Identifying rollers — rubber versus composition

I inherited a C&P press from a neighbor. The rollers are in decent shape, but I’d like to know if they are composition or rubber. How do I tell?

Thanks to any help anybody can offer.

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Rubber is usually black and composition usually a reddish orange.

New(er) colour is a good identifier of roller material. Hue , however, does range though blacks, reds, orangys, greens, browns. Often, however, the staining of rollers from the inks will give a dark hue to most rollers which then gives doubt over material. A positive method of differentiating between rubber and composition is to wet your finger tip then rub it on the roller end (not the surface - the end). Should the material become sticky and slick leaving a depression under the didgit, it is a composition material; if the finger simply becomes dirty, well, it’s merely a poorly-cleaned rubber roller. In my opinion.

Phew! Speling is poore twoday! …THROUGH. DIGIT.

Forme, they have done studeis that have conlcuded that letter order, or even presnece is not imoprnat, rather, only the coerrctness of the frist and last letter truley matter for compernhesion.

Perhaps this explains why proofreading can be so difficult sometimes…


…..and goes a long way in understanding the push toward Eubonics. ;o)
Anyway, I use as proofing mitigator Linotype’s 1923 book of Specimen faces. Given that it was a flagship edition heralding the very best of their library and printing experiences, it was to many an amusement - and to they a horror - to find that a type family name, ‘Benedictine” spelt incorrectly at the head of a page. That spectre sits ever near. I confess my proficiency at the ‘qwerty’ is not that of the ‘shrdlu’ keyboard and that, plus dotage, eases my embarrassment. Somewhat.

Hmm…thanks. The ends of the rollers are pretty gooey — so it’s hard to tell. I think the rollers are green. The roller ends and faces also tend to exude a sticky substance.

I guess my question now is, regardless of whether they are rubber or composition (and assuming I’ve cleaned them correctly, which I think I have because I read the Roller Care post): should I be applying anything to the rollers to condition them between uses? I sometimes go several months between uses. (A shame, I know.) The press came with a bottle of glycerin — I was wondering if perhaps it is used to condition the rollers, assuming the rollers are composition (since they are made from glycerine, in part). Thanks.

The colour (green) plus your descript of gooey ends and sticky surface raises warning flags. For some time, a soft vinylith was used in the manufacture of press rollers. The material was a chemical soup that, initially, promised the tack of traditional composition (glue, glycerine, sugars) with the robustness of rubber. As bonus, the rollers were easy to produce thus a lowering of costs also added appeal. Alas, they proved highly unstable when heat entered the equation. Often, particularly on the flatbed cylinder presses, the rollers would disintegrate while in use; picture that pressroom scene! The rollers were quickly abandoned by the high-end users but did find a home with the slower platens. But heat was only one gremlin. Component separation was the other biding beastie. Many a pressman snapped on the lights of his pressroom to gaze in wonderment at the pile of sticky - green - goo which dripped like molasses from roller core to floor. The goo was virtually impossible to clean up (acetone and laquer cleaner would eventually loosen (some) of its grip, as would a blast from a CO2 extinguisher. Great fun! The manufacturers pretty much abandoned the vinylith roller. Excepting good ol’ Kelsey. They retained use of the material and, under the misnomer, ‘Plastic’ continued until collapse the selling of that type of roller with their press kits. To this day, I’ve a cardboard roller container from Kelsey having a lining of green gunk. I would occassionally use the gunk to temporarily spot an underlay. Of late, Vinyl has made reappearence under the appelation, ‘Vinyl Rubber’. Same stuff - different pile. Steer clear! Anyhow, keep your rollers in a cool place and check them often. If they are Vinylith they will eventually sag and run like a melting popsicle, or, worse yet, when you attempt to use them they will stick to the ink disc like the proverbial to flypaper. Here’s hoping they are not vinyl.
Composition rollers will not be sticky. They will have a firm, yet resilient feel to them. Think Jello on steroids. In any case - DO NOT WET THEM WITH GLYCERINE. The glycerine in a composition roller is prepared, proportionally, in the mix prior to casting. Attempting to add glycerine to the surface will only mar the roller. Yes, some pressmen repaired rollers using glycerine and spit; but unless you’ve the whoosh of a Miehle in your ears, and can knock the antenna off a cockroach at fifteen paces using a well-aimed gob, best not go there.
Again, store rollers - no matter the material, in a box constructed for that use. Store them vertically, and flip the box weekly. If stored horizontally for any length of time they will sag. (Think rifle suspended by barrel only.) Rollers are the heart of the press. Use the best available, use only a petroleum cleaner, and they will last a good many years. Many of the printing/press problems described on this site are directly attributable to rollers; either in the settings or cleaning. There are many good books on manufacture, care, and use of rollers. It will pay dividends to become familiar with those tireless workers.
In my opinion.

Years ago I got some rollers from Ohio Roller Co. that were made out of some green material. I seem to recall the brand name Rino or Rhino and they were PVC as my notes tell me. At first they were great but then they started oozing liquid sticky stuff from around the core and now they are shrinking in diameter from the ends inward. As I need a new roller for a brayer I cut one down to size but the few I have are pretty much no good now.

I have rollers like these! The gunk oozes out of them and stays put on whatever touches it! I recently purchased a Craftsman and these rollers came along with it. That sticky goo is on the ink disc as well. It’s terrible. I have some serious cleaning to do. (go Goo Gone, go!) Anyhow, I was going to have them stripped and recovered. Is this possible with vinylith rollers?

The glycerine may be intended to moisten the handfeeder’s fingertips and make them a little tacky to help feed and deliver the sheets. Pour a little on a cotton pad in an old ink can lid and set it on one side of the delivery board. Tap your fingers on the pad and work the glycerine in a bit whenever your fingers seem slick and refuse to grab the sheet easily. The glycerine is hygroscopic (I think that’s the word—too lazy to look it up) so it won’t dry out, but probably the ink can lid will rust after a time. Probably most people now would use a secretarial tack compound or rubber fingertips.

I went through this whole thread again and caught the brief off-topic part about poore speling. I am sure that we have all been plagued with typos. I have printed my fair share over the years and I have two quotes tacked-up on the wall in my print shop in an attempt to console me:

“Its a damn poor mind indeed that can’t think of at least two ways of spelling any word.” - Andrew Jackson

“I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way.” - Mark Twain