Sunday, January 31, 2010

New tympan-frisket assembly, progress

The tympan framework is done and I built the frisket frame in exactly the same fashion, just a bit smaller so it nestles inside. Here are some pictures showing what tympan frame looks like, along with some details of the corners.

Here's the entire thing, upside down.

Here's a corner, from the bottom. The CF cloth makes it a little rippled on this side, but the other side (where it's glued) is quite smooth. Hmmm, that's wrong. I should have put glue on the rippled side and left the smooth side up.

And here's what it looks like from the top.

The bars are 1/8" thick and the L brackets are 1/8" thick, so the corners will fit between the cylinder and the 5/8" furniture.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Iron handpress, with pictures

I wrote earlier about our trip to pick up an iron handpress in Portland. Here are a few pictures.

There were actually 2 trips to Portland. The 1st expedition was taken aback by the size of the press and returned to Seattle with the (relatively) small parts plus renewed determination. The 2nd expedition had more people, a big truck, and a lot more tools. Here's a picture of the press frame after we got it into the truck.

And here's a picture of (most of) the crew, feeling pretty relieved that this stage went so well.

Left to right, there's Carl, Marya, Steamer, Preston, and Neil.

The next day, we delivered the beast to the library at University of Washington. We had a lot more people and things again went smoothly. Here we're wheeling it through the hallway, using a pair of safe dollies. Highly recommended.

After a fair amount of shoving, we got it positioned in the classroom. Here we are again, pretty happy about it.

Next, we had to reassemble all the parts. Luckily, Carl knows his way around these things. It was also lucky we had a large crew; cast iron is heavy.

Finally, here's a picture of Carl and Sandra, gloating over the result.

New Tympan-Frisket Assembly

On my website, I write extensively about my 1st attempt. It turned out pretty well and Marya and I have been able to print all sorts of things with it, including multi-color and double-sided jobs. Nevertheless, I'm dissatisfied. The oak bars are 3/4" wide, so we end up losing 3" from the usable length and width of the bed, a pretty high percentage. It's also hard to duplicate, requiring some woodworking for the oak and metalwork for the hinges.

I had the idea of using carbon-fiber pulltrusions, since I knew they were quite stiff, available in convenient sizes, and pretty easy to glue together. I buy them from a company called CST.

My first attempt was unsuccessful. I built the tympan frame using bars 1/8" thick by 3/8" wide, using simple lap joints to fasten the corners together. The area for the glue joint (3/8" x 3/8") was too small and the glue (epoxy) joints broke.

While I could use wider bits of CF to increase the glueable area, one of my main motivations is to recover usable area in the bed of the press; wider bars would defeat that goal. I discussed the problem with a friend of mine, Howard Rush, who can build anything. He came up with the idea of using L brackets to hold the corners together. Not only that, he helped me build them!

First, we needed some raw material. We built a plate of CF-epoxy, 1/8" thick and about 5" square (a similar plate can be ordered from CST, but we wanted to get to work right away).

Next, we laid out the 8 required L brackets on a sheet of paper and glued it (with 3M 77 spray glue) onto the plate.

Following the outlines, we cut out the individual bits, sanding them to neaten up the edges. We used Howard's table saw with a diamond blade, but it would be possible to use a Dremel tool with an abrasive cutoff wheel (aka Dangerous Disk!). By the way, I also used the Dremel tool to cut the bar to length.

Here are the pieces of the tympan frame, ready to go together. Before glueing, we sanded all the mating surfaces, then cleaned them with MEK to remove and dust, oil, etc. that might interfere with the glue bond.

We layed it out on a slightly oversized scrap of shelving, then worked for a while to ensure all the corners were square before glueing.

We held the bars in place with hand clamps and remembered to add some teflon (wax paper would be ok) to prevent glue from sticking to the shelving.

Next we mixed up a batch of high-zoot epoxy (Loctite Hysol 9430), weighing the 2 parts carefully, and brushed a thin coat on the mating surfaces. Finally, we clamped the L brackets in place, lightly (too tightly will squeeze out the epoxy). A slippery job, but it turned out ok.

Finally, we let it dry for a week (until I had a chance to visit again).

Next, we need to build the frisket frame. Same process, just sized a bit smaller.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


Hi folks,

I thought I should introduce myself. I'm a newbie in letterpress and currently restoring (or at least trying to restore) a Poco#0 press.

For the longest time I could not understand how the tympan/frisket thing works on a Poco (ps. I kept looking at Neil Giroux's photos without understanding it). Until I saw Preston's website with an explanation.

Also, there is book called "Printing on the Iron Handpress" by Rummonds that explains how the tympan/frisket works in the traditional iron handpress. Great book, worth every penny.

Anyways, I look forward to learning more about the Poco.



Monday, January 18, 2010

new hand press

Well sort of...
Marya, Neil, and I went down to Portland with Carl Monford this weekend to retrieve an old Reliance hand press that Carl was donating to the University of Washington. A huge old thing, but we were able to move it quite easily using a pair of "safe dollies" (normally used for moving heavy steel safes (the sort you keep money in)).

Not really related to Pocos, but it was a good expedition.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

fancy registration

In his blog, here, Phillip Gallo describes a way to manage registration for irregularly shaped paper, paper without straight edges for easy alignment. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like it'll work a treat.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joining up

The aim here is a team blog, with lots of people contributing. If you'd like to contribute, send me a note (preston DOT briggs AT gmail DOT com) and I'll add you to the list of contributers.