rollers for kelsey 5x8

I was advised to get rubber rollers for my kelsey 5x8 and have just come across an offer for polyurethane rubber rollers… is this the same thing? For some reason the poly prefix disarms me.
So many thanks for answer(s).

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I don’t think thats the same thing, but i’m not sure.. Call Ramco Rollers (see the yellowpages are search the postings..)

They can recover your rollers with rubber..

Polyurethane rollers (I don’t think they are rubber at all) are nice when new, but can be damaged if not handleded carefully. They won’t last as long as rubber, and when they get old, they will melt, leaving an awful mess to clean up.

Modern polyurethane (which is classified as a rubber) will last about ten years if treated correctly. It is a highly durable material that is not affected by changes in humidity as composition rollers are. Rubber rollers tend to begin to harden within five years and do not have the natural tack that makes polyurethane an ideal material for letterpress users. The process of covering rollers in rubber is more labour intensive and produces waste rubber during finishing and this is the reason they cost more not quality. Negative comments about polyurethane are normally made by suppliers who do not stock it or letterpress users that remember the old polyurethanes. This is a shame because modern polyurethanes can offer excellent printing quality and lower the printers costs over time. Replacing your rollers less means modern polyurethane are more environmentally friendly than the alternatives, (considering energy usuage during manufacture over a ten year period).

I am glad to hear modern polyurethane has been improved over the version I experienced. But has the meltiing problem been eliminated? Having cleaned up roller melts twice (once for a couple 28” rollers), I wouldn’t want to do it again. Agreed, the rollers were very good when new, back then.
If rollers are only in occasional use, then the characteristic sag-before-melt may not be noticed before the awful mess happens, and it could happen quickly. Modern composition rollers can still do this, at least in extreme heat. For me, that makes rubber a better choice for hobbyists who aren’t at their presses daily, unless urethane melt is really a thing of the past.

I’ve had good luck with rubber, polyurethane, composition, neoprene and silicone rollers on Kelsey presses through the years. All of them will do a good job if you take care of them and use them within their limitations. None of them last forever.

Whatever you buy, just make sure you use the right solvent to clean them and don’t leave them on the Ink plate to flatten out. Other than that, I wouldn’t fret over what they are made of. (except for composition… you can’t use comp rollers with water-based inks or solvents)

Thank you all for your thorough and diverse responses… I think I’ve taken away the essential bottom line on roller care and will be sure to properly maintain whatever I do indeed end up with!