restoring a Cranston single-revolution newspaper press

I acquired a Cranston newspaper press last November, and am preparing to begin the restoration process. I had to mobilize on saving it quickly, and I knew that an important piece of the drive shaft was not nearby. I hoped it would turn up but it didn’t. So, I need to get measurements on the gear and am wondering if anyone in the immediate Briarpress community has access to one of these old Cranston presses. I know there are a few around in museums, in Houston and Rhode Island for example —- I think one in Minnesota too. All far from where I live.

Here’s the website I made, with a lot of historical pictures and background information: - Enjoy!

I can supply some details on the missing drive-assembly shaft and gear; mainly I need a tooth-count and diameter. Please contact me if you have any leads, comments, or helpful information about the single-revolution Cranston newspaper presses. Thanks,
John M Jenkins / Oak Root Press

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If you can supply the location of the Cranston press in Rhode Island, I would be willing to try to get dimensions for you. My shop is located in RI. Let me know. Jim

J.J. Sir, loved your post re The Cranston, Sincerely hope,it can be saved, in the Mid Seventies I worked for a firm, that as well as normal letterpress, produced a twice weekly newspaper, with origination from six Monotype Casters, One Super Caster and One Or Two Ludlow machines.But the papers were produced, on a machine called The Cossar, WEB FED but printing from FLAT BED formes at different levels. Unfortunately and sadly, with many many others it was scrapped, but at this very time, the exact same machine, is going into preservation in Scotland, If you can key in via Email [email protected] (it is in the public domain) might even get cross party talks or encouragement!!!!! Obviously the Cossar is not the Cranston but the saving for preservation principles, must be compatable, GOOD LUCK.

Regarding the details of the missing gear, it would be helpful to have the tooth count and diameter, as you say, but it would also be helpful to know what gearing system was used. In this case I’m guessing that it may be the diametral pitch system. You may be able to determine this because you do have the gear which the missing gear meshed with. If you measure the diameter of this gear in inches from the root (bottom) of a tooth on one side, exactly through the middle of the shaft it is on, to the top of a tooth on the other side, this is an approximation of the pitch diameter. If you count the number of teeth in the gear and divide the number of teeth by the pitch diameter, and it comes out pretty close to a whole number, this will point toward the diametral pitch system having been used. For instance, if you measure the pitch diameter and it is 25 inches, and there are 100 teeth in the gear: 100 divided by 25 is 4, so the gearing system would likely be 4 diametral pitch. (Our actual answer would probably not be an even 4 because we can’t measure the diameter of the gear exactly. But, in this case, if it comes out close to 4, it probably would indicate that the gear is 4 diametral pitch).

If you cannot get a tooth count of the missing gear from an existing press, you may be able to figure it out. If you measure the distance from the exact center of the hole the missing drive shaft goes into, to a point half way up the nearest tooth of the gear it meshes with (which is still in the press), and multuply that distance by 2 to get the diameter, that should be an approximation of the pitch diameter of the missing gear. Since you have already figured out the gearing system, which in our example is 4 diametral pitch, if you multiply the pitch diameter of the missing gear which you just calculated, times 4 (for 4 diametral pitch), this is the number of teeth in the missing gear. For example, if you measured the distance from the shaft center to halfway up the tooth of the adjacent gear, and it is 5 inches, and you multiply that by 2 to get the pitch diameter of 10 inches, and you multiply that by 4 (diametral pitch) you get 40 teeth in the missing gear. Before I would trust this completely, though, I would get your gear shop to make an exact size print of the new gear, paste that to a piece of chipboard, cut out enough of it to put it in place on the press, and see if it fits. Or, maybe your gear shop has a better way of checking the size before making the gear. From unverified calculations alone, I could see where it might be possible to be a tooth or so off.

After we do this, we need to figure out what tooth profile was used on the gears, because they varied over time. The best thing would be to bring the existing gear to the gear shop which is to make the missing gear. They could see the tooth profile, and they could also confirm that the gearing system and pitch actually are what our best guess and calculations came up with (in this example 4 diametral pitch).

Loved reading your site, thanks for documenting the process and all the related info!

Seriously neat to bring back presses like this.

Looking around a little bit, found another press like your at the White Pine Logging and Threshing Show—through a brief desciption by Alan Runfeldt of Excelsior Press fame

“This visit produced so much information, so many photos and such a story, that it deserves its own set of web pages with photos and captions and everything. But for now, since I just returned home this afternoon and still have to unpack, this brief outline will have to do:

Line Shaft at White Pines PressBetween Mike’s shop and the newspaper office, we saw some amazing things; a number of hand-fed platen presses which look like C&Ps, but aren’t; a hand-fed Cranston Newspaper press operated by a drive belt connected to a line shaftwhich in turn is powered by a 7-hp hand-start, single-cylinder gasoline engine. This across-the ceiling line shaft even drives drives their Linotype, the hand presses and just about every other machine in the shop “

The White Pine press is a single revolution press the same as yours and is likely to be very close in most details to yours.

Cottrell also used a similar bed driving system as Cranston, but the nearest Cottrell I know of is a two revolution machine and would have different gear proportions.

Hope you can get it all put together!

Hi. I am working to restore a Cranston press in Mancos, Colorado. It looks to be in good shape and at some point someone attached a motor to it. I live in Philadelphia, but I am going out to Colorado to work on this press. It will most likely need new rollers, and possibly a few parts. Has anyone out there printed on a Cranston? I have worked on Vandercooks, hand presses, platen presses, and small 1 color offset presses, but never a press this size. I am looking for other Cranston type presses that are running in the U.S. or someone who might have leads on parts if needed. I love the original post by John! Any information would be appreciated. Thanks!

Hi, we removed the Cranston from the former Mercer County Star building in Hazen, N.D., and have it in temporary storage near The Braddock News Letterpress Museum at Braddock, N.D. We hope to restore it and move it to our museum. Our goal is to expand the building to accommodate it. The press is missing part of the ink fountain and the rollers/cores. Before we work on the Cranston, we want to finish work on our Walter Scott & Co. pony press. We have new rollers for it, but we have to do some wiring, hopefully this summer. Students at our high school made a chaise for it. Anyone interested in our museum may contact me (Allan) at: [email protected] or 701-254-4537. You’ll find a picture of our Babcock press if you search for The Braddock News on briarpress.

Hi John,
What’s the status with your Cranston?
Are you still lacking a drive mechanism?
I am still trying to get to restoring the inking
Machine on mine. I’m not sure exactly what you are
Missing ? Is it everything outside the side frame or are you missing that shaft with the sliding yoke as well? My press is smaller than yours but I can probably send you drawings and pics of what you need if it will help.
Likewise I need the same, all I have are 5 bolt holes …I could use any pictures your willing to take and may be gear and roller info. The ink vibrator on my press is different than yours and appears to be unique to Cranston - I can’t figure out how it works! You can see it in Harold Sternes book,if you have it… It’s the Cranston “commercial” any ideas would be much appreciated!

Greetings Scourbois,
By “drive assembly” I mean the following, and this is what my Cranston is missing. There’s a small frame that bolts onto the side of the press, with four bolts. That frame holds an axle with a gear, a hand-wheel (or pulley wheel) and the U-joint. I’m not aware of a sliding yoke. It seems the U-joint connects to another U-joint and another drive axle under the press (I do have this on my press). The U-joints allow the geared axle underneath the press to swivel up and down, above and below a flat double-sided horizontal gear track, thus shifting the bed to a back-and forth motion while the drive axle receives continuous power. From what I can tell, if I had the right gear everything else could be manufactured, and I was able to deduce all the specs on the missing gear, from the other gears. That gear may even be available through some modern catalogue. As for the inking mechanism, what are you missing? The fountain? Can you send pictures? (to: [email protected]). Maybe I can figure it out. Where are you located? I know of another Cranston in mid-northern Kansas.