SP15 Cylinder Carriage–jammed!

Hello! I’m new to the wild world of Vandercook ownership…and am hesitant to take apart the cylinder without first getting advice. Here are the details:

(1) I bought the press a little over a month ago, and noticed that the carriage was getting hung up (as if it had to scale a small hill) about 5 inches out from the feedboard. The press’s owner was not a trained printer, and had definitely neglected to oil the press in the 5-10 years she’d owned it.

(2) Upon loading the press into the moving van, we dropped it. It fell back to a 45 degree angle on the back side–after which we noticed that the carriage was binding at that point–about 5 inches away from the feedboard. However, the fall didn’t impact the bed or carriage, only the lower portion of the cabinet.
I’ve posted photos here: http://picasaweb.google.com/maydaystudio/VandercookTripArm

The press is now installed in my shop, and I’d like to start cleaning, oiling, and making repairs. My question for you: should I go ahead and take off the carriage plates to investigate the problem? I am fairly mechanically competent, and have a manual with diagrams. Or is this something I should hire a repair person for?

Thanks for your help!

May Day Studio

10 thoughts on “SP15 Cylinder Carriage–jammed!

  1. john christopher - July 21, 2008

    “the wild world of Vandercook ownership”

    Hey – is there something going on that I haven’t heard about – are you people having a party over there in the US?

  2. maydaystudio - July 18, 2008

    It’s moving!

    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Turns out, I was just being too gentle with the oiling. The cylinder had NO OIL, and therefore wasn’t turning the print/trip arm over the bearings. I *very* liberally sprayed wd-40 (on the advice of Perry Tymeson) between the carriage and the side plate, to get at the trip arm, and every few minutes put a few more drops of 20 wt. oil in the oil holes on the outside of the side plate.

    She’s still a bit stiff, but after walking the carriage up and down the bed for twenty minutes or so, I took the video posted here: http://maydaystudio.blogspot.com/2008/07/tools-of-trade-best-sound.html

    I’ve learned a lot about the inner workings of my press over the last few days–thanks to all of your suggestions that sent me scrambling for penlights and the better camera angle.


  3. Sylvia Chevrier - July 18, 2008

    I replaced both broken trip springs on my SP-15 not long ago. It helps to have two people– one to thread and hold the spring in place (I used a very long pair of needle nose pliers to do this) and the other to hit the spring with some force to snap it in place over the dowel (a really large screwdriver hit with a hammer did the trick for this). Do hit the spring straight in, rather than trying to bend or lift it over the dowel; I did break one this way. A couple of small LED lights with magnets on the ends are also helpful; you can place them where you need light and in this way avoid holding a flashlight.


  4. maydaystudio - July 16, 2008


    Thanks for that link. I tried to search the archives, but was having trouble getting the pages to load. A direct link is much easier to refer to!

    And thank you for sheet 302–it’s not in the manual I have (inherited from the previous owner, via NA Graphics, I think). I would like to avoid taking off the side plates without an experienced mechanic nearby. I’m sure my little Vandy could benefit from a tune-up, though, so sooner or later, the carriage eccentric will get it’s due.

    I’m sure this isn’t the end of my questions…but thanks to all for your help thus far.


  5. Paul Moxon, Moderator - July 16, 2008

    Vandercook intended that trip springs were to be replaced without removing the side plates as shown in Sheet 302 of the operator’s manual. Though the method is rather awkward.

    Having said that, it is a serious project to remove the side plates mainly because it requires using a a bearing extractor to remove the outer Cylinder Eccentric attached to the crank shaft. The side plates s are held together by tie rods and the lift arm. What you are left with is an unsupported cylinder with it’s gears seated in the cylinder gear rack.

    See my post on repairing the trip springs on an SP20 https://vandercookpress.info/vanderblog/2007/06/14/sp20-trip-spring-repaired/

    If you do decide to take the side plates off you should also take the opportunity to clean and lubricate the carriage eccentric.

  6. maydaystudio - July 16, 2008

    thanks Eric and John–the photos have been very helpful. From what I can see, it does appear that the spring is broken.

    My next question–is it a real bear to take off the side plates? Can anyone pass on a few pointers?


  7. john christopher - July 15, 2008

    I had the same problem with my sp15 – if a trip spring is broken then the cylinder may hang lower on the broken side and prevents the whole assembly from moving – it looks like yours is stuck just before the sprung plate which forces the ink drum down as the cylinder passes over it. I have some good reference images on flickr showing the trip spring in position (the side plates are off as part of a general refurbishment)…


  8. Eric Holub - July 14, 2008

    If the two trip arm assemblies are not at the same level, you may have a broken trip spring. The trip arm on the broken side will be stuck in position. A strong light shined between cylinder and carriage, maybe with a dental mirror, will help you see what is happening in there, after a good cleaning with compressed air and a long-handled bottle brush (or linotype brush).
    The “hill” might be a stiff trip arm assembly anyway, whether from lack of lubrication, gunk, or something else that might be binding it.

  9. maydaystudio - July 14, 2008


    Thanks for your reply.

    RE: cleaning and oiling. My intention is to clean the visible dust and gunk, then give the press a good oiling. Sorry, I’m still waking up and not feeling very amused.

    The carriage is actually *locked* in position. It refuses to return to the feedboard or continue to the end of the bed. From what I can see, the trip arm assembly on the left side has dropped quite low, and is making contact with (I think) bushing X-20645 as seen on sheet 247 in the manual.

    I can’t tell if there is a corresponding “lock” on the right side as well, but in testing the press last month, it definitely seemed like a left-side only problem.

    Thanks again,

  10. Ray Nichols - July 14, 2008

    I wouldn’t think you could clean and oil things. That might be at least some of the problem.

    A couple of questions…

    Can you can see or feel with your fingers the ‘hill’?

    Is the ‘hill’ on the cylinder or on the cylinder bearers?

    Is it fairly abrupt or does it slowly happen?

    Might the problem be in the bearings?

    Can you roll over the hill, that is can you still print?

    While I wouldn’t say this isn’t a problem I would think that at 5″ your paper still hasn’t begun to print so it might not have any impact on printing.

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