Baltimorean #13

Hi everyone. I’m a new member and this is my first post, but I’ve probably been to the site a hundred times in the last few days. :)

I’m new to letterpress and looking to buy my first press. I have the opportunity to look at a Baltimorean #13 tonight, but I don’t know anything about it… can’t seem to find much info anywhere. I followed a link on another post about a #3 and that’s about all I could find. Does anyone know anything about the #13?

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From the old Briar Press museum:

Chase (printing size): 5 1/2 x 8”
Year: 1880-1890
Maker: J.F.W. Dorman (though it might also be from Baumgarten & Co. the nomenclature and the presses themselves were nearly identical)
Weight 125 (boxed) lbs
Collection: Briar Press

About the Baltimore (or Baltimorean) 13
The J.F.W. Dorman Company of Baltimore was a supplier of rubber stamps and stationery material before it began producing its popular (and oft-imitated) line of hand LEVER PRESSES.

Here’s my attempt at constructing a time-line of similar looking table-tops. There is plenty of conflicting data in terms of dates, so don’t take it as gospel :)


Lastly, an operation manual for the Baltimore line of presses:

Wow, thanks!

look me up if you need new rollers for it. or change your mind about getting it, I like the look of the Baltimores and Baltimorean’s.

I bought it and the rollers are, surprisingly, in excellent condition. They’ve clearly been replaced somewhat recently. I was impressed with the condition it was in overall until bringing it home and taking it apart to clean and oil. It looks like a piece has broken off the back of the bed. I’m not sure whether or not I will be able to use it at all. In all fairness, I don’t think the guy I bought it from was aware that there was anything wrong with it. He had never used it and received it as “payment” for helping a friend’s dad ( who happened to have a basement full of old Baltimorean presses and let him choose one, apparently).

Since this is my first press, I’m not sure what the piece is called. Gripper, maybe? It’s in the very middle of the bed, where a bolt goes. There was a spring there, but I’m not sure it was supposed to be. Any idea whether or not this is fixable?

Are you sure it’s the bed and not the platen? I’m not familiar with the Baltimorean construction but what you describe sounds like the bolt that’s often in the middle of the platen to hold it with a spring against the adjusters. Photo would help.


On Baltimores/SIgwalts, the impression screws are actually behind the press bed, and not the platen.

But yeah, hard to say anything without a picture.

Here are a couple pictures. The second one shows where it is broken and the first one shows where it should all come together. Thanks for the help!

image: photo (2).JPG

photo (2).JPG

image: photo (1) - Copy.JPG

photo (1) - Copy.JPG

OK, that explains it. I would say the broken off piece was the threaded portion of the bed (I now understand the bed is adjusted, not the platen). Is the broken-off piece still on the bolt or did both get lost?If that is what happened, one solution would be to have a nut of the appropriate size brazed to the back of the bed by someone who knows how to braze cast iron. Or you could use a high quality high strength epoxy to glue the nut to the bed after smoothing off the rough break and roughing up the glued side of the nut to allow the epoxy a better bond.With the spring in place there should not be a lot of tension on the repair. You will have to be careful to not bottom the bolt in the threads or you’ll pop the nut off. I had a similar kind of break on the platen of my Pearl 11 Improved and repaired it with epoxy. It seems to be fine.


Not the end of the world. stop at Ace for a nut get a couple and new bolt will not hurt. I would recommend having a professional welder do it. They could weld the nut in to a wider piece of steel for better support [not to wide] needs to pivot. That will last a long time.

image: baltimore screw 002.jpg

baltimore screw 002.jpg

Had no idea what it was supposed to look like back there so, for all I knew, I could have been missing something much different. I’m sure that there’s an extra nut in the toolbox that will work. Although, the spring looks nothing like that one.

I am sure that others will also suggest that WELDING is the least favourable option, a tiny lump on to a big lump is always debateable? See many recent previous posts!!! … Possibly a large brass retainer braised on to incorporate whatever nut is desireable, captive but free floating, as in many auto applications??? … . And then if there is no spring available from any source the valve spring from most any bigger car/auto, and most modern auto,s have twin springs per valve inner/outer etc, one would calculate that an appropriate Jar of Coffee or Pack of teabags, to your local auto repair shop will avail you of the biggest selection of springs ever… Good luck.

I firmly believe that forge brazing is the best option for this kind of repair, especially as careful heating and cooling of the entire bed will minimize the possibility of warping the metal, which must be dead flat to be a useful printing press. Welding localizes the heat and can induce stresses that can result in cracking of the cast iron to relieve the stresses. Attaching a larger plate to which the nut has been welded could be done by forge brazing, but I believe that would be overkill. Use of a strong spring such as an automobile valve spring would also cause unnecessary stresses — note the old spring in the photo of the broken part. The stronger the spring the greater the stress on the original threaded boss, which may be why it broke. A carefully-done forge brazing job will be stronger than the original.


With respect to the above, (possibly) if my post is read correctly and not taken out of context, my efforts are fairly clear I.E. as it was already implied that a SMALL amount of movement was desireable on the nut , or a slack thread!!! a captive BUT FREE FLOATING nut would seem to most 10 year old,s to be logical??? … …THE SPRING illustrated by T.P.T would appear to be the the work of a blacksmith/springsmith with probably a compressive force of MANY foot/pounds, enough to rip the original fitting out , ten times over!!! … . Against the original quote (mine) where I state *if all else fails* and as Auto valve springs ranging from those on Smart Cars up to 44 ton Interstate Trucks, a spring to match the original spec would appear to be a racing certainty, and it would not be Rocket Science to remove a coil/or coils to achieve, thumb and finger tip pressure to match original, if of course specs were available.… . . At the end of the day, THE spring only has to exert a little back pressure to keep the bed in contact with the 4 impression bolts…………Must try harder to asses the conundrums in their entirety, or post constructive alternatives. First???

The hole in the back of the bed where the piece snapped off is a good 3/8” deep and the hole was fully threaded. It was stripped pretty bad but after some careful tap and die work my husband was able to salvage the bolt and was able to re-thread the hole. Tightened a nut onto the bolt first and then screwed the bolt (with nut already on it) into the hole. Was able to get it tightened down far enough that the nut is snug against the bed and, with a plastic bushing around the nut, it fits perfectly into the hole where the piece once went. I just hope that 3/8” of thread contact is enough to hold. Going with no spring to be safe for now. Although, I hadn’t thought to remove any coils, ha! Anybody see any holes in this plan?

The spring allows a bit of flexibility in the system to avoid stressing the casting of the bed. If you tighten the bolt to hold the bed securely against the adjusting screws, and then have to adjust the bed for even impression, you run the risk of tightening one adjuster a little too much and breaking something again. I’d suggest squeezing the spring with your fingers — if you can compress it it’s probably not going to stress the system much. If it’s too stiff for that, go to your nearby well-equipped hardware store and try out different springs with the squeeze test until you find one that will work. Removing coils of the old spring, if it’s too stiff, won’t weaken it, it just will be shorter.


The similarly designed Sigwalt Chicago models do not have a spring there, just a central bolt (with either a bushing, or a series of washers) and impression screws acting against it.

K. B. as A.L.B. implies having no means of spring compression, bolted up tight is not a good idea, if for example your very first impression proves to be too tight and you back of your adjusting bolts, your bed will just flop about!!! … If your first impression is too slack and you then tweek every impression screw just the minutest amount, (even with thumb screws, but especially with spanner head adjusters) X Times 4 will put a lot of pressure on you quick fix repair?… As A. L. B. implies any form of spring device, even temporarily is a must? … Understandibly getting the wheels in motion is probably the over riding factor, but if all else fails and a spring is not an immediate solution, perhaps a compound of 2 or 3 fibre washers interspersed with 2 or 3 rubber *O* rings just as a temporary fix… . One more, have a threaded rod brazed in to the back of the bed, (the hole through the standard appears to be more than sufficient to allow good latitude for movement/alignment) . . With whatever length protruding from the rear of the standard/base, as many or as few spring(s) as required at whatever tension is safe, thumb screw or ordinary nut to adjust, with SHORT spanner so that you may judge how little pressure you may get away with. . My best shot. Mick

It sounds like it’s off to the hardware store for a spring. The trick is to find a local hardware that has springs. ;) Thanks for the input.

We have a #13 in inventory. If you need help sourcing a spring we can duplicate the one that is on our press (assuming it is original). Let us know if we can help.


image: 13 rear .jpg

13 rear .jpg