equipment in use at the Excelsior Press

Restoring the Vandercook Model 099
Galley Proof Press

(12x16" Form size ~ Sheet & bed 13x22" ~ weight: 110 lbs.)

This is a work-in-progress, begun on August 4, 2017.
Photos will be added as we perform the work described in the paragraphs below.

The Vandercook Galley Proof Presses 
were designed only for pulling galley proofs - typically lines of text cast on the Linotype or forms comprised of Luldow slugs and/or foundry type and/or photo engravings,  made up for display advertising.

But these days, they can be used for far more than that. As a result, they are in demand as a small, portable, easy-to-use flatbed press.

Most of the old galley proof presses turning up these days are really quite old - and the rubber coating of the impression cylinder is often either hardened beyond the desired hardness of 70 Shore Durometer, or worse yet, damaged from many years of rough use.

New impression roller for Vandercook
                          Model 099 Galley Proof PressThe good news is that this roller can be removed and recovered. We have just received our recovered Vandercook Model 099 Impression Cylinder, recoverd by our friends Andrian and Jayne of Ramco Roller in San Dimas, California - and it looks beautiful!

The other issue with the galley proof presses in general is that most of the presses we find these days lack the optional parts that would allow locking up a form in the bed of the press - the ends are open. Few have the optional paper guides and grippers as well. They were meant to print forms held in place by magnets - or in a locked-up chase - which is fine for a galley proof, but no good if you plan to print more than just a few copies of the form.

For that reason, we add a cross-bar to the back and another on the front. This gives you a fully-enclosed form area and allows you to lock up your form - type, engravings, photo-polymer plates - using standard letterpress furniture and quoins.

The last important improvement we make to these presses when we restors them is to add our own paper guide system that will let you hold your sheets in place with sufficient accuracy to do multiple passes - in register - for doing multi-colored printing.

Procedure we follow to restore The Vandercook Model 099 Galley Proof Press 

The first thing we do is disassemble and remove the impression cylinder unit, which is basically the only standard moving part to this press. In most cases, we send out the impression roller to Ramco Roller in San Dimas, California, who do an excellent job of recovering the roller shaft. The result looks like brand new.

The impression unit contains bearings that ride beneath the rails. These can be cleaned or replace as appropriate.

All disassembled parts are either sand-blasted or wire-wheeled to remove all evidence of rust which normally coats the bare steel parts.

Next, they are painted and set-aside.

Then we remove the four rubber bumpers on the ends of the rails. These are replaced with new in most cases.

The bed and rails are thorough de-rusted and the surfaces made to shine, then liberally coated with Mineral Oil, which is then rubbed in to give these bare steel surfaces protection from humidity.

These presses typically develop a light coating of surface rust on the first warm humid day of the spring when the press is still a bit "chilly" from the previous night's chill. When the hot, moist air hits the bare, cooler steel, moisture condenses on exposed surfaces and they can become covered with a find surface rust in mere hours.

The underside of the bed is cleaned to bare metal, then primed and painted "Vandercook Black"

The 'feet' attached to the bottom of the bed are removed and the mounting holes thoroughly cleaned.

Some parts are best cleaned by sand-blasting or wire-wheel. Machined surface areas are best cleaned using medium-grit foam sanding pads and Coarse, then Medium Scotch Brite pads. We don't use the less-expensive no-name brands since they do not appear to have the coarseness and strength as the standard Scotch Brite green pads.

After all parts are cleaned to bare metal, those parts which will be painted are first primed, the given 2 coats of Rustoleum Gloss Black or Hammered Finish paint. Other colors are available.


Re-assembly, as they say is pretty much the reverse of disassembly. First, we reassemble the impression unit - on the press. Bearings are adjusted using the cams on the underside of the unit.

The bumpers on the four corners are re-installed.

And the restoration is done. Now it's time to add the critical enhancements.

First, we add the back crosspiece. It simply slips into the existing holes on the bed of the press.

Then we add the front crosspiece - which includes the paper gripper and side-guides.

Now we have converted our simple little Galley Proof Press to a min-Flatbed press.

Test Prints:
The last step in this process is to do some test prints. Black to begin, followed by a second color, printed in register to show they new owner what they can do with this press.

page last updated  August, 2017