Packing Impression Cylinder

Greetings from Minnesota’s north woods!

I have an old No. 14 Vandercook galley press which was built in 1928. It’s a very simple, non-motorized cylinder proof press which I acquired for relief printing from hand-inked wood blocks. However, I need to do a better job of packing the cylinder for improved print quality. As far as I can tell, I am to first wrap the cylinder with Paratex (a replacement for Kimlon). Then I will add some layers of .016, .005, and .002 packing. (It is a guessing game for me to determine how much packing to use because unlike most Vandercook presses, mine does NOT have the undercut measurement stamped into the channel separating the impression surface from the cylinder bearers, although I am aware that most models are .040”). Finally, I plan to use either Tympan paper of .007 Mylar for the top sheet.

I have some questions and hope that someone can help me:

1) Is there any way that I can determine the undercut measurement of the press since that number is not stamped onto my press?

2) I’d really like to use .007 Mylar for the top sheet in the event that ink gets onto the cylinder. It wipes clean quite easily. But I am wondering if anyone ever uses a regular Tympan top sheet under it? Or is it an either/or situation? You only use tympan OR Mylar—not both?

I look forward to responses:)
-G Olson

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Paul Moxon’s excellent Vandercook book explains this process in great detail. Paul recommends .007 Mylar or DuraLar as a top sheet, with a carrier sheet and several sheets of packing (Sunpak or tympan paper), measured to accommodate the specific thickness of stock being printed. He’s getting ready to publish the third (expanded) edition real soon now.

Thanks. The book sounds like an excellent resource!