Kelsey 5x8 Roller issues

Hello again. This may be more of a trouble-shooting question, but since I am a beginner at this, I thought I would post here instead. I just got a used Kelsey 5x8 that seems in pretty good shape. It has all of the parts to function and came with lots of type that is really small…

Anyway, it also came with new rollers, not installed. After cleaning the removing the rust/corrosion from the spring-arms, I installed the rollers, but they seem to be binding up. It looks as if the arms are being pushed out by the trucks and therefor not allowing them to slide freely up and down while the press is in use.

Is this a common problem? Is there some way to break them in? Or did the person I bought this from get the wrong size roller cores? Upon inspection, it looks like the roller cores are refurbished, so wouldn’t they work? Unless these aren’t the ones that came with the press originally…

So, after realizing my rollers weren’t going to work I did a few test prints by hand rolling with a brayer, just to see what my fonts were and what it will take to print evenly. It looks like I will need to spend some time adjusting it.

Where can you get the spring clips (registration clips)?

Attached are some photos of the press and test.

thank you


image: the new rollers - I tried the old trucks, but still the same problem...

the new rollers - I tried the old trucks, but still the same problem...

image: I will get better, I swear...

I will get better, I swear...

image: not clean enough?

not clean enough?

Log in to reply   10 replies so far

Mike, can’t tell much from the photo. More photos might help. the registration clips (most call them gauge pins) can be bought from Na Graphics or Excelsior Press or Letterpress things. Where are you located? As far as the rollers binding, you can adjust the nuts on the end of the roller arms to weaken the tension of the springs, if you try to operate the press without a chase and you don’t have the bed back far enough the rollers will bind just before going to the ink disc. You can also make a gauge pin from cardboard to get you by. Those rollers look like composition rollers, mice will eat them, they are not liking humidity and cold. for a first print you did good, it gets better from here, as for swearing there will come a time for that i’m sure. Good Luck Dick G.

Have you oiled the press?

Thanks for the comments!

I steel-wooled and oiled the parts of the press that move, using a basic light bicycle-biuld grease, and made sure the arms moved freely and sprang back before putting the rollers in. I may have to take another picture of it with the rollers installed to show how the arms are pushed against the trucks, and to also show how they are contacting the rails (they seem to be riding on the inside of the trucks instead of somewhere in the middle). I may need to measure the distance between the trucks when installed and compare it to someone else’s measurement of the same..?

I’m in eastern Long Island, so humidity, cold, heat and mice are all a problem for those rollers, so I will see how they handle the winter.

Dick G., you mention making a gauge pin from cardboard, is that to determine the depth or pressure?

Thanks for the help!

When you mention that the “arms are being pushed out by the trucks and therefor not allowing them to slide freely”, it sounds to me like the trucks might be a tad too wide, and are binding on the hooks which support the cores. If you have other roller trucks, are they all the same width (horizontal measurement) so they take up as much shaft as the others?

If the trucks are too wide, they could be cut down in width so they don’t bind against the hooks.

If we could see a photo with the rollers in place on the press, it would help the troubleshooting on this score.

Another thought. The roller cores appear to have an “upset” or pinched metal area which limits the distance the truck will fit in toward the roller itself. It is possible that those upsets are not positioned properly to allow the truck to align properly with the rails.

This can be fixed by filing off the upset, allowing the truck to move in all the way, or by creating a slot in the truck to allow the upset to mesh with the truck. This second method also insures that the roller will be locked to the truck and will turn as the trucks turn on the rails.

The gauge pins go on the top sheet to hold your paper while printing. In the cold weather you might want to keep your rollers and ink in a place that is heated. Go to Exceleior Press website, he has posted lots of helpful info and videos, good luck Dick G.

Dick G., Thanks for the hint, I will try to rig something up in the meantime for gauge pins. I actually have registration pins for my screen printing, but they are more designed for things to rest on them on a flat surface, not sure how they will work with somehting hanging off of them, but it’s worth a try. I normally keep all my screen inks in a heated cabinet, looks like I will need more room :).

Jhenry, I think you hit it on the head - that’s exactly what is happening. As for filing off part of the roller core, I think the wider sleeve (that stops the truck) would have to be lathed down to allow the truck to travel farther in on the core. How would you go about cutting the trucks down without destroying them?

I will post another pic later. Thanks for the help guys!



You could file off just the outer side of each of the ears on the core, which would allow the trucks to advance a bit more, if you are close to fitting.

You could drill out the center hole of the truck to a larger diameter, but only 1/8” deep or so, just to allow the truck to slide that much further onto the roller shaft (overlapping the upset in the shaft). That might allow you to do a better job of centering the trucks on the rails by positioning the trucks on the core. Many trucks are made with a slot which locks on to that upset in the roller shafts, and that could be milled into your trucks, solving two problems at once.

If the upset appears to be in the proper place, and the trucks are just too wide, they can be locked in a chuck on a lathe and cut down to the proper width. They also could be chucked and cut down on a milling machine if that was all that was available. It should not be a costly operation.

If it does cost more than a new set of rollers, however, you may be better off buying new rollers and specifying that they fit with your trucks.

If the trucks don’t have a slot for the “ears” on the cores, they won’t slide far enough onto the core to clear the hooks. You could take a roller and the trucks to a machine shop and have them machine a partial slot (you probably only need it to be 1/4 inch or less deep) inside the trucks for the “ears”. Or you could do it yourself with a narrow file. That way the trucks will drive the rollers and give better inking.


Dick G: Thanks for the update about keeping ink & rollers in a warm place. I set up for the first time in June in a small (as of now unheated) chicken coop and have been working merrily away. Just assumed I could keep stuff in there as the weather cools. Are rollers best kept upright?