C&P Pilot press printing problems

Hi, I have C&P Pilot (6.5x10) tabletop press. I am trying to print but I have few problems and wondering if somebody can help me.

I got a Boxcar press deep relief base (5x8.5) and ordered the plate(KF-152) at Boxcar as well. So I think my tools are fine.

My problems are,
1. The small details (such as eyes, thin lines or type) are disappear and doesn’t show the details. It looks too much ink.
The base has ink all over (not only the plate itself) might related to that. Maybe the shoulder on the plate has ink cause the problem?

2. It print, but doesn’t have any impression.
I used Lettra Cotton paper (110 lb). Tried to damped the paper as well. If I put more paper on the table, the graphic details gets worse. I put paper under the base to try as well, but it was same and doesn’t have a good impression.
(Not too much, but I want to get nice impression.)

I checked the other people’s samples. The sample she use her C&P table top same as me has a good impression, so I guess I can make impression from my machine if I use correctly.

Some Briar’s press info says Boxcar deep relief base isn’t good. It is better to get standard for small details….
I already purchased the deep relief, so I hope I don’t have to purchase another one… (but if it is better to print easier, I will get the standard one later.)

I understand it will take time to get used to it and will take time to understand the process. I spent a day yesterday didn’t find a good solutions, so I thought good way to try again is to ask somebody’s opinion and follow the direction.

Thank you so much for all your help!

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The first thing is to adjust the rollers so they just ink the surface of the plate, and not the base. You can put tape on the rails that the roller trucks ride on, or wrap the trucks themselves until the rollers just ink the surface properly.

With inking controlled, you can rplace and or adjust the packing to get the proper impression in the paper you are using.

For best results the rollers and trucks (you do have trucks on the rollers, right?) must be the same diameter. If they are, check the rails to see if they are type high, and if not then tape them to bring them up, but start with the rollers. If the rollers and trucks are significantly different diameters you will get slurring of the ink.

As John says, once you get the inking right you can work on impression. Best to adjust all impression on the platen — when you add behind the base you change the roller pressure.

You could also check your base plus plate height to be sure it is .918 or very close — if it’s more you may have a regular base and deep-relief plate which would be over type high. But that would not cause inking of the base if the rollers are correctly adjusted.


Be sure that your packing is not too wide where it would bear off the impression by striking the roller tracks. Cut your tympan, pressboard and whatever else you’re using for packing narrower than the distance between the roller tracks. When troubleshooting, it’s best to do one thing at a time. Be patient and good luck.

Running the same setup as you, I need about 12-13 pieces of masking tape on my rails to get the best inking on my kf152 plates using the deep relief base. I was surprised by this. But wear might be very different on your machine. Definitely use one of those lollipop roller gauges.

Thank you very much for all !!!

I checked the rails and they are lower than the type high.
So I put the electric tape. 4 layers of the tape on each side now.
I also checked the ink. It seems like I had too much ink. I was trying to use Vanson silver ink in the beginning on Lettra cotton paper. (Somehow, the color looked grey more than silver…) Today, I used red color and tried few things.

When I set up the base, I noticed the base and furniture are always lower than the chase. I unlocked the quoins and checked the chase if it is the flat shape. I tried on the stainless steel table and industrial flat table top to see.
The chase wiggle a little bit like a wiggle chair when I push onside down, the other side is up a little bit.

For inking, I add ink little by little and I think my inking is getting better.
Today, I tried to print red.
I also tried to use smaller graphic (2x5). More horizontal shape than square.

I put cover stock paper (smaller than the bed and don’t go to the roller tracks.) I cut paper folder and put two more regular plain copy paper under the cover stock paper.
Under the tympan paper is the cover stock, then regular paper.

It print much better than yesterday.
But I have more impression on the left side than right side.
I cut half size of the paper and add two half sheets on the right. Still the left side is stronger than right.

I am going to attach the picture for
my set up, the chase (the base and the furnitures are lower than the chase), and print result.

For this practice,
I used Lettra cotton paper for practice
Color is red mixed ink (used for vandercook last time)
My base is deep relief Boxcar base
Plate is KF152 which I order at the Boxcar press

Thank you so much for your help!

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Here is few more pictures for my chase.

It looks like it wiggle because of the right top corner.
It looks like somebody smashed or something.
Inside looks has little break mark.
Right top front doesn’t look straight and the shape is different than other 3 corners.

Is it related to my printing and impression?

Thank you for your help!

image: chase_top right front.JPG

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The large solid of the rose will not print as deep as the stem on the left, just because of the large difference in surface area between the two. To get the same depth of impression you will either need to adjust your platen until you’re satisfied or keep adding packing/makeready under the rose on the platen (under your tympan) until you’re satisfied. Use thin paper for packing/makeready and shingle the edges so they are in different places to avoid an abrupt drop-off from the pile of makeready to the rest of the form. There is no way to achieve the effect you want without this sort of careful makeready.

Also, it looks like your chase has been repaired, probably brazed in one corner and maybe welded in the other. You can file or grind off the excess in the high corner so the chase lies flat, but be careful not to grind away all the weld or braze. The advantage of brazing is it fills the crack, whereas welding only joins the metal on the surface.


My chases wiggle a little bit as well, corner to corner, and I don’t know how much that contributes to various difficulties I have.

A good way to try to troubleshoot things is to turn the art around. Flip the chase, the base and/or the plate (but not at the same time) and see if the left side is still heavier than the right.

If you flip the plate around and find the stem is still heavier, it may just be because of how much more art is where the flower is, so the pressure is more spread out. You might have to go further with makeready?

Thank you so much for the all suggestion!
I tried to adjust my printing today following all of your direction.

My chase was not straight, so I flipped the chase. Now the damaged corner is on the left bottom. The base is on the right corner top. Also, my chase warps a little, so the base couldn’t set up flat. I put two sheets of cotton paper to push up the base and set straight. (Otherwise, the left side of the base set up lower than right side.)

I noticed the chase has crack line inside.
So when I use quoins, the bottom left side moves more than the right.

Worked on inking. I put ink little by little.
Set up the base and rolled over the base, but there were a lot of inks all over the base. So I took out the rollers and checked the rail height again. Now I had 4 layers of the tape, but now I have 6 layers of the tape each side. I made sure the rail hight is as close as .918

I set up the base again. Made sure the ink doesn’t cover all over the base.

1 st printing. Used a regular copy paper. I hit once.
The left side of the plate (big rose) is weaker than the right.

2nd printing. On the left side of the plate (around the big rose), I add a copy paper under the tympan.
I inked twice on the plate and I hit the handle once.
The print looks better than 1st printing.

3rd printing. I keep the packing same. I inked the plate twice and hit the handle twice.
The color is stronger.

4th printing. I tried on the thicker paper.
I add a little more ink. I inked twice and hit the handle twice.
It printed good.

5th printing. I tried to print on rettra cotton paper.
I inked twice and hit the handle twice.
It printed pretty good as well. :)

I am wondering if I need to ink twice and hit the handle twice is better way to print. Now, I put the scotch tape on top or the paper (right and left) and make sure that the paper doesn’t more. My press doesn’t have grippers.

I might need to add more ink, so I am going to add little more and try inking twice and hit the handle once.

Just wondering how other C&P platen press user print their printing. Do you hit the handle once or twice?

Thank you so much for all your help!

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2 quick thoughts.

I’ve never used grippers. Not on my pilot and not on a 10x15 C+P. With thick card stock and a normal amount of image, I’ve never had any issue where paper would stick to the plate or type. Not saying don’t use grippers, just saying they’re not always needed.

Inking twice, and printing twice are very common. Looking at the density some people get on samples I see online, strong solid areas of color without massive over-inking, I imagine many people print twice.

One thing that helps printing with my Pilot, is when the rollers are at the bottom after rolling over the form the first time, I manually turn them a bit by spinning the trucks. This way, I think, when the rollers return over the form, you’re sure a different part of the roller is hitting the type, and not just the exact part that you’ve already transferred to the form.

Thank you so much for all of your help!

It seems like it is ok to ink twice and hit the paper twice if it is necessary, so I will hit twice if I need to do.

Widmark, Thank you so much for sharing your Pilot printing technique also! I tried rolled rollers manually at the bottom. It is a good idea! Thank you so much.

Inky, I worked on the chase problem following your tutorial.
I put a small piece of metal on the bottom of the problem corner. Now chase doesn’t move. Although, when I set up the quoins, the base and furniture is still below than the chase. The difference is it is pretty much even and just a little bit.

I printed much bigger image today. The image is about 4 x 4.5.

I also tried to create the triangle pockets instead of using the gauge pins. It works fine without grippers. :)

1st printing
I add 3 copy papers under the tympan.
Ink twice & hit twice.
The ink was not enough and top circle didn’t have enough ink.

2nd printing
I add more ink.
I took off one sheet of the paper under the tympen,
then I add a small piece of paper around the big circle area.
Ink twice and hit once.
The ink wasn’t enough still

3rd printing
Add little more ink.
Ink twice and hit once. It was darker but the ink was too much and type wasn’t sharp.

4th printing
After I worked on inking several times, I made sure the printing was ok with copy paper. So I printed on the cotton paper. Before I printed, I used steam iron and put the paper for few seconds to give the moisture.
Ink twice and hit twice.
I think the print is pretty good.
There are a little bit white area around the big circle,
but I think this is the best so far from my practice.
The impression is OK. Not too deep, but I can fee the depth.

Thank you so much for all your help for my printing study!

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