Heidelberg seized up! Help!

Perhaps one of the long-term T-Platen users can assist me…

I have a 1953 black ball model. I have been working with the machine for many years (about 20). I keep it oiled although I’m not sure the internal oiling system is perfectly efficient.

Today while running a light die cutting run, which was going along just fine, the press came to a swift halt over the course of about four impressions.

The press came to a halt with the platen almost completely open and the roller arms at the center position of the bed.

The motor runs, and the flywheel will turn freely if the clutch is disengaged. However, the flywheel with the clutch engaged is absolutely rock-solid un-moveable, causing the belt to slowly slip over it if the clutch is engaged under power.

There is no paper in the base of the press.

The impression lever is off and the impression backed off to beyond zero. There is nothing whatsoever in the press.

HERE IS MY QUESTION: Can you give me some starting points for trouble-shooting my problem? Are there any likely candidates for parts failures or other issues?

The flywheel is absolutely un-moveable. It doesn’t feel like an oil issue to me because I’ve had one before and it began to be noticeable as a drag or hesitation but was not a sudden and wholesale seizure like this.

Any thoughts would be very helpful. Fortunately, I have another Windmill I can flip my work onto, but I will be very sorry if this one has an insurmountable problem. I’ve seen pictures of some of those specialized bearing pullers for the Windmill and it seems unlikely that anyone has those anymore.

My next stop is to talk to Sean Sullivan, but he’s helped us in the past and does not want to be called-in for these presses anymore.

With gratitude,

Jami Heinricher
The Sherwood Press
Olympia, Washington

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

HiJami, Check if it will reverse. Do this by manipulating the tapered round washer-like ring which is right by the main pivot gear. You may need to rock the press (while clutch is engaged) to be able to do this. If you can back it off and move it in reverse then press is not seized. It will be something else that caused this. Check by eliminating things like the piston pump. If the pump was seized then it will stop the press. It is very rare a T platen seizes up.

Also, there is the green oil cup on the inside of the flywheel and the clutch pivot/whatevers that are inside the flywheel next to the operating handle pivot—these need oil, though not sure that would cause the problem you have.

Generally a starved bearing will tend to make a noise if it’s failing but not always.

Also, a serial number is an infallible age reference tool when posting machine problems.

I would check the breakable shear collar at the back base. it might have just been going over a period of time then again it doesn’t really sound like that does it, i would start there though. to check oil system I always pump away until I see oil come out of the fittings on the side of the ink drum. The highest part of the oil system. I dont like the sound of this, die cutting is hard on a press too. My platen also is a black ball 1953. its a mystery.

One further thing that happened to me. A disgruntled employee with with previous owner ( I suspect so) tossed a big quad into the bottom oil well so I don’t think there was a full oil feed to the main bearings. I know the platen well and realised the oil feed was wrong. Found the problem by feel, and fished out the offending piece with a paper clip. No damage done.

I’d manipulate the throwoff and see if the platen moves a few thou… if not, the big platen bushings may have starved, if it moves the platen bushes and knuckles may be ok but the crankshaft or driveshaft may be seized.

It is easy to overlook the red oil-cups inside the press, I’d check that they are full and the wicks are in good order. I’d work the oil pump and see if oil oozes from all the proper places (where the oil lines terminate), any location that does not ooze is suspect.

Check to see if the vacuum pump has shifted. I have heard if instances where this can bind the press up. See if it has side play at the bottom
good luck.
Ted Lavin


I was working with my Heidelberg Platen the other day die cutting and had rollers removed. The roller height adjuster had come loose and the “cam” had turned to where the roller holder hit the cam and stopped the machine solid. It took me a while to find this, so it surely worth a look to see if that is where it has jammed the press.
Good Luck-

Hi Jim, Thank you… I looked for that, but no… the eccentrics are out of the way and firmly secured.

AnonyMouse… I did manipulate the throw off lever and it moves freely… the platen rocking “a few thou”. Thank you for that diagnostic. I’m beginning to think it is a joint in the main driveshaft that is starved and perhaps the oil line is clogged somewhere. It’s bloody hard to see everything I need to see without the press moving freely. So I’m in a little bit of catch-22.

I appreciate everyone weighing-in on what they think might be going on. I have had to rely of outside help very seldom on this little tank of a press. I have worked with this press for a long time without knowing that much about it, because of its reliability. I welcome these opportunities to deepen my knowledge. I hate to rely so deeply upon a machine I don’t fully understand. And press mechanics willing to roll up their sleeves for such little old machines are few and far between. Even Heidelberg completely denied the existence of mechanics manuals for this press, though I managed to get my hands on them eventually. I wish someone would step up and do for the Windmill what my friend Paul Moxon has done for the Vandercook. In my opinion the Windmill is the worthier machine to receive such attention.


A possible resource for advice is Jim Daggs (Ackley Publishing) in Iowa. He’s been pretty deep into these machines and might have some tips and tricks to share.