Roller Height Problems

I was wondering if anyone could help me with the issues I have been having trying to repair my platen press.

When I originally bought the press there was nothing left on the rollers but the cores so I had to get them recovered by a roller manufacturer. The metal trucks that came with the press were worn down and look sloped from wear. I got new 3D printed trucks made using the average diameter from the original trucks for size.

When using a roller gauge on the bed of the press some areas are too low (gauge is not inking) and some areas are too high. (Leaving thick strips on the gauge)

I know that people use tape on the rails to fix over-inking but I was wondering what are the solutions when the gauge doesn’t take ink at all?

Some previous suggestions from others of what could be causing the issues have been:
– 3D printed trucks may not be true
– Rollers may be uneven
– Rails may be worn down in areas
– Chase bed has flat spots

I thought about maybe taping areas of the chase bed or applying a thin metal sheet across the chase bed to raise it enough for me to get the roller gauge inking and raise everything accordingly with tape on the rails, but I have also been advised against this.

I’m not sure what is the best way to move forward or figure out the root of the problem.

Would getting smaller trucks help drop the rollers to inking height? Are there any methods to calculating the size I would need?

Hope that all makes sense, thanks for taking the time!

Log in to reply   18 replies so far

Where did you get the new rollers and the new trucks? I do know of one other person with 3D printed trucks, but it isn’t the approach I would take. To me, I’d replace the trucks and see how it looks. It would also be good to know if the rollers came from a reputable source.

I wouldn’t personally trust any readings until you know your rollers and trucks are solid, trustworthy, and true. Once that is good, then move on to taping rails and other options.

One other quick note, your trucks should match roller diameter, at least that is the advice I have always been given.

Good Luck!

Where did you get the new rollers and the new trucks? I do know of one other person with 3D printed trucks, but it isn’t the approach I would take. To me, I’d replace the trucks and see how it looks. It would also be good to know if the rollers came from a reputable source.

I wouldn’t personally trust any readings until you know your rollers and trucks are solid, trustworthy, and true. Once that is good, then move on to taping rails and other options.

One other quick note, your trucks should match roller diameter, at least that is the advice I have always been given.

Good Luck!

I suggest starting with the press. Get a good steel straightedge and hold it on the rails one at a time and look for uneven rails. Then place the straightedge across the bed resting on the two rails and check the space between the bed and straightedge with a type-high gauge, or measure using the roller-setting gauge, which ought to also be type-high, and check several areas of the bed. If there are low spots on the rails or the bed that test should reveal them. If all these reveal no problem, then tackle the rollers for high or low spots and uniform diameter and radius from the cores. There is no point in replacing the rollers if the rails and bed are not correct. Find the guilty party.


Thanks for the advice these are some great pointers; to answer your questions:

I got the rollers made by a company here in the Uk that was recommended by another letterpress printer, they make rollers for all kinds of commercial presses; Heidelberg etc. So I’d imagine they would make them true, unless the original cores I supplied to them were off which I don’t think were.

The press I am repairing is a Cropper Charlton & Co Peerless No.1 8x5 in which I have only seen one other image of one out there in the wild so sourcing another set of original trucks for it seems unachievable. That’s why I went down the 3D printed route to have a set that were a bit closer to the original diameter as the metal trucks I have are heavily worn and sloped.

The only other idea I had was buying a new set of Adana 8x5 rollers and trucks (they can be made new here in the UK) and trying to raise the bed to meet them as they are a smaller diameter. At least with those there would be no guessing games with the rollers or trucks being true but it would mean messing with the bed.

Thanks for the suggestion of testing with a straightedge I had a go today with that method and it seems the right hand rail seems to be higher in the middle whilst the left rail is completely flush (I’ve attached reference images in the flickr link below) testing the bed with a roller-setting gauge was throwing up all kinds of results, too high in areas, too low in areas, similar to my tests with the rollers on press would this be because the rails are off?

Are there any methods to get both rails level? Would it be a case of building up again with tape once the rails are both brought to a level height?

Thanks again for all of your help, I’ve struggled with this press for a while now and don’t want to give up on it!

Here’s a link to the flickr album I had stuck some references in:

As to using the Adana rollers, be sure their cores will fit in your press’s roller hooks, and that the trucks and rollers can be mounted on your press. Measure the distance between (inside face to inside face) the press’s roller hooks across the press, which should be slightly more than the measurement from the outer side of one truck along the roller to the outer side of the opposite truck. The correct diameter trucks to match the rollers will or should put the roller surfaces at type height if the rails are type high, so no need to adjust the bed if the rails are close to the correct height. I suggest you try to get rubber rollers as their surfaces will be ground true to the cores. Cast urethane or composition could be off center (roller surface to core) and cause additional problems.


Having a look at the new Adana rollers I’m not sure if they match the trucks exactly (think Adana rails might be setup a little different)

I may have found some potential points that could be causing the issues. I noticed the bed is slightly raised away from where the base of the rails sit, hard to explain but the right side is more pronounced in this area than the left.

I tried to check the rails are type high by measuring from the bed to the rail top with a roller gauge, but with the bed being pronounced from where the bottom of the rails are should I be trying to get the bed flush with this base of the rail area? This could probably be achieved by sanding down the back of the bed on the right so that it meets the bottom of the rails frame. Seems odd that the bed is poking out.

I’ve attached a few images to the flickr gallery if you want a look over:

I also discovered my 3D printed roller trucks are uneven as when I rolled them on a table with the roller attached they were undulating. (I could see a gap of light between the table and roller at certain points in the rotation) so I’ve contacted a company to get new ones CNC Milled/Turned from nylon or delrin so I know they are true.

It may be a few things going wrong all at once, so I’m just trying to work through the list!

Thanks for all of your advice to date, I really appreciate it.

It does look in the rh photo top row like the rails are worn at the top and bottom of their length. I can’t tell what the last two photos are meant to show. I asume the two trucks you show are the originals? The two rollers and four trucks for them must all be all the same diameter and concentric, meaning that the center of the bore of each truck must be exactly at the center of the truck surface which must also be a perfect cylinder, and the surface of the rollers must be a perfect cylinder exactly equidistant from the center of the cores. The trucks do not have to be the same shape as the old ones- they can be cut-off lengths of a Delrin rod the same diameter as the rollers and bored using a machinist’s lathe to be a snug fit on the roller cores.

I hope that is helpful! I am leery of trucks made any other way, as even 1/10 a mm out of true is totally false! The best rollers are 30 durometer rubber ground true to the cores on a lathe as well. Anything less will often be unsatisfactory.


(Double post due to server error)

I used drill rod, which is precisely machined and hardened steel, for cores. Cold-rolled steel is not perfect. The problem is that tiny errors of centricity and straightness of the cores, roller covering, and trucks can add to each other. The only way to avoid this is to use carefully machined cores, trucks, and rubber roller coverings.


Thanks Bob, I’ve started a conversation with a company that can machine mill/turn various materials on a lathe. The rollers I got made were also turned on a lathe by professional roller makers so I don’t think they are the issue. I sent my trucks down with the rollers when they were made but they must have made them to one of the measurements of the 4 trucks that are worn (various diameters from wear) so I’m now going to get any new trucks made to the roller diameter.

My main question now is whether the press bed should sit flush with the section it sits into, the bed of the press is held in place by bolts on either side of the press so can be removed, the images I uploaded were showing where it juts out from the frame it rests in.

Hard one to explain but the press bed doesn’t sit flush with the frame it is in, the frame the press bed is installed in has flat areas at either side of the bed that sit at the bottom of the rails. Which I’m guessing is where the bed should sit flush with?

I’ve uploaded a video to the flickr link below zooming in on the areas, the right hand side of the bed protrudes past the frame.

My only thoughts are to file the back of where the bed sits in the frame so the bed no longer protrudes when installed and sits flush with the frame?

Hopefully that description and the video link below can explain a little better.

I’ve also attached some images of the bed removed from the frame if that is useful.


OK, I looked at your photos and video, and I can see better the problem you have. You don’t show a photo of the bed as removed from the press, but I am guessing it is symmetrical vertically (a line dividing the bed in half horizontally would reveal that the upper half and the lower half are the same). Have you noted which way the bed came out when you removed it? Is it possible it was removed in the past and reinstalled reversed left to right and top to bottom? If the two sides are not exactly the same reversing it could cause the problem and reversing it again could solve the problem.

Your press is a copy of the Golding Pearl, but when Golding built them the upper piece, containing the sides and the bed and the other elements of that section of the press, was all one casting. The company that copied Golding’s Pearl built it differently, making the bed a separate piece from the rest. It looks like the bed is held in place by four screws, two on each side through the roller rails. I suspect those holes were drilled with the bed in place, and it is possible that the two holes on the left side are slightly farther toward the back of the press than the two on the right, so that reversing the bed and installing the screws causes the problem you are having. Golding also stamped the serial number of the press at the top center of the bed surface under the ink disc. If the copycat press also had a number stamped there its location may solve the mystery!

Try installing the bed reversed left to right from the way it was. Or actually try it both ways and see if one works better than the other.


Well, live and learn! I just looked up a couple of photos of No. 1 Pearls and they had the bed bolted in the same way. So your press is a truer copy than I guessed. But that does not change my suggestion about trying the bed reversed, or in both positions.

The Improved Pearls do have the frame casting in one piece


Hey Bob, yeah you are right that Cropper, Charlton and Co. copied and modelled their Peerless No1 off the Pearl No1 so I think they share a lot of very similar parts.

The press bed is indeed bolted in place twice at each side, the serial number is stamped at the top middle of the bed and the ink disk is attached to the back of the press bed in the area behind the serial number stamp so I don’t think there is any other way to rotate or flip the press bed giving that the serial is at the top and the ink disk cannot be installed any other way?

I’ve uploaded an image of the back of the removed press bed to the flickr album for a look.

Thanks again for all of your help on this I’ve been really struggling to figure this out.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I have in my docs (which probably came from someone here)

The overall length of the steel core is 11 3/16”
The diameter of the core is 5/16”

Two people have reported two different roller (rubber) diameters: 1.5” and 1.375”
The truck diameter was said to be 1 3/8”

image: Peerless.png


Thanks for this Simon that’s a great resource it’s tricky to find measurements for this press! Interestingly the trucks seem to be a different style from mine on that diagram. Do you have a larger version of that file posted anywhere for a closer look? Briarpress makes images so small!

I was just about to post an update here, I got my original steel trucks CNC turned on a lathe to make sure they were true and the same diameter as my rollers, picked them up today and tested them on the press but I’m still getting random inking results on my roller gauge.

I’ve uploaded a video below of me testing parking the trucks in one spot and manually rotating them; first result blank, second slight ink, third thick ink. Would I be correct in guessing the rollers may be off or not perfectly centered to their cores since I now have true trucks?

Here’s the gauge tests:

I also added a video of me rolling the rollers and trucks along a flat surface and there is an undulation as it rolls, most noticeably on the right in the video.

Sorry to be a bother again. I’m a bit lost about what to do next!


The issue you have is that the rubber on your rollers is not concentric - so the rubber is off centre of the shaft. It looks like it’s worse on one side than the other from your videos.

You COULD, possibly, get someone to create some off centre trucks for you, which you’d have to fix to the shaft with grub screws at the right place. (otherwise an offset truck on an offset roller could be worse than what you’re seeing)

That picture’s just off a spreadsheet I made for all sorts of roller dimensions. The truck picture is just for things like the Adanas which came with two different sizes on the truck.

Alternatively, you could get some concentric trucks made, but my guess would be that pretty much any reasonable metalworker could make some offset rollers for you - even from something like delrin.

Hi Simon,

I have also just came to the conclusion of the rubber being offset on the roller through some advice on another forum, so I have been looking into getting new rollers and trucks made from scratch so there is no guessing games with them matching.

From my recent experience with getting work done and getting quotes from metal workers here in the UK it’s been really expensive for small jobs sadly, I paid quite a lot to get my trucks CNC turned true and that might not even be the problem.

I’ve seen on BriarPress a few times that Pearl No1 rollers and trucks fit a Peerless No1 so I’m in talks with Todd at Todds Press Time to cross reference sizes.

For reference my measurements are:
Overall length of the steel core is 11 5/16”
Diameter of the core is 5/16”
Truck diameter is 1 3/8”

Any chance you have measurements for Pearl No1 rollers?

Thanks again for your help.

The Info I have on the Pearl No1 is:

2 Rollers
Shaft Diameter: 5/16
Shaft Length (each end, outside of the rubber): 1 & 3/32”
Overall Shaft Length: 11 & 3/16”
Shaft Core diameter: 3/8” (the diameter inside the rubber, so the core is 1/16” more sturdy)
Rubber Length: 9” (11 & 3/16 - 2*(1 & 3/32))
Rubber Diameter: 1.5”
Truck Width: 1/2”
Truck Diameter (Sml) 9/16”
Truck Diameter (Lg) 1 & 3/8”

Now I don’t know how 9/16” would possibly work on a 1.5” roller, so I think that’s just the reduced diameter to clear the chase or something similar.

The 1.5” roller is more substantial than an Adana rollers, which are more like 1 & 1/8”