Buying a Vandercook

Dear all, apologies if my first post is somewhat ‘how long is a piece of string’.
I am looking to buy a Vandercook (in terms of model I am guided by what becomes available but very possibly a 4), but my interest is printing rather than engineering, whilst I appreciate some maintaince and running repairs will be essential, I’d be very interested in any pointers of what to look out for when assessing a press. I realise rollers may need replacing, rust may need removing etc, but I’m keen to know what things you would check/look out for when looking at a press, particularly problematic missing parts, signs of untreatable wear and tear, generally any major issues to be aware of.
Cheeky extra question: while not ideal, would any of you consider buying a press unseen, via ebay for example, any anecdotes or pointers would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for any help you can offer, Alistair

3 thoughts on “Buying a Vandercook

  1. Paul Moxon, Moderator - April 28, 2008

    If I didn’t makes mistakes I’d never learn anything.

    Fortunately, the UK has lots of letterpress printers and enthusiasts who’ve probably made the mistakes you just haven’t got around it yet. Some of them there are Vandercook folks who’ve joined this forum and many more are on the lists I mentioned in my previous comment, but also on British Letterpress.

  2. Alistair - April 28, 2008

    Paul, thanks for your advice. My experience with Vandercooks and other proof presses is 15 years old (from time at college) for the last couple of years I’ve been printing on a small Adana. My inexperience is slightly paralising me, for fear of ending up with something unusable, but I’ve found a press and if the price is affordable I think I’ll go with it. In terms of up-keep it’ll be a case of learning on the job, unfortunately I live in the UK so the shipping from NA will be high!

    Thanks again for your advice, Alistair

  3. Paul Moxon, Moderator - April 24, 2008

    Many replacement parts for the most common models are available from NA Graphics: bearing, belts, gears, nyliners (bushings), paper guides, rollers and cores, screws, etc. Other items, such as the feed board, can be fabricated one off. It’s the larger components such as the steel oscillating roller that is prohibitively expensive to make and difficult if nearly impossible to find. However, if they can be had you would find them though ebay, Briar Press, the Photopolymer List, Letpress, or last but not least, this forum.

    As to untreatable wear, the bed, bed bearers, and under rails are a single casting on all models except the SP series (which are bolted on and can be replaced). Therefore excessive wear on any one of these surfaces is for practical purposes untreatable.

    The face of the impression cylinder if damaged can be ground down and built back up, but at great expense.

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