Chandler and Price 10 x 15 oldstyle rail height?

What is the rail height of a 10 x 15 old style Chandler and Price press? I have a nice old press that when moved got dropped on it’s ear. The break was repaired by a reputable shop and as part of the repair, the rails were ground down and replaced with new metal on both sides. I have used this press since the early 90s with moveable type, magnesium wood backed plates, metal plates on a honeycomb base, linoleum type high blocks and polymer plates with a boxcar base. I have new rollers and old metal trucks. I am trying to streamline my printing process, which varies between polymer plates and linoleum blocks. Because of the difference in height of each set up, I have to vary the tape on my rails and it’s a bit of a pain.

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i think i would put your rollers in, measure then go from there. it would depend on what height you Streamline to.

The difference in block height is not a problem, everything should be type high or under to start with and then you underlay the low ones on the back as it has been done since the year dot.

Set your rollers for type high first.

Depending on the amount the job is under type high, stick tissue, paper or card on the back.

If it is a long way under then a thicker sheet material such as perspex, UPVC, aluminium etc could be put on.

To mount old plates, linos etc I find a base as near as possible to the required height and glue the packing on the back as needed. I found a cheap wood breadboard was good.

For the tabletop a bit of marble chopping board and an offcut of polished marble kitchen work top are good for small polymer plates, a bit heavy though. Can’t see any point in paying a fortune for a piece of aluminium block.

I would measure the rails height above the bed surface with a good straightedge across between them and a type-high gauge. They should be type high. Then as suggested all material to be printed should be type high as well, however you achieve that. The rollers should be about 1/16 inch larger in diameter than the trucks so as to make a kiss of the image or type for inking — a “lollypop” roller setting gauge is useful for checking that. If you have composition rollers you will have to make adjustments every time you use them as they swell and shrink with the weather. Morgan Expansion Trucks are helpful for such adjustments.


Thank you all for your comments. My current type high set up of boxcar base and polymer plate stands proud of the rails and I have to build up the rails because the job is too high, not too low. When my rails were remachined, I believe they were ground too low. I wondered if anyone had a measurement of rail height for my type of press, something I didn’t see this in the archived comments I looked through. I wanted to compare that measurement to my rail height to see what the difference is. I can build up my rails, but every time I change from linoleum to polymer, I have to change my tape set up.

Patti, note that unless you check the linoleum blocks to be sure they measure type-high (and assuming you have the correct combination of photopolymer base height and plate thickness to make type-high), you will have to adjust the linoleum blocks to type-high with shimming under them to avoid having to adjust the rails. As has been suggested, all material to be printed should be the same height-to-paper of .918 inch to avoid the problem you are having.

One problem with measuring the rails of other presses is that many have worn significantly due to the use of steel trucks and being run at high speed or on the same job for very long runs. So measurement of other presses, carefully done, will show a range of heights.

The most consistent results will be achieved by having the rails exactly .918 above the bed and making sure all material to be printed is .918 high. Then you can set the rollers for the correct inking and everything should work.

I don’t know of any other solution. Sorry!


Thank you Bob. Surprisingly, the thing that struck me from your comments is the most obvious of all, that the rails should be .918 above the bed and the job should be .918 (type high) as well! After printing on and off since 1989, you would think I would have considered that bit of information, but that is precisely why I posted. Here’s another question related to your post. As far as I am aware, it is impossible to adjust the rollers on a Chandler and Price except through manipulation of the rail height, or with expansion trucks. Is that the case? My father, an inveterate tinkerer, suggested that I get two different sized sets of trucks made for my press, which would negate my need to fiddle with rail height for the different set ups. The other way to go is to create a consistent base for the linoleum. I have been using an old wood backing from a linoleum block and applying rubber cement to both linoleum and the cruddy old backing board. As you can imagine, this is pretty imprecise, and after so much time and rubber cement a new solution needs to be acquired or made. Thanks for everyone’s comments!

Yes, everything should be .918. The rail height, type, Boxcar base plus plate and linoleum block cut. That is what the press was designed to do.
It sounds like you are working with sheet linoleum and applying it to a wooden block yourself. I see that as similar to a poly plate applied to a Boxcar base.
How thick is your linoleum? Would a piece of linoleum applied to a piece of 5/8” furniture grade plywood be less than .918? If so, this is your answer. From there you shim up the bottom of the plywood to bring the total height to .918.
Now everything you print is .918 as it should be.
Next is getting the rails to .918. Tape is the usual answer.
Put a Boxcar base with poly plate in the press, or a form with large type. Place a straightedge over the form and look to see the gap over the rails. Estimate the number of layers of tape required to equal that gap. Apply tape. Roll rollers to below the form. Place a 1” strip of copy paper over the form and roll rollers up over the form and strip. Tug strip. Is strip gripped or free? Test needs to be done at both sides of the form. If test strip is gripped, add another layer of tape. If free, remove a layer. You want the rollers to just kiss the form.
Now ink the press and ink the form. Observe the form and see if it appears evenly inked. Clean form. Add one more strip of tape and ink form again. Add tape one strip at a time until form does not ink or does not ink evenly. Then remove one strip of tape and your rails should be at .918 and you will be able to do proper kiss inking.
Now with your several kinds of form and rails all at .918 you should have proper inking and good printing. I say that you have to be a little smarter than the press. Not a lot, but some. You have to understand how it works and help it to do its job.
Alternately you could use roller bearers.

Get some ink on your shirt.


Thank you Inky! Very clear and very very helpful! I did look at roller bearers yesterday, which seemed to help with the slur problems that some printers encounter, but I am not familiar with them. Could you tell me how they work? I assume these are locked in the chase at the far edges of the chase and thus they are inked as you print. Can you explain how they work and why one would use them?

You are correct that the bearers are locked in the chase at the edges and they do take ink as the rollers do bear upon them.
With rails at .918 and the form at .918 and proper size trucks and rollers, the rollers kiss ink. Anything that accomplishes the kiss inking is good. If the rollers are low and one did not wish to tape them, bearers are a solution. More of a fix or make-do than a solution. If it makes good prints it is OK.
The bearers are usually made of 1” angle iron aluminum.
One leg is machined down to .918 at a machine shop. Pieces are cut to the inside dimension of the chase plus
1 1/2”. 3/4” notches are cut from the .918 leg on each end.
The remaining tab is bent over a bit to go over the top and bottom of the chase and allow the rollers to mount and dismount. The form and the bearers should now all receive kiss inking. The friction between the rollers and the bearers and form cause the rollers to turn.
Cut away your tympan sheet and packing where the inked bearers will try to print.

Get some ink on your shirt.

You want to be careful about very different size trucks for your rollers — if the trucks are much different in diameter than the rollers (1/8 inch difference or more — you can get slurring of the ink from the rollers since the roller surface is then traveling at a different speed than the truck surface.

You might also consider getting a set of Morgan expansion trucks if they’re available for your press, for minor adjustments. I had a set for a former press and loved them. They make the business of achieving just the right inking much easier and they run much quieter. I used to tape my trucks (my current press is a 6x9 Sigwalt and expansion trucks aren’t available) to try to achieve the same thing but since I got a great set of rubber rollers made to the same diameter as my trucks everything works fine. I did have to shim the rails up to type-high, which I did by epoxying a pair of 1/16” thick pieces of 1/2x1/2 aluminum angle to the rails and then filing them back to type high. If your rails are low I would suggest that kind of repair rather than tape, as it is more permanent and the repair does not compress or wrinkle up with time — I’ve been using the press with that repair for more than 10 years. It’s worth the effort to get everything right, as it’s a lot less effort to print from then on.