Craig Reno Spicher.

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The Practice of


Craig R. Spicher

(card no. 36902)

Instructor in Presswork

Carnegie Institute

of Technology

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Copyright 1919

Craig R. Spicher


Platen Press Working Mechanism 1

Platen Press Make-Ready 14

Cylinder Press Working Mechanism 38

Cylinder Press Make-Ready 61

Plate Process Printing 95

Overlays 109

The Manufacture of Printing Ink 113

Practical Use of Printing Inks 147

Composition Rollers 163

Automatic Feeding 170

Paper Making 177

Hand Composition 197

Linotype : 202

Monotype 206

Photoengraving 209

Electric Power 222

Bibliography 232

Index 233




THE object of this book is to give the shortest, best and
most practical methods of Presswork, with the inter-
est of the Pressman in view, and to burden his mind as little
as possible with unnecessary technicalities, and with those
details which do not bear directly upon every-day occurance.

Inasmuch as the subject matter is to a large extent made
up of hard facts, the task of remembering a string of these
confronts the pressman, as soon as he has mastered the
very rudiments of this intricate, mechanical process, and
aspires to become more proficient.

The pressman must not only be a mechanic, but an
artist as well, and rise to the highest places in his calling.
It is hoped this book will be of service to all who are inter-
ested or engaged in the printing trades, as well as to the
pressmen, for whom this is especially written.

The want of such a book has long been felt. The mechan-
ical details and mysterious methods of make-ready can not
be readily acquired unless the pressman has had actual
experience in many establishments under men who are
proficient in their various specialties, due to the specializa-
tion of particular kinds of work.

As head of the press department of a laboratory of
printing, where no expense is spared to secure results, and
with the preparation of sixteen years practise of his trade in
representative printing plants, the writer feels that he occu-
pies a position of great practical advantage, in that the
working out of new ideas and the perfecting of processes
can proceed without the hindrance incidental to such work

in actual practice in a productive and a busy pressroom.

So far as he is aware, no treatise on presswork has yet
appeared which explains, in clear, understandable language,
the relation existing between the printing technical aspects
of the craft and the demands of pressroom practice.

This the author attempts to do in the following pages.
Particular attention has been given to the important sub-
ject of make-ready, the terminology of presswork and the
various materials with which the pressman has to deal.

In the preparation of this work, the writer acknowledges
his indebtedness to the following gentlemen for much prac-
tical advice and assistance, in what would otherwise have
proved a very arduous task.

To Clifford B. Connelley, A.M., Sc.D., Dean of the
School of Applied Industries, Carnegie Institute of Tech-
nology, for encouragement in the preparation of this book.

To Harry L. Gage, Head of the Department of Printing,
John C. Martin, Instructor in Typesetting Machinery, both
of Carnegie Institute of Technology, for helpful suggestions,
practical criticism, and hearty co-operation in the multitu-
dinous details of planning, printing and binding.

To William R. Work, M.A., M.E. in E.E.— Associate
Professor of Electrical Engineering, Science School, Carne-
gie Tech., for the contribution of electrical data.

To Joseph T. Ailing, President of Ailing and Cory Co.,
for the material on paper and its manufacture.

To James A. Ullman, Sec.-Treas., Sigmund Ullman Co.,
for the chapter on ink manufacture.

To William Wunderlich, Graduate of the Department
of Printing, Carnegie Tech., for "Hand Composition."

Craig R. Spicher
Pittsburgh, Penna.


GREAT inventions are necessary to keep the world up to
the requirements which the ever-growing demands set.
Demands always precede inventions.

In no other relation was this more true than in printing.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, about 1450, arose a
great demand for more and cheaper books.

The monks had been laboriously writing and copying
manuscripts, but their work was necessarily slow, and the
finished product was available to only a privileged few.
It was this demand for more books that led to the invention
of typography.

There are different theories as to the first inventor of
printing. It is generally considered that John Gutenberg
(Gansfieisch) was the pioneer.

The impression from the single carved block had long
been used, and it was only a step to the idea of many char-
acters cut separately so they could be put together in any
combinations which the language required.

Gutenberg used a simple bed and platen hand press which
was made of wood. Two upright timbers were stayed to-
gether at the top and bottom with cross-timbers. A third
cross-timber supported the bed on which the type was placed
Through a fourth timber a wooden screw worked. The
lower end of the screw was connected with the center of a
projecting lever; the screw was used to push the platen
down to impression, and to raise it after impression.

After first inking the form with a ball of leather stuffed
with wool, the pressman (printer) spread the sheet of paper,

previously dampened, over it, laid a piece of blanket upon
the paper to make the impression both easier on the press
and more legible, and finally grasped the lever and turned
the screw until the platen squeezed the paper down on the
form. By pushing the lever in the opposite direction the
screw slowly raised the platen from the form, when the
printed sheet was removed and the form inked again for
another impression.

The ordinary hours that a printer worked daily were
from thirteen to fourteen. In Lyons a pressman must turn
off 5350 impressions a day. In Paris the number was 2650.

There are many kinds of modern presses, but they can
be classified under three respective heads ; namely, platen,
on which the form and paper are both on flat surfaces;
cylinder presses, characterized by a flat bed for the form,
which reciprocates under a cylinder that carries the pack-
ing for pressure in the printing; and rotary presses, which
arejpresses where the paper travels at diflferent angles
through the machine, over angle bars; the forms are curved
stereotype or electrotyped plates, mounted on cylinders.

It is true that typography makes the message both
legible and beautiful, but it is the Printing Press that gives
general circulation to the message.

The best pressmen are of the artisan type, part me-
chanic, part artist, and owing to the exigencies of the mod-
ern pressroom they must be men swift to think and act in
sphere of work.



THERE are two dififerent kinds of presses, by which it is
possible to obtain impressions from type-forms, name-
ly, cylinder presses and the platen presses. The latter
style only is the one in which we are interested at present.

It is the writer's belief that one should thoroughly mas-
ter the platen press before he aspires to become a cylinder
pressman. It is the logical stepping-stone to the more
complex cylinder press. I believe it assists one greatly to
have this experience.

Definition. A platen press is one in which the form
is locked up against a bed and the impression is delivered
against a smooth, level plate called a platen.

There are two distinct types, one known as the "clam-
shell" type, in which the platen rocks up against the form;
the other, known as the sliding platen, or universal type,
is one in which the platen is first placed parallel with the
bed and then drawn up against it. Examples of the rocker
type are the Chandler & Price, and the Golding press; while
the John Thompson Colt's Armory press is representative
of the other type.

Placing Press. In placing a platen press, it is best
located where the light can strike it from the left side. It
should be level crosswise, in direction of the shafts; but it
may be inclined either forward or back, as it will work
under these conditions without detriment. The press should
be placed upon and firmly bolted to a solid foundation.

Bed. The bed of a printing press is the part on or


against which the form is fastened or locked. It should at all
times be kept free from rust and dirt. There are no adjust-
ments to be made on a platen-pressbed.

Oiling the Press. Every oil-hole should be located and
never neglected. The press should be oiled every morning
and the most important oil-holes should receive oil at mid-
day. Do not flood the press with oil. If oil runs over the
part while oiling, wipe it off at once. If there are oil cups,
give them careful attention; see that they feed properly —
they are there for a purpose. To neglect oiling will ruin a

Never attempt to oil or clean a press while it is in motion.

The friction-wheel which travels in the large gear cam-
way should always receive careful oiling, as this is one of the
most vital parts, and the one most likely to wear if the wheel
does not rotate. This applies more especially to Chandler
& Price presses.

Wipe the slides and bearings and the gear and pinion
teeth now and then; or, better yet, do it, or see that it is
done, at regular intervals, and done well; rub hard and dry;
after this apply a dose of clean oil. This advice is not mere
theory, but based upon experience.

Discs. Discs should always be kept clean and free from
particles of dried ink. If there is a center disc, this should
be removed when washing up, especially for a light color,
as ink will accumulate in the opening between the two
discs, and change the color. It will also become gummy and
will not permit center to rotate.

Gfippers. Grippers are long steel fingers, attached by
means of bolts, to the gripper frame, which, in turn, is
moved by the mechanism of the press, causing the grippers
to close or lie flat upon the platen, when the press closes.


When taking an impression they should always lie flat.

The grippers hold the sheet firmly and flat against the
tympan, and hold the sheet while form and sheet are being
separated. The grippers should be moved as soon as the
form is placed in the press, to clear form and bearers.

Slurs and Grippers. If a slur is caused when the sheet
leaves the form, it is probably because the grippers have not
suflScient hold to pull the sheet away all at once and the
sheet pulls or partly peels off with a dragging motion that
brings the slur. Use sandpaper — glued sand side out — on
the grippers, at the point where the grippers touch the
sheet, which will increase their hold. Strings through the
margins and pieces of card carrying a cork glued to the
tympan, or strings extending into the open portions of the
printing may be used.

If a slur appears along the upper portion of a sheet only,
it is generally an indication that the grippers or frisket
fingers are biting the sheet too hard at the bottom and not
hard enough at the top. This can be remedied by inserting
cards to act as washers between the fingers and the face of
the frisket frame, thus throwing out the heels of the fingers
and equalizing the contact. Bend fingers accordingly.

If a slur appears entirely across the face of the platen,
showing downward, it may be caused by the wear of the
bridge gibs. On a Colt's Armory press only, this can be
corrected by inserting packing between the gibs, which
travel upon the slides, and their bearing. Test with folio
paper for proper contact. Turn the press over by hand,
allowing gibs to slide over a strip of folio, which will be held
firmly if gibs are in proper adjustment.

The Platen. A platen is the part on which the paper
receives the impression when make-ready is complete.


The platen has an adjustment for regulating and equal-
izing the impression, which is accomplished by means of
impression screws situated beneath the platen, as explained
later in detail.

Chases. Chases are made of steel, resembling a
frame. When the size of a press is designated the inside
measurements of the chase are given. For instance, 14 x 22
tells you the size of the press, denoting the maximum size of
the forms the press will take.

Chases are secured to the bed by a powerful hook, at the
top, directly in center of bed.

On Colt's Armory the foot pedal controls the locking
and unlocking. On Chandler & Price or Golding this is done
by raising the hand-lever.

Chases become sprung if too much pressure is used in
locking up a form, which is needless. This makes the form
springy and causes quads and furniture to work up to type-
high, and print, thus spoiling numerous copies.

Extra chases come with all new machines.

Gripper Wrench. This wrench should have a proper
place in which to be kept at all times when not in use, as
nearly every time a form goes to press it becomes necessary
to move the grippers one way or another. If you fail to use
the proper wrench the nuts become rounded, and in time
must be replaced with new ones.

Roller Stocks. Two sets of roller stocks come with a
new machine. A roller stock is the core upon which the
composition is cast by the roller-maker. He knows the
correct size to cast rollers without any instructions, as
there are distinctive features whereby he knows the type
of press from which the stocks have come.

Stocks should always be handled carefully, so as


not to cause them to become at all bent or out of true.

Roller Trucks. Roller trucks or carriages are attached
to the ends of the roller stocks. They slip on over a small key
and cause the roller to rotate properly. They act as a
bearer also. Set trucks two points larger than rollers. To
do this, take a straight-edge, lay across roller and bearers.
If rollers are too large, note the difference and paste or glue
strips of cardboard on the roller tracks or bearers.

Number of Press. Each press has a serial number,
which you must state when ordering new parts for a press.
The serial number will be found in one of the upper corners
of the bed.

Tympan Bales. Tympan bales or clamps are attached
to the lower and upper edges of the platen. These are de-
signed to clamp your tympan upon the face of the platen.
One should be careful not to spring them, as it is very
necessary to have tympan stretched smooth and tight.

Counters. Counters are attached in different places
on platen presses, according to the style of counter.

Counters are very necessary to read the number of
impressions made. The counter will not register if the
impression is thrown off". Counters should be kept well
oiled. To set a counter, start at the far side and turn until
the figure 9 appears, repeat this across the counter so as to
read 99999. Then, after the first impression, the counter
will register 00000.

Fly-wheel. The fly-wheel may be used for turning
the press over by hand. In fact, it is advisable for a beginner
to turn over by hand before applying power, to see if grip-
pers clear all of form and bearers.

On the Chandler & Price and Golding presses, the fly-
wheel rotates from you; on the Colt's press, toward you.


If the press has no brake, do not lay the palm of hand
on fly-wheel to try to stop quickly. Take hold of rim with
the fingers and let slide through hand. This will not burn
the hands.

Different Drives. There are various kinds of drives.
The friction drive is the ideal drive in school classes, as
there are no belts to catch the students' wearing apparel,
but such a drive involves a certain amount of lost power.

The motor drive, which I believe is the most satisfac-
tory, has the motor resting directly on the floor, or upon a
stand the height of the pinion shaft. It is connected by
means of a short belt. With the tight-and-loose pulleys,
the press may be repeatedly stopped or started without
opening or closing the electric circuit. The brake should be
mounted on the belt shifter fork, so that one motion of the
hand removes the power and stops the press.

Feed Table. The feed table carries the stock for feed-
ing. It should be kept free from ink and oil and should
never have too much stock placed upon it, as there is
always a possibility that it may fall into the press causing
breakage. The feed tables can be shifted to suit the operator.
A receiving table is a table on which the stock is placed
after being printed, and is stationary. It should be emptied
frequently when running a job, for the same reason as
previously stated.

Impression Trip or Throw-off. On the universal
type press, the throw-off, so as not to print, is accomplished
by grasping the hand rod, which may be operated in almost
any position the press is in, except when going over on the
impression. The Chandler & Price has a lever at the left
side to throw off impression. The Golding press has a han-
dle at the left side of platen to trip, or take off impression.



Guides. Guides may be quads, which I firmly believe
are far superior to any other, for a number of reasons as
explained later. The various makes of patent guides are
permissible, such as Megill's Spring-Tongue Guides, etc.,
for very short runs and non-register jobs.

Guides are placed so sheets can be fed on platen in
proper position and held there to receive impression.

Impression Adjustments. On universal type presses,
for setting the platen, take five letters about 72-pt. — M's
or W's preferred.

1. Measure with type-high gauge to ascertain if
they are correct height. If not, underlay.

2. Lock one in each corner of chase three picas
from inside edge, also one in the center.

3. Place the impression clips down about six

4. Put on tympan consisting of three thin sheets
of manilla, one post-card tag. Do not print on this
tympan at any time. Keep it perfectly clean.

5. Loosen all five jam nuts under platen. Screw
them down to allow room to work.

6. Pull impression on a thin coated paper, and
size up impression on back and face.

7. Make the impression even on all letters except
the center one. This you will find a trifle strong.
Change the impression on the corners by turning
rods to left to put on impression, to right to take
off. Turn very little at a time.

8. After all letters have equal amount of impres-
sion, turn back the steady screws just snug.

Universal Type Fountain. The ductor roller re-
ceives the ink from the fountain and deposits it on the steel


distributor in a wide thin band rather than in a thick lumpy
line. The flow is regulated from the fountain by thumb-
screws. The ink-fountain cylinder is rotated by a ratchet
and pawl, driven by the crank wheel.

When the distributor changer is removed, it should be
placed horizontally; if placed perpendicularly, the weight
of the sleeve rests on the crescent and hollow screw, thus
causing breakage.

Forms. All forms should be set or so imposed that the
center of pressure shall not be above the center of the
platen shaft and the crank pins when the latter are on the

The advantage of this is that the torsional strain
is transmitted downwardly and resisted by the solid mass
of the frame. This strain is due to the fact that the cranks
begin to pull before the dead center is reached. This is a
general principle which applies equally well to all styles of
platen presses.



1. Lock up letters as before. Put on tympan,
three post-cards and two manillas.

2. Change screws to regulate the impression
after loosening lock nuts as explained previously.

3. After it becomes level, be sure to turn up jam-

Fountain. Fountain is placed after form is made

1. Turn press by hand with impression lever on
until the form rollers reach the highest point on

2. Loosen bolts connecting fountain to press and



allow fountain to rest on rollers so that they leave
a band of pressure about a quarter of an inch
wide, then tighten.

3. When fountain is not in use, raise same so
rollers do not touch. In setting fountain, begin at
center and work both ways with thumb-screws and
never cut ink entirely dry on steel roller. Tighten-
ing screws pushes steel fountain blade against the
steel fountain roller. Loosening enlarges the open-
ing and allows a thicker line of ink to pass.
Bearers. Bearers can be purchased or they may be
made of small strips of tin and wood the width of the steel
of chase.

The wood strip should be thick enough to bring its face
type-high when it rests upon the chase. A strip of tin should
be cut wide enough to cover the face of the wood and to
leave a side which can be bent at right angles and tacked to
the wood, still leaving a projecting edge. This edge locks
into the form against the edge of the chase.

The Golding Fountain. The Golding fountain is
called a brayer fountain. The ink supply is regulated by
the thumb-screws on the clamp. The two small screws
press the tank against the cylinder, reducing the supply.
The one large screw draws the fountain from the cylinder,
increasing the supply.

To accumulate the greatest amount of ink on any par-
ticular side of the disc, give the disc large or small movement.
When working a small form requiring a very little ink,
reduce the length of the stroke by changing position of collar
on upper end of rod. To stop ink supply, turn up the
pawl or take "dog" off.

This fountain can be very readily taken apart, and the


brayer or small ductor roller can be thrown out of commis-
sion by latching up.

The Golding has an additional disc underneath for tint
blocks, etc., which removes form marks from rollers. This
can be easily be thrown in or out of gear.

Golding Impression Adjustments. The Golding
platen is actuated by a toggle movement.

The impression is changed by the use of a wedge both
top and bottom, the entire width of platen.

Lock up in chase, letters as previously explained.

1. For tympan, two government post-card man-
illas and two thin manilla sheets.

2. The impression is regulated by the two thumb-
screws at the right-hand side of platen. Turn them
inward to put on, and outward to take off impres-

3. Bring the platen to a perpendicular position
when changing impression. The impression regu-
lators control the impression at the top or bottom of
platen from end to end. The check nuts should be
set firmly when perfectly level.

Supplies. The supplies necessary in a platen press
room are:

Manilla wrapping paper, 24 x 36 — 40 lbs.

Government Post-Card Manilla, 22 x 28—140 lbs.

The post card should be cut various sizes to suit the
different platens, also the manilla wrapper which is placed
in the tympan bales.

Pressboard, 16-pt.

A pair of scissors.

Good oil stone.

Small paste jar.




Rubber bands.

Ball of wrapping twine.


Two- and three-em 10-pt. quads for guides.

Several sheets No. 2 sandpaper.

A Cold Glue. A cold glue is made by dissolving
over night, brown pulverized glue in acetic acid. Then add
a few drops of glycerine. This glue is always ready for use
and will adhere to metal surfaces.

Overlay Knife. 1. Secure a piece of soft straight-
grained wood five inches long, one inch wide, and one-
half inch in thickness.

2. Saw a slot in the center of the one-half inch
side, about two and one-half inches in length.

3. Use jack-knife to taper down the sides of end
which contains the sawed grooves.

4. Then round off the corners of the other end to
make a handle. Use fine sandpaper to smooth
off handle.

5. Then procure an old hack-saw blade which is
hardened on both edges. Place in slot and allow
to extend beyond wood about one and one-half
inches. Glue the blade.

6. Then take about nine feet of linen cord, double
one end to the length of about eight inches. Lay
the loop upon the handle end about two inches
from end of slot and down, letting the short end
extend beyond end of blade four inches. Now

' don't allow a twist. Start to wind the long cord,
very tightly, close together until you have reached

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Online LibraryCraig Reno SpicherThe practice of presswork → online text (page 1 of 16)