I recently bought a C&P 10x15 that is in working condition but needs a new motor. The wiring on the original motor is frayed and beyond repair. Are there any specifications that I should know before buying a new motor? The seller said I need to get a 1/3 horsepower motor…is there anything else I need to make sure of? Like RMP or a certain brand perhaps?

Thank you!

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Is there a nameplate on the old motor?
If so that should give us everything we need to make a good recommendation on a new motor.

I would also recommend that you take plenty of pics of wiring before you disconnect the old motor. Most older motors can be rebuilt to better than new condition. Larger cities will have motor rebuild shops that can take a look at what you have and give you a quote.

HP, RPM, Frame size, voltage are the most critical info that we need.

Frame size can be the most difficult aspect since older frames have been eliminated and the newer frames have different mounting dimensions.

Just looked closely at your pic, looks like you have newer style motor, replacement should be pretty easy.


If the internal wiring is frayed you need to get the motor rebuilt or a new one. If the external wiring is frayed any competent electrician can re-wire it with new wiring at much less cost than either a motor rebuild or a new motor. But do make a wiring diagram as presently connected (wire insulation color and where connected).


I would consider getting a 3-phase motor and variable speed controller that converts 110/220 1-phase to 3-phase.

I’d seriously consider getting the motor rebuilt before purchasing a new one.
You’re likely to save money, and to have the motor that already exists- thus being sure not to have to ‘guess’ or rely on other people’s advice (assuming, of course, that the motor worked for the press in the first case- pretty likely).

It should be easy for a good motor repair shop to do this job for you.

Since you are a newer printer, I’d recommend not getting a motor, certainly not a fixed speed one. I’ll get pushback for this, but I feel even slow motors go too fast for beginners. And pulley arrangements on a jack shaft is just a bunch of bother.

I’m an advocate for treadles. Much more controllable for new printers. Hern Iron Works sells a reproduction that is pretty good, although one can be improvised; there are a number of older discussions here on Briar Press.

The downside of a treadle is your body is doing one more thing at the same time, so you need to pay attention at all times. Even without a treadle pay attention. Get some lessons if you can. Getting your hand crushed is no fun at all.

Printers have learned to work on presses with motors for over 100 years. It is ridiculous to try to scare beginning printers about operating presses with motors. If you can find or afford a variable speed motor you will find it a real asset to be able to run slow for large sheets or fast for small items. I can tell you from experience that the novelty of treadling a press wears out quickly, especially if you have a run of any length. Do not set jobs so you have to reach far into the press. A press the size of the one shown can print things like business cards or coasters high on the platen so you don’t have to reach deep inside the press while it is running. If you can get some tips from a local pressman it is a good thing. There are hundreds of people who run powered presses without problems or fear, but I assure you they all use caution.



I wasn’t trying to scare any one. The recommended caution applies with a treadle as well as with a motor. My many years with treadle presses, including teaching a bunch of raw beginners, indicates that the press is able to go much slower and is more controllable with a treadle.

Beginners seldom go for long press runs. 500 or so is no problem with a treadle, especially if you are a younger, fitter press operator than me. But I’ll grant you that a press run of 10,000 is a PITA with a treadle. Luckily for me, I don’t usually take on such projects. I’ll be happy to pass those on to someone with a Heidelberg or Kluge with a feeder.

I would be surprised if the above press has a drive-shaft adaptable to a treadle anyway, but if it did the treadles made by Hern Iron Works wouldn’t fit properly anyway. A 10” x 15” C&P has two more treadle pumps per impression than a 7” x 11” or an 8” x 12”. I know most letterpress beginners are very cautious about the operation of their machines, but to take a machine that is fully outfitted with a motor and pulleys seems ultimately to be a waste. I owned a 7” x 11” Peerless Prouty at one time, and the way the platen snapped shut I wouldn’t have wanted a motor on it; I had a machinist build a treadle for it. I was more than happy when I found a 10” x 15” for sale (for $50.00) with a little motor on it. It made my life a lot easier.


As a freshman in college in 1968 I took Intro to Graphic Arts.One of many lab projects was a project on letterpress. We had to hand set the form and print 100 copies. The press was a NS 10X15 C&P with an adjustable speed motor. Other than and hour in the class room discussing feeding, ink and everything else we were winging it by ourselves. Don’t think anyone was injured but one part of me (now) thinks that might have been rather foolhardy. A treadle my be good for a beginner until they get the feel of it. Understanding power equipment of any kind and the damage it can cause to a person should be first in one’s mind. After 40 years in the trade I still have all my fingers.