C&P bails: one missing, one stuck

My C&P Old Style 8x12 is missing one bail, and the other is (fairly) stuck.

The missing bail sheared off the tops of the pins/screws when it went, leaving the ends wedged firmly in the holes. The other bail is in place, but barely moves. I can just get it up about quarter of an inch, but it doesn’t come close to clearing the platen.

So, three questions:
1) How do I get the bail to move more freely without damaging it?
2) How do I later safely remove that bail so I can get a replacement bail made for the other side? (Curt from NA Graphics said I should take it to a machine shop for fabrication)
3) How on earth do I get the broken pins out of the holes on the other side?

Thanks for any advice!


image: Pin or screw on this C&P 8x12 bail?

Pin or screw on this C&P 8x12 bail?

Log in to reply   7 replies so far

Turn the flywheel until the press is about 3/4 of the way closed. Try to get a flathead screwdriver or small prybar behind that top bail and give it some gentle coaxing with a hammer or mallet. The bails on my 10x15 were stuck because of years of rust that had accumulated between the bail and the platen. Once it was broken free I hit the back of the bail with a Dremel tool (120grit sanding wheel) to knock off the rust. You don’t want to overdo it with the sanding.

As far as removing those stuck pins… it’s not going to be easy. Are they completely inside the platen or is there enough that you could possibly grip with pliers? If you can get any type of grip whatsoever I would say drench the area with Liquid Wrench, let it sit overnight, and then give it a twist/pull. If all else fails you can either have the pins drilled out OR just have new holes drilled for new pins.

Hope that helps.


Removing the stuck pin is probably impossible, but drilling it out actually quite easy. Just file the stub off flat with a file, center punch it, and then drill it out with a slightly smaller drill bit. They are not hardened steel and so drill easily. I did two of them on my Sigwalt on Sunday, and it was no problem at all. Just be sure to use a good drill bit and be very careful.

As far as a replacement bail goes, they are no problem to make. All they are is a piece of steel strip, bent to shape with two holes drilled in it. You can get the steel at most hardware stores. Just take the existing one off and use it for a pattern.

None of this is Rocket Science or requiring of special skills. If you are competent enough to actually run the press…. and I know you are…. then fixing these bails should not be a problem for you.

Thanks Brad and winking cat! This is all very encouraging.

The broken pins are completely within the platen so will need to be drilled out. I’m relieved to hear it might be easier than I thought (or feared!).

Ok, an update and two more questions!

We got the “stuck” bail off and discovered that it’s probably a rather old replacement bail too. Underneath it, on both sides, are larger, higher holes with sheared-off pins in them, further down the platen.

This means that the replacement we make for the missing bail will be a slightly different length, but I think it’ll work out.

(Oh, and the bails were held in place with pins, not screws… just to answer an earlier mystery.)

Now questions:
1) How tight should the bails be? The existing bail grinds against the platen whenever it is moved.
2) What is the correct position? When they are down and holding the tympan in place, should be top of the bail sit *below* the level of the platen? Is there a danger of the bail smashing something if it doesn’t sit below that level?

Thanks again for your help so far and for any further advice!


One thing to watch is that the upper bail does not extend above the platen as paper being slid off the platen after printing may catch on the edge of the bail and slow down your feeding.

The bails are beyond any image you might be printing, so that is not an issue. Cycle the press slowly by hand after fixing the bail and make certain there is no binding at any point. There should not be any problems, but better safe than sorry.

I replaced a bail on a 10x15 press once when a student cycled the press with the bail in the raised position. Just used a bar of mild steel purchased at the hardware store and bent and fitted it to the edge of the platen. You must make certain the topsheet is held tightly by the bail when closed. If there is slack there, the topsheet can shift during a run and ruin your register.

Helen…. that is not at all uncommon to discover. I’d guess close to half of the old presses out there have at least one replacement / fabricated bail.

J Henry just about covered it all in his comment. As far as tightness goes, it should be snug but not grindingly tight. When you bend the new piece, add a little “bow” into the middle section. This will allow it to springfit snuggly without binding.

I would try to make it flush with the platen for feeding and safety reasons, especially with the upper bail. A slightly raised lip will not harm your press but it might cause you to fumble a feed and thus temp you to “chase the paper” as the platen closes. That can be very bad for your fingers.

J Henry and Winking Cat, thanks so much! This is great information.

I’ll be heading to the hardware store tomorrow, now that I know what I’m supposed to be doing!

I truly appreciate all the help.