Pilot? rollers…

I have a press that I thought was a Pilot. I ordered rollers but when they came back they were noticeably larger in diameter.


There are no indications as to the kind of press it is. The label said it was sold by American Printing Equipment Company and made in West Germany. In the photos I’ve seen on Briar Press the handle for the Pilot seems to be square while the one on mine is distinctly flatter.

I thought I had trucks that would work but didn’t. I took a smaller set of trucks and put tape around them until they were at least approximately right just to test out things. You can see the green tape in the photos.

Now I notice that the rollers in combination with the trucks are too large so as they roll over the ink disk they don’t completely ink.

Can anyone confirm what this press is?

Can anyone tell me the diameter the rollers are supposed to be?

Does anyone have a set of trucks for the right size rollers they would be willing to part with in exchange for money?

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I believe that American Printing Equipment made a clone of the C&P Pilot. Your press looks exactly like my C&P pilot even down to the handle. Mine was made in 1950s.

Check out Tarheel Roller Co. in the Briar Press Yellow Pages. They have a great reputation and the experience and knowledge in any composition rollers.

You have the Cadillac of Pilot Presses. I have an identical one. 20 years ago this press sold for over $1000.00.
Unfortunately, I gave my new rubber rollers to a non-profit society since I’m not using this press right now. However I do have the trucks and they are 1.310” in diameter or very close to 1 5/16”. Normally you shoot for the roller diameter to be about .028” larger in diameter than the trucks. I think there is still an ad on here from someone who is selling trucks for the Pilot Press but that won’t help you if your rollers are bigger. If you think you have some good quality rollers I’d find a home / hobby machinist and have him make you some trucks that are .028” smaller than your rollers. As to why they aren’t inking - well , they should. Check to see that you haven’t made the trucks bigger than the rollers with your tape. It’s also possible that your press had a bushing (collar) on the ink disc shaft to raise it to the proper height and it’s missing.

This is indeed a Pilot clone made in West Germany. Not sure about it being the ‘Cadillac of Pilot Presses’ or that it may have ever sold for over $1000. The catalogs I have seen have priced these clones around $285 toward the end of their production. Of course that may have been another clone and this one may have been more costly.

There were several Pilot clones—some made in Canada, some in West Germany, etc. The one thing that is usually different on the clones is that the lever is slightly shorter than on genuine Pilots from C&P. The castings on the rear yoke is also (usually) more squared away.

As far as your rollers go… where did you get them? If you have ordered them from NA Graphics or American Printing Equipment and Supply then I would encourage you to order a set of (affordable) Delrin trucks from NA Graphics and make sure these do not work. Are the trucks you are using right now metal or delrin (white plastic)?

In general most things that are specified for ‘Pilot’ will fit these clone presses. However there are some things which will not quite fit and will require a little bit of modification. Major pieces of the press (i.e. if something breaks) will typically have to be fabricated as it is especially difficult to find parts presses.

Good luck with your press—it’s a great machine that should serve you very well into the future.


I got these rollers from NA Graphics but as I said they appear to be simply too large. I’ve put tape around the other ones I have that fit the same core to bring them up to type height. But then they don’t ink completely. The larger truck causes it to go farther up on the inking disk before they contact. Then because they are larger diameter they don’t make a complete revolution before rolling forward. It appears that one of the rollers will ink most of the printing area and then the other will ink most of the printing area but not all of it. Then there is a lighter area (only being inked by one or the other roller) that only has half the ink so it looks light.

A couple questions:

1. You mentioned that the rollers were “noticeably larger in diameter” when you got them from NA Graphics. Did you have a set of rollers for comparison? Are you comparing to the trucks you had on hand? I have used rubber rollers from NA on a number of genuine Pilots and clones and the diameter has never been an issue when moving between the two… as long as the truck diameter matched the roller. Are your rollers rubber or vinylith?

2. How far up the ink disk are the rollers going before making contact? Many Pilots and clones I have seen will not ink the rollers on the bottom 1/2” of the ink disk. Not sure why. You could likely raise the ink disk with a steel collar to solve this problem. However I imagine if you have to raise it too much you will have a lack of contact with the pawl/dogs.

A workaround that may work (if you are not interested in shelling out more money for another set of rollers) would be to build up the rails with tape. NA Graphics sells a specific tape for the job, but I have had luck with any cellophane tape as it doesn’t tend to compress much. You could easily taper the rails to where they are the lower up near the ink disk and higher where the chase is locked up.

Do you have any more detailed shots of your specific problem areas?

Hopefully you can get this press working ASAP… they are wonderful presses—some of the best in their class.


I’m more than just a little ticked off with NA Graphics at the moment. After thinking about your oversize roller problem and my previous reply I decided to unpack my new rubber rollers I ordered from NA Graphics for my Hohner Press. Here’s what I found.
The ends of the cores were machined wrong. The shaft diameter was too big and the flats were not milled correctly. This caused the rollers to bind in the saddle and none of the trucks would fit the cores. It was a day’s worth of machine work to rectify this. Next,. I found that my rollers also were much larger in diameter than the originals - over 1/8” larger to be exact. And this caused both form rollers to touch and of course not roll AT ALL. I’m not going to take even an ounce of responsibility for any of these problems because I sent NA Graphics a good condition original roller AND the exact outside diameter of the trucks.

I am undecided what to do next. I believe there was a company called Brown Regrinding that, if I can find them, may be able to cut my rollers down. I’ll let you know in a separate posting what kind of luck I have. Until then, be berry, berry careful if you’re in need of new inking rollers.

Mr. Thomas was shipped his Hohner rollers on May 5, 2003—a mere 5 years ago. And in one day he thoroughly bashes my company for his failure to check out his order when he received it. We stand behind our products and services and I have offered to John that we will regrind his rollers to whatever specification he desires, at no cost, even though he sat on his rear for over 5 years on this. Most people would agree that warranties don’t last into eternity, but we will do whatever it takes to rectify his problem, and would he have contacted us before he spent the entire day fixing a machining problem, we would have taken care of his cores as well. Rollers deteriorate even when not used, even unwrapped, and at 5 years, these rollers may need recovering but until the roller maker sees them, this is a point we won’t know. John made no effort to contact me until after he made his Briar posting.

My 54 years of hands on letterpress experience tends to enable me to give a lot of people help, when they ask for it, and especially hobby printers and newcomers. The other suppliers, like Dave Churchman, the Blacks, Dave Barrett, Greg Timko, and others who have a printing background are all willing to do our best—there are some suppliers who could be termed order takers, and can’t respond to technical questions. I should add that we all also monitor the various discussion lists and this is my first posting to a Briar Press post in about 2 years.

Fritz/NA Graphics

We are often told by customers that they have a “Pilot” when in reality it is something else but looks like a Pilot. A Pilot is made by Chandler & Price and no one else, and their name is on the press. Any other press may take an entirely different roller and truck. All too often the press turns out to be a Craftsman, or a German knock-off imported by American, or some other wierd press made anytime in the last 60 years that resembles a Pilot. And even in Pilots, we have found different truck diameters and roller diameters for some reason. Over the years, various people have cooked up their own receipes for truck and roller diameters and then we send out what should be a “standard” set and it doesn’t fit, and then we have to scramble to make good on it—which we will do if notified of the problem and what needs to be corrected. If it is our fault, then the fix is on us. And if the customer screws up, the fix is on the customer. Table top and Pilot presses provide the greatest challenge to get appropriate parts, and it is often from people who are well meaning but ill-informed. While we try to get relative information for each order, we also have to trust those who insist they know what they have and want, and they are right about 95% of the time—it’s the ones who don’t know their press size as an example (measure the platen on an 8x12 press and order 10x15 rollers—very common) that cause grief for both of us.