Kelsey 5x8 Model U

I recently acquired a Kelsey 5x8 Model U printing press. Luckily, it appeared to be in good condition and have all the required elements except the rollers. Unfortunately, before I could pick it up it was completely dismantled for “ease of transport”. So, now I have a handful of hardware and about 60 pounds of cast iron in various sizes and shapes. While, I appreciate that it will now be very easy to clean and oil I have no idea where to even begin reconstruction…S.O.S. from St. Louis.

Briar Press won’t allow me to upload photos for some reason so see the link below for photos in dropbox.

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I will help you assemble your press…

T and T Press Restoration

Wow! You have a very nice bunch of parts! The only thing I can add here is the rollers will cost about $189. I am sure Ink Spot and other members of Briar Press can talk you into a full restoration of a very nice 5x8 Model U. I consider the 5x8 Kelsey and the 3x5 Kelsey the best they made - the 6x10? Stay away from it…

I’m looking over these parts and it looks like part of the roller carriage the left saddle where the roller hooks are inserted is broken off - I’m not sure. All so, several of the shafts are well worn and need to machined or replaced so they can be easily pressed back into the main chassis. Just a coupla notes here…

I forgot to mention in this discussion ‘cause I got so interested in lizrudloff re-assembly of a Model U 5x8 that I forgot to mention my restoration of a Model P Kelsey 5x8 which is now done. It looks almost “new” never used. Even has the original chase bars and set screws. I use quoins. The problem? The roller carriage has a crack under it as it sits on the main shaft. Not good! One throw of the press handle and my roller carriage will break in half - maybe. So any info on cast iron welding a Kelsey would be of interest here.


Why do you say to stay away from the 6x10?

Gil, we can repair your cracked roller carriage by brazing. Send a few photos for a review and price quote.



whitvickrey: Sorry I missed your comment over a month ago. I don’t like the Kelsey Model X 6x10 because of the roller carriage - it’s sloppy in delivery of ink to the type form. The original 6x10s used a “lifting style” roller hooks to gently pull the rollers “up” over the form. Kelsey looks like they tried to “cheap out” and use a single arm to ink the form - not good. Kinda like the Craftsmen Imperial. The old style Kelsey had an additional spring. So what you get is slurred ink over the form and a “bumpy” travel of the rollers. It should be a “smooth” ride for the rollers. Taping the roller trucks with electrical tape don’t cut it with me. And chase rails are no fun either. I use Expansion roller trucks with rubber tires on my 10x15 C&P - nice ‘n smooth on the type form. I think Kelsey rushed this out as a large handpress and has never met with my or any other small press users approval. Any comments?

Ink Spot: I have your comment on my Model P Kelsey - I think this one is a “keeper” and not for the junk pile. I’ll give you a call…

Ink Spot: I looked at your site and you have a very nice restoration of a 5x8 CMC Imperial. I have one too. When I commented “like a Craftmens Imperial” I only meant a single roller arm. The Kelsey Model X weighs in at 95 pounds - the CMC 61/2x10 Superior weighs in at 200 pounds - we get what we pay for…

Here are some additional notes I have of the Kelsey 6x10 Model X single roller arm as opposed to the original “double hook” roller carriage. A Briar Press member says better control and alignment and roller pressure. I say no. He also compares it to the C&P table top press. However the single roller arm of a C&P has a very interesting innovation - the roller hooks “jog” outward about a half inch in the last few inches of the single roller arm and also uses a single spring in the roller arm. It’s brute force versus geometry. In other words the Kelsey roller arm applies to much power to the type form.

I think you may find this slideshow interesting - - reassembly of a 5x8..

- Alan

Alan: Thank you very much for the slide show. The 5x8 Kelsey is a “buy” in my opinion also the 3x5 Kelsey “N” series - for beginners on a budget. I don’t recommend trying to print a “full” 5x8 type form in this press - I never have. The intricate make-ready would tax even my skills In letterpress. I always use my 10x15 C&P for these large forms. You can tighten up on the platen screws on the Kelsey and risk smashing your type or hard polymer plate to avoid make-ready. Does anyone remember when we called make-ready paste in a tube “snot”??