Thompson Type-Casters

At CircuitousRoot

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I own three Thompson Type-Casting Machines. Two are Lanston Monotype-Thompsons, acquired in 2010 and 2011 out of Chicago. The third is a rather old Thompson Type Machine Company machine, acquired in 2012 in Memphis. The first two are integral to my shop. By an odd sequence of events, however, I haven't actually seen this third machine in person yet.

For technical and historical information on Thompsons in general, see ../../ Noncomposing Type Casters --> Noncomposing Type Casting Machines -> The Thompson Type Caster.

TO DO: Parts to examine and measure on other machines for comparison:

1. Lanston Monotype-Thompson Type-Caster, s/n 12,492

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).

As shown, the machine has just been casting (the observant will note that the piston pin has been removed, but in this case I've left the piston in the machine).

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Acquired December, 2011.

2011-2012. Work to revive the machine, including the clearing of all oil passages. (They were all blocked, many with typemetal.) Installed oil hole covers. Rewired motor to 120V. Drilled out (carefully!) pot thermometer well and put a thermometer in. Constructed wiring controls and water controls. Built Type Stick. Attempted to run with original Thompson burner, converted to propane. Failed to achieve operation at safe CO levels, so discared it and installed a modern burner. Limited test-casting of type with 0.050" mold (successful), Ludlow mold (successful, but excessive flash), and Linotype mold (not successful; squirt due to VMB interference). See Thompson Molds, below.

2014, June. Moved this machine into the in-process Type Foundry, and with the help of Sky Shipley successfully cast type with it using an 0.050" mold and Lanston display matrices. The service setup (gas, water, electricity) in this operation was temporary.

2014, December. Examined machine more thoroughly as a part of the project to do a teardown of 13,068 (as I would be temporarily swapping parts from this machine to '068 so as to show a teardown of a nearly completely equipped machine). Status as of this evaluation: The machine is in casting condition, but the Stop Motion is not functional and the Pump Stop is not fully reliable. Details:

2. Lanston Monotype-Thompson Type-Caster s/n 13,068

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. Acquired November 2010.

This is the machine used in A Complete Teardown of a Thompson.

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).

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Acquired 2010-11-21.

2014, December. Examined machine more thoroughly as a part of the project to do a complete teardown of it. Status as of this evaluation: The machine is NOT in casting condition. The critical issue is the Pump Stop, which is not functional at all (but the real problem may be wear to the a76TC1T Pump Cam Lever and/or the 2TC13 Pump Cam Block). The Stop Motion is missing important pieces. There are various less important issues as well. Details:

The following parts were borrowed from 12,492 for use in illustrating A Complete Teardown of this machine. I'll list them here for my own reference, just so I don't look at the photographs of that teardown years from now and wonder "where did that part go to?" when it wasn't really a part from this machine.

The following parts were taken from spares and fitted for show during the teardown; I don't generally keep them on the machine:

The following parts were not shown on the teardown because I don't have them at all:

3. Thompson Molds

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