Dear Vandekin

I am in Memphis cleaning & repairing two Vandercooks, a 4 and a Uni III. The operator of the III tells me the motor jumps (or rather jolts) itself randomly during a press run and there appears to be a little bit of slack in the chain. I tested it out and sure enough it happened for me while I had the press on cycle & run modes. Having experience this problem myself while similar presses power Universals I always lessened the problem (if not got rid of it entirely) by adjusting the carriage speed and/or making sure my ink wasn’t drying out on press.

Since there’s a wee bit of slack in the chain this Uni’s operator is suggesting that I shorten the chain. My feeling is it has something to do with the clutch and that shorten the chain will be a headache and a waste of time, or worse . . . it’ll do some damage to the press. Anyhow . . . is there anyone out there with some experience with these Universal clutch adjustments and/or jumpy, jolty motors? I’d appreciate any input as I have a couple more days of work here cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

Also, while I have your attention . . . the 4 is in need of a few parts. I’ve identified all the parts this school will need, but I am without a good reference to the small parts inside the inking rollers (the thin tubes in front and behind the oscillating cylinder). These are small collars (wood? plastic? I’ve never been sure. I had two pair made a local machine shop for m old 4 years ago.) that fit around the inking system roller frame and keep the inking rollers from slopping around and hurting themselves. Anyone have a good reference for these parts?

Terry Chouinard

reporting live from the Bluff City of W.C. Handy, Gus Cannon, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Prince Mongo.

  • 5 thoughts on “Uni III Power motor query”

    1. I recently had my Universal IV sort of sputtering during the run. On occasion the carriage would stop for no reason right in the middle of its journey down the bed. Standing on the drive-side of the press trying to figure out the cause, I happened to kicked the cable which powers the motor, and the press took off again. I called an electrician, and he confirmed that there were breaks in the wires within the cables. We would run the press while he shook the cable back and forth, which seemed to prove that it was a problem with the electricity going to the motor. He worked on it for a little while, replacing and patching, and then the press ran beautifully again. I think it cost me $160.

      Michael Russem

    2. I have seen the power Uni III get a bit jumpy if the variac starts to get tired. If you adjust the speed a bit slower or faster it will suddenly run better.

      I’m no electrician, but I’ve had temporary success in alleviating the symptoms by cleaning the contacts on the back of it with electrical contact cleaner.

      Daniel Morris
      The Arm Letterpress
      Brooklyn, NY

    3. adrian robertshaw

      Terry,
      Re: Chain issue.

      I have a Universal 2, which is much like the Uni 3 and have had a similar problem with slack in the chain. Do not shorten chain (huge headache)! I found two things that may help:

      1-You may have a tight link in the chain, so it sticks/skips in one particular spot. If so, get some slack on the chain and bend it against the way it runs to loosen it (and oil it).

      2-Move the motor back. If it is the same as mine the motor sits on a bracket which is bolted to the frame. If you can slide back a bit, do so, if not remove the whole bracket and slip washers on each bolt before re-attaching.
      Good luck
      Adrian

    4. Patti Montgomery

      Terry,
      Greetings from a former Memphian! Haven’t thought about Prince Mongo in years, and very few people in Chicago seem to know who Jerry “the King” Lawler is. To your query regarding the Vandy 4: I think the small parts you were referring to are nyliners. They are referenced in the article “Common Vandercook Operator Errors” by Paul Moxon which is posted on this site. I didn’t have to replace them, so I don’t have a supplier, but maybe this information will help you.
      Patti Montgomery

    5. The rider rollers on the ink drum assembly have wood bearings, and I stock them. As for the jumpy motor, I can’t really say. Clutch maybe–the clutch plates do wear and those are still made but expensive, and again, I have a set in stock. Perhaps the clutch spring is bad or broken, then there’s the worm drive inside the gear transfer case–one steel worm and a bronze one. The bronze worm can eventually strip out causing something like what you describe. Again, not a cheap part but I have 2 of the bronze worms in stock and I think they may be the ones for the Univ III clutch. If a motor problem, it may require rewinding, perhaps new bearings but in any case, never throw away a Vandercook motor–there generally are no replacements and they have to be rebuilt.

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