Hello I’m the new owner of a Universal III P which arrived less the carriage drive motor/gearbox/clutch assembly. I have a very good machinist/electrician who has suggested he could adapt a small variable speed motor gearbox combination to fit. Trouble is he has no idea about motor hp, gear ratios, whether the motor would have the torque to start up without a clutch, etc. I was wondering if anyone has experience or suggestions regarding this issue?
Thanks much

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11 thoughts on “Universal III Power carriage drive motor/gearbox”

  1. Hello again to all, going on three years out now. Problem solved. I thought I would share my findings. I found a .25 hp baldor dc gear motor and controller on ebay, with a maximum speed of 167 rmp, continuous torque over a variable speed range. The Universal III manual states a maximum carriage speed as 108 ft/min. At 23 teeth per foot (as I counted them on the bed of the press), this is 2484 teeth/min, which I then divided between the 167 RPM to get a 14.8 tooth gear that would have to be attached to the motor to achieve the correct max speed. Give or take .2 teeth, I had a 15-tooth gear made to fit the motor shaft and gear track of the Universal. Last Tuesday, Ignacio Colorado, a brilliant local offset repair technician spent the evening installing a standard Baldor DC motor controller card and a second strip of electronics he custom built for the braking, reversal, delays, etc. involved in the operation of the press. It´s a 21-century solid-state electronics solution to the clutch, relays, solenoids etc. (admittedly wonderful construction) of the original Vandercook. Although some details remain to be worked out in terms of overall operation—I have yet to find a potentiometer for speed control with the “feel” of the original variac transformer knob, or the genuine mechanical switch (not the knob) for “manual, cycle, and run” (suggestions here appreciated) and a couple of other fine tuning issues–it looks like a successful adaptation. If anyone is interested in further information regarding this lengthy sojourn, or other specifics involved in the contemporary gear motor/controller card, etc. employed in all of this I am happy to provide the details.

  2. Byron Brauchli

    So you don’t think that a dc motor controller could work instead of a clutch? The electronics they have in them gives them constant torque from 0 to full speed. The motor on my etching press is usually set to only at 20-25% with incredible pressure for photogravures, it’s never overloaded, not even with enormous plates. The controllers also have internal settings which can be varied and regulate the speed of acceleration and electronic braking when you set them at 100%

  3. I suspect that gearbox/clutch assembly will have to be fabricated. Byron, check with Baldor/Reliance to see if they can provide some guidance. I’m thinking you can copy the gear/clutch on Soo Lee-Spaw’s Universal I Power carriage motor. If this sounds too complicated, consider converting to a hand crank. See this thread: https://vandercookpress.info/universal-iii-carriage-conversion/

    More and more owners are needing to repair or replace motors. I am collecting all the specs I find. The range of output RPM is approximately 112-117 for original ink motors and 123-170 for original power carriage motors. My data is not yet complete, so if anyone can help, please see: https://vandercookpress.info/motor-info/

  4. I’ve read somewhere that each of the motors for the Universal III were specific to the press. To the point that you had to repair them rather than swap them out.

    Even if that is inaccurate where can you possibly find the other parts? “a Universal III P which arrived less the carriage drive motor/gearbox/clutch assembly”


  5. I ran a cycle on two different Uni III presses just now and find that at the highest speed the cylinder takes 3 seconds from feedboard to release point and at lowest speed it takes 5 seconds.
    Both of the presses had The same motor/gearbox setup which was a 1/4 HP DC motor.

    John Henry

  6. Byron Brauchli

    And I was going to watch a utube flick of someone printing with a stopwatch, but this sounds much more scientific…

  7. The manual doesn’t say what the speed range is for the carriage. This may be specified in the assembly drawings at NA Graphics. A 1/4 hp motor should be able to handle it. I will try to get Fritz to comment and bring this thread to the attention to other owners of Universals with power carriages.

  8. Byron Brauchli

    Thanks Paul and Ladboyle. How fast is a normal print cycle on this machine? Do you suppose that a variable dc motor and controller (1/4 hp perhaps) would have the torque to handle this? The dc motor I have on my etching press has incredible torque even at very low speeds, and its controller has internal settings to control acceleration and braking speeds–a feature which could in theory simplify the no of relays on the back of the machine?

  9. Reliance made a 1/8 hp 2000 input RPM motor with a 12:1 gearbox for 170 output rpm. They are still in business, but the available options will probably run either a bit faster or slower. Contact http://www.reliance.com/ (the parent company is Baldor).

    Another company Janette, now defunct, made a 1/4 hp 1725 input rpm motor with a 12:1 gearbox for 144 output rpm.

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