Ink drum on the No. 4

Hi guys, you might remember that last year I posted about this problem I was having with my ink drum not getting fully inked.

I finally got around to changing the wooden bushings on the Ink drum and on the rider rollers. Very nice oilite brass bushings for the ink drum and some nylon bushings for the rider rollers.

I installed everything again, and I could tell that one side is still lower than the other, even without having to ink it.

Previously the squareness of the frame was mentioned as a possibility, but I don’t think the roller frame has fault here.

I measured the distance the ink drum protrudes up from the carriage bearers and on the operator side it protrudes approx. 0.108″, while on the N.O.S. it protrudes only 0.065″

Might that difference be what we see over here? (photo from last year’s post)


Also, I noticed that the ink drum has play between the rails, and that if I slide it to the O.S., it will travel to the N.O.S. again in a short period of time.

I measured the bed with a spirit level and it seemed that the N.O.S. was lower, so I raised it, but that doesn’t account at all for the difference in height. Maybe for the sliding, but I also made sure that the chain was extra loose, so it wasn’t pulling in that direction.

What could it be?


UPDATE: So I fixed the side to side movement, the axle stubs Shaft Lock Screws were not screwed all the way in obviously. So I centered the ink drum and there is no lateral shift now. I’m still wondering about the difference in height on both sides.



I took a more scientific approach to my problem. I was determined to find out what was at fault here. So I took off the Ink Drum, the Shaft Lock Screws and the shaft.
I started by checking the ink drum against a straight edge. Same with the shaft. Both came out fine. The Shaft Lock screws both seem round enough, so they passed my quality test. The shaft seemed ok as well.

I wanted to really test if there was some wear on the Shaft lock screws or the shaft itself. Remember the bearings were just replaced by their bronze versions.

So I start a little experiment, I wanted to try out both sides of the shaft each with each screw on each side, basically 4 combinations, plus a test on the screws themselves.

I measured with my trusted Mitutoyo Micrometer from the bed rail to the shaft, on each side, and then calculated the difference.

Here are the results:



The Non Operator Side is always lower by approx. 0.048″ no matter the combination of shaft side or shaft lock screw. This is the approximate amount I first noticed when I measured the ink drum to rail distance yesterday.

What do you think? Could this possibly mean that the press has a manufacturing error? Wouldn’t the first owners have noticed it and reported it to Vandercook?

Can anyone please confirm by measuring from the bed rail to the top of the ink drum if there is any difference in height?

Is this what causes the Non operator side to be missing ink?



Well, after all the thought given to the issue I decided to simply ink up and give it a go. The NOS was still not touching, but since I remembered my press is galley height and what I used for bed plate wasn’t straight enough when I set the rollers, I decided to liberally drop the rollers a bit from the NOS and sure enough they made contact with the Ink Drum. I decided to print some wood type while I had it inked up, and it came out great. As Paul once said, this machine might only work for “punk rock printing” but that would be fine with me. I either need to get a good bed plate, or a .968 roller setting gauge, but I’m a little more optimistic to start printing on this press. I still need to get some tympan, packing and drawsheet for this press.
Also the Ink drum has some texture due to the rust pitting it. Do you think this affects the inking in general or its performance?

Also, Basil: I don’t think I’ve seen it the Ink Drum go up or down as I’m screwing it in, but maybe I didn’t pay enough attention.

Here are some photos:

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Basil Head
Basil Head
9 years ago

The ink drum should be 1/16th above the bed bearers. On some of the earlier No. 4’s I have worked on the screws which allow you to centrally locate the drum between the bearers also allowed you to set the height. The machined end of the
screws which fitted into the ends of the drum shaft were slightly eccentric allowing you to adjust the height of the drum relative to the bearers and parallel to the bed. Not sure if this applies to the No. 4 in question.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
9 years ago

The apex of my ink drum is also higher on the operator side approximately 0.082 and non operator side is 0.043. I have no problems inking.

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