THE EXCELSIOR PRESS MUSEUM PRINT SHOP AND
|First of all, moving
platen press is Serious Business.
It can be
done safely, but it can also be dangerous both
to the movers and to the press. Most of the
presses we find these days were made many years
ago, and the cast-iron can be brittle - and can
break if shocked by falling over or something
like that. And,
believe me, it does happen... but it
has never happened to me.
The second thing is that these presses are
heavy - figure 1050 pounds for an 8x12,
1500 pounds for a 10x15 and 2500 pounds for a
12x18. Those are C&P New Style weights.
Golding Jobbers, Colts, Kluges, C&P
Craftsmen & others could be quite bit
I will not presume to tell you how to move your
press - and I don't want to be held responsible
if you screw up - but I will tell you how I have
safely and successfully moved these presses in
the past. I have never lost a press -
and I've moved quite a few of these from Pearls
to Windmills - and all arrived safely at their
I have moved these presses on a variety of
trailers and a few times using lift-gate trucks.
I do NOT recommend using a
lift-gate truck if it can be avoided. It
simply is not safe - no matter what your
refrigerator mover guy tells you. Keep the
press as low to the ground as you can. Avoid
using forklifts, dollies and common cargo
You might get lucky, but then again, you
might get hurt - or, worse yet, hurt your
I have had
lift-gates fail on me twice - both
times with a press on the gate. Once I was
lucky and it simply went to the ground slowly.
The other time, we had to prop it up with a
clumsy set of jacks and 6x6's and very
carefully lower the backward-tilting lift-gate
to the ground while slowing releasing the
cargo straps that kept the press from falling
off the tilting gate. Both times I had been
told that the lift gates had a 2500 pound
capacity. Both times, the were wrong.
One lift-gate/forklift move that did go well
was with a 4000-pound lift gate on a
large, expensive, relatively new truck. But
use of the truck cost over $250 for the day. I
prefer to spend $30 and stay close to the
gates and forklifts are not safe - for you or
for the press.
All but the best-maintained small forklifts
stutter and rock - do not move smoothly. Sure,
they can pick up the press, but then they rock
back and forth and bounce over rough ground. Instead of using a
forklift to move your press, use a small
trailer and back right up to the door or
driveway you will unload to.
Dollies center the weight into a small
area and can lead to tipping over.
Terribly unsafe. Common cargo pallets (wooden
skids) cannot safely handle the weight. I
have seen presses fall through cargo pallets on
at least 4 occasions - none of which were moves
I was in charge of or involved in.
A low, 5x8
trailer is my chosen mode of transport
for these presses. Safe, secure, inexpensive and
low to the ground. I recommend a low trailer for
every press move.
This report is about moving a
New Series 10x15 Chandler & Price from
School in The Bronx, NY. photo by Carl
Smith, manager of Fieldston Press
This photo shows the press on a pallet jack (2x4
& 4x4 dunnage - not a skid), about to be
rolled onto 2" steel pipes which will ease its
loading onto the ramp of the $30/day 5x8
heavy-duty U-Haul trailer. These pipes
can be purchased - cut to size - at Home Depot
for about $6.00 each - a good investment.
We also used two 4' sections of new 4x4 and two
3' pieces of 2x4 and a variety of short 2x4s for
blocking as needed. The fresh-wood 2x4 rails
under the press are firmly affixed with lag
Note: Old wooden rails
mounted under these presses for many years are
often oil-soaked or rotten and should not be
trusted. First step in our moving
process is to inspect and/or replace the lower
wooden rails with 2x4s or 2x6s bolted firmly
using lag bolts or nuts and bolts - both with
large washers. See changing press
rails below to learn how I do this.
In this case, we
had to remove the flywheel to fit
through narrow doors and hallways. Removing the
flywheel is not difficult, but is also not
always required. If you need to remove the
flywheel to get through a narrow doorway, see my
The press is
kept closed with a cargo strap. This is
important. You don't want the flywheel to turn
at all - that would let the press open and would
change its center of gravity. Cargo straps are
also available at Home Depot - buy the better
ones; you'll also want at least four to hold the
press in place on the trailer.
Next, note that the press is about to be rolled
onto the wide cargo ramp - by hand. We don't use
forklifts or any other expensive equipment. We
did use the pallet jack to move the press
through the halls of the school - but only
because we had to bring it a long way to get it
outside. For short runs, we always roll our
presses on pipes. It's cheap and easy, and most
of all, safe.
I was able to pull the press onto the ramp by
myself. As it got onto the ramp, we jacked up
the ramp to level using an inexpensive automotive floor
jack - a handy tool to have with you
for such a move. We also laid a 4' 2x6 across
the top of the jack to spread the load and avoid
any damage to the ramp.
Once the ramp was level, I was able to pull the
press onto the trailer - again, by myself. I
used an automotive tow strap wrapped about the
press to get a good grip, moved back a few feet
and pulled. The press rolls easily. We kept
pipes under the lower 2x4 rails to make moving
And, by using the pipes, the
press cannot run away from you - ever.
If it rolls more than a foot or so, it rolls off
of the pipe and stops - an automatic brake. Simple and Safe.
I like it that way.
As the press moves forward and rolls off of one
pipe, I simply removed the freed pipe from the
back, tilt the naturally balanced press back
easily, insert the pipe under the press on my
side, and pull it forward another foot or two
until the other pipe is free, then continued the
process until the press is where I want it. I have moved a
2500-pound Heidelberg Windmill across 100' of
level floor - working alone - using this
technique and highly recommend it.
This technique does not require strength or
heavy equipment. It requires only logic and
It is also the safest way to move a heavy item,
because it can never run away from you. The
system has it's own failsafe brake built in.
Once the press rolls off of the pipe, it stops
within inches. Dead
Once the press was in position on the trailer, I
used the small automotive floor jack again to
raise the press - less than 1" - just
enough to remove the pipe(s) that were still
The press was positioned 3-6" forward of the
trailer axle to balance the load and keep
100-200 pounds of the weight on the
trailer hitch for safety. Then it was strapped
down to prevent any forward moving during
braking, or any lateral movement in the turns.
We tied it down, loaded up our tools and headed
home... Unloading was even easier than loading,
and was essentially the same procedure in
flywheel is generally pretty easy.
Essentially, you need only remove the main drive
gear on the right and three large screws which
hold a collar in place on the left. Once the
gear is removed and the collar is free, the
entire flywheel and shaft can be removed to the
left. If the press has a straight shaft; it
comes right out. If the press has a crank shaft
(good for mounting a treadle) you'll have to
rotate the flywheel a bit to align the crank
with the slotted hole on the left frame.
main drive gear is sometimes very easy,
other times more complicated. Some presses have
a shield covering the drive gear. When we
encounter a press which has such a shield,
we remove the right side-arm and a few
bolts to get the cover off. If this is the case,
it is very important that the press stays still;
we replace the right side-arm immediately. It is
a very tight fit with almost no clearance or
tolerance. I slip it back on and bolt it back in
place right away. Do not force the side arm back
on. Wiggle the press until it slips back into
place easily and smoothly.
Once the gear
is visible, we use a 3-pound hammer and
a short piece of 2x4 to drive the gear about
1/2" towards the frame. This frees up the shaft
locking key, so that it can be removed and
allows the gear to be drawn back to the end of
the crankshaft for removal. Sometimes we have to
file down the end of the shaft to remove burrs
so that the gear comes off easily. We almost
always finish the end of the shaft with a long
strip of coarse emery paper to make sure it's
nice and smooth all the way to the end.
Once we had to
remove a gear that had been improperly
installed - fifty years ago. In this case the
gear had been driven onto the key- backards! Don't
do that! It took days of hammering a 5' solid
steel rod against the gear from the other side
of the press, and finally a Volvo strut
removal tool to pull that f*)*! gear free.
rails - To replace old oiled or rotten
press rails, remove any nails, lag bolts or
scews holding the press to the rail. I begin by
positioning my new rail next to the old one.
- I take one of the two 3' 2x4s in my kit
and lay it from one side to the other, and
under the press frame - going from left to
right as you view the press from the front,
and roughly centered from front to back.
Position this plank pretty much under the
center of gravity.
- With one end on the floor and the other
end on my floor jack, I raise the jack
- carefully, and one side of the press comes
up. All I need to do is raise one side 1/2"
to give me the clearance so that I can slide
out the old rail and slide in the new one.
- Then I lower my jack, fasten the press to
the rail using lag bolts with large washers,
and repeat the process on the other side. It
takes only a few minutes to do this very
Once the press is on solid rails, it's easy
to raise it up a little and slip a pipe
beneath the rails. When on a set of pipes,
these presses move very easily over smooth
flat surfaces. And, if you are on a slope, the
press can never "run away from you" as it
could on a dolly. The press can only roll a
few feet before it rolls off the pipes and
"hits the brakes", so to speak.
NOTE ABOUT LAG
The 8x12 Early Series requires a 2" lag bolt
into the 2x4. The New Series 8x12, however has
much thicker "feet" and requires a 3" lag bolt
to fully penetrate and firmly hold the press to
the new rails. I'd suggest bringing along 3
lengths of 1/2" diameter lag bolts so that you
are prepared for whichever length is needed.
How NOT to try and move a press -
I had a request yesterday -
move this 10x15 Chandler & Price in
the back of my 3/4 ton pickup
My response was an emphatic "NO" - in fact, it
was "No, no,
"Pull it with your truck - on a low
And here's why:
Back in 1975, When I was a young printer and
had just purchased an "easy to load"
thousand-pound 8x12 C&P, I backed my rack
bodied (modified pickup) truck to the loading
dock where the press was. Perfect line-up; my
bed was just the same height as theloading
dock. Looked good...
... until we
rolled the press onto the bed, whereupon it
dropped a full six inches and we almost lost
the press... And then, the tires almost rubbed
on the bottom of the rack body - and did every
time the truck bounced at all on the way back
to the shop.
And then we got
it the shop - somehow not losing it as it
rocked precariously back and forth as we drove
the ten miles back... But how to unload it? We
had no forklift or even proper ramps to bring
this press down...
In the end, we
wound up taking the press apart, slowly
lowering the heavy pieces to the ground, then
re-assembling the press. A trailer would have
made more sense..
I have seen,
however a successful, yet risky move of a
10x15 in the back of a truck - but it required
a bucket-loader at each end of the trip to
load and unload the press - high in the air...
Woulda been cheaper and far less risky to
simply rent a $40 U-Haul trailer and use two
pipes, a jack and a chain-hoist to safely
load, transport and unload the press while
wisely keeping it closer to the ground.
On another move, a common carrier in
California had "palletized" a woman's 10x15 -
on a standard and apparently flimsy wooden
pallet - and shipped it off in a box truck.
But, only a few miles from her home in
Michigan, the press broke the skid, fell to
the side, damaged the wall of the truck and
snapped the flywheel into pieces...
REPLACE THE RAILS -
NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY LOOK,
they could be rotten on the inside..
A few years ago, I had to remove a press from a
basement - hopefully in one piece. The 4x6 rails
looked good, and I was pressed for time, so I
didn't replace them - but I should have...
We rolled the press on pipes to bottom of the
long cement staircase out of the basement. The
plan had been to winch it straight up the steps
on ramps and on to the waiting trailer... But
the chain hoist links had jammed. So,
while I was patiently fixing that, the seller
called her neighbor who promptly arrived with
his backhoe to see if he could help...
To make a long story short, he pulled/lifted the
press up the ramp and onto the trailer. That was
a stroke of luck; even with the chain hoist, it
was a long ways up a steep staircase and would
have been troublesome in any case... But, by now
I'd been on the road all day; it was nearly 9 pm
and I still had a 5-hour drive home...
And then, when I did get home - after a few rest
stops, it was fully the middle of the night, so
I covered up the press and left unloading for
morning. It was good that I did, because in the
daylight - and after a good night's rest, I was
prepared for the accident that was about to
As I began to roll the press off of the trailer,
one of the apparently "good" rails split - right
in the middle... The painted 4x6's looked good
on the outside, but had rotted on the inside and
could not bear the weight of the press on the
pipes. I had to change the rails - immediately,
while on the trailer and while almost off the
bed and onto the ramp...
I jacked the ramp up to level and went to work
changing the rotten old 4x6s with a nice pair of
fresh 2x6's. With the new rails installed,
unloading was again safe and easy.
Before I sold this press, I made a new set of
rails - and this time, I drilled them for bolts
- not lag bolts that might come loose some day,
but nuts and bolts and washers - to make sure
that it was well-fastened. I also sanded the
ends and stained the entire piece. It made for a
nice set of well-mounted rails and I am proud of
loading, moving and unloading this press proved
to be very smooth and easy - so easy, in fact
that even as a 68-year old 160-pound
not-as-strong-as-I-used-to-be old man, I was
able to do it without incident... "safely,
easily, quickly and within budget..."
Now, here's another accident waiting to
The first time
I used a lift gate, it was to move a 10x15 Colt
- a good, solid 1,000 pounds worth of press. The
lift gate (rated for 1500 or 2,000 pounds)
strained as we raised it up into the truck. But,
it failed when we went to unload it. With the
press on the lift gate, it began to move even
before we told it to... And then, it would not
stop on the way down - not at all. It hit the
ground with a gentle "thud" and we were just
lucky that nothing broke...
The second time
I was involved in a lift-gate move was one time
when I was hired to "supervise" the press
move... But when I arrived at the location,
instead of the trailer I had requested, the new
owner proudly showed me the neat lift-gate truck
they had rented for the move.... I was not
pleased. And, worse than that, when we finally
arrived at the press' new home a few anxious
hours later, we found that the lift gate tipped
out at such an angle that we had to tie the
press down to secure points way inside the truck
to keep it from tipping over and falling clear
off of the lift gate.
And then, as we went to lower the lift gate, we
had no control - just like the nightmare with
the Colt. Fortunately, and since I had been
through this before, I had built up a supporting
platform of 4x4s beneath the essentially useless
and dangerouse lift gate- as a "failsafe" or
Also fortunately, we were delivering to a garage
that was equipped with some pretty substantial
floor jacks and and 4x4 dunnage. We were able to
use them to lower the lift gate slowly and
carefully - all the while holding the top of the
press from tilting out and falling clear off
that "diving board" by tying it down to strong
points inside the truck. What a nightmare that
was! They shoulda listened to my advice... After
all, they paid for it...
are more, similar horror stories. As they come
to me, I'll update this page with more
But this is just
to warn our readers of the reasons we are so
adamantly opposed to these other techniques;
the low-trailer, pipe and small jacks
approach has just proven too easy and safe
and overall practical and successful to even
consider other options...
- especially for the safety and
budget-considerations that this approach deals
with very well...
- Alan June
See how we partially disassembled and moved an
8x12 C&P out of a basement in 2002.
Please contact Alan Runfeldt with other
questions using this convenient and spam-free
June 4, 2011 July
27, 2012 Oct 9,
2012 June, 2018