Two Monotype Composition Casters

November 2016

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1. Introduction

Usually I move my own equipment. That's not because I'm any better qualified than a professional (I mean, how much machinery moving do you think we studied when I was getting my doctorate in poststructuralist literary criticism?) It's more just a do-it-yourself ethic. Sometimes, though, circumstances require professional help.

In this case, the circumstance was that a month before an intended long-distance rigging trip, I was very, very stupid and injured my back. It's better now - no long-term damage. But I've learned a lot (no, you can't get away with dumb things that you did when you were younger), so in the long run it will have been a good thing. In an extraordinarily painful sort of way.

It did, however, mean that I was entirely unfit to undertake a transcontinental rigging trip to California to haul home two Monotype Composition Casters that I'd purchased there. But I had committed to acquiring the machines, and the fellow I got them from really needed them out of his shop, so I had no choice but to call in professional help.

There are horror stories of machines damaged beyond repair during these kinds of moves, but this is not one of them. In each instance, the people that I employed were very good; I'd recommend them. The machines arrived in a timely manner, completely undamaged.

2. In California

The actual rigging in California was done by the outfit that used to be River City Rigging (in Sacramento); it has recently been acquired by Lawson Drayage. Still, I dealt directly with Victor Nelson in Sacramento. I'm really very impressed with what they did. In particular, the pallets they put these machines on are great: 5 1/2 x 6 1/2 feet. I attribute much of the fact that these machines did not tip over in transit to these large pallets. (They're also made of hardwood. I'll be disassembling them carefully and using the wood for projects in my own shop.)

There are two machines, both Monotype Composition Casters. Both are English (vs. American) machines, made by The Monotype Corporation Ltd (vs. the Lanston Monotype Machine Co.) Both, I believe have been adapted to use American mold equipment.

Of these, the one which will be my primary machine is s/n 29,296. Unusually, it is painted tan, and was originally installed (if I recall correctly) at United States Steel. It went from there to Gregory Jackson Walters in Ohio and then to Jeff Howard Meade in California (then to me). It is equipped with Bill Welliver's computer interface. I'll be removing this interface and swapping it with a friend for a Keyboard. 1 This particular machine is meaninful for me because it was the first Monotype Composition Caster that I saw in operation, at the American Typecasting Fellowship Conference in 2010 hosted by Greg Walters.

The backup machine is s/n 26,192. It is equipped with just the traditional paper tower for input.

Here they are, palletized, in the Lawson Drayage warehouse in Sacramento:

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What isn't shown above is the large wooden crate of auxiliary material that ended up being shipped on the same pallet as the backup machine.

3. In Wisconsin

Shipping from California to Wisconsin was coordinated by Action Heavy Haul of Medford, Oregon. They have been most helpful.

We did hit one snag, but everything worked out. The weight of a Composition Caster, as published by the late Paul Hayden Duensing, is 1465 pounds. So each of these pallets is well under a ton. In terms of weight they might be handled by an ordinary box-truck liftgate. But in terms of pallet size, such a liftgate is way too small. Just moving a 5.5' x 6.5' pallet, with machine, onto a 3' liftgate would dump it off the back of the truck.

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So to get the machines off the truck, I called up the local Bobcat dealership, K&L Bobcat in Darlington, WI. They've helped me out a number of times in the past moving machinery. They were out in 45 minutes (and Darlington is half an hour away) and had no trouble at all unloading the machines:

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Actually, since he was already there, I had him take the machines all the way to their final locations. (My prior plan had been to load them onto my drop-bed trailer and move them that way; this was easier.)

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And s/n 26,192.

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And here's s/n 29,296, safely within the doors of the still-under-construction Type Foundry:

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The only issues in bringing it inside were: (1) the cross-pieces of the pallet were slightly longer than the deck, and longer than my double doors were wide; I cut them flush with the deck. (2) The pallet is so deep that my standard 48" pallet jack couldn't quite lift it from this end; the further end dragged. So I used a come-along. No problem. I'd rather deal with these minor issues and have a pallet which will keep the machine vertical on a transcontinental trip, as it did.

4. Notes

1. I must hasten to note here that this is not because of any issue with the Welliver interface. Indeed, it is a marvel. Speaking here as a former professional computer programmer, I am deeply impressed by every aspect of Bill's design and execution of this interface. If your purpose is to set up anew to do production composition casting on the Monotype, you'd be crazy to use anything else.

But my goal is not production. My goal is to document the machine as it was used in the 20th century. So for me the Keyboard is essential. A friend has a Keyboard but wants to do production composition, I have a Welliver interface but want to learn the Keyboard. Perfect swap.

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