equipment in use at the Excelsior Press

Things we make
at Excelsior Press Restoration Workshop

"Things to make your life easier as you print."

LIST of ITEMS ~ EQUIPMENT we use to do it.
and, our Fundraising Page, where we list these items for sale

Note: This is a new page - very much a work in progress. Please bear with us as we flesh it out, add links and images... - Alan 9/16/2018
updated 6/18/19 9/12/20

It recently dawned on me
that many of the items we sell are not available elsewhere - they are made here at the Excelsior Press in the work shop where we repair and restore old presses...

Some are our own inventions, others good ideas we learned about from others. In each case, they will "make your life easier as you print."

We began by making parts we needed for restorations - roller hooks, gripper arms and the like. We began having new cast iron parts made at a foundry run by an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, PA., and the finish machining done by a local machine shop.  The cost of machining these parts has slowed down production a bit, but they are still getting done.

But here in the shop, we make a lot of things to improve the life of printers...
  1. We cast our own 20-durometer rubber ink rollers.
  2. We make roller trucks in any size.
  3. We make Ink Roller Bearers
  4. We make a a two-roller Galley Proof Press Inking Device -
    and are developing an advanced semi-automatic inking system as well.
  5. We make roller hooks for Kelsey presses
  6. We "make" an ink roller height gauge - using a piece of 24-point solid rule
  7. We "make" galley press roller bearers of the same material.
  8. We make a holder for ink knives - to keep them clean as you are mixing inks.
For Platen & Galley Presses
  1. We make our own springs for 3x5 Kelsey presses
  2. We modify outsourced springs as replacements for other springs as needed.
  3. We make grippers for all small presses. We stock Kelsey grippers.
  4. We invented and make a paper clamp system for galley proof presses.
  5. We make Galley Magnets of our own design.
  6. We make The Excelsior Cushion Quad Guides.
  7. We make strong wooden chases for any press up to 6x10
  8. The Excelsior Chase-Base - for photo polymer plate printing

For Composition and Make-Up

  1. We make up kits of new and used leads and slugs - again, cut to precise length on our Hammond Glider Trim Saw.
  2. We make up kits of wood furniture - some new wood, some recycled furniture from old print shops. We recycle the old wood furniture by cutting each used piece to the next shorter length on our Hammond Glider Trim Saw. This gives each piece a true, square end, cut precisely - within one point - to any length required.
  3. We invented and make the Excelsior Chase Base - and rectangular base blocks
  4. We make our own Wickersham Quoin Key.
  5. We make a Composing Stick just like the one Ben Franklin used
  6. We make Composing Stick Holders
  7. We make a 2-galley expandable modular galley rack
  8. We are beginning to work on making new type cases
PRESSES - Restorations and New
  1. We Re-manufacture Table Top Platen and Galley Proof Presses
  2. We even built our own Wooden Common Press - just like Ben Franklin used - built from scratch based on plans we got from The Smithsonian. (Currently on display April-October, 2018 at the National Museum of Industrial History, a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum in Pennsylvania)
  3. We make the Composing Stick Proof press - for schools, museums & hobbyists
  1. We make videos - typically instructional, although some are just capturing a visitor printing here or something like that. Not great, but informative... and free to view...
And more...
  1. We make our own boxes for many items - chipboard scored on the hand press...
  2. And, when there's time, we make coasters, posters, cards, die cut and number on any of a dozen hand presses and the auto-feed Heidelberg Windmill.

However, even the things that we feel we have invented, may not be original. I recently discovered, for example, that more than ten years ago, someone in England came up with a very similar solution to mine to deal with the fact that many galley proof presses have no way to hold a sheet in position.

But the one we make and sell was entirely my own idea... It was just a case of "great minds thinking alike"...

With our paper clamp system, you could print a job of multiple colors - or multiple passes - while maintaining perfect dot-for-dot register - just like on the $15,000 proof presses... (but admittedly, without the heavy impression.)

The semi-automatic inking system we are currently developing for galley proof presses will revolutionize their use. Instead of spending 20 or more seconds setting roller bearers and hand-inking a form with a clumsy brayer, our system rolls two wide rollers right down the rails - and an oscillating parent roller keeps a nice film of ink available for each print.

Now, you can make a new print - in perfect register - and with perfectly laid ink - in less than ten seconds...

Our composing stick holder is based up on a design discovered by Rich Polinski in an old ATF catalog circa 1900. He made a few, we sold them, he stopped making them, I began making them... and selling quite a few...

We make a platen leveling kit consisting of 4 Ludlow slugs - "X-x" that can be placed in each corner of a chase to make leveling a platen a far, far simpler task than using a lollipop - even a compound lollipop. We also make a photo-polymer version that works the same way, but mounts on a plate base.


The Excelsior Press Museum Restoration Facility work shop contains
  1. a metal lathe,
  2. 2 drill presses,
  3. 2 band saws (wood & metal),
  4. a radial arm saw,
  5. a table saw,
  6. a router table,
  7. A wood Planer,
  8. two sanders (60-grit & 180 grit),
  9. a number of grinding wheels and wire wheels,
  10. a paint booth,
  11. a sand-blasting cabinet,
  12. We even have a steel planer - which is not yet operational
  13. - and a Bridgeport Milling Machine - which is still across the road in the old barn.
  14. A Lincoln AC-225 Arc Welder - still to be wired up and used..
We have many, many boxes and drawers of hardware, bar and round stock in many thicknesses and diameters, threaded rod, cans of paint - all types, wood stain, varnishes, etc...
and WOOD - boy, do we have wood. And, with the new wood planer, we can mill it precisely to just about any thickness we need... We even milled down and made a nice piece from the limb that broke off of our Dogwood Tree during a heavy snow storm last winter...

And, for the wood stove, we have tons and tons of wood down all around the property - piles cut to size, whole trees just waiting to be cut up. Yes, we have wood... and we use it.
And, we have clutter - too much stuff in too little space. We want to build a barn, but that's a big and very expensive project. Still, it's high on the list!

New 20-durometer rubber ink rollers for Kelsey
                  Excelsior PressTOP
We cast our own 20- and 30-durometer Rubber Ink Rollers.

And make our own shafts and trucks as well. No need to save and recover old shafts.

See more on our Fundraising Page


Two Roller
                  Inking AssemblyTwo-Roller Galley Press Inking Device
(click on photo for a closer look) This photo shows the inking device in use, with the sheet registration device in place on the bed of the press.

This device grew out of continued frustration with using a hand brayer - getting even and consistent inking was always a challenge - but not any more. Using two standard Kelsey Excelsior 6x10 - or other common press rollers, mounted in the custom-designed frame allows the printer to use the press rails themselves as always-there, but never-in-the-way roller bearers. The Richlite side blocks slide easily along the rails for very easy inking - without any bouncing or other frustrating issues common with the use of the traditional hand brayer. The device can be easily opened up by removing one screw on the side block, freeing the rollers for quick replacement.
Click the photo for a close-up view.

                    Roller Bearing BlockUpdate 9/17/19 - I had been contemplating an adjustment system for this Inking Device. The first models were carefully finished to match the diameter of the installed rollers. But I wasn't satisfied with that. There was no room for adjustment and little room for error in construction.

I had considered the complex two-piece/3-screws system used on the Vandercook, but I wanted to find an even better way. Tonight, I came up with what I think is a good idea that solves this problem with simplicity and precision - the Adjustable Roller Bearing Block. I may still go back to the Vandercook design, but first I think I'll take a stab at making some of these....  The idea is to have the roller shaft hole offset within a rotating disk. The disk can be rotated very precisely using the tool designed to fit the two small holes. Since the shaft hole is off-center, this device becomes a cam. A cam has infinite adjustability - even more precise than a screw. I think this may be the new feature that will be used on future versions of the Inker.

The block can be made of Richlite, the insert of 2" delrin rod. With Delrin, no bushings are needed. The pins in the tool can be made of 1/4" steel rod, the tool handle of Richlite or Ipe. Let's see how this works out...

Update 9/12/20 - Well, it's been a while since I made the note above. Since then, the workshop has been closed as I devoted much of my time during this past year to fighting (& beating) cancer and other "now that you're an old man" medical issues.

But now that I'm back to work - and have let a few folks know about this device, I'm pressed to continue R&D and get back into production. I've decided that I need a better - and simpler way to adjust roller height. Instead of the cam system described above, I am considering a design more like what is used on the Vandercook Model 4 - a lower rail that is adjustable with two set screws on either side. When I have one ready to show, I will post it here.

New Paper Clamp Device for Galley Proof
We invented and make a paper clamp and register device for galley proof presses.
(click on photo for a closer look)

This device will allow you to achieve dead-on perfect dot-for-dot register printing printing one color - or two colors - in perfect reproducible position. The original design was made to lock up in your form. But now, it has magnets embedded to hold it in place even without furniture and quoins...
With the magnets embedded in the base, it need not be locked up, but could be simply laid on the bed - the magnets will hold it in place. In any case, the angle on the device will suspend your sheet just above the form to keep it clean until the impression roller goes across and presses the paper onto the form. Once printed, the sheet must be removed before you roll the impression roller back to home position.

Head alignment is achieved with a shallow ledge that aligns the sheet against the back stop. Side alignment is achieved (currently) by use of one side guide. We are currently using our Excelsior Cushion Quad Guide (not shown in this photo)

Excelsior Cushion Quad Guides - Compressible
                      for Photo-Poly Plate Printing TOP
We make our own compressible "gauge pin" - although it's not really a pin, but it is the

Excelsior Cushion Quad Guide

click the link above for more details about this product.
click the photo for a closer look.

                      Mixing KitTOPInk Knife Holders

We started making these after some very annoying experiences with ink knives laying all of the ink plate and, frankly, getting all covered with ink. With this device, you can keep ink on 4 knives - one each of 3 colors, plus one more with mixed ink on it- and never have a mess or get ink on your hands...

It sure helps keep the stone clean when I'm mixing inks...

5x8 Excelsior Chase-BaseTOPThe Excelsior Chase-Base

This thing has been quite a hit. It came out of the need to mount photo-polymer plates on small presses - without limiting the plate size. It will mount as large a plate as your bed can fit - 5x8 on a 5x8 press, etc.

It replaces your standard chase and requires no lock-up. Although made of either wood or Richlite, it can handle all of the pressure that a table top press can produce - and costs far less than one of those heavy-duty metal bases. Grid lines are not needed; you can mount your plate exactly in position based upon the setting of your paper guides - on the paper you are going to print on. More info on our Chase-Base info page

TOP composing stick holderComposing Stick Holder

A friend saw this in an old printing supplies catalog and showed up in the shop one day - quite a few years ago - with this one.

I asked him to make more for me to sell. He did, but he also soon tired of the project, so I began to make them myself using dark brown Ipe wood. They last for ever and are really, really handy.  Since the stick is held at a slant, type in the stick does not fall over. We use them all over the shop and everyone who has one seems to like using them quite a bit.

You can too, if you'd like - Item # CSH - $16 ea.

Ink Roller Bearers for Kelsey and other
                        Platen PressesRoller Bearers
Our roller bearers are made here in the shop from new hardwoods (Maple, generally) or recycled wood furniture pieces cut to fit precisely - type high - .918" - on our 1.0-point precision Hammond Glider Trim Saw. Bearers are then finished - for protection from ink stain and solvents - with the same Paraffin Oil used by The Thompson Cabinet Company when they made the furniture they sold to the Kelsey Company and to print shops throughout the country for many years.

The ends of the bearers are shaped to fit over the top and bottom as well as the side edges  of the chase and rounded to allow smooth transition of the rollers over the form.

Most press manufacturers offered roller bearers made of formed sheet metal. But I had a set of very old wooden ones - probably made prior to 1930 - which I used in my shop. When a friend saw them - and how well they worked, I was asked to make a set for them - of wood, just like mine. Well, that was a long time ago and we have been making custom-sized roller bearers for many presses ever since...

To see the impact roller bearers can have on your printing, see out detailed page of roller bearers in action - and this example of the effect of using roller bearers. This test print shows the before and after effect of adding roller bearers - and fixing an image problem in just a minute. 


Yes, after many years considering this, we are about to embark on a new project - making Hamilton/Thompson - style type cases. We're not ready to tackle the California Job case, but we are already in the process of making 12x12" Kelsey-style "Hobby Cases" and 2/3-sized Hamilton-replica Double Caps Cases.

We are already working on restoring a Hamilton City Stand and will be using the same tools in the shop - and fresh Poplar wood to make type cases - as well as short, modular 3-5 type case racks based on what we have learned while restoring this one.



These items will soon be available for purchase through links on our Fundraising Page

page last updated September,  2018 June, 2019 Sept 2020