C&P Pilot (old style) casting variations and paint colors

For the last few days I’ve been happily disassembling three C&P Pilots (old style) for refurbishing….. being careful to not mix up the parts or break any of the castings. Luckily, these came apart without much trauma. I love rebuilding old presses. There’s a certain satisfaction when you bring a hunk of rusty iron back to life.

Anyway, once I had them apart I noticed slight variations in the castings…… nothing radically different, but things like bosses shaped differently, movement stops on the rear with a little more metal, and arms with more or less rounded profiles. I thought for a moment that I might have a clone of some sort in the mix….. but no, they are all marked Chandler and Price, and the critical dimensions are the same.

This is the first time I’ve noticed variations in OS Pilot castings….. but then again, it’s the first time I’ve had three of ‘em apart in my shop at the same time. I’m wondering if any of my old buddies here can shed some light on the variations?

I’ve also noticed some color variations in the paint. One is black, and looks like it was always black. One is grey, but it’s an obvious re-paint job and pretty bad one. The third one is in ratty condition paint wise, but looks like it was originally a green-ish grey color. I’ve not seen that color C&P Pilot before.

I’m also wondering what color I should paint them. Since they are destined to be sold, I thought I’d query the community at large (that being you guys) what color they should be. If you had your druthers, what color press would sit on your tabletop?

Right now they are in oily, rusty piles on my workbenches, and aren’t very pretty…. so I’m not going to post any pictures just yet. In a few days though, they’ll be clean enough to be looked at….. so I’ll keep you posted.

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Perhaps you should paint them to match the gummy bear rollers.

Chandler and Price definitely modified their castings along the way. I’m not sure if this was done for financial reasons or simply because machining and production methods were improved over the decades. I have noticed at least three different castings of regular (old style) Pilots. I learned this several years ago when trying to replace bad parts from one press with parts from another press.

The earliest regular Pilots seem to have scalloped arms and a curved ‘PILOT’ wordmark on the rear yoke. In later models the arms lost the scalloping and the wordmark straightens out and gains heavy serifs. The most recent regular Pilots (like the oldest New Series Pilots) lost the ‘PILOT’ wordmark altogether. There are also variations in the cast nameplate on the platen rocker—arched on the older, straight on the newer. I have also noticed differences in the platen bolt setup—older models having simply bolts while later models added locking nuts to improve fine adjustment.

I’d love to see photos of your restorations as you go. Keep us posted.


Is there way of placing the latest “PILOT-less” old series version timewise?
From what I understand, C&P sold various models from 1897 to 1945 or so.

I don’t think it’d be very easy to work out a timeline for the changes because most of these early Pilot presses have no serial numbers.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Dan is right. There are no serial numbers on most regular Pilots. The New Series Pilots have serial numbers, but I don’t know of a list that gives a related production timeline.

Not only that, but I believe that Chandler and Price was pretty fluid in their casting changes. There may have been many periods of time that they were transitioning from one casting process to another and assembled presses based on the parts they had on hand. I believe this was also the case with the floor model presses—noticeable if you pay close attention to the rocker lock on very late OS 8x12s versus very early NS 8x12s.