Vandercook SP15 Lock- Up w/Boxcar Base

BEFORE I BEGIN - I DID NOT RUN THE PRESS LIKE THIS - this is just an example of how the lock up would have to look if I get the base that I am wanting…

I have a Vandercook SP15 and am wanting to get a bigger boxcar base for it - right now I have a 9 x 12.

I was hoping to get a 12 x 16 base.

In the photo I have moved my smaller base up to where the larger 12 x 16 base WOULD sit if I had it.

The problem is that where that is the lock up bar doesnt work because of the long back part would hit the two pegs that are on the press as you can see in the photo.

BUT I was told I should never lock anything up behind the back line that I have also circled to show where the lock up would go.

So does this mean that the base I want is too big or is there another way to lock up the base - does anyone know if there is a Vandercook lock-up bar without that long part on the one side?

I am correct in thinking that this lock up situation is not good for the press because the bar & furniture are WAY too far down on the press bed.

image: 002b.jpg


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In this case, you should really just use a straight bar which sits in front of the pins you mentioned, and lock the base in place with quoins. The lockup bar uses the wider side to make certain it is sitting straight across the bed. A steel bar about 1.5” wide and the length of the bed and about 5/8” high would work well and will not cost $50.00 at most.

Taking another look at your photo, is that the back lockup bar sittign next to the base? If so, that is really designed to abut the pins and a quoin and furniture between it and the form (in thios case, your base).

The only problem I can see is if the grippers and headstops actually come all the way around and might strike the base, which is much higher than furniture or lockup bars. I suspect they do not go quite that far, but you can tell by bringing the cylinder around and looking, maybe with the rollers removed.
A better way to lock up is to just use the long bar against the two pins, with a quoin. That is what was intended. The pins are removable if the Handy Lockup Bar is used in that area.

The pins in the bed pull out, so you could use the lock-up bar closer to your plate. The problem with Vandercook lock-up bars, is that they don’t hold very well, and the force of the impression from the cylinder (especially with a large form) will force the entire works toward the back of the press. Years ago I started using large chases that I could attach firmly to the bed with quoins along the side, between the bed and the chase. This really speeds up make ready (especially if you are using wood type or large, worn, metal type). It usually means that you have to move the chase over the deadline that is close to the cylinder by reducing the spacing. The spacing bar closest to the cylinder lifts out, and as long as you calculate for the three picas you need for gripping the sheet. I can elaborate more if you are interested.


Thank you SO much - yes, the pin came right out.

parallel - do you think I need to get a large quoin? I only have the small quoins that I used to use in my smaller golding pearl - they are only like 3” wide.

Paul - I will keep an eye out with the lock up bar moving. So far I have not had any trouble but it could be because my base and printing plates have been pretty small so far so it didn’t make enough pressure to shift. I would like to avoid using a chase if I can.

Thank you - you guys are the best!

I use Boxcar 13x19 bases on my SP-15s all the time. The last inch is past the dead line, but it won’t interfere with anything. Just don’t expect to print on that last inch— it exceeds the dimension of the cylinder face.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

You can greatly increase the holding power of the lockup bar by placing strips of a heavy uncoated paper (BFK, Pescia, etc.) between it and the bed bearers.

Dan - thanks so much for your input - that is good to know that you are actually using that base. I was planning to have the 13 x 19 cut down to 12 x 16 but that was the base I had to purchase - SO glad to hear it is working!

Paul - thanks for the tip on the paper - I will give that a try!

Paul M is right, metal against metal is never the best situation in a lockup. It is adequate for the intent of the adjustable lock up bar, which is quick changes while proofing. But a lot of these bars have worn mechanisms and you often see them with leads or even slugs added to fill in the gap. In that situation it is good to take the end off the bar, remove the spring and rods inside (clean and oil sparingly while you are at it) and add a washer or two of suitable diameter and of thickness equal to the gap.
As for the quoin, three inch is fine, use a second if it is needed, and additional furniture and a quoin or two to the side is recommended for a secure and solid lockup. Without lockup in both directions the base can shift position.

parallel - thanks for the info. I will give the quoins a try. I am really getting excited about having a larger base. Now I just need to save up a little more cash!

That 13 x 19 base is EXPENSIVE!