Ink on Boxcar Base

I just received a deep relief Boxcar base for my 6x10 Kelsey Excelsior (completely restored) and I was so excited to get it and start printing. I locked everything up but when I went to ink the polymer plate, ink got all over the base. I took everything off and made sure that everything in the chase wasn’t too tight and popping up. I was also reading about taping the trucks—so I put tape on them and tired again.

The second attempt was better, but the top of the base was still inking. I’m taking a break at this point because I don’t want to force it and hurt anything on the press. It seems a bit tight and I feel like I’m having to use more force than what seems necessary to get the rollers up and down.

If anyone has any pointers, I’d really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

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Taping the rails (or alternatively the trucks) sounds like the right way to go. It took about 10 layers on my Kelsey, to stop the rollers from inking parts of the base. If the rails are unevenly worn, it might even make sense to gradually build up the tape in some spots. That’s what I ended up having to do anyway.

Where was the press restored? Did the restorer machine parts to make them look pretty? He may have milled the roller rails lower to clean them up. Check your truck diameter against the roller diameter — they should match, with the rollers about 1/16 larger in diameter. If you have a type-high gauge or a roller-setting lollypop, you can check the rail height as well — It’s best to make sure the roller-truck relationship is right, then adjust the rails to type-high. The Boxcar system is very finicky about roller adjustment.


There used to be leather straps that went on the rails of some presses, apparently, back in the day. Never seen one with, but in some cases it makes sense given the thickness missing from some presses?

You might consider getting some strip metal the same width as your rails (brass or steel or something) and double stick tape, and some strapping tape.
Stick the trip material to your rails, run the strapping tape overtop it to keep it from popping off, and you have increased the thickness of your rail a uniform, rigid amount.

This will help to ‘bulk up’ without continuing to add tape.

Why strip material instead of tape?
Tape can come off or dent over time and the adhesive can creep, causing bubbles and ripples and other problems through continuous use- I’ve seen it happen with cheap masking tape, for example- causing you to re-apply the entire tape to your rails.

Also, I think there is a lot of back and forth about taping trucks etc, but personally- I think it best to increase the thickness of the rails.

If you figure out the thickness tape it took to get the rails to the right ‘height’, and gauge it with a micrometer or other thickness checking instrument, you can replicate it with strip material and save yourself a lot of headache.