whoa… a BRAND NEW press

The Excelsior Pilot 7x11


I was really interested until I learned that they cost $4,000. Ouch.

Log in to reply   21 replies so far

There was an eBay auction for the same thing about a month or so ago. I’m interested to see if they’ll actually be able to follow through on the production of the press. It’s my understanding that the machine in the photos is actually just a plastic model of what they are planning to cast in iron.

Still not sure why they didn’t design/include feed/delivery board brackets.


I saw the eBay auction as well, the press in the photos is plastic, they are taking preorders now I believe to get enough cash to begin casting the real deal.

Would be very nice if such a project got enough wind in their sales to work, especially if they could sell enough of them to start lowering the price…


Maybe it’s just me, but: I would be very, very, very, very, extremely leery of sending $4,000 to someone for a product still in the prototype phase, especially when you can get a tried-and-true press for less. (And you can if you try.)

Also, I’d personally be much more excited if someone had revived the Sigwalt/Golding design rather than the Pilot. But I still wouldn’t send four grand for one before it existed.


I asked a few questions, and it looks like he’s taking $1,500 deposits.

I still wouldn’t do it.

I’d say let them make a run of the press first and start out with some positive customer testimonials, rather than everyone being so leery and scathing…. I mean caution is one thing, but isn’t this something to be a little bit excited about?
The first production of a platen press (albeit hand action) in america in decades?

Knowing Louis’ restorations and his casting abilities and knowledge, this press will be very impressive. He has taken the best ideas from several presses and improved upon them! Can’t wait!!

Well it’s about time someone is finally making an attempt to produce a real press for the growing letterpress market. Kudos.


Yeah, this is a admirable project, he should start a kickstarter project, that way those of us that can’t afford an actual press can pitch in with what we can. A limited edition print from the first ever run printed with the press would be more than enough to get people to donate a few dollars to his effort… Kudos indeed.


$4,000.00 for press that may not even be in production?
Given the track record of this company from personal experience, I would be very leery of this….

Dicharry & others -

While the press in the photos is indeed not cast metal, it is assembled using the actual *resin patterns* that are used to cast the parts. This is a “prototype”, not a “model”, and assembling all of the parts this way is a necessary step in the manufacturing process.

Louis has been casting and machining replacement parts for Kelseys, Victors and Pilots for quite a few years now and his parts always meet or exceed original equipment.

So, don’t be discouraged by the “plastic model” concept. These *patterns* are a necessary step in production. they are fit together here both to make sure that all parts fit together perfectly, as well as to illustrate the final press.


The press in the photos does not include feed table supports because this new design does not require the left feed table bracket to mount the gripper arm actuator like the complex system used on the C&Ps & its clones.

As we restored old Pilots we often found these arms missing on old presses, and that disabled the gripper assembly. This is a common problem with the original Pilot design - but not with the Excelsior Pilot.

This press uses a new design that does not require the left feed table arm to activate the gripper motion. Adding feed table arms is now an easy option - but is not required considering the improved gripper actuator design.


The press is also larger than the classic Pilot - a true 7x11 - and is strengthened in those areas where original C&P & Craftsmen & APE Pilots failed. (Yes, you *can* break a Pilot. We know, because we’ve been called upon to fix the broken presses…)


And, yes. It is extremely expensive to manufacture a new press - which is why no large company has attempted doing this for many years. Only by doing short run custom casting and machining is it at all possible to pursue this project, so don’t expect mass-production. The market simply cannot support such volume, so we are *all* stuck with a higher initial purchase price.

But, considering what this press can do - how much cost and effort goes into manufacturing each press in America - and the simple fact that it will likely still be printing 100 years from now, I think a good case can be made for the simple fact that $4,000 is not out of the question for value received.

The true test, of course - and the meaningful testament - will come from the folks who actually buy and use this press. After seeing Louis’ excellent craftsmanship in the hundreds of presses he has restored in the past, I am confident that this press will satisfy its users.

Personally, I am anxious to get one for myself so that I can endorse the finished product. But until them, I am very confident that this press will make its own mark in the history of letterpress printing.

Alan Runfeldt
New Jersey


Understood. I look forward to seeing testimonials from users of these machines. There’s definitely a market but I think the price point has yet to be tested. I remember the eBay auction being set at $2,995 and now the asking price seems to have escalated to $4,000. I’ll be interested to see the price at which production and delivery of these presses is actually sustainable.

As far as feed table brackets go I would argue that the most useful part of the brackets is actually for the feed tables themselves as opposed to actuation of the grippers. I’ve known many people who run Pilots without grippers, but it’s very much a pain to run them without a feed or delivery table in place.

Keep us posted.


One can only commend someone for trying to build something new, in this case a new business; the product in fact is old having been invented years ago. But the talk of market, and price points, leaves out what I see as an important part of the trade. A part you have no hope of supplying; history.

The first press I learned to operate came from the shop of a well regarded poet. The first piece of my own work I produced on it became part of that history. As I pressed the treadle down I was pressing something many before had pressed in hopes of disseminating a piece of work. Romantic? Yeah, a bit, but for me it part of the trade. I unfortunately don’t know the history of the press I now work on but I at least know it has it. History of such equipment carries weight; just look at the current bid for Ted Kaczynski’s typewriter—it’s only fame the pounding of its keys used to write a now famous manifesto.

I fear that if a new product is made without any provenance it will only lead to a watering down of printers.

I guess in some way I also question why is it—besides the obvious profit—that we cannot just let what is out there be what is out there. Even with the frustration of rollers that aren’t even, trucks that don’t match, ink plates with cracks, press that just quit moving for reasons we can only guess about and that cause us, beers in hand, to shake our head, I think deep down we all do this because of the history.

If its anything like Alan’s first pressit should be great, Ben Franklin loved it. Dick G.

I fear that if a new product is made without any provenance it will only lead to a watering down of printers.

This is a little much, IMHO. New presses used to roll off the assembly line all the time. Did old-time pressmen refuse to touch them because Herr Gutenberg hadn’t inked them up himself!? The provenance is in the act, the history and tradition of letterpress printing. Whether you use a brand-spankin’ new press or something that’s been kicking around since 1890 makes no difference to me. You print, you’re part of history and a connecting line from Gutenberg on forward.

I wish Alan the best of luck in producing these new presses. I fear the market, mostly craft printers, will not be able to support it, certainly not while there’s sufficient supply of older machines at half the cost, even with their deficiencies.

This is the chicken or the egg, basically. Or something.

If all the owners of all those old presses always had the attitude of not wanting to use a press with no history, well, none of them ever would have gotten any history.

I for one would not mind having a brand new press and getting the whole history ball rolling from the start. A new quality press made today might last a hundred years if cared for. By that time, the presses that are already 50+ years old today probably won’t be doing so well.

It is without question that if the “old-times pressmen refused to touch” any press without a history no printing would have been done. But one most note that in the day of “old-time pressman” ,that I assume you are referring too, they also did not have a laser jet printer that would do the job in a matter of clicks. We have technology now that makes printing much easier (i.e. we have a choice as to what medium we use to print with), so for me it does not make sense to manufacture a technology that is antiquated—except in the case of making a profit and I can fault no one for that. I also don’t fault those who would like a new press; as Bobby Brown taught us, your entitled to your prerogative; but for me a new press would make the job of printing too darn easy (hence my statement of watering down; easy=bland)

The challenge of working with an old press, for me, is where all the fun is; if I was looking for easy I’d just print from my computer. Of course I buy into the idea that a “kiss” is how it should be done and anything done with a plate is cheating. I don’t fault anyone who digs on it that way: it’s just not my cup of tea.

So when you all get your new presses, if you have some old ones laying around I’d be happy to take them off your hands. I’ve had the privilege of working on presses 100+ years old—that with a little care will easily go another 100—whose history is they were used because it was all they had. It was in the effort required to print that made each word that much more valuable.

To me it seems like the issue of choice is where respect for newer printers should come in. The “old time pressmen” used those presses because they had no choice. We use them because we CHOOSE to willingly, over other methods. Or better yet, in conjunction with other methods.

I’d love to know how many of those old timers would still prefer a horse-drawn carriage over a motor vehicle. =P

Either way, to each his own! I look forward to these presses getting out there, and hopefully finding a way to get the price down.

I don’t think any of were active in the horse-drawn-carriage days. A little history goes a long way.

Hey young buck don’t insult ” the old time pressmen”.

Oh yeah, Bobby Brown taught us something? What, how to self-destruct?