Questions about clutch plate, oil holes and automatic gripper release

Hey guys, first of all, I’m sorry about the many posts lately, but I’m trying to make real progress and have my no. 4 working by the end of the year, which is almost here, anyways. So I’m getting up to speed.

First question:
Are these wear marks on the clutch plate going to affect the functioning? If so, how do I go about it? Should I fill it with material and sand it down? Or have a replacement machined?

Second question:
While cleaning up the press (seemingly, a never-ending job) I noticed that this piece is put in upside down, since the oil holes would drop the oil, and the OIL text reads upside down. I wonder if it was disassembled at some point, and if so. How can I fix this?

Third question:
I noticed that the gripper release at the end of the bed was a bit hard, so I adjusted the highlighted screw to ease out the transition. It now releases smoothly. Is this the right thing to do?

Fourth and final question:
As you can see I removed the feedboard, for easier cleaning of the bed. I’m looking into the idea of removing the bed and lifting it for two purposes: easier de-rusting, and easier removal of the Ink Drum, which also needs a serious EvapoRust bath. To remove it… what do I need to unscrew? Also… Should I remove the carriage? I would actually want to remove it since that would also make it easier to de-rust everything. And if I do remove the carriage (I know, I should mark the teeth with an exacto to be able to realign timing), is the only thing keeping the carriage on the rails the bumper springs and blocks?

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Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

Nice job on the ink drum. Were you able to get it out as advised or did you find a better way?

As for removing the eccentric collar, I think that you’re on the right track. You’re in uncharted territory, although it’s unlikely that someone else will need to make the same repair.

We await your success.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

Hi Lad, thanks for the comment.

I wish everyone to understand that I consider this site a public service, even as it has assisted my reputation as an itinerant teacher and consultant. Being self-employed makes it difficult to see very far ahead, so the occasional donation has not only helped pay for direct costs, but it has allowed me time to participate, to be a connector within the letterpress community and grapple with the IT.

Folks who have made donations are recognized on the the about page:

If money is tight, then share your experience. As in other endeavors, the important thing is to pay it forward. Enrique was helpful with the programming a few months back when this site was under cyberattack. And I can still recall the guidance I received from seasoned printers and hobbyists when I first got involved with letterpress.

Lad Boyle
11 years ago


Paul and all the others who have responded to your questions are glad to help (or they would not have responded). However, I hope that you remember that operation of this website is not free and that “contributions” to help defray costs keeps this forum going. Because of the help I have received in the past, I have contributed and hope that you will as well.


Jonathan Jarvis
11 years ago

also, with the feedboard off you can mark the timing of the cylinder from the inside/interior of the carriage, I used white enamel paint pen,to show up, you could squash a bit of white ink between the teeth on cylinder/racking to locate too

Jonathan Jarvis
11 years ago

if you take off the bumpers then wedge the carriage on the chassis to stop it rolling off.
with the carriage partially protruding out from the bed either end of the chasis it is easier to access the carriage bearings to check them out.I managed to take out the bearings for ink drum whilst propping it up, then drop one end then lift out the other end. But a bit fidly.I would recommend going through every nut and bolt to check they are there and sufficiently tight, my Western had bolts missing to chassis /cabinet, and cabinet to ‘plinths” ,that were also loose,so the press rocked when it hit the bumpers.Good luck and progress

Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

Two strong people should be able to lift the carriage and place it on a strong table. it you do use a hoist, take some photos. And if you can weigh it, I’d love to know how many pounds it is.

One good thing about the No. 4 is each side of the cylinder racks has two sections. This means that with the front section of the rack removed the carriage can be retimed in the middle of the bed instead of at the very end of the bed as is the case with SPs., while two people are holding each side and a third turns the cylinder.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

1) Adding to Eric’s comment (and to clarify for others): Divots in the plate reduce how far the clutch pins (MR-110) are pushed into the end of the form roller cores, which in turn separates the clutch blocks from the forms gears. Get a local machinist fill in the divots by brazing. Ask them to polish it too.

2) If you make this repair do it in print mode with the carriage in the middle of the bed. That way the cylinder will be stable and fewer parts will be affected.

3) Smooth is good. Also check the tightness of the gripper trip wedge (MS-17, Sheet 107).

4) Consider removing the ink drum without removing the bed. After the end screws are removed it must be lowered into the cabinet. It can’t lifted out because the bed bearers block make the opening too narrow.

If you do to remove the bed, yes, you must remove the carriage. Be sure to remove the top frame oscillator and the bottom frame form rollers. Yes, the bumpers are the only part preventing the carriage from rolling off the bed. Place the carriage upended on blocks so the plate bumpers (MS-122) on the rear carriage bearings are not stressed. Support or brace the carriage so it doesn’t tip over.

There are bolts and nuts on the underside of the cabinet corner fastening it to the bed casting.

Also be mindful that between the bed and cabinet is part of the linkage for the gripper opener. So lift the bed and don’t slide it off the cabinet.

Eric Holub
11 years ago

The clutch plate is showing a lot of wear, but also indicating very worn pins contacting it. Previous users have probably shimmed the cam wedge that activates the clutch plate in compensation, or you wouldn’t be seeing such wear from not only the pin but also the shoulder of the gear itself.
New pins are in order. I’ve had these plates repaired a couple times, and nickel-silver solder was chosen. The lumps of solder weren’t levelled either. But the only place it is needed is right where the pin is in contact. Then remove the extra shims from the cam wedge.
To 2, it would indicate that someone did take it apart and put it back together incorrectly. Bear that in mind if you proceed with removing the bed. You don’t know what problems you will be introducing. It seems considerably more work than de-rusting in place.

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