232P restoration and conversion project

232p-before.jpgWesleyan University Art Professor David Schorr and Studio Tech Kate Ten Eyck have acquired a Vandercook 232P for the Printmaking studio. Kate sent me this photo of the press as it looked in November. Their objective is to convert this power carriage press into a hand-cranked one. The 232 is a big press: maximum form: 31½” x 28″ , floor space: 3’9″ x 10’6″ and weighing 5000 lbs with the power carriage motor and frisket tower installed.

232-after-end.jpgLast week I was in New Haven CT to tune up Vandercooks in three of the college printshops at Yale, and as Wesleyan is only 50 miles away in Middletown, I called Kate who drove down to pick me up. We went directly to the campus machine shop to see a newly cleaned and painted press. The Machinists intend to mount a new gear with a crank handle on the carriage that will mesh with the cylinder gear. This configuration will require two revolutions of the crank handle for the carriage to travel the length of the bed.

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wesleyan-crew.JPGHere’s a pic of Kate with machinists Dave Boule and Bruce Strickland. More as the story unfolds.

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david schorr
15 years ago

Hey Casey,
The crank is working brilliantly, in fact since Kate or I last responded the press has been running full time. We put in the hand crank because the biggest users of this press are students; it is for teaching typography rather than job printing. We are most currently making our own wood type from digitally designed fonts with a laser cutter. It is fast getting as much use as the litho presses and both the etching presses put together. The crank is easy as can be to turn, about two and a half rotations take it the full length.

David Schorr

Casey McGarr
15 years ago

Did you ever get a test print made. I would like to hear how the crank handle is working, how difficult is t to crank.


Kate Ten Eyck
16 years ago

The press is coming along. Next week I’ll get some photos up. The hand crank conversion is a success thanks to our talented machine shop, and the opportunity to see a similar manual press at “Wild Carrot” in Hadley Mass. I believe that model was the 223, which is about eight inches narrower than our press. The trick with this conversion was that in our press, the center axle does not rotate, so a crank with a chain system was devised. We are looking at making a test print as early as next week! anyone with a similar project is welcome to contact us for advice!

Kate Ten Eyck
Art Studio Tech
Wesleyan University

Casey McGarr
16 years ago

I would be interested in knowing how easy or difficult it’s going to be to turn that cylinder when the handle gets put on the press.


Casey McGarr
16 years ago

This is really impressive. I have a Vandercook 32-28 and it looks almost identical, actually they are in the same family. Great Job!!!

Inky Lips Press

The Arm
16 years ago

I’d love to see some more photos of the process. This press deserves a blog of its own!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Martha Chiplis
16 years ago

A campus machine shop that restores a Vandercook? My fantasy come true. Looks like they are doing/have done a beautiful job.

Eric Holub
16 years ago

Hey, if they get this worked out, they might consider selling retrofit kits. I know of another press that could use this.

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