219 OS Carriage latch question

I’ve been talking to Fritz about this and he suggested reaching out to see if anyone else may have some measurements. My 219 OS has a wooden block acting as the carriage latch. Now that my press is properly leveled it’s clear that the wood has worn away and it’s no longer holding the carriage back at the feedboard. See the attched photos:

and the video posted here:

Dave Seat leveled the press while making other adjustments and that was when this problem became clear. Using masking tape to attach a small wooden shim solved the problem, but it was obviously a temporary solution. Recently that shim has compressed more and the whole thing wasn’t working, so I taped a bit of leading on, and it seems to work better. The linked video shows me moving the carriage while the wood block has both the wooden shim and a 2 pt lead.

But I’d like a more serious fix. Fritz doesn’t have a record of the carriage latch working like this and assumes that block was once steel. He doesn’t have a specs of such a piece. Do any other 219 OS owners have something similar? Or any other models using this technique? Ideally it would be great to get some measurements to try to make a new one.

Would adjusting the screw lift the wooden block enough to make it work? I haven’t messed with that because I don’t know what I’d be messing with! I’d also rather have a block with the right shape that would lift up and push the carriage back to the feed board the appropriate amount.

Any thoughts/info is much appreciated, thank you.

12 thoughts on “219 OS Carriage latch question

  1. Eric Holub - June 2, 2012

    Putty is probably too soft, but you can use something like Devcon plastic steel epoxy to rebuild to the original profile; I find it superior to JB Weld or PC-7, but with such a large patch you may need to dam it in. If the wood is oil-soaked, adherance may be a problem, but it may take securely if you roughen the surface or place anchor screws. Once dried, it is easily filed or scraped to form.

  2. Widmark - June 1, 2012

    So I finally had a chance to play with this. I loosened the top nut which decreased the sprint pressure, then I loosened the bottom nut which adjusted the entire arm upwards to the point that I no longer needed to have anything taped to the wood block for it to hold the carriage well. However, it’s about as far as it can go. If I turned the nut any further, the bolt would come free soon and shoot towards the ceiling. So I’m ok for now but my only options are to find that bolt but longer, or replace the wood block with a new one (or build it up trying to match the old shape. I wonder if any kind of putty would work? I’m just worried about making a new one from scratch because it involves taking it off and I can’t even tell yet how it’s attached to the arm!

  3. Widmark - May 15, 2012

    Another photo from same different press

  4. Widmark - May 15, 2012

    Photo from a different press

  5. Widmark - May 15, 2012

    Another photo

  6. Widmark - May 15, 2012


  7. Widmark - May 15, 2012

    I’ve gotten a lot of great responses from the extremely helpful letterpress/vandercook community. All wood blocks, all with a nice groove worn in from the impression wheel. Two people sent in specs for the block, interestingly the depth and length differ, but the height at the high point, which I’d think is the most crucial, match at 1.25″ tall. The other specs were 3″ wide and 2″ deep from one printer, and 3.5″ wide by 1 7/8″ deep, as seen in the following diagram. I’ll post a few photos sent to me in following comments.

  8. Widmark - May 14, 2012

    Second response is in…and also has a wooden block.

  9. Widmark - May 14, 2012

    As suggested, I’ve been emailing other 219OS owners and got one response so far from someone who says “Our 219 OS has what appears to be the original setup. Initially I assumed this was a steel block but tapping and temperature suggested otherwise. I filed a bit of paint off, and I believe it’s made of wood” and send the attached photo.

    The wood stop looks like it has even more wear than mine from the impression wheel. Does it make sense that as the wood is worn, by adjusting the nut on the screw you lift and pivot that arm to make up for it? Why would they have used wood instead of steel in the first place? To avoid wear on the impression wheel?

  10. Eric Holub - May 12, 2012

    I recognize the 219 OS pictured as belonging to Jamie at A Mano Press.

  11. Widmark - May 12, 2012

    Coal, wood, newspapers, old wood type, anything that burns. Still looking for a vintage Vandercook coal shovel if anyone has one.

  12. The Arm NYC - May 12, 2012

    I don’t know this model very well. I found this photo online and it almost looks like the block is rubber. I would suggest going on the Paul’s census and emailing some of the people that have the same press as you to get a drawing and/or some photographs.

    Oh, and a question- that hatch in the body of the press that says Vandercook- that’s where you put the coal, right? Just checking…

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

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