Suggestions on which press to buy

Hello All,
I own a custom invitation business and have been sending my work out to a press. I would like to purchase my own press and begin doing my own printing. I have a fairly large studio so I am not really worried about size. I do mostly short runs of 100-200 invitations, printing the envelope, invitation, rsvp card, info card, and save the date for each one. I am mostly interested in quality, spot on registration, and even ink distribution. I have been researching Chandler and Price clamshell presses but recently read on this site that a Vandercook could offer a higher quality print. As for cleaning, maintenance, and printing, is there one or two models that are better than others? Thank you for your time.

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Paul Moxon, Moderator
14 years ago

Most suitable would be the SP15, Universal I, and the No. 4.
Other brands to consider are the Challenge 15MP, Reprex No. 2, 3 & 4. and the Asbern ADR-1

The larger SP20, Universal III, 15-21 and 219 Vandercooks would also work.

The problem, of course, is locating any of these presses and then discerning their condition. Any press you’ll find will be at least 35 years old.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
14 years ago

Universal and SP series Vandercooks have the easiest inking system to clean.
The large oscillating roller is hinged on the carriage and is raised to access the rubber form rollers. On earlier models such as the No.4 or 219 the oscillating roller must be lifted off the press to clean the rollers.

The roller height adjustment of Universals and SPs is simpler to make than on earlier models, but the position needs to be monitored because the mechanism is lighter than the roller frame on earlier models, which when locked holds better.

Generally, the ink motor on Universals and SPs need the oil levels to be checked much less frequently than on earlier models.

There are other considerations such as matching your body size to a press. If you are tall you might find that an SP15 is too low and hard on your back, or if you are short a 219 might be too large and hard on your shoulder. Of course, a press could be placed on blocks, but this makes accessing the foot pedal awkward as does placing a platform to stand on.

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