The big monster printing press

Thompson Platen PressThis press is our latest acquisition. It actually came from what are now the premises of KwartzLab, the former home of Pandora Press. This machine is a Thompson-British Automatic Platen Press, weighing in at about 1525kg (3360lbs).

It fills the same niche as the Heidelberg “Windmill” Platen press, but uses a different feed mechanism. Instead of the Heidelberg’s rotary feed/delivery arms that give it its nickname, the Thompson uses orthogonal motion to feed the paper. A sucker bar draws each sheet from supply stack directly in front of the platen and pulls it straight down onto the lays which do the fine positioning of the sheet. A separate gripper bar grabs the edge of the sheet after printing, draws it sideways and places it on the delivery stack. Because there is no rotary motion, it should be able to handle long skinny sheets better than the Heidelberg.

Here are more of its specifications:

Maximum Sheet Size 10¼”×15¼” (260×387mm)
Minimum Sheet Size 1½”×2¼” (38×57mm)
Maximum Print Area 10¼”×15″ (260×381mm)
Minimum margins 6pt bottom, 12pt right side
Maximum Speed 4,500 impressions per hour
Dimensions 5’9″×4′ (1.8×1.5m)
Floor Load 30 cwt (1524kg)
Power 1.7hp (1.2Kw)
Price (1931) £275

This particular press was purchased in 1949 by a newspaper and printer in Grand Valley, Ontario. The newspaper is long gone but the company continues as Landsborough Printing Limited.

We still have the press on a pallet, and have moved it close enough to an appropriate outlet to run the machine for a few minutes. However, before using it for real work, we have to move it to its final place, remove it from the pallet (right now it rocks back and forth on the pallet as it runs), clean the ink fountain, and find a way to clean the ink train more quickly.

2 comments on “The big monster printing press
  1. Alastair says:

    I have one of these. The motor has just been rewound and the machine turned over after many years. It was used last for cutting and creasing.

  2. kpmartin says:

    I know there used to be a census of these presses online, but I can’t find it now.

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