What To Buy Before Printing With A C&P Pilot

OK, I’ve been doing research into the additional items I’ll need to purchase along with my new presses in order to actually print on them. I’m hoping some of the smaller items will come included, but it’s possible I may have to hunt down everything myself. I’ll start with the C&P Pilot, because that’s the one I’ll likely have first since it won’t require any special shipping arrangements (it “only” weighs about 200 pounds). If everything goes well I could be bringing it home this weekend!

I found this awesome Operating Instructions and Parts List for Chandler & Price Pilot Press on the Dolce Press website (thanks guys!) which has helped a lot.

Needs For The C&P Pilot Letterpress

1. I’ve been told that it needs new rollers. I’ve done a little research, and come up with these options for where to buy them:

NA Graphics (Colorado) C&P Pilot 6 1/2×10 Form Roller, new core, rubber, $101.20 C&P Pilot 6 1/2×10 Form Roller, new core, vinylith, $87.30 So, I guess I’ll need to find out if the rollers need new cores as well – I’m inclined to just buy new everything, but I suppose I should try to save money where I can. The prices on the NA Graphics website are “estimated,” so I’d probably have to call them to get actual pricing.

American Printing Equipment (New York) 6-1/2 x 10 Pilot Press Letterpress Rubber Rollers Set/2 with Steel Core, $145 Definitely seems more expensive than NA Graphics, but I guess I may not have the real NA Graphics price yet.

Republic Roller Corporation (Michigan)
These guys are listed on Briar Press, and it’s always good to find suppliers in the next state over. I’ll probably give them a call to see if they have what I need and how much it would cost.

There also 10+ other listings on Briar Press for people supposedly selling rollers, so if I don’t have any luck with the ones I’ve listed I can always check for more there. There’s a good guide on rollers too.

2. Tympan Paper: according to this discussion on Briar Press, there are a lot of alternatives. However, due to my love of rules I may opt to at least start out with the real thing before I start experimenting. It looks like I can get the correct size from American Printing Equipment.

3. Gauge Pins: these little buggers are one of the main reasons I’ve been reluctant to buy a platen press at all. I’m sure my relationship with them will evolve, as I really haven’t done too much platen printing compared to the amount I’ve done on Vandercooks. I just feel like there’s no possible way gauge pins can reliably hold the paper in place for proper registration because they’re just so tiny, yet I know it must be possible. So, I suppose I’ll just have to get over it. I’m hoping to acquire a few of these with the purchase of the presses. If not, it appears they’re readily available and not too expensive.

4. Furniture: even though I’ll likely be doing most or all of my printing using polymer plates, I’ll still need some furniture to lock up the Boxcar base in the chase. Probably only a few pieces – but I do really like the big furniture cabinets so I’ll probably just go ahead and get one. Plus, I can see myself buying some type eventually, and you never know when you might find a perfect woodcut you want to print with.

5. Speaking of Boxcar bases, I’ll be needing one (or several) of those. I dealt with Boxcar one before when I had them make some plates for me, which were kind of expensive but they were really nice and helpful. Dang these things are expensive! Looks like they recommend a 5 x 8.5 for a Pilot ($175) and a 6 x 9 for an 8 x 12 C&P. That page I just linked to also has a lot of good general information about using Boxcar bases with platen presses. I’ll definitely be poring over that. The Boxcar Printing Manual also has a lot of good tips.

6. Roller gauge(s): I hadn’t really thought of these, mainly because up until now I have pretty much judged roller height based on how prints look. I suppose it would probably be a good idea to grab one, though, plus they’re pretty cool looking and not that expensive. Also, the Boxcar base letterpress starter packs come with one anyway, which sounds like a good deal.

7. Ink: I’ll probably go with rubber based ink to start off with, but will likely end up experimenting at some point. These starter ink packs from Boxcar sound pretty cool, so I’ll probably end up getting one of them. There is an interesting (and at times unnecessary aggressive, as internet discussions tend to be) thread over on Briar Press about ink alternatives and possible effects of various toxic letterpress substances. This is definitely of interest to me, as I will likely be having my own minis in the not too distant future. Someone mentions that water based inks work well for them on their Pilot, so maybe I’ll investigate even though I’m not sure they’re meant for use with polymer plates.

8. Cleaning supplies: another area in which to consider possible non-toxic-ness, and one in which I’ll certainly have to experiment based on the types of ink I end up using. I’ll also need to procure some of those nifty rags all letterpress studios seem to have, as well as figure out how to get them cleaned. I’ll probably be asking my friends over at The Evanston Print And Paper Shop for suggestions on this one.

OK – that’s all I’ve got for now. Is there anything else I’ll need to start printing on my Pilot? I’m assuming, of course, that all the parts will be working and I won’t have to do any major repairs or replacements. I’d like to clean and restore the press to it’s best possible working condition, so I suppose there may be a few other things I’ll need to get (oil?) to keep it happily maintained.


About Nina

I am a design consultant, writer, letterpress printer, nature enthusiast, and lover of local/organic food...with a dash of rock and roll. Also, I want to be a cowboy.
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2 Responses to What To Buy Before Printing With A C&P Pilot

  1. Marcella says:

    I love people like you! I also have a Pilot that I am in the process of restoring but I have never sat down and made a list like this. In LA, we have some great local people like Ramco Rollers and Ralph C. Crawford and also the International Printing Museum's Mark Barbour has tons of stuff! Thanks for this!

  2. Marcella,Awesome – I wish you luck with your Pilot! Thanks for reading.:)Nina

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