Vandercooks vs Earthquakes

Recently, while in California, I was asked about the best way to secure Vandercooks to prevent their movement during an earthquake. I hadn’t given any thought to this before. The facilities head at one institution doesn’t want to bolt them to the concrete floor, and faculty wants to be able to move them around the studio as needed. In conversation with the safety officer,  I was told that earthquake motion is variable. Shock waves can ripple horizontally and cause objects to jump. One thought was to block them in with angle iron brackets. The piece in the photo is just what we had on hand for a visual. Has anyone had to secure a press for earthquakes? 

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Lad Boyle
7 years ago

I agree with Eriic that its best that the press be on the floor. Our SP-15 sits on a concrete floor, but on top of a piece of jute backed carpet, with the carpet face down. So, if so we need to move it, it can be moved/pushed a bit, with some effort. We don’t have earthquake problems in SC, so I am less worried about an earthquake, but if we have one, our SP-15 will be the least of our problems.

Eric Holub
7 years ago

I’ve avoided comment until now because I think people who want a movable press really do not have their priorities straight. I’ve seen both platens and Vandercooks put on wheels, and every cycle of the press loses energy to instability. It makes the work harder than it should be. One might put a press on a solid pallet if a jack is available, or fabricate wheeled metal cradles to slide under the press feet when needed. But in reality, flat on the floor is best. It’s also the best way to maintain level. Remember also that raising the press raises the foot-pedal above proper working height, unless you stand on a platform.
In over 40 years of printing in San Francisco, I have never seen any press move in an earthquake, but I’ve seen studio Vandercooks shift from heavy-handed cranking. All it takes is a good prybar to shift them back where they started. Never seen a Vandercook bolted down either, but your angle irons could prevent movement.
On the other hand, I HAVE had a press topple because of sustained street repair vibration outside. I had an old platen downstairs on skids, on pipe rollers (with wedges for stability). The guy doing long repairs on my building moved it and replaced the long pipes with short pipes, and no wedges. Weeks of heavy pounding walked the press off the short pipes and it fell over onto the flywheel.

Lad Boyle
7 years ago

Interesting issue. The problem, of course, is Vandercooks are top-heavy, with a small footprint. Add to that the desire to keep the press mobile. My thought is to mount the press on a mobile base designed for machinery such as mobile base for a table saw – something with a much larger footprint than the press. When secured to the base, the press now has a larger footprint. Most mobile bases will allow you to set the machine down so it doesn’t roll around..

A thought anyway


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