Roller Tension

I just bought my first press, and I am working on my first project. I don’t quite understand how to adjust the tension on the rollers. I have a Kelsey 5x8, and I have tried twisting the little bolts on the end of the little hook things that hold the rollers. Sorry for lack of press vocabulary, I’m still working on it. Anyway, I’ve twisted them all the way in and all the way out, and my rollers are still hitting all of the plate and even the furniture. Is there something I am missing?

Everything is the correct height… I’m beginning to think they might be the wrong rollers. This is hard to phrase without the correct terminology, but here it goes- Are the silver parts around the rubber part of the roller supposed to roll along the side railings of the chase bed?

Any tips or possible solutions are welcomed and appreciated.

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Hello Katemajoie…. not to worry. Kelseys are quite simple, and I’m sure we can get it sorted out in short order. From your description, it’s difficult to understand exactly what is going on. SO we’ll just start from scratch, and set the rollers right.

First, look at the rollers themselves. They should be 1 1/4 inches in diameter. If they are bigger, they are not the right rollers. On the ends of the rollers, there should be steel wheels, called “trucks” that are also 1 1/4” in diameter, or just slightly smaller. The trucks and the rollers should be the almost the same diameter, or only slightlly different. If there is a noticable difference, then that is a problem.

These trucks roll along the side rails of the bed-plate whilst printing, and prevent the rollers from contacting anything within the chase other than the top of the type. If the trucks are much smaller than the roller, then the roller will drop too far into the chase and ink everything….. the chase, the furniture, and your nerves. To correct this, you can either get the right trucks…. or try building up the trucks (or chase bed rails) with tape. The tape thing never works for me, but others say it does for them.

If the trucks are bigger than the roller, they prevent the roller from inking the type which is also not good. I don’t know of any good way to fix this other than getting the right roller/truck set up.

Now that you have the right rollers and trucks, it gets easy from here. Set the springs on the roller hooks with just enough tension to keep the trucks in contact with the bed-rails throught it’s travel. More tension than that will not help you.

One final thing….. I always set the roller hooks so that the open leg is orientated UPWARD. I don’t know if that is the factory specified way or not, but my press always seems to work better that way.

And that’s about it. If your chase and lock-up are also right, then you should be able to ink-up and go for it! By the way: don’t worry about the lack of vocabulary. It will come rather quickly as you learn about printing.

Thank you so much for your help!

I checked the rollers. The diameter is correct, and my trucks are about 1/8th” smaller. It seems like I had them in correctly. But, they aren’t rolling continuously on the rails. When my type or furniture come up, they are lifting off the rails to accommodate them.

I might add that they do stay on the rails when everything isn’t in the chase.

So if they aren’t the rollers aren’t the problem I guess I should ask about the press. My type and furniture peer over my chase. Type high is always type high right? I just kind of assumed that was how it worked, also, I never ran across any other options.

I locked up according to my book’s explanation. I really hope that I did it wrong, and that this is the problem. To be honest, I don’t really see another way it could be done and all still fit in the press.

Here are some pictures, maybe you can see what is going on, and we can get to a solution! Thanks again for your help.

image: height of furniture to chase and chase bed

height of furniture to chase and chase bed

image: everything in the frame

everything in the frame

image: roller and truck size

roller and truck size

image: off the rail

off the rail

image: on the rail

on the rail

image: whole thing without rollers so you can see

whole thing without rollers so you can see


You must not have the correct trucks for the rollers. 1/8” is way too much difference to work. In order to test it out, wrap the trucks with tape (for this test any tape will work, masking, electrical or whatever is at hand). Wrap the tape on until the diameter or the truck equals the diameter of the roller. For a test, you could do it only on two trucks to outfit the one roller. Ink up the press and try an impression. This should provide the proper distance of the rollers from the type to ink properly.

It the test proves the theory, then you can wrap all the trucks the same, or order new trucks properly sized for the machine. They should be availble from NA Graphics (see suppliers list on Briar Press)

Kate…. looking at the pictures, you are 99.9% there! All we have to do is some tinkering. The rollers are tiny bit larger in relation to the trucks than I prefer, but that’s not the main problem. It’s not uncommon for them to lift a little bit when they roll over the type. That’s why they are spring loaded. (You might want to build up your roller trucks with tape, but you can do that later.)

The problem appears to be your furniture and/or type height. Here’s how you check it: Take the chase and bed-plate out of the press and lay them on a table face up. If there is any card stock or packing under the chase, take it out. Then place a ruler across from rail to rail….. the distance between the bottom of the ruler and the bed should be “type high”. THAT is the height that your type block should be. If it’s higher, then it’s too tall….. or the rails are too low (which is rare). I can’t tell for sure, but from the photos the type block looks a bit high. IF the type is high, you can build up the rails with tape until they are the same height or get a shorter block.

Now look at the furniture. It also looks high to me. From the pics, it looks to be as tall as the type block. Try replacing it with a shorter piece….. about the same height as the chase. The ink roller should never touch it. If it does, then it’s too tall. (all of my furniture is much shorter…. about the same height as the chase. I’m not sure that piece of metal furniture is what you need. )

Now…. one last note: It looks like you are cranking down too tight on your quoins (wedges that hold the type). Kelsey chases are not as sturdy as you might think, and you should not flex them too much when locking up. Just tighten them enough to hold the type securely. Most of the time, I don’t even use quoins. I use the set screws in the chase.

By the way, that’s a very nice looking press. It should serve you well for many, many years.


I built up my trucks, and it worked beautifully! I am so excited! Thank you so much for yall’s input!

I also traded out furniture to something shorter. I hadn’t even realized they were different heights, so that was good to learn.

So, I guess I will be ‘pressing’ onward! Thanks again!