Nick Summers of Sylvan Type Works in Sydney NSW has designed a new set of adjustable handpress platen bearers. These bearers help make adjusting for any type of form, whether type or polymer, in the handpress, an easier and more adjustable process. They are made of brass, and come with strong internal springs and a set of finely calibrated washers that vary the height of the bearer, evening out the pressure of the downward-driving platen on any printing area, & allowing each corner to be adjusted either separately, or equally across the platen as a whole.
I have had mine now for several weeks, and while it takes time to work out just how the system works and how you can make the necessary adjustments very quickly, I can heartily recommend them for anyone using a handpress, whether an Albion, Columbian or, I believe, any other handpress.
By locating them at the outer corners of the platen on the press bed, and setting the chase on the bed in a fixed and secure way and leaving them there, in the one place, it’s not too hard to get the feel of what sort of addition or subtraction you have to make when setting up any form.
For me, setting up a form for printing involves three things – 1) roller bearer height : I always apply masking tape to those parts of the roller bearers that align with type or printing area that extends beyond the most solid portion of the type block. I do this always and before any proofing whatsoever, as a matter of course. 2) adjusting the roller bearer height, first with a blind proof, then with a printed one. 3) then, and only then, do I look at the prospect of traditional make-ready. The adjustments possible with these platen bearers are so fine, that I now have to do less make-ready than I used to using solid platen bearers.
Nick’s adjustable platen bearers are available for sale now at AUD$255 the set of four. Contact him at info(at)sylvantypeworks(dot)com.au. I should warn you, however, that the bearers are made in small batches and that there are currently only six sets available. I’ve got mine – now get yours!