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Middlebury, VT, 05753
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Keep up with the goings-on at Birdwalk Press, from the celebration of our wonderful couples' weddings to stationery insider tips.

Letterpress Hack: Distribution Roller on a Platen Press

Ian Johnson

For a while we’ve been noticing ghosting on our Old Style Gordon press.  It’s a problem that happens with large print areas where the ink is removed from the roller(s), and the ink disk can’t re-ink enough to cover the loss.  The rollers are then left with a “ghost” of the plate, causing the proceeding prints to end up printing lighter or patchy.  

 

Old Style Gordon default roller setup

 

Since our press is and oldie (but a goodie!), the roller design wasn’t the best thought out.  There are three roller arms, but the lowest arm baaaaarely gets far enough up the ink disk to actually be inked.  However, those two rollers alone often aren’t great at masking ghosting so we came up with a fix for bigger prints.

 

Distribution roller clip

Distribution roller clip

 

Enter the distro-clip!!  Using some brass rod from the amazing Kenyon Noble (we tend to have local hardware store pride in Montana), we bent a set of clips to hold a third roller on top of the two already in place.  This roller never touches the plate, but it serves an equally important role.  The extra surface area provided by a third roller helps to evenly distribute ink between the rollers, as well as cache ink from the ink disk for longer.  

 

ink distribution roller

 

It’s been amazing the difference this has made.  Prints that were previously coming out patchy or salty are now even and deeply colored.  This has been a great way to extend the capabilities of our old Gordon, and now it can keep up with the most pressing (no pun intended) of jobs.