Hi all,

My Universal III has been chugging along beautifully for a couple of years, when all of a sudden it just quit in the middle of a job. By “quit” I mean the rollers are still moving, but the upper carriage just won’t go. I took a short video which I’ll link to here that has more detail.

If anyone has any thoughts I’d greatly appreciate it – happy to take more photos or videos as needed. I’m located in midcoast Maine, about 45 minutes north of Portland if anyone happens to know of a press mechanic in the area.




Hi, I am working on cleaning and functionally refurbishing a British built Vandercook No. 4C. The press is complete and seems to be in pretty good shape – it mainly needs some cleaning work. While cleaning the cylinder racks I noticed a feature that I didn’t see on cylinder proof presses before: The cylinder racks on both sides of the press are split in two parts (Well, this is not new to me…). The back part is fixed. But the front part (towards the bed end) are moveable with a spring. (See Video)

Now I didn’t really find out why they are moveable? Isn’t that a problem for cylinder smudge while printing? I noticed that they are moving easily when tripping the cylinder. I found out that they are almost not moving when in “print”… (I haven been printing on this press yet, I am just in the process of cleaning it…)

Can anybody explain the exact  function of these moveable racks?

Thank you very much.

Dafi Kühne

See the attached Video: Vandercook-4C



Hi! We’ve got an (obviously) new-to-us 320G and it had been sitting in a cat friendly/very stinky basement. It’s come a long way already cleaning wise, but we’ve still got bugs to work out……

Our carriage is a BEAR to move down the bed. We have cleaned and oiled and greased a lot of parts and now assume the eccentrics are outta wack. The set nuts were loose when we found it. I’ve attempted to set the tolerance between the bearings and the underside of the rail to .003-.004. And every time I try that, the carriage seems to sit too low for it to come back to home position. When I return the eccentrics more or less back to how we found them, the carriage comes home but is still just a bear to crank up and down the bed.
Would anyone have advice on the eccentric resetting?

In addition, we can’t get the grippers to come up when we push on the pedal. As far as I can tell we put that linkage back together as found. There’s some slight movement in the grippers, but nothing that would allow us to properly feed.

There’s a few more bugs here and there, but getting the carriage to move easily would be great!

Thanks for any advice!

Matty Kleinberg, Firecracker Press


Vandercook production 1973Vandercook SP-15 29669Of potential interest is this production record sheet for the week of 2/26/73, only 42 years ago almost to the week. It shows what Vandercook was working on and shipping about a year before it all collapsed. 1973 was not a good year as they posted a million dollar loss. Sales of the RO4 were very slow though there is one on this sheet. The serial number progression is very interesting with serial numbers all over the place. I scanned the card for the SP-15 going to Venice High School and it has the same ship date as on this sheet. Six of the presses were for export, and the two HS-27 proof press were for John Harlan, check printers still very much in business. It looks like newspapers were still in the market for presses.



Does anyone on here have any idea where i can find information on a Recaro Proof Press?

I have one at my shop, over the weekend, someone stole the print head from it. It was in a secure area just outside my back door in the warehouse section of my shop. It was being stored there while we made room for it in the shop. I got it from a friend who imported it from Israel. I don’t even have the serial number any more because it was on the print head that was stolen…

I need to see if a replacement exists or what the value of one of these presses would be for insurance purposes.

Thank you in advance.



I recently attempted to print a very light color of borders that extended from the top of the bed about 10 inches. The  ink was mostly composed of white and revealed things about the press that are perplexing. I have several issues going on, and perhaps this was, unwittingly, a test of all of them.

For one thing, I have not got anywhere on the previous post, because I made committments to being ready for shows and having prints to sell at them. I worked around my issues. The roller bearing adjustment has not been done yet. See this post:


I have issues with the top of the bed consistently not having the same amount of impression. During this printing, I can see that there is an abrupt change in color. The top of the bed color looks good, but then it is very muddy. We discovered a feeling of wear on the bearing rails that dips slightly, felt by running a finger over the metal. It is right across from this that the change in color/impression is muddy and heavier. If the bearing rails are worn, then maybe some paper or tape might fill it in. I tried a little, nothing happened. I had to stop my experiment there for the day.

It is also possible that I have set my rollers too low, even with what appears to be the right ink strip size. That is the only thing that comes to mind that might cause the muddy color. Then the form rollers are pressing on the type or sliding (though this is hard to actually see) and dragging/pulling with it issue No. 3. I can’t get my rollers clean. I think I need new rollers. Even after having light ink on them, if I really scrub form rollers with type wash I can always get more dark ink off. Or are the rollers degrading? The roller next to the motorized roller is pitted toward the ends and traps ink all the time.

I know, I sound like a basketcase. If anyone would like to suggest a direction to pursue first, I would be grateful. At least I have no imminent printing plans and I would like to solve these issues if I can.


Border print problem example

Border print problem example. The top of bed is to the left.



Vandercook-17Does anyone have experience moving a composing room cylinder press? I am hoping to move one, which I think is a #17, but I was not sure if there is an intelligent way to move it into my space. I’m specifically wondering if the cylinder can be easily removed from the bed and easily reattached afterwards  as well as if it is possible to remove/reassemble the base from the bed for the purpose of moving. Any suggestions would be appreciated!





IMG_3587 IMG_3592Are these things meant to keep the rail clean and, if so, are they supposed to have some other material like felt on the bottom of them?  Is this something I can do myself – any ideas?   They are very worn on the bottom and don’t really make contact.

–  Seedpod Press


I am having problems with the electrical system on my Universal IV and need advice!  The cover was off the electrical control box as the carriage has not been breaking consistently on the feed board end for the last couple runs, but it was usable. Recently, when I flipped the press on, I saw a few sparks out of the corner of my eye come from the electrical box, and now it is really broken!  No scorching or evidence is visible, but now the carriage does not respond to any of the user controls. It does not matter what mode the press is set to (Manual, Cycle), no response. When I flip the on switch, the pilot light comes on, and the ink drum motor runs, but nothing else. Engaging the limit switches on the back side of the press by hand seems to activate the corresponding relays as expected. If I engage (push in) the forward or reverse “reversing switches” in the electrical box with a wooden stick, the carriage moves, but still no response from any of the user controls. Manually moving the carriage to the center of the bed, there is still no response from the “manual control lever” forward or reverse.  It is as if everything is working, but the user controls are not connected.

Scan_Pic0350The local electrician has worked on the press before, but it is way out of his comfort zone, so if anyone has any ideas that would be a big help. Below is the electrical diagram, and a video I took of the electrical box back when it was actually behaving. I know the Universal IV is a rare press, and the electrical system is not exactly the same as the smaller Universals, but any suggestions would be much appreciated. Likewise, I am in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, so if anyone happens to know of an electrician out here who might be able to help, please let me know.


The near side of the problem area of track

The near side of the problem area of track

The far side of the problem area of track.

The far side of the problem area of track.

I am a graduate student at Ohio University, having issues with our Vandercook 223. Serial no. 8160. I do not have the vocabulary to accurately describe the parts of the press involved, so I have included several videos and pictures to illustrate.

As the cylinder gets to the end of the track – where the registration clamps [gripper bar] disengage [releases]e – it becomes very difficult to move it forward. After the registration clamps [gripper bar] disengage [releases], it moves smoothly, but has the same problem on the return. This problem arose during normal use. Over the course of 2-3 prints, it became increasingly difficult to move past this point. I have checked the track/ gears thoroughly for any obstruction.

One issue which may be related is some slack in the handle/chain inside of the cylinder. I have included a video of this.

Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Slack in Handle

Video of issue – Vandercook 223



IMG_2849A beautifully maintained example of the Vandercook classic. Go to SP20 to get the actual specs, but suffice to say, you can print large format work with ease on this awesome press with motorized inking system. The rollers are brand new, never-been-used from Ramco, the motor is in excellent working condition. A lock up bar is included. The press is on ground level, with easy access. Was $15,500.00; reduced to $13,500.00
Pick up only in Western CT.


Hi  Paul and all,

I am new to this blog. I have a Vandercook No. 4,  Serial No 14637. My name is Michael McGarvey, Port Press, Port Republic, NJ.

I have been printing for some time, wood engravings and books. I have been using primarily an Iron hand Hoe 6027  for book work.  Apparently this particular iron hand  press is also a “proof press” due to the smaller amount of daylight between platen and bed. It has been a bear getting this one to work, but I have considerable control at this point thanks to Richard-Gabriel Rummond’s book.

The Vandercook needs attention especially the cylinder bearing. It is not printing accurately, and I have shied away from using it but now am emboldened by the technical information I find available here.  I plan to follow along the literature on the vandercook Press info site, especially on the cylinder adjustment, as well as all the other basic setup articles. This is very helpful.

Paul,  please let me know when the book will be available again. That is what I really need—a thorough reference source for the Vandercook. I hope to improve my skill with the Vandercook so that it too can be used for fine book work.



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