Operating Pearl No. 8 Treadle

I’m a proud owner of an improved Golding Pearl No. 8!

I’ve taken several classes but never one where I had to use a treadle to operate the press. (I learned on a Vandercook and motorized C&P). Because of this, I’m not sure how operating a treadle should feel under my foot. I have a few questions.

1. The treadle is harder to push than I thought. It really takes some good leg work, and it never feels “easy”. Is that how a treadle should feel? I imagined once the press got momentum it would be easier to keep it up? Or that a few pumps of the treadle would get me through several prints? This doesn’t seem to be the case.

2. When I start the press, I throw the fly wheel away from me. Then I start to use the treadle. Sometimes when the treadle gets hard to push with my leg, I can’t keep the momentum going. The press will slow down, and I’ll give the treadle a good “umph” so it doesn’t stop completely. For whatever reason this sometimes makes the fly wheel start to go the opposite direction (towards me, instead of away from me). Is this normal? Why does this happen?

Renee :)

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Have you oiled the press thoroughly, especially the main shaft, the platen pivot shaft, and flywheel shaft? It sounds to me like the press is dragging a bit, as though the bearings were dry. It should be pretty easy to keep it going once you start it, and away from you is the right way to start it. If it slows almost to a stop on the upstroke when you push down slightly too soon it can reverse it.


Good to see you are still collecting presses. It should be fairly easy to treadle, Bob is right, a little oil should help. A little advice, keep the other foot from under the treadle and switch legs every so often or you will end up with one monster leg. I heard you have a large collection of wood type, or was it a collection of large wood type??

Hi Renee,

I have a No. 8 and it is unbelievably easy to treadle with almost no effort. I can even start mine by pushing on the treadle if it is not at the bottom of its travel (without pushing the flywheel) it is so light running. As Bob has already pointed out. It sounds like the press is in desperate need of oil, or something else is wrong causing the extra effort requirement. You do have to always keep pushing any treadle though. Not push to gain momentum and make a couple of prints. Just nice steady, easy rhythm. The No. 8 is a wonderful and unusual press. A treadle operated floor press with a chase size of only 5 x 8 yet weighing about 400 lbs! Just imagine that when you compare to say a 5 x 8 tabletop! Let us know how you make out.


Thanks everyone!!!

The gears look greasy already, of course, it probably hasn’t been used in years either. I will give that a try. Is there a particular oil you all recommend?

@Dick - I’m still working on my wood type collection. I do have a nice large “W” I can try out. :) Now if only I could find a furniture cabinet, I could use the darn thing…

Here’s a pretty good deal on a furniture cabinet (at the moment, anyway):

@emthree - Yeah, I saw that. That person is actually local to me, but it’s missing a lot of the pieces. :(

If your Furniture cabinet is missing pieces, go have a look at:


…or, vettelove, if you’re close to Letterpress Things in Chicopee, MA, John has plenty of seasoned pieces of furniture to pick from. Filling in a cabinet isn’t that tough & it’s a lot less expensive to buy one like you see here on ebay.

A good oil for presses like that is 30wt non-detergent motor oil, though regular detergent oil will work too. Better the 30wt than the multigrades like 10-30, which has the equivalent lubricating weight of 10wt. There should be two oil holes on the frame where the rod that supports the platen passes through, as well as on the bearings for the other gear shafts in the frame, and the roller arms pivot bearings. If there aren’t oil holes visible, drop a few drops of oil on the joint between moving pieces. Oil it, cycle it a couple of times, then oil it again, and repeat two or three times (assuming it’s pretty dry, it takes a while, and more oil, to work the oil into the entire bearing).


Typenut - Thanks for the tip!! That’s extremely valuable!

Bob - You’re right! There is a horizontal “rod” on the back of the press with two small holes—one on the left and one on the right. (A little smaller than a hole punch, basically!) Thank you so much.

There’s a lot more holes than just the ones you describe. They’re all over the press wherever some part is rotating on another including on the outside of the press body. Look everywhere and get oil in them all. There are also many other moving parts that do not have an oil hole that need oil like the roller hooks where they slide in the arm that supports them. Grease or (lack there of) on the gears is not what would make the press difficult to treadle. Its not having oil in all the moving parts.


Thanks John! I suspected there may be more holes around the press. Just gave it a quick look, didn’t have time to investigate. I’m going to buy oil, some sort of de-ruster, rags, and an oil can tonight. I’m really excited! Hopefully this will do the trick!

I wanted to complete this thread (for archived learning purposes) in case anyone ever had this same problem.

After oiling, I have noticed an improvement. I oiled the press, then ran it, oiled, then ran it… I did that for about 5 rounds. I think it needs a bit more oiling though. This press has probably been sitting for YEARS.

Either way, oiling the press has definitely made it easier to treadle and throw the fly wheel. Hoping a bit more oil will do the trick!

One press I acquired many years ago was covered with oil, dripping onto the floor where it pooled. I think the owner had started each day by throwing a bucket of oil on the press, which eventually seeped into all the bearings. The press ran smoothly but it was very hard to handle when we took it apart to move it! I don’t recommend that method. But liberal oiling is good for any machine like that.


Auxiliary Oiling, simple, quick, additional, blast from the past, programmed in to Thompson British Auto Platens, early(er) Wharfedales, etc etc, and in principle *borrowed* by several other, older, small treadle platen users… . In the case of the Thompson?? around the machine at several points were small oil Reservoirs with a whole battery of felt wicks dipping into the pot and by capillary action would very gradually drip feed the small bore oiling pipes/points over a sustained period, and as a by product, the *wick* kept the crap from the oil pipe ports/holes.!!! … .With just a little ingenuity, small strips of Hat Makers felt, (for example) wrapped around the shafts, adjacent to oil holes, secured with stitcher wire or similar, and incorporating ordinary (old boys) pipe cleaners, for wicks, nestling in the actual oil hole——permanent oiler, one per hole??… One shot from a squirt oil can, every so often, after watching the felt pad dry out, usually months, rather than hours or days!!! … . The principle (in essence) still in use on the Monotype now*** I.E. Felt Pads to exclude the rubbish and provide capillary action oiling, on sensitive moving parts.!!! … . Industrial Espionage was probably in its infancy way back when, because Tolbert Lanston incorporated it, (the principle) on the Monotype , but probably pinched it from the Colt Armoury Press factory, or Vice Versa, and then Thompson, *borrowed* it, and then the small platen suppliers, owners, operators thought, *Ah Hah* etc etc.