy New Year" to extend it's use.
Here, in all it's simple glory, is Emily Bissell's original masterpiece.
You can see that while mine is not a reproduction by any means, the inspiration is about a close as you can get. The following photo I added just for good measure. It's the 1908 Bissell design. This one is lithographed red and green, and they've been multicoloured every year thereafter.
Monday, October 27, 2008
(Please read important update at the bottom of this installment.)
I changed inks from Rhodemine Red to Brick Red acrylic. I like this colour better, personally. Running this job served a number of purposes: not only to help me iron kinks out of the press itself, but out of me as well. For one thing, I had forgotten a number of things. It has been some years before I did anything like production work, and even then it was on a treadle press. For instance, I forgot that while Letterpresses are the most frugal of presses when it comes to ink economy, any time you have a plate or forme that requires broad areas of coverage, suddenly the press will dramatically increase it's ink consumption. I remember this from when I ran linocuts on the 9x13 Kelsey, but had forgotten. I couldn't figure out why after about 250 impressions the ink started getting light. I added a tad bit of packing just to make sure it wasn't a contact issue. The rollers made more than good contact with the forme. Then I added a dab or two of ink, and she darkened up for about another 250 impressions.
The overall image (9 seals in 3x3 format) is approximately 4 x 6 inches, and the holly leaves are solid, as is the red cross. Not a huge amount of coverage, but still much more than if I was running text entirely. Thus, I updated the ol' grey matter (memory) a bit.
Another thing that jogged my memory was the need for consistency of feed timing and focus. When treadling, you can sort of "cheat" by slowing down as needs be. I could fudge a poor insertion, take a split second to quickly flip the impression around to check for any punch thru the back of the stock, etc. Not so with powered drive!! It goes with or without you! The best you can do is throw the impression lever, flip off the switch ( I heartily recommend a foot switch! ) and if you have no break, slip-break the flywheel by hand. Do your checking every so many impressions, not while you are feeding. Focus on your feed and pull cadence. Don't sweat the mis-feeds. Concentrate. You are already doing several things at once as it is: proper feeding which must puzzle-fit time wise with your pull, and then you are stacking, and that's no simple thing either! If you don't have a method, that pull stack can get all over the place. So, you have to have your feed method ready, your timing in place, and your pull stacking place ready to go. My pull stack has a fence, and a wedge that permits the stock to naturally glide against the fence. Gravity does work for me.
After an hour, my back began to let me know I am over fifty. Dang! I forgot again! Easy fix: spread legs apart slightly, bend the knees a tad, keep back straight. Stood another hour behind the feedboard, no problems, although I may get an ergonomic mat soon.
So, even though I consider myself somewhat experienced with a Letterpress of this ilk, I am still on the learning curve. I believe to one degree or another, we all are, really.
Hey! Let's talk a little about the thing I'm printing! The common Christmas Seal has quite an interesting history, really. I'll do this by memory if I can. For any "fills" or more information, check out the Scotts Specialized Stamp Catalogue.
In 1904, Miss Emily Bissell was introduced to a new way to drive funding for charitable endeavours: the Danish Post Office sold Christmas Labels, dedicating the proceeds thereof to whatever fund they were participating in. Around the same time, postal authorities began attaching surcharge labels to standard postage stamps in Belgium, separating the label from the stamp by perforations. Emily brought this idea home with her. Why not use this method for sales to fund the National Red Cross? It wouldn't be the first time postal labels were used in this country, actually. In a more indirect way, they were used for funding "Sanitary Fairs" during the War Between the States. Sanitary Fairs were events held to fund the purchase of bandages and other medical items for the embattled troops. It was the ladies back home that made and wrapped bandages, cartridges, etc. for the boys in battle. The National Red Cross was one of the organisations involved in the Health and Welfare efforts in this war, and every war thereafter.
The National Red Cross later became the American Red Cross, btw.
Emily's Christmas Labels were different. These funded the Red Cross directly. Taking the Que from Denmark's 1904 Christmas Labels, she designed a Label that was quite simple: a spray of holly surrounding the Red Cross Emblem. The text "Merry Christmas", with the later addition of "Happy New Year" due to late issuance, was included in the design, which set the pattern for Christmas Seals for years to come. I do not believe these seals were mailed, I think you actually had to purchase them to obtain them from a specific location, either the Post Office or the local Red Cross office, I forget which. Some of the specifics have left me, but I do know they were not give-aways.
The sales realised were upwards of $3,000, and increased every year thereafter. The next year, 1908, used a design, similar to Emily Bissell's, but designed by Howard Pyle, using two colours (red and green) with text surrounding the design similarly to my own commemorative. Just to show how popular these seals became, the sales (yes, again, these were sold, not given out)for the second year issue topped $130,000! The following year $250,000! The original 1907 Seal was the only single colour Seal ever issued: red. In fact, it was very close to Brick, the colour I use on the Settlement's Pioneer Press issue.
I designed the 2007 Centennial Commemorative borrowing from the basic original Bissell design. A spray of holley, a Red Cross, and the simple "Merry Christmas". The surrounding text suggests the Seal of 1908. I did not wish to actually make a reproduction because of possible copyright infringement, but I did want the design to recall the "spirit" of the original. While there are only just so many ways to render holly, holly berries and a cruciform cross, I did add hatch shading in the corners, used Fette Fraktur for the central text, and Magdeburg for the surrounding text. I added "1907 - 2007" to commemorate the original issue. My particular issue is imperforate, without gum. If you really DO want to use these as seals, you have to do what the first users of Postal Labels and Postage Stamps had to do: use scissors and paste! A dab of Library paste of evern a thin spread of Elmer's Glue will work. Basically, that's what they did for stamps prior to 1850. Emily's Seals, of course, were perforate and gummed.
My hope is to add a little bit of appreciation not only to the Christmas Seal, but also to Emily Bissell who fostererd it. Since 1907, countless organisations have used Seals of one sort or other to fund their causes. In 1915, the Red Cross cruciform was changed to the double staffed cross of the American Tuberculosis Society, a spin off of the ARC, and has used the Christmas Seal ever since as it's major funding source.
While the original Bissell Seals were Lithographed by Theo. Leonhardt & Sons, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, several issues between 1909 and 1930 were Typographed in a manner similar to my production method: Letterpress from an Electrotype or Stereotype plate, or forme. My "forme" is actually a quarter inch thick copper plate created from my own vector design, drawn in FreeHand, and plated by Owosso Graphics. They produce excellent letterpress plates, and copper has a lot of endurance.
Would you like a Centennial Souvenier Sheet from the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts? Just attend the Jamboree on the first weekend of November. Or . . . contact me. During the Jamboree they are free, although we will take donations for Bissell's original cause: the American Red Cross. Any that I mail out will cost one dollar plus cost of postage, for the same reason: donation to the American Red Cross. We here in Florida have a close bond with the ARC because of our propensity towards Hurricanes. So in keeping with the original intent of these Seals, the ARC gets any proceeds from any sales of these sheets. Drop me a request by e-Mail at: email@example.com
Also, come and visit the Settlement! If you are local and would like to volunteer at the print shop, contact me as well. We need some other letterpress folks to become involved!
Good Providence in ALL your endeavours!
(Update: as of 3/7/2015, I actually still have a few of these sheets left. While the donation window has closed now, five years after this article was written, I'm sure the local Red Cross Chapter wouldn't refuse a donation. I must, however, up the cost owing to mailing and other increases around the shop. May I suggest five dollars? Partially to get a mailer and cut chip board backing to send these safely to you, and partially so that the ARC might still receive a donation. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending upon response, I may offer a re-issue of these seals from the original die.)
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Ok, I'm sure there's a bunch out there who are saying "Oh, yeah! Don't you know what that is, Mr. Knowitall Printer Guy??" And I'll say "No. I don't. Not a clue."
Anyone care to enlighten me? Here's a little help: It showed up with donations to the Settlement Print Shop. Along with Brayer holders without rollers, square alloy recepticals with wooden handles, which at first I thought to melt metal in, but no, they are not sealed. Also a bunch of numbering heads and a box full of challenge iron wedge quoins and keys.
So, any ideas?
Here are some close ups.
Inquiring minds want to know. :>)
Good Providence in your archeological endeavours!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's been somewhat difficult getting out to the shop to do some much needed work on the C&P's drive motor. Just Life getting in the way, I guess. But this week I had a few days off and some spare time. Thus, this most recent installment.
When I purchased the press, the former owner who is himself a professional, and no slouch on Letterpresses, gave me a head's up on the condition of the motor, which was no surprise to me. The deal I got on both the initial purchase and the subsquent hauling more than compensated for any added expense in restoring the motor to, at very least, safe operation.
The motor itself is about one horsepower, single phase, and probably about 40 years old. No doubt I will be facing bearing issues, but at this point it works, albeit a little noisy. I've set the motor up for minimal pressure on the nose, just the weight of the motor itself, which provides just enough traction to turn the flywheel.
Somewhere along the line the protective cover for the motor's wiring harness and starter capacitors went AWOL, so years ago a piece of cardboard was cut and duct-taped over the wiring utility box. An SPST (Single Pole Single Throw) switch is utilised to power the motor off and on, which came screwed into a mis-matched switch housing and held together, if I recall, with an oversized wood screw! It was . . . scarey.
In a prior post you will find photos of my having somewhat disassembled the motor and painting the surfaces that showed signs of rust. I put on two coats of grey Rustoleum, allowing about a week between coats. Today I re-installed the painted sections, and re-wired the electronics. This evening I smoke tested the motor, and she fired right up. The new switch works, and is mounted into a proper housling. The wires to the switch and power outlet run thru flexible metal 'snakes'. I had to custom-fabricate the cover for the utility box, they are not to be commercially found these days. Fortunately I have the tools. After the plate goes back on, I have to fabricate a mount under the feedboard for the switch. Then she's ready to go! All the press itself needs is a good dusting.
So, that was my Tuesday! How was yours?
By the way, if anyone has any inquiries, please - inquire away! I don't bite, and it's great to help somebody out. If you are interested in Letterpress but are sorta intimidated by the larger mail-groups, feel free to join Florida Letterpress. The purpose of this blog site is to provide an educational service to others similarly inspired to learn this flavour of Typography, to help others along as they grapple with their own presses, plates or designs, perhaps to provide some motivation, encouragement or advice as propriety demands, and also to talk up Letterpress! I have a really soft spot for newbies, novices, beginners, whichever term may apply, so remember: the only dumb question is the one un-asked.
Good Providence in all your endeavours!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Today I decided that perhaps it might be nice to continue on with the Pearl, which still needs a few things. One of them is a new delivery, or 'feeder' board. This is the little table that sets between the operator and the 'clam shell'. Guestimating from prints and photos of the Pearl OS Model 3, I came up with a board that was approximately 13" by 11". It is made of poplar, which I chamfered on a table saw. The "backboard", the vertical piece that stands about one and one-half inches at the rear of the table which is used to serve as a backstop for paper, was also chamfered. Then the "sub assembly" was sanded, the edges rounded, and then glued and screwed together. Meanwhile, I painted the iron castings that serve as brackets for the table with oil based black Rustoleum, matching the rest of the press. These screw to the press frame using one-quarter inch bolts and nuts. The wood came from Lowe's.
Here are some shots I took along the way.
The iron castings were screwed to a 2x6 and spray painted with oil based black Rustoleum.
Normally, I use a brush to apply paint to presses, but these are undercastings, not in plain sight, and there was a sale on the spray Rustoleum. The castings received two coats of paint.
After drying, the castings are mounted. Standard 1/4" nuts screw directly into the press frame, and nuts serve to lock the castings in place. I added washers to the nuts, something not used at any point on this press. I guess washers weren't really used a lot in 1909.
Here is the poplar sub assembly. I already sawed the board to size, and added a 30 degree chamfer on the edges and the backboard corners. These will, in turn, be sanded to a round edge.
After sanding, wood glue was applied to the base of the backboard, and holes were drilled after clamping, through the bottom of the board, and partly into the backstop, so wood screws could be inserted through the base and into the backboard without splitting the wood. The whole assembly was left to dry, clamps, screws and all.
Here's another view. I thought you might like to see the microwave and coffee grinder as well . . . . and the sugar canister.
When the table was sufficiently dry, it was brought out to the press and positioned on the castings, being both centered evenly, and also positioned with the "clam-shell" open, where the platen is brought closest to the backboard. When the proper positioning of the table is determined, it is clamped onto the brackets to await drilling.
Each casting has three eyelets to insert the wood screws through. It was important to clamp the wood onto the castings first, then the wood was drilled, again, to prevent splitting of the wood by the screws. The clamps ensured a tight fit, and also forced the castings to become level with the wood. This meant that they had to be loosened from the frame a bit. After the delivery table is secured, the castings are re-tightened.
Aww. Ain't she priddy? But I am not done yet: I still have to stain the board a deep honey colour, then marine varnish it. I then have to install a second, smaller swivel table. I already have the boards cut for it. I just have to find the swivel mount. After this: Drawers! The final touch!
G. Johanson, Printer.
Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The motor that came with the NS 8x12 C&P is at least three decades old, and probably ran this press for the entire duration. It's a three phase 1.5 or so HP motor sporting a 1.375 pulley, which drives the flywheel via a 5/8" wide rubber "tractor" belt. Yeah, I took a double take, too, when I first saw this. The owner of the printshop, himself a Letterpressman from a while back, told me under no uncertain terms underestimate the strength of this belt. And he was quite correct: there is virtually no sign of wear yet! Since the press was stored in a corner for a time, sufficient dust gathered to warrant a thorough cleaning. There is some rust on part of the motor housing, and the actual wiring left much to be desired. The switch wiring was haphazzard, and the starter caps and corresponding wiring was left wholly exposed to whatever might come by and bump it. Not that any conductor was exposed, no, it was all wire-nut spliced and taped. But it just looked ratty. So I opted to give it a face lift. I am half way through. Here's some shots of what I've done so far.
There are ten wires that come out from the motor housing which include ac input, switch, ground, two for cap one and two for cap two, one for ground and two which are spliced together. I recorded the connections on paper before I removed the caps and tabbed each wire with tape, just to make it easier than straining to see the numbers printed on the wire insulation.
Here is some of the new channeling, with the old caps [no reason to replace them, they show no sign of problems. Nothing that a diode reforming jig and VOM couldn't serve to reform these if indeed it were needed.]
Here is a close-up of the pulley and belt. The motor is very heavy duty and sets on a pivoting iron hinge. The weight of the motor actually presents all the pressure the belt needs! I was asked if this may damage the nose berrings, and I gave it some thought. I don't believe it will because if you consider: it originally had a bolt and wing-nut tension adjustment, and any tightening at all would actually put even more pressure on the pulley. The motor hanging literally free probably presents the least pressure it has seen in thirty years!
Ahh, yes, good ol' Rustoleum. As if I haven't already used about three cans of it on the Pearl itself. I think I'll take out stock in it. One second thought . . . .
Here you can see the newly painted (first coat) rear vent housing, the square capacitor and wiring junction box, which will receive an aluminium covering - an my brand new off-on switch! I have to get a face plate for it. The switch will be mounted beneath the delivery table.
Oh, man, my shop is literally jammed with stuff! I am still in the process of getting rid of storage "stuff". A lot of inventory is stacked around. And yes, that's a shipping crate from none other than Fritz at NA Graphics. It's the rubber rollers and delrin trucks. All sorts of old, unopened Kelsey type, some of which you see on the delivery board. Beneath the press are cleaning materials. You might notice my trusty "tombstone" radio way in the back there. You can take gary out of the 'radio shack', but you'll never get the "radio" out of gary.
( ..-. / -... )'
Here's another view of the shop from the other side. The white drawers in the left foreground holds wood furniture. The box atop the short profile cabinet holds a few fonts of borders and figures. Would you believe I still have to get a paper cutter in there, a type cabinet and an imposing stone?? Cabinets have to be put up, and floor mount racks will be installed as well. Also a cleaning station and a "fire box", a red fireproof can for wash-soaked rags.
As I proceed along with the motor, I'll post another entry with photos. Hopefully some of the things I am doing may help some others that stumble onto my blogsite.Good Providence in all your Letterpress endeavours!
G. Johanson, Printer
Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts.