Two Monotype Sorts Casters

(And Moving a Super Caster for Sterling)

October 2016

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1. Introduction

Bob Magill recently acquired the remaining physical plant of the former Sterling Type Foundry, and will be continuing his own typecasting operations under the Sterling name (while continuing to print as Monumental Press). As a part of it, he acquired an English Monotype Super Caster from the (now) late (and greatly missed) David Churchman. To make room for this machine in his foundry, he sold his Monotype Sorts Caster to me (along with a second caster as a parts machine).

2. Moving the Super Caster

So the first step was to move the Super Caster from the fabled "Boutique du Junque" in Indianapolis to Bob's foundry in Missouri. I only had time to take a couple of pictures. (But I shouldn't have hurried. It then took us over six hours to drive the 80 miles from Indianapolis to the Indiana/Illinois state line. At times it would have been faster to move the caster down the freeway by hand on the pallet jack.)

This move was the second use use (and first long-distance trip) of my brand new Anderson HGL 7600 "Hydraulic Drop-Bed" trailer.

The late Paul Hayden Duensing listed the weight of the Super Caster at 1,680 pounds, but Bob's estimate of this one was 2,200 pounds. We had the help throughout the process of Mike Anton, the well-known printer and Golding press authority from St. Louis. The Boutique is also equipped with a forklift, which was quite handy.

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And here it is in place (but of course not yet hooked up) in its new home at Sterling.

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Then we used the HGL trailer to move two of Bob's Thompson Type-Casters 100 feet from one building to another. These were both original Thompson Type Machine Company casters, and weigh only 750 pounds each. I don't have any pictures of that, but here's the lovely view from the new home of Sterling Type Foundry, showing the empty pallet on which the Super Caster had arrived (which would soon be holding two Thompsons for their short trip). The pallet is of my construction - very simple, with AC2 pressure treated 4x6 boards as skids, and 2x10 boards decking the top. I put a slight space between the outer two and the inner three boards, which allows a strap through for strapping machines down. 1

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3. Moving Two Monotype Sorts Casters

Then we loaded up two Lanston Monotype Machine Co. Sorts Casters from Bob's pole barn. 2 Here they are, skidded and on the trailer but not yet fully strapped down. 3

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And 400 miles later, here they are home. I probably should have put the load about six inches further back for perfect weight distribution, but as it is, it drove very solidly. Without a weight-distributing hitch, the front of the truck would have been inches higher. The nominal weight of each caster is 1275 pounds, but we were also carrying a large variable speed motor (maybe 150 pounds) and the pallet jack (and some rather heavy pallets). So the load was something on the order of 2,800 pounds.

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Well, almost home. You see the small "walk door" on the Barn in the left photo below? That leads through to the Type Foundry (which is the former milking parlor). The double loading doors to the Type Foundry are around to the left, not visible in this photo. (The main double doors, visible here, lead to the Hot Metal Composing Room and the Printing Shop; they're at a different floor level.)

I note often that our home has many fine characteristics, but flat land isn't one of them. Rollande pointed out to me that this is a good thing - if we had flat land, we'd just have neighbors.

In any case, much to my surprise, I was in fact able to back the trailer down the hill and around the tight corner to the loading "dock" of the Type Foundry. (You can't just back straight up to it, because the angle of the ground coming up from the driveway is too steep. The hitch would bottom out.) In the photo below right you can see the tracks of the path which worked.

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In taking this picture I'm standing right at the edge of a 4 foot dropoff.

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So here they are, ready to be unstrapped and unloaded. Given the terrain, I was (pleasantly) surprised at how close to level we were able to get the trailer. It was a little higher in the back (the underside of the bed is just touching the corner of the concrete pad), but still we were able to move the machine off the trailer with just the pallet jack (no come-along).

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I said "machine" (in the singular) because the unloading process had complications. There were actually three Monotype Sorts Casters involved, and in the end only one of them went into the Type Foundry.

In the photo below left you can see that there is already a Monotype Sorts Caster in the Type Foundry. It is one I acquired in 2010 at the shutdown of the former Barco Type Foundry in Chicago. I haven't yet put it into operation, partly due to lack of time, but partly because every other machine from Barco has had serious issues, and there's no reason to think that this one would be any different. Its maker's plate has been removed, so its serial number is unknown; it's an older machine with the pot handle underneath. This machine is going to get staged to the trailer and then moved up to the Machine Shed as a backup machine.

The machine on the back end of the trailer, also visible in this photograph, is a relatively famous one: it is the Sorts Caster which appears in Theo Rehak's book Practical Typecasting (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 1993). It is moving into the Foundry and will become my primary Sorts Caster. Curiously - for a later machine which has been so well cared for - its maker's plate is also gone.

Finally, the machine at the front end of the trailer is a parts machine, which will remain for now on the trailer and be unloaded up at the Machine Shed.

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So, like magic, one caster disappears and another appears in its place. And, unless you have a forklift (don't) or a drop-bed trailer (do), it would be magic.

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And so here we are up at the Machine Shed, where unloading the machines was almost trivially easy.

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(I qualify that with "almost" only because I'm discovering that not only is our land not flat on the large scale, it isn't very flat on the small scale either. So I still had to put some wood under the tail of the trailer to ease the way off.)

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Done, Monday afternoon 2016-10-24. When you include the move of the Miehle V36 last Tuesday, and the two Thompsons and third Sorts Caster (which did have to be loaded and unloaded, though they travelled only a hundred feet or so), it's been:

I'm exhausted, but also quite pleased with how it all worked out. The new trailer (and the Ford F-250 truck) made it all possible. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Bob Magill's Sterling Type Foundry produces on its new Super Caster.

4. Notes

1. You might notice pipes. I do not like moving machines on pipes, but once it left my trailer is was FOB Destination (so to speak), and the method of its unloading was not mine to choose.

2. Lanston never gave these machines a proper name. They were called by several names (sometimes in the same Lanston document). Later in their manufacturing life Lanston settled on "Type & Rule Caster," but even that name is not satisfactory, as many of these machines were never equipped to cast rule. Theo Rehak, in Practical Typecasting, calls it a Display machine, but it's perfectly possible to cast body size type for the cases on it. Colloquially, many in the typecasting field called this caster an "Orphan Annie." I dislike that name, though, because it has no good origin (the story that it comes from an 'OA' prefix on their serial numbers is not true). I suspect that "Orphan Annie" has stuck only because it does uniquely identify a "Monotype type caster based on the original Composition Caster but furnished with mold, matrix, slow-speed, and other equipments for sorts casting in body and display sizes up to 36 point, optionally also equipped for rule casting, but with its composition casting equipment removed or never originally furnished." Whew. ["Equipments" in the plural is correct as per early 20th century machinery catalogs and parts/service documentation.] This machine was made by both Monotype companies. These two particular machines are American, made in Philadelphia by the Lanston Monotype Machine Company.

But "Sorts Caster" is as good a name as any, as these machines were intended originally to allow printers as end-users to cast additional sorts (often in display sizes) to augment the machine composition provided by the regular Monotype Composition Caster. The core structure of the Comp. Caster and the Sorts Caster is the same; with the right parts, you can convert one to the other.

3. Getting them on to my pallets was a process of using wooden shims, a rigger's nose bar, and a hydraulic toe jack to raise them above pallet height on two hefty steel channel-section beams, then slipping the pallet underneath, and finally lowering them down (again, in stages with shims) onto the pallet. They are secured to the pallet by a 2" ratchet strap and 2x4 or 2x6 nailers all around. Use double-headed nails for later ease of removal, and a long (4') wrecking bar for removing them.

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