Yesterday morning we had a rather strange experience with our Vandercook SP-15. It was about noon and the studio was just starting to warm up. Temperature was maybe 50 degrees when we started the heater. After a bit we inked the press to print some notecards and what I think was the vibrator roller (pretty sure but it was quite hard to tell) would want to stop and would squeal. We put new Vaseline on the vibrator roller and oiled everything else. It would stop for a moment and then start back up. You could see the vibrator roller wasn’t keeping up with the rubber rollers.
Maybe after 10 minutes it stopped. Do you think running it for a while warmed it up and that cold ink / cold press is the problem?
On most presses there’s very little space between the rider ends and the frame, so I will slip in a strip of paper with a dab of Vaseline on it.
When I hear this sound on an SP-15 I usually find that it is the ends of the rider roller. A drop of oil on each side usually shuts it up! Be sure to wipe off the excess or it could end up in your ink!
The Arm Letterpress
Cold is indeed the problem–it takes a while for the rollers to warm up because of their mass, same with the steel parts. The ink acts like glue when cold. One of the first questions I ask when a problem like this is given me is to ask what the temperature in the press room is. It may pay to run the rollers dry to allow friction to warm them up before adding ink. Anything much below 70F can pose problems, and even without the roller noise, ink and paper don’t react properly when cold.