Over-tightening quoins

I’ve seen many broken chases. Someone thought it better to tighten the quoins a little more, rather than finding the source of the problem in the arrangement of the furniture or the justification of the lines of type.

Sometimes, a piece of card stock or even paper will tighten up an area of the furniture in the chase that is not quite standard dimension, causing looseness and “type dropouts”. You should be able to just loosely tighten up the quoins and test the form for “drop outs”. None of the type should be loose. If it is, then find the problem, rather than cranking up the quoins. The final tightening of the quoins from “loosely tightened” to tight isn’t all that much. I learned this important lesson from a kindly graduate of Carnegie Tech Printing Course, now CMU.

I visited one man’s shop. Everything was broken. His two Pearls had many, many welded spots and all of his chases were broken, some in 3 or 4 places. No one had ever told him about how you handle cast iron. Cast iron is strong in compression, but weak in tension. You can’t hammer it. (He had a steel hammer that he used to “fix” things). That’s a “no-no” with cast iron. Always use a block of wood. Rather than properly making up his lines of type to the same length in the composing stick with brass and copper thin spaces, he ignored that requirement and just tried to “crush” the form in the chase with the quoins. The problem is that the quoins will “spring” the chase until it reaches the modulus-of-elasticity-limit and then the iron will crack. He had worked in a steel mill and thought there was no difference between iron and steel. Every chase in his shop was broken and had various kinds of repairs - some repair methods I had never seen before. He had lots of chases, too.

You should be able to pick the type out of a full composing stick with your two hands, pressing lightly with the middle finger of each hand along the ends of the lines and tightly with your thumb and index fingers pressing the lines together and not have any type slip or drop out. After the form is in the chase with the furniture place you should be able to lift the chase, with only the slightest movement of the quoins (most of us put the key under a corner of the chase) and none of it should slip or fall out. If there are drop-outs, then you need to correct either the line-length spacing (justification) or the furniture in the chase is not properly arranged (see a text book on this subject, such as Ralph Polk). Or the furniture is not the same thickness (it happens).

There is an excellent submission about not over-tightening quoins included in the discussion on Kelsey Chase Screws (posting #6041) with comments by “forme”.

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