re-setting a Columbian

I’m enrolled in a relief printingclass at University and am fortunate that the school has both a large Albion and Columbian. The problem is that they have not been serviced on re-set in decades and there is no one who is willing to do it. I am quite happy to help the tech officer but was wondering if anyone can provide me with a few do’s and don’ts.
One particular problem I can see immediately is that the left upright casting is cracked and has been repaired with a heavy plate front and back. Every time the lever is pulled across this side lifts about 1/4 of an inch.
Another glaring problem is that the platen swings slight to the side-about 1nch when the table is rolled under it.
I know these are maor structural problems but given the rearity of these presses in Australia its well worth doing the necessary work.
Is there a Columbian Users group anywhere/
Many thanks .

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A close-up photo of the upright repair on the Columbian would help diagnosis. If the repair’s done right there should be no movement — you may want to re-do it. The platen movement also indicates something out of kilter, since the bed should not touch it when rolled in under it. It could be that there is other structural damage to the frame or bed rails.

Setting up otherwise should involve little more than cleaning, lubricating, and maybe replacing the tympan and frisket coverings and adjusting the impression. You will need some kind of type-high corner blocks to achieve even impression.

Good luck with it!


I specialise in hand presses particularly the Albion and Columbian. The fact that even plated the frame is moving this much is potentially very dangerous as the movement will place pressure on the press in other areas where it is not designed to be. The platen should sit tight against the piston (there should be metal packing between the two) and should slide up and down the side guides with no side to side movement. This press needs an urgent repair. Please send pics and I will gladly offer further advice as to how.
All the best,
Antique Machinery Removal
Wet, grey and rainy Kendal
Northern England.

Thanks both for your replies. I will be at the school later this week and will take some pics to post here.

A late follow up on this. I have added some photos of the press to show the main problems.
Any suggestions on how to get this press back into a reasonable order would be much appreciated. We anticipate doing some adjustments in the last week of this month.
many thanks.

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Seen the pics. The plates appear to be a historical repair, but if there is movement when you take an impression, further plating and or welding could be needed.
The platen problem is simple - in short there should be no movement the packing and piston should be together with no gap in between. You need to insert a further packing piece or tighten up what you have. You need to make sure the platen is level, make sure you tighten the bolts (opposites) a little a a time and measure the gap between platen and bed with a micrometer or at least a tape measure or ruler. This will ensure you have the gap between platen and bed equal right round. I expect someone loosened the platen to make this easier to print with. Naughty them!
Let me know if you need more.

Thanks Jeremy,
I have organised to start on the re-setting in about 2-3 weeks. I’ll let the tech officer know your suggestions. I’ve suggested we get some corner props that are type high and do all adjustments with the platen resting on these.

the movement in the main upright might be solvesd if we replaced all the repair bolts with the next size up or we add some strong spring washers .
I’ll let you know how it goes.