tabletop press inking over the base

When I ink my plate on a 5x10 Kelsey Excelsior it inks the base as well. When I inked the plate on a 6x10 C&P it also inked the base. I used two different bases. One was a Boxcar base with a boxcar plate (Kelsey) and the other was a magnetic base with a metal plate (C&P). The last one I tried was the Kelsey so I’ll stick to that. I taped the rails and also added about 600 #s worth of paper to them. This had the effect of getting the bottom type on this little 3” business card to look good but the top was still fat and the plate material around the type was getting inked. Am I to keep adding tape and paper to the rails to adjust the rollers even though my gut tells me something is not right and this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be? I am NOT used to these machines. I am quite proficient at the Vandercook Universal, though. Seeing as nothing is adjustable on these tabletops, I don’t know what else to do? What am I missing? It must be me because I have the same problem on 2 different machines using different rollers, different plates, and different bases. Any ideas?

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Are your roller trucks the exact same diameter as the rollers, or very slightly (less than 1/16 inch overall) smaller? If they’re much undersize that’s a major part of your problem. At 1/16 inch undersize they’re pressing down around the copy 1/32 inch, which should not cause the background to ink unless your plates are VERY shallow etched. If the trucks are very much under and you build up the rails to compensate you’ll get slurring of the ink on the copy which will put ink on the shoulders as well. If you’re hitting the impression for “the deep look” that just adds to the problem. For that the rollers have to just kiss the copy.

Also, be sure your plate plus block are exactly type high — if they’re over the other suggestions won’t help much!


The roller trucks are smaller. How do I fix this? The last person that had this press is a friend of mine who moved away recently to New Orleans. I’m trying to get in touch with him to consult. He doesn’t seem to ever had a problem as I’ve seen his quite nice prints. Surprising for a machine like this, actually. I know that the rollers are old. They are that red soft kind I believe is made of some kind of soy or something.

The rollers are probably composition, hide glue and glycerine mixed, melted, and cast. If you’re in a humid climate they’ve probably swelled up with humidity; if he used the press in winter when it’s drier that would explain it. Do check both the height of your plate above the bed (compare with a good piece of metal type if you don’t have a type-high gauge) and the height above the bed of the roller rails. If both are type high or very close then taping the roller trucks should fix the problem. I’d suggest black vinyl electrical tape — it’s easy to apply and remove if necessary. Put on enough tape to get the roller trucks the same diameter as the rollers. Be sure you start and end at the same place on each of the trucks so there isn’t a gap or a bump where the tape doesn’t meet the starting point or overlaps it. It may require a lot of tape, but one thing you’ll notice afterwards is how much quieter the press is!