I recently spent some time looking through the Vandercook photos on Flickr. The one thing that stood out to me is the lack of set up in chases on the bed of the presses. Not one photo (that I saw) had a chase locked into the bed. I’m wondering how Vandercookers manage makeready with all those pieces of type and ornament loose on the bed, any thoughts?
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I have a Vandercook No. 1 Proof Press here, and I went down to Hicks Bros Printing Equipment and bought a 10x15 chase to lay on the bed. It is capable of a 14x18 impression if I just use the bed sides and end lockup bars, but 10x15 is more than large enough for 99% of the things I do, and the outside dimensions of the chase fit the bed nicely, only requiring a few high speed quoins to lock up the chase in the bed. I’ll probably end up going out and buying some more chases, maybe a few 8x12’s because it works so well this way. I’m even contemplating smaller chases with large furniture as a way to keep the chase lockup manageable and precise, and then using large furniture to position and lock the chase on the press bed.
I suspect a lot of Vandercook owners are using polymer on base or wood type, where the pieces are large enough that they don’t worry so much about managing 12pt sorts on the bed, but since I’m a lead type sort of guy, I can’t imagine working without the chase.
With the addition of the standard lock up bar, the bed of a Vandercook (with the exception of the gravity proof presses, like the No. 1) automatically becomes a chase. Why would you then want to go through the hassle of setting in a chase, and inserting that into the bed? Seems a bit nonsensical. And, unlike the use of a chase in a platen press, would score the bed over time. Only time I could see the use of a chase would be on the larger presses (over 20 inches). Or is there something I am not getting here?
What Gerald said is true. The bed is the chase with a lock up bar or dead bar.
I once had a Vandercook 32-28 and it had a chase that could be taken out but that would have defeated the purpose since no lockup bar came with that press, it was too wide. So the chase remained in the bed to lockup type. I would build forms in a galley tray and push them off onto the bed or if it was simple forms I would set the type directly in the bed. And it took a lot of type.
I’m not sure why you would say a chase would score the bed of a Vandercook?! Anyway, my question arises from my own use of chases which developed from the necessity to do make-ready on posters I was printing at the time. Where overlays are relatively easy on a platen press, they become difficult on a cylinder, especially the way that Vandercook tympans lay on the cylinder. So I resorted to underlays and the ability to lift the type all at once and do quick patching to make it much simpler.
In my book arts classes I found uniform chases that would fit the No. 4 we had to use and by getting the students to use matching lock-ups we were able to typeset and print 10 to 12 eight page signatures in ten weeks. By figuring the geometry of the press and chase it really sped up the whole process. If I had had twelve students pi-ing their type onto the bed, as a teacher I would have gone nuts. Plus, the students learned proper lock-up as the type had to remain in the chase to transfer from the stone. It makes sense to me, but I am still curious as to why more operators don’t use chases.
Well, metal against metal, something is going to score, especially if students are involved. Jesus. I doubt you will find many composition tables/stone in print shops today where only Vandercooks are present. Nor chases. Plus, chases for non-platen presses are kind of hard to find, are they not?
If a student pies type in a press bed simply through sliding it from their galley, something wrong here. Usually forms are tied either on the stone or on the galley.
I will agree though, that the practice of working from a stone with chase would eliminate the problem of improperly set forms. But, it does not take long for a student to learn this simply through the initial problems on the printed page, usually the first press attempt is going to point out that their setting has to be uniformly tight.
After years of using chases on Vandercooks I’ve never experienced any scoring, I can’t recall seeing any scoring on a platen press either. I would be much more concerned about damaging the press by locking up next to the bearers. This does not address the question of makeready tho. I know you are an advocate for polymer plates, but many of the rest of us have to deal with 70 year old type with the snot beaten out of it - has makeready become a thing of the past? I’m somewhat surprised that you are so dismissive of proper lockups (there being no way to check a lockup if you can’t lift the form), how would a student know if their lines were justified? It just doesn’t make sense….
Well, don’t know why one would lock up next to the bearers. But, to answer I’m not dismissive at all. Proper lockup is crucial, but it actually does not depend up on the ability to lift the form. I have only used a chase with platen presses, and I have set and printed quite a bit of metal type in my time on Vandercooks sans chase. I’ve set books that were over a hundred pages, in metal.
In regard to proper lockup, there is a trick with the composing stick itself that does not depend upon the strictly mechanical. Most students catch on quite quickly.
In regard to makeready. This is sort of a type high issue. If your type or imaging is worn you obviously have to adjust. Why underlay would seem to be more a problem without a chase I am not certain of what you are saying. I’ve done lots of tortuous underlay in my tiime and can’t imagine why a chase would have facilitated this any better than working directing in the bed.
As you know there is a difference between justifying in a stick and building a form. I am sure your ability to set a standard line well enough to lock up without much movement is far in advance of most of the folks who read these posts. I can do the same, but in my experience most students don’t get it right off the bat. On a short run one can probably get by with a borderline lock up on a Vandercook.
I learned to lock up totally worn wood type on a 42” Babcock Optimus that had only one speed - unbelievably fast! There was no fudging on the forms, they had to be tight. I’ve printed on Vandercooks for over twenty-five years and used chases for almost all of my jobs. I know that lockup bars will shift and I’ve been through hellish underlays that took eight hours for jobs that ran in 20 minutes. I speak from experience when I say it is easier to lift an entire form to makeready, than picking it up letter by letter. I also know that, when you only have 2 or 3 weeks for 12 students to print and back up 12 different eight, twelve or sixteen page forms on one press, that it would be near impossible without using chases.
Vandercooks were never designed for production work, their beds are not built-in chases; the lockup bars slide; the fitted bars weren’t designed to hold a locked-up form. We are lucky that they are made so well so as to be adaptable to the things we force them to do. Perhaps Alan and I are the only ones that have thought of using chases - I just find that hard to believe.
I believe you when you say it is easier to life the entire form for makeready, rather than picking it up letter by letter, but um, isn’t that what ultimately you often have to to anyway?
In regard to the Vandercook lock up bars. Yeah, the positive lock up or “quick” bars are junk, but not the standard bar, or “dead bar” as Casey termed it. That’s quite true.
I don’t know Paul, I wasn’t trained in traditional methodology, but in over a third of a century at the wheel I can honestly say, that except for specialized purposes, I have never seen anyone routinely use a chase in a Vandercook.
Weird after thought. If “the fitted bars weren’t designed to hold a locked-up form,” um, what then accurately holds the chase in position?
No.4T chase http://vandercookpress.info/bib.html
We use chases on our No. 4—we’re a student press, with limited hours, and having students lock up their forms in a chase means less idle time on the press. They spend all the time they need fussing with furniture and quoins on a stone, and when they’re ready they’re simply sliding it onto the bed, printing, and sliding off. We can have about 8 or 10 people make a couple dozen prints in two hours, even with a color change or two.
When I was initially introduced to a flatbed cylinder press*, I was taught to do make ready with pieces of paper cut to fit the individual piece, or area, of type which needed raising. The paper was, in the case of larger wood type, glued to the type, when I am working on small lead type I simply drop the paper into the space and replace the type (as i re-read this I realise this refers to individual or a couple of sorts rather than, for example, a whole paragraph). This may all be technically a bit of a fudge, but it works for me, and I assume if I had to use and transfer a chase I would loose all my make ready. So, Paul how do you do your make ready utilising a chase to ensure you don’t loose everything as you put it on press?
*by a printer with many decades of experience
I keep a little container of rice paste (Nori) close by and spot paste the make-ready to the bottom of the form.
Thanks Paul, I’ll have to track some down, sounds much more classy than pritt stick!