& Price Platen Press
Mounting a Motor

on a Chandler & Price

Platen Press

  Easily & Inexpensively

First of all,  most printers these days will wisely choose to operate their press by treadle at 10 impressions per minute. But, if you want to drive your press faster or for whatever reason prefer to use a motor, here's a good way to set it up 

It can be done easily, but it can also be a bit tricky. The motor shaft must be perfectly parallel to the press' main shaft. They must line up perfectly, or your wide leather belt will tend to wander off to one side or another and slip off the drive wheel.

Most presses have a 2' diameter flat drive wheel on the right side, although this technique can also be used to drive a motor from the left side if no drive wheel is present - it's just bit more tricky - and it can be dangerous. Driving from the right side is easier and safer.

Also - the motor speed is an issue. The large flywheel on the left will run the press more slowly than if driven by the smaller original drive wheel on the right.

Adjusting that motor alignment can be a bit tricky.  Fancy, fully adjustable motor mounts were often used on these presses, and we do have some here if you choose to go that route. But there is another way - a simple and amazingly inexpensive way.

This photo shows a motor mounted on a rail - by itself. Bolt your motor directly to the rail - with the bolt sticking UP from beneath the rail so that it can be tilted slightly to the left or right by simply turning a nut. (see mounting illustration)

You can also mount the motor on a plate which will in turn be attached to the rail. A plate will make vertical angular adjustments easier.

Once the motor is firmly mounted to the rail, raise up the side of the press and slide the rail beneath the press. Install one lag bolt into the rail at the back right foot of the press.  Then fit the belt to it. Align it, then test the alignment by running the press for a few minutes and adjust the angle using the *front* of the rail - move it left or right as needed to align the motor shaft with the press' main shaft.

Once the motor is perfectly aligned and the press runs as it should - and the belt stays on - fasten the front foot to the rail to the rail using large, short 5/16" (? measure bilts) lag bolts. They hold firmly in fresh wood. But note that the Early Series press' mounting hole requires a shorter lag bolt than on the New Series press. (Alan - add lag bolt dimensions)

Old rails, btw, tend to be weakened by years of oil and moisture exposure. They may look good on the outside, but could be nothing more than wet, oily pulp on the inside. Believe me,  I have been fooled in the past, but never again. On every press move, I bring along new rails - just in case they are needed. Break down and buy two nice, new fresh 2x6's or 2x8s for your new rails. It will be worth the investment.

If your press is mounted directly to the floor, add new rails. They will come in handy both to disburse the weight of the press on your floor as well as to allow you to raise the press up onto two pieces of 2" black pipe to enable easy rolling the press any time you may want to move it.

You can also mount the motor onto a square wood base - to make the tilting a bit easier. But for all lateral moves, the long press rail is the best set up. You can tap it left or right from the front of the press while running the belt - until the belt stops "wandering" and stays flat on the drive wheel.


Additional notes:
Changing press rails - may be necessary mount the motor in this fashion. Changing the press rails is not difficult and again, not expensive. To replace (or install new) rails is simply a matter of raising up one side of thepress, sliding the new rail under the press' feet and lowering the press basck onto it. Replacing or installing a rail on the other side is just as easy.
(Alan - add press rails installation illustrations)

A note about Drive Belts - Old drive belts can fail, but they rarely do. I have been operating my 10x15 since 1967 with the same belt. It broke once; I fixed it and it is still running - although it is well over 50 years old.

I do recommend using Neatsfoot  or other Boot Oil to treat the leather. There's nothing special about this belt material; it is simply leather, tanned on one side, rough on the other. These belts are/were used on line shafts around the world for many years, and you can likely find some nearby. You can also buy a pre-cut belt - with clips - for about $100.


Please contact Alan Runfeldt with other questions by phone to 908 627-2730 or at

page last updated July, 2019l