I recently bought my first letterpress, a Craftsmen Superior 6.5 X 10. I am currently looking for some new rollers and I was wondering if anyone could help me find some. I found some rollers for a really good price for a C&P Pilot 6.5 x10. would that fit my press?
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Short answer: Yes.
The C&P 6 1/2 x 10 Pilot rollers will fit your Craftsmen 6 1/2 x10.
Craftsmen copied C&P almost part for part when they reproduced this old classic.
Although some purists may disagree, the roller specs can vary somewhat and the rollers can still do a fine job for you.
Even rollers for a 6x10 Kelsey can be used effectively on a Pilot, however the Kelsey roller shaft is 3/8” diameter vs 5/16” for the Pilots, and the rubber is only 1 1/4”, so I would not recommend it as your first choice - but it is a viable option and I just now put a set of Kelsey 6x10 rollers onto one of our Pilots here and found that they fit just fine.
from my notes:
(all specs taken by me, personally from old sets of pilot rollers, and cross referenced with the Kelsey Company roller specs records in our collection)
6 1/2 x 10 Pilot - Craftsman, C&P - Old & New & APE:
1 5/16 - 1 1/2” diameter x 10-11” rubber,
centered on 14 1/4” x 5/16” shaft.
Trucks: 1 5/16” or up to 1/16” smaller than rollers x 3/4” wide (at shaft) as narrow as 7/16” on rail (outer diameter)
note: trucks can be taped to increase roller height for use with shallow (photo-polymer) plates.
BTW - I *do* recommend taping the trucks with black vinyl electrical tape to adjust roller height. If you plan to print with photo polymer plates, you will likely find it helpful to increase the truck diameter to almost that of the rubber.
But, if you will be printing from type or photo-engravings, this should not be necessary.
Although it seems popular, I do not recommend taping the rails on smaller presses.
P.S. An interesting side-note: While searching my Kelsey Company Roller Specs file for something on the C&P Pilot, I found a card for the 6 1/2 x 10 Prouty Press - and they are almost identical to the measurements above.
There has been some suggestion that Chandler & Price did not originate the Pilot. It may be that this old Prouty Press (made by John Prouty of Boston prior to 1900) might actually be the precursor to that third-generation Craftsmen that you just bought..
… just a little bit of letterpress trivia….
I also have a Craftsmen Superior. When I purchased the press, it had composition rollers in sad, sad shape. I ended up getting new rubber rollers on new cores directly from Craftsmen, which is still in operation and has some parts for its presses (I also got a few other bits and pieces to bring my press up to full spec).
Sherwin Marks is the contact there and is quite helpful.
For your information, my two rollers with new cores came to $195. Trucks were $25 each. Not cheap, but I knew they’d work (and they have). There have been comments (and I’ve had conversations with local letterpress folks) about whether the rollers from Craftsmen are to spec…they seem to be suitable for the press (given I don’t know what the original spec was, I can’t comment beyond that). The cores match the rubber, and I’ve required minimal (if any) rail taping.
I have four cores sitting unused if they’d help and you’re interested.
I recommend that you contact:
Ramco Roller Products
San Dimas, Ca.
We have all of our rubber rollers done by them.
They now provide cores and trucks for 6.5 x 10.
Best quality, best price, best service.
T and T Press Restoration
Thank you for all your advice and knowledge, I’m going to go with the rollers for a C&P Pilot 6.5 x10
We at Craftsmen make new rubber rollers, cores and trucks for our presses. They are made to exact specs of the original presses.