Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Year Maintainance

The small 1865 Albion has has a great deal of use during the last year - I have used it for almost everything that I have printed; most jobs in an edition of at least 100 prints. With all but the smallest blocks, I brace myself against the rails to add power to my pull. As a result, they have gradually slipped and I need to sort that out with much work lined up in the studio. The first photograph shows the problem:

The main body of the press if facing the camera squarely. The two rails at the front are distictly turned to the right. Here is the rather worn tympan which will be removed first:

After removing the tympan, I can undo the turning tapes, carefully lift the bed of the press off the rails and then remove the turning mechanism.

The rails easily pulled back into position and I could tighten them some more. There is a balance to be struck here - I wanted the rails to be tight but I don't like to overtighten these Victorian bolts. If the rail still moves a little over the next few months, I can always repeat this procedure.

Here is the turning mechanism. The next job was to lift it and fix it back into position:

I ran a thin line of oil along the rails before lifting the bed back into place. I am always wary of this as my foot is still marked from breaking the fall of this piece on the first day that I saw the press (see July 2005).

The tapes were then reconnected to the bed. Experienced handpress users will note that, in my haste, I had not threaded them over the cross bar of the rails - I had to do this again after realising that the bed would not wind in.

Once I wound the bed in, I could check the alignment of the platen against the line that I marked that I made on the tympan when I first re-covered it. As you see, the line is nicely parallel to the edge of the platen:

Here is the "after" photograph to compare with the first. The rails are now back in their proper place. Notice that the platen is slightly askew. This is very common in Albions. Since it does not affect the printing process, I am happy to leave it be.

Job Done! The Albion is back in operation and I am covered in oil. Does life get better than this?


Gail said...

As a another Albion owner, I really enjoy reading your blog, especialy the film on re-covering your tympan (which I REALLY should get round to doing myself sometime...)

. said...

I really enjoy your blog. One day I plan to add a hand press to our studio and it is great to see some troubleshooting and photos.


TenPointPress said...

Hello Andy,

I wanted to say THANK YOU for the tympan video - it has just saved me a lot of heartache.

I have a humble little workshop with a 1830 Albion at it's heart - I am still quite green and have much to learn. I was trying to output my first "fine" run and realised my tympan was the cause of my trouble. Google threw this blog up and I lucked out finding your video.

Many thanks again and I was humbled even more to see the quality and craftmanship of your work.

Kindest Regards,
Sean Lynch

Kate R said...

Dear Andy, I am another Albion Press owner (Hopkinson No. 130 - 1841) very grateful for your detailed demonstration of how to recover the tympan. Thank you very much!
Kate R

John Brebner said...

Hi Andy,
Thats a generous set of information.
Congratulations on your determination, enthusiasm, dedication and wonderful results in keeping the flat bed printing presses talking.
If I am able to visit England I will try to visit you.
I run a letterpress printing /binding museum (working) in my home studio 'Homeprint' here in Feilding, New Zealand. email
John Brebner

Brian.M.Clarke said...

Hi Andy, great work
I have a Alexandra press which I am just putting back together after years of storage.
Difficult to find out much info about them, but they are very similar to the small Albion, bed size 18 by 11 ins
and may have been made as a "portable press" for the Australian market! it has two brass plates one saying W Notting, 5 Typestreet the other saying Maker London. On the mechanism it has the number 1106 and under that 1870, which I think is the date and the press number?.

The inside part of the tympan is missing (if you or any of your readers have a suggestion as to where I may find one or have one made I would be grateful
or any information on the press. please contact on
keep up the great work
regards Brian