Challenge Proof Press dead-bar stops

As with most proof presses, for quick printing jobs where absolute alignment is not essential the type on the bed of our Challenge MA-15 press is usually locked up lengthwise using the quick lockup bar supplied with the press. This bar uses friction against the top and bottom rails to stay in position, and presses mostly in the center of the forme.

Dead-bar pins installed. The quick locking bar is to the right, and the galvanized surface to the left is the type-high plate.

For a more accurate lockup, which keeps the lines of type straighter and better aligned, one uses what is called a dead-bar. This is a solid bar running between the rails of the press bed, and the type is then locked up in the usual way between the head bar and dead bar using quions and furniture. On our Challenge MA-15 proof press, the dead bar itself presses against a pair of pins, about 1/2″ (12mm) diameter, next to either rail. The pins can be removed, which can assist at times with transferring the forme (by sliding it) between the press bed and a galley. Removing the pins also makes it slightly easier to remove the type-height plate which raises the bed from galley height to type height.

On our press, the front pin is a slip fit into a blind hole in the press bed, and is is easily removed. For some reason, though, the rear pin fits into a through hole, where it is a tight fit (to prevent falling through, I suppose), meaning it is difficult to remove. Taking it out requires reaching under the press bed with a hammer to tap the pin out, a good job for a contortionist but not for anyone else. As you hammer from below, you need a hand above to catch the pin when it pops out; otherwise, it pops up and drops back into the hole, jamming itself in again. At least the pin has an extended neck so you don’t need a drift or punch as well.

The original pins above the replacements. The holes in the bed were just far enough from the rails to allow room for a shouldered pin.

I’ve made replacement pins that are a loose fit in both holes. Instead of straight-sided original pins, these have a shoulder to limit how far they drop into the holes, and are easy to lift out when desired. Now all I need is a dead-bar, but that’s pretty simple to make.

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