Windmill vs. Craftsman 10x15 showdown

Looking to compare a 10x15 Windmill and a 10x15 Craftsman. I may have the chance of getting the latter for free (well, plus the cost of moving). It’s got the adjustable impression and adjustable rails and the feeder.

Letpress subscribers may remember the frequent postings promoting the (long forthcoming?) book “Tilting at Windmills”. The argument was that the Craftsman had better inking (4 rollers) and better impression strength, but was slower. I also think the Craftsman is lighter and maybe easier to take apart to some degree, important factors due to my space.

My main question is what are the cons. The Windmill is easier to clean up because of the wash-up unit. Lock-out rollers when available are a plus. But what about registration? Windmills are renowned for their tight registration. I’ve never printed with a machine-fed press, is this something that can be more problematic on the Craftsman?

The Windmill seems to be the workhorse of many of the new (and old) commercial letterpress printers. Are they that much better? Quicker to set-up? More trouble-free? More common? Any thoughts?

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I had a 12x18 C&P Craftsman with a Kluge feeder, and would put it up against the Windmill any day of the week for good inking and impression as you mentioned. Four form rollers do make a difference when you have heavy coverage. Registration with the Kluge feeder was really fine, but I’ve not used any of the other feeders to know about register on them.

At least on the C&P you have the advantage of being able to print in the center of the platen no matter the size of the piece you are printing. On the windmill, you are forced to use the lower left corner of the platen when registering to guides.

Maybe someone who has used the other feeders will comment as well.

The Windmill is best for most of what I do, but sometimes I wish I had a really good handfed press for awkwardly sized items, or pre-cut things that need to be imprinted. So I think you need to get both, or send both to me.

Depends on what you are printing. the windmill takes a little getting used to, you can’t run a perf or score off the sheet, you will always have a gripper margin. the 4 rollers on the craftsman are a bonus, but i hardly ever use 4 rollers. i run 2 windmills all day long, about 95 per cent of the commercial work that i do can run on the windmills, i mostly use the brass gauges and the registration is spot on. the rider roller gives me the extra coverage when i need it but mostlt the 2 form rollers can print what i need to. i have a 10x15 c&p for the occassional job that won’t run on the windmill. if you are doing short runs the hand fed might be good, but for production i don’t think you can beat the windmill. If you want to see the windmill running take a rdie north to MA and we can play on the windmill.

Dickg…you are totally right about needing a gripper edge on the windmills but because some times some jobs are cut to final size before i got them, I have devised a way to score past the bottom of the chase. Not talking about the leading edge that goes into the gripper but I’m referring to the edge that is at the bottom. Looking at the scoring rule from the side
it involves cutting the lower part of the rule so it extends past the bottom of the chase. (About a 1/4 in.) then the matrix is slid on to the end of the rule. We use the nickle guides so the stock is up as far as possible. Sometimes the stock is really small so I reverse the guides so the shorter one is actually to the right of the guide adjusting screw. It might be frowned on by old school printers but it works. I try to get the stock cut oversize if possible. In some cases it involves running stock at a 90 degree turn to how you would normally run it. Ron

Ron, i’ve only used the nickle gauges a few times, they seem to be more trouble then they are worth. One of my windmills i can use off gauges for scoring, the grippers are very close, the other windmill is off by 2 points from gripper to gripper. I tried that under cutting the rule but didn’t have any luck with it, might give it another try. i use 2 brass gauges that have the lip on them (the ones that go on the right side) , then you don’t use pins, sometimes i put a third gauge and use a pin if i have to, who cares if the old timers frown on it, whatever works.

There are more “windmills ” in existence , certainly in europe so they became the machine to have . Those of us that use them and have done so for many years generally would not consider anything else . However there are things that a hand fed is best used for and some of us keep a hand fed machine in reserve and for fun too , yes speed is always an issue for the like of us that do trade work but sometimes a job with no trim requires hand feeding and like it or not the customer comes before comfort . Like Dick i stick to the brass guides as you call the lays , i will build them up with six points of material to reduce the material that is not workable and a bit of tweaking and such means i never even consider the nickel lays ,although i do have them but they are grief i can live without .

They’re the only gauges I have. Years ago there were brass ones but they’ve disappeared over the years and the company would never put out the money for new ones plus they figure they’re saving money by not wasting stock on an over cut. However since being semi retired I’ve talked them into changing some things. Things are tight so I try to work with them as much as possible. Guess it involves a little give and take on both sides. Ron

Thanks for the feedback, but I’m not asking about a handfed Craftsman. This one has a feeder. Among other concerns I’m wondering if the registration on a craftsman with feeder is not as good as on a windmill.

If the craftsman is set up to register by a craftsman, it will hairline with the best of them. As far as windmill vs. craftsman, depends on volume of work. The windmill will run circles around the craftsman, but if I could have just one press, I would have the craftsman. Luckily, I have both!

James, if your windmill is running around your Craftsman then its time to bolt it to the floor???

Thanks James. Can you explain further why the windmill runs circles? Faster printing and faster set-up/cleaning time? Quality?

Think of the Windmill as a German sports car, and the Craftsman as a 4WD truck.

I would enjoy driving either…

Windmills were known as the fastest platen press so the circular motion probably enables them to run faster.

You first have to think about what kind of work you will be doing, and quantities needed. Windmill for greater volume, Craftsman for greater variety. What do your potential customers want?
If you are doing sngle-color imprinting, diecutting, finishing for other printers, then the Craftsman wins. If you are printing multicolor jobs for designers, ease of changing colors saves a LOT of time. And with shortrun multicolor printing, you could spend more time on color changes than you do on makeready and printing.

What makes the difference in color changes? The windmill’s wash-up abilities? Less rollers to clean?

I think I’d like to be printing multicolor jobs for designers, but at the same time there’s no parity on price. Good quality late-model/lock-out windmills are going for 5-7k on the open market. Less at auction if/when you find it. But my elevator may not be able to handle one and I’d have to open up the door.

On the other hand I may have access to both the Craftsman and an 8x12 handfed, for free, except I’d have to move them from Ohio to the east coast.