Making friends with a Windmill

I’m considering bringing my letterpress shop into the second half of the 20th century by moving in a 1950’s Heidelberg Windmill. I’m going to see a 10x15 in someone’s garage—apparently it has not been used recently, and the person who owns it now is not a printer. I have no experience with a Windmill (OK with Washington, C&P, Vandercook, but not this new-fangled technology). Assuming it runs when it’s turned on, what other basic items should I look at before I make an offer? I’m sure experienced operators would have dozens of things to check. What’s the likelihood I’d end up with a major repair job, through not knowing enough?

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Hi jksyer,
Yes you are correct there are innumerable things to check.

I ran windmills for 50+years in a commercial print shop, so I think I know a bit about them, although some 17 years have gone by since I retired, and the old memory may not be as good as it was.

Firstly I would download the Manual and the parts list from the boxcarpress website from which you should be able to glean some knowledge, and be able to check for missing parts.

Check that you have a complete set of rollers, two brass lay gauges, two nickel lay gauges, and that the registration mechanism to which these gauges fit works smoothly.

You need to be certain that you have the sheet steadiers to control the stock in the feed pile,

It’s the small things that are most likely to be missing; but which can make all the difference in being able to print.

As regards running the machine; make sure you turn it over by hand first to check for any tightness, then run it slowly and give it several shots with the lever for the central lubrication until you can see oil coming out of the bearings.

I could go on and on, but I think this is enough for now, if you do have any particular queries post on this site and I’ll do my best to help.

It does seem a bit awkward to look at it, if neither you or the seller really has a sense of what this thing is all about. True, there are countless things to look for on a windmill, and yes, replacing parts is pricey, plus you may run the thing for a while, and be having a hell of a time with some issue, not even knowing what the issue is. I would highly reccomend finding somebody in your neck of the woods that is comfortable around a windmill. Even your local commercial shop may be running diecutting and scoring and may have some staff members around that know their windmills, and could spare an hour of their afternoon.
Or, if the price is amazingly low, you could take a chance, and learn as you go. Can you get photos while you are there, and post them here?
Good luck :)

Thanks for the good advice so far. “Learning as you go” worked for my Monotype casters, so maybe it will for this, too.