No. 4 Cylinder stuck

Hey everyone,

I co-run a community print shop in Saint Louis, MO. We have facilities for letterpress, intaglio, and screen printing. We were recently given a vandercook no. 4 to add to our lettepress equipment.

When we showed up to pick up the press, it was being moved out of a basement with a backhoe (giant construction machine that looks like a bulldozer). A wall had been knocked out so that it could be removed from the building. Unfortunately, it was not only covered in drywall and brick mortar, but had also been taken apart and was missing the inking drum that sits in the bed of the press and the motor.

I am making good progress on getting the parts replaced, but there is another problem: the carriage is stuck in the middle of the press bed, and will not move. I have cleaned it a little and I can’t see anything stuck in the gears. I have some photos here… any ideas?

if more photos or photos of different parts help please tell me — I know almost nothing about the mechanics of this press, any help would be great.

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Sara S.
15 years ago

Steven, I know a little about this press and printed a quick proof on it a few months ago without a problem. At that time the cylinder was moving easily down the bed. I’m just offering this as an fyi — it hasn’t been jammed for long. An unfortunate moving method, that beast of a backhoe! …Sara S.

Steve Robinson
15 years ago

Steven, I have recently rebuilt a # 4 and had similar issue that turned out to be the the threaded sleeve that holds the ink drum. The sleeve was protruding out too far and caught the bearing assembly, given that your press is sans ink drum you may have the same issue. I tore the cylinder head completely down but if you do not want to approach it this way try taking off the “bumper plates” on the leading edge of the carriage and, with a flashlight see if this could be your issue. If you have to pull it apart a digital camera will be your best friend when putting her back together.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
15 years ago

Those rollers are called carriage bearings, but I think we’ve come to an online impasse. You need informed on site help. Contact Dave Seat: info@HotMetalServices.com. He is on the road in the midwest and might be able to stop in.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
15 years ago

So if it’s not square and clearing any obstructions won’t allow it to correct itself then the you will need to lift the carriage. First you will have to remove the vertical cylinder rack and then the carriage bearings. Simple, nu?

Eric Holub
Editor
15 years ago

This may be a log shot, but I did once see a No. 4 that was jammed on a 12 pt. slug left in the gap between the gear rack and the bed bearer. The flange on the cylinder was pressed against it. The slug was forced out, in fragments, using a long thin bar and a hammer.
Straighten out a coathanger and sound the gaps on both sides for foreign matter.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
15 years ago

It’s possible that the carriage was reassembled, but unlikely given its position on the bed. Someone would have to know that the gear rack on the 4 is split in two sections on either side, remove a section, roll the carriage off, reassemble then roll it back on. They would immediately know it’s stuck. But perhaps they called it a day and never came back to it.

Eric Holub
Editor
15 years ago

That overhead view of the cylinder–maybe it is a distorted image, but it doesn’t look as if it is square to the bed. Can it have been reassembled a tooth off on one side?

Paul Moxon, Moderator
15 years ago

The first thing to do is clean all the drywall and other crud from the gears and racks. Start with a vacuum cleaner then spray a very liberal amount of WD40 and proceed from there.

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