Looking for an Old Style Kelsey part.

Back in December I gave in to temptation and bought an 1880s old-style Kelsey Excelsior. The kind with the curved body castings left over from the trunnion design. I got a Model 4 1/2, which was the second largest of these presses Kelsey made. Chase size of 13 1/4” x 7 1/4”. It’s in decent shape, but it is missing a few things.

The most obvious is the chase. I’ve already got plans in process for building a new one, though if anyone has one of these lying around, I’m interested! Next are rollers, who’s specs are really odd compared to most presses I’ve seen, but should be relatively easy to source. I might even try my hand at making composition rollers to go with the age of the press. The rollers and chase aren’t my main problem right now, but I’ll take any useful information anyone would like to share.

My main difficulty right now is I’ve also got to replace most, if not all, of the bed adjustment screws. Unlike C&Ps and the like, impression is adjusted from behind the bed rather than behind the platen. On this press, it’s adjusted by six 1/2” x 2” wing bolts. Sadly, these are not UNC (USS), Whitworth, metric, or any other standard I can find. These bolts are 14 threads per inch. I realize that most of the bolt standardization came after WWI, but I was hopeful.

Before I go getting new bolts milled from scratch, I thought I’d ask around to see if anyone either has a handfull of these lying around in a dusty corner somewhere or if anyone knows a source for these. I’d prefer to have wing bolts like the originals, but if I have to get knurled thumbscrews or even hex-head bolts, I’ll take what I can get.

Oh, and here’s a shot of the press:



Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

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Hi Michael,

I’m guessing you bought the one in the highbidswin auction, since that is one of only two 4 1/2 I’ve seen (besides my own).

The chase and bed were a single piece and are very rare, sadly I’m not able to get your the exact measurements as I’ve recently moved and mine isn’t at hand.

IIRC Fritz Klinke mentioned having worked on one of these back when I bought mine, perhaps he can help you out with dimensions. He might also have roller dimensions on file from making mine, although make sure to measure the cores as my press has “aftermarket” saddles and the diameter might differ.

If possible, get bolts made that are easy to set to a depth, as if your press is anything like mine, you’ll have to tighten them often.

The press will give you nice results if you get it set up right and I never regretted the elbow grease that went into it.


That is, indeed, the one! I’m aware the chase and bed were unitary, but thank you for the info. Since I know what the inside dimensions were originally, and I have the press itself to take measurements from, I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble making a new chase for this machine. I know the distance between the chase lock studs and the distance from the lugs at the bottom to the top of the sub-bed. I can work it out from there.

There is one thing I’m interested to know, though. From my measurements, the distance from the face of the rails to the face of the sub-bed is just under 1.5” (I have the exact measure at home but it’s around 1.495” or so). This means the bed plate will need to be about 1/2” thick. That’s a pretty hefty chunk of metal. I was curious as to whether they lightened it with ribbing or not. Can you remember whether your chase-bed is a solid plate or ribbed? Any memories as to how much it weighs? With the size of the chase, I also think I’ll forgo Kelsey’s drilled and tapped chase walls and just use regular quoins. This will make manufacture much simpler.

The saddles on my press appear to be original and have openings for 3/8” cores. If I remember correctly, the core length is 20” and each truck will have to float on the core between the saddle and roller. I expect I’ll have to have them drilled and tapped for grub screws to keep them in place. How do yours work?

Finally, and just out of curiosity, what kind of roller arms does your press have? Mine has Cook’s-Victor-style swing arms, but I don’t imagine Kelsey manufactured any of these presses with that mechanism until after he’d bought Cook out in 1884.

Thanks for any info you can provide!

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Hi: John Barret at Letterpress things had a 4 1/2 that, if I remember correctly was missing only the ink disc. I sold one I had for years that was missing the Chase and rollers to Paul Brubaker at Bindery Tools in Pennsylvania. Paul my still have the press. He hoped to restore it. Good luck, Bill

Sorry to have left this so long. Since BP doesn’t let you know when someone has responded, it’s easy to forget a thread.

Bill, I think I probably have the press you originally sold to Paul as I bought this one from him.

As of when I purchased it, beyond the chase and rollers one of the six chase-bed adjustment bolts was also missing, two were broken off (one nearly flush with the bed and the other just with the ears torqued off) and last three were frozen. I was able to salvage two of the three stuck bolts but the last one was so badly frozen I had to bugger it up pretty badly to get it out. I may be able to salvage the end of it and the longer broken one to get two more useable adjustment bolts but I’ll still need to get at least two more somehow. I’ll contact John Barrett. Thanks for the heads-up.

Kimaboe, any chance you’ve managed to dig out your old Kelsey? Thanks!

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN