Numbering Machine on proof press?

Does this work? It seems like there may be issues since two form rollers would hit the machine before the cylinder prints the number. Unless I wanted to count by threes……
Anybody do this?

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They’re being used on flatbed letterpress machines, so I don’t see why not…

Don’t numbering machines work off of a plunger activated by impression? Rollers would have nothing to do with this.

The only time I’ve used one on a Vandercook—the worst weekend emergency job I ever took on (10,000 copies of 5-part invoices), I used an extension plunger that was activated by the gripper bar. The first half hour of figuring how to run the job was the only interesting part of it.


They number on meihle verticles all the time.

so the same numbering machine used on platens can be used on a Vandercook? This is good to know if so.

There are many different numbering machines, some have lower plungers, some have drop wheels some have solid wheels. There is one way that numbering machines don’t work on cylinders, i think if the cylinder hits the No. first it will half change the wheels when the impression is made.

Platen presses always have at least 2 form rollers, sometimes 3 or 4, no different than on a cylinder. The plunger is actuated by impression not inking.

i believe the number changes when pressure is released,,ie,, after impression… the roller should be soft enough as to not actuate the counter.

when using a numbering machine on a proof press it is best to orient the machine so as the axis of the machine is parallel to the axis of the impression cylinder, this will help prevent dammage to the machine trying to advance while under impression.

I’ve used numbering machines on my Vandercook when printing posters. The client loved it because it gave the appearance of being a collectable poster.


The only numbering machine orientation that will NOT work on a cylinder press is to have the plunger toward the gripper. If the machine is set this way, the numbers will try to turn during impression and will tear up the tympan and the machine.

All other positions will work. Machines with remote plungers can be set in all orientations, so long as the driving plunger is not on the gripper side of the machine.

Can someone explain this to me:
How is proper inking performed since the “No.” part of the machine is much above type high when not under pressure from the cylinder.

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one secret to numbering is softer rollers, if your rollers are too hard the no. will hold the rollers off the rest of the machine so the first couple of numbers won’t get inked. if there is any type near the no. it won’t get inked either. they make a low plunger numbering machine that helps. sometimes the ink rollers can roll the wheels of your numbering machine, they make a lock wheel machine to prevent this, there is more to numbering than one would think.

Run with softer rollers or some help can be had from running the box 90deg to the roller . on a cylinder machine roll over the figures first then the plunger the box face rotates with plunger releasing, a must to remember . also dont lock a plunger box or any other by the ends of their shafts only to the head and tail faces .

We keep all our old rollers for numbering ,it will become apparent to you in the future why this is done , a brand new box and inking rollers dont get on so well 70,000 digits down the road .

Another common practice on platens, with relatively cheap rollers compared to Vandercooks, was to have a groove cut out of one roller in line with the plunger (oriented parallel to the roller). That would allow that roller to contact the number wheels without any bear-off from the plunger or more damage to the roller. This has also been done with more expensive cylinder press rollers by having adjustable segments on a core.

One of my windmills came with ink rollers which had been grooved for running a numbering machine. Until I saw that, I myself, wondered how the numerals next to the plunger would get inked or how you’d keep the plunger from making an impression.

If you ran with new rollers you will have a groove after six months of rolling over the no plunger anyway , I worked in home office plants where a machine spent it whole life locked up the same way year in year out ! Numbering delivery notes non stop

I’d like to use the machine for numbering smaller editions of prints between 100-200. I have rollers that are nearly brand new. Before buying a numbering machine I’m wondering:
1. Will I achieve decent inking without altering my rollers
2. will the machine damage my rollers for these shorter runs

there are center drive numbering machines that have a long shaft with a plunger at one end and the machine on the other end, the plunger and machine can be positioned wherever you want.

These are the tool to use if you can find them ,we do it the tough way but then we to have the spare rollers ! I dont know what makes of numbering boxes you guys have over there I use ,Leibinger ,ENM, count bi matic ,Spacesaver, and half a dozen others of less reputable quality too .
You can get as mentioned earlier low plunger machines more suited to the ink rolling over the top with harder rollers .
It is do able but you must get your rollers right and the overall impression can only be contact printing or you risk bending the shaft through the box . Then also if you over press these into your stock you will get parts of the box will leave dents in the job or worse print odd bits on the job depending how hard on the box you have the inkers !
It is a task for the initiated but if you have time to experiment and do things gradually you can do it .
I will look with interest at the cost of the boxes over there .

center drive machines are very expensive, Peter is more than right, they are almost impossible to find used, new they are between 4 and $500 dollars for a machine, shaft and plunger. on this side of the pond we have roberts, american blue boy, leibinger, count bi-matic, and wetter, all are good machines.

I have used the systen and i think we had to drive from both ends of the shaft when we ran more than four boxes in a line torque in the drive shaft used to prevent the furthest boxes from the drive plunger from fully rotating ! My experience of these is limited to many moons ago !!
My mate thinks we may have some wheels somewhere ,i have seen some shafts and collars in the junk but dont recall seeing any bodies or plungers for them . If you have to be robbed just to experiment I will sort you out a box that doesnt fit with what we have or at least is of less use to us .