Should I buy a Heidelberg Windmill?

Hello everyone,

I was hoping for some advice from printers who have experience with Heidelbergs. I have previously owned and learned to use an Adana 6 x 4, an Adana 8 x 5 and an Adana TP 48.

I attempted printing wedding stationery on the Adana TP 48 but I don’t think it was the right tool for the job. I am not trying to achieve the kiss print effect. I am trying to achieve a noticeable deboss on a maximum size of 8” x 8”.

I am now considering purchasing a Heidelberg Windmill. I believe this press is also called a T Platen. I have limited knowledge of these machines. I’m planning a trip to the UK in two weeks (I’m in Ireland) to view some of these machines here -

I have already made up my mind that I would like to buy a printing press of this size, strength etc. but I don’t know which Heidelberg model I should purchase. I want to print with photopolymer plates and I use 300 gsm cotton paper.

Could someone please recommend which Heidelberg I should get? Chandler and Price and Kluges and most machines are not available from a retailer in the UK who can supply parts, troubleshoot the press and send an engineer to make repairs. That’s why I would like to go with this company.

What is the learning curve like with a Heidelberg? Is it unbelievable complicated?

Are these machines reliable? Is there a more modern model that is more reliable?

Also could someone please tell me if there are any particular parts of the machine that are more prone to wear or that cause more trouble than other parts. Are there specific things I should look out for?

This retailer sells different Heidelbergs and will recondition to a bronze, silver or gold standard.

The bronze, silver or gold refer to the extent to which they recondition the press. My dad and I are trying to figure out which package to choose. The details of the packages are listed here -

Budget wise I would like to go with the bronze which is £1600 sterling. The silver is £3100 and the gold is £5000. Keep in mind that these presses are not as common here as in the US.

What do you guys think of the bronze package?

Kindest regards,


Log in to reply   13 replies so far

There are only two Heidelberg platens. There have been changes over the years but are the same basic machine. There’s the larger 13x18 and the standard 10x15. Some have lock out rollers etc. and some have foil stamping capability but they are still the same basic machines. They can take the pressure better than lighter machines. After looking at that website you listed the GT and GTP are the larger and the T is the 10x15. The pictures seem to show platens without the printing assembly.

RREEBB is right, all the windmill pictures on that site don’t show any inking system on any windmill. They do have windmills that you can foil with then change back to printing. I’m mostly self taught on the windmill, buy i had a good friend who ran them so i had someone who helped me when i got stuck, i never ran the larger windmill, i find most printing can be done just fine on the 10x15.

You could take a look at senior graphic machinery site too they do a range of refurbs starting at basic cleaned and tested and minor part replacement , then a couple of grades of refurb , tell them what you are offered by anyone else and you will get a good match from them , never pay the asking price….. they buy them at the same prices i do when they come up and it is not a lot ,you will be better off hunting around asking local print engineers to locate one .
guide prices depend on how desperate the printers are for the price , i will say this though you will pay a lot of money for transporting one around !
Added correction
Depends how desperate the printers are for space !

I’m not sure if Peter might concur as he is amazing with Heidelbergs, but if you are doing limited runs you might be better with a vicobold/autovic, couple for sale in Uk at the moment) which are hand fed but parallel impression. I am learning letterpress as much as I can, but stepping up to a H. would be too much for me I know without professional training, which Peter could offer maybe to you.
At Amberley museum (where we both volunteer) there is an autovic which I would be more comfortable about running-Peter, any further thoughts, hope you don’t mind me asking ?? and see you Sunday!
If foiling is a thing you might be doing now or eventually, then stick with an H.,

Everyone has to begin at the beginning Jon , barry is the man for the victoria , he started his work life on treadles ,he thinks the vic is modern !! Yes ,should be in the museum this weekend .
Is the heidelberg reliable, yes it is and if looked after will certainly out live you your kids and probably theirs too .
They are very expensive for repair parts and shifting from place to place , once in its spot it will run for as long as you can keep feeding it and stay awake !!
They are not particularly hard to operate and once you have the clamshell mentality aboard you are a good part of the way there , having run work through a tp whatty may thing you have half the start ! get out and find one in your area they are everywhere and once you have heard one running they just cant hide!

It is interesting to see the prices of refurbished Heidlebergs in the UK at the moment. Ten or twelve years ago when I last looked at these machines they were worth fifty pounds if they could be rolled out of a printing works in one piece and worth nothing if they had to be dismantled to be removed. I saw one finish its last job at 10.30 and it was on a lorry (= semi in the US) by 12.00. The driver - who removed the press single handed using steel tubes as rollers (the lorry had a hydraulic arm type crane) - explained that they were exported mainly to India at that time. In contrast, at the same period, I saw another Heidelberg platen that had worked to within a couple of days previously that required extensive dismantling to remove it and the owner had to pay the scrap men to break it up and extract it.

A big competitor with Heidelberg in the UK was Thompson British Automatic Platen.

Ongoing availability of parts and servicing is a crucial aspect with any complex press, especially if you are operating commerically. I imagine that the service offered by Letter Press Services maay be an important consideration when you choose a machine.

Some parts for a thompson are difficult to locate now but yes they are still haunting us , they work but require you have more spare material to carry the job through the machine , i hated trying to die cut with them despite some of my well respected elders claims of their superiority over a heidelberg , Didnt like the one i battled with for a year , i have heidelberg oil blood …
letterpress services or whoever price will always have to be your consideration .

Peter Luckhurst wrote “…well respected elders claims of their superiority over a heidelberg”

Reminds me of the opinionated statement by well-respected printing author V.S.Ganderton in H.Whetton (ed.) “Practical Printing and Binding” (London, 1954 ed.), on p.106: “Since the Heidelberg entered the British market, and for a long time had its own way, it is gratifying to know that a British machine of somewhat similar design, but with several distinct improvements - the Thompson British automatic platen - has gained very greatly in popularity.”

Hi Rebbeca hope all is well with your windmill platen
After coming over and seeing our extensive range of stock. I hope you are satisfied with the machine.
I understand you managed to find some local printers who were able to point you in the right direction with regards printing .

With regards senior graphics i was aware that they no longer have an engineer who is able to work on platens extensively and now farm out the repair work to an independent engineer.
So always be aware you might no always get an engineer straight away

I am a mechanic in Heidelberg platen presses experience over twenty years, address : 50, kuppusamy pillai street, Sivakasi - 626 123. India Mobile no.94433 29496 & 80154 72713. Look for a grey colour box belowthe machine. Flywheel cover full cover with colour grey. Front name plate is square type. Model year should 1975 to 1980. This is the latest model. There will be a round emblum written as 120 years of Heidelberg. Email I’d. [email protected]. My age is 57.

I have run Original Heidelbergs in 3 commercial shops since 1968 and have not had any problems. Watch your head as the gripper bars can be dangerous. The space for the guide pins can get trickey on some jobs. It is probably the most versatile press out there for job work such as letterhead and envelopes. Lockup is very easy as the spacing is 18 points on the gripper and 4 or 18 points on the lay gauges. Not much movement though if you are trying to die cut an already printed piece.