Buying a Heidelberg Windmill


I want to open my own little letterpress business in my town. Currently I’m on the stage of studying and searching for the equipment.

So, I found a seller, who sells a Heidelberg Windmill in my country. I am thinking about to go and take a look on it. But the problem is — I totally don’t know what to look for. What parts should I inspect in the first place? What can be broken, usually? What questions should I ask?

I know, that it would be great to find some expert, and take him with me, when I’ll make the tour. But I really doubt, that I can find one here, in my country.

Attached is a photo of the Windmill. Could it be helpful somehow?

What would you suggest?
Thanks in advance.

image: Heidelberg Windmill

Heidelberg Windmill

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I suggest finding a windmill owner to teach you operation before making a purchase.

The windmill in the picture is configured for foil stamping. The press *may* no longer have the capacity for printing with ink, but could foil or die-cut.

I would also not buy a windmill without personally seeing it print (with guides and without guides). Novices regularly buy presses that are missing parts and/or needing repair costing much more than the press.

Ditto on finding someone to teach you the press. You will spend hours kicking yourself figuring out all the minute adjustments you need to make during a run. It’s a great press but a tough learning curve. Not one I’d start with.

Here’s an idea- does the person selling the press know how to operate it well?

Perhaps speak to them and see if you can’t bargain in some lessons on the press and a walk thru of the features of the machine with the purchase.

Even with the lo-rez picture, I can see the press is dirty, not oiled, the right table/guard is missing, its stanchion is bent awkwardly, the backplane behind the delivery table is askew, there is no stop-block for the left feed table standard (for running guides) and I’m not really sure what’s going on by the throw-off handle.

I would only consider that press for parts, unless I could see it print.

Dominik, Sir, I can see your are getting some excellent tips already, but having had a friend/guest from Sofia, Bulgaria, here, on an Aircraft Engineering course, I can appreciate the potential problems that you face, for example finding an expert, or engineer, or instructor to give you back up will possibly, Not be so easy!! Perhaps a little *few and far between* for You. . The sellar would, possibly, either not know All the important points or, be careful to not divulge major problems, until you have paid and transported, you do not say from what distance or even which country ? .
My friend regularly transports motor vehicles from the U.K. to Bulgaria and Ukraine, usually running empty into the U.K..
He may be a good contact for you, I will forward his Contact details, if you wish and with his permission. He also regularly commutes between Bulgaria and Ukraine.???
For political reasons which I dont understand they route through Germany, Italy and Greece, avoiding Poland.!!!
The absolute *Best bar None* person, to talk to, and be advised by, regarding Heidleberg Platen,s is here in the U.K. but may unfortunately be OFF line at this time, (Internet Server possibly)?
I am always ready to relay/re-post info on request!!
Best wishes for the coming year, & Good Luck.

merry Christmas Mick, I hope you are having a great day, the goats say hi.

Hey, everyone, thanks for so many answers!

AnonyMouse, After you comment I am really considering not even go and see the press. If so many parts are missing, I probably keep searching for another one somewhere else. Even if it can print, I couldn’t find the parts for it nowhere anyways. Though, I the guys who sell the press, told me, that they have some specialists, that can rebuild the press for my needs, and make it print-ready for me, if I’ll give them some pre-payment. Do you think, I should anyway make the trip and take a look on that press, and see it printing?

HavenPress, They probably can operate it somehow, as they told me. Its a large company, that sells different printing-equipment, here in Ukraine. So probably they don’t know all the things that can be done on the press, and they would be a bad teacher.

jonsel Thanks for the advice! Still, I am willing to learn, and spending a lot time on it would not be an issue for me. As I have red, this is really a great press.

Mick on Monotype, Sure, I am looking at all possibilities. You can give your friend my contacts. Though, I think a transport from anywhre in Europe to Ukraine would cost me a century :)

So, the main problem is: the press on the picture is the only one Windmill I could find here in my country. Should I try to look in other counties? I saw some posting on ebay, but with all the transport, I am feared that it can be damaged or completely broken.

one thing to consider is Windmill parts are expensive, if you need to buy parts it could cost you plenty.

Also, I found a Heidelberg Tiegel. What’s the difference between Windmill and Tiegel? Looks almost the same.

If you seriously want to begin your career with a more complicated automatic machine (if you don’t know anything about letterpress printing you could learn much and do quite a lot of business on a more modest hand-fed press at lower cost) you could also consider searching in Ukraine for some of the other automated presses made in Europe, some even in Eastern Europe. You might also find an inexpensive smaller non-automated platen job press for less money and it would be much less difficult to learn how to print on it, and upgrade to a Windmill or other automated press after you have some experience.


Dick, Thank you, and of course I return the compliment for yourself and the livestock, (and sincerely hope that the storm now sweeping the U.K. and allegedly donated by Uncle Sam, did no harm to the live stock, *inc. Goats* !!! Although they would probably EAT anything and everything that blows their way.)
News of our A.W.O.L. Goat/Printer is on the way S.A.P
And I take this opportunity to wish B.P members, especially the new ones, A Happy and Informative New Year, this on behalf of our indigenous Members, probably, too busy putting away the usual Mountain of festive gear, inc. the Odd beer or 2 or more!…
If I could get away with it re, the P.C.brigade and non print related items, I have several (true) goat stories, including *getting ambushed* by a Herd of Goats halfway between Oslo and Bergen in Norway, got the Transparencies to prove it,!! plus *TIRFING,S running in Helsingborg, Sweden. This when here in the U.K. were using JOHANNESBURG,S Both Big letterpress cylinders!!! . We caught up, eventually!!
In a co-related and possibly relevant, recent post(s) BOTH Machines capable of SMASHING Monotype to oblivion?? but even with the Cylinder,s alone, at probably more than 2 imperial tons, each, per Machine, DID NOT achieve the above, because they were printing at *KISS* impression PLUS perhaps 1 or 2 thickness,s (metaphorically) of tissue including, on 4 colour, at 16 or 32 pages UP??
Even after 50,000 run, the Type could be stored for Re print but admittedly, if corrections (house or authors) came in whole pages, would have to be reset, because the old type appeared as bold.!!
Happy new year One and All.

Dominik. Sir, My buddie/contact does not contribute to B. P. If you mail me via B.P. your E mail address I will happily put you in contact with Him direct, his English is 100% His Bulgarian and or Ukranian are obviously perfect, I am in contact on a weekly basis, so if Letterpress Queries arise, that he is unsure of he will mail me immediately to clarify and repost. And just possibly, if ever needed collect spare Parts from U. K. on a return load, with Motor Vehicles to Sofia, as a return favour to myself, and repost from Bulgaria, just a thought for the future.?
As Dick implies, H/berg parts are not cheap, or easily accessible,especially from a distance, And as Ad Lib Press says, A H/berg Platen is a big leap of faith for a first machine, with many many steps to the learning curve, with usually a lot of frustration in the process.
As Ad Lib also implies starting with a smaller machine, table top Kelsey, Sigwalt, Adana, or European, (French) possibly, may be a better option, initially, to get your head around things like, Impression, Register, Inking, What stock to try, Which ink to use, (in tiny quantities to start) What extras, to use I.E. Type, Spacing, Mounting base, Blocks, Plates, Photopolymer, etc etc, Where and how to source?
Virtually non would go to waste, when you proceed up the scale, and in the event, that you do start with a small machine, when and if you acquire a H/berg or similar, you leave the little table top in the corner, it is almost certain that when you first have to, for example, *Over print* one name on to a short run of, say, business cards that you have printed eight up, and trimmed to size, or more, on your big Auto platen, or you want to print one name, or one word even, on to pre printed folded card, your little machine will do the job, before you could even lock up with your H/berg.!!
Also H/berg,s with their automatic action can handle fairly small size stock!! but without a lot of patience and/or a good tutor it could be frustrating, with the *baby* table top and comparatively, small learning curve, the first tiny jobs may well FLY of the machine, and bring rewards?.
I certainly have and I suspect that Ad Lib, has also, made these mistakes, with too much enthusiasm, too quickly and without, too much fore thought, or guidance??
Ad Lib Press, Thank you Sir.
Dominik, Sir, apologies if I seem to be stating the obvious, but I have made the mistakes, to my cost!!! . . Sincere regards and the very best of Luck. Mick.

Tiegel is German for press.


Tiegel is the German word for platen, and not for press. Tiegelpresse means platen press. Zylinderpress is a cyylinder press and so on…

Yes, and if I recall correctly…
“It’s worth noting that while everyone refers to them as the windmill…. That’s an unofficial nickname, They’re really designated the Heidelberg Tiegel or the Heidelberg Platen, depending upon which side of the pond you’re on”

Someone familiar with this factoid wanna chime in?

you can also search for a grafopress Czech knockoff of the Windmill ive seen a cuple that works well

If the arms arent present then re read Anonymouses comment . Small parts are less trouble but arms come at huge cost in relation to that of a whole running but dirty press.

I ran a windmill and a kluge for my dad years ago. Make ready and set up are easier on the Hiedelberg, it is faster and not as noisy as a Kluge or C & P. If you are mechanically inclined, neither are hard. If you are a mechanical klutz, both will be tough.

I ran a windmill and a kluge for my dad years ago. Make ready and set up are easier on the Hiedelberg, it is faster and not as noisy as a Kluge or C & P. If you are mechanically inclined, neither are hard. If you are a mechanical klutz, both will be tough.