In a 2010 post, I examined Vandercook’s claim to be “the originators of the modern proof press.” In it I discussed presses shown in a 1906 catalog issued by the British manufacturer Harrild & Sons (courtesy of Steven O. Saxe). In the comments, Eric Holub shared images from a 1904 catalog for Soldan’s, another British firm. Here’s another contender thanks again to Steve Saxe, with whom I had the opportunity to visit this past summer.

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Recently when inking the rollers on my Vandercook SP20 I have encountered the following problems. 1) When I apply ink across the distributor roller and let it down on the form rollers the ink does not spread evenly and there seems to be some hesitation in the distributor rollers. 2) When I roll the rollers over the form the distributor roller does not roll or seem to be engaged. and 3) when I return the rollers to the inking position the form roller that makes contact with the inking cylinder jumps out of its support bracket and is no longer in contact with the inking cylinder.



I purchased this press when I was making woodblock prints 13+ years ago. I had a dream of refinishing it and properly setting it up. However that dream has since long passed, but perhaps that’s your dream now. If so, let’s talk.

Pickup or arranged shipping would have to be from Morton, IL 61550.

$900 + you take care of pick up

If you want more photos, I’ll take them and post them on Google+.





Though the ink drum drive chain and gear seem to be operating normally when powered on, the ink drum itself is not spinning. The ink drum does move freely when manually manipulated.

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Our friend Kevin Martin at the Papertrail, in Nediameter-gaugew Dundee, Ontario, Canada, has developed an ingenious flexible roller diameter gauge. It’s available as a free pdf on his website.



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Hello all, here’s another question for a No. 3. I got brand new rollers and have secured them into the bottom roller assembly, but now I need to put the assembly back onto the lift arm bracket and want to make sure I’m doing it correctly. Any tips on how this should go? I have the assembly propped up on a box now so I can screw them back in, but I noted that my rollers may prevent me from putting the nut on the end of the screw that attaches to the bracket. So is there a way to put the assembly on without the rollers, and then put them on afterward so I can get that nut on?

Thanks in advance for the help.


I’m still running into problems on my No.3 with respect to roller height and I haven’t seen anyone else having this issue. I’m using a type-high gauge (from NA Graphics) on top of a cold-rolled steel 18-gauge plate. I set the proper roller height where the start of my Boxcar Base would be, then roll toward the end of the base and the rollers are too high, not even touching the gauge!

I’ve checked and re-checked everything I can think of (I have brand new rollers from NA, btw, so that can’t be the issue):

  • Bearing bars are steel, block numbers match and oil holes face up and outward (one broken Nyliner is missing that I have to replace)
  • Adjusting screws and holes are cleaned up; they looked good but used a tap and die to make sure the threads were okay
  • Roller frame appears okay and even
  • Thought the steel plate might be bowing slightly from one end to the other, so placed the Boxcar base on top to weigh it down but same results

I don’t have a galley height gauge, which I’m trying to avoid having to buy as my credit card still hurts from the new roller purchase. The only thing I can think of to (hopefully) solve the problem is to build up under the steel plate at the low end with some packing until it reaches the proper roller height.

Anyone have a better idea or is that the best option?



We have a No. 4 (S/N 8655) and have a problem with the foot pedal mechanism that interacts with the gripper trip assembly.  The foot pedal is connected to the pivot mechanism on the non-operator side of the press by way of the bicycle chain on the outside of the press cabinet.  I had the cylinder rolled to the end of the bed and was oiling the gripper trip assembly and pivot mechanism attached to the foot pedal.  I happened to hit the foot pedal and heard a ‘snap’.  At that point the foot pedal dropped to the floor and did not come back up to the normal position.  The gripper trip assembly had moved outward to the point that the spring (MRS-106) was fully extended and away from the side of the press.  I found a small spacer on the floor.  It has a 1/2″ outside diameter with a 1/4″ center hole and is 1/4″ thick.   The manual we have does not have any diagram of the pivot mechanism which is attached to the foot pedal via the chain and has a tongue that is between the gripper trip assembly and pushes on the gripper trip assembly to open the grippers when the cylinder is at the feed table.  Does a diagram of this part exist which would assist me in determining what happened, how to fix it, and if the spacer is key to the repair?

The problem happened late in the evening so I have yet to take steps to remove any parts.  It is also difficult to provide photos because limited space in out print shop means we have the non-operator side of the press fairly  close to the wall.  I thought I would check with the experts for help before I begin taking things apart.


John Johnson

I have old cans of VanSon Holiday gold paste and a can of gold paste from Cal/Ink. How do you print with these? Do you mix them with varnish or transparent base? Thanks.


Hi Folks,
Sorry if this has been covered before…
Haven’t printed on this machine yet, but in the course of general lube and clean-up, I detect one issue: in the home/start position, the carriage doesn’t quite sit well-settled to the left/feedboard. it wants to roll off of the correct home/detente position and almost begin travel.
Thanks for insights,


no3-lift-arm-bracketHello all–

Wondering if there is a rule of thumb for bolt placement in the slot for the lift arm bracket on the No. 3 (and why there’s such a large slot in the first place)? Do I need to adjust those in some way before I start adjusting my roller height (e.g. on one side of the press vs. the other and front-to-back on each side of the rollers)? Thanks!




This past week my SP-15 has started making a whining/humming when I move the carriage forward. It happens in both trip and print although it sounds a little more dramatic in print. I have oiled everything I can possibly think of to put oil on and it makes no difference. This also happens when the rollers are up, so I have ruled out that it has anything to do with those. I can’t see any issues with any of the wheels, but it is a little hard to see while everything is moving. Here are two videos I took that have the noise. It starts about 1/3rd of the way down the press bed.

Thank you for taking a look!

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