Equipment in use at
                Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop

The Excelsior Press Blog

A somewhat frequent update of events at - and new links for the web site of -
the old Excelsior Press Museum Print shop in Frenchtown, NJ

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The type we set for Nephew Jared
to print coasters for his friends' wedding


Printing
                            Coasters at The Excelsior Press
Coasters Type Form on 8x12

New Blog for 2017

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January 1, 2017

Well, another year begins.  Once again, it's not as cold as in years past, but still the new workshop is not ready to use.... Things are moving very slowly..

Although the beautiful concrete slab has been poured - and it has pex tubing installed which I will use to run hot water through to give the new shop very efficient radiant heating, there's still work to do on the roof and the walls are not up.

The new large compressor is now outside and the beautiful new heatable slab looks great, but is not yet serving its intended purpose. I did open up the side window and make a nice wide doorway into the new work shop and find it easy to roll carts in and out. Sometimes I just roll them out to give myself some room to walk around the print shop!. But soon I hope to that roof fixed and the walls up, the 220volt fuse box and power installed, the compressor powered up and the sand-blast cabinet back into place. Then I'll be able to resume restoration work at a more acceptable pace. Right now, it's still a bit slow and clumsy with too much stuff and too little workspace in the shop.

 - but we do have easy access to the type and presses, and have had some fun printing recently...


Meanwhile...

Heater for Heidelberg WindmillLearned a new trick about how to keep my Heidelberg Ink Cylinder warm overnight in the unheated shop... This rubber pad is sold as an under desk floor mat heater, but does a great job of keeping the ink cylinder warm overnight. It draws less current than a light bulb and it saved me hours of pre-heating the press to reach that magic number of 50 degrees - below which, ink turns to tar...

I also used it on the bed of the Vandercook, where it also kept the bed warm overnight and made printing easier in the morning. For the C&Ps I still pre-heat the ink table, then burn a candle beneath it to keep it warm...


February 6, 2017

Nolan Proof PressStarted on a new little project - a paper clamp system for this nice little Nolan Proof Press that came from Mr. Neice's collection. He had been a typesetter at the old Hunterdon Democrat in the hot metal days and my best guess is that's where this press came from. It's in nice shape, but these newspaper galley presses always have one major drawback for printers these days.

Nolan Proof Press with Paper GripperUnless you find one of the "accessorized" models that come with a paper clamp, there's no way to print anything other than galley proofs or spot prints, which might be okay for some block printers or artists, but for a letterpress printer to really enjoy the benefits of this convenient little press, a method of holding the paper still - and in register for two color work - needs to be added. So I added it. In addition, I made an end bar to block the far end and allow actual lock-ups of forms - without needing to use a chase.

This makes the press far more practical and far more fun to print with... What's shown in these photos is the first prototype. I may disassemble it and cut a thicker piece on a wider base to raise the clamp up to type-high and give the base more stability. But for now, I think this is pretty neat, and I'll certaibnly be doing this for the other galley proof presses that are on deck to be restored....



February 11 -

Ed Zawora with Press & PrintEd Zawora found an old Pfeiffer knock-off of the Kelsey 5x8 and brought it to me for some service and to learn how to use it.

Although most small presses were copied over the years and many knock-offs were made, only Pfeiffer and some supply house in California seem to have copied the 5x8 Kelsey.
And, it is, I must admit, a pretty much part-for-part accurate reproduction with only very minor differences.

What's most interesting about the Pfeiffer
is that it was sold from the same address as Barnhard Printers Supply in Newark New Jersey. Barnhard is where I bought my supplies when I was a kid back in the 60's & 70's, and I just wish that old Elmer Barnhard was still alive so that I could ask him about this press...

Pfeiffer was selling presses and supplies in 1935 and may also be the company that made - or at least sold - a number of portable - possibly aluminum - presses which were made to be easily dis-assembled and re-assembled as needed and were made to fit into a suit case - for airdrop behind enemy lines.

These presses were sent from the US to England during WWII and air dropped to resistance fighters in Holland, Belgium & France where they were used to counterfeit documents.
One of these presses surfaced a few years ago at a museum in Holland. The story was that it had been air-dropped by the British, so they thought it might be an Adana (a similar press made in England) . But it wasn't. It was a 5x8 Kelsey, possibly a clone made by Pfeiffer.

5x8ChaseBase.jpg
And, Ed's press now includes the new 5x8 9-ply Excelsior Chase Base. No need to set type or use an undersized Boxcar Base, this Excelsior Chase-Base lets Ed simply mount his photo-polymer plate - up to a full 5x8" form - in seconds and get right to printing.

In any case, Ed's Pfeiffer, long un-used and finally sold at an estate sale, is now back together and in operation printing as it was meant to...


Well, it's the end of June already...

June 30, 2017

Well, it's the end of June already
and about time to get back to updating this blog. Tonight I added a new web page - listing videos shot at the Excelsior Press and posted to my YouTube Account. There are more than listed, but at least this is a start on getting organized.

On other news, the new Restoration Workshop addition to the Print Shop is coming along slowly, but coming along nonetheless. The big air compressor and Sandblast Cabinet are already in place. Soon the re-roofing will be done, then the walls and then, when it's dry inside and safe from the elements, I will bring over the milling machine from the old barn and move the machine and carpenter shop tools currently cluttering the print shop into a space of their own - where they belong - so that I can bring in more important stuff - like some type and paper storage cabinets, the Model 4 Vandercook, a proper paper cutter and the print shop's Hammond Glider Trim Saw - and the wood stove for next winter...

It will be nice to have the shop back in order and spend time printing instead of building and to welcome some patiently waiting students who want to learn how to use the 8x1 C&P.

It will still be weeks ahead, but I must admit - I  can hardly wait...


July, 2017

Roofing RampJuly 7 - My friend Chris stopped by to help with the roof, (he's done roofs like this many times before) and we finally have the roof done - and sealed. Even with yesterday's heavy rain, the new workshop stayed totally dry. Now it's time to get back to work on the walls.

Getting this done wasn't easy - and getting the heavy rolls of roofing up ten feet onto the roof while working alone was another challenge - one easily met by using my ladder as a ramp from the bed of the pickup onto the roof. Just wrap a rope around the box, get up onto the roof and easily pull this 50-lb roll of material up to where it needed to be..

Soon, we will be able to move the Shopsmith and Atlas Metal Lathe out of the print shop and into the new shop space, clearing the last of the machine tools from the main shop and leaving only Hamilton Cabinets and Chandler & Price and Heidelberg and Kelsey platen presses, some small proof presses and smaller presses on display in the collection.

And soon, once again, my focus will turn from construction to printing, press repair - making parts and casting ink rollers, press restoration, and teaching folks about Letterpress Printing....

I can hardly wait....


July 10

Old Friend of the Shop, Nicholas Silberg stopped by today on one of his occasional trips up north to visit family across the river. Nicholas runs about 3 print shops near Savannah Georgia, and teaches at a local university there. A major focus of his efforts is  the shop at Ashantily Press in Darien, Georgia.

AnywaNicholas with the 9x13 Chase
                    Bedy, he's trying to put together a 9x13 Kelsey Excelsior Monster press and needed a chase bed. For years, I've been wanting to reproduce commonly missing, lost or broken Kelsey parts, and Chase Beds are a big focus of that effort. However, during the move and due to other events which have drawn my focus from that project, I am not yet prepared to do the final machining of the castings I have already made. So, to avoid disappointing anyone by making rash promises, and knowing that I'm not prepared to deliver a finished product yet, I have not reported the ongoing details of the project.

Nor had I let anyone know that I had some raw castings already on the shelf, just waiting to be machined.

But when Nicholas bemoaned the fact that finding a 9x13 Chase Bed was just about impossible, I chuckled to myself, began moving things away from shelves and finally found and pulled this heavy monster off of the shelf. It's not a finished product, but I'd had it cast last fall but and was waiting until I had my new (1900's) Steel Planer ready to use in the new shop... which it almost is... But it's not - not yet. But Nicholas does have someone back home who can do the finish work. So, aside from the pleasure of the visit, he went home one happy camper...

And now that I've actually sold my first newly-cast part, I'll send the pattern back and have another made. Soo, I'll have that planer in place and operating - right next to the new sand blasting cabinet and paint booth.. I can hardly wait to use them all...

Type GaugeBut, while he was here, he also taught this old dog a new trick.. I'd never noticed, and no one ever taught me, but that odd-looking device sitting on the type cabinet - the .918 type high gauge - can be used to measure type in two different ways.. I'd always slid the slug into the jaws as is obvious. But what is not quite so obvious is the fact that the base itself includes an accurate .918" measurement. Just set your letter or wood block or engraving or whatever next to the gauge and see if the item is indeed type high. This is a neat feature that I never noticed by immediately saw how it can be helpful under some circumstances.

And, after having used this tool for fifty-plus years, I never knew that...



July 15 - The waiting is over... mostly

The Walls are up!The roof is done; the new space is dry. The walls are up. The studs are rough-cut 2x6's from the lumber mill across the river in Pennsylvania. The T1-11 exterior siding is in place. A five-gallon can of Red Barn Paint from Tractor Supply is ready to apply....
This new shop is just as strong and as 'old school' as the rest of the building - which was built in 1953 using old rough-cut 2x6 and 4x6 lumber recycled from an old barn in Frenchtown - in 1950.

Most of the machinery is in place - including the large high-capacity air compressor and sand-blasting and paint cabinets, radial arm saw, wood planer, belt sander, 6" Atlas Metal Lathe... And the lighting's being installed today. Next will be the Steel Planer - which will be used to machine brand new chase beds for the little Kelsey presses. Later on, we'll bring the Bridgeport Milling Machine and the Hammond Glider Trim Saw. There may also be room in the shop now for one of the Ludlow Slug Casters... The electrical quote came in a few thousand higher than our budget, so for now, we'll continue to rely on one of the generators to produce the 220v power for the Heidelberg and compressor, but soon...

The paper cutter is now in place in the print shop and there is room now to build some shelves for paper storage and to bring over more type cabinets. The shop is coming together! It is a very exciting time here at the 'new' Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop and the Excelsior Press Museum Restoration and Repair Work Shop.

Stand by for more photos, which I'll post as soon as I can get "a round tuit"...

Update: July 31:
More progress. Most of the machinery has been moved into the new shop space, freeing up a LOT of space for some more type cabinets and operating presses in the Print Shop.


August 4
Our freshly recoverd
                    Vandercook Impression RollerJust received our recovered Vandercook Model 099 Impression Roller back from our friends Jayne and Adrian of  Ramco Roller in San Dimas, California. 

It looks GREAT! and feels just right for printing. I can't wait to install it on the Model 099.

For now, in this photo, it's just sitting on the bed of our Nolan Galley Proof Press.

Soon it will go onto the Vandercook Model 099 Galley Proof Press which we are just beginning to restore.




August 5 - Saturday
The Walls are up!Well, now that we are back to doing in-shop tutoring on Letterpress Printing, Graphic Designer Frank Baseman came by with his 5x8 Kelsey. Frank has been doing some really neat posters on his Vandercook SP15, but had never used his little 5x8. It was about time to learn to use it to do corner-copy imprints of his logo on the back of the cards he was printing on the Vandercook, as well as to learn how to score cards for folding - both of which the Excelsior excels at.

The Walls are up!The highlight of the day was when Frank made his first print on the little platen press. Both the logo and the 8 point type printed perfectly and Frank was ecstatic.

Extending the platen on the 5x8 KelseyThen we moved on to setting up this little press for scoring 5x7 cards. It was a bit tight to fit the score into the center of the sheet, but by adding an extended top sheet to the tympan, we were able to extend the top sheet nearly two inches below the platen, allowing the sheet to be positioned for a score at the 3.45" center of the card. Note the extra tympan paper taped to the main top sheet and the slit Frank just cut to allow the Megill Double Grip Gauge Pins to be inserted below what would normally be the lower edge of the platen of this little press. This extra low pin position allowed Frank to set his lower gauge pins low enough so that the score fell just where it was intended.

And, when Frank began telling me about his experiences printing at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin as well as Typo Teco in Italy, I was even more impressed - but this time, with myself - for offering Frank the quality of experience and instruction he had received at these well-known studios. All in all, it was a very good day. It sure feels good to finally have a print shop with the room to move around and actually give a student some good training in a nice work environment.


August 6 -
Williams
                    Metal PlanerToday, we are moving the Steel Planer from the print shop into the Restoration Workshop. We bought this machine specifically to surface the raw castings of Kelsey Chase Beds. Having them machined elsewhere did not prove satisfactory - either in cost or quality. But, with this extremely heavy-duty circa 1900-era steel planer, we are very excited about the possibility of finally producing these Excelsior Press Chase Beds as we've planned for these past many years...

After that, we'll be dumping and spreading the first 3 tons of stone for the bed beneath our newest shed - a 10x16x10' tall Amish-built shed with a Gambrel Roof and a loft that will be a great place to store and inventory empty type cases and other light items that are otherwise in the way in the other storage areas here on the property.

Gravel Pad for our new shedFortunately, we are enjoying some beautiful weather - until tonight, that is when the rains will begin - and, according to reports, will likely continue all day on Monday and into Tuesday. Good days to work inside and let the outdoor projects wait for another sunny day...

Well, as it turned out, after one day of rain, the weather cleared, the bed was prepared and the shed was delivered. Next, paint it red...


Saturday, August 12 -
The
                    new "Red Barn".
My friend Chris came by with his super-neat professional-grade airless paint sprayer and had some fun... Now the ugly old yellow "used shed" in our back yard is our very fine looking first "Red Barn"... Hurray!

... and our neighbors like it, too!

Now it's ready to begin moving stuff into it... Still paying big rent for all the stuff I have stored in the barn across the road....
But first, we took the time to also prime the siding on the new work shop.


August 14 -

Getting the shop together. What a good feeling to have this space dedicated only to printing and demonstrating letterpress printing - with all of the repair and restoration tools and supplies now moved into the new "Excelsior Press Museum Restoration Work Shop".

the
                    print shop August 20176 presses on
                    display in the print shopFinally, I have a cleared area to display and use the small presses. As these presses are sold, others will be restored to take their place.

The nice thing about this, is that with all these presses set up and operational, potential buyers can to come to the shop, see the options available, get to know the different models and print on any they wish and "try before they buy".

Students and other visitors can do the same. This is something that has been in the works for years - and now is finally coming to reality...

It also makes a good display of the most common table top presses new printers are currently likely to encounter. We have more, less common presses in the collection as well. But those presses will stay in the "permanent collection". The ones shown in this photo are duplicates, purchased to be restored and passed on to new homes as restored or as "good used" presses. 

In this photo, we can see a New Style 3x5 Kelsey Excelsior($750 restored) , a restored 5x8 Excelsior($1250) and a modified 6x10 "Victor" (Excelsior) ($1750) on the "Kelsey Table". In the back - on individual carts - are a 9x13 "Mother of All Excelsiors"(used $1500) as well as a restored 6 1/2x10 Chandler & Price Pilot ($2750) (with our new, improved gripper arm control mount) and finally a to-be-restored  6x9 Cook's Victor ($1900 as is, $2300 restored. ) The "Cook's Victor" is a press initially designed and sold by Cook - Kelsey's neighbor in Meriden Connecticut, but later sold by Kelsey as their first "Victor".This press is the same as Mr. Cook's original Victor, however when Kelsey bought out his stock of parts, he had new side arms cast that proclaim this as "made by" (actually assembled by) "Kelsey & Co. Meriden, CT"... The Cook's Victor is, to my mind the most professional of all of the presses ever sold by Kelsey. It's design is similar to Thorpe's Pilot and just as strong as any C&P Pilot you will find...

Current 2017 Prices for these presses - restored or used - are listed above. But note: as this market fluctuates, these prices may change as well.


Aug 14 -

Well, folks have asked for it, so here are some more photos of the shop - as it is today. But don't give up. There are more changes coming. Slowly but surely, we're shaping it into the shop we'd like to work in.... and besides, I still have not had the time to bring over the large Vandercook Model 4 flatbed press. That's our main machine, and boy, do I miss it! for now, we make due with a much smaller Nolan galley proof press, modified to hold sheets in position for printing in register.

2 8x 12 Chandler & Price Platen
                    Presses

Our two 8x 12 Chandler & Price Platen Presses. On the left, a New Series from 1929. On the right is the Early Series manufactured in 1899. Both operate quite well using their treadles. Who needs a stinking motor? ;)

Our Heidelberg Windmill Platen Press

The Heidelberg Windmill needs a motor. And that motor requires 220 volts to run. Unfortuately, the shop only has 110 volt service at the moment, so we produce the 220 volts needed ourselves - using our little 4,000 watt generator, parked just outside the door. Fortunately, the generator runs quite well and almost always starts on the first pull and is very, very quiet. When the press is running and the radio is on, I can't even hear the generator at all...

And I'll be using it this afternoon to perforate the first 25 orders of our annual "big project"... As of today, the 2018 Dog License Season begins! Our old friends know all about this, but for the past 40 years, I have spent many days every autumn producing municipal forms for one of my trade accounts... This year, we are starting quite early....

3
                    BigTableTopPresses

This one's just a close-up shot of the three very large table top presses we have here to augment the standard Kelsey Excelsior Collection. From left to right - a 9x13 Kelsey Excelsior, a 6 1/2x10 Chandler & Price Pilot and on the right, a 6x9 Cook's Victor - sold by Kelsey.

Okay, next will be some photos of the workshop - as soon as I get *it* organized and presentable....


August 15 -

Heidelberg
                    with formsHad some fun on Facebook today. I posted this photo along with a question for my old friends who have known the Excelsior Press since the days on Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights.

"What does it mean to see the Heidelberg surrounded by stacks of forms being padded at this time of year?"

hint: For the past 40 years, I've been printing one big job every autumn. While I'm doing it, the shop is often filled with stacks of carbonless paper being padded prior to printing on the Heidelberg. Most of the year, it's not.

For many of my friends, this is the first sign of autumn on its way. Granted, this year we're starting earlier than ever before, but here we go, the 2018 season has begun!


August 18
Preparing Three Presses for demonstration - and one for sale.

Brian is driving down all the way from Toronto to pick out and buy a press. He responded to the advert for "Uncle Bill's Press" He wants to print on something larger than the 5x8 Excelsior he currently uses at the local museum where he volunteers. 9x13 sounds like a good large size for this already-familiar Kelsey Excelsior, but the 9x13 is a bear of a press - very heavy and requiring a lot of energy to operate.

In fact, in conversations with Gene Mosher, last owner of Kelsey Co., he told me that towards the end, he would actually try to discourage orders for the 9x13 and would direct them to the 6x10 Model X instead - which actually is a far more practical machine - or recommend that they buy one of those 'obsolete' 8x12 C&Ps that printers had begun scrapping as they proved their obsolescence in commercial shops...

So I am doing the same. I will show Brian the 9x13 in all its glory - cleaned up and spiffy with a nice new set of rollers I did NOT cast myself, but instead bought 'off the shelf' from Todd Boutin of Todd's Press Time

But I will also show him how much easier it is to do short runs of large forms on a flatbed proof press as well. I have a small Showcard (Vandercook 099) as well as a nice Nolan - either of which will print a large form well - with little if no makeready required....

images to come: [9x13] [ 6x9 ] 6x10] [6 1/2 x 10] [8x12 C&P] [Showcard/Vandercook 099] [Nolan]
9x13
                        Kelsey Excelsior Press Model FA - 1959
2 8x12
                        Chandler & Price Platen Presses
6x9 Cooks/Kelsey Victor ~ 9x13 Kelsey Excelsior
8x 12 C&P New Series, 8x12 C&P Early Series



9x13 Rollers
August 18

New rollers for the Mother of All Excelsiors
- from my competitor - (Todd Boutin of Todd's Press Time)
Old rollers, above, new rollers below.... - - - >

Todd's rollers new 9x13 rollers arrived quite promptly - using USPS Flat Rate 2-3 day shipping (at no charge), were fairly priced and of excellent quality. I must admit that I am very impressed with the quality of my competitor's rollers - as well as his prompt and complete service.

Of course, although I do cast rollers myself as part of my repair and restoration work, and do sell rollers as well, it's still only a very small part of the work that seems to keep me occupied 24-7.... On the other hand, Todd is focused on rollers; appears to be better organized than I am, keeps common sizes in stock, and sells quite a few to an ever-increasing group of satisfied customers... In any case, he solved my first problem - I'm not currently set up for casting these larger 1 3/8" diameter rollers with my current set upand he got me a really nice set of new rollers in just a few days. I am pleased - and also inspired to cast more rollers and keep them in stock so that *I* can service *my* customers as well as Todd does....  just as soon as I can get a round tuit...

BTW - Todd also got a set of 3x5 rollers on their way to my customer in Alaska. He was growing tired of waiting for me to cast him a set and asked for an alternative. Todd came through for me and now Paul is happy and I have a little less pressure on my schedule and can focus on Brian's new press...


Hand Refinishing Chase
                BedAugust 18 - Refinishing Excelsior Chase Bed

Even just sitting, the bare steel on a Kelsey Chase Bed will eventually tend to rust and discolor. Since this surface is so critical, it cannot be machined to be resurfaced, but must be resurfaced by hand - a task easily accomplished using a simple sanding sponge...

Before (on right) and after (on left) sponge resting a bit before beginning that ever-so-boring sanding again...

(Don't forget to polish the rails)

August 18
Victor Gripper Spring DetailSolving the Cooks Victor Gripper Spring Issue

While setting up the 6x9 Cooks/Kelsey Victor to show Brian, I discovered that the grippers weren't working as they should. It seemed to be a spring issue - and it was, but it was not quite the issue I suspected. Simply mounting a spring between the mounting holes wasn't enough... Turns out that the spring has to do double duty and must be cut precisely to fit between the mounting points. Check out our Victor Press page for details on this interesting discovery.....



August 22
Well, Brian arrived Monday afternoon after his 8-hour drive down here from Toronto - just about the time of the very partial eclipse here in NJ - not much eclipse to see from here, but we had a good time sitting in the (partial) sun and getting to know each other..

Brian Pulling a Proof on the Showcard MiniAnd then we had two fun days of printing, talking about printing, printing history, type and presses, my personal background of over 55 years practicing this craft - and stories about some of the old printers I had known over the past 55 years... and then dealing with the hard task of choosing which of these presses was the better one for him to take home...

He was already familiar with the 5x8 Kelsey from the museum shop where he volunteers in Stratford, Ontario. And he wanted something larger for his own use. I showed him the 13x20 Nolan - with my neat new gripper system - and the 13x14 Showcard with it's factory gripper. (This Showcard is actually a Vandercook Model 099 with a "Showcard" nameplate. ) He liked them both, but wanted a platen press...

As an introduction, we looked at each of the presses he was considering, compared the engineering and printing features, and began the "try before you buy" process that guarantees a buyer goes home with the press they really want - and they know it is set up properly and prints well - because they just printed on it!  And, then, just to familiarize Brian with some larger presses, we both kicked the treadles on the 2 8x12 C&Ps in the shop and he learned just how smoothly that works.  One of the presses is an Early Series from 1890-something, the other is a New Series from the 1930s. He liked the idea of running a "commercial" press with no need for electricity. So do I...

Brian Pulling a Proof on the Showcard MiniSo, we continued by setting up a good test form - a 5x8" calendar using the 48 point calendar font that had I literally dug out of a heap of pied type on the floor of a damp basement in the nearby town of Flemington a few years ago.  This calendar font came out of the county newspaper's composing room - back in the days of hot metal. And then it sat in a damp basement until the cabinet it was on literally rotted away beneath it, dumping a lot of pied type on the floor.

The large 48-point square pieces stood out among the rest of the pi, and I was able to find every character but the [6], so we used a 48 point Stymie [6]. It worked.... So here's Brian about to pull a proof of our form on the 099.

Then we (he) locked it up in the 6x9 Cook/Kelsey Victor chase, inked it up and went to press. It printed well, this 6x9 Victor is a sweet, sweet machine that not only looks beautiful, but prints well, too. Easy action, plenty of pressure, little effort to make a print.

And then, we moved the form into the monster 9x13 Excelsior chase and did the same. It also printed the form nicely. And with a larger platen and more open angle, it was easier to set the gauge pins. So. Both presses printed our test form equally well. Which one to choose??

 
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood."...
- Robert Frost.
Excelsior
                        or Victor? How to choose...
Excelsior
                        or Victor? How to choose...
Decision Time:
The 9x13 Kelsey Excelsior      or     the 6x9 Cook/Kelsey Victor???
"Well, the 9x13 has a very large chase, but it is very heavy to move and it's hard to pull the handle and make an impression.... but the large platen is a plus."
"On the other hand, the 6x9 Victor is a beautiful machine, has a super smooth action, prints very well and is not hard at all to move... But it IS smaller..."

9x13 Excelsior, Loaded up and heading to
                Toronto....Finally, the difficult decision was made Brian chose to take the big Excelsior back home with him as he had originally intended to.

So, we loaded up that behemoth 200+ pound Excelsior into the back of his rv and Brian headed back north on his 8-hour "run to the border" - He had to get there before midnight or lose a day in Florida this winter.

I didn't realize that Canadian Snowbirds are limited in the time they can be in the U.S. each year. One day over 6 months, and Uncle Sam changes your tax status and asks for income taxes - even from retired Snowbirds already pouring money into the Florida economy - and paying plenty of taxes while doing that as well.  Oh, well. Governments and their rules... I hope he makes it in time. It is a long drive.... (I am happy to report that he made it to the border with barely time to spare and was home - in a suburb of Toronto - by 00:15 am...)


August 22 -

Our new Dahle Paper CutterI figured it was time to post this photo of the new paper cutter we're using. My 23"  is still over in the old shop in the barn across the road. It will be a bear to move alone - and it's "landlocked" by shelves and cabinets, so it's not going to come over to the new shop anytime soon.

Besides, now have this really cool Dahle 852 Office Cutter. It will only cut 200 sheets/lift, but it is also only 95 pounds and I could move it around on my own pretty easily. It will do for now. Besides, it's got this really neat laser beam that illuminates the cut line which makes it easier to cut quickly and accurately. Plus, it's safe to use - for me or for shop visitors. It will only cut when both safety windows are in place, so fingers are safe. And, it came with a fresh, sharp blade, and a brand-new spare blade in the box. I found these online selling for $1500-$3000 new, but was able to snag this at a far, far lower cost at Paul Brubaker's HighBidsWin.comauction.

August 23 - Wednesday -

And now it's time to refocus my attention, after the dust has cleared from a very hectic 5 days - getting ready for Brian's visit, then actually printing with him here in the shop for two days, then seeing him leave with the press of his choice. He did indeed "try before he did buy" and is happy with his choice - as am I...

Now it's time to get back on the Heidelberg and continue numbering that large order of forms as well as get back to work on the next restoration project - the Vandercook Model 099... And then get a shipping kit together and on its way to Christy in SoCal so that she can ship her 5x8 here for a full restoration. - All fun projects which I am looking forward to diving in to starting later today...

Photos and updates to follow....

August 24- Thursday
Press being packedJust added a new page to the web site - Crating a Press - aka Boxing up a 5x8 Kelsey Press for safe shipping.

This is to show Christy in SoCal how we packed Julie's Press and got it safely to her in Michigan... Then Christy will be able to pack and safely ship her old press to us here for a custom restoration...

We'll be updating this with a new version showing Christy (& others in the future) how we use the Instapak expanding foam cushions to hold the press safely in place during transit. Then we'll send her an Instapak kit and instructions on how to pack up the press. Watch for an update...






September 20 -

Busy weeks; still focused on the new work shop, some printing jobs and press restoration. It's coming along nicely and all that's left is to replace the temporary side door with the one I retrieved from the barn the other day - the same door that was the outside entrance to the basement of my parents' home where this print shop began so many years ago. It will be nice to walk through that door "into the shop" once again...

Then, I'll need to hook up the new hot water heater to keep the floor warm (radiant heating) this winter, and this project will be pretty much completed and I can get back to work restoring presses in a heated and well-organized and well-equipped "Restoration Workshop"....

Ryan and Kim Kocis - new owners of the farmBut, today's post is not about my shop, but is about the farm where the shop has/had been for the past 30 years. Now that the farm's under new ownership and the new landlords are sticking to the zoning laws here in Kingwood Township, we can no longer "operate" out of the "storage" barn - which has lead, indirectly to all of the work being here on the new shop - which had long been my plan, anyway. I've wanted my own barn for years. Soon, I will build it.

But on their web site is a nice video, put together by a local NJ tv station to highlight the impact and effect the NJ Farmland Preservation project has had on us locally. See: https://www.delvalstoragefarm.com/ and click on the video box to meet my new landlords and learn a bit about Farmland Preservation in New Jersey.

I might add that Ryan - and his new family are "part of the family", so to speak. For the past 20+ years, his father Frank leased and farmed this same land - and I used to ride with Frank in the combine as he "picked corn" on the various fields on the property. Meanwhile, Ryan was one of "the kids" who used to ATV and snow-mobile across the land... But then, he went to college, studied growing grasses and, like his father, began managing his own fields as a "leasing" farmer - farming about 2,000 acres of leased land as his father did - and still does. But he and Kim have made their dream come true and the land he farms now is his own.

And, although the name of the business that rents storage space on the farm is Delaware Valley Storage Farm - (similar to Bill Grossman's tractor repair business name from the past - "Delaware Valley Equipment"), the farm itself has its own name. Based upon the concept of self-fertilizing and self-seeding grasses, the farm is named "Perpetual Harvest Farm" - a fitting name for a sustainable source of grasses.

BTW - Ryan also recently completed installation of a rather large solar array on the main workshop barn roof. This solar array should not only produce all of the electricity used on the farm (replacing the old WWII-era diesel generator as back-up to the JCP&L grid) but should also produce enough extra wattage to make this farm a producer of electricity - as well as winter hay...

Now, wouldn't progressive farmer Oscar Grossman be pleased to see the evolution of the chicken farm his family founded on this land back before 1900? These barns housed up to 20,000 laying hens until about 1970. And, while Oscar was in charge, the farm was continually evolving to use the most advanced automation techniques. Although the chickens are long gone, I seem to get the feeling that he would approve of how this land supports itself now in the 21st century... And I am sure he would be happy to know that the land is still intact farm land and crops are being grown. And now, thanks to a progressive young farming couple and to the support of the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program, it will remain farmland in perpetuity.

September 22
Well, its autumn now. Today is my brother Steve's birthday... He's 62 today - and for the next few months only 5 years behind me... until I turn 68 in December...

... and today, I will be enjoying a beautiful autumn (or late summer) day, running the Heidelberg Windmill, numbering and perforating more of those municipal forms - a job I've been doing now for over 40 years... If it's autumn in New Jersey, it's "time to print the dog licenses."

GBC Hot Roll LaminatorPowis Parker Fastback BinderAnother fun day at Highbidswin Auction yesterday. Only this time, it is not any antique printing equipment.... This is, after all the 21st century, and there's more to life than antiques...

The Excelsior Press is now the proud owner of a full 25" wide GBC Roll Laminator - plenty large enough to laminate posters and broadsides... as well as a "Powis Fastback" spine binder, which will "professionalize" the spine taping of the receipt books we produce - faster, easier and more professional-looking than the old apply-by-hand black duct-tape solution we've used for the past 40 years... These tools have been on the "someday" list for many years. Now, thanks to Paul's auction site - and the luck of the low bid, these tools will become a part of the Excelsior Press production line....

October 16

Listing on eBay for a 5x8 ink disk... These are very hard to find, but I am casting them now as well... This one's seller is asking $275 for Buy It Now; bidding begins at $200. Will he get it?

plus Shipping: $20 to NJ....

New Bindery Area -
                forms, drill & cutterPacking up Municipal forms today... And, for the first time in many years, I did not have to move big stacks of forms from the press to the padding rack, to a box, to the barn for trimming and drilling, then back home for final packing.

This time, I took the forms from the press, stacked on the padding press, rolled the table back to the new cutting/bindery area and only had to transfer the forms from the padding rack directly to the cutter, then two steps to the drill, then drop them right into the box for pickup. It is such a pleasure to have this efficiency in the process. Makes life much, much easier for me...


Oct 16 -

New Workshop - painting. Awaiting door and
                cement slabAnd here's an updated photo of the new workshop - just waiting for me to hang the last door. The door I will be using - seen leaning against the wall at the moment,  was *the* door to the print shop when it was in my folks' basement, so many years ago. I saved the door when we sold the house, and now, 23 years later, I will be using it again...

Also preparing to pour a small slab to hold the big air compressor and the new propane hot water heater which will pump warm water through the floor of the new workshop for warmth all winter long.... I can hardly wait!

Oct 17

Compositor at CaseI was poking around the barn this afternoon, looking for a gripper bar spring for a Pilot and some old Colonial Style Caslon for a museum...

But, as usual, while poking around that barn warehouse, I found something else - a box of books I had gotten from England some years ago. I must have been busy when they arrived, because although the box had been opened, it had not been emptied and the books never made it to the (overfilled) book shelf....

Among those books was a copy of Joseph Thorp's Printing for Business, published in England in 1919. On the cover of the book is the image seen to the left -  Compositor at Case. I am posting it here because this is the most clear explanation I have seen of "Upper and Lower Case" and where the terms came from. Besides, it's a nice image of a typesetter at work. I consider myself a typesetter, so I can relate quite personally to the image...

I wonder how this would work on a t-shirt...

I hope you enjoy it.


October 24 - New listing on our rescue page - Two Presses and a Rosback Perforator in search of a new home... http://excelsiorpress.org/_printing.presses.for.sale.or.rescue/CathyR/index.html
10x15 C&P available in Minnesota
October 26 - Got another press available. This one's in Minnesota - 10x15 C&P Early Series in excellent working condition - with extras...


Oct 27 -

Had an inquiry from a museum print shop where they want to print Ben Franklin's autobiography using the old style "Colonial" Caslon 337 font... I had two small fonts that I got from Bill Reiss at Quaker City Type when I was helping out the folks at the Bower MuseumCaslon
                  337 Foundry Type Fontin Costa Mesa, California a few years ago. Well, since Bill has retired and his Caslon 337 mats are likely in storage somewhere - and not likely readily available for casting in any case, I tracked down another foundry with the Caslon 337 mats - Patrick Reagh in Calfornia. He has the mats, the Monotype caster and the experience to do a fine job on this project. So, if any of you are looking for this less-than-common font for doing reproductions of Colonial-era typesetting and printing, he's your guy...


November 1

Typesome type- getting it organized
Finally! Getting some of the tons of new type in packages organized so that I can begin an inventory. This photo shows less than 20% of the new type in packages that I have collected over the years. Many are fonts I don't use - and will (eventually) be listed for sale or trade.....
(when I get that infamous "round-tuit"...) ;(

Mice in the wood typeMice in the wood type!
Now it's mice in the wood type. They love to fill those empty spaces with bedding and then move in, leaving those little mouse pellets everywhere as well. But in this case, it was even worse. The affected case was the top case in the cabinet, so there was clearance above the case. The mouse had up-ended one piece of wood type so that the drawer would not come out. It took me 1/2 hour and a lot of poking and probing with a long ink knife and some thin kabob sticks to flip that one piece of wood type upright again so that I could remove and clean the drawer. Needless to say, when it went back into the cabinet, it was not the first case on top..


Nov 12 - Melissa (on press) and Brittany visit the
                  Excelsior Press
Brittany & Melissa stopped by to try out the New Series 8x12 C&P. They'd both worked on Vandercooks - and even a Windmill, but this was their first opportunity to hand feed a treadle-operated 8x12 Chandler & Price. I think they had fun learning to hand-feed safely - and while operating the treadle.

Calendar printed on 8x12 C&PThey also had a chance to feel the difference of pumping the treadle  before and after the press was well-oiled. Yes, it really does make a big difference - and they know it now, and, having experienced the difference, are not likely to forget it...

And, yes. That is a wrong font "6" on the calendar page. This font was literally picked up off of the very wet and dirty floor of the basement print shop it came from. The owner had died and the basement had flooded - and, apparently stayed flooded for quite a while, considering how rotted the cabinets were. So, anyway the font came without the piece for "[6]" so , until we fabricate a proper letter, we're using Cheltenham Bold... (We intend to clone the "[9]" and see how that works... read about it here when it happens.)

Brittany and Melissa printed a calendarSo, we had fun printing and although we'd wanted to print a job of theirs using a photopolymer plate, we wound up just printing this hot-metal calendar page before they had to pack up and head back to the city.

But I think they'll be back for more....

Nov 24 - Yup. Just got the call from Brittany. Time to make plans to load up this old gem and deliver it to their new studio in Queens, NYC....

Where it began: Rodney Pugh's 8x12 C&P

November 23 -

Compressor on slab outside shopFinally got that slab poured and moved the big air compressor onto its final location just outside of the work shop.  Now all that's needed is to hook up the lines, fire up the generator to power this monster, then begin sand blasting in the new sand blast cabinet inside the shop - or using the large sand blaster outside...

I've been waiting for this for years - literally for years. And now, it's all finally coming together. I also hung the last door to the shop, so now no more cold winter breeze coming through the opening in the wall..

Looks like that door needs a paint job, too. No worries. This is/was the door to my Dad's basement - the door I walked  through into my print shop nearly every day from the time I was 14 until I left for the service at 18.... - and then again for a few years after I returned from my military adventures... It will be a pleasure to scrape off that fifty-year-old paint and give it a fresh coat of red - or white... or maybe red with white trim. I dunno. We'll see... In any case, we have a door and we have a compressor - almost ready to run! I am one happy guy!


Nov 26 -

Also -
Compressor on slab outside shopgetting all those little presses organized - finally - as well... Not only do I have these 3x5 Kelsey Excelsiors on this rolling cart in the work shop, but I have another coupla dozen 3x5, 5x8, 6x10 & larger Pilot-sized presses now organized and stored on shelves out in the new barn/shed in the yard.

/blog/blog.2017.html#aug - see Aug 12 photo of the red barn...

By finally gathering all of these presses - and all of the loose parts to go to these presses, I can finally inventory everything and figure out what parts (ink disks, chases and chase beds, mostly) are true "spares" - and available for sale - and which need to go back onto their original presses, and which new parts we will need to have cast and/or machined. Still a lot of work to do, but at least it's finally becoming organized...

And now that the sand blaster is about ready to use, I'll be able to resume my factory re-manufacturing of these presses - sand blast in the sand blast cabinet, prime and paint in the paint booth cabinet, and then use the little metal lathe to cut down new shafts for presses and shafts for the new ink rollers and then turn new roller trucks.

Then cast rollers, re-assemble the presses, adjust roller height and level the platen for perfect printing and then offer them up to loving homes... Where they will once again be making someone's dream of printing come true...

Some of these presses, btw will not be re-manufactured with fresh paint, etc., but will only be cleaned up, adjusted with new rollers and sold as "good used". In fact, there are a few presses here that were never even used! - Yup. Some still have the test print on the tympan from the assembly room at Kelsey Co. In Meriden, Connecticut. Some of these presses were sold, then sat for 20-30-40 years in some cases... but were never used to print... Of course, they have suffered from exposure, etc, but there is no wear at all on the moving parts, so cleanup and new rollers is sometimes all they need.


Nov 28 -

Just found an interesting web site for you European Adana fans: http://adanashop.info/index.html Adana Shop restores Adana table top presses - same as I do here with the Kelseys (and the occasional Adana) ...


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