inking problem on windmill

I have been printing on my 10 x 15 windmill with very good results for about a year and a half. I am suddenly dealing with a new inking problem I have not previously experienced. The ink seems to not be sticking to the paper and giving me the good rich coverage I am used to seeing (usually lettra but I have experimented with several different stocks and am getting the same thing). The ink coverage is light and “gravelly” and I am forced to significantly over ink to obtain any kind of decent ink coverage (but the result is still not great coverage in the middle of the impression yet inky edges). I use mostly rubber based ink and am on boxcar pp plates with boxcar base. My rails are clean, I have lowered the rails to the point where I know that is not the culprit, I have slipped sheets behind the chase, and I have put so much more ink in the system than I am accustom to needing. This seems to have happened overnight - less than two weeks ago, I printed a two color job that went beautifully. The next time I printed, this whole issue began. My rollers seem to be in good shape but I have ordered some new rollers to rule that out and am waiting for their arrival to test them out, but feel that if the new rollers don’t help, I’m really at a loss. I have looked for any sign of ink contamination and can find none (although, I could certainly be missing a sign). I am in a dry climate (Colorado) and temperatures have recently gone down a little, however, my colleagues in the community have not been dealing with this issue.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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What is being used to clean the plates/rollers?

Oil on any part of the ink distribution can work around and trash the inking until thoroughly cleaned. (Any doubt, clean the whole inkworks & plates with naptha.)

Do you still have another press that can be used to rule out or verify the ink as the factor?

Are the rails that lift the rollers off the the ink drum fully seated; rollers in good contact with the ink drum?

Are the roller arms retracting well, trucks snug to the rails?

Trucks and bearings in good order?

after quite a few wash-ups I always deglaze my rollers, wonder if that’s your problem.

Matthew, considering the problem you describe happened suddenly, a good place to start would be the roller height/rail adjustment, as your rollers may have been affected by temperature or humidity change. You said you “lowered the rails to the point where I know that is not the culprit”.

Did you use a roller gauge to determine the correct setting?

Check your roller/rails settings again. Here is a good video on the subject.\:


Thanks for replies. I will take all into account as I continue to investigate. HOWEVER, while in the process of trying to do a super thorough cleaning of the system, I have come to a much bigger concern. As, I was rolling the flywheel by hand, I noticed the motion becoming more and more difficult to maintain until finally, the flywheel would no longer turn by hand. When I turned on the motor and engaged the clutch, the wheel turned but the roller arms do not move. I am freaking out. Trying to get someone to look at it tonight for their best assessment, but over the phone, he is at a loss. Please help with any thoughts or any contacts for a windmill mechanic in the Boulder/Denver vicinity of Colorado.

Also, since the timing corresponds, I’m wondering if the inking issue was/is somehow related to the new problem (the wheel has been gradually harder and harder to turn by hand for approximately the same duration as the inking issue)

*just in case anyone is wondering, yes I am turning the wheel the correct direction.

Thanks. Matthew.

I would not run the machine under power until it can be turned normally by hand. Never roll the press backwards under any conditions except a person caught in the press.

I trust the central oiling system has been used religiously in addition to attending the manually oiled locations. The roller arms in particular, have fittings on the tops, but also felts inside the arms that lube the internal guide blocks that are easy to overlook. Likewise the red cups on the toggle inside the press should have wicks to draw oil from the cups to the big bearings.

I would remove the forme rollers and test a manual advance of the press. A seizing roller arm might drag down the whole system, but applying excessive power could cause a catastrophic failure of any number of parts.

AnonyMouse, I agree that since the flywheel will not move on its own, that it’s wise not to push it or let the strength of the motor try to move it. In retrospect, I wish I did not turn the motor on and engage the clutch after it would not turn manually, but I didn’t hear anything scary when I did that. Hopefully, more damage was not sustained.
I may not have described it well when i said “I turned on the motor and engaged the clutch, the wheel turned but the roller arms do not move”. The whole press didn’t move, the platen remained wide open the whole time the flywheel spun.

I have a knowledgable press operator trying to look tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks so much for your comment and please keep em coming if you think of anything else.

re oiling: I do try to be very diligent and would consider myself an over oiler compared to an under oiler, but I will try to go over all my locations to be sure everything has been hit.

When time and will permit, please update on the status of the machine. It could be helpful to others to know the progress or outcome.

( It seems some folks with stuck machines disappear: e.g. )


OK, the press is moving again. A friend was able to get it going by taking the clutch apart and re assembling it. The wild thing was that we (he) didn’t really find a glaring reason, but was able to get it going nonetheless by doing this.

So, I am back to my inking issue. I have done exhaustive cleaning of many areas around the main drum and the rest of the ink train, trying to rule out an ink contamination (which I had suspected). I am still needing to use far more ink than usual, have my rails lower than normal, and am making deeper impression than usual all in an effort for something remotely resembling my normal rich ink coverage (and it still isn’t even close).

So, I’m thinking at this point it must be the ink itself or the rollers. I did feel like I noticed a little bit of streaking or slightly splotchy ink patches (fairly subtle) on the rollers. Maybe the ink just isn’t adhering to the rollers properly??? The ink looks ok on the drum and it looks like a good even coat of ink on the plate when I look under magnification. Does anyone know if would necessarily look wrong on the plate if there was a problem with the ink itself or with the roller adhesion? I have been using rubber based ink as usual, but also experimented with a different brand of rubber as well as a metallic ink (as i think its the only thing i have with oil base) but all have the same issue. I’ve heard people talk about warming ink up sometimes - should I try this and how is this done (however, the temperature hadn’t really dropped when this issue began - it is cold now though)

New rollers coming soon and I’m sure hoping that solves it as I’m just about out of ideas.

Please share any more thoughts.

Thank. Matthew.

I’d examine the distribution & form roller setup closely, rotating the press by hand.

Here are some relevant pages from the manual:

In particular, I’d check the extension rails are fully retracted and making good contact with the drum. Ensure that nothing will interfere with the rail extensions.

When commenting on increasing impression, is the impression on paper very deep now , or does it take a higher impression setting to get the same impression on paper as before? If the latter, the shear collar may be failing, reducing impression and inking on the paper.

Thanks for chiming back,

P.S. One way to know if the shear collar is failing is the center bolt on the back cover will feel loose.

Hi Anonymous, several of your suggestions have been precisely what I’ve been looking very closely at yesterday, but I am a little unclear about some of the shear collar information. Is there any way I could get a few minutes on the phone with you today (or as soon as possible)? I would be very grateful.


You should try heating up the workspace to a comfortable temperature a few hours before you intend to ink up the press. Even once the space feels comfortable, it takes a lot of time to get the steel ink drum, etc. up to a temperature that the ink will behave as it should.