Albion Platen Balancing and Packing

Hi community, I am new to iron presses and have older Albion that I’m trying to work with.

The platen when fully depressed still seems to be too far away from my form. Do I really need to add at least 1/4” or more of packing? Is there a good resource out there for care and maintenance of an Albion, specifically balancing the platen or schematics for the lever system? I see plenty of resources for Washington and Columbian presses, but am challenged to find the information I need for the Albion.

Thank you!

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Pics would help. Are you using the tympan? And is there packing between piston and the platen?
There needs to be packing there and packing within the tympan unless you don’t have one and are just laying on.
There is adjustment in the spring holding the piston also.
Without pics it’s a bit difficult to see your problem.

I also Print on an Albion and have adjusted other ones, Pics needed.

So I did my best to show the distance between type and platen. I took one picture without tympan (which needs replacing) to show the difference. I’ll gladly take any other pictures that might help. I recognize the platen is not level. There are a lot of issues with this press, but the first thing that jumped out at me is the distance between type and platen. It seems like that’s too much space even if balanced properly.

I also took a picture to she how the fulcrum is set. I wonder if there’s an issue there? Thank you.

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The Frame and Frisket - if original is wedge shaped if you look from the side, hence the upper platen is never parallel to the Bed.

@typenut thank you, good to know. Do you have an online resource or book that would be helpful with some of this basic information? I’ve got Printing on the Iron Handpress, but its reference is the Washington press and I’m not sure how much really is applicable as far as press set up and repair goes.

In the first photo, isn’t the brass yoke on the right the adjustment for the wedge? That plus the hanger bolts should provide some adjustment for you. A set of platen bearers will help keep the platen parallel to the bed when printing.

Combination of

tympan material and its packing.. packing under the piston…fine adjustment via taper wedge and setting of the bar handle stop. Bed rails and bed slideswear so do other components and wear needs taking up. Eg I had a 1cm brass block under the piston ….Gabriel Rummonds book printing on the iron hand press has huge amounts of detail to allow for registration sheets and makeready systems he “devised ” for his particular methodology of printing.

But set the press for the tympan material and packing kiss impression with wedge at minimum insertion if possible ( and spring pressure setting fullcrum chill working satisfactorily)and bar handle stop at minimum… if you need visible or heavy impression for debossing you can mostly adjust by bar handle stop. Then as the press wears between bearing surfaces adjust the slack eg by wedge and piston packing. Press might not have been sufficiently ouled before and worn down components.

Chill and fulcrum need to vertical on impression so set the press for that

The screw fixture on the right in your first photo is the wedge for adjusting impression - it may be almost all the way out if that is the end of it sticking out. The four bolts in the circular plate below the “piston” that houses the “chill” or toggle are for approximately leveling the platen. For precise leveling you should as was suggested use type-high corner blocks. I would start by leveling the platen with the adjusters, checking to be sure there is not a missing spacer there, then work on the wedge adjustment. It should be possible by a combination of adjustments to get level printing of type-high material.


Albion press….maybe after eg 150 years the spring gets more compressed and loses its springiness….can washers be added to it via the long bolt wich secures it via big pin and top bolt?????

Most of the Albions I’ve fiddled with down the years including both my own, mostly had one or sometimes two pieces of sheet steel packing between the very bottom face of the piston and the uppermost surface of the platen. As I recall very thickest was maybe three sixteenths of an inch or thereabouts mostly less. . Small rectangles about two inches by three.

PS and to add that the cast bowl rails are often extremely worn, though I’ve never considered underpacking those!

Can the owner of the troubled Albion post where the press is, and perhaps additional photos that show a wider area? Who made the press? It appears to be a rather high serial number for an older press but some manufacturers got into large numbers. I have information about perhaps 430 Albion presses around the world and perhaps there is someone near you with a similar model who could advise. Or you can contact me through BP and we can go from there.


Bob…..a previous post says a printing museum in Houston Texas

Yes, we’re in Houston. This press is located at The Printing Museum. My understanding is it used to be broken down and transported a lot. So there are some cracked pieces. I’m not sure how accurately it got put back together. The rounce hits the legs. The tympan frame hits the bar handle, etc. We would like to have it working so we can use it as part of our educational component for visiting students.

I just purchased a book recommended in “Printing on the Iron Handpress” that I hope to find helpful. And if any of you know anyone in Houston who would like to mentor me through this I would be appreciative. It’s difficult to show all the things that need attention.

I will post more pictures today and I appreciate everyone’s comments.

Hopefully these wide angles will help.

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Needs a securing pin to the big pin ….last photo back of the press is my experience….photo between piston and platen would help.

Probably easier to make a not so long iron fitting to rounce handle so it does not hit the frame….assuming rails are correctly positioned- which might explaind tympan hitting bar handle???????Albion….no way the rails are wrong way round??????

I also was wondering if there were issues with how the rails were put back together. Anyone have detailed diagrams of how this press *should be assembled that I can check against? I’ll try and add that photo next time I’m back in for you Jonathan.

I actually wonder if the press is an amalgum from more than 1 press….quick sketch….note under the bed are the runners that sit in the rails….at either end of the rails are oil wells or the bed runners can go as far as these…note that the bed may not need to align with the platen front edge but can be set further back to give maximum space for bed when withdrawn from under the plate. Clamps of rails to staple should permit movement of positioning.

Oh…no sketch…flip…..blooming heck

Attatch an image process wont select a saved renamed file on my mobile …only goes to camera to take pic which wont upload …

Bearing in mind that the bed needs to fit nicely under the platen for impression, the fact that your tympan is touching the impression pull handle does rather suggest that when fully out, the bed isnt quite as far out as it should be. Theres usually two flat headed large bolts clamping the bowl railway casting to the winter ( lower cross web of the main casting).
Now these might have been tightened with the bowl rails casting not quite where it should be. Or possibly someone has nailed the drive straps to the wooden drum in not quite the original place, or they may not be tightly stretched before their clamps were closed up, i.e. saggy drive bands.
To adjust this you brelfly need strong armed help, this way can lie a hernia!…

PS the two knuckle arrangement which gives an Albion its wondrous impression strength was I think originally called Earl Stanhope’s Improvement, aka ‘the chills’

harrild …or maybe chill fulcrum spring not adjusted properly so bar handle does not return nearer to piston correctly…Albion I used the handle had a little protrusion on inside to stop it knocking into piston so it must house there-ish when no impression…surely should not protrude over platen? I suggested earlier rails may be wrong way round….but checking diagrams of course it cannot be …rounce handle goes onto a casting protruding left side from rails…duh. Not looked at a press since last November

Among the over 1200 hand presses recorded in the North American Hand Press Database there are at least 10 Harrild Albions, scattered all over the continent. One may be a similar model to yours. One problem is that each manufacturer tried to innovate somehow, so that some mechanisms are unique to some models. An Albion is not an Albion is not an Albion - they are not identical. I suggest two possible approaches, perhaps simultaneous. One is to try to contact other owners in the US of Harrild Albions to see if they can advise on mechanisms and adjustments. The second is to begin by carefully inspecting the press — if there are any cracked parts they may endanger use of the press and should be repaired before any further work is done. Then start as though reassembling the press at the beginning — staple condition, stability, security on legs, etc; platen installation apparently correct, with help and reference to other Harrild presses of similar size and model. This may involve disassembly and inspection of such things as the platen support spring, the toggle/chill, the way the platen is hung, etc. In my experience when a press is disassembled by someone they often don’t take careful notes and reassembly may be by a different person who also is not familiar with the model, and wrong guesses about assembly can easily be made, have great impact on the function of the press, and are hard to trace. Such has probably happened many times with this press, having been disassembled, moved, and reassembled many times.

You need to get back as closely as possible to how the press was assembled when it left Harrild’s plant in London. The mechanism is too complex and sensitive to incorrect assembly to do otherwise.