Lost Password, Lost Blog?

Is this common or what? A little over a year ago my crackberry phone cratered, locked up, and upset me so greatly with RIM and all its offering that I predicted its demise because of the way they treated me. I’ve got a pretty good track record. Piss me off and your company is likely to suffer greatly or cease to exist. In any case, one of the good things about the crackberry was the vault for storing various passwords. So I lost all of it. And a bad thing about WordPress is that it uses your email address to track access to your blog. Having experimented a bit with various formats I forgot about an older blog that I had started – and now by some computing magic my access was always redirected to the old blog. Hopeless to get help with it from WordPress. Their support is a black hole of silence. That is why I went with the Thesis theme for my art web site, http://byhugo.com rather than straight WordPress. I can only recommend Thesis, they have good support!

Long story short, after some lengthy wrangling I seem to have killed off the old blog, and now finally have a way of updating this effort.

So what is left to do on the press? The platen is back on the press, just needs calibrating. In January I’m buying the motor and drive controller for the C&P press.

The first of my engravings has arrived, and I am anxious to get printing the fist limited edition!

With temperatures outside in the -20 degrees C range, I also need to arrange for heat in the garage.

Pictures to come…

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Wood Work

After quite a delay (somehow you have to get the mortgage paid) I finally am getting back to the press. I had a plank of oak lying around from way back (sailboat building days) and decided to do something with it. From some inquiries with other printer/bloggers, I discovered that the feed and delivery table on my press was not the original, and I searched out the info about what size the original might have been. There is a fair bit of conflicting info about the tables out there.

Letterpress C&P Delivery Board

Delivery Table

In the end, that was not the most important anyway. I only had the one oak plank, and whatever I was going to make would be from it. A friend helped me out with biscuit cutting the two places where the boards that I had cut out would have to be joined to make the working surfaces. Using some 30 year old Industrial Formulators epoxy I glued the pieces together.

Letterpress C&P Feed Table

Feed Table

After some tiring sanding, first with 120 grit and then with 220 grit I got the boards into shape. Next I thought I’d try something I had never done, cover the working surfaces with clear epoxy finish. That worked out very well, only one little tiny fly lost its life in the final coat. If you plan on doing this sort of thing I can only recommend doing what I did – make it in two coats! The first coat will seal the surface and even if you get bubbles in it (you will because the open grain areas of the wood spawn bubbles like crazy) – you can sand them out. Then for the second coat you only have to watch for flies and bugs.

Letterpress C&P Platen

Press Platen

And then earlier in the week I removed the platen, just about too heavy for me to move by myself. The reason I removed it was because I discovered the platen needed to be moved closer to the press bed by about 1/8 inch. Once I tried making the adjustment I found that the mounting studs were really binding. Also it makes it a lot easier to clean under the center part of the press.

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Ink Rollers

After considerable back and forth I am back to where I started. When I got the press there were only two of the three ink rollers present. Since I am going to use the press to print from engravings rather than from movable type (individually placed lead letter forms), the inking procedure is maybe a bit more critical. The rollers are built on a steel core of 9/16″ diameter, with the center 20″ covered with rubber to a two inch diameter. The roller trucks are slightly smaller in diameter, the idea being that the rollers are moved along by the trucks rolling on the rail until the part of the form that needs to be coated with ink is contacted by the rubber roller and sightly lifted, with the roller now rolling along the surface of the engraving (inking it).

Due to a chance encounter with a structural engineer in a coffee shop I got an education in the deflection/deformation experienced by the rollers as they move over the form (the parts of the engraving that gets coated with ink). Dave is his name, and after I asked about the workability of higher quality steel versus the original mild steel rods, he told me that I was addressing the wrong valiable. With a solid rod the strength of the steel has only a minor effect on deflection. He then explained the equations behind the resistance to deflection in a rod versus a tube, that is where the improvement can be had – making the portion under the rubber a tube would make it a lot more rigid.

Great, now I had a mission. I determined that a one inch OD tube would be ideal, would result in a half inch coating of rubber to get to the original two inch roller OD. Now I just had to figure out a way to insert the 9/16″ rods in both ends of the 20″ long tube and then everything in the roller saddle areas would be back to the original version. My approach to this is to get the tube line drilled at the ends, for say 3″ and to – with a slight interference fit – hammer in the shaft stubs for each end. About one inch from the end of the tube a 1/8″ hole can then be drilled perpendicular through the tube and shaft, and a spring pin hammered in to hold things together. Another set of spring pins can be used to hold the delrin trucks in place, and since they are made to specifications I can get them made the same diameter as the roller OD.

And then I had the great epiphany, what if the original roller cores were made of such small diameter steel in case the rollers came off the saddles during printing? I have heard of that happening. That would be a mess, if the rollers fell between bed and platen while the press was closing! So now I have another mission – is that a valid concern? Onward…

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Motor Mount

Press Motor Mount

Motor Mount

The first bit of new progress after a long cold winter. I’ve cut the pieces of Canstrut (or Unistrut whichever name you like best) and test assembled them. I’m guessing a bit for the motor size, but the Canstrut design I came up with is quite adjustable. The short sections with the hinges attached will get positioned between the press frame side panel castings. Once mounted, the motor will by its own weight keep the belt tight. Now I’m just waiting for the motor, and waiting for the last bit of snow to disappear.

This picture is from the corner of the platform that will hold the motor (where the four bolts are sticking up).

Press Motor Mount Platform

Motor Mount from Motor Location

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Drip Pan

Once I got the press up onto the cross-beams I got to thinking about the cleaning up and oil and ink that will drip down as time goes on. So I thought about a drip tray to catch all that stuff rather than letting it pile up on the rather rough wood beams which will just make a mess. I saw a real nice drip tray under a Heidelberg Windmill press in Vancouver. It was made of galvanized sheet metal and the edges were formed (rolled) around a rod about 3/8″ diameter, and that was the edge. I visited several sheet metal shops but did not find one where I could get that done. So I started talking about options – well you know it turned out to be only $60 more to have the drip tray done in stainless steel. The shop guy I talked to came up with a couple of real nice contributions: Because of going to stainless we could drop from 16 gauge to 18 gauge with roughly equal strength – but now the edge is quite sharp. So he suggested a folded edge, and then to improve the looks and make it easier for cleanup, the edge will be bent to 60 degrees only (not 90 degrees as would be normal). I will have to wait for a few more weeks before I see to result (and so will you).

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Put to Bed

Press Suspended

Press Suspended

Ah yes, after some struggle the press is “put to bed”. Actually more correct she is put on her bed. It took a while because one, I was discouraged about the paint issue, and second I had chased around tying to get square tubing to lift the press to get the old storage pallet out from under her. There were two misfires where I bought material of too small a cross-section, and then I was waiting for the four foot length of 2″ square tubing to come into Princess Auto as promised – and that never happened. So I finally took the time and went to a proper metal supplier in the industrial area and got two 4 1/2 foot lengths cut. That made the job almost easy. If you look at the pictures I put both lengths under the very bottom frame. In that cut-back in the cast iron frame – between the feet formed in the side castings there is not all that much room sideways. So I kind of predicted the lift would be a bit tippy, that’s why I closed the press and tied it up, getting the center of gravity more to the middle. I have a little 2000 lbs bottle jack, and with some chopped up 2×6″ (and some 1×4″ required because it gets really wobbly if you try to lift 1 1/2″ at one time). As you can see it worked fine, just don’t plan on leaving a press in that position unattended.

In the above picture the press is suspended by the two 2′ x 2″ square tubing pieces on the wood block piles on either side. It’s not that obvious because I did not lift any more than half an inch higher than required to slip the timbers in place.

Press Lifted with Spreader Blocks

Press Lifted with Spreader Blocks

Here is a better angle to show the spreader block I decided to fasten in place. The opening between the feet formed by the cast side panels of the press frame is not that wide and I was concerned the very smooth outside of the square tubing could slip (or roll) during the jacking procedure.

Press Sitting on Wood

Press Sitting on Wood

Here the press is finally put to bed.

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A New Bed for the Press

So this is my progress: I have cut and chiselt the timbers for the new press base. Went out to look at some pallet jacks to make sure I could accommodate the rental variety for the inevitable moves. Also, once I started thinking about raising the press on a set of skids, I discovered that cleaning up will be a lot easier. Anyway, here is the new press bed in pre-assembly:

And has it rained and been cold!

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Introducing Olivia

C&P Letterpress

Letterpress Under Wraps

Here she is, my other love under wraps (from shortly after moving her home). I’ve been getting more intimate with her the past year, figuring out what makes her tick:

But recently I’ve had a bit of a setback with her, and I don’t want to show her until I get some problems solved. But she is real, she is tough and I’m working to make her the best she has ever been.

The paint disaster has taken another twist. Getting ready to rent the pressure/steam washer I started a few days before to see what it would take to get the paint off. Starting to spray gasoline and rubbing, waiting, rubbing again – then spraying gasoline again. Nothing! The paint would not soften, would not wrinkle, would not come off. So now I am puzzled. Just a few weeks ago during an accidental  gasoline drip the paint came off with hardly touching it – and now it is solid! The only way I can explain it – it must be due to the passage of more time. If you have any ideas – let me know. For now, onward toward finishing the job!

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New Resolve

Lock Roller and Stud

Lock Roller and Stud

Talking over the paint disaster with everyone I come in contact with who even might have the faintest interest or knowledge in the subject, I have come to this: I will rent a high pressure/hot water washer and use a hand sprayer with gasoline and/or caustic soda to soften the paint. That’s it so far. I have no idea what or even if I’m going to paint the press.
But here some pictures of the last improvement:

The lock roller rotating on the fixed stud, following the shape in the small head lock cam was quite worn. More than twenty thousands of an inch out of round it was likely forgetful lubrication that was to blame since the roller is a bit hidden under the delivery board. The roller has to be positioned so the oil hole is pointing up so it can accept oil. The local machine shop did a nice job of cleaning up the stud on the lathe and pressing in a bronze sleeve into the roller. I ended up drilling the lube hole through the bushing myself, as the machinist forgot about it. The roller and lock action is very precise now.

Installed Lock Roller and Stud

Installed Lock Roller and Stud

You can see the surfaces with dissolved paint after the gasoline cleanup. One of the mechanics I spoke to suggested a vegetable based spray which leaves a film of wax that will prevent rusting. I’m looking to get a can of that to try out. If you have better suggestions, feel free to contribute a comment.

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Paint Disaster

I did a bunch of looking at the paint options before committing to the Tremclad paint, but it is obvious to me now: I did not do enough! The paint is trouble, I can’t believe people have used it to paint cars? Last weekend I was starting to work on the front of the press. I had stripped off the main gear cover and the throw-off lever and linkage, and painted those black. Now I changed to the dark blue again for the frame, and just above the main shaft in front.
There was some old greasy dirt there and I dipped a rag in gasoline to clean the crevices and general area. Vigorously rubbing and pulling the rag through some tight spots, gasoline dripped down over some of the previously painted area. I could not believe my eyes, the paint (more than a month old) wrinkled and bubbled and could be just wiped off! What a mess, now what? I am sure glad I did not paint the press for looks! Having to be that careful not to get any solvent on the frame, when cleaning up the press after every job, is just not going to happen.
I’m having to get used to the idea to remove the paint and start over…

Ready to pull off the trailer

Ready to pull off the trailer

Here is a picture I just found from the day  after I got the press home. Good thing the neighbor had a strong tree there to anchor the come-along.

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Reinstalling the Pinion Gib Key

Filing the Gib Key

Filing the Gib Key

After quite some time now, and a wrong size key purchase, I went to work yesterday to fit the new gib-key. First was the requirement to shorten the key by 3/8″ as I did not want it sticking out too far from the pinion, when in position. The other thing that is worth while noting is that the pinion gear is held only by the force of the gib-key as it is hammered into place. So the taper of the key needs to be very slight.

Next came filing the bottom side down so that the leading height was just under 5/16″ so that the key would fit into the opening. Once I had the right entry height, I discovered the key needed to be filed a little thinner too, so that it would fit into the keyway. During that exercise I discovered that the keyway in the shaft was marked up quite a bit from someone bashing on the previously installed key. So there was some filing and cleaning up of the keyway grove on the shaft in order.

Completed Gib Key

Completed Gib Key

I reduced the taper in the key thickness to less than 1/32″ of an inch so that there would be good holding power and more of a spread of the torsional forces along the width of the pinion/shaft keying.

Press Tied Up

Press Tied Up

Before removing the old key I tied up the press with my 5 lbs sledge between platen and bed, and marked the gear engagement so that I would not loose mechanical timing when the key was out.

Main & Pinion Gear Aligned

Main & Pinion Gear Aligned

Here you can see how the pinion keyway was distorted by forces on the old key, which was only partially inserted (about 3/4″ into the keyway only).

And here it is driven in quite solid, in all it’s properly aligned glory:

New Gib Key Installed

New Gib Key Installed

I’m sure glad I went through this trouble, as the pinion would have come loose, likely at some inopportune time. As well, the gear teeth were just starting to mark up, with the pinion pushed too far over, and with the smaller meshing there was obviously higher load (and wear on the teeth) taking place.

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Delays and New Stuff

It’s been more than a month since my last post. Not that I have been lazy about this, but making a living comes first, and so the work increments on the press have been smaller – with several weeks of interruptions. Then there was the gib-key fiasco for the pinion gear that I ordered wrong, and had to re-order. Then there was the straight edge that I ordered – and that somewhere during shipment punched a hole through the packaging and escaped into the wild (likely in the back of a UPS truck). That too had to be re-ordered, but now I got it and can finally get to work checking the press bed for straightness.

Impression Counter

Impression Counter

The last week has been like Christmas. I got packages from the seller of the press, with the feed table (with the cast bracket) and the all important chase. Then I received the mini-furniture cabinet that I bought via Briarpress from a printer in Florida, with a bunch of metal furniture (still waiting on the wood furniture). Ah, and I got an impression counter, not really needed, but why not.
And then there was a two week holiday in the sun and several weeks away up north.
A new resolution to throw out more stuff from the garage, so that I can fit the new stuff in place and make more room for working the press.

A list of what is required to complete the reworking of the press and make it ready to print:

  • Finish cleaning and painting
  • Polish / straighten press bed
  • Check & correct side-rail elevation to press bed
  • Check & correct/adjust platen to press-bed distance
  • Define motor size and purchase
  • Buy and install VFD
  • Buy ink rollers & trucks
  • Order the first zinc plate with backing
  • Buy tympan & pressboard
  • Buy cotton paper
  • Buy ink

Well that’s it for now…

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Shaft Treatment

Throw Off Linkage Shafts

Throw Off Linkage Shafts

Yes it has been unbearably cold! So I got done little with working on the cold cast iron. But there are some new pictures of what I have been concentrating on lately: Polishing shafts. Here are the throw off linkage shafts.

 

 

Flywheel Shaft

Flywheel Shaft

And here is the flywheel shaft after the sequenced emery cloth treatment.

 

 

 

 

Back Shaft and Connection Rod

Back Shaft and Connection Rod

And the back shaft with the side arm still to be done.

Rear of Press

Rear of Press

And this is what the rear of the press looks like right now. On some of the parts I noticed the old ink remaining here and there seeping through the paint. So I will have to go for another coat.

Chandler & Price

Chandler & Price

And this has me considering changing the banner picture for my blog!

Oh and I was able to pull out the key holding in the pinion for the main gear that I talked about in the last posting. Seems every time I even think about leaving something and then get at it I discover more. This time it was that the key was not the right width, but was too high and had been filed to a taper – and then was driven in only one third of the way! Good thing I got it out, now I have a new proper size gib key on order.

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Gear Misalignment?

Maingear and Pinion Misalignment

Maingear and Pinion Misalignment

Is this a problem? I’m asking you to let me know, do you have an opinion – don’t hold back.

The main gear and the drive pinion are out of alignment by about 1/4 inch (on the left side). By the corrosion on the main shaft it looks like the pinion did at one time sit about 1/4 inch to the left, which would bring all of the gear-teeth surfaces into full contact. Is that something I should correct, what do you think? Looks to me like the pinion is shrunk onto the shaft as I don’t see any pin or screw holding it in place.

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Main Gear Camwheel Cleanup

Main Gear

Main Gear

I just about overdosed on gasoline vapours. Right now it is -22 degrees C out there, and it is fairly cool in the garage. I removed the right side arm and the large gear cover, and proceeded to clean off the grease and junk off the main gear and it’s pinion.

That took a lot of gasoline and a lot of rubbing with a terry-cloth rag. But the gear and the pinion are nice and clean now. Looking over every tooth, aside for a little piece of metal that was embedded in the root between a couple of the large gear teeth, everything looks good. The pinion is not aligned very well with the main gear (it’s offset by about 1/4 inch), and I am wondering if the pinion is deliberately moved towards the press frame to keep the flywheel shaft positioned in place. Also there is hardly any wear on the gears.

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Grippers and Gripper Bar

Gripper Bars

Gripper Bars

Last night I thought I’d attack the gripper bars and the rail they mount on to. Turns out the bars are kind of bent and not even. One has definite signs of type embedding into it. And there are a lot of hammer marks from bashing the bottom of the grippers when they were being adjusted.

So I filed the edges for a better appearance. I noticed all the gripper pieces were originally painted black. Because the grippers will have to be moved back and forth for various size work, I don’t think the regular paint is a good idea. So I am either going to try a thinner epoxy finish or maybe leave them unpainted. Here the gripper bars are at the first stage of cleaning with a die grinder attack. Next I have to rig up some anvil surface to hammer them straight, and then do the final polish.

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Back Shaft Polishing

Back Shaft

Back Shaft

After most of the week away I decided to spend some time on the back shaft (the one connecting the press bed and the roller frame, and onto which the side arms connect). Now that the items around it have been painted it really looks bad.

The shaft rotates only within the limits of the throw-off linkage, so it’s mainly stationary, and dirt and moisture settled on it the years allowing some serious corrosion to happen on the upper surface of that shaft. Scotch-Brite, air tool and emery cloth were applied vigorously and I worked up a sweat. Tomorrow after some final polish I will apply some clear coat to the shaft. I decided to try out this product I found, to highlight a few of the machined areas of the press. As mentioned before, I am not going to apply pin-striping and a work of art paint-job. But the machine does not have to look boring either. I am aiming for a “serious machine” look.

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More Cleaning & Painting

Ink Disk Support Bracket

Ink Disk Support Bracket

I took off the ink disk support bracket, cleaned and painted it. The disk advance lever got the same treatment. As I was working on that, I realized that it is easier to shim the whole bracket up (to make up for the ink disk machining height loss), then to make a bronze disk to put on the disk journal face.

Then I tackled the rear of the press bed (under the ink disk), with those deep pockets formed by the web of reinforcements. That area is a real trap for dirt and junk and is also the place where I have found the worst scaling (likely from the original casting process because it is hard to get in there).

After yet another night of cleaning and painting the rear and sides of the press bed are painted. For a while now I thought the paint I’m using (Tremclad dark blue) was too soft. But I’m changing my mind on that. The first items I painted more than a week ago now are getting harder every day. I was worried about being able to wipe oil of the surface if it stayed relatively soft. And I’m getting used to the colour as well – I thought that it was too light, but it’s nice to be able to see all the parts even when the light is not right on it, and also I’m just getting used to it.

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A New Surface on the Ink Disk

Ink Disk New Surface

Ink Disk New Surface

Tonight the ink disk got machined. There was significant run-out, although not as bad as it looked when we put the straight edge across it. There is something about the light coming through that little gap formed by the straight edge and the surface being checked that really amplifies any error.

The gap looked huge, but on the lathe with a dial indicator it “only” measured 0.020″. In any case, to get a decent cut and a feed rate without chatter resulted in 0.030″ being taken off the ink surface.  A big deal was to have secondary support at the ratchet ring to the lathe chuck. Before that, the cutting tool action on the disk was just screaming with vibration. The surface is not perfect, but it is perfectly flat and I can polish the rest in position on the press. Now I’ve got to get myself a machinist straight edge so that I can measure if the disk sits too low, and if I have to make up a bronze washer to put on the bearing surface to bring it up the 0.030″ that the disk was sitting higher before. The real telling will be when the rollers are put on and the ink is being picked up.

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Ink Disk Problems

Ink Platter Rear

Ink Platter Rear

The first piece has been painted. I took off the ink platter, cleaned it and painted the under siThe top side will take some more work.

When the press was shut down and stored something was left on the platter – it was likely ink – and that has eaten into the surface. The Scotch-Brite pad on the die grinder is cleaning it up but there are quite a few pits left. So I took the sanding disk and tried to get more aggressive in polishing the marks out. I’m not happy with the results. I’m going to look for a machine shop to grind the surface on a lathe so as not to remove too much metal. But its a start!

Ink Disk Pitted Surface

Ink Disk Pitted Surface

Started looking for a machine shop and found one, but that started some real concern: We put a straight edge across the ink surface and discovered either the platter is seriously distorted – or it is supposed to be crowned (the center being some 3/16″ higher than the sides). I will have to wait until it is put on the lathe before we can be sure. In the meantime I’d appreciate if you can check their C&P ink platters to see it they are crowned or really flat?

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Finally Moved Inside

Press Inside

Press Inside

After a bunch more moving stuff around, throwing some more stuff away and recycling – the press is inside! It’s not pretty, and there is a lot more stuff that will have to go, but it’s inside before the snow! The move was done with a rented pallet jack. With the press having been bolted to a pallet for storage it made it just possible to do the moving myself. That has got me thinking about the more permanent mount – and that it should be high enough to get a pallet jack under for moving around…what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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A Better Tool

What a difference a better tool makes! I visited a machinist tool shop and came a way with an air operated die grinder, a disk mandrel and a selection of sanding and cleaning disks. The tool runs at 20,000 RPM and does a real nice job of cutting through surface rust. So far I have only used the polishing disks, I really don’t want to take off metal unless I can measure the results.

Right Angle Die GrinderNow I just have to deal with the fact that my air compressor is waayy too small to power the tool properly. Right now I have to wait 30 seconds, make a pass, wait another 30 seconds and so on.

What I really went there fore is a machinists straight edge, so that I could check the bed and platen for straightness. They did not have those in stock and I got talking with a real helpful guy behind the counter and I came away with this real fine tool. Now I’ll have to rent a better air compressor for a few days.

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When do you stop?

Chase Clamp Spring

Chase Clamp Spring

It has been cold, and the progress of getting the place for the press cleaned out is slow. But there was a good day a few days ago and as I looked over the back side of the press I felt that some good cleaning would be all that’s required. After all, what could be wrong with the simple spring with the attachment to the chase clamp and handle? And with all that grease and dirt on it, it would just jump like crazy when I got it off – and who knows what a pain it would be to get the spring back on after.
But then some sort of a guilt mechanism clicked in place and I removed the spring attachment to the handle, and then the handle hinge bolt. Sure enough, the spring jumped around just to prove me right. After cleaning up the spring though, here is what it looked like:

I’m sure glad I took it apart, it’s worn almost half through! When that spring lets go, the chase is loose in the press – and that would make a mess! There is a lesson in that.

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Press Motor

Press Motor Drive End

Press Motor Drive End

The motor that came with my press.

Press Motor Opposite Drive End
Press Motor Nameplate

It’s gone…

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Saddle Post Spring Detail

Saddle Springs

Turns out there are two different springs. one. the shorter one for the double saddle post & rod:
Length 31″, 190 turns of 0.079″ diameter spring material, wound to 0.465″ inside diameter (0.620″ outside diameter).
The longer spring is for the single saddle post & rod:
Length 34″, 196 turns of 0.070″ diameter spring material, wound to 0.467 inside diameter (0.608″ outside diameter).

To be able to get the spring off the rod you need to be able to compress the spring a bit while removing the cotter pin at the end. I found a pice of 1/2″ PEX pipe (for residential water pipe use) handy as it has just the right inside diameter and enough wall thickness to push in the spring. Once you get the pin out and release the pressure on the spring, be ready to have the spring jump right into your face. When you do this, wear a set of leather work gloves to contain the spring force, letting them go more slowly.
Saddle Spring EndsNotice that on one end the springs have a little straight tail, that is the end near the saddle post (keeps the spring from turning).

It’ll be fun  getting the springs back on…

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More Rust, Dust & Gunk Removal

Rusted Main Shaft

For a few days It’s been very cold. Since the press is still out in the driveway I haven’t got much done. Today was a good day. Worked most of the day on the press, removed the saddle stud & rods and the gripper bar. Noticed a difference between the double saddle stud and the single one. The double saddle stud springs are shorter than the single saddle springs. I wonder if that is because the single saddles were not used on the press (by the previous owner), thus never got compressed or cycled? Or is there a technical reason for it? Tomorrow I will measure and document the springs. Made good use of degreaser and cleaners today. The platen cleaned up real nice with the rust remover.

Made a decision on the oil holes today. While I have things apart anyway I will re-drill the top part of the oil holes and get oil hole covers to try to keep these locations from accumulating dirt, and make them more obvious for long term maintenance.

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Speed Calculation

Press Free of Chains and Tiedowns

Interesting encounter today at the farmers market. When I was looking to sit down to enjoy my danish and espresso, there was no table free. So I shared a table with an older couple. We got to talking about things and surprise, surprise the gentlemen used to feed a C&P letterpress many years ago in a little town west of Red Deer. I asked about the speed, and he insisted that they were doing about a hundred pieces a minute top speed. Hm, that seems a pretty fast! The other production number I have heard a few times is about 2000 impressions per hour (iph), that comes to 33 pieces a minute.

I am going to aim for half of that, 1000 iph. My press has a 24″ diameter drive pulley. The smallest I am likely to get for the motor shaft pulley is 2″ diameter. So that works out to a 12 to 1 speed ratio.

With 7 turns per impression on my press, that is 7000 rotations per hour, or 116.7RPM.

On the motor side that is 116.7 times 12 = 1400RPM. For an 1800RMP motor, operating at 1400/1800 = 78%  of maximum speed is not that bad.

But there is something else I have not mentioned before. I would like to increase the time available for the paper removal and placing task (while the platen is open) by manipulating (reducing) the drive speed depending on the press position (when the platen is open). During the three truns of the drive wheel while the platen is open I’d like to reduce the drive speed to about 40% (for a 1800RPM motor that would be 720 RPM). And during the four turns while the platen is closing/opening I’d like to run it at full speed. My plan right now is to use an inverter duty 3/4 HP motor driven by a VFD to be able to handle the cyclic acceleration/deceleration.
An 1800RPM motor actually runs at about 1750RPM at full load. Assuming that it will take half a turn (on the press) to accelerate from 720RPM to 1750RPM, and half a trun to decelerate back to 720, that makes one turn at an average speed of (720 + 1750) / 2 = 1235RPM.

So here is what my prediction is for overall rate:
3.5 turns at 1750RPM (at the press that is like running at 1250iph)
2.5 turns at 720RPM (at the press that is like running at 514iph)
1 turn at 1235RPM (at the press that is like running at 882iph)

Working out the average speed for the time weighting that each speed applies:
(3.5/7) * 1250 + (2.5/7) * 514 + (1/7) * 882 = 934.6 iph average speed, pretty close to the 1000 iph I was aiming at, and I gain a safety advantage with longer platen opening time. Let’s see what that would actually work out to: 720RPM / 12 is 60RPM at the press, that is 1 rotation per second, so for the 2.5 turns the platen is open – that makes it 2.5 seconds. Plus the bit of time the drive is speeding up and slowing down. So maybe close to three seconds time for the paper shuffle. That seems lots. We’ll see! One other feature I have been thinking about is to have two buttons on the feed table that have to be depressed before the press will return into the high-speed mode (or possibly if they are not pressed bring the press to an emergency stop via dynamic breaking). If you can think of holes in this reasoning, I’d like to hear what you are thinking.

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Some Days are Easier than Others

Friend Tom with Press at Rogers Pass

Today was another day of rust removal. Now my order at Acklands came in and I have better emery-cloth and some rust remover to try out. Had bought a new set of wrenches at Home Depot, an open end – close end ratchet combination set in the typical heavy plastic packaging that you need a set of shears to open. When I came to use the 9/16″ wrench I find the ratchet did not work, and looking at it closer it was a used wrench of a sightly different style (still a Husky though). Back to Home Depot for a refund, but that was not so easy. Even though the packaging claims lifetime warranty there was a lot of waffling going on, I felt they were of the opinion that they were letting me get away with something. Frustrating.

Then a slight, could have been bad mishap. I had attached the throw-off lever linkage and left the lever pushed forward. Then I worked on cleaning rust off the platen and the tympan bale areas. I left the top bale folded down while I got busy with something else. As I turned the flywheel cleaning the main rocker shaft I felt a bit of resistance on the flywheel. Hm that’s not right. As it turns out there is just the right amount of extra space left in the throw-off position so that the bale just gets squeezed a bit – without damage.

Note to self:
1. Never leave anything on the platen that could cause damage.
2. Always turn over the press for a full cycle by hand, and check if anything seems to take too much force!
3. Never leave the platen bales open!

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Turn Over! Lubrication.

After a fair bit of reading and searching I have found the right lubricant for the press. When you look for machine oil to day (the way it was available in the days when the press was new), you find that it is all detergent based today. Today’s engine oil is way too thin for the cast iron journals with their rather generous clearances. The oil would just drip away. The oil I found is made locally, for metal working machinery where the oils has to stay in place, even on vertical sliding surfaces, and has to maintain lubricating film properties even under high loading and slow movement. It is called “way-oil” and has just the right properties. Likely a better oil than was available at the time the press was in production. I am hoping use of this oil will extend the usefull life of the press far beyond my own. Only problem, you have to buy a 5 gallon pail of the oil! But if it works out as I’m thinking now, I will package the rest of the oil in half liter bottles and make it available for anyone who would like to try it. But I have to try the extended run time motor driven test run first.
When I first laid eyes on the press I was looking for evidence of oil remaining at the journals and linkages. There was a lot of oxidized oil heavily caked with dust and dirt in those places, a good sign. When I removed the retaining bolts for one of the connecting rods, sliding the rod off a bit, the journal area was still shiny with good oil. Then I cleaned out all the oil holes with metal drill-bits, twirling them by hand – finishing with a q-tip to get all the gunk out. I filled every one of the oil holes and proceeded to move the flywheel back and forth just a few inches. Hearing no noise, and feeling no resistance, I increased the rocking motion until I finally made a whole turn. Seeing the oil in the oil holes sink down a bit gave me the assurance I was looking for: The oil was flooding the journals. The press moves with absolutely no noise, smooth as silk! The only thing you hear is the little clack of the ink disk advancing ratchet action.

I was surprised about how the platen mechanism stays open for quite a long time. One press cycle on my press takes seven turns of the flywheel. For three of those turns the platen is wide open. The drive wheel is 24″ in diameter. Next I want to work out what speed motor I should get. The original motor is a 1926 half horsepower motor that looks like the size of a new three to four HP motor today. I will not be using it since I will want to go with variable speed drive and that requires the use of an inverter duty motor. Those have a lot better insulation than a standard motor and vastly better than what was available even just twenty years ago – never mind eighty years ago.

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Rust Removal

Many many years ago as a first year Electro-Mechanical Engineering apprentice I cleaned a lot of machine parts. And before embracing this endeavor I looked at some old presses, read a lot about the methods other people use. And then I went out to the local industrial supply store and got some emery cloth, scotch-bright pads and wire-brush. And then I met reality! The unmovable hulk of rust. A couple of hours every night, I promised myself. You can believe me, its quite satisfying to climb into bed with sore arms, sore hands and sore fingers – leaving behind another small reclaimed spot on the press. At this rate I hate to even project how long it might take. Long!

I’ve read about a shop that undertook a recovery and rebuild of a press very similar to my model, also a C&P 12″x18″. You can read about it here. They really did some detective work on the surface treatment and paint. Their final result looks like a piece of art. My primary motivation is to make the press productive, create art with it – but not make it into a work of art. My paint job will be more utilitarian, but with some appropriate highlights. We’ll see if I can do justice to it before I say too much.

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