As the new owner of a Model 17,  I have a question, maybe two, regarding dead bars and Handy Bars. But first let me say how grateful I am to Fritz Klinke who has been incredibly helpful with providing historical and operational details about my press; to Daniel Morris; and also to all of you who both ask questions and post.

Now the work starts:

1. My press was built in 1926 and has an open bed on both ends with an ink plate at the “bottom” end. There are two holes for steel dowel pins at the other end against which the dead bar registers.

a. In writings and postings about form lockup on the bed of Vandercook presses there is usually only a mention of three “sides” being used: the two bed sides and a Handy Bar or the more modern dead bar which is adjustable along the length of the bed with the two pins on its end engaging notches in the bed walls along the beds’ length. Is this lack of mentioning a fourth side because on most modern presses there is already a closed end that is the fourth side of the lockup “chase”?

b. On my press with the dead bar being limited to one location at the end does this therefore imply the need for a Handy Bar or other make-shift form of cross-bar to act as the forth side?

2. My press did not come with either the pins for the dead bar or the dead bar. The pins are a standard size and I’ve purchased replacements. The dead bar will be easy to make and the length and height are obvious but the width seems to me to be critical because this will not only determine the usable length of the bed but may impact (literally as well as figuratively) the movement of the cylinder. Does anyone have an original dead bar and can let me know the width? Or the width of a non-original they are using that works?

Any other comments related to these issues would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Rich Polinski
Milford, NJ


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2 thoughts on “Model 17: No Holds Barred Help Needed”

  1. The 17 and 25 are the same press, different bed widths. It has a strange method of feeding the sheet to the grippers at the bottom of the cylinder, using a sheet tray, and the grippers clear the type on both ends of the press cycle. I sent a copy of the original operating instructions to both Rich and Paul, and I’m sitting here pondering the assembly drawing for this press. The print I have is noted being redrawn Sept. 22, 1927, so I’m not sure when this press was actually drawn, but the first serial number card is dated October 1915. Vandercook made a fair number of the 17 and not quite as many of the 25.

    It appears from the plan that there was a head bar at the ink plate, or at least a stop. The problem with this press is that the bed casting on each side is much higher than the bed of the press and that was to provide for a top and bottom rail for the cylinder bearings, only one of which was adjustable on each side. There’s a lot to this press I don’t understand and would love to see a video of it in action. It is a fairly complex press to have come out of Vandercook so soon after their initial Rocker press, which was very basic and simple in design. At least by 1927, it was Vandercook & Sons, and no longer The Vandercook Press, so it looks like the boys grew into the business rather fast.

  2. Rich,
    According to the Vandercook Census there is another Model 17 in New Jersey. You might want to get in touch with the owner to get in there to take some photos and measurements and to talk shop.

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

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