template to hand-cut tympan packing / top sheet?

i live in mexico city, and i can’t find tympan packing or drawsheets for my newly purchased vandercook universal 1. does anyone have any suggestions on how to make my own? a template that i could use to hand-cut would be amazing, and also any suggestions on what type of material i should use (gotta find it in spanish, but an english equivalent is a start) for the drawsheet as well as packing. when i worked at a letterpress studio back in 2003, we didn’t use the shiny mylar or rubber blankets, only the sheets that feel a little waxy, like parchment. thanks for your help.

this may be something i have to order next time i’m stateside, as from my reading it seems DIY packing can result in bad printing. or else order directly from na graphics and wait for the mexican post to deliver it (often months).

so much to learn with a new press, in a new country . . . !

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12 years ago

You might also find this template helpful from Barbara Hauser, it’s on her flickr:

Eric Holub
12 years ago

As for the hem of the topsheet, I have seen some who just butt the edge against the clamp screws. That is not enough for the clamp to hold; you really need to cut notches so the lead edge can be inserted past the screws. Since I use a mylar topsheet, I also put cellulose tape along the hem so the clamp has something it can bite into to prevent slppage. A tympan topsheet does not need that.
Personally, I always run one or two hemmed hanger sheets under the clamp so I can position overlays. If all the packing is loose you cannot position anything accurately.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
12 years ago

I’m pleased to learn about more Vandercooks in Mexico. The total is now six. Five in the main census and one in the gravity press census. Our friend Enrique can boast he owns three. I expect more will come to light.

On the Universal I a drawsheet was originally 15 × 28¾”. When cutting from a roll you can make it a bit longer. The hem (the folded end clamped against the gripper bar) should be no less an inch, this will prevent the drawsheet from pulling back when winding the reel rod or from heavy impression. The taper of the tail begins at the end of the cylinder face: 24″. If the pawl locks against the underside of the ratchet , the tail winds around the reel rod overhand or counterclockwise. Conversely, if the pawl locks against the top side of the ratchet , the tail winds around the reel rod underhand or clockwise. In square ends of the reel rod are 11/16″ to fit an open end wrench. You may have the original tools that came with the press. FYI: the reel rods most other models are 3/4″ square along their length.

12 years ago

Universal I, wow.. that’s a great press.
The tympan I know for a fact you can get it locally, at least here in Monterrey ADOSA sells it. It must be even easier in DF. Talk to Tipos y estadísticas, they should have it for sure.
You can cut it by hand of course, you don’t need a template as long as you follow a general shape.
If I have a chance I’ll make you a template from my No. 4’s and SP-15 but I have no clue whether that’ll be appropriate for your Uni I.
In spanish it’s called Papel tímpano.
The drawsheet you can use Polietileno (PET) they sell it in sheets of several thicknesses or calibers.
http://www.emcar.com.mx/p10.html (for example, that’s in Monterrey, too)
Tímpano is the waxy sheet.
I can help you out with your US orders.. if you want.
Actually I’ll be very excited to talk to you and fill you in with the gang that’s been forming as of lately in the country, and most of us speak English fluently.
Get in touch, I’ll be happy to chat with you about Vandercooks, Letterpress and Mexico :)

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