*Click on the thumbnails to see detail & read my notes.*
So last night I finally got the press set up for printing – I've just been so lazy! It wasn't really as difficult as I was expecting, but as with many antique items, we discovered some parts needing repair. It had also been so long since we had touched it, so it needed a good oiling to run squeak-free.
The first thing I did load up the chase (a frame that holds the type & is attached to the press for printing) with some sorts (lead letters). My instructor from class recommended placing a single letter close to each corner of the chase to check that the platen is touching the type evenly. I put the chase with the type in it on the press and did a dry run with the rollers. I just wanted to make sure the rollers were not hitting the type too hard (or, as I thought before, hitting the ink plate). Thankfully this was not the case.
I placed three sheets of tympan paper (an oiled paper I purchased at NA Graphics) on the platen. I've heard you can also use butcher paper, but I just wanted to do proper set-up for my first time. The other good thing is that tympan paper has a very exact & even surface. Hopefully this means next time I need to change out this paper, I can do the same set-up, with the same good result.
We found that one of the screws of the arms that hold the tympan tight has sheered. We're still trying to think of how to fix that. This means the tympan I put on there is probably not as tight as it should be. In the future I need to also get a top protective layer of some sort – probably vinyl. I also want an expert to take a look at the press and double check what I've done. I'm still learning. I feel like the previous owner(s) didn't know what they were doing and ended up damaging parts – either through misuse or neglect. :-(
I inked up the ink plate with turquoise ink and my husband started the press going. It takes a couple minutes for the ink to distribute evenly on the ink plate – and then you're ready to print. I decided to forgo gauge pins (pins that hold the paper in place) since this was just a test. Also, it occurred to me that I really need to buy new ones since the ones I have a bent & rusted (not a good combination).
We ended up not needing to adjust any of the screws on the backside of platen (for precise calibration). The impression seemed just fine. We will have to do it again when I get a vinyl cover sheet.
A NOTE ABOUT THE PLASTIC TRUCKS:
My husband had machined (out of scrap plastic!) new trucks (pieces on the end of the roller on which the rollers turn) because the rusty ones that came with the press were too small. When trucks are too small, rollers hit the type and get damaged. (And rollers are quite expensive!) I had him machine the new trucks to the exact size of the rollers, which has solved the problem. A lot of folks have great luck with Morgan Expansion Trucks available at NA Graphics – these trucks are expandable, meaning they can be more flexible to your needs. Any adjustments I need to make will have to be made in a less technological way – ie. tape & paper. :-)