The last two Fridays I've been out on the road in a van following up on a couple of leads on old bits of printing gear that are potentially for sale. It's taken me to Ipswich, Cambridge, Peterborough, Lancashire, Leicester and York, with varying degrees of success. A couple of full size cabinets were collected full of type but the curse of the missing letters struck again. 16 out of 20 cases of type in one cabinet all had missing letters leaving me with incomplete founts.
A purchase of a Farley proofing press came tantalisingly close and I've got my fingers crossed that eventually it will come my way, I now have a perfect place for it.
However, I did pick up a proofing press on Friday. It had previously been listed on eBay around 15 months ago and for whatever reason the buyer didn't want it. I was fortunate enough that the chap gave me a call who owned it to see if I was interested in buying it.
I finally got round to going to see it on Friday. It's not one I had seen before and almost had a home made feel to it, but home made by someone who had some serious precision engineering skills. Something didn't look quite right, the carriage didn't move as it should, the feed board was snapped and damaged, some nuts and bolts where missing and the rollers were wonky, so obviously I bought it!
Although only a table top gallery proof press it was super heavy, far too heavy for one person to lift. I had to remove the carriage when I got home to unload and set about trying to work out what I had bought. A decent size print area of around 30cm x 60cm and and adjustable height print bed, the impression roller seemed in good condition and the two rubber inking rollers were as new. There were a number of other metal and rubber rollers and what looked like an inking duct. It definitely had potential and I could wait to get cracking on it.
This weekend was spent stripping it down to the very last bolt. The bearings on the rollers were thick with grime and dirt, parts were rusty and wouldn't move. Once I'd stripped it, cleaned it all and re-greased the bearings I started to slowly put it back together.
It soon became apparent why it wouldn't work before - the rails that the rollers sit are supposed to move when the carriage reaches the end lifting either the inking rollers up and the dropping down the impression roller or the other way round depending on which end you are at. These had been totally out of sync with each other and eventually after playing about with the sprockets I had them lined up and the rollers lifting and dropping as they should. So far so good..
Next the rollers back in place, a metal rider roller, another rubber rider roller and then the inking duct. This is where I ran in to problems. There is a handle which is supposed to turn the roller on the ink duct which in turn inks the next roller and so forth. For some reason I couldn't get this flush with the next roller which caused me a massive headache. After taking a break I decided to remove the ink duct and see if it printed without it okay….
And, yes, yes it bloody well does, it prints great, fab, it's amazing. After a bit of extra tinkering It was was doing exactly as it should. It prints and prints well. But it's not over yet…
I'm determined to get the inking duct working and the paper feed board needs straightening, bolts finding and a bracket making, and once that's done it will be a super little press.