equipment in use at the Excelsior Press

Excelsior Press Restoration

Case Studies

One of the things we discovered as we experienced this Letterpress Renaissance of the late 20th and early 21st century is that there is a new need not only for instruction of new Letterpress want-to-be Printers by old, experienced printers, but there is also a serious need for experienced printers and machinists to tackle the project of proper restoration of old printing presses.

While there have been many excellent examples of beautifully restored presses, a number of hacks have done some terrible 'refurbish' work and sold their junk on eBay. We take a different approach.

In other words, we don't just paint a press to make it salable, we *restore* presses to like-new or better-than-new condition.

And, since we had always enjoyed teaching our new employees the ins and outs of letterpress printing since the commercial days of The Excelsior Press (1965-85), tutoring new printers became a natural focus of our talents.

In addition, since we had always found the engineering and mechanics of letterpress machinery fascinating, and since that knowledge attracted restoration projects to our doors, we realized that the world does not need just another traditional letterpress printer, but it really does need skilled letterpress machinists - people who understand both the printing and the engineering of these presses and can do a good job of restoring these presses.

You might say we found our niche.

So here it is - antique press restoration and how we do it.

While our primary purpose is to share this information to add to the general body of work on this subject, we do wish that these pages will be studied by press owners who wish to restore their own presses - and not to encourage competition in this limited niche market.

In other words, if you want to restore your own press, these pages are for you. If, however you wish to compete with our work, and restore presses commercially as a source of income, we politely ask you not to. Much of the information shared on these pages came at quite an expense in mistakes and many, many hours of study. And, as much as we do wish to educate the public, we do not wish to give away our 'trade secrets' (although that's exactly what we do on these pages...) So kindly refrain from competing with us while we are still engaged in this work as our primary source of income and support for the Excelsior Press Museum Restoration Shop.

And, one last final word: We do not presume to be the world's experts on this subject. We are not telling you how to restore your press, we are simply reporting the steps and techniques that we have found helpful as we restore presses... The following pages are all, by their very nature, works in progress. Please bear with us as we update and edit these pages with photos and additional notes.


  1. Vandercook Model 4 - photos of parts prior to re-assembly
  2. Vandercook SP-15 - Servicing an otherwise pristine press.
    The story of "The SP15 Trip Spring Adventure"
  3. Vandercook Model 099 - full restoration log - work in progress
  4. Kelsey Excelsior 5x8 - re-assembly slideshow
  5. Cooks Victor 6x9 - basic how-to take it apart to replace a broken part (new page coming soon)





page last updated  August, 2017


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