Lightbulb Moments

I know you’re all sweating with anticipation after my teaser post from the other day…but you’ll have to hold out for a few more days. A reader just commented about moving their own C&P recently, and asked if I had any tips to share. I started to write a whole big long list as a comment but then realized it probably made more sense to dedicate a quick post to the subject. So, without further ado:

The Most Useful Things I Have Learned About Printing With A C&P (or any platen press, I suppose…)

1. Taping the rails is OK, but if they’re really uneven like mine then adding roll bearers in the form works wonders for more even inking.

2. Learning how to adjust the 4 points of platen pressure alleviated a lot of tiny strips of packing makeready and helps to avoid the dreaded bottom right corner mega impression.

3. Hard packing!!! I can’t believe I was soft packing for so long and didn’t realize this was making the paper underneath absorb all the impression instead of the paper I was printing on. Definitely order a bunch of pressboard and hard packing sheets from NA Graphics right away!

4. Speaking of NA Graphics, order some pre-cut tympan sheets right now too! They even come with a crease and the corners pre-trimmed so you can open and close the clamps without tearing the sheet.

5. While I am still not friends with gauge pins and still occasionally ram them into my Boxcar base (yeah, I need a new one…), a good realization is that you don’t have to use manufactured pins in all cases. If you’re printing on a pre-cut sheet with no crop marks and need to get artwork really close to the edge, you can always tape a thick strip of paper to the tympan instead of a pin so it won’t interfere with your base.

6. I have found that it’s difficult to get a good layer of ink from just one pass, i.e. print, print, print. Adding more ink to where one pass lays down enough actually makes things TOO inky. My solution has been to remove the bottom most roller and only print with 2, and use enough ink to where you print, trip, print, trip. This, of course, puts a lot more repetitive movement into the trip lever (and your arm!) but is worth it to avoid the ink squish out factor. Also, it gives you a few extra seconds to collect yourself in between prints while the motor is going, if you’ve got one.

7. WD-40 is NOT a lubricant. I can’t tell you how much more smoothly Leonard has been running and inking since I got some 30 weight non-detergent motor oil. It was hard to find – I had to ask my mechanic for it  – but it’s worth it.

8. When trying to register multiple colors and it become obvious that you need to rotate the entire sheet of paper a bit, raising or lowering one gauge pin doesn’t work very well. Instead, I take an exacto knife and hold the sheet down in the middle to the tympan. I then loosen all the gauge pins and pull them away a bit, rotate the sheet a tiny amount while holding the middle with the knife, then pull the gauge pins back in to meet the paper.

That said, there are still a few things I’m working on solutions for and would love advice if anyone has any:

1. Although hard packing helps, I still routinely struggle with edge of the plate impression into the paper if I’m not printing something with crop marks and the plate is smaller than the sheet. I could print everything with crop marks and avoid this issue, but sometimes that’s really wasteful in terms of plates and paper. Sure I can cut some of the packing away where the plate edge hits or build up underneath the artwork, but that takes a lot of time. I’m wondering if there’s some way to avoid this while still getting a deep impression of the artwork itself.

2. The aforementioned issue with gauge pins – I’ve been using the Kort quads and while I like how they lock into place, they’re a bit of a pain to get in and are expensive. You know what someone needs to invent? Squishy rubber pins that stay in place, bounce back, and don’t dent your base. With squishy tongues. Heehee. Squishy tongues. Anyone have any suggestions?

I’m sure there are more, but that’s what I’ve got at the moment. Cheerio!

Pulp & Press Soundtrack: “Fader” by The Temper Trap.


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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