Before I get into this discussion, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has tried to help me so far. Unfortunately, no matter what I do, no matter what tips I follow, I am STILL NOT getting an even impression. I’m at the point where I’m just going to give up and sell the press. I released the compression bolts, closed the press completely, and brought the base plate up to a closed position. I then tighten my bolts to a flush, tight position. I put in my chase with a boxcar plate and I close the press. I feel a nice impression happening. All feels good, is it possible? Is it possible that I have finally created a lovely impression all around? I release, NO! DAMMIT! Nothing! How the hell is this happening? I only see an impression on the bottom of the paper. WHY?!?!?! I close an adjust the bolts at the top of the press. I close again, NOTHING. Nada. I keep adjusting these bolts and I see no change. I have been working on this for 2 days straight. Can someone pleaaaase help? I’m desperate.


p.s. is the base plate supposed to come into contact with the truck rails? Is is possible that this is obstructing contact?

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Where are you located? Maybe someone on the list who is nearby can actually come out and take a look. If you are in the Chicagoland area, I would come and take a look.


Oh thanks Ted, I wish you were closer! I live on Long Island, Nassau County. Any takers?


If no one is nearby, maybe you can get a webcam. That way people can use one of the Instant Messaging programs to talk to you and view what you are doing with the press at the same time assuming that the press is close to where your computer is.


I don’t have that press. However I can tell you that so far you have learned a lot from trying to get the impression.

These words of encouragement should let you know that all you have done thus far will be useful to you in the future and those that you will teach in the years ahead. Meaning you won’t make the same mistake. Be patient and you’ll get through it. I will say that once you get the even impression you’ll have questions about something else like we all do at times. It’s a learning experience and you may find doing things different work better and you’ll be telling us about the new discoveries.

Keep coming back,

Casey McGarr
Inky Lips Letterpress
McKinney, Texas

Adjusting the platen has been discussed at length through several different postings over the last two weeks. You should go back and look at those discussions. You need to start at square one and use a proper, accepted method, not hit and miss and not with a boxcar base and plate. Aside from anything else it sounds like the base may be the wrong size for your press.

In any case, my friend Alan Runfeld has over 40 years experience printing and repairing/adjusting presses and maintains the Excellsior Press Museum in Frenchtown, NJ. You may want to contact him as I’m sure that if you brought your press out to him he would have it set up for you in no time as well as give you some excellent instruction in general. His email is:

[email protected]

Contact me by email if you want his phone number which may be faster than email.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

daremo1971 and cmcgarr, thanks for the tips! And I’m working on that patience thing. :)


I have looked at the previous discussions several times already and took into account everything that was suggested. I have slugs and extra furniture on the way so I can test the impression correctly.

I appreciate your help and thank you for your contact! I’ll give him a shout!


p.s. my bed size is 9x12, so Boxcar recommend the 6x9 base.

Here’s my suggestion. Find a local printer who has some type, if you don’t have any, and get four pieces of large type (36 to 48 point if possible). Lock them in the chase as far from each other as possible — in the corners if you can. Take all the covering off the platen (I assume that’s what you’re calling the “base plate”) and use four pieces of acetate, like X-ray film (maybe a doctor or hospital would give you some scrap). One piece should be the width of the platen and about 1 inch more than the narrow dimension. The others should be the same size as the platen. Use the bigger piece as the draw-sheet clamped under the bails and 2 of the others as packing under it.

Check your bed roller rails to be sure they’re type-high (you can use a straight-edge and one of the pieces of type). Now close the press without the chase in it and adjust the platen impression adjusting screws so the platen is about the thickness of a piece of shoe-box cardboard from the roller rails on both sides, high and low. Tighten the impression screw locking nuts snug and put the chase in the press. You should now have approximately equal pressure or space on the four corners. Using a 1 inch wide strip of bond paper, adjust the impression screws (loosen each locknut slightly and snug it back after each adjustment)) starting at the top left and going clockwise, one at a time, until when you close the press with the strip of paper between the piece of type and the platen you can pull it out but there is some drag resistance. Keep going around clockwise three or four times until the resistance is the same on all four pieces of type.

When you’re satisfied, check to be sure you’ve snugged all the lock nuts. You should now have even impression of all four pieces of type and anything in between that is type high. To get good printing impression add the third sheet of acetate to the platen packing.

When you lock up to print, be sure the “center of mass” of the printing area is centered in the chase — if you lock it up off center up-down or sideways you will get uneven impression. Try to make most of your impression adjustments with packing if possible, so as to not disturb your carefully-adjusted platen.

Good luck — and patience!

Well, thanks for all the good advice everyone. I inked up my press and was able to get even contact by using my boxcar base. I know this isn’t exactly the correct way to test impression, but I couldn’t stand not trying! Anyhow, I have some large pieces of type coming my way and I am going to do the “4 corner” test as soon as they get here. Although I seem to be getting even contact, the impression still isn’t quite there. I’m not really sure why, the bolts are tight, and I have some hefty packing. (3 pieces of board, 2 tympan sheets)

i’ll keep on truckin’ (ha-ha, no pun) :)

let me ask this:

I have a craftsmen 9x12 (c&p knock-off), a 6x9 base and trying to print a 5x7 invite. It’s very simple, very clean with small type. (I’ll try to attach a photo tomorrow)

I’m afraid to ask-is it possible that I will never get an impression with the size of my press?