Vandercook Universal III adjustment help

Here is a shot of my Universal III. I am trying to accomplish 2 things.

1. rollers are maxed out at their lowest point to ink the form I want to be able to have adjustment height.

2. Cylinder picks up ink on the trip back to the feedboard. I want impression without picking up ink on the return trip.

The solution could be one adjustment that fixes both I just need to know where to start. From what I have read you can adjust the bearer height (probably not the correct term). In the pic I don’t know what will adjust what on the bottom four bolts.

The press is new to me and has not been run in 10 years.

34 thoughts on “Vandercook Universal III adjustment help

  1. itsfancy - September 24, 2011

    Well, I did something everyone encouraged me not to do. I adjusted the cylinder bearings. I first marked where they were before I touched anything so I could move them back if needed.

    My first indicator that the bearings had been adjusted by someone previously was that the cylinder didn’t ride on the bearers on print and was substantially higher on the operators side. While the press was lever the cylinder was not.

    I loosened the bearing bolts and adjusted them till the cylinder bearer touched the bed bearer. Checked for level and then tightened them up. I hit the bed bearer with some feeler gauges and there is no longer a gap. They were both adjusted the same amount so it did not throw off the symmetry. I checked the back bearings after the adjustments to make sure that they were both seated firmly on the rail. Everything seamed squared up.

    Everything now is level and the cylinder bearers are firmly on the bed rails. I believe that it is now set at where it was before the previous owner raised the operator side.

  2. itsfancy - September 21, 2011

    Finally got to pulling apart the adjustable bed last night. It took me about 2 hours total to tear it down and pull both wedges, oil it, then put it back together. It had some flash rust from moisture that seeped into the operators side of the bed through the felt. No major issues though.

    Unless they count the bed extension as part of the 500 lbs that an adjustable bed is supposed to add, there is no way. I didn’t weigh any of the pieces but I was able to lift out the wedges, lean them against the wall in a clean area of the garage and reinstall them by myself. I took some pics as I went along. You can see them here.

    The adjustable bed slides smoothly and is now in great shape, save the need for new felt.

    Now the only thing in my power to do by myself is get the cylinder to touch the bed rails. Everything moves freely with the trip gear. The Cylinder raises without issues when it hits trip at the end of the bed. Is there anything else to check as an issue or should I assume that the cylinder not touching is the sole problem of the carriage bearings being adjusted?

  3. Eric Holub - September 20, 2011

    Man, I should not be looking at two threads on two different letterpress groups in different browser tabs at the same time. Ignore my last n.s. comment, the Universals do not have the adjustment I referred to. A 219 OS is over on BriarPress and I conflated the threads.
    But since I brought it up, and don’t think I mentioned it before, the 219 OS does have a different (and seemingly unique among Vandercooks) arrangement in the cylinder carriage, with hidden adjustment between carriage and cylinder, and no documentation about it.

  4. Eric Holub - September 19, 2011

    OK, there is another adjustment to consider. Hidden inside the cylinder carriage, behind those brass ID plates there are cylinder adjusting screws (a least they were on the last 219 OS I looked at). These don’t exist on any other Vandercook that I know, but are common on production cylinder presses such as Miehles and Kellys where the cylinder must be set to the bed bearers. And I can’t tell you which direction would be correct, or even if this is the correct solution, but it should be examined.

  5. itsfancy - September 19, 2011

    I don’t know if I am looking at the same drawings. I have the parts sheets that Fritz has available for download. On my 212 page it doesn’t look like what you explained. 211a has some carriage drawings on it though. But after I took off the covers on the side opposite the operator I think I see what you are talking about. Are there different sheets I need to be looking at? Is that something I need to see if Fritz has for purchase?

    Eric, I followed the linkage and both sides are moving at the same time. They slide forward and the cylinder lifts. I was able to see clearance under both cylinder bearers.

    Here is what I have learned I need to do so far:
    1. take apart adjustable bed, clean, oil reassemble. Buy new felts.
    2. rollers. Have cores recovered.
    3. buy packing materials and repack the cylinder.
    4. Don’t mess with the carriage bearings

    Cleaning around the back of the press it looks like the back rail the carriage bearings ride on has experienced more wear than the operator side. One more problem! AAAAH!

    But I am determined to get this press back to full working specs.

    Off to the garage to start disassembling the adjustable bed!

  6. Ron - September 19, 2011

    The floating rack is the large gear rack next to the bed bearer opposite the operator side near the end. It is represented on parts sheet 212 as x-17980. There is also the register rack which is represented as x-2831 on page 212. This set of gear racks mesh with he large gear that surrounds the cylinder. You will note once you identify the floating rack on press that it has the capability to shift laterally.

    Please follow Eric’s advice and let us know what you find. Make sure the trip mechanism is working properly.

    I am guessing you may have more than one problem based upon what you hve discovered thus far.

  7. Eric Holub - September 18, 2011

    You need to follow the linkages in the trip/print mechanism. From the wedges on the far side (flippers) which shift the gear rack that moves vertically, to the shaft that it turns, and the two eccentric bearings on the shaft. The eccentric bearings are pinned into the shaft and if one pin was broken, that side of the cylinder would not change position. Or something could be interfering with the drop of the cylinder.

  8. itsfancy - September 18, 2011

    Ron, you are correct. There is a gap where you circled when it is on print. It does not look like it has rolled on the bed bearers in quite a while. I am working over the carriage trying to clean everything right now. I am not familiar with the term floating rack. Also please refresh me on which bearings are the trip bearings.

    I just stuck a feeler gauge on each side between the cylinder bearer and bed bearer. On Print the operator side is at .016 and the other side is at .007. I think someone adjusted the operator side. If you look at the original pic I posted it looks like someone rubbed clean an area above each nut on the bearings.

    Setting up my C&P was cake compared to this Universal III!

  9. Ron - September 18, 2011

    Do your trip bearings spin freely when the press is in print? You should be able to spin them with your fingers when in print.

  10. Ron - September 18, 2011

    Forgive the spam posting….

    I studied the second photo and it does in fact look the the bed bearer.

  11. Ron - September 18, 2011

    In your photo, I am having a hard time seeing the bed bearer. I have edited the photo and placed an arrow pointing at the cylinder bearer. They are on each side of the cylinder. These ride on the bed bearers which are inside of and next to the floating rack x-17980 and the form roller rack x-13715 (sheet 212). This may all be elementary, so forgive if I am stating what is obvious.

    I did see what I think you were referring to as light (circled), but from the perspective in the photo I could not tell if this is the bed bearer. If this is in fact the bed bearer and the press is in print, you do have a problem. I am assuming you have cleaned the floating rack as it is amazing how a little bit of grime adds up quickly to thousands of an inch. Do you see this issue on both the operator and rear side of the press?

  12. itsfancy - September 18, 2011

    Here is a vid of the trip mechanism working. Everything seems to be in order from what I can see.

  13. itsfancy - September 18, 2011

    and here is the cylinder gap in TRIP

  14. itsfancy - September 18, 2011

    Odd. Pics didn’t link in. Let me try again. Here is the press in PRINT

  15. itsfancy - September 18, 2011

    Hey Gerald – blocks are good. I scrubbed them up last night just to be sure.

    However I did find something that seems like it shouldn’t be correct. I recorded the trip and print on the press from a few angels and am uploading them to youtube as I type. But the two photos below are what I observed that concerned me a bit. I appears that they cylinder does not touch the bearer rail at all! Is it not supposed to ride the rail in print and pull off of it in trip? I fear my press was adjusted by some previous owner hastily like I almost did before I started this post.

    Here it is in Print – notice the visible light gap between the cylinder and rail

    and here it is in trip – I would assume that this is about normal for trip

  16. Gerald Lange - September 17, 2011

    To the OP: Based on the initial inquiry I’m just wondering how worn out the blocks are that the inking rollers sit in? If there is significant bowl wear on the top surface of these where the adjusters sit, the blocks should be replaced. On the Universals this is a fairly easy fix for a machinist. Adhesive-back steel tape works as well as a short term alternative.

    These blocks from the Universals also fit the SP series, and are a great improvement.


  17. Alex Brooks - September 16, 2011

    I have removed, cleaned, and replaced the adjustable bed pieces on Universal I’s and III’s. The felt’s condition is not necessarily an indicator of the adjustable bed rails’ condition, as they still may have dried dirt and grime, or even some metal shavings from where the lubrication has migrated away from certain areas. There is an amazing difference after cleaning and re-assembly.

    I’m in and out of the country for the next year, but it’s possible that I can help, if you don’t feel like you could do it yourself.
    good luck, Alex

  18. Fritz Klinke - September 15, 2011

    The bed felts are 100% wool and we stock them, and can cut to size. The X-15774 are Nyliners, and they are also on the other shaft just before the gear. I have to figure out some of the part prints and I’m suspecting the assembly of all this will require the machinist to bench assemble the crank mechanism and then it can be put in the press.

  19. Paul Moxon, Moderator - September 15, 2011

    The foam is actually felt. An adjustable bed adds 550 lbs. See Alex Brook’s adjustable bed tear down at:

  20. itsfancy - September 15, 2011

    Wow! Good info Fritz. Thanks for hunting down a diagram. Are those bushings (X-15774) where the shaft runs through the support?

    Looks like I need some new rollers. The bed looks clean but lots of parts looked clean on this press. the bed still has all the foam that runs around it and it is in good shape like it had been oiled.

    I do want to thank all who have chimed in. I am very new to Vandercooks and everything that has been posted had really helped me to understand them better.

  21. Fritz Klinke - September 15, 2011

    This press has an extended bed so the bed adjusting crank is not at the end of the bed but goes through a set of bevel gears to the front of the press–operator’s side. This little feature does not show up in any Vandercook manual that I have so finding the necessary prints was quite a task. Part numbers are crucial for finding the blue prints, and I finally found a folder on a press with a bed extension where I found a print number that lead to what we needed. The prints are out for a quote right now. In addition to the shaft needed, a brass block that is bolted to the bed that the shaft turns in also needs to be fabricated, then the bevel gear has to be pinned to the new shaft. I suspect that the missing parts were stripped out on the threads which may mean the two bed halves are either stuck or need to be cleaned and lubricated before trying out a new shaft. The bed halves slide on each other on three ways that were factory lubricated, but I’m sure that needs to be redone. Plus numerous washups of rollers and forms have probably deposited a lot of gunk between the bed sidewalls and the bed halves and that can cause adjustable beds to get stuck.

    These rollers are substantially undersize. 1/16″ = .0625″ and 1/8″ = .1250″ and in tandem throw the entire inking system out of balance. The solution is to have the cores recovered to correct diamater and with the adjustable bed operating properly and the cylinder packed to specification, this press should work properly assuming nothing else is screwed up.

  22. Itsfancyletterpress - September 13, 2011

    My front roller is at 2 7/8 in and the rear roller is at 2 15/16 in. The front roller shows evidence of shrinking around the rod. The rear is pretty near perfect.

  23. Ray Nichols - September 12, 2011

    Roller diameter.

  24. Ray Nichols - September 12, 2011

    Here are those images I promised.

    One shows the depth on the cylinder. The other shows that my rollers are just shy of 3″ in diameter.

  25. Itsfancyletterpress - September 12, 2011

    Happy news. Fritz located plans for the shaft for the adjustable bed! One step closer getting the bed type high. I am very excited to run something other than linoleum so I can have a more accurate gauge of what the rollers are doing. I am going to run a few cycles to check if the trip and print are engaging and disengaging properly, and check the roller diameter tonight so I can report back on everyones earlier advice.

  26. Ron - September 12, 2011

    For the sake of clarity –

    Slow Forward Micro Switch = 3LS
    Stop Forward Micro Switch = 1LS

  27. Ron - September 12, 2011

    Thanks Eric. I appreciate you clarifying, as most of us take your comments along with a few others (e.g. Paul, Fritz, Gerald) comments as “gospel” when it comes to these presses.

    Also, thank you for all the assistance you provide the community!

    @itsfancy yes, that is correct. According the the census you have a powered press. So if you place the press in “forward” and let if run until it stops the press should be in trip mode. Sheet 212 indicates the external mechanics of the trip mechanism. The cam is located near the end of the press opposite the operator side close to the slow and stop Micro Switches (1LS and 3LS). It looks like you have the cylinder guards off the press, so you can see the “trip action” on the trip lever x-17151 (see sheet 211 A).

  28. Itsfancyletterpress - September 12, 2011

    I am going to check and make sure that when it is supposed to be tripped it is not getting stuck part way. I take it all the way to the end of the bed and it should trip. Is it possible that it is not tripping at the end?

  29. Eric Holub - September 12, 2011

    Right, sorry, I was thinking of the bearing arrangement on the SP series. On the Universals it is the upper bearings that hold down the cylinder and the lower bearings that support the caririage.

  30. Ron - September 11, 2011

    Hi Eric,

    Do you have the bearings reversed in your post?

    I thought that the lower bearings which ride on the bottom rail were the “trip” bearings and the upper bearings which ride under the top rail were the “impression” bearings on the UNI III. I may be incorrectly interpreting what you mean by lower and upper.

  31. Eric Holub - September 11, 2011

    I agree that the impression bearings shouldn’t be touched here. For one thing they won’t lower the rollers at all. Once the cylinder bearers hit the bed bearers, there’s no going lower. The lower impression bearings are just there to prevent the cylinder from bearing off under impression. The upper bearings, as far as I can tell, are there to stablize the carriage and maintain roller height when on trip.
    If the form is inking the cylinder on return, you need to take the carriage all the way to the end of the bed; if you don’t the cylinder will not raise (trip) on return If you are using a full stroke and still not tripping the cylinder, maybe the trip wedges or something else in the mechanism is frozen.
    A high form may also ink the cylinder, so make sure that your blocks are not underlaid so high that they are above the bed bearers.

  32. Itsfancyletterpress - September 9, 2011

    I will start by measuring the rollers. Ray, if you can get me a measurement I will go and see what mine measure in at. They are in descent shape and still round and soft but have sat for 10 yrs so shrinking could be a definite possibility. I have cleaned the rollers and adjusting screws and everything they ride on prior to my test run. I would hate to have to replace these but if they are the problem I may have no choice. They ink up fine and touch the inking cylinder, vibrator roller and other metal roller with no problems at all.

    Cylinder packing is something I will check next. It arrived with a rubber sheet where the tympan would normally be. Before I start adjusting anything I will replace it with actual tympan and reapck. The sheet is super thin and there is no packing under it.

    I had to under pack the linoleum cuts to raise them to the correct height for printing. I am still waiting for a response from NAGraphics on a shaft to make my adjustable bed functional. Fritz was checking on it but I think I need to do a follow up cause it has been a month.

    Thanks for the input so far. I know my way around a C&P but a Vandy is a whole new learning curve for me.

  33. Paul Moxon, Moderator - September 9, 2011

    Do not attempt to adjust the bearings! The four large bolts. They are factory set and rarely should be changed. This will adversely effect the evenness of impression and cause damage to your under rails and the bearings.

    Ray is on the right track. The roller diameter is undersized, that’s why the adjusting knobs are at their lowest point. New rollers will correct this. Sometimes folks will compensate by overpacking the cylinder and adjusting the bed height. This is poor practice. The reference to .040 is how much the surface of the cylinder is “undercut” in relation to the cylinder bearers (the outer bands of that roller on the bed bearers (the rails flanking the bed). The amount of undercut could be .070″

    Replace the rollers and repack the cylinder and this should fix your problem.

    To adjust the bed turn the handwheel (release locking knob first) to .918, confirm by placing a roller setting gauge or type high sort against the bed bearer. Although the manual says that the bed can be adjusted to increase impression (up to .010″), I recommend it only be adjusted to compensate for printing forms in the bed that are over or under type high.

  34. Ray Nichols - September 9, 2011

    I don’t think the two are related so I don’t think there is one adjustment that will work.

    I’ll have to get to the studio to measure the diameter of my Universal III rollers but yours may have been worn or have shrunk. I had this happen to our SP-15 after we got it. The rollers turned out to be almost 0.25″ to small (diameter). I was packing under the plate to get them to touch the rollers.

    It might help to pull the rollers off and clean those bolts that you screw in and out to adjust the rollers. Clean what they ride on at the bottom of them.

    If you are packing the plate to raise it to make that fit the rollers, that may be contributing to the cylinder being inked.

    Perhaps you are overpacking the cylinder. The thickness of the packing, mylar and paper should be something like 0.43 for a kiss print normally.

    You might also look at the cylinder to see how it is made. Roll it all the way to the feedboard. Look right along the edge (maybe eithin the first 0.5″ and stamped in it might be 0.040. That means it is made for essentially that much packing.

    One other thing, and I’m not sure if this is true for all Universal IIIs, is that mine requires a 0.05″ plate (same thickness as a galley).

    Sorry, I think I started bouncing around with these suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2022 vandercookpress.infoTheme by SiteOrigin
Scroll to top