Vandercook 320G issues

I’m in the thick of trying to get my Vandercook 320G up and running. This is different than other Vandercooks I’ve printed on for various reasons (it’s completely manual, the metal and rubber rollers are behind the cylinder, etc). I’ve encountered a couple of things so far that I’d love advice with if you have any expertise to offer:

-On other presses, it seems as though you can use a screwdriver to raise/lower the rubber rollers to the right height (right to raise, left to lower). Is this different on this press?

-Along with that, I can’t seem to get the rollers raised (at all/enough) so that they aren’t contacting the metal sheet behind them (under the feed board) each time I make a revolution. Any thoughts?

-This press doesn’t seem as though it’s been operable for many years. What’s the best way to be able to tell if the rubber rollers need to be replaced/recovered, or is it just inevitable that they will need to be?

-I’ve only got a five or six sheets of tympan on the cylinder, but it doesn’t seem near enough to make contact with the polymer plate for a good impression. What’s the best kind of (non-brand name) paper to use for packing? What’s the max number of sheets you can use as hard/soft packing?

I know I’m asking a lot here. If you have any helpful advice, I’d be much obliged!


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Eric Holub
13 years ago

Yes, ink onto the plate; brayering it can speed distribution considerably. I also feed the plate by brayering from a separate slab where the ink is worked (loosened with an ink knife).
It is tougher in cold weather, since this arrangement doesn’t provide the friction and heat that powered ink drums do. Sometimes I have turned a propane torch to the plate to pre-heat it before laying on the ink. The metal should be towards 70 degrees to work the ink; at 60 degrees or lower the ink just sits and won’t distribute, even when worked on the slab.

Gerald Lange
13 years ago


Everything you have been told is quite right on. I have a bed plate precision engineered for this press if you are interested.


Paul Moxon, Moderator
13 years ago

It is inevitable that rollers need to be replaced. Over time the diameter shrinks and the rubber hardens. Be sure to remove the gears and send only the cores to be recovered.

The cylinder is probably undercut .070″ Confirm this by looking for the number stamped into the channel between the cylinder bearer and the impression surface when the carriage is at the feed board. See photo below.

One sheet of tympan is only .006″. The total amount for impression includes the drawsheet (top sheet) and the paper to be printed. For a kiss impression you need an addition .003″, so .073″. For a deeper impression for example on 110 lb. Lettra (.021″) the total could be 080″.

As Daniel mentioned a bed plate (.050″) needs to be placed under your polymer base to bring the printing surface high enough to be inked by the rollers.

The Arm
13 years ago

Yes Cory, you are on the right track. Paul has covered this type of roller adjustment here:


The Arm
13 years ago

That metal sheet is your inking slab! You want it to make contact there. Imagine that slab as a flattened out ink drum.

You can set your rollers with a flat head screwdriver and a roller setting gauge. Is the bed plate in place on the bed of the press?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

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