Hello everyone~

Earlier this year I acquired a Vandercook No. 4 from my dear printing mentor. I recently discovered that the 2 front wheels on the bottom of my No. 4’s carriage have some inconsistent behavior, especially when compared to other No. 4’s.

Apologies as I’ve not been able to determine, from the manual, the proper name for these wheels (see photo for where my finger is pointing):

No 4 Carriage wheels

Here’s what I’ve observed on my No. 4:

  • The 2 front wheels/rollers don’t turn as I move the carriage down the press bed with the press on Trip (even though the back ones do), but all 4 wheels do turn if the press is on Print.
  • Whether the rollers are engaged or not doesn’t seem to matter.
  • The front wheels never appear to be skidding on the metal (phew!), but if I place a sheet of text weight paper under them with the press in Trip, they will start rolling when I move the carriage.
  • The wheels on the non-operator side are performing the same as on the operator side.
  • Jules Faye, the previous owner of my No. 4 (serial #18759), took a look but wasn’t certain if these behaviors indicated that something was wrong. Looking through manuals did not provide any insight either.
  • Video showing all of this: https://vimeo.com/111891529


Here’s what I’ve observed on other No. 4’s:

This behavior on my No. 4 (#18759) is different than what happens on the much older No. 4 (# 10017) that I teach with at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, which is what triggered my concern. (All 4 wheels that press turn, whether in Trip or Print).

To round out my research, I also contacted my pal Joseph Green — who miraculously just happens to own the No. 4 made right after mine (his is #18760) — to see if he observed the same behaviors on his press as on mine. He did not. Hmmmmm.

So, the core of my question to the group is:
Should all 4 wheels on the bottom of the No. 4’s carriage always turn when the carriage is moved down the press bed, or do certain wheels only engage at certain points — and under what conditions?

Bonus question: What are those wheels called? They don’t appear to be the “steady rollers”…

Many thanks,


Hello! I have been wondering about proper packing on my SP-20. I have a Galley Bed Plate with 040 cylinder undercut. I have Vandercook Tympan, .003 packing sheets and a Mylar sheet.

Everything I can find as to how much packing you need does not mention if the thickness of the bed plate is involved or not.

If I use one piece of Tympan, the mylar and 5 packing sheets. Its not enough to make an impression in 80lb lettra.

Im worried that if I add any more thickness to the packing I may be counterproductive. and of course I do not have a micrometer (Yet)!

Any advice would be great.



We have a No. 4 who is the work-horse of our print shop (at MCBA). In recent weeks, it has started an awful chattering noise, that continues to get worse. At first I thought it was the gear and the clutch on the form rollers that were rubbing together. But on closer inspection the gear appears to be dragging over the rails, making a loud and unpleasant sound. Almost as if the roller is too low, and dragging some how.

Continue reading »


HolesBroken ScrewOne of our SP-15s has been experiencing inking issues; seems that we have to constantly adjust roller height and it gets out of whack very quickly. We discovered today two problems with the bracket that holds the roller bearing blocks (LH Bracket? Hard to see in our manual) and we’re wondering if these could be related to the lack of stability in the roller height.

1. One of the screws that holds the LH Bracket to the press (the bracket that raises or lowers the rollers) has broken off and part of the shaft is still in the hole.

2. The other issue is one of the bearing knobs is wobbly. Looks like the shaft that it fits into on the press body has worn so that it is no longer a snug fit.

Could these issues be related to inking? I figure the broken screw will require a screw extraction operation. Are these screws still available? I have posted some photos.


Katie Harper


uni-1P-2Britt at Banshee Press continues to have a problem with her Universal I Power. In a comment to the previous post, I asked her to check for a loose and/or warped trip rack (X-14854). It’s worth noting that Vandercook made an engineering change to a more rigid part (X-21774 ), first used on press with serial number 21857. Fortunately, Britt’s press has a higher number and see seems to think this is not the problem.

I asked her to send me a new video showing the backside of the press (at right). One can see that the clunk happens just as the cam follower/bearing (X-2726) contacts the bottom of the trip wedge (flipper). The problem is likely that this linkage is grimy and/or loose. Inside the cabinet one can see the end of the linkage. Look for a sliding flat bar  and set screws.

If you can’t solve this, I will see a Universal I in Chicago next week.


I changed my rollers on my SP15 because I found that one side of my press was printing lighter than the other side (my rollers were about 10 years old) but I’m finding that I’m having the same problem with the new rollers. The rollers are set at the right height from left to right with the new rollers?


I changed my rollers for my SP15 and I’m finding that the front roller is stiff, it doesn’t move as freely as before. It doesn’t seem to have a problem when it is inking. I didn’t notice this until I went to go and clean up the press.

Tagged with:


I found some roller bearings (a total of 4 pieces) from an unknown press. They came with another press that they don’t fit to. It is definitely from none of my presses. Paul said it’s probably not Vandercook. I know that they are definitely not FAG. If someone can identify them or if someone is interested in them – I’ll ship them worldwide if you pay the postage. (Shipping is from Switzerland). They need to leave soon – they have been sitting here for too long.


Hello, this is Britt at Banshee Press in Denver.  I am having a problem with my Vandercook Model UNI-I, Serial # 24389 with auto carriage.

On the trip cycle, the carriage balks with an abrupt jerk – sometimes to the point of stopping – at 21 1/2″ measured from the feed-board end of the press.  (It does not balk on the print cycle, only returning from printing on trip.) I have tried:

  • Complete clean and lubrication of all parts.
  • Made sure press is perfectly level on both axes.
  • Adjust the drive clutch, both over and under adjusted.
  • Visual inspection for obstacles and impingements.  Tighten all screws and bolts.
  • Remove, clean and adjust cylinder racks so they move smoothly and accurately.
  • Remove form rollers. (no effect)
  • Remove gripper bar. (no effect)

uni-i-mov-screenshotThe effect is more pronounced and 100% incident in manual mode. Less pronounced in cycle mode (sometimes doesn’t happen at all in cycle mode.)

The effect is more pronounced with a polymer plate on the base, running under pressure.  The effect seems to be more pronounced the longer the carriage sits at the open end.

The impression is not uneven, nor is the inking.

I have attached a brief video showing the problem in manual mode.

Any suggestions?  Thank you so much for your help.





Ferdinand Wesel (1846-1912) was the founder of the F. Wesel Manufacturing Company, which among other equipment, made some of the first flatbed cylinder proof presses. Born in Frankfurt A.M., he learned the printing-machinery trade, as The Inland Printer once put it, “in the thorough manner characteristic of his countrymen.” In 1866, he emigrated to New York and worked in several print shops. Two years later he was hired by R. Hoe & Co. as a manufacturing department head where he remained until establishing his eponymous company in 1880. This new new venture’s growth was rapid and necessitated four plant moves in the first twelve years. His Inland Printer obituary said Mr. Wesel was “an indefatigable worker, and had the faculty of vision. These combinations and his trained skill enabled him to secure results which have placed the products of the Wesel Manufacturing Company on a plane which has won for them a world-wide reputation.” Among dozens of products were stereotype and electrotype platemaking equipment, camera, type saws, and proof presses. While on a visit to Germany with his wife, Wesel died suddenly at age 66. That same year, a Wesel Electric Self-inking Proof Press” appears in the 1912 American Type Founders catalog. Only one of these is now known to exist. Later versions look similar to the Vandercook models 22, and 23 and HS27.

See Origin of the modern proof press reconsidered, Part II

* A two page display ad in a 1901 Inland Printer for F. Wesel Mfg. noted that the manager was Henry Lewis Bullen (1857–1938). Bullen became an influential writer on printing and typography who later established a library and museum for the American Type Founders Company.  The collection at one point containing over 16,000 items is now at Columbia University.


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.

Continue reading »


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.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.
Theme Tweaker by Unreal