This is a quick look at the collection of stuff which constitutes the physical side of the "Circuitous Root Typefoundry and Press." I intend this present document/webpage to be a place where my friends, old and new, can see what it is that I've got.
I should note first of all that I am not a printer. This is an important note, since I've started to associate with many fine printers who, kindly, assume that I, too, am a printer. I'm not. This isn't simply because I've not printed much and consequently am not a very good printer (which is true), but more importantly because I don't think like a printer and am not driven by printing qua printing. A printer thinks always in terms of the printed sheet. I think always in terms of the physical type and machinery with which the printing is done.
I'm not a printer. I'm a collector of heavy old machines. My goal is to become a linecaster operator (Linotype/Intertype/Ludlow; Elrod), a linecaster mechanic, a typefounder (Thompson, Monotype display), and perhaps to some degree a maker of matrices (punchcutting, engraving, electroforming). I want to learn how to run the machines, and to maintain and repair them. I want to be able to do, with my own hands, all of the things necessary to make physical letterpress printing type in every one of the ways in which it has been made. Most importantly, I want to document all of this while the knowledge still exists, to share it with other enthusiasts and to preserve it into the future.
I'm also not even a very experienced non-printer. While I've been interested in type for some time, I made the mistake of thinking that type had something to do with computers (my family has been involved with computers since the 1950s, so this mistake is perhaps understandable). It wasn't until 2008, when I was 46 years old, that I became seriously interested in real type.
Anyway, here are the larger bits and pieces which make up the shop. Many of the photographs are of machines in transit. This accurately reflects the shop, because I'm still very much in the process of setting it up. I haven't settled in yet. You won't see here a nice overall view of the shop laid out for efficient production. It isn't. The working machines are all crammed into my garage, along with a lathe and a metalworking shaper. There's some overflow storage in the barn, and the typemetal is stored in a shed. This is not optimal. Indeed, it's barely workable (but is workable!) You do what you can with what you have, and this is what I have. (Update, Fall 2010: We now have a lovely new 30' x 40' machine shed. Three of the Linotypes and three of the Ludlows now live there.)
I have eight "composing linecasters" (machines where you sit at a keyboard and compose type which is then cast as complete lines). Six of them are Linotypes, one is an Intertype (a Linotype clone), and one is a curious hybrid that is both a Linotype and an Intertype. I love them all; there is no better machine.
It might perhaps be good to keep in mind that the Linotype was developed in the late 1880s. My oldest machines were built in 1906-1908 and in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft were presidents of the U.S. Yet at least five of them were in commercial service through the first years of the 21st century.
The Model X is a fascinating hybrid. It began life as Linotype s/n 15,527 in the first half of 1912 (model as yet undetermined). At some point after 1916 it was obtained from the field by the Intertype Corporation and "modernized" with Intertype parts. They renamed it a Model X. Basically, the main motor, the pot, and most of what you can see from the front of the machine are Intertype, while the base machine underneath remains a Linotype. It takes (two) Intertype magazines (but is not a mixer). It has a 2-mold disk. It does not have a quadder. It was one of the first two linecasters I acquired, in late 2008. (I'll call it acquisition no. 1, as it was the only one of the two which was, at the time, complete.)
Both Linotype and Intertype "upgraded" machines from the field in this way, although Linotype only upgraded Linotypes, while Intertype upgraded both Linotypes and Intertypes. The Model X takes standard Intertype 90-channel magazines, but the Magazine Frame mechanism used is unique to the Model X (and quite different from the standard Intertype mechanism).
This machine is down pending restoration. That restoration shouldn't be too difficult, as the basic machine isn't in bad shape. It did come with two lovely brass Intertype magazines which had been stored escapement-down in a damp location, so their escapements are ruined. I hope to rebuild these (if you have Intertype escapement parts available, let me know!) I have much later "Visilite" Intertype magazines which fit it just fine, though.
I rescued this machine in July of 2010. We had to disassemble it quite a bit just to get it out of the building. (The storefront through which it had been moved in, in the 1920s, had since been mostly bricked up.) It is a Model 5, s/n 37,969R. That serial number puts its date of manufacture in the first half of 1925, but the "R" indicates that it was remanufactured. It looks as if it might originally have been a "high base" Model 5, which, if so, would date the original machine to before December 1, 1908 (when the low-base Model 5 was introduced). Gas pot, 30 Em, four mold disk, no mold cooling provision, no quadder. It is DOWN, pending reassembly.
Here are two views of it. The first is a snapshot of it before we removed it. The second is a view of it on my trailer back at our farm, after I had unwrapped the stretch-wrap in which I had thoroughly encased it but before I'd unstrapped it.
Thanks are due to Jenny Addison, Prop. of Lock & Key Press, for the first photograph (and for causing this Linotype and many other fine and precious things to be saved). Please note that Jenny's photograph is copyright by her and may not be reproduced without her permission; it is not licensed under the same terms as the rest of this web pages. Jenny may be reached via her web presence: http://www.flickr.com/photos/firebrat/ and http://lockandkeypress.wordpress.com
See also the photograph of the Chicago trio of Linotypes .
The Linotype Model 5E, Serial Number 56,571, was made at the height of World War II, in 1944. It is 2,800 pounds of then-precious cast iron which was made into a Linotype rather than an aircraft engine or tank armor. It is as important as any preserved "warbird" or other artefact of that struggle. Like all Model 5 Linotypes, it has one magazine and can cast lines up to 30 picas long. This particular model has a 4-mold disk, a mold cooling blower, a later Type G (Universal Comet) style electric pot with Micro-Therm C5 controls, and a Linotype Manually Operated Hydraquadder.
I acquired it along with the Model 29 (see below) in mid-2009 from the Lynn Card Company of Hutchinson, MN. The folks at Lynn Card are to be commended for their efforts to see that this historic wartime machine was preserved. I'll call it my acquisition no. 3 (and the Model 29 acquisition no. 4) as of the two, acquired simultaneously, this is the first one that I returned to service.
See also the photograph of the Chicago trio of Linotypes .
Another rescue, 2011-05-05/06. Electric pot with Micro-Therm controller and separate thermostatically controlled throat heater. Equipped with a Momomelt, model JMEM, s/n 13343, electric, 230V, 7A; GE controls. 30 Em. Four-mold disk. Air cooled. No quadder. 230V, 3.3A, 1-phase main motor (Emerson)
Here it is in Spring Green, Wisconsin, in the process of moving it. (It was at a newspaper office, but in the garage there; it had never been run at this location.) You can just see the silver control box and the round stack of the Momomelt peeking out from behind the top-left and left-top of the machine. You can also just see under the keyboard sending handle a square box which is the thermostat for the mouthpiece controlling the throat heater. There's a capillary tube running all the way from the mouthpiece to it!
Note that the machine had been skidded crosswise. This is a terrible way to skid a Linotype. The skids should run front-to-back on each side, so that there is room to get a standard pallet jack underneath. Doing so also allows a forklift to approach the machine from behind (which in turn allows the machine to be strapped to the forklift's frame using the substantial portions of the frame at the back of the machine, not the delicate frilly bits on the front). It was also skidded using just lag screws to just 4x4s. This, too, is wrong; you want carriage bolts through-bolted from below through at least 4x6s. A 4x4 just is not substantial enough, and lag screws can pull out.
Here I'm reattaching the Distributor Beam back in my shop. This is a two-person lift, or one person and a machine. Obviously the first point of safety here is NEVER go underneath the forklift or what it is lifting! Hydraulics can fail.
The Linotype Model 29, s/n 67,313 from 1956, was acquired with the Model 5. A thoroughly modern machine, there's even a vacuum tube lurking inside it. A Model 29 Linotype is a "mixer" machine capable of composing from two magazines simultaneously. They were manufactured with a capacity of up to four magazines, but mine is set up for only two. This machine is a 30 Em machine (30 pica maximum line length), with a 4-mold disk, mold cooling blower, Type G (Universal Comet) electric pot with Micro-Therm C4 controls, a Linotype Electrically Controlled Hydraquadder, and the Electromatic Safety feature.
I'm cheating a bit with this photograph. This is my Model 29, but it isn't shown in my shop. This is the machine as it appeared at the Lynn Card Company before I acquired it. The only difference is that here it is in a spacious, tidy shop run by a family of meticulous former Air Force pilots. I used to fly ratty old fabric-covered sailplanes in the high desert. Big difference :-)
This machine may be the furthest from operational (so far). It had been left midway in the process of conversion to a gas Monomelt; the current pot is a bit odd, and only parts of the Monomelt survived. Though the machine clearly had cast in its previous location prior to the pot conversion, it equally clearly hadn't cast since. It showed further signs of having been tinkered with by loving hands (e.g., rust between bolted-together structural members, where rust generally does not occur) and had some severe rust on a couple of components (indicating a roof leak, though none was evident). A couple of pieces seem to be missing (e.g., the pump stop).
Moreover, my trailer can only handle 2,100 lbs and a Model 31 is perhaps 3,600 lbs. I therefore had to do more extensive disassembly of the machine than I might otherwise have wished. Here it is, partly disassembled but safely in my building. (The parts removed from it are on pallets not in this view.)
Pessimistically, a rational person would consider this a "parts machine." While I'm no doubt a pessimist, I'm scarcely rational - so I consider it a kit of parts that someday I may assemble into a Model 31. The alternative for this machine was the scrapyard.
Here, for the fun of it, is a view of all three Linotypes saved from the same location in Chicago. Here they're safely in my shop, though all are partly disassembled. On the left is Model 5 s/n 37,969R (1925, 1906-1908?) In the middle is Model 5F s/n 57,025 (1945). On the right is Model 31 s/n 68,814 (1959).
It is interesting how different the early Model 5 is from the later one. The earlier one is probably an original "high base" Model 5 (rebuilt later), while the other is a "Blue Streak" era 5F. The 5F actually looks a lot more like the Model 31.
The Intertype C4 is my only "pure" Intertype. It is a "Universal Base" machine from 1967, Machine No. 35,067 (it's younger than me!) It is a 30-Em 4-magazine nonmixer. Four molds, mold cooling blower, no quadder.
This machine is down pending some pretty significant restoration. As acquired, the entire structure supporting the magazines and Distributor had been removed (as shown in the left photo, above; it doesn't look much like a linecaster here). I got most of the parts for this, but not all of them. (I'm missing the Distributor Shifter and the two plates which hold the Magazine Frames together at the front, at least.) At present, I've reassembled most of the "superstructure" (not the official term for it), as shown in the right photo, above. One of the Magazine Frames is, indeed, cracked, but probably not in a disabling way. Still, I'm waiting until I can find replacements for the missing tie plates before I continue.
I have four Ludlow Typograph Machines, which are "noncomposing linecasters" (meaning you assemble a line of type matrices (molds, sort of) by hand and then it casts a single line/slug from them). The Linotype/Intertype machines are good for fast composition of text at ordinary sizes, but cannot handle display sizes well. The Ludlow is slow, but can handle very large display type. It is also a remarkably simple, durable machine.
My third Ludlow, in terms of acquisition date. This machine was a kind gift from Paul Aken of the Platen Press Museum. It's a gas-fired model, and should run just fine once I re-orifice it for propane. It is DOWN pending that.
This is my fourth Ludlow (by acquisition date). It was a rescue project. As a good friend said to me upon hearing of it: "David, you don't need this machine - it needs you." I'm afraid that I've started collecting Ludlows like some people collect stray kittens, and for much the same reasons.
My second Ludlow, this Model L came as along for the ride when I got my second Elrod, way up in Thunder Bay, Canada, in November of 2009. It is s/n 10,571, from 1957; electric crucible. It presently casts, but won't deliver the cast slug.
The Ludlow Model M was my first Ludlow but (at present, with four machines) also my newest. It is s/n 16,615 from 1966. (For Ludlow junkies, this means no rear table latch but still spring-loaded lockup.) Electric crucible. I do not have the external refrigerated cooling unit for this machine, and have instead rigged up an external cooling tank and pump. I acquired it in Feburary 2008 in Duluth, MN (yes, February in Duluth). It is operational, but needs some tuning (I'm getting flashing on the slugs, and they have poor bottom trim.)
I've heard it said that one of the few remaining linecaster dealers calls the Supersurfacer "the hardest machine in the world to sell." I admit that it is a specialized machine, but it's such a nice specialized machine that I have a hard time understanding why this is so. It is designed to use a special rotary milling cutter to mill just a tiny bit off of the surface of wider Ludlow slugs (as it is difficult to cast them with perfect surfaces). The slug's surface as it comes off of the Supersurfacer is just beautiful - like a mirror. If you have a Ludlow, you need a Supersurfacer. Everyone needs a Ludlow. Therefore, everyone needs a Supersurfacer. It's just logical.
I got this Supersurfacer, a rather early one which is s/n 133, along with the gas Elrod E (s/n E4129G). Here it is on the truck coming home. The Ludlow cabinet to the right is a rather old style flat-topped cabinet.
I got this Supersurfacer, s/n 3211, in Thunder Bay, along with the electric Elrod E (s/n 3463), the electric Ludlow L (s/n 10,571), and the EasyKaster EK-5C (s/n 5780). In the first photo it's still in Thunder Bay. In the second, it's about to come off the truck at home. Generally I dislike pallets for machinery, but for something as (relatively) light as a Supersurfacer this one worked quite well.
This is an odd little machine, intended as a part of the "Hot Metal Paste-Up" system marketed jointly by Ludlow and Hammond Machinery Builders. I've got most of one (someone had, for no discernable reason, begun to disassemble it at some point; I think I have most, perhaps all, of the parts).
I have two Elrod stripcasters, made by the Ludlow Typograph Company. The Elrod is a remarkable machine. All other typecasting machines are "die casting" machines where you have a metal mold of fixed size into which you inject molten typemetal under pressure (indeed, typecasting machines were the first die casting machines, historically). The Elrod is a continuous stripcaster. Molten typemetal sits in a pot on one side and passes through a water-cooled mold. It solidifies into a strip of material which is pulled out continuously (and cut off to length automatically). This is 21st century technology invented in 1917.
The Elrod casts only strips of typemetal. These may be the non-printing "leads" used to separate lines of type, or the printing "rule" used to create visible lines in print. It cannot cast patterned borders, however, since the strip is pulled through the mold which creates it.
As if to compensate for this limitation, the Elrod has a remarkable advantage. By design, air is excluded entirely from the casting process. With a properly-run Elrod there cannot be casting porosity. This is enough to make any caster's eyes light up with excitement.
The electric Elrod is a Model E, s/n 3463 from 1953. It came from a printing shop in Thunder Bay, Canada. I've not yet run it, but with a few minor fixes it should be operational. I did manage to get a bunch of starter strips with it, which will be handy. (In hot metal terminology, "a bunch" means, here, 214 pounds. Hot metal shifts one's perspective.)
It is shown here in January 2012. The unit on the right is an Elrod Self-Contained Water Cooler (made by Ludlow Typograph), Model A-3, s/n 298. Newly acquired January 2012 from Dave Seat of Hot Metal Services. This will allow me to run the Elrod closed-loop on distilled water (I could also use it to run the Ludlow and the Thompsons, but they can be run closed-loop into a 10 gallon un-chilled tank; the Elrod puts out too much heat for this). It's conceptually the same as the external cooler for a Ludlow M, but prettier and much bigger. Here it is:
The gas Elrod is also a Model E, s/n E4129G, from 1956. It came with a huge Monomelt (an external hot-metal feeder, which premelts typemetal and drips it into the main crucible). It is a restoration project, having been through two garage fires at its previous owners', after it was taken out of service by a still earlier owner. It is presently in storage in the barn.
I'm scowling more than usual in the photo at left. In part this is because I lose all sense of humor when rigging. In part it's because I had just done something very stupid and almost lost the Elrod off the back of the truck because I was using the liftgate and not, as shown here, my tractor. I will never again try to use a liftgate to unload an Elrod-weight object from a truck when I have my tractor available.
This is a historic machine. It was the last typecaster from the last commercial typefoundry in Chicago. Others continue to cast noncommercially in Chicago, but when I hauled this machine home in December of 2011, it brought to a close a century and a half of commercial typefounding in Chicago.
This is an "American" Thompson typecaster manufactured by the Lanston Monotype Machine Company of Philadelphia. Serial No. 13,068. This was my second Thompson. I acquired it from the former Barco / F&S Type Foundry in Bensenville, IL.
It may still look a bit rough in the photo below, but this actually represents a rather large amount of work. I've stripped off a huge type receiving galley and made a proper type receiving stick, installed a sight-feed oiler (and oil hole covers; not visible here), put a handle on the piston, put a thermometer in its well (had to drill out the well for that), moved the Partlow controller a respectful distance from the pot, re-plumbed all of the gas (using copper tube, not rubber, to the burner!) and re-orificed the burner for propane, re-plumbed the water, re-wired the motor for 120V, re-done the electric supply wiring (adding a fused disconnect, not visible here), and fitted a nice revolving handwheel handle (carefully saving the original Thompson part). There's a lot of other work not visible in the photo, including cleaning out all of the oil passages (many plugged with typemetal), re-adjusting every single adjustment on the mold stand, and re-mounting the motor (the motor mount had been installed upside-down).
An "American" Thompson typecaster manufactured by the Lanston Monotype Machine Company of Philadelphia. Serial No. 13,068. This was my first Thompson. I acquired it from the former Barco / F&S Type Foundry in Bensenville, IL.
This is a picture of it in my shop in late 2010, but before I'd had a chance to do any work on it. Although it was in commercial operation when acquired, it still needed extensive work. (Rewire for 120V, re-orifice and re-plumb for propane, move gas regulator to a safe distance from the pot, new sight-feed oiler (old one missing), new oil hole covers (old ones missing), clean oil holes plugged with grease, clean oil holes plugged with typemetal, etc.) I cast my first type on it in April 2011, but I cast only a few pieces and then shut it down pending further maintenance (fix retaining pin in Matrix Carrier Fork, new Matrix Carrier Lever Cam Follower (old one faceted), new Pump Lever Cam Follower (old one worn too small), install cooling system, get missing parts for Stop Motion, probably remove the monstrous type receiving fabrication, make proper type receiving stick, and still more cleaning).
This is a Lanston Monotype Machine Company display casting machine. Lanston wasn't very good at naming their machines. The display caster is basically a version of the regular Composition Caster minus the Paper Tower but plus a different drive system allowing slower motion and plus different molds. One could also add a rule casting attachment to it, and as such it was most commonly referred to in Lanston literature as the "Type & Rule Caster." So this is a Type & Rule Caster, even though it lacks the rule casting attachment. Most enthusiasts "simplify" this by calling this kind of machine an "Orphan Annie." Rumor has it that that name derives from the "OA" prefix on its serial numbers, but I can't even FIND the serial number on this machine. (They put the serial numbers on the Paper Tower, which the display casters don't have!)
Here is a photograph of it in my shop (but haven't even had time yet to look into the details of this machine). I have a variety of display molds for it, but I do not think that I have any of the equipment for casting from cellular mats.
Note: The Hammond EasyKaster can also be used as a remelt furnace.
This is a typemetal remelt furnace. This is an interesting little furnace. Sold by American Type Founders. There is no provision for tapping it; you ladle the molten typemetal out from the pot. (It has a lovely specialized ladle with a sliding/rotating collar for this purpose.) As such, and given its size, it is probably better suited to casting the smaller ingots for hand feeding (as opposed to a long ingot for use with a mechanical feeder). This is perfect for me, as I already have EasyKasters well suited to casting long pigs, and the Thompson requires small ingots anyway.
The first photo below shows it as it was at the location from which I acquired it (in an installation which has multiple safety issues; I would never install it in this way!) The second photo shows it on a pallet in storage in my shop, with the furnace door open.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who, upon seeing the ladle on the left in the photo below say "ooh, cool!" and those who say "yeah, so?" If you're in the second category, I'm afraid that this is beyond explanation and you need to seek amusement in less interesting hobbies.
This is a Nolan Remelter, Model 600 (I presume that this also designates the capacity in pounds, though I'm not sure of this). Serial No. 16025 Z. It came with a nice 8-pig capacity water cooled pig mold (only four of the molds are visible in the photograph above; you flip the unit to dump the cast pigs and bring up four fresh molds).
Note: The Hammond EasyKaster, while primarily a stereotype plate caster, can also be used as a remelt furnaces (and is most commonly so used today).
I have three EasyKaster machines, built by Hammond Machinery Builders. These were designed as low-volume flat stereotype plate casters which could also be used to cast ingots ("pigs") for feeding linecasting/typecasting/stripcasting machines. I expect to use them mostly for casting pigs, although it would be fun to cast a stereotype plate someday.
While I have done pig casting at a friend's shop, on his equipment, both of my EasyKasters are currently (winter 2009/2010) in storage in the barn awaiting restoration. Casting ingots is a springtime project.
This, the oldest of the three EasyKasters, is my newest acquisition. It was formerly in the Edinburgh, IL Herald-Star, run by Glenn Luttrell. It came complete with the "pig caster" table on which you set the long pig molds for casting pigs. This is shown on the machine in the photos below; it would be removed for casting stereotype plates. I'm not sure what the model or serial number of this machine are.
EasyKaster Model EK-5B, s/n 4502, gas. In what seems like a very long time ago now, it's shown here in my pickup truck as it was being unloaded. This is 2008. I didn't actually reassemble it until November 2009. This is a gas-fired machine, which at present is set up for natural gas. I still haven't re-orificed the gas jets (I'll have to use LP gas (Liquified Petroleum Gas, which in North America is mostly propane) with it). I got a couple of long ingot molds and a short ingot mold. This unit doesn't have a Pig Caster (the casting table that the molds sit upon when in use).
EasyKaster Model EK-5C, s/n 5780, electric. In the first two photos, it's still in Thunder Bay. I got the long ingot molds, but not the short ingot mold. The Pig Caster (that's its official name; the casting table which the molds are sitting on) is in this case not an actual Hammond Pig Caster but rather a shop-made addition. We disassembled it for transport (using a forklift on the Thunder Bay end). In the third photo, I'm reassembling it at home. The smaller part (on the tractor's forks here) is by far the heavier - the melting pot filled with typemetal.
This is starting to get into things which look like (and in fact are) general-purpose machine tools. This should reinforce the notion that I'm not a printer. Real printers have shops full of type and presses. Typefounders have shops full of casting machines and pantographs.
A pantograph engraving machine such as this is of course a general-purpose industrial machine tool, but I probably wouldn't have got it (just yet) unless I wished to try to engrave matrices. So for me it's a typographical tool. After an early period of development, the George Gorton company settled into a comfortable pattern of building three sizes of general-purpose machines (small, medium, large) of both 2-D and 3-D styles. The model P1-2 was the 1st (= small) size of the 2-D machines, as re-engineered in the 1950s. Compared to its predecessor (the model 3-U) it is similar in function, but much "beefier." It is basically a small knee-type milling machine with a pantograph head on it. ("Pantomill" is just Gorton's clever trade name for this line of machines - but it's actually a pretty accurate name. Indeed, the manual does say that the cutterhead can be locked into position (with a bar, not shown in these photos) and the machine can be used as a light vertical mill; I must try this.)
"Universal Gravier-und-Nachformfrasmaschine GK 21," or, as Deckel translates it in the manual, model GK 21 "Pantograph Engraving and Profiling Miller." This is a pantograph capable of three-dimensional work.
I planned and thought through (well, a little bit) the Gorton P1-2 pantograph shown earlier. This Deckel just snuck up on me in a dark warehouse and followed me home. Really. See Deckel GK 21 Pantograph Engraving and Profiling Miller, s/n 6,703
A pantograph engraver alone can't make a matrix - you need cutters as well. In pragmatic terms, a standard (but still very nice) cutter grinder such as a Gorton 265 or New Hermes CG-4 would be perfectly adequate for the relatively simple cutters used in matrix making. Jim Rimmer used the latter, and accomplished fine results. But once you start looking at cutter grinders, you (ok I) won't be satisfied until you (I) have a "universal" cutter grinder. Basically, this is a regular cutter grinder plus enough extra axes of motion to grind cutting tools for transdimensional alien spacecraft.
This machine is equipped with the type 717 Universal Head. I do not yet have the 737 or 738 V-Block Head for 3-U (and P1-2) Removable Spindles. While the 717 Universal Head holds the cutter blank (or cutter removed from the pantograph engraver to be resharpened) in a collet, the V-Block Head holds the entire spindle assembly from the pantograph engraver, removed from that machine.
(Why is this important? A spindle has nice big reference surfaces which allow it to be removed and replaced in a machine in exactly the same position. A cutter, though, has a tiny sharp point, and it is very difficult to get the same depth of cut after resharpening a cutter if you have removed it from the spindle. But if you take the entire spindle out and put the whole spindle in the cutter grinder, the spindle will have the same relationship to the grinding wheel every time. You can loosen up the cutter in the collet, move it down a bit to get fresh material to grind, and still grind it so that the cutter+spindle as a whole are identical to the last time you did this. Benton discovered in the 19th century that this is the only way to ensure that a resharpened cutter will be indentical to its previous self in both form and depth. (Actually, Benton went one step further and preserved the relationship not between the spindle and the grinding wheel, but between the spindle and a diamond dressing point redressing the grinding wheel at each cut. Benton was like that.) Still, Rimmer worked without such a setup, and if I ever get to the point where I produce work half as good as his, I'll be very happy indeed.)
A hot metal type shop is a machine shop for type as well as a typefoundry. A pure handset letterpress printer can get away with no more than a rule cutter, but slugline composition really requires one or more printers' saws. A power type miterer is also nice. These I have.
I don't have a Rouse Type Mortiser .
I don't have a type router and/or planer, or in general any of the equipment which really characterized stereotype operations. You might think that with well over two dozen tons of machinery so far I'd have everything, but this is hardly the case.
I have, at present, most of of the fairly common Rouse "American" style of slugcutter (I say "most of four" because none of the four is both complete and completely working). At some point I need to reassemble parts from these into one complete working unit. The one on the left above (with Hello Kitty®) was free with the Ludlow M in Duluth (February, 2009) It has broken parts, but cuts well. The one on the right came from Thunder Bay in November 2009. It is more complete, but the cutting mechanism is worn beyond usability. I picked up another at the Mt. Pleasant Printers' Fair (2008), and I can't even recall where I got the fourth.
The serial numbers of these two machines are curiously close. I did get them in different shops - indeed, these shops were in different countries. However, these shops were relatively close to each other (Duluth and Thunder Bay), so this might not be as accidental as one might think.
I would like to have a type mortiser, but they're very scarce indeed. However, the second generation of the Rouse Type Mortiser was reengineered to share most of its parts with the Rouse Vertical Miterer. Someday I may adapt one of these Miterers to be a Mortiser. (Of course, I have a long list of projects which begin "Someday...")
Acquired in Thunder Bay in November 2009. This isn't a very flattering photo of it; it's sitting on a pallet in the shop in Thunder Bay. Underneath the dust, it's really very nice. It's also much heavier than it looks.
I was going to use this as my main saw, and still might. Its huge old 3-phase motor, however, had been wired with only three (not nine) wires coming out, so without testing I couldn't figure out its voltage. Once I do that, it should be easy enough to hook up. It also needs a repair to the hold-down clamp. For now it's in the machine shed as a backup.
The C&G/Morrison saw ran when I got it in late 2008. However, the motor didn't spin up when I last tried it; I think I got some rust preventative in it. Otherwise it's in good shape, but in storage in the barn as I've got a Hammond Glider.
Cost Cutter saw, Model B, s/n 2499. Made by the Breidenbach Manufacturing Company, Skokie, Il. This one is in fixable (but not bad) shape. I'm considering it as a "parts machine" for s/n 1633, but it may end up simply as a saw in its own right. In the photo below, it looks to be in rougher shape than it actually is.
I'm not sure Breidenbach made the the "Cost Cutter" line before Nelson, or after. I suspect after, though, since the nameplate on this saw is in color, its serial number is later, and Skokie developed as a manufacturing center later than Chicago proper.
Cost Cutter saw, Model B, s/n 1628. Made by the C. B. Nelson Company, Chicago. I'm not sure if you can still call this a saw. The table was allowed to rust solid, though the rest of it was in surprisingly good shape. Basically, I simply started to strip it for parts, as it was going to be thrown away. I just kept going, and before long I had reduced the entire saw to a pile of parts. Parts are easy to handle, so one might as well keep them all :-)
The Miller came with the first two linecasters in 2008. I lack most of the accessories for it (though I have managed to find the workholding clamp, such as it isn't). It may also be missing many of its original parts, as it looks as if it is a model designed originally with an overarm for operations such as plate routing; this was not present as acquired. It is a restoration project.
I have one platen "jobbing" press and three small proof presses. Not a Vandercook or a Kelsey in sight. A Kelsey might indeed be handy for portable printing, but I've never been bitten by the Vanderbug.
The Chandler & Price 10x15 New Series "Gordon Style" jobbing press will be the shop's main press, once I return it to operation. It is s/n C50291, from 1911 (the first year of manufacture for this model, which started with s/n C50100; mine might be the 192nd such press made). It's actually in pretty good shape. It needs new rollers and one new gripper. I've replaced its treadle (missing) and removed its add-on motor; ideally I should make a treadle hook of proper length, too, but right now I'm improvising.
The photo above was taken just after I'd reskidded it onto proper, substantial skids. (It had been on a pallet. This is a 1500 pound press; such a heavy machine should never be on a pallet.) It had been motorized, with a pulley over the flywheel. I'm not going to run it under power, so I've removed this much later motor. It has a flywheel brake (not shown here and, indeed, not yet reinstalled). I have found an original treadle for it. I have the original long ink fountain for it, but the ink fountain had been removed many years ago and stored in the damp; it is rusted solid. The feedboard may or may not be original, and is a bit rickety. It is shown removed and upside-down here.
The Chandler & Price Galley Proof Press (of the "free-roller" style) is perhaps the simplest and most reliable machine in the shop. I should make a proper galley substitute plate for it. Someday I think I'll make a tympan and frisket assembly for it so that I can do proper registration on it (several folks have done similar things for their proof presses). But as-is, it works just fine.
This press came from Jim Doletzky in Michigan. In the photo shown here, it's just done the first printing in my shop. The printing is pretty poor, but the press is beautiful. I haven't found a serial number on it, but this style of press was marketed from 1889 through at least 1923.
It's hard to get involved with this without picking up various other relief printing machines, such as Addressographs (three so far), and so forth. I list these on the Presses page, but real printers would scoff at them. I do not.
Here are some pictures of it before I brought it home. It was, naturally, in a basement. Why - oh, why - do people insist upon putting heavy machinery in basements? I had to disassemble it completely to get it out. As I write this, the parts are in my shop but I have not yet reassembled it. It is actually probably a good thing that I disassembled it, because although it is in pretty good shape it does need some work on various details.
Note: Shniedewend & Lee began in 1870 in Chicago as stereotypers. They expanded into machinery soon after. Their first paper cutter manufacturing plant was established in 1887. The two partners separated in 1893 and Lee continued as the Challenge Machinery Company (one of the models of Shniedewend & Lee paper cutters, advertised in 1888 as their "most popular," was the "Challenge" model). The Challenge company moved to Grand Haven, Michigan, and continues today.
My cutter bears the maker's name "Shniedewend & Lee", the manufacturing location "Chicago", and the model name "Advance." No Advance model cutter is shown in the 1888 Shniedewend & Lee catalog, though. My cutter therefore probably dates from from the period 1889-1893.
(As an aside, the current Challenge Machinery Company website gives a date of 1893 for the first "Challenge" paper cutter, but that model, by that name, is highlighted in the 1888 Shniedewend & Lee catalog.)
Monitor stitcher, Model 1 1/2. Serial number 5883. Manufactured by the Latham Machinery Co. (actually, it doesn't say this on any plate on the machine, which has been rebuilt, but contemporary ads show the Monitor to be a Latham product). Rebuilt 1947-12-16 by W. R. Pabich Mfg. Co., Chicago. Electrically powered. It is beautiful. It has a beveled glass front. I drove 400 miles to keep it from being scrapped. It works.
The only reason I knew I had to save it was that on a previous trip to the same location I'd seen the lovely curve of cast iron buried under trash in a dark corner. I didn't even know about the cut-glass front until we excavated it. Here it is in my shop, safe, although not yet back in service.
Teletype equipment isn't something that you expect to see in a letterpress printing shop. It is important in mine, though, because it was very important in the (newspaper, at least) printing industry when my linecasting machinery was in use there.
The Teletypesetter ("TTS") uses "6-level" tape (6 data punch positions per character) to control a Linotype or Intertype via tape. The original Teletypesetter system was developed by the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt company just before it became the Teletype Corporation ("TTY"). They formed the Teletypesetter Corporation to market this equipment. This corporation was sold to Fairchild in the 1950s. Later, many other companies introduced TTS-compatible equipment. It was more than just tape control. It was a complete communications system for driving linecasters over the telegraph data network. Moreover, the first standalone typographical editing and computing systems were built to process TTS tape. Many phototypesetting systems (the now nearly forgotten technology intermediate between letterpress printing and digital printing) accepted TTS tape as input. This the Teletypesetter is an integral part not only of the history of printing but of the development of computer typography out of older methods.
Unfortunately, TTS equipment has not fared well from the standpoint of preservation. It was adopted primarily by large newspapers, and they were the first to scrap it when it became obsolete. The smaller shops, where much of the surviving linecasting equipment was saved, rarely had TTS equipment. My collection of Teletypesetter and compatible equipment is therefore rather random - I save what I can find. Right now, none of it works.
Standard Teletype equipment use 5-Level tape (meaning uppercase-only) and cannot directly drive linecasting equipment. If anything, though, it was more important for a longer period than TTS equipment. For nearly half a century from the 1920s on, the news came in via Teletype.
My ultimate goal is to put together enough equipment to create a miniature but "real" teletype network (running on both neutral and polarized telegraph circuits) from my office to the printing shop. Then I'd like to simulate the entire process of sending in a story, handling it at the newspaper end, setting it, and printing it.
I've got four no-name (but nicely built) racks for Linotype magazines. Three of these come with nice drawer units which store spare parts, and are in the shop. The fourth doesn't match and is in storage in the barn. I've also more recently acquired five smaller Reid (brand) Linotype magazine racks of various sizes.
As to Intertype magazines, I've only got a rather minimal set: seven full-length Visilite magazines, one Visilite half split (upper and lower), two aluminum lower splits, one brass lower split, and two nonfunctional full-length brass magazines. I don't have any Intertype magazine racks at all (and the Intertype magazines won't fit into my Linotype magazine racks).
As to matrices (Linotype-compatible, Ludlow, and Monotype display, mostly), see the Matrices at the CircuitousRoot Typefoundry Notebook. I have a tiny, tiny collection of handset type; see Type at the CircuitousRoot Press Notebook. I don't really want to buy much more type - I want to make it!
What else...? A Honig Rule Broach. A parts-machine Honig Rule Broach. Three Ewald Plunger Cleaners. A Reid Plunger Cleaner. Most of the many tools necessary to keep the linecasters going. A machine for patterning the surface of slugs, and another machine for "knurling" slugs to increase their height. A big old Hamilton imposing table with a stone surface (but the stone is far too chipped to be used as an imposing stone). This is in storage in the barn. We're up to 9 Ludlow cabinets now, but only 6 of them are holding Ludlow mats. (They're very handy general-purpose cabinets.) Seven Linotype galley racks. Four Linotype matrix cabinets (one full of Monotype display mats).
After a while it becomes impossible to estimate total weights, but it is not unreasonable to come to a figure in excess of 27 tons for all of this, so far. By comparison to several other people I know, though, I'm a lightweight.
The CircuitousRoot Typefoundry & Press' Library is expanding as rapidly as I can manage. I think that I now have pretty much all of the "standard" Linotype, Intertype, and Ludlow sources from the 1930s on. I'm looking now for the more obscure stuff - however ephemeral.
I've also been scanning as much as I can. Measuring digital volumes is even harder than measuring physical ones, as high-resolution scans are huge (many Gigabytes) but sometimes the critical piece of information is in a note of only a few bytes. Suffice it to say that I'm using terabyte disks now. The scan of Legros and Grant's Typographical Printing Surfaces alone took more than 20 Gigabytes.
The photographs on this page which are by Jenny Addison are copyright by her and used here with her permission. They may not be reproduced without her permission. They are not licensed under the same Creative Commons license as the rest of this page.
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