The First Print

:: first print ::

This weekend, after a year of searching and false starts, cleaning and oiling, adjusting and taping, I finally pulled a print on my very own press.

It may not look like much, but this print is the beginning of much, much more...

Note: In case you're wondering why this print looks the way it does, it was a test print to make sure that the platen, the flat metal surface on which you lay your paper, was perfectly parallel to the press bed, the other flat metal surface on which your type sits. To test this, I set type in all four corners of the chase (the chase is the frame that holds your type, see picture) and adjusted the platen until all four corners printed evenly and equally.

If you're trying to do this, here's the information I found most useful.

How to Adjust/Level the Platen on a Chandler & Price

- First, make sure your rollers are set properly (this is an entirely different animal)

- Spray the platen adjustment bolts with some WD-40 and let them sit for a few minutes. While you're waiting you can do this. (adapted from Green Dolphin Press's FAQ's)

Get a cap M or H, 48 pt. or larger, something you're certain is type high. Tape a 2 pt. lead to the face. Find a piece of string a couple of feet long and tie one end around the sides of the type. Remove the tympan and all packing. Close the press, stopping it with the platen lock (under the delivery board) snapped into place and the rollers at the top of the plate.Grasp the string and let the piece of type slide down between the platen and bed on the left side. If it won't go in, the platen is too far in. If it rattles around, the platen is too far out.

- Each bolt has two nuts. The one closest to the platen, top bolt, is the one that actually raises or lowers the platen. The one furthest from the platen, bottom bolt, locks the adjustment in place. It must be loosened first to make an adjustment and then tightened once the adjustment has been made.

- Get
two wrenches.

- Use a wrench to loosen all the bottom bolts by turning them counter-clockwise. Using the type on the string as a guide, judge where the platen needs to be adjusted in or out.

- Now you can adjust the platen by turning top bolt. Turn it counter-clockwise where the platen is too far out, this will raise it and close the space. Turn it clockwise where the platen is too far in, this will lower it and increase the space.

Make you adjustments slowly, bit by bit, back and forth, using the type on the string as your guide. To lock your settings, hold the top bolt with one wrench, and tighten the bottom bolt with your other wrench.

- Put on your rollers and ink up the press. Set 4 48 point or larger, definitely type high pieces of type in all four corners about 5 picas from the edge of the chase. (see picture). Put in regular packing, a sheet of tympan paper on top, a piece of red board bellow, and a couple sheets of text weight smooth paper under that. Pull a print and take a look. Add packing if needed.

Where it's printing light, raise the platen, where it's darker, lower the platen. Look at the back of the sheet too to see make sure the impression is the same in all four corners. Remember, make your adjustments slowly, back and forth. Every time you make an adjustment, lock it in, and then pull a print. This will take a while, when you move one, it will affect the others slightly, but eventually you'll zero it in.

- Congratulations, you just leveled the platen.