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.




Harper-SP15Back in November, I posted about a screw broken off one of our SP-15s, (I think it’s called a shoulder screw), the screw that holds up the L bracket that holds the bearing blocks of the form rollers.

The machine shop guy next door has been working on it for us, trying to get the remains of the screw out of the hole (see photo with red arrow pointing to the hole). He is making progress, but says it would be a LOT easier for him if he could take off the side piece, so I need to know  what all would be involved in taking that off the press and getting it back on with everything adjusted correctly. (The cylinder bearers need adjustment anyway, but I have been putting that off for ages.)


Hello guys —Happy holidays!

I installed a long lost taper pin for the rider rollers shaft on my no.4 and realized that the MR-113 Tie Rods where the M-123 Rider Rollers go, are definitely twisted or bent so they make the installation of the pin a very tight fit and makes the frame sit twisted on over the rollers.

What’s the recommendation here? Make new rods or straighten them?

Thank a lot!

Tagged with:

SP-20, Second owner, perfect working condition.

SP-20, Second owner, perfect working condition.


All mechanicals and electronics run smooth.

I hate to let this one go, but I have two of them and I need to make room for another press. Serial # 29271. I’ve had this for three years and am the second owner. It came from a printing company in Bloomington, IL. It was used in the composing shop for proofing until the mid 70s and never used until I purchased it.

It is a galley-height bed (.960) and has a bed plate that raises up to .916. The rollers are three years old and are in perfect shape. Everything is in perfect working order. Just plug it in and start printing.

Ideal for a studio or college design department, this is a versatile press that can print posters as large as 19×28, A6 size greeting cards, and can even die cut (with die cutting jacket–not included).


Press is on a ground floor and I can put this on a palette and load it on to your truck or trailer.

For more information: john@livingletterpress.com

SP-20, Max sheet size is 19.5"x28"

SP-20, Max sheet size is 19.5″x28″

New Rollers in 2011.

New Rollers in 2011.


My press has it out for me lately. I’ve been hearing this clicking associated with the ink drum. It started a couple days ago, just a couple clicks here and there, but has sounded more and more frequently the more I print. I took a short video and you can hear some of the clicking. It sort of looks like the chain might be bouncing off something, but it’s getting worse and I don’t need the chain snapping.


SP20 brokenI don’t have my Vandercook book handy so I don’t know the name of the part, but it helps feed the inking roller gear onto the rack down the left (non-operator) side of the bed. It sheared off mid-run. I seem to be able to continue to print (fortunately because I’m in the middle of an edition of 2,000…). Any chance Fritz has replacements for this? How critical is it?




Vandercook No 3 for sale. The press is in very good condition and has been kept indoors in a dry climate. It probably could use new ink rollers (2) depending on your requirements. Price for the press alone: $7,500 OBO (not including shipping).

If you’re interested in a bundle, I can offer the press with supplies and equipment needed to start printing right away – including wood type. Bundle alone has over $1,500 worth of equipment/supplies. Located in Brooklyn, NY in an easy-access elevator building. Price for the bundle: $8,000 OBO (not including shipping).

Ideally you’re located in the New York area or thereabouts. If you’re more than 100 miles outside of the Brooklyn area, it is recommended that you have the unit crated for shipping. If you’re within 100 miles, I have contacts for experienced movers.


Continue reading »

Tagged with:

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.


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