Re-assembly and conversion (to manual) of Universal II (power carriage)

Hello printers,

An alumnus has just donated a Vandercook to our university; after saying, “sure, we could use another”, I learned that it is a Universal II power carriage w/ adjustable bed and that owing to the weight of the press, moving it from its former home (the second story of a barn) required dissassembly.

The good news is that we successfully moved everything and now have the large pieces nicely reassembled in the studio (thanks to our U. Idaho machine shop guys!). For school/student use purposes, I don’t need the tower/tapes nor do I want the power carriage. Some of the blog posts make this conversion seem fairly straightforward (attach stub to imp. cylinder then attach handle) and it looks like a new motor on 110V to drive the inking cylinders is not too dificult either (thanks Paul). Oh, for Census purposes it is stamped 19840 and Winard

For a person w/ only SP and Uni I experience, I haven’t figured out the adjustable bed yet (haven’t studied it yet) but recalibrating it seems a bit tricky(?)… (At any point you could suggest getting the 2nd edition of “Vandercook Presses” to address a number of these questions :)

And what is the vacuum pump for? Can I leave this unconnected if I’m essentially going as manual as possible? With so little info on the Uni II should I study the 219 or are these each their own animal?

Any big or complicated issues that a fair level of press experience wouldn’t be able to eventually figure out? Most of the parts have been labeled w/ written and photo instructions, BTW. And it seems very complete (minus a lock-up bar, alas).

Thanks for your input and links,

Mike Sonnichsen

it doesn’t look that heavy on a flatbed truck, but it is a bear.

Handy to have a long reach forklift to get from tuck bed to building.
Handy to have a long reach forklift to get from truck bed to building.
Most of the big/heavy pieces are back together and nicely aligned. This was the second break-down, move, and reassembly in this press' life.
Most of the big/heavy pieces are back together and nicely aligned. This was the second break-down, move, and reassembly in this press’ life. Compressed air hose for cleaning!


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Paul Moxon, Moderator
7 years ago

The Vandercook manuals recommend Molykote Z, but this is expensive and not commonly found. Instead use a heavy-duty penetrating grease, such as ZEP 2000.

To calibrate bed height, place type-high material in the bed and use the hand wheel to make level with the bed bearers. To eliminate backlash (or play) in the gearing, make the final adjustment by turning the hand wheel clockwise. The indicator wire should read 0.918”. If not, then adjust the scale to match the wire.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
7 years ago

A pity about the surplus.

The “under” carriage parts that you should need are the bearings for the center rail under bed casting.
Except for the trip wedge cams, the print/trip impression cylinder eccentric and the inking assembly (except the ink drum) are built into the carriage.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
7 years ago

Congratulations on getting this beast moved and reassembled. I can find a home for the tapes tower and perhaps the carriage motor.

The adjustable bed tapers may need cleaning and lubricating. This would ensure that it is balanced to the press.

The Universal II is indeed a hybrid. It has the “quick change” ‘inking assembly like other Universal models, but the cylinder eccentric, gripper bar, cabinet, power controls and powertrain like the 219 P.

The vacuum pump was connected to a plate base for proving photoengravings without the need for toggle clips.

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