Vandercook cylinder timing

Last Thursday I picked up a Vandercook No. 2 proof press that needs some adjustment, I think. Perhaps you can help. The cylinder seems to be out of alignment, because the gap in the cylinder rides over the middle of the bed of the press — no impression possible at this point. I imagine I can take off the two end stops or springs, roll off the cylinder then put it back on the rails in the proper position. I will post pictures of a friend’s Vandy No. 1 with the cylinder and handle in what appears to be the proper timing, and a photo of mine as it was when I got it. Is there a timing mark or something that I should look for?

Also, is this designed as a galley press so that I should build up the packing to type-in-galley height, or to .918? Or is it typical to build up the bed instead? And what about tympan paper? It has only a rubber blanket at present. Is there a Vandercook manual floating around out there? Thanks for your continuing help and advice.

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Here are the photos — the first one is of my No. 2 proof press that I would guess is out of alignment. The second photo is of the No. 1 which appears to be adjusted to the correct timing. What do you think?

image: Vandy No. 2 proof press.jpg

Vandy No. 2 proof press.jpg

image: Vandy No. 1 proof press.jpg

Vandy No. 1 proof press.jpg

I am pretty sure this is a galley height press. You can check a piece of type on the bed next to the bearers to be sure. You may want to have a .050 galley thickness bed plate made from cold rolled steel so you don’t have to work from a galley.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to remove the stops and roll the cylinder past the rack in order to adjust it so that it is engaged in a more usable position. Since it doesn’t have a gripper bar it doesn’t have to be dead on to factory specs, but if you get it so that at the right end of the bed the handle is in the same position as in the photos on the following page you should be in good shape!

Also have a look at the Vanderblog section of that website. It is an excellent source for information and another good place to ask Vandercook related questions.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Thanks, Daniel. I will get someone to help me with the cylinder this weekend. I’ll also ask around to see if I can scrounge a big enough piece of tympan paper to cover the blanket. And I suppose a machine shop might be able to produce the .050 bed plate you mention. I’ll check the yellow pages for one nearby.

That Vandercook website is terrific! I just added the No. 2 to the census. What a great resource.

I see that you are hosting a Vandercook training session with Paul Moxon in the near future. Ah, if only The Arm were within reasonable driving distance!


If you put a piece of metal on the base it will move and the type will move when the impression roller makes contact.
If you need some galleys contact me and i will give you a couple of various sizes than have a closed end to butt the type against. The galleys will have to go against a non moveable object, (perhaps a bar attached to the bed at the correct location) A lot of operators of proof presses use magnets to hold type and galleys yet they may still move.

Linda: Thanks for your offer of the galleys. I can envision what you mean by having them move on the bed if they’re not locked up somehow. Instead I’m having a steel plate made that will fit the entire bed of the press so that the plate will not move around at all. Then I will manufacture some large wooden furniture to hold the form in place. I will most likely lock up the type in a 10” x 15” chase and then transfer the form to the Vandercook, rather than set the type directly into the bed of the press. (I wish I had wood type that was so large I had to set it in the bed because it wouldn’t fit in a chase, but that’s another matter.)