Hello. I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Kelly Shields and I am an high school art teacher. I am also one of those “enthusiastic newer printers who are learning letterpress printing and keeping it alive and well.” I have been a silent observer of this site for several years, and have just recently purchased a Vandercook 4T. I have been learning  from David Umbenhour at The Art Academy of Cincinnati and researching restoration heavily on this site.  I wanted to thank Paul and everyone else here for all the knowledge you willingly share.  I thought some might be interested in the image of my press as I found it two weeks ago and how it is coming along.  After uncovering it from all its grime, everything seems to be in working order with the exception of the foot pedal.  It doesn’t raise the grippers, and I still havent figured out why. But I am thrilled to have a press of my own and hope to be a valuable contributor in the future.

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Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

NA Graphics has replacement belts, but you may be able to find one locally. The length when flatten it is 16″ and the width should be 1″.

The base of the speed reducer has lotted holes for the bolts (one on each end). Loosen the bolts and pull the speed reducer back making sure that the chain is too tight.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

It’s looking great.The grippers shouldn’t need to raise more that this to allow your to feed paper.
The oil should be fine and you shouldn’t need to drain it.
The bar that pushes out the gripper opener cam looks just like mine.

11 years ago

Well, that’s really cool, Kelly, I’m very happy and honored to know that my restoration project has served someone.

Please let us know how this turns out.

11 years ago

Kelly, the wise men have talked.
Sorry I got confused, Paul’s right, you can do away without the leveling bolts.
You do have “feet” on your press.

Good luck!

Eric Holub
11 years ago

To Paul’s list I would add that there is a bar on the far side that connects from the foot pedal action to the gripper action (sorry, don’t have the parts list at hand). There are shouldered screws that are pivots for the action, and if the screws back out, then the it is the smaller threaded portions on which the action pivots, not the shoulder, and therefore less movement. Check that these screws are all the way in.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago


The leveling feet are two large bolts that fit into the base casting at the right end of the bed. It does not effect the gripper pedal. Jacking up the press is not the answer.

The trip bar I cited in my first comment is part of the gripper bar (see sheet 104). The photo you show is of the bar that pushes out the gripper lever cam (MR-129, sheet 107). Unfortunately, this bar does not appear in the drawing.

That pin is wrong. It should be driven down flush and would not be painted.

11 years ago

Hey, first of all: Good job on the cleaning!

As you are missing feet, then you should think of an alternative to raise the press, I don’t know if I’d recommend wood. Seems like it might not be a great choice, but I’m sure others will chime in with better suggestions. But that can definitely be giving you clearance problems, I’m sure.
Also, your pin seems to be sticking out way too much, it might not be engaging.
Other thing to try is from inside the cabinet pull the chain to see if the linkage is engaged.

Good luck!! you are close to printing for sure.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
11 years ago

There are a number of reasons why the pedal wont lift the grippers. Here’s my order of likelihood:
– floor mat under pedal
– gripper stems dirty. clean and lubricate with graphite
– trip bar (MS-101, sheet 104) on bottom of gripper bar not aligned with push rod (MR-100, sheet 106)
– Push rod dirty
– end of trip bar worn
– taper pin in pedal collar sheared
– linkage disconnected. This is the most unlikeliest, but requires the bed to be lifted.

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