I found a press in nearly perfect condition in a nice old lady’s basement. She’s moved to a nursing home and sold the house, so I need to move this press within the next 2 weeks.
My experience with letterpress is only with a Vandercook and a tabletop press. I’m not that experienced at all.
Nevertheless, I’m moving this press and will need to take it apart — into at least 3 pieces.
What basic toolset do I need to take it apart?
It’s in great shape, well cared for, and no rust.
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Best not to take them apart, but if you must, remove the ink disc and feed and delivery tables. It’s been years since i took one apart. You will need to remove the key from the main shaft on the right side of the press to get the small gear off, then you can get the shaft and flywheel out, then close the press (maybe before removing the flywheel) you tie the back of the press to the front then remove the roller arms and impression lever , after this is done use the rope and lower the back of the press to the floor and drive out the pin near the feet at the back of the press, this should be enough to get the press out, take pictures it might help when reassembling. remember cast iron is brittle and will break fairly easy if you hammer it or bang it around, good luck. Dick G. ps, what do you mean by “old lady”, maybe thats why no one responded, most letterpress printers might take offense to that.
Check out this! http://www.excelsiorpress.org/photos/2002.0109-Crombie/index.html
I just removed an 8x12 new style. Took it further apart than this. Had to get it up narrow steps and through a barber shop.
For tools I suggest a large adjustable wrench, mallet, long lever (johnson bar or at least a crow bar) , large flat bladed screwdriver, a number of pieces of scrap wood (2x4 and 4x4 in short lengths) if the press isn’t on skids bring 2 36” 2x4 or 4x4 to place under the feet. If stairs are involved a hefty come-along can help a lot. A floor jack is handy for lifting the sides to put on skids. Skids are attached with lag bolts…drilling a pilot hole is highly recommended, so a portable electric drill, with a variety of bits, should also be in the tool kit. Extension cord. Three 3’ sections of 1” or greater cast iron pipe to act as rollers.
The final tool should be a credit card in case you need to run to the hardware store to buy something unanticipated.
For moving it, get a small trailer with a ramp and a bunch of tie-down straps.
“A nice old lady’s basement. She’s moved to a nursing home..” I suspect she is elderly :) Probably not the “My ol’ lady did nothing but b**** from dusk till dawn” usage!
I don’t know about the NS C&P but currently I am renovating a 10x15 OS and that right hand pin is likely the same. If you have the clearance on the inside between the frame and backside of the gear you might be able to push the gear back to pull the pin. However, what is more likely and seems to have been everyone’s experience (on this site so far) is that you will need a 20ton gear puller. They aren’t cheap and if you have a large equipment repair shop (tractor trailers, farm equipment, construction vehicles) they might have one you can borrow. Also any local welding shop/fabricators can build you one, they aren’t a complicated piece of equipment at all.
I have most of my OS torn down excluding the main shaft with large gear, drive plate (left side) and the back half is not removed yet.
i have passed on several presses because they were in a basement. besides just breaking it down, hauling it up the stairs is an ordeal. a friend of mine dug a press out of someone’s basement but had to reinforce the wooden staircase first. make sure you think about that as well.
depending on where you are, i have a c&p 8x12 NS for sale that is in great shape and on ground level. just need to remove the flywheel to fit through the door, but otherwise good to go. :)
Wow, thanks so much for the help.
And sorry if the language was misleading or derogatory. I should have said that she’s an elderly woman. Her husband was a commercial pressman who ran a private press from his basement — business cards, weddings, and he even printed a job on toilet paper (honest!). He passed away a few years ago.
While I’ve been inspecting the press, he sits in an urn overlooking. With a smaller urn of their cat beside him.
All of this is true and I intend no disrespect. It’s been great to meet the woman and she sensed that I would use the press with care — and then she had a fall and everything is suddenly rushed.
Perhaps I made a mistake to take on this basement press but I’m committed now.
The 20 ton gear puller scares me.
Thank you for the tool list, photos and advice. I’ll document this as well, as I imagine someone else in the future will be faced with the same situation.
PS I’m in Calgary Alberta.
I did it!
I took the press apart, essentially into 3 pieces. As you all know, the most difficult thing was removing the key from the gears. I had about 5 hours of despair, thinking I would never get the flywheel off, as the key was impossible to move.
However, with few blocks of endgrain hardwood and a sledge hammer, I eventually knocked the small gear inward and was able to take it apart.
The only little flaw was a friend decided to pound on the shaft with the sledge, which causes some mushrooming. This was completely unnecessary, but I sanded it back into good enough shape.
I hired 3 movers with a liftgate truck. Unfortunately, not riggers. But with me helping we managed to push the press up the stairs and have a successful move.
It cost $600 canadian, which hurts a little, but I’m ready to celebrate.
AND, the elderly woman is very happy that her husband’s press is still in good shape and going to see continued use.
Thanks all for your help.
Congratulations on successfully extricating your new press. Putting it back together is almost as much fun as taking it apart.
Hope no one was standing beneath the press as it went up the stairs. Much safer to pull it up from above. That way if control is lost, no-one is hurt.