Restoring C&M Columbian No.1

i just found an old 5x7 1/2 Curtis & Mitchell Colombian No. 1 at a local antique book store and picked it up for about $50 which despite its many shortcomings, i’m telling myself is a good deal.

mechanically, everything looks pretty good, no serious rust, but other than the obvious rollers trucks, im also missing the chase and actuator lever.

after reading most restoration posts imploring not to take the press apart - i naturally took it apart as soon as i could. She’s expecting a hefty clean up and paint job but my questions are these:

i haven’t been able to find anything regarding the Curtis & Mitchell presses (save for a couple obscure book references) so finding a Chase has been impossible. I know there are machinists available, but i was curious if anyone knows if chases from comparable models like the C&P Pilot will fit - or better yet, if anyone has made one themselves?

also, regarding rollers - how can i find the required diameter for such a press? again - would something from a Pilot work?

lastly, doubt im going to be finding an original actuator, think theres too much torque to make a wooden lever? i know i could always weld up somethin ugly, but i think the look of a hardwood lever would be kinda nice.

and to hit the topic in advance, yes i intend to use this, but i intend for it to look good too.



image: press.jpg


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I doubt if you’d be able to get a good enough grip on the shaft to make a wooden handle work — there can be a good deal of resistance on impression. Your best bet is probably to have one welded up from stock materials.

Pilot parts won’t work because the press size is different. What did you measure to arrive at 5x7-1/2?

Roller and truck diameter have to match, and they can be as large as a bit less than the center-to-center distance between roller hooks. Width of roller cover is about the diameter of the ink disc and length of roller cores is a bit more than the outside-to-outside measurement of the roller hooks across the press. I’d go with a standard diameter like 1 inch to make fabricating trucks easier.


i’ll probably end up welding a handle - although im going to go take a look at some wooden handles today to get some ideas, there is a groove where a set screw could lock in to get the handle some leverage…

5x7-1/2 was just the measurement on the flyer for it (albeit an ad printed in 1866 i believe) The inside measurement of the form area is actually closer to 6x9 - so im thinking of just welding up a chase as form fitting as possible to get the most printing area out of it - looks pretty simple, just a couple angled bits to fit in the grooves - is there anything else i need to consider? What would be the desired thickness of the chase?

and good info on the rollers, thanks - those should be the easiest part.

I’m curious how this turned out and if you were able to find rollers for it. We picked the same model up at an auction last fall in pristine condition but the rollers are in OK shape at best. Info on this brand is hard to come by and none of the roller suppliers don’t list C&M in their list of rollers they sell.

We have cores and trucks but to be honest I’m weary about sending them out to be redone. I don’t recall ever seeing another set for this press for sale and don’t know how easily they can be acquired if something were to happen to them. I’d rather just buy a new set.

The cores are easy — steel rod (I’m partial to drill rod) the diameter to fit the trucks. Measure the trucks’ outside diameter carefully (make sure they’re all the same) and send that measurement with the new cores to Ramco or your choice of roller maker and specify that the rollers must be that exact diameter. It’s the trucks you will have trouble replacing, though they’re pretty easy to machine out of Delrin or similar plastics.