Kelsey 5x8 chase arm too short?

Hello everyone! I’m just getting started with letterpress, I finally have all of my parts and tried making a print today. It went pretty well, but a couple of things seem not quite right.

1. The arm that holds the bed and chase in place almost seems like it’s too short. See the attached picture. A couple of times the chase fell off while I was making a print.

2. I got ink on the background of my polymer plate and ended up getting a smudge from it on my print. Are my rollers too tight or am I pressing down too hard or did I not wash out the plate enough? So many questions. :)



image: photo (7).jpg

photo (7).jpg

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It looks like your chase bed might not be seated correctly. Make sure that the bed is as far back and down as it will go. It should fit snuggly against the chase bed “holder” in the middle of the back and firmly downward. (Don’t force it or too hard pound on it, though!). There is a little gap between your chase and the bed probably because your bed is leaning slightly forward. Your photopolymer plate might be getting extraneous ink because your chase and chase bed are not parallel to your platen.

- Denis

Thanks for your reply Denis! I checked what you mentioned and am pretty confident the bed is seated correctly based on what you said, it is seated back as far as it can go. There are some little feet on the bottom of the chase that are causing that gap… are there supposed to be feet there?


That looks very much like the wrong chase, 1) the latch is supposed to hook over the top pushing the chase down and pulling in towards the bed not sit on top. 2) any feet as you call them should not be holding the chase off the bed.

make sure you plane the form, looks like your base is holding the chase away from the bed, as for ink on your plate your rollers are hitting too hard, you could tape the rails or the roller trucks to bring the rollers away from the plate.

platenprinter is, unfortunately, probably right. Kelsey chases don’t have little feet and the ridge that the chase hook presses against, holding the chase firmly against the bed, is usually a bit more substantial. Short of buying a new chase or making one out of plywood (q.v.), you might be able to grind off the little feet you mention. If you do solve the chase issue it might help your impression problems. If not, follow dickg’s advice.

Good luck. Keep us informed. And welcome to the world of the small hand press (“Daily problem solving, permanent satisfaction!”). -D

Yellowfish, I know what you are talking about when you mentioned the little feet on the chase. (On the chase bed, the piece that has the roller rails on it) at the bottom center are two tabs or ears. They should have a screw in each one. The same type of screws that are in the chase frame, (where the type goes). If these screws are run in too far, the bed won’t go back far enough, causing the problem you are describing. Back the screws out a little at a time until you get the bed to lock in place. If these are not adjusted correct the bed won’t go back far enough, thus causing the latch not to hold the frame.
I mentioned this a few months back when someone else was having the same problem. I think some thought I was off my rocker! If I get time I will take pictures in the next day or so and post them. To prove that they are there. Or, at least should be there. I would not grind these off. -Good luck
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (KY)

Maybe this will help.
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press

image: Kelsey Parts Diagram.jpg

Kelsey Parts Diagram.jpg

From what I understand, there are two types of 5x8 Kelsey Chases, designed for different press models. The wrong model wouldn’t quite fit without a fair amount of grinding. Can you please post a picture of the bottom of your chase?

Wow thanks for all the responses, this seems like a great community! I checked the bottom of the chase bed, there are no screws there, but permanent steel tabs so I don’t think that is the problem. I was hopeful for a second there!

I am afraid you all are right and it is the wrong chase. My husband took it to work to try to grind off the feet… but sounds like some are recommending against this? I will get him to send me a picture of the bottom. Thanks again!

Here is a picture of the feet on the bottom of the chase.

image: photo(11).jpg


Yup, looks like the wrong chase. I think I had something like it. A simple dremel tool and about half hour worth of grinding did the trick. I’ll post the picture as I get back.

If by ‘feet’ you mean the little circular protrusions in the picture, they aren’t the problem. We are talking about the recesses in the bottom bar of the chase

Which press bed style (from the attached picture, stolen shamelessly from the great Alan Runfeldt) do you have?

image: 5x8ExcelsiorChaseBeds.jpg


Here is the bed:

Hmm, looks like my picture didn’t load. Either way, my husband shaved off 1/20 inch with an end mill and it fits perfectly now! Thanks for that suggestion!

I don’t think that your bed is right at all!!!!!!! I just went down and looked at my 5”x8” Kelsey and there appear to be a bunch of issues with your bed.

Why does your bed extend out beyond the rails????????? The width of my bed ends at the rails. My bed also has a notch in the top (almost identicle to the notch in the chase) for the second gripper on the latch to grab onto. Your picture shows that second gripper simply sitting in the FLAT edge of the bed. Because it cannot clamp down any farther, the first gripper is not properly grabbing the chase.

You can see the notch in the chase bed illustrated in the schematic drawing above and also see that the chase bed DOES NOT extend wider than the rails.

Also the chase bed has two tabs extending from the bottom (NOT SCREWS)

My original 5”x8” chase does have the round feet at the bottom so I hope you didn’t mess things up by grinding them down.

I honestly think you have the wrong chase bed for your press, and I absolutely cannot fathom why any bed would extend beyond the rails when anything printed would have to be between the rails. Seems like a waste of material.

(Probably the least mechanically inclined guy on this list)

Hi Rick, actually that picture was posted by another user. When I tried to load my picture it didn’t post. Let me try again.

image: chase-bed.gif


Right, your chase bed is the same as mine.
For reference:
1. The screws (mentioned earlier) at the bottom of the bed.
2. Same screws from the other side.
3. Proper chase for this bed.
4. An improper chase modified to fit.

image: chasebed.jpg


The bed shown above by yellowfish and oprion is different than mine. They both show a round rod/tab protusion sticking out from the inside of the bottom of the rails for the chase to hook onto. My chase bed is very different and has a molded and sloped tab sticking out that the chase would cradle onto.

AND, I still fail to see the notch in the top of the chase bed in the very first photo in this thread. That latch appears to be resting on a flat surface and not going into a notched-out area.

I now see that the photo of the chase bed submitted by Oprion shows TWO chase beds that illustrate this difference in style. (and hence the illussion that the bed extends beyond the rails).



I should have also mentioned that there are no screws in the bottom tabs of my chase bed. They are solid.


It looks to me like you have the right chase bed and that it is seated correctly. However, the first picture you posted shows a noticeable gap between the chase bed and the chase and the fact that you mentioned that the chase disengaged a couple of times definitely shows that the chase latch is not gripping correctly. At his point I can only conjecture that either the chase is not the right one or that somehow the chase was incorrectly cast. The little round “feet” that you find on the back of your chase are normal enough for Kelsey chases. However, of the two 3x5 Kelsey chase I have, one has very prominent round protrusions on the back while the other has the round protrusions filed down. Perhaps someone found the round protrusions a problem? On the other hand my 6x10 Kelsey chase has no such “rondelles”.

Of course, do not grind down the round feet that are part of the chase bed and that the bottom (not the back) chase rests on! You might try to figure out exactly what is causing the chase to sit slightly proud of the chase bed.

Btw, is the 5x8 chase reversible? (I don’t have a Kelsey 5x8). My 3x5 chases can be set in the bed either way, chase screws on the bottom, or chase screws on the top.



P.S. Does anyone know if those round protrusions are peculiar to Kelsey? My Craftsman chases have no such feature on the bottom.

P.S. Now that I look at oprion’s post and the picture of your chase, it might be that the chase sits proud because it is not sitting correctly on the two feet that protrude from the side of the chase bed. The chase might have the wrong notches for sitting on the chase bed feet.

- D

Just a side note, the reason that some Kelsey chases had different size pads (feet) was that when the chases came from the foundry, they were not always flat. We would hold the chases up against a large belt sander to try to make the pads even. We would then place the chase on a flat surface to make sure it did not rock. Some chases took more sanding to achieve a square base than others.

Went through more pairs of gloves during that operation than I care to count.


It doesn’t appear that the lever is too short, in the picture the chase is not locked in and is not flush against the bed. I have 2 Kelseys and the lever and chase look correct but the chase is not all the way back something is holding it away. Comfirm it is not bent or buckeled, put the chase on a flat surface and make sure it is flat. Look for any form of obstacle or debris between the bed and chase.Dave