need help

have a change to buy one of each type which one is easer to operate and use. have little knowledge of either one.

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There’s plenty of opinion on which is the better of the two, but I think that outside of a true production environment, there is very little in the differences that is going to impact you.

There are more Linotypes kicking around, so finding spare parts (especially things like moulds, magazines and liners) is comparatively easier.

This is a good read:


I am no expert, but here are my thoughts.

If the two machines are set up fairly close to each other as far as features go I don’t think one is better than the other for low useage duties.

If one machine is set up for the type of work you will be doing most of the time I would go with that one. As an example you are doing small point type and one machine is set up for doing advertising work with special molds and liners, I would choose the other machine.

If you could give us a idea of what the two machines are, what comes with each one and what you are wanting to do, I am sure that we can give you some very sound advice.

Just one further thought. Neither machine will tolerate much “on the job training” without breaking some very hard to find and replace parts. It is easy to make a mistake and break some thing, I have been there and done that. Is there anyone that can help you learn the ins and outs?

Not wanting to be discouraging, just trying to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made.


If these are mixing machines they can be a problem. Like Marshal says let people know what machines they are, even where you are located. I rescued a g4 Intertype and have been cleaning it for a year now and i don’t think i’ll get it running. I’m ready to give it away to someone who wants it for parts.

to dickg and others re mixer machines

The apprentice ahead of me at the morning daily newspaper went to the big city. The general manager at the morning newspaper (which he was leaving) told him not to go to work for a certain notorious commercial printer, but he did. There, he worked a model 9 linotype mixer, but said that after a day trying to find something to do between pressing a key and waiting for the matrix to arrive at the assembler, he told the management he was leaving and they could keep any wages owing.

From what I have been told, the mixer machines will do work which is very tedious if done in any other ways, but the mixer machines are also intrinsically tedious to operate. Perhaps, like computer program writing, a particular kind of brain is needed.

The (big city) commercial printer was the one where the foreman went to a press man, told him he was taking too long doing make ready. The pressman tore the make ready off the press and left.

This was also the shop where the press men, if they knew all their presses would be stopped for a time, all doing make ready, put a completed job on the feeder of a press where the feeder was above eye level, run the job through without any impression. The foreman or other administrator would pass the machine, pick up a printed sheet, nod appreciatively, and move on.

At the commercial printer where I worked for 9 weeks, I heard the manager phone through to the foreman to tell him that he could hear that there was no press running; administrators are happy if they think they are making money, even if it is not so; and there are always times when preparatory work is being done which is part of the cost of preparing a job to make money.
If a commercial printer could keep all presses running at full speed all the time, he would be rich in comparison with the shop which stops its presses from time to time.

At the morning daily, the foreman gave a tabulation job to a competent keyboard operator, then went back to him some time later to complain that the keyboard man was slow; we worked it out that the job would be made up of about 800 (eight hundred) slugs.


Thank you everyone for the insight.
I have been running a letter press for over 20 years now.
My older sister and her husband owned the shop. I started out as an apprentice. From what I’m told I would have been called a “printers devil”
Own and operate the shop now as a small shop out of my home. Have a good customer base for tickets and envelopes. At one time the shop was much larger. We did use and set our own type on a linotype, which I operated but that was 15 years ago. My older sister was the one that really now the ins and outs of the machine. So I have her to be my teacher. Would hate to see this art form disappear, wish me luck. I think I’m going to bid on the machines.

Although some will say Intertypes are always better (you can read Don Black’s list of reasons in the files section at, it really comes down to the individual machine. What are the models, which is in better casting condition, which has more spare parts, what third-party add-ons (Star, etc.)?
It sounds like the work to be done is not complicated, so the simpler machine can be run with fewer problems. Mixers and auxiliaries are not simple. A Model 5 or Model 8 Linotype is very simple compared to later models.

An Intertype is the better machine - hands down. Fewer parts, user friendly, and, far, far easier to maintain. Plus, the magazines are dump-proof. (Just pull the ‘sword’ once accidentally is enough to hug the Intertype!) A C3 will provide dependable, trouble-free service to a neophyte; a Lino 8 will drive you nuts! I do agree there are many more parts available for the Linotype, and that’s simply because they were so sorely needed. Cleaning an Intertype keyboard is a simple, rainy day task; cleaning a Linotype board makes for a cloudy, rainy day. However, should you choose the Linotype, please ensure you do not have a sledge hammer in the same room.:o)

to forme

re sledgehammer

One night I was having persistent trouble with a Linotype, and went and got the mechanic’s sledgehammer and rested it against the step of the machine. One of the other (older) operators looked very apprehensive. I would not really have used the sledge.

However, since, I have met people who were very inconsistent in their behaviour toward machinery, did not realise such people existed.

And, during my apprenticeship, the foreman looked at what should have been the last correction slug for the day which was a public holiday, and we worked two and a half hours on such days; the correction line was again incorrect, he threw the slug against the keyboard.

Among other models, we had a Linotype 8, which gave us little trouble; I got to the end of a small take of copy before I realised I was using a 7 point mould and a 6 point knife. I and the mechanic and the foreman argued about lots of disser stops, though, and I did not realise till years later that during the day the machine was used on one type size with a good fount of matrices, while at night it was used for other purposes, using a fount in poor condition.

Re forgetting the “sword”; we had one magazine for which one had to slide the sword a little further during lifting of the mag; now, I would have put some kind of warning on the mag where it could not be missed seeing. The first time I heard the roar of escaping matrices, the magazine was in the hands of the chief engineer.

The rotary press had a problem for years, finally solved when it was found the vertical drive-shaft linking the drives to the decks was resting on the bevel drive, not the thrust bearing.


to all

Does anyone remember which model/s Linotype had a vacuum tube (thermionic valve in some cultures) which was used in a timing device? From memory, it was the industrial version of the 6J7G, the industrial version may have been type 1620, but I am uncertain of the numbers. Dunno if other type vacuum tubes would work . Industrial versions were usually designed to survive vibration and bumps, also had longer operating life and were often de-rated.


Don’t know about vacuum tubes, i didn’t know you could use a linotype for a vacuum, must be hard to drag them around. But i can still hear those mats dropping when i forgot that darn sword, that would usually bring a few cheers from the other operators.

Admittedly, I do favour the Intertype because they were instrumental in allowing a one-man shop to produce a newspaper. Flawless in operation, the C2, C3, and C4 machines seldom gave problem. The C3 and C4 each had Mohr saw and the Intertype Quadder. The C2 was set up for 24pt and 6pt slugs. And the Intertype’s mould wrench was far superior to the Linotype’s screw set-up. Especially well-made was that quadder. Absolutely simple of design and operation. I also had a Linotype 32. It, too, was equipped with a Mohr saw, but had a Linotype designed quadder. A nightmare of hydraulic tubing, electrical wiring, and poorly-designed pump. All ‘conveniently’ hung in a great over-sized box attached to the left-side frame of the machine. A real pain to service, and should (as it too often did) a ‘squirt’ occur, well, lots of fun cleaning that mess. Come to think of it, there’s a lot to be said for computers! :o)


I never saw a faulty sword anywhere else, it did not go fully “home” while the magazine was seated, needed to be pushed in, just a little more, during the initial lifting of the magazine. As I posted, now I would put something as a reminder on that particular mag. Anyone think that diagonal red and yellow stripes painted on the top of the mag would have been sufficiently noticeable? It’s not relevant now, but would painting a magazine have cause any problems?

I wonder if platen presses and perhaps some others should have attention-getting arrows painted on the flywheel? Wdyt? What do you think?

One of our Linotype machines had a large round knob for opening the slug-trimming knife, and it usually worked loose, so I put a suitable size star washer under the large screw in the middle of the large knob; the description is from memory, I hope I have visualised it correctly?

Also, same machine, put a sleeve of soft plastic tube in one of the recesses near the vise (vice, Australia) where it had been difficult to remove the typemetal resulting from a squirt.

Next time, should I use the term wireless valve instead of vacuum tube, would that avoid avoid confusion; but if anyone has one of those machines, it might be necessary to change the valve socket if a replacement is needed. And, like the 110/220 volt motors, one would need to know the correct pins to connect.


to forme

I never saw a Star quadder, but the name comes up so often. Could the Star and the Mohr be fitted to most machines, Inter and Lino? We liked the automatic quadder on Intertype.

One difficulty on one of the Intertypes got me a reprimand from the proof-reader. Something extra had been added to that Intertype, so that the “no-cast” push-button (for deleting pi slugs) was relocated, and the cable became very stiff, making it difficult to push the button. Because this Intertype used two moulds to avoid overheating at high-speed operation, one had to remember when there was an unwanted slug and to check that it had been deleted by some means or other; leaving it in meant a pi line on the proof which annoyed the proof-reader. As was widely known, pi lines often were overlooked, and were published, so that a book was written with the title etaoin shrdlu.

I saw an operator’s name on the front page of our local newspaper one day.

Do most people know that, in England, quad right meant the same as the U.S. quad left, and vice versa. None of our operators ever had a problem with the difference of nomenclature when we got an English Linotype. Think about what a quad is. [I think Intertype followed U.S. practice as to left and right.]

This particular (English Linotype) machine had a problem in the main castings around the assembler and first elevator, so that when it was cold all transfers could be adjusted to work OK, but only just; but as the machine warmed and changed shape, the transfers could not be adjusted correctly; next day, when the castings cooled, the transfers moved to being within tolerance. I think if the transfer guides casting (is that the correct name?) between the assembler elevator and the first elevator was slightly out-of-shape. Now, I think I could have suggested a solution, but then I was only an operator; and because I sometimes caused a difficulty because of plain stupidity (otherwise called oversight), mechanics rejected my ideas. Of course, because I am an introvert personality, I never worked out how to explain some of my ideas so that they could be understood. Very occasionally, some of my ideas were tried clandestinely, and if successful, adopted, though sometimes someone else was given the credit. I had had a lifetime experience of this, so was happy to just see that an idea was fruitful. Particularly so when we went to cold type (Mergenthaler VIP) and we had to learn by experience, sometimes the book was not helpful.


further, to dickg

If we had needed to use the Linotype as a vacuum cleaner, we would have considered attaching a long flexible vacuum hose to it, not dragged the heavy machine around the building.