After the big push toward the end of the semester (final conferences, final projects, final grades, etc.), it was time to get back into the lab to tackle the next major part of the press restoration: I’ve been working on the bed of the Vandercook #4 to remove rust, and working on the racks and cylinder carriage. But in the interval, with a series of projects supporting other classes, the Vandercook #4-side of the lab had become the tarped “Do Not Enter”/storage-side of the lab. The feedtable was beneath the press, parts and tools were on the bed but under a drop-cloth, and I often found myself setting a typecase across the bed as a composing station during student workshops.
There’s been a lot of traffic through the lab, even in the first year and even as we’ve expanded on an almost monthly basis. We haven’t bottle-necked at the press yet (despite 60-odd students through the lab; workshops in the classes of five colleagues; a collaboration with the VAC; an open-house for the Queen City Zine Fest; and two extended group final projects for another colleague’s students)–but I’m teaching a “July Experience” section in the lab this summer, and then making heavy use of the press in my classes in Fall ’19 and Spring ’20. This, of course, has been the goal all along; it’s time to get the #4 into rotation.
When I found this press, I was elated to discover that there were not one but two sets of inking assemblies–a standard set, and a split fountain.
Both obviously needed love, but I was excited at the prospect of experimentation with the split-fountain. Maybe to prolong that excitement, I started with the standard ink assembly (that, and I can already tell the rust and scale on the split fountain will be a bit more work than the decades-old ink on the standard).
After removing the oscillating cylinder and shaft, and dropping all the attendant parts into cups of Simple Green to soak in the meantime, I began to work on the rider-rollers with Simple Green and a Scotch Pad, and later steel wool, to break up the ink.
With the riders and the oscillating shaft cleaned to bare metal, it was time to work on the oscillating roller.
Working on the inking assembly made me wonder again why this press was pulled off the line and stashed in the barn where I found it. The metal in the rollers is all sound–it’s clear the only damage to them, like that to the press bed, came after the press was stored (and after the mice moved in and the grass grew through the wall of the barn and into the press cabinets…). In the case of the inking assembly, the ink actually deterred any rust formation. The split fountain is another story, of course. But I’ll tackle that when I get there.
The relative condition of the press makes me think that either the press was simply removed to make way for another more modern press (by the 80’s, Vandercook itself was out of business), or that something like the motor shorted one day, and the cord was cut and the press pushed out for a repair that never happened. Since the motor is missing, I’m wondering if the latter is what occurred. In any case, after I finish with the split fountain and reassemble the form rollers (new from Ramco), I’ll mount the new motor and get a little supervision when rewiring the press. A few more days, and then we’ll see what happens when we flip the switch…