C+P clonking noise

I have a new-to-me motorized C+P 10x15 that’s making a horible loud clonking noise when it makes the impression. The platen is well-adjusted (at least, I’m getting an even impression across the paper). But maybe it’s overadjusted? I’m printing with a fair amount of packing and thick paper. The noise is still there when I print with a lighter touch (less packing, thinner paper, etc), though noticeably less loud and thumping.

So, questions: Is this sound normal? If not, how can I adjust to eliminate the noise while still preserving the ability to print with some impression? Will this hurt the press? Thoughts and advice most appreciated.

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Albertine, what you describe doesn’t sound too unusual but that depends on how loud it is. I print on a treadle driven 10 x 15 Gordan Style Old Reliable. Pre C&P by abour 20 years. It makes a definite thump upon impression. I have asked this question before on forums to see what other presses sound like but did not get any replies. There is a web site with two movies of C&Ps shown running. I believe it is Hot Metal or something like that. Do a search.

What does you press sound like with no packing at all. Have you adjusted the impression?


That’s what I was wondering … how does it sound when you cycle the press and use the throw-off, without making an impression? Does it sound any different when you turn the flywheel by hand to make the impression, without using the motor? Have you checked the cams to make sure that something round hasn’t frozen in place and worn a flat spot?

It definitely has something to do with impression… when I “print” with an empty chase, there’s no noise at all. When I print with less packing, there’s less noise. When I hand turn the flywheel there is still the heavy metal clonking, and it’s difficult to turn through the impression.

I should say, I am printing with a fairly heavy impression (by traditional standards), but not absurdly so, and it’s soft thick paper (somerset). I adjusted the platen just this weekend and the impression is even. In fact, the prints look great.

I’m going to try to do a digital recording of the sound. It’s not just a thump, but has a metallic clonk to it that’s a little unsettling. I keep the beast well oiled/lubricated (or so I think).

I’ll check cams etc. more thoroughly in the morning, thanks for the suggestion.


Close the press. Then grab the platen with both hands and jerk on it. It should not move. If it does, there’s some serious wear somewhere.

I jerked on the platen and it didn’t budge, so that’s a good thing. No obvious wear on parts that I could see.

The noise is undoubtedly in the gears — probably the small driving spur gear on the treadle shaft is worn. It’s keyed to the shaft and perhaps the key or keyway is worn, letting the gear slip back and forth on the shaft (around, not across). The resistance of impression causes it to slip. The other place to look is in the spacing of the gear teeth themselves — if they’re worn the small gear is moving from “pushing” the large gear to being “pulled” by it. Either of these causes will be aggravated by increased impression pressure because that puts more strain on the drive train.

Check to be sure the platen isn’t adjusted so far in that it’s bearing on the roller rails — that can also be a cause of increased resistance. This must be checked with the throw-off “on” impression with no forme in the press, as the throw-off moves the bed back. The platen should completely clear the rails by at least the thickness of a sheet of cover stock. If you slip a sheet of bond in the gap as the press closes and it’s pinched, back the platen off. You can make up the difference with packing.

When you close the press and try to move the platen, the platen can’t be touching anything when you try it. If it is touching something, that could push all the slack (if there is any) to one direction and make the platen seem tight, even though it really isn’t.

If you look below the delivery table, there is a stout shaft. Below that, there is a mechanism which locks, or wedges, the platen in place just before the impression is made. If you turn the press slowly by hand, you will see a cast iron piece which is part of the platen casting, move up against pieces of metal just below the shaft. Then the platen lock, the piece below it which has an “X” shape cast into it, moves in to firmly wedge the platen in place and keep it from moving during the impression.

Try putting a form in the press and setting it up like you do when you get the clunking sound, but don’t ink it up. Then turn it on, put it on impression with a piece of paper in the gauge pins, and watch the operation of the platen lock for a few impressions. The piece which is part of the platen should come up, the platen lock should wedge that piece tight while the impression is made (just a short time), and then the platen lock should come off again. During the impression, that piece of the platen should remain wedged tight and not jiggle or move.

While you’ve got the press running, you can listen in other places to try to determine where the clunking might be coming from, since you won’t be occupied with feeding like you usually are when the press is “on impression.” Just be very, very careful when you do this, and have someone else at the stop button and the brake to stop the press fast if you should get caught in a moving part! I don’t mean to sound patronizing, but we can forget that there are many unguarded moving parts which can catch you and/or injure you on these old machines which we love! As well as enjoying printing as a hobby, I work in the printing industry, and through rigorous safey training, have learned to be much more safety conscious than I was before. We should always place safety as our top priority.

Hi. Regarding the C&P clonking noise, a friend who has had a C&P for years advises that the main bearing is loose or worn down.



When all else fails, start at the beginning. Lock up 5 objects known to be the same size and height in the form. 1 at each corner and one in the middle. There is no need to ink or put in guage pins. Start with an amount of packing that will just let the objects touch. you can apply someting with your fingers if you don’t have sensitive enough stock to show the impression. The 5 objects should touch at the same time and with same impression. If not try adjusting the one hitting the hardest back, not forward. When all the objects are touching equally. Run the press by hand on impression. When locked on impression and the 5 objects are touching the papers try to see if the bearing and pin on the right side of the press have any excesive movement. There is a small window that this roller and pin can be seen with a flashlight. If you are satisfied that there is no excessive wear on these parts, then turn the press forward and backward by hand and look for any movement on the chase, or any other parts involved during the impression. This includes all shafts and castings. There is a slight chance that one or more of the cast iron holding sleeves are not tight to the sides. Allen screws with nylon inserts can be purchased if needed at most good hardware stores. Lastly if all checks out run the press without ink on impression and take a large screwdriver and put it to your ear at several points around the press. (Nothing that will get you hurt or cause the screwdrive to engage any moving parts. If you have availble to you a mechanics stethoscope will be even better} Using this method should help you locate the area of the press that is making the noise that worrys you. Use a friend to be the motor while you listen to you can back up the press and again forward when you hear the noise. There is always the first time for an occurance on a press not experienced by any one else, because their presses have not traveled the path yours has. Expect something unusual!

Too much impression.

I wonder if you are putting the press on impression for each impression, and throwing it off between impressions, or if you are feeding while the press remains on impression? Putting the press on impression causes a distinct noise, which seems to be minimized if the impression lever is pulled as the press begins to open.

An old trick, and one I haven’t much experience with or faith in, is to listen to the various working parts of the press through a rod of metal or wood dowelling—a sort of makeshift stethoscope. Seems a mite dangerous, since the press has to be moving.


Hi everyone! I am having a similar problem and although I have cleaned up everything and oil every single hole, the clunking noise still is there when I print with packing. When there is no packing noise disappears… it’s as if the machine is finding too much resistance when printing. Can you please watch this video I’ve uploaded to help me solve the mystery?


Thanks a lot!!!!

Has this press been in your hands for a while and the problem has just started or is it a recurring problem with heavy impression ? I cant distinguish the direction the press is going in have you tried rotating the other way and see if the sound still occurs , i would have to look at the way the impression is achieved to make a proper comment but someone using one of these might see what direction you are meant to be rotating , I have a john haddon machine that is definately not omnidirectional !

Hi Peter!
I have the press since last april. The problem is recurring… it happens every time I heavy pack for having a nice and noticing letterpress effect. The flywheel is rotating in a clockwise way if you stand in front of it… How can I do to make it rotate the other way? If I do it manually it never makes the sound, either I turn it one way or the other…
Thanks for your hepl!!!

Consensus seems to be that you should rotate anti clockwise , in order to reverse your direction you can if youre running A/c just swap the phase round on three phase or just swap the wires around on single phase if you have an un regulayed one speed motor ,if you have electronic speed controls you will just have to turn the motor around physically as i would not advise playing with the polarity of those varispeed motors .
It seems that you could have overlooked the fact that the machine probably had steam drive pulley on the opposite side to the large flywheel this does cause confusion when asking press rotation question because it is dependant where you are driving the old girl from .
If you have the press going the wrong way the shoulder of the part that grunts your impressing action may be too steep as the action after impression is quick but in the correct direction the impressing is more smooth and gradual as pressure build up and then drops off quickly after impression , without actually studying one closely i cant describe it any other way , i have only had access to a craftsman And as yet not really studied it in depth yet . I am heidelberg , nottingham cropper , john Haddon and various english machine familiar but the system and principle generally holds across most of the old girls.