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                    use at the Excelsior PressHOME -> DIRECTORY -> RESTORATIONS  -> Vandercook 099

Restoring the
Vandercook Model 099
Galley Proof Press

Vandercook 099 SN 03625
~ 12x16" Form size ~ Sheet & bed 13x22" ~
weight: 110 lbs.
Serial Number 03625

This is a work-in-progress, begun on August 4, 2017.
Photos will be added as we perform the work described in the paragraphs below.

update 6/18/2019
This press is now completed and in its new home in the Printer's Cabin at Robert Frost's "second home"
 - the Middlebury BreadLoaf School of English
in Vermont.

The Vandercook Galley Proof Presses 
were designed only for pulling galley proofs - typically lines of text cast on the Linotype or forms comprised of Luldow slugs and/or foundry type and/or photo engravings,  made up for display advertising.

But these days, they can be used for far more than that. As a result, they are in demand as a small, portable, easy-to-use flatbed press.

Most of the old galley proof presses turning up these days are really quite old - and the rubber coating of the impression cylinder is often either hardened beyond the desired hardness of 70 Shore Durometer, or worse yet, damaged from many years of rough use.

New impression roller for Vandercook
                          Model 099 Galley Proof PressThe good news is that this roller can be removed and recovered. We had our Vandercook Model 099 Impression Cylinder recovered by our friends Andrian and Jayne of Ramco Roller in San Dimas, California - and it looks beautiful!

The other issue with the galley proof presses in general is that most of the presses we find these days lack the optional parts that would allow locking up a form in the bed of the press - the ends are open. Few have the optional paper guides and grippers as well. They were meant to print forms held in place by magnets - or in a locked-up chase - which is fine for a galley proof, but no good if you plan to print more than just a few copies of the form.

For that reason, we add a wooden cross-bar to the back and another on the front. This gives you a fully-enclosed form area and allows you to lock up your form - type, engravings, photo-polymer plates - using standard letterpress furniture and quoins.

The last important improvement we make to these presses when we restore them is to add our own paper guide system that will let you hold your sheets in place with sufficient accuracy to do multiple passes - in register - for doing multi-colored printing.

Procedure we follow to restore The Vandercook Model 099 Galley Proof Press 

The first thing we did was to fully disassemble and remove the impression cylinder unit, which is basically the only standard moving part to this press. We sent the rough old  impression roller to Ramco Roller in San Dimas, California, who do an excellent job of recovering the roller shaft. The result looks like brand new.

The impression unit contains bearings that ride beneath the rails. These were soaked in penetrating oil, cleaned and re-installed.

Our sand blaster is not in service at the new shop yet, so we used power hand tools to remove all old paint and rust. We took it all down to shiny metal, then painted the base - top and bottom, and painted all other parts and set them in our paint cabinet at 80 degrees to cure for two days.

Then we removed the four rubber bumpers on the ends of the rails and replaced them with new ones we made here.

The bed and rails were thoroughly de-rusted and the surfaces made to shine, then liberally coated with Mineral Oil, which was rubbed in to give these bare steel surfaces protection from humidity.

These presses typically develop a light coating of surface rust on the first warm humid day of the spring when the press is still a bit "chilly" from the previous night's chill. When the hot, moist air hits the bare, cooler steel, moisture condenses on exposed surfaces and they can become covered with a find surface rust in mere hours.

The underside of the bed was cleaned to bare metal, then painted "Vandercook Black"

The old wooden rails attached to the bottom of the bed and the old pegs that they were fastened to were removed and replaced with new ones.

Some parts are best cleaned by sand-blasting or wire-wheel. Machined surface areas are best cleaned using medium-grit foam sanding pads and Coarse, then Medium Scotch Brite pads. We don't use the less-expensive no-name brands since they do not appear to have the coarseness and strength as the standard Scotch Brite green pads.

After all parts were cleaned to bare metal, those parts which were to be painted were given two coats of Rustoleum Ultra-Cover Black, then either baked in the sun or cured in our paint cabinet at 80 degrees for two days.

All bare metal parts were masked off for painting, then coated with mineral oil when the paint was dry and cured.


Re-assembly, as they say is pretty much the reverse of dis-assembly. First, we reassembled the impression unit - on the press. Bearings were adjusted using the cams on the underside of the unit.

The bumpers on the four corners were re-installed.

At that point, the restoration was pretty much done. Next it was time to add the Paper Register Device and the Two-Roller Inking System.

Now we have converted our simple little Galley Proof Press to a min-Flatbed press.

Vanedercook 099 Galley Proof Press
                                - PLUS!Test Prints:
The last step in this process was to do some test prints and "get to know" the press and confirm that it prints just as well as we expected it to. It does...

We had already tested the Register Device and confirmed that it does indeed produce dot-for-dot register. We also used the new Inking System and printed some large and small samples; it inks well.

Pickup and Time to Head to its new home...
After all the work was done, there was nothing left but to hand it over to the client and send it on its way to a new home at the Book Arts Center in Vermont...

Vanedercook 099 Galley Proof Press -
                              PLUS!The press can be seen in the photo to the right with the inking unit in place and some steel galleys on top for travel in the back of the client's Gas/Electric Hybrid Prius...

page last updated  August, 2017