Paul Moxon and I kicked around the idea of doing a blog for Vandercook presses when he visited me in Silverton earlier this summer. I can hand set type, but the computer work is beyond me, so Paul has done all the work to set this up. We want to limit discussion to Vandercook primarily and other proof type presses. Discussion can range widely over that general subject area, and can include news about presses, problems, fixes, printing problems, etc., but we will limit discussion if it ventures into other areas or becomes nasty or obnoxious. We all have precious little time to wade through the general garbage that infects discussion groups in general.

My business is NA Graphics that I purchased from Hal Sterne and Tom Bell in 1996. Included were the remaining inventory of parts and plans from Vandersons, and Vandersons was the result of the remains of Vandercook & Sons that had sold to Illinois Tool Works in about 1967. Vandercook failed to keep pace with changing technology, and as the bottom dropped out of letterpress in the late 60s, the company began to flounder and posted its first substantial loss by 1972. Production ceased in 1975, and the remaining parts and service business became Vandersons. By the time Sterne and Bell purchased Vandersons, the company was on the verge of going out of business, literally within days, so to Hal and Tom must get the credit for arriving on the scene in the nick of time. Otherwise, we would have nothing in the way of support for these presses today.

Paul’s Vandercook site reflects a vast amount of work, and he is constantly looking for new material. Mark Wilden originated the site and Paul has continued it with enthusiasm. This blog is to expand on that for the everday situations we all have and for perplexing problems that may have already been solved by someone else. Or new problems that we all can take a crack at–and I have all the backup drawings and information here in our office. I’m willing to share information, look up parts, etc., but do not furnish copies of any of the original Vandercook blueprints in our possession. That’s where I draw the line on assistance, though I often furnish information off those plans, and even sections of those plans. Some of the assembly drawings are 8 feet long, so there’s a limit to what I can actually furnish. Nothing has been digitized and short of some miracle, will remain undigitized. Our business is selling parts and supplies, and since my personal needs for food and shelter are much like everyone else’s, I need to protect the source of my income.

I will attempt to post a couple of pictures I just took showing about half the file cabinets containing the Vandercook files, and then a shot of the files themselves, in this case the plan for the ink fountain for the SP-25. In true machine shop procedure, each part, including nuts and bolts, has a drawing, and then there are assembly drawings, and erection drawings, along with serial number books, plans for jigs and fixtures, engineering change orders, photos of products, historical material, etc. It has taken me nearly 10 years to feel comfortable with finding material within the thousands of pieces of paper in these files. –Fritz Klinke

vandercook-file-cabinets.jpg vandercook-files.jpg

Leave a Comment