Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fun with a 12 x 18 Kluge

Nick and I just completed a crash course in Kluge Technology down
in Winter Park, Florida yesterday.

I must say, I'm impressed. Nick has what I believe to be the only
true commercial letterpress in the Orlando/ Winter Park Area at
Mama's Sauce, Nick's printing operation off Fairbanks Ave near
Park Avenue and Rollins College.

We started the day at 9 am, installing the new rollers and locating
the oilports via the manual. A C&P/ Golding fella myself, I've never
oiled a wick before. So many oil ports you almost could not see the
press behind the red dots and arrows on the manual's page.

The two-colour dies we needed for the job at hand arrived by 11 am.
We locked up the lighter colour die first, cut the Lettera to feed
size (cards run four-up, two colour) and went over the feeder
mechanism, something neither of us had ever negotiated before.

After lunch we inked her up and completed makeready and packing,
taking impression, setting pins, getting used to the vibrating side
gauge and lining up the feeder.

We ran her slow on her maiden voyage at Mama's Sauce. It took
quite a while getting the hang of adjusting the air regulators,
lever sensors and ratchets. The manual was helpful, but I found it
a tad vague in some areas, and though the halftones were excellent
quality, it really would have been helpful to have a few more

She ran well. We had a time finding the balance between air pressure
and feed level: the platen tongue would hang 20lb stock . . . . but
the 110lb Lettera slid in well. But the writing stock was picked up
better with the feed suckers initially; the heavier Lettera required
a bit of readjustment. The bottom blower would be too much for the
bond stock, but at full petcock perfect to wind the Lettera. That
bottom blower adjustment is pretty critical.

We had some issues with consistent register owing to some of the finer
alignment of the feeder, paper sliding under the lefthand guide as it
moved a quarter inch from side to side as the gripper bars opened and
closed, and the tongue which mounts forward and keeps constant pressure
on the tympan. If the tongue on the front of the tympan sheet was too
taught, the paper would not seat home on the pins, if too loose the
feeder would cause the paper to bounce back a couple points. And as
mentioned, this pressure would have to be adjusted according to the
paper used.

But in the end, we found the adjustments and balances we needed,
and I have to tell you, it was wholly awesome to watch 60 year
old "robotics" at work. The sound of the air regulators, the
ratchet releases, the cams, levers, and the rolling of the press
itself created a rhythmic sensation not unlike a locomotive. For a
guy like me who's only exposure to Letterpress was hand feeding
behind a delivery board, this was something completely new.
And we drew somewhat of an audience to watch.

A great time was had by all. And as the sun set on the day, I
think I can speak for Nick as well as for myself in saying that
we had one of the most interesting, entertaining and educational
days ever.

And yes, Letterpress is now on the Map in the Orlando Metro Area at
Mama's Sauce.

I went home last night and went into the shop to put some tools
away. My little 8x12 C&P really seemed . . . small . . . . . .



1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you are having fun with a Kluge. The Kluge line of equipment has come a long way since that press was manufactured. take a look at the 14 x 22 presses and also the latest EHG 22 x 30 foil stamping, embossing and diecutting press.