Inking Issue on Peerless Improved


I am having an issue with my press, its only very slight but its bothering me and I am really struggling to figure out where its going wrong!

The Issue i’m having is a very slight travelling over-inking of some areas of my plate and therefore my print. I have sent my rollers and trucks off to be checked and they are all fine which has eliminated them as the issue. I have my rails taped and when they are tapeless they are very straight (measured with a steel rule flush against it to see if any light comes through) and free of any low points and as I have mentioned before the issue is travelling which indicated to me that the issue is not to do with the rails.

I initially thought it was an issue with the ink plate being too low and causing the rollers to ink unevenly and without the correct tension, I bought washers to lift the plate higher and that hasn’t seemed to fix the issue.

I have tried to test the flatness of the ink disk but Im not sure how I can do this effectively, I have used a steel rule and tried to do it that way, it all seemed flat but obviously that isn’t the best way of testing. I am also fairly sure the previous owner who undertook an extensive restoration had the ink disk machined flat.

Im now at a bit of a loss, the only other thing I thought that could be the issue are the springs, I have tried to test the tension comparing and they all seem to have a fairly equal tension, i’m not sure if the tension of the springs could be causing the issue.
Would it be worth switching the springs on the middle roller for the top springs which are used for the roller that engages with the ink fountain as I almost never use this?

The issue seems to solve it self if I let the press run for a while then come back to it, the issue tends to loop around every 50 prints or so. And goes from the top to the bottom horizontally.

Does any one else have any ideas about what could be causing the issue, I definitely have some issues with ghosting, could this be the culprit?

I use a chase base which I am very diligent in ensuring this is flush with the back so I don’t think this is the issue but I could be wrong!

Hoping someone has some ideas!

I can post pictures of the prints if that would be helpful.


Log in to reply   17 replies so far

Clean your poly plate with some alcohol?
Are you using anything strange to clean up your press after a run? I’ve heard some really crazy ways.
How many images do you have up, of the same thing?
What size sheet are you printing?
Are you using ink with transparent ink?
Does it print better using Lead type?
Does it print better using a magnesium cut?
Does it print better using high or low tack ink?
from the sounds of it, It could be a chemical issue. All of the above can influence the out come.
After several attempts to figure out what was up someone was using silicone, to keep the ink disk from rusting. It was causing a nightmare.

What are the atmospheric conditions of your work area?

Thanks for all the ideas!

I usually don’t clean my plates before putting them on the press and if I do I used white spirit (mineral spirit) so I will definitely try using alcohol and see if that helps the issue.

I usually just clean the press down with white spirit and allow to dry overnight, occasionally I do a deep clean with white spirit followed by a regular dish soap and then rinsing clean and a final clean with white spirit.

I usually just print a single plate at A6, if I do business cards ill print two but side by side not stacked.

If I mix inks with white I always use opaque white. I find that transparent ink print slightly better but I think thats due to the thinner consistency. I find I have the issue with both transparent and and opaque inks.

It prints better with low tack inks I would say.

My studio is warm (for the UK anyway so usually about 20 degrees celcius) and not too humid. My inks are always nice a warm and ready to go.

The only thing that makes me think its not a chemical issue is that there is a slight over inking of the shoulder of the plate but as its a moving issue its not something that I can fix with taping the rails. And I had elli evans check my rollers and he said they were all ok! Do you think that could be caused by a chemical issue?

Issues like this can be a real nightmare and chances are there’s more than one problem.

If I was on site, I would wash the press and ink rollers with a good, commercial-quality, press wash and stop using soap detergent on the press. Next, I would check packing and reset the roller stripes.

After making sure that we are ready to print, I would get a new can of ink and start printing. Hopefully, something will change. If not, I would start moving rollers around.

The more I think about this it sounds as if the ink is emulsifying. If so, you do have a chemical issue. Maybe the press is too clean!

Good luck. I know how frustrating this can be.

Im getting to the point where Im considering just going to buy another press! I have had this press for about 5 months and I had this issue since the beginning and Its really starting to bother me now I have tried everything I can possibly think of.

I have had a few days where I have totally stripped down everything and reset and the issue still persists. I have also tried moving the rollers around and just running one at a time to try and single out any issues but nothing makes much of a difference.

Im glad you guys have given me a few more options to try though.

I will buy a good press wash and see if that makes any difference.

The only other thing I forgot to mention that might be making a bit of difference is the ink disk very slightly rocks when the rollers run up to the top and then back as they come back down. Its very very slight.

I have spoken to elli about having an engineer come out and have a look at the press, do you think that would be worth it?

George, could you explain a little more about why the ink could be emulsifying?or is just a case of contamination from the dish soap/white spirit?

You said you have a slight over inking of the shoulder, maybe rollers hitting plate too hard, taping the rails might help, I like to tape my trucks, also loose the dish soap, that could cause most of your problems. Also your rollers could have a glaze on them, I use a cleaner every 6 months or so made by van son called rapid one step glaze remover, it really helps if you have rubber rollers, might not use it on other kinds of rollers. How old are your rollers, new rollers make a world of difference, I usually get 8 to 10 years out of a set of rubber rollers. Hope this helps, good luck.

It is about as easy for we printers to analyze and prescribe for your press as it would be for a physician to diagnose and prescribe for a human patient by email.
Yet, we try. If one of us had had the same problem and had solved it; it would be easier.
Having so said, and not having had the same problem, I will jump in.
I don’t think you should run out to buy another press unless you have lots of money.
I tell my students that you must be a little smarter than the press. Not a lot, but some. You must think like the press.
That is to say that you must understand how the press was designed to work and how it was adjusted when new. You must help the machine to do its job.
I don’t recall if you said you were using either oil or rubber base ink. Both are fine. Rubber does not like any oil contamination. Mineral spirit is the only solvent you need and does not leave much residue when drying. If you are doing a clean up swipe of your plate and will get back to printing the same color right away, a swipe with alcohol will hasten the drying.
Two things you mentioned bear investigation. First though, remove your rollers and roll them on your stone or kitchen table. Use a flashlight behind them. Look to see that they are perfectly round and no light shines through. Trouble shooting involves investigating and ruling out one potential problem at a time.
You mentioned that the ink disk wobbles. It was not built that way. A shoulder near the base of the disk rides on the thick machined edge of the support cylinder. If not lubricated or if damaged, these two surfaces may not mate correctly. This needs to be corrected if inspection shows a problem.
You mentioned some inking on the shoulder. Again, that isn’t how it is supposed to be and you have to be smarter than the machine to determine why. It is because the roller is getting down too close to the plate and/or there was a big heavy glob of ink on the roller. You want kiss inking.
You either tape up the rails (believe Brits call them runners)
until the rollers are not inking the plate at all and then remove one layer of tape; or obtain and install roller bearers. Both of these are cheaper than a new press.

If you are going to practice this archaic art, you are going to have to believe that solving the problems is part of the fun. Alternately you can take the work to the local printer or digital printing machine and not trouble yourself.

An engineer probably isn’t the answer as she or he is probably not knowledgeable of how the machine was designed to operate. An experienced printer and one who is also a pretty decent mechanic is the consultant you want.

You are frustrated, but if you have any love left for that press, keep it and you can cure the machine.

Get some ink on your shirt.

I don’t know the roller mechanism of your press. How high up on the disc do the rollers get at max? I found on one press that the top roller was only getting just to the center of the disc, and by reversing the hooks I got it to pass the center a fair amount. This affects the ink coverage somewhat. Also, does your disc advance in rotation evenly and consistently?

I also suggest checking carefully that the rollers spin freely in all positions of the rollers as they oscillate — sometimes if there is not enough play between roller trucks and hooks the trucks will bind in certain positions and skid either on the disc or across the forme, causing uneven inking which might cycle.


I think I have addressed all the comments and questions in the below!

Its hard to tell if its the rollers hitting the plate too low or an overinking causing the ink to edge over slightly onto the shoulder when pressed into the paper. It is only noticeable when looking through a loupe so it really is very slight.

I tape my rails religiously, as the issue is a moving issue that goes from the top to the bottom of the chase I cannot retape the rails every 20 or so prints. As you mentioned I think this is an issue with a band of over inking on the rollers not as a result of the rollers not running type high.

The rollers I have are from Elli evans and they are designed to have a glossy texture and come like this as new, I have considered deglazing them but I was going to check with the manufacturer first.

As for the dish soap, as I said I use this only for a deep clean (once a month or so) and very occasionally and then rinse and finish with another clean with the white spirit so I would be surprised if this is the issue but I will forgo it and see if I notice a change.

The rollers were new from the last owner, so I believe they are under a year old. I have had them sent back to the original manufacturer (elli evans) to be checked for diameter of both the rollers and the trucks and to see if they are out of round and they came back all good, so I am fairly confident I can rule these out as the issue, asides from perhaps deglazing them!

The engineer was from the same company as the roller manufacture they specialise in the engineering of presses, it wasn’t just a general engineer.

I use oil based inks, hence why I didn’t think there was much of an issue using white spirit.

The ink disk movement is so slight, I mean fractions of millimetres. This would be the main fix for the engineer if I were to use him to help diagnose the issue.

I appreciated the comment about having to find the solving the problems as part of the fun, but I have been troubleshooting the same issue for 5 months with no success its hard not to become disparaged.

I was mostly joking about getting a new press… haha

AdLibPress —

You have touched upon something I was actually playing with today, my rollers as you said only come half way up the ink disk. My press comes with three rollers, two lower rollers for inking and a slightly larger upper roller with larger trucks designed not to ink the plate but to operate with the ink fountain and distribute ink.

I tend not to use the three rollers at once, I tried yesterday with all three rollers and that didn’t seem to make any difference, I tried placing the rollers at the top so they took the place of the ink fountain roller but again no difference was made.

I will defiantly give reversing the hooks a go, that sounds like it might be something to try.

I also added a small steel tube sections before the springs to test wether improving the tension of the springs would hold the rollers closer to the ink disk and improve ink distribution, it seems like it might have made a small difference but its hard to tell, the issue was definitely still there though.

As for the rotation of the disk, yes its rotating very evenly and consistently.

And there is no roller slur or skidding that I can notice.

It might be of note to mention that the over inking only happens at the top and the bottom of the plate never in the middle.

I am happy to provide some pictures if anyone thinks it might be helpful.

Thank you everyone for all of your help so far, its great to have some other brains thinking about this too.

I assume you have checked to be sure the roller trucks are locked to the roller cores. Many systems have a part of the core pinched up to create a “key” that fits into a slot in the bore of the trucks to lock the trucks to the core. If the roller can spin in the trucks or vice versa, the rollers can turn at a different rate than the trucks and be spinning slower or faster than the trucks when they hit the form, wiping a bit of ink off as they skid to match the speed of the roller surface to the passage over the plate/type. This effect could both produce the apparent over- or under-inking at the top and bottom of the forme and the ink on the shoulders. I had a set-up once where the cores could turn in the trucks and at the bottom of travel and occasionally at the top they would spin in the trucks when they reversed direction of rotation. Maybe something to check.


Hi Bob,

Yes the cores are locked into the trucks so I know they aren’t moving in that way.

Thank you for that though!

I am beginning to feel like its an issue as you say with a sort of a banding, I just need to try and figure out now what could be causing this.

Ah, you have information that may be of value. You have areas that are consistently over inking. Think like the machine. What could be causing this? Well yes. That is sure what you want to know. The rollers apparently are too close to the plate and are hitting it too hard when they mount the plate as they pass from top to bottom and again from bottom to top.
Without ink on the press and with forme in, cut a strip of copy paper about 1” wide. Place strip over top of forme and roll rollers down by hand so rollers just pinch the strip to the top of the forme. Tug strip. There should be some grip to the pinch, but very little. You have yet to later add ink to this gap. Try the strip tug at all four corners of the forme. If there is too much grip, you are not getting kiss inking.

I think your answer may be in roller bearers. They are catering to the symptom rather than a real solution, but they solve the problem.

get some ink on your shirt

So glad your here. I logged in to Briarpress tonight to post a query that is pretty much identical to yours.
I’ve been printing on a 8 x12 C&P since 1982.
Every so often this question comes up and I chime in with a solution that cured the issue for me. The progressive gap in ink coverage from top to bottom or via versa indicated something that is rotational. Something like a flat spot on a tire. Coming around every so many rotations.
In my case a friend diagnosed it as a gear slur. That is a wiping of the ink by sliding rollers rather than rotating rollers. Simply tapping the key into the gear stopped the small amount of play in the gears and alleviated the problem.
However for two weeks I’ve been struggling with the exact same problem. First thing I checked was the gear. NOT THE PROBLEM.
Two of my rollers are 3 years old and appear to be regular in size with no wear showing when placed on a flat surface.
The third showed a clear indication of wear in the center. You could easily see underneath the middle. This made me think that the advice that AdLib gives us about roller turning speed variation would cause a problem similar to ours and the gear slur mentioned above. So I’ve ordered new rollers and removed the single old roller from the set. Trying it with only two, and the problem is still apparent.
I use MERTS, adjustable trucks that allow you to tighten a nut and change the diameter of the truck and therefore roller heights. I felt like my issue is roller height causing this so I have finessed this beyond reason. Where the ink doesn’t drop out it prints clean as a whistle.

Tonight I pulled the rods and springs that carry the roller saddles. I carefully cleaned them with steel wool to counter any possible sticking of the rods.
Then I noticed that there is some play between the core of rollers and the trucks. Although there are nibs on the core that mate with the truck there are a few degrees of play.

Friends, could this cause the speed differential or slur between the rollers and the trucks??
I also noticed that the whole system that carries the roller arms has some play. Is this normal and how can I eliminate it if it is not?

Melissa and I look forward to your answers.

Here is a pix of 5 pieces showing the progressive lack of ink from bottom toward top.

image: image.jpeg


If you are anywhere near Wellingborough way, contact Patrick Roe at The Logan Press-40 years of printing on treadles, he does travel to various parts of uk delivering collecting stuff, maybe he could pop in if available?
You first mentioned something happening say every 50 prints-how many ratchet teeth on your ink disk?
Then later posts say c 20 though…is there any slop or movement in the mechanisms that hold the roller arms and that drive the roller arms, could be that some bushing is required to worn bearings? Try the same plate on another press eg one guaranteed to print up to spec., eg Patrick refurbs Arab’s, rather than go out and buy another old press.

Steve, that is exactly what happened to me when I first started using photopolymer plates on a C&P, with MERTs. It was mostly due to over-expanding the MERTs to compensate for worn tracks, something that was not necessary with type-metal forms. The tires expanded eccentrically, and eventually in a run all the high spots line up with the resulting light area. My first solution was to stop and shift the rollers out of sync, but the real solution was solid trucks matching diameter of roller, taping tracks to control contact with form. Another element was not using composition rollers with photopolymer (I had favored two rubber and one comp for best inking).
One of many ways to check roller-to-form contact is to read the ink-film on the roller as you inch the rollers over the form. This can tell you how the roller is contacting the form. It can even tell you if there is slur. And if you read the film as the rollers come off the ink plate, you may see if there are out-of-contact areas there too.
Never had dark stripes except when using the fountain, and a rider helped with that.

Derlin Trucks matched to the diameter of new rollers solved this exact issue for us.

Mineral spirits is our preferred solvent with polymer plates, water based things can soften the polymer.

In the mean time, if you need to get this job done, just hit that spot with a hand brayer between impressions…. It will be slow, but at least you can get this one out the door.

Well I’ve finally got the problem solved. Thanks the the “Wise One”, John Barrett of Letterpress Things.

After speaking with numerous folks about this migrating vanishing ink, John nailed the problem without even hearing all of the things I’d tried already.
He asked, “was there any play between my roller cores and my trucks. Which there was, about 5 degrees of slop rotation.
His remedy, jam a copper thin spacer between the core and the truck, and Bingo the problem disappeared!

So I guess this was very similar to the gear slur that I’d experienced 20 years or so ago, when the two main gears had some play in the rotational relationship. This caused a slur as the rollers got pulled over the type like a squeegee rather than rolling over it.

Thank you all for you input and thank you King John.