newbie disaster! - Heidelberg 10x15 windmill

Hi there -
my Heidelberg is stuck - platen in full ‘clamped’ impression - jammed ‘shut’!!

we have just aquired a 10x15 heidelberg platen for our workshop (London UK) - and i have printed a couple of simple jobs successfully on it as a way of teaching myself the ropes…

The job I am trying now was proving troublesome - occasionally the gripper arm would pick up too many sheets, and I was fiddling with the settings trying to get a more consistent pick-up of single sheets (250gsm weight) at a time.

And then - disaster - the arm picked up 4-6 sheets at the same time and the platen mechanism is stuck in fully compressed position (ie. paper pressed to form)!!

The gentleman who sold me the press mentioned the big bolts at the rear of the machine could loosen the drive, and I have tried manually budging the wheel with the start handle out (power off!) to see if I can open the platen enough to remove the over-large stack of card. So the big bolt at the rear is now off - doesnt seem to do anything,and I cant seem to move the wheel, even with the aid of a bar in one of the flywheel holes…

Any suggestions very welcome! Covered in grease and a bit lost here…


Matt Appleton

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Ouch, I have never locked up a windmill.
I don’t like to say this, but since you are in the UK, you should call Heidelberg. After you have have removed the bolt in the rear end of the press…..and you say you are new at this….you could really damage your press.
I hope other Briar Press users can help you more than me

Hi Matt,
The same thing happened to me while using a press at a friends shop. There is a shear pin in the mechanism accessable through the back, but as this happened so long ago I really don’t remember well how to fix it. Find a printer’s engineer familiar with Heildelbergs and they should be able to walk you through it over the phone. Best of luck, it’s not the end of the world

It seems to me that this is explained in the Heidelberg manual, which can be downloaded as a pdf from the Boxcar site, linked here on Briarpress:
The problem has also been explained on LetPress and the PPLetterpress list, but you’d have to be a member to search their respective archives.

Don’t worry. This isn’t the end of the press. It’s just going to take some sweat to get it back in order. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.

There are two ways to get out of this:

The first is to manually cycle the press. It is probably not great for the clutch, but it’s a little easier than loosening those bolts on the back.

See how the flywheel has holes in it? You can put the handle of a long, heavy-duty screwdriver in there and turn it manually. Watch out for slipping and smashing your face. It’s going to take a lot of pushing, but you’ll eventually get it to cycle through.

This has never broken the shear collar for me. I think that’s because it’s designed for the pressure of, say, a slipped piece of metal furniture, rather than a few extra sheets of paper. But please, take this advice at your own risk!

You’ll get the hang of it. Move it a little, release the clutch, move it back to the ideal turning spot, repeat. Eventually you’ll cycle through it.

The other way is to loosen those bolts at the back. It seems easiest when you go around them in a circle, like loosening lug nuts. Once they’re loose, it’ll be easier to turn the flywheel by hand. You still might have to struggle with it a little bit.

Good luck!

Like madmaude, i have locked up a windmill or two in my day. Not a good feeling, but you and your press will survive.
I have alwasy unlocked the press in the way that madmaude describes, by physically advancing the flywheel with the power turned off. Keep in mind that you do want the clutch engaged (this may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning). I have also found that it can ease the transition if i lift the impression knob up, as if to take it off of impression, so that once the press starts moving, it will slide into being off impression. Seems to make it a bit easier on the machine, if that makes sense.
use plenty of elbow grease, and start pushig that flywheel forward. i will get some gloves on, and really stat pushing and jerking directly on the belt/flywheel to slowly get it moving, and suddenly you will feel it ease, and sigh in releif as it opens.
be prepared to see a heck of an impression on your sheet!
good luck.


You wrote the big bolt at the rear is now off. Wrong bolt. You are only to loosen the bolts (equally) that circle this bolt. And just a bit. Restart the press. If it releases, shut it off and re-tighten. If not, release them all equally a bit more.

The press clamps up to save itself. Read the manual, read the manual, read the manual. Learn to respect, take care of, and love your press. Don’t force it do to something it was not intended to do.


All the above is right-on. On the black ball that I operated in the late 50s the easiest way to release the press was to backoff the knurled impressiion collar as far as possible and raise the impression lever. With judicious jogging/engaging of the clutch the press usually moved on.

when ive done this iveI found the easiest is to loosen the bolts around the sheer colar plate on the back of the machine,
i loosen them up a bit and then take it off impression on the handle on the front,then retighten the bolts on the back

With picking too many sheets up, try opening the little colar on the vaccum paper gripper bar, on thin paper the vaccum will suck through the paper and pic up many sheets,
also make sure the air blower is seperating the sheets, the holes may need cleaning with a pin

attention heide operators … When adjusting the vacuum and or the pick up bar, (tilt) it is always better to not run the press on impression until you are feeding sheets absolutely the way you intend. Which is one at a time. All you have to do is run about 10 sheets at operating speed, then stop the press and count the sheets in the delivery. This only takes a few seconds compared to the problems that can occur with the safety washer (collar) located in the back of the machine. When this collar is under too much stress it will move its center segment and must be replaced or you will have a devil of a time printing after that as the press will not close all the way.

HELLO, There is a grooved wheel behind the flywhell with a white wheel dropping in it, this is the binding device that prevents the press from going backwards, lift the white wheel with a screwdriver then you can turn it backwards by hand……john


Look down the inside of the flywheel…you will see a white collar inside close to the frame …go round the back of press and stick a screwdiver under the collar which is sprung loaded …prise up and turn press back…then you can disengage the impression…you will then have to replace the shear collar.
p.s. turn back only an inch to avoid causing gripper head damage.disengage impression and then turn right direction.

This has happened to me lots of times. Behind the flywheel you may find two white marks. Insert a screwdriver in this and lift, at the same time move the flywheel back a little way and get another person to put the impression leaver in. Don’t go backwards too far and make sure the power is off! ROY BAILEY

Read hint for the pressman a heidelberg booklet invaluable reading . Why do you not know how to reverse it when you are operating it ?? not knowing how to reverse this particular machine is a serious error . once caught in this machine you aint getting out if you dont reverse it in this way , in a rush you would not open one of these even the fire and rescue will struggle sometimes for hours to open one ,amputation has been known with thes machines as a means to free operators quickly because nobody knew where to push the 3/8 blade of a screwdriver!
Brighton U.K.