BOUND Book Arts Fair, Sunday December 3rd in Toronto

The Arts & Letters Club in Toronto will again be hosting the BOUND Book Arts Fair, this year taking place on Sunday December 3rd, from 11am-4pm. The Club is located at 14 Elm Street, near Yonge & Dundas in downtown Toronto.

We will be there along with about 3 dozen other vendors selling private press books, printed ephemera, cards, prints, paper, and materials and equipment for the book arts. Look for us upstairs in the studio.

Please note the updated opening time: 11am.

Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Fair, October 14th, 2023

Howard Iron Works will be holding their annual Print Expo & Fair this year on Saturday, October 14th, from 10am to 4pm, at 800 Westgate Road, in Oakville Ontario.

The show will feature about 20 vendors, including ourselves, selling paper-, printing-, and book-related items and materials. There will also be demonstrations, hands-on activities, workshops, and of course their extensive museum of old printing equipment will be open for you to explore.

Admission is free, and there is free parking available on-site and on the street nearby.

Can anyone answer a Whitlock question?

The Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum maintains a print shop at the Wainfleet fairgrounds in Wainfleet, Ontario, and one piece of equipment there is a Whitlock 2-rotation cylinder press.

Note that there is a different model of Whitlock press that is generally similar but has some differences, in particular as to how the printed sheets are delivered, so I’m not sure how relevant it would be to this question.

My question concerns the delivery mechanism for the printed sheets on the press illustrated here. As they come off the cylinder, they are carried by a series of tapes A (essentially a conveyor) over a comb of long fingers B. These fingers then rotate half a turn on a shaft C, flipping the printed sheet over and dropping it face down on the delivery table D. A pair of stacker blocks E & F then close up to keep the stack of printed paper neat.
One stacker block (E) can be adjusted to suit the size of the sheet being printed, so for smaller paper, E would be moved towards F, and the latter is always in the same location. However, the conveyor tapes always carry the sheet right up to shaft C, and so when the sheet is flipped it would land on the delivery table right close to the shaft rather than between the stackers.
It seems to me that there should be some sort of stop or guide which limits how far the tapes carry the sheet so that when flipped over it lands between the parted stackers.
However, there are no such guides on our Whitlock, nor do any show in this illustration. It looks like it would perhaps be a couple of small stop tabs that attach to the fingers to stop the sheet motion. They can’t be too bulky because they must fit between the tapes when the fingers are in the position to receive the sheet, and they must also not strike the stacker block E when the fingers flip over to drop the sheet.
So is anyone familiar enough with this model of press to provide any hints or photos? How do other cylinder presses with similar delivery deal with this? An easy design change would have been to have E be the fixed guide and F be the adjustable one; the downside would be that the operator would have to reach farther to remove the stack of printed sheets.
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Marshville Heritage Festival, September 2nd-4th 2023 in Wainfleet, Ontario

The Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum maintains a print shop at the Wainfleet fairgrounds in Wainfleet, Ontario, and each Labour Day weekend, the Marshville Heritage Festival takes place there, where the Museum volunteers open up the print shop to demonstrate the machinery.

In addition to the demonstrations, we will also have some items available, including old cuts, random wood type, typecases, printed cards, and a year-at-a-glance calendar, in trade for donations to the Museum.

Demonstrations will include operation of the Ludlow Typograph, which casts a single line of text from hand-set matrices. In trade for a donation, we can cast a line of text of your choice mounted in a wood display stand.

There will also be a small Adana table-top press, which you will be able to use to print yourself a keepsake card.

Finally, we will also have our Whitlock cylinder press in operation from time to time to print more of the calendars. This press was manufactured in the 1890’s and used for printing the Thorold News for many years before it was bought out by the St.Catharines Standard.

Promotional Illustration of the Whitlock Cylinder press

So come out and see us (and the rest of the Festival) next weekend!

Not News: Our mould & deckle sets in a major movie

This isn’t really news because it occurred in 2009, but I’m finally stripping old “news” from our home page and I thought I should keep this in the record somewhere.

The (then-)recently-released film The Time Traveler’s Wife, based on a book of the same title written by Audrey Niffenegger (who is in real life a hand papermaker as well as an author) was partially shot in Toronto. Some props and expertise were provided by folks from the Ontario College of Art & Design (now OCAD University). This included one of our 8½×11 inch HDPE mould and deckle sets, which appears on screen during a scene of intense discussion between the main characters, Clare (played by Rachel McAdams), who is also a papermaker, and Henry (played by Eric Bana).

We aren’t credited for this, but at least we know where it came from and who made it!

Upcoming Summer Papermaking Workshops

We’ve (finally) selected a couple of dates for our Introductory Papermaking workshop this summer.

The first, admittedly on very short notice, is on Saturday June 24th, and the other is about a month later on Saturday July 22nd.

Both workshops run from 9am to 4pm with a 1-hour lunch break, and are held at our shop in New Dundee, Ontario. The cost for the workshop is $80 plus HST, for a total of $90.40, including materials.


The short notice for the June 24th date was indeed insufficient and the workshop on this date has been cancelled.

Monotype Composition Caster Pot Temperature Controller

Over the past few months, I’ve had to replace the old Partlow temperature controller on the pot of my Monotype Composition Caster.

On my caster the old mechanical controller has failed; each time I ran the caster I found that the metal temperature had gone up from where it was set, sometimes 50°F hotter than the setting, despite recalibrating the controller.

Rather than replacing it with a possibly just as bad spare controller from my parts pile, I chose to replace it with a modern electronic controller that uses a thermocouple to measure the temperature of the molten metal. Just as with the original controller, this switches power to an electrical contactor which in turn switches the power to the electrical heating elements.

I’ve used the caster a few times with the new controller, and so far the only problem I’m having is visibility. Its location is the same as the original controller, on a post above the pivot that the pot swings on. This means that from my normal operator’s position, sort of facing the tool tray, I have to peer around/through the ingot feeder to see the display. Furthermore, to avoid having the controls face all those visual obstacles, I’ve turned the enclosure to face more to the right, so you can see it well if you’re standing by the galley. I don’t have to consult the temperature readout much, and it is a self-illuminated display so easily visible, but when I’m casting display fonts I want to keep an eye on the pump stroke counter. This is an LCD display and so difficult to see from an angle. I might turn the enclosure to the left to face my normal position to improve visibility. I think a bit of experimentation will be required here.

I recently gave a short presentation about this project at the 2023 ATF Conference in Maine, and I have posted a YouTube video showing the construction and installation of this new controller.

I’ve already made a post about the custom enclosure I made for this.

2023 ATF Conference Photos

The 2023 American Typecasting Fellowship conference took place over the weekend of April 30th/May 1st 2023 in the area around Portland, Maine.

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An Excellent Film for English Monotype Operators

That is, for people who operate an English Monotype Composition Caster (as opposed to the American Lanston Monotype machine). Even more specifically, given the mix of English and American equipment now in use, for users of English composition moulds.

There is an excellent film describing the care and maintenance of the English composition mould available on Vimeo. This film shows the teardown, cleaning, and reassembly of this style of mould, and also shows how the mould and casting cycle operate using a special mould made of transparent plastic. The maintenance instructions also mention the parts of the mould which should not be disturbed, as these moulds contain several eccentric screws/pins which are factory-set to provide proper mutual alignment of some of the parts.

Some of the other English-made moulds have a similar internal structure and much of this film would be applicable to those as well. The way to recognize such moulds is by the hollow screw on the right side, where the oiler attaches. This screw acts as a oil passage to the side of the blade, and also applies spring pressure to the side of the blade during assembly.

On note, though: I find that the audio timing is off by a second or two. You don’t see anyone talking so it is not a lip-sync issue, but there are sequences where they do things like name parts while pointing them out, and I find that the voice seems to be naming the next or previous part through each such sequence.

Also, they specifically use benzene to clean the parts, which would nowadays be discouraged both because of the fire hazard and also because benzene is a carcinogen. For that matter, although I actually like the odour of most solvents, benzene just gives me a headache! For cleanup one can use paint thinner, or for stubborn crud, lacquer thinner, brake cleaner, or carburettor cleaner (although the latter two evaporate in an instant, which may be too fast).

All this with a mix of understated British humour!

Progress on the Mackenzie Printery’s Linotype (Lower Reed Comb)

This is yet another repair I had to make on the Linotype at the MacKenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum.

The keyboard assembly has a row of 91 short pushrods, known as the Lower Reeds, which push up when a key is pressed, ultimately releasing a matrix from the magazine above. The magazine has 90 channels but there is also a lower reed for releasing spacebands.

These reeds are supported and aligned by a double comb made of brass (part number H-2484). The lower part of the comb has closed slots for the reeds to pass through, but the upper part of the comb is just open teeth to space the reeds apart. These teeth are vulnerable to damage if the keyboard is swung out on its pivot (e.g. for maintenance) when some of the reeds are raised (e.g. due to keyboard jams), unless the operator takes precautions to prevent the raised reeds from striking the lower ends of adjacent upper reeds.

The comb is mounted on a steel support bar (H-2485) by several screws (H-207), and the entire assembly has part number H-2580.

The keyboard at the museum has had three of these comb teeth broken off; two had been repaired in the past, and now I have repaired the third one in the same manner.

View from the top of the comb showing the bent and broken teeth.

Another view of the damaged teeth

The comb is formed from sheet brass, and it would be pretty much impossible to weld/braze/solder on a replacement tooth. However, the repair used on the other two teeth is fairly easy to repeat. A 1/16″ hole is drilled in the steel support bar exactly where the comb tooth should be, and a short piece of 1/16″ brass rod (I used brazing rod) is inserted. In my case the rod was a good enough fit in the hole to stay put, but if necessary a locking compound (such as Loctite™ 638) could be used to retain the rod.

The hole was not as accurately positioned as I would have liked, especially where it broke through the rear of the steel bar, but the tolerances in this particular area of the Linotype could be described as “sloppy” so it was easy to bend the rod to line it up good enough. The two teeth from a previous repair, as well as a couple of intact teeth on the comb, were also gently bent back into alignment.

Reinstalling this comb was a bit of a juggling act because of the need to keep 91 lower reeds from going astray. I think it was easier to install this bar and comb, and remove the other bar (which has a vertical stop for the reed motion) instead. I could then drop all the lower reeds into the comb, using a steel ruler to prevent them from falling out or dropping too low (the reeds have a notch in their side which limits their vertical movement). I could then use the ruler to raise all the reeds a bit so the bar could be reinstalled. I suspect an alternative might be to trip all the keyboard cams so they would hold the reeds up in such a way that the bar could be reinstalled.

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