Just inherited a Kelsey Excelsior Model D

Hello everyone! I’m a newbie and I look forward to becoming a part of this community. I’ve looked around a bit, and you guys seem super helpful.

I just inherited my first press. It’s a Kelsey Excelsior Model D 5x8. Apparently, it’s not a great press, but I would still like to restore it. There is a bit of surface rust and it lacks rollers. I plan to get the rollers on Ebay.

Can someone point me in the right direction?

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You can get rollers recovered (if you have cores — the metal rod in them) at Ramco — search the site and you will find a listing for them. They do a great job!

Several places still sell parts for Kelsey presses so you should be able to find the stuff you need!
Good luck.. I have a kelsey 3x5 on my mantel — my functional art! It may not be my best press for work but it is still fun.

There is a seller in the UK that sells rollers on ebay. I have purchased them from her a number of times and they are quiet nice. Send me an email and I will pass along the info.

Elizabeth- NA Graphics has several different styles of rollers for the Kelsey 5 x 8. I’d recommend the blue synthetic rubber, not the vinyl ones. They also have trucks, and many parts for that machine. They are the owners of the remnants of the old Kelsey company and are quite knowlegeable about them. I’ve had great luck talking to them on the telephone through the years.

Contrary to what some folks will tell you, the 5 x 8 Kelsey is a nice little machine. Like any press if you work within it’s limitations, it will print a great image. I once printed 100 copies of the story of Christmas (65 4.25” x 5.5” Linotype text pages and 8 multi-color wood-cut plates) on one just like yours. While it took half a year to complete, the end result was fabulous and earned me a scholarship to a fine college.

My point is that you should not consider your Kelsey to be inferior. It is as nice as any tabletop 5 x 8 press out there. With care, you can achieve beautiful results.

A Kelsey is capable of good work…it’s just harder. On mine the platen was always coming out of adjustment; I’d have to readjust the platen screws at least once or twice on a job. The screws were in the middle of the sides instead of the corners and I think this led to any slight imbalance being worsened as time went by.

Rollers are the single most important part of your press affecting print quality; I’d buy from one of the commercial suppliers who will stand behind you and make sure you have the correct trucks to go with them. NA Graphics, Tarheel and Ramco have all been recommended repeatedly. I’ve dealt with the first two and been very happy.

I need cores and rollers, the whole piece is missing. I was planning to buy them from the UK dealer on Ebay, but I will look into NA Graphics and the others as well. I’m told the press isn’t missing anything else and looks to have been used very little.

Winking Cat- That book sounds amazing! I’m glad the press is capable. I was starting to get discouraged and it’s not even here yet.

My Fiance is a hobbyist mechanic and recommended a wire wheel for the rust. Does this sound like a good idea?

What will need to be done before I can print on it (other than purchasing rollers.)

I’d love to print my own wedding invitations, I’m getting married in September.

Usually a wire wheel is overkill unless the press is really rusty. For surface rust a 10 to 1 mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice or a table salt and vinegar solution plus a steel wool pad is sufficient. Dry well and wipe down with an oiled rag to prevent new rust from forming.

If you want to completely restore the press, it can be disassembled and blasted with walnut shells (sand works too but is much more abrasive and grit can get onto bearing surfaces. Paint non-bearing surfaces (Rustoleum has been used by many) also leaving the bed, platen and ink table unpainted. You want these last three surfaces to be flat and smooth.

Restoration doesn’t make the press print better; just makes it look prettier. I always prefer printing to restoring presses to look like new, so I just remove any rust (with vinegar, salt and elbow grease) and start printing.


Thanks, that was most helpful. Printing is paramount, I don’t care if it looks pretty. I didn’t know if more had to be done in order to print. So, I’ll just remove the rust and order some rollers and be good to go!