Dawson and Payne cylinder press

I am about to acquire a Dawson and Payne, Otley,UK flatbed cylinder press that is of the Wharfedale variety. Its a small handfed machine but is in a very sad state. Is there anyone out there who has restored one of these, or operates one? I have scoured the web for numerous photos and articles, most of which have been mentioned here, and the closest I have come to the same kind of press is the photo that appears in the Otley print museum site.
Is there such a thing as an operator’s manual for these presses?
I’ll post some photos in the next couple of weeks when I get it home.
Ron, South Australia

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Hi Ron,

I operated one of these presses, a 22 x 35inch, some 60years ago in my early days as an apprentice.
I don’t recall seeing a manual for this press, as the methods used seemed to have been passed verbally from more experienced operators.
I do remember the longest run I ever did on this press was 100,000; at an average speed about 1400 per hour,believe me, by the time I had finished I could have fed that machine blindfold!!
This machine was replaced by a “Summit” fine-art wharfedale with superior inking system,and an extended pile delivery. I believe this was also made by Dawson, Payne & Elliott in Otley.
The Summit was replaced in the early 50s by an Heidelberg Cylinder SB; the Rolls-Royce of cylinders.

Volume 1 of R. G. Radford’s “Letterpress Machine Work” (London, 1951, revised 1957) has about thirty pages on Wharfedales. Also, “The Art and Practice of Printing” Vol. 2 (Atkins, ed., London, 1932) has a chapter on cylinder presses which is just about Wharfedales.
I did see a small handfed Wharfedale on TV once, in a popular Japanese drama of the ’80s, “Non-chan no yume”. Set in postwar Tokyo, the heroine comes to live with a printer who has such a press; she starts a literary magazine so printing remains part of the plot for much of the series. There were a few close shots of the press being fed.

Justin Knopp at http://www.typoretum.co.uk/ and http://blog.typoretum.co.uk/ has a Wharfedale.
Here a link to his flickr
Gott grüß die Kunst

Thank you all for your responses. I will follow up on all the leads given.
I had seen Justin’s web pages , and his terrific photos. The press I am getting is slightly smaller than his, but almost identical in appearance. It doesn’t have the word “Wharfedale ” on it buit has raised letters “Dawson & Payne Otley” on the base or table frame). I am told it is hand fed and can be run off a belt but ideally I’d like to have some means of turning it over manually as I don’t anticipate long print runs (the mind boggles at 100,00 impressions!).

Hi, Ron

I would be interested in viewing some images of your Wharfedale. Iam located in Brisbane Queensland, over the coming months we are about to undergo a restoration of a Wharfedale also. I have just recently purchased the press from Tasmania and am struggling with shipping it back to Brisbane. That aside I have a contact here in Brisbane who is going to help with the restoration. Bob Read has worded with Wharfedales over the years and is excited about being involved in the restoration. Bob tells me that there is a Wharfedale in operation at the Penrith Print Museum in NSW. I would be keen to talk with you further, maybe this island we live on isnt so small after all.

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Some pics of the “baby” Wharfedale. I say “baby” as it is a Demy Folio sheet size. I think I can get it back in working order but I know for sure I am missing a few small pieces, mainly to do with the paper return apparatus (which is not seen in the pictures.
The press came from Pinaroo, in the South Australian Mallee Distric. As you can see from the photo, a lot of straight, dry, hot roads!
The photo with yours truly is added to show just how small this little gem is.
And now for a plea:
Does anyone have ANY info on this model of Dawson press? As well as operating instructions and brochures I am especially wanting lots of clear detailed photos that will identify the missing parts for me and show me how these presses were set up. Absoultely any information would be greatfully received.
As an aside, the railway shed I retrieved this one from also had a near mint CE-KELLY press and a much larger “Wharfedale” style press (Royal paper I think) but I couldn’t make out the makers name. If anyone feels like a trip to Pinaroo I can provide contact details as both are destined for scrap soon.

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I want one!

That’s what I said when I first saw it !
It also came with original wooden feed boards and most of the sheet handling mechanism that sits above the cylinder. I have two wooden boxes of “unsorted bits” some of which I am finding a spot for on the press .

Best of luck towards getting it back together and operating. I resurrected a Miehle Pony once; it was great fun (and 300 hours of hard work) to bring an old press back to life.


thanks Paul,
Yes I am under no illusion of the task ahead.
Fortunately it is not only smaller than the standard sizes but a lot fewer moving parts.
I reckon I’ve got all the bits I need to print from it, even without the overhead sheet removing mechanism(although I have about 80% of that). I am planning to leave that off until its complete and just hand feed and hand remove the printed sheets, a bit like the Vandercook process.
The main cost will be in the hours, as you say, but also in a new set of ink rollers (there are quite a few of those!)

Please post photos of your process. It will be trilling for you to get it going. I have never been up close to a Wharfedale, but they look like a well built machine.


Ron the baby wharfedale looks fantastic please keep us in the loop with the progress

A couple of pictures of the initial stages of the restoration.
Pic 1 shows the frame re-assembled and the feed and delivery boards tried for fit. The main cylinder can be seen on the floor at the feed end. The two big rusty bars in front of the frame are the rails for the four large cogs that move the table. They will be next to go in.
Pic 2 is looking down into the business end where the drive shaft and large cogs will go. The cams on the inside of the frame drive the cylinder stop lever and a couple of push rods that lift the table to the correct feed height just as the grippers open. The cams on the outside drive the paper return cylinder and also are associated with the cylinder stop mechanism.
Pic 3 is looking at the drive shaft end. The cam here operates the ink fountain advance.
Since taking these photos I’ve also added the cleaned up levers that sit inside the frame and transfer motion from the inside cams.
I was a bit uncertain as to the high gloss on the paint but found when I removed some of the frame parts the original paint was just as glossy as the new paint. I have kept hidden surfaces, like the underside of the frame untouched to presserve some of the original paint. Likewise I have not replaced or re-made the wooden feed boards as I prefer the history on the originals. I will be giving them a light sanding and then a coating of shellac.
Things will slow down now as I get on to the more complex parts that need correct setting up.
Stay tuned.

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Looking great, it’s nice to see some of the interior mechanism, too.


Some more progress shots: One for Paul to show the business end of the press not normally seen under the platen and tables. The press has two large drive cogs driven off the main drive shaft. These then connect to a pair of smaller cogs which support and move the main table and ink table. Thes cogs are connected to a pair of truck bogeys made up of 8 solid trucks running on rails. Interestingly the table cogs do not support the table on the teeth of the cog but on solid flanges on the edge of the cog disc. As you can see I am not having much luck keeping the rust from coming back! Very frustrating, as is the unseasonally humid weather we’ve been having.
The second shot is from the feed end showing the extreme travel of the bogeys. Notice the yet to be cleaned and fitted cylinder.
The side view shows the main handle, delivery boards and the ink advancing bits. The handle on the wheel is a temporary measure while I make up an nice wooden one.
The top view shows it as it is at the moment. The small board over the ink fountain and the other larger feed board were made of old oregon boards to try and stay in keeping with the older original boards. The sheet of paper on the board is a Demy Folio, the largest size that will go throught the press.
Finally a couple of shots of the main table, the top before cleaninf and the underside after cleaning and painting. Notice the toothed rack and the smooth track that sits on the bogeys.
Stay tuned for the next episode.


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That’s a beautiful machine. I hope you can get us a snippet of video when you get it running.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

I second that. Simply gorgeous. I am impressed by the compactness of the overall machine. Can’t wait to see it printing. Hope you can post something.

Mike Day
Long Day Press
Sunnyvale CA

There’s more on Wharfedales, in Charles Thomas Jacobi’s PRINTING A Practical Treatise on the Art of Typography as applied more particularly to the Printing of Books, London, 6th ed. 1919, which I found at the Internet Archive as a pdf (printingpractica00jacorich.pdf). In ch. XXIX there are several photos of Wharfedale parts with a key.

Hi Ron,

The press is looking great. Thanks for the interior shots, having never seen a Wharfdale it is really interesting to see its innards. On the presses I have restored, I use a machinist’s surfacing block covered with a fine crocus cloth (a cloth backed sanding surface) and machinist’s cutting oil. It really gets through the surface rust quickly and the cutting oil keeps the little bits in suspension and away from your surface. The surface plate keeps one from digging into the flat surface in any one place, so it stays nice and flat. I’m really impressed that you have accomplished so much in such a short time. I didn’t realize it was a hand cranked press, that makes it even better!


Thanks all for your replies and helpful info.
I had seen the Jacoby books and have been using it, and some of similar vintage as references. There is one by Wilson(also at Internet Archive) that describes exactly this press and how it works. Unfortunately it is poorly illustrated and generally from one side only. Surprisingly though, I have been able to identify some parts out of my box of odds-and-sods that came with the press from even these old engravings. As there were several makers of Wharfedale’s, and each pinched ideas off the others I have also found images of other brands useful. The Bremner had an identical ‘no-impression’ lever and flyer mechanism.
I have taken a short video of the mechanism in action and will try and get it on youtube , or perhaps make up a blog with the whole story when it concludes.
The hand cranking is in addition to a belt drive system that can be hooked up. Unfortunately the press only came with the drive wheel and not the idler. I wasn’t planning on hooking it up as I am not going into large production runs. Having said that though, it is not very easy to run it single handed as the crank is at the opposite end of the press to the feed board. I had my 10 year old son crank it while I did the shooting and voice over.
On to the cylinder and the problems it will bring forth.

a few more photos, probably the last for a little while as I am about to start a University course and am noit anticipating too much spare time. Besides I have run out of parts so I need to get some fabricated before I can procede with the paper return set up.
The table and cylinder are now in place and relatively clean (some work still needed on the ink table). I was able to clean up and install the cylinder without taking it apart - a process I was dreading in case I lost any of the internal pawls and springs. Following “instruction” from this article: www.handandeye.co.uk/WharfedaleOpt.pdf I was able to have the table and cylinder match up their movements pretty well spot on. Just some minor tweeking to get the cylinder height and pressure right. I’m also fine tuning the cylinder brake so that it can be stopped slowly. I managed to get the “no impression” mechanism worked out and operating correctly. Very basic- unlike platen presses where the type and the platen are kept apert when the no impression lever is thrown, on these presses the lever simply stops the cylinder from gripping the next sheet off the feed board. When the lever is releease the next sheet is feed into the next cycle. This allows double inking of large formes, and on the bigger Wharfedales could be set up to do so automatically.
The photos are pretty self explanatory. As well as showing the general arrangement you can see in one them the full extent of the ink table travel. Another shows the two vibrator rollers and how they are set up at an angle to each other. There is a close up of the no impression lever (next to which can be seen one of the push rods that lifts the feed board up just prior to the grippers getting hold of the sheet.

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Simply gorgeous Ron, you are to be commended.

Wow, what a transformation - & you’ve done so much in such a short time! I’m in awe!

We have one letterpress of this make flat-bed (15” X 20 “), for last 11 laying at our factory. Machine now ready to sell. Offer please.

More information may help. Where are you? What is the condition of the machine? People like information if they are to offer prices. Also, there’s a for sale/trade section on the site. You may wish to attempt to make use of it.

I mean, I’ll give you $30.00 if you ship it to me F.O.B. C.O.D., but only if it’s a vandercook SP-15.

Suttra yes, details please, a colleague is interested for one in the UK…..

sorry, I mean Saurav, I am not awake yet!