Adjusting Spring Tension on C&P 8x12

Hi Briar Press Family!

I’m in the middle of restoring a 8x12 C&P New Style that needs so so so much love. After putting on new rollers and trucks, I’m realizing that my spring tension is off and the rollers are sliding down the rails. It looks like I could increase the spring tension on the form rollers by removing the end pin, pulling some spring out, and returning the end pin. Does this work and is this even the correct approach to solving this issue? Do I need to replace the springs?

Any advice is welcome and encouraged. I’m in over my head!

Thanks much,

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The springs on your press are compression springs, so what you are considering would weaken the tension. Are the saddles in good shape? Are there any rough burrs which keep the roller shafts from turning? Are they well oiled? Make certain, however that there is no oil on the surface of the roller trucks or bearers.

I’ve never had to replace these springs on a press, but I understand that it is a difficult and potentially dangerous job. The fact that I’ve never had to do it in my 50+ years of letterpress indicates that perhaps your difficulty is not spring tension, but it certainly can be an issue which needs to be considered on abused presses.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

Hi Natalie

I don’t pretend to be either an expert letterpress printer or engineer, but I had a similar problem on my Golding Pearl no.1: trucks sliding instead of turning. I did manage to increase the tension in the compression springs by pushing the springs IN before replacing the end pin. This isn’t easy: two pairs of hands are better than one so one person can hold the spring in while the other replaces the pin. And the added tension does of course make the rollers a bit trickier to remove and replace after washing up.

I also renewed the bearers using thin pieces of (uncoated) card, and this provided enough extra friction to allow the trucks to revolve rather than skid. The card needs to be thin to avoid throwing off the type height of the rollers.

A Pearl no.1 doesn’t have too much in the way of sophisticated adjustments (an impression throw-off lever is the stuff of dreams!) so maybe this isn’t completely relevant. But for what it’s worth, I hope it helps….

Geoff Barlow

Thanks for your responses, John and Geoff!

The press has been severely abused and I’m regretting getting my hands dirty with this one, but I will try your methods and see if these ideas help! I certainly think a good clean and new oiling could help the saddles do a better job- no rough burrs that I can see.

Thanks again!

My best,

Adjusting the spring tension on the roller saddles of an 8x12 C&P press is not an easy task, and a job best left to a qualified mechanic. There is a tremendous force on the springs and there is a serious risk of injury when removing the retainer pins. That, and it’s likely that getting the springs back in place will be very difficult.

You mention the rollers are “sliding down the rails”. Are the roller trucks keyed onto the roller cores? They need to be, and if not, could result in the sliding you describe.


Sometimes I have thought I knew what the problem was, and it wasn’t. There might be a different reason for your roller problem, spring tension seems like it would be down the list. Sometimes good to have someone else look at it, where are you? maybe someone local with some knowledge can help sort it out.