Gurgling Noise from Vandercook Universal I Motor – Help!

Hi all!

I have a Vandercook Universal I, and the motor has started to make… a gurgling noise? It’s hard to describe it. It doesn’t sound awful or anything, it’s just loud and different than what I’m used to. Any change in the press scares me to death, so I’m looking for help identifying the cause and/or whether it’s something that can be addressed.

Here’s a video:

I changed the motor oil. No dice. It prints just fine. Everything works as normal, it’s just loud and weird!

Any help would be enormously appreciated.


Griffin in Portland (No Reply Press)

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Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 months ago

Yes, the Universal I motor is replaceable. Look at the specs on the nameplate, review this previous post: Universal I – Replacement Motor, then contact a supplier such as

The Arm
1 year ago

I would suggest you first confirm that your ink drum hasn’t dropped from bad bushings before adjusting out slack in the chain. If one end is low, that end of the drum will probably also not be inking up normally. And if you grab the drum, you will probably be able to move it.

It could just be the angle, but in your video it looks like the top of the drum is lower than the bearer. It should be slightly above.

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Paul Moxon, Moderator

Here’s a more detailed comment to supplement DGM’s comment:

Your press has a three-sprocket, right-angle chain arrangement. The chain runs from a sprocket on the motor, then horizontally via a second sprocket to a third sprocket on the ink drum.

To reduce slack on a right-angle chain, loosen the mounting nut for the top corner sprocket and slide upward in the slot.

The nut for the Universal I and 15-21 takes a thin 3/4″ wrench, and the nut for the Universal III takes a thin 7/8″ wrench.

Some Uni Is have only two sprockets: one on the motor and one on the ink drum and therefore a diagonally run chain. To reduce slack on a diagonal chain, lower the motor by loosening the bolts in the slots in the mounting frame.  

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The Arm
1 year ago

It sounds to me like the chain is dragging against something. Does it have a lot of slack? Has one of the ink drum bushings failed? You would be able to tell if the top of the drum was not even. I’d suspect the rear side could have dropped due to a failed bushing resulting in new slack in the chain.


Paul Moxon, Moderator

I think the gurgling sound is coming from the chain and spockets.

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