Universal I form roller and ink

Hi, I’m currently printing on a friend’s Vandercook Universal One press. However, when the temperature drops in the shop and I have a good amount of ink on the rollers, the back form roller gear appears to miss the teeth in the track and will ride atop of it creating a frightening grinding noise. Neither the gear nor the teeth in the track seem to be worn. A fellow printer surmised that the tackiness of the ink is causing the form rollers to stick to the cylinder thereby not allowing the gear to engage properly. Does anyone else have this problem? Anyway to minimize it without taking ink off? Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated. -T

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Michael Russem
16 years ago

I occasionally have this problem at the end of the day when the ink starts to dry. Sometimes I’ll just crank out a little slower until the gear gets properly seated in the track. Sometimes I’ll just clean the press. I don’t have one on my Universal I or SP-20, but the spring-loaded hold-down which Eric Holub describes should do the trick. There’s a more sophisticated version of this on my Universal IVs which definitely works wonders.

Michael
Kat Ran Press

The Arm
16 years ago

Are the form roller bearings rotating freely? When they are difficult to turn that can cause the rear roller adjustment block to rotate and thereby lift out of its proper home. Then the gear will be raised enough to ride across the top of the rack.
And is the inking drum rotating in the right direction? It should be rotating toward the washup blade in the automatic washup unit. If it is not then the form roller will have momentum in the wrong direction when it reaches and wants to engage with the sprung end to the roller gear track. If the switch has been replaced and the owner doesn’t use the washup tray I have seen instances where this was running in the wrong direction.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Eric Holub
Editor
16 years ago

This may not apply here, but some Vandercooks, SP series for example, had hold-downs on the rear form, gear-side, to keep it seated and not ride up on the rack. Is something like that missing or not engaged? (A clue would be a post sticking out that had a groove around it to hold the loop of a coil spring.)

What kind of ink are you using? I don’t think that ink of a normal body would increase in tack as you increase quantity, but a large quantity of fluid ink might just reduce traction between rollers, especially when they aren’t being driven by the drum. And the rear roller is only going by traction until the gears mesh.

Eric Holub
Editor
16 years ago

I’m not quite following your description. By “cylinder” do you mean the oscillating distributor above or the ink drum below the rear form?
At the end of the gear rack, there should be a short segment that is articulated, and spring-loaded. It is meant to engage and control the roller gears as they move on to the rack. If it is missing, or the spring is gone, you might have such problems with the roller gear.
(1) Presses and ink don’t behave as well in cold or hot weather. If it is really just a tack issue, you can mix reducer into the ink, or run more ink. (2) Inks should be properly mixed for the intended color. Running very sparse ink-films to achieve a pale color will increase tack problems–it is better to reduce the strength of the ink and carry a little more on the rollers.

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