Universal III – Gripper Bar Questions

As a result of a plumbing mishap a few weeks ago I have had to clean and re-lubricate the gripper bar on my Universal III AB. In the processes of doing this I’ve run into a few questions and potential problems, and I want to get clarification if I can before I do anything incorrectly. I would appreciate any information as my review of the .pdf manual I have, nor Vandercook Presses 2nd ed. have cleared my admittedly muddled understanding.

I have posted this photo of the removed gripper bar, there appears to be a rather thick 3/4″ dia washer/roller with a fillister head machine bolt+nut possibly missing at position (A) which is present at the other end of the arm. Any thoughts?

(B) these threaded pins have a nut (Jam nut?) and look as though they can be adjusted? would this alter how high the grippers open?

(C) small holes which are painted with red enamel which makes me think they are lubrication points for the grippers? They were previously caked with black gunk, I had assumed they were set screws all this time until I cleaned them up to find empty holes.

I don’t want to take disassembly/lubrication any further than this until I am more confident in what I am looking at.

Thank you for your time and expertise.


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Eric Holub
2 years ago

Powdered graphite is fine. I already use the Dixon flake graphite to lubricate Linotype spacebands, which are treated much more frequently than your grippers need, but the idea with each is to apply graphite but leave the minimum as a working layer. After applying the graphite, I rub the spacebands on a smooth wood block, that’s the “polishing” that removes excess graphite. Too much lubrication is a problem with many lubricants, but with graphite, aside from possibly marking paper, it absorbs moisture from the air and gets gummy.
After a good cleaning of gripper stems and their holes, and a first polishing with graphite, you might get by with an occasional light application of graphite with a toothbrush to renew lubrication.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
2 years ago

I agree with Eric that you should use graphite instead of oil. In my haste (while traveling) I was noting that they are indeed oil holes. I use graphite on all the various styles of grippers that Vandercook made.

Ssd for the gripper opener cam, a local machinist should be able to fill the gouges and NA mach have the follower. In this instance, the part is MR-68 Roller (Sheet 211-A of the manual).

Eric Holub
2 years ago

If you are printing and not proofing, I wouldn’t use oil in the oil holes for the grippers. You may get oil stains on your final product as it migrates up.
It is a lot more work, but I remove the grippers and polish them with flake graphite, an old composing room practice from Linotypes. But just squirting graphite powder at the grippers may be dirtier than oil, and humidity gums up loose graphite.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
2 years ago

(A) I have reviewed sheet 211 of the manual which shows the gripper bar and a screw is not present at the location.

(B) I’m not certain about adjustment at the point you indicated, but reached out to Universal III owners

Also, look for wear on the end of the square block at the right end of the push rod (X-2766).

(C) Yes, these are oil holes

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