Hand gripper lever for a No. 3

Here’s an idea for a hand-activated gripper lever to aid sheet feeding on the No. 3 Vandercook. In the drawing at left, a handle attached to the gripper trip lever is pulled toward the operator, thus moving the push rod against the trip bar which forces the gripper stems to rise.

A notable “feature” of the No. 3 (after hand-cranked ink distribution) is its automatic cylinder grippers and the absence of a foot pedal. (Similarly equipped models are the 325A and the 317.) Opening the grippers at the feed board requires rolling the carriage forward. Paper is then placed in position (beyond the feed board lip) and the grippers are closed just before the carriage returns to the feed board. This maneuver is time consuming, makes registration difficult and can damage some papers in the process.

There are two No. 3s at a printmaking studio I’ve been invited to teach next summer, so I hope I can make a modification by then. The question is: should the gripper trip lever (MS-125) be replaced with a longer single steel bar extending up and then at a right angle (A) or should a separate assembly be attached between the first and second screws of the existing lever (B)?

If any No. 3 operators have a successful workaround for this “feature” or a better, simpler method than I’ve described, please share.

Hand gripper lever for a No. 3

9 thoughts on “Hand gripper lever for a No. 3

  • May 2, 2021 at 9:54 pm
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    No. 4s built between 1935–1938 did not have pedal-activated grippers.
    I love the tap. Nice touch, Bentley.

  • May 1, 2021 at 1:37 pm
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    I have a Vandercook 4 that was produced without a gripper pedal, as I understand Models 3s were produced. I had a local machine shop use the existing gripper trip lever to machine a new part that allows for manual actuation of the grippers. It is machined out of tool steel that has been blued to avoid rust. A short piece of 3/8″ threaded stock was welded onto the end to allow for the installation of, you guessed it, a beer tap! Pictures follow. Your local machine shop could easily do this, but I’m sure the folks at Gallagher Tool and Instrument in Redmond, WA would be happy to make you one (they now have the drawings and dimensions). Total cost should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $220 whether done by them or your local machine shop.

  • August 6, 2008 at 10:04 am
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    Thanks Kyle. New thinking is appreciated. There is enough inside clearance to allow a clip bracket and may be the way to go.

    As to the tube-sleeve, if I’m understanding you correctly, slipping it down from the top over the existing trip lever (MR-125) would be obstructed by the push rod yoke.

  • August 6, 2008 at 9:03 am
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    *even better* a tube-sleeve you could slide over the lever — would be very sturdy.

  • August 6, 2008 at 8:52 am
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    @ Paul — what if rather than a cross bracket attaching handle B to the Trip Lever with screws, you had a simple folded or machined clip/bracket that wrapped around the lever, then bolted onto the new arm assembly. Should be relatively simple to engineer — and no holes in your original parts…

  • July 25, 2008 at 7:53 am
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    Interesting idea. Let us know how it turns out. I may want to make this modification to the 325A at the University.

  • July 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm
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    Thanks, Patrick. You are correct on both points. “B” may be best for my purposes. Still, this would require drilling holes into the original part. I doubt that clamping it would be sufficient. I have emailed those No.3 owners I know on the census about this topic.

  • July 24, 2008 at 1:34 pm
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    This is a great idea, Paul. I like option B because it’s removeable, although I guess with version A you might have more structural integrity and could still switch back to the original lever, if necessary.

    We’ve actually been able to do some tight registration on our No. 3, but I think this would be a nice addition to our press. Obviously the foot pedal is better, because it leaves both hands free to align paper, but this would be a far easier part to manufacture. I know a few good machinists who might find this an interesting project. Perhaps Vandercook 3 users can unite!

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