Tuesday, September 23, 2008

At last...

A vintage cut of a 1960 Cadillac, some blue and orange stock, a tiny bit of flame-red ink – and we're away! I was so happy to finally print my first "proper" notes on the Chandler and Price, I wanted to jump around.

Unlike last time, I made sure I actually had a good amount of baby-free time up my sleeve to do everything the right way. I even locked up the chase and oiled the press in advance. A note: you can't oil the press too far in advance or the oil will drip out before you get printing – and then you will have climb around the press to painstakingly drip oil into every one of the 30-something obscurely placed oil holes, all over again. You will call yourself bad names.

Here's what the press looks like in action, inking up the plate before the chase is inserted. Why is it a blur? Well, at this stage it was running 18 impressions per minute – too fast! Too fast! I've since fixed the speed issue ... but more on that later.

A first impression on the tympan (above), to help with alignment and placing the gauge pins. You rub that image back with solvent after this impression, otherwise it'll give you a (not-so-) nice reverse image on the back of your lovely cards. And you will cry.

I was completely precise and methodical in my placement of the gauge pins – again, unlike last time – and it made the world of difference. Imagine!

These first cards have gone to Nathan's Dad in Dallas and my Dad in Australia, in gratitude for the untold hours they've both spent working on the Chandler & Price (I owe them so much more, but this is symbolic!) and to Pauline, who's been cheering me on all the way from South Carolina.

Now we're rolling...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Roller crisis averted!

When I bought my C&P, the lower saddles (which hold the third roller) were stuffed with cotton. The inside surfaces of the saddles were dramatically worn, and I guessed the cotton was a makeshift way of keeping the rollers in place and preventing further wear.

The left saddle (pictured above) was bad, but this one was even worse...

When I posted the photos on Briar Press as a kind of "uh oh... what do I do now?" I got some pretty alarming responses from the experts, including:

"The saddle on the one side seems so thin the end looks like it’s about ready to break off. If that happens when the press is running and the roller get smashed between the platen and the bed it could destroy the press."


"That one looks mighty shaky to me and I’d be worried about it breaking and the roller coming loose. The roller springs are pretty strong and exert a lot of force pulling the rollers down. If one end breaks while the press is running I can imagine the roller flying toward the operator or dropping into a closing press. Neither is very desirable. I’d look into finding replacement roller saddles or having a machinist repair the existing ones by welding or brazing in some new metal."

Since I definitely didn't want a roller-flinging, head-injury-inducing, press-destroying disaster on my hands, I decided to deal with the saddles straight away.

Suggestions for having a machinist repair the roller saddles or simply removing the lower roller and printing on just two rollers for a time (which is possible on a Chandler & Price) were fine, but I really wanted to be done with the problem sooner rather than later. I'm ready to have this press in perfect shape. So I posted a Want Ad on Briar Press (bless Briar Press!) and after just one week I'm the proud almost-owner of these good-as-new single roller saddles and springs.

And – bonus! Paul, who's selling me the saddles, is also selling me a bail! You can see the edge of it at the top left of the photo. My press came without a lower bail... whoever used it last had been improvising by fixing the tympan to the underside of the platen with lots of tape. We removed oh-so-many layers of tape. The replacement we had fabricated at a machine shop doesn't fit tight enough in the right places, causing the tympan and packing to bulge and shift – not good!

So it looks like we're solving the very last of the problems. Exciting times...