Saturday, August 30, 2008

Comstock Load

No, I didn't lose my dictionary. I'm referring to the load of new-old-stock fonts of Comstock I picked up a little while back. They, and others, came from the American Bank Note Company printery in Philadelphia at the time they closed in the 90's. I was able to get them from a former employee.

There are 12, 14, 24, 24 Condensed, and 30 point caps fonts with figures and points and one 36 point complete upper and lower case font with points and figures. Lucky boy, eh? I spent a quiet evening yesterday distributing them. Thanks to my friend Alan I had a triple and a double caps case for the caps fonts.

Altogether I ended up with about 20 fonts. Other faces include Bank Script and Bank Gothic (go figure), Cheltenham Outline, Franklin Gothic, etc. plus a huge font of 6 point 20th Century Light. There were a number of outline style fonts that I attribute to the nature of the work they were doing with legal documents, certificates, etc. though that's an assumption.

I have more type than I have cases for right now. I know: boo-hoo poor me. I've never had new type before and it's a thrill and a lot of fun unwrapping it, untie-ing it on the galley, and then distributing it line by line. I also find it very relaxing. I'm saving the proofs that are glued to the top of the paper wrapping on each font. An extra bonus is all the 2 and 6 point lead and slug stock and some heavier slugs recovered from each package.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rules Of Thumb...

...sometimes need clarification. In my last post I wrote that my rule of thumb when restoring old equipment is: less is more. Afterwards I realized that I was painting with too broad a brush. This rule is true as far as painting or refinishing in general goes. However, with any piece of equipment, from a stapler to a press, I invariably disassemble it, clean every part and make any repairs as I go. I remove any and all rust and while not a fanatic about polished metal surfaces, will at least make them bright.

Because my usual method of cleaning involves WD-40, green pads and paper towels original paint tends to stay put and I don't usually find a need to replace it or touch it up even if there isn't much left. But there are those cases such as the proof press where there are only bits and pieces of finish left and it was so rusty that sandblasting was the most reasonable method of cleaning. Complete repainting was therefore the only practical option.

So I hope I've set the record straight. I thought it important to do so because I'm a strong proponent of disassembling and cleaning machinery. Not only does it insure that it will operate the way it should because bearing and other surfaces are clean but you gain an intimate knowledge of the machine. You learn its strong points and areas where parts are worn and perhaps must be repaired, replaced or compensated for during operation. Trouble-shooting problems will be much easier if you know the machine inside and out. No machine is perfect, especially antiques, even when they're restored to full operation. I also find that being able to take pride in your equipment translates itself positively to your work.

I've attached a photo of a lead and slug cutter that was covered in rust on the bare metal surfaces but the paint of which was mostly intact. I took it all apart and cleaned everything including the screws, springs, and snap rings. I cleaned the gunk off the paint but otherwise left it alone. I made the base at work from some mahogany we had laying around.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Press In A Blanket

Here is a poor photo from my inadequate camera of the restored proof press. The one I posted previously was taken by the man I got the press from. I've made a new door for it but I'm waiting for a reproduction latch before I mount it. Other than that it's ready to go.

The first step was to completely disassemble everything which was straightforward. I took it to work and sandblasted the castings. I also sanded the wood parts inside and out, removing the dirt, crud, and old paint. Some of the original paint remained on the wood but had been partly covered by the ubiquitous battleship gray. The wood was in good shape though there were a few interesting surprises, one being that while the bottom of the cabinets is pine, the rest is mahogany. As a cabinetmaker I didn't find that painting mahogany was odd as it has excellent rot resisting properties and is often used for exterior, painted millwork instead of cyprus. But I don't see why this characteristic would be desirable in this type of application. The factory may simply have had some in stock or gotten some at a good price. This happens in the shop I work in from time to time.

I wet-sanded the bed after sandblasting to polish it and the original milling marks showed up nicely. It's a bit pitted here and there but not to the point that it will affect its use, especially since the form to be proofed sits in a galley while using the press. I cleaned the cylinder by hand after removing the original felt blanket. I had some thoughts about trying to clean and reuse the blanket but finally decided it was too far gone. Once the cylinder was cleaned I put a new blanket on it, sewing it by hand like the original. You can see the seam in the photo.

The original color was a dark green similar to the Kelly Green I used here. My green is somewhat lighter and is more likely to have been used in the early 1890's if not the 1880's. I was only somewhat concerned with exactly duplicating the color. If money had been no object I would have gotten a color scan. In any case, it's very close and I like it. I brushed the paint on as I do with most of my machine restorations; it gives a thicker coat and is less messy.

I wanted to pull a proof with it but ran out of time. When I do I'll post a photo here. I'm pleased with the way it turned out and I'm happy to finally have the galley proof press I've wanted.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Proof Press Project

Ah, the joys of alliteration.

Unfortunately I haven't been doing much printing as a result of press problems. I have a Chandler & Price 8x12 Old Style built in 1893. I need new rollers and new tires for my Morgan Expansion Trucks. I can print with what I have but the quality is spotty. But I should be able to take care of both issues by the end of the year, hopefully in time for Christmas so I can put out my first holiday card.

In the meantime there's never any lack of other projects in the shop. From cleaning type cases to distributing type and cleaning and organizing fonts of rule, etc. it's an ongoing project. I recently picked up a Chandler & Price galley proof press. Along with a few other things I've been working on this past week or so I've been restoring it to beauty and practical utility.

My entire shop pretty much consists of vintage equipment and accessories that do not date beyond about 1930. When cleaning or restoring antiques my general rule of thumb is: less is more. Even where more drastic measures are necessary I try and take a minimalist approach. Not only do I like the original, vintage look but also the wear and patina that is usually present. On the other hand, I don't consider rust to be a patina worthy of preservation.

The age of the proof press is roughly from 1890 to 1910 based on the style and remaining bits of paint color. The design of the stand seems to have changed at some point around 1910. But in any case, as can be seen from the photo below of the press as I received it, flood and tempest had taken their toll. The only option was a total restoration including repainting. I started last weekend: details on that in my next post.
Rust Never Sleeps

Friday, August 22, 2008

First Things First

I've had a website for my printing hobby since last Fall and a Blog associated with the website from the same provider that I've almost never used. The main reason I've rarely posted is the difficulty of going through the lengthy steps required to enter a post. So I've finally decided that, like the link on the website to my Flickr account where I easily post all my photos, I should do the same thing with a Blog. We'll see if the ease of posting here has a positive affect on the frequency of posts. Of course, like everyone else with a Blog I naturally assume that anything I have to post is so interesting to others that eventually this site will become a veritable Mecca of daily pilgrimage to read the pearls generated from this keyboard. Or perhaps not. But I would like to share what I'm doing with others and hopefully my adventures, trials, and trevails might prove interesting and helpful.

So, I've made my first post. Now we're cooking with gas, eh?