In August of 2012, I came across an ad for a Chandler & Price 10x15 Craftsman press for sale in Portland, OR. I contacted the seller, and while negotiating with her over a price for the press, someone else (I can only surmise they lacked my haggling prowess) swooped in and snagged the press out from under me. Dejected, I returned to my daily craigslist dragnet in the quest for a press.
In October of 2012, on a whim, I contacted the seller to see if she really did end up selling the press -- it turns out she didn't, and that she needed it gone by the end of the year. The previous buyer backed out because the the size of the press caught her off guard. For the uninformed: a Craftsman press weighs almost double what a standard 'Old Style' or 'New Style' Chandler & Price press weighs.
We completed our price negotiations from a few months before, and with the help of the seller who knew a great shipping broker, I had the press shipped to Kelowna via a freight carrier. It arrived in Kelowna on December 17, just in time for Christmas. I rented a trailer and with the help of a friend, loaded the press up at the shipper's warehouse. The forklift sliding around on the fresh snow in the parking lot should have been a warning. My brother, the same one that helped with two Linotypes now, helped haul the trailer to my house, and attempted to back it up my driveway. Unfortunately, the skiff of snow mentioned previously was enough to make this a terrifying proposition. After the trailer attempted to push his truck over a steep bank a few times, I called the operation off.
The press spent the next few months in a storage unit, and by few months, I mean until September 2013. Fora number of reasons, it took me longer than planned to get the press relocated to my garage, the Linotype Rescue project being one of them.
At the suggestion of a LETPRESS member, I made a solid skid out of three layers of half inch plywood glued and screwed together. This put the press on very solid footing for dragging if off the back of the trailer, which you can see happening here. What you can't see in this photo is the piles of junk all over my driveway; I had to move a lot of things out of the way to get the press in the door.
With the press at home, I've started to clean off years of accumulated gunk. The press appears to be painted black in the first photo, but this is actually a patina of sticky greasy mess. Underneath is a blue-grey finish that you can see emerging in the second photo. I've rebuilt the air pump buried within the bowels of the machine, and I've located a few missing parts for the press that I need to make the feeder operate. Unlike most folks, it would seem, I'm very interested in keeping the feeder functioning. I think it's such a fascinating thing to watch operate. When I win the lottery, I'll be investing in ink rollers for the press as well.
When the press arrived on the freight truck, I found this label on the box of ink rollers that came with the press:
A quick googling turned up some information on the Halsey Review in newspapers from Brownsville and Eugene. Interestingly, the first article I came across was this one from October, 1939:
This describes my press exactly. At this point, the Halsey Review was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Averill, who sold the paper to Leo and Myrtle Giles in 1952:
Eventually, Leo's son Lloyd took over:
Then Lloyd's older brother Warren took a kick at the newspaper business:
With this information in hand, I also found a census record for Leo and Myrtle's family, that showed that Lloyd, the second youngest in the family, would be 89. On a whim, I searched the phone book the Lloyd Giles in Oregon, and called the first number that came up. The man that answered was the right Lloyd Giles. He remembered having a press the same size as mine, but he didn't remember the press having an automatic feeder (which mine has). He told me that they used their press to print seed bag tags, and that it was eventually sold to a church. My press was found in an vacant building in Vancouver, WA, with no information on how it got there. I had a lot of information matching up, but not enough to be 100% certain. The problem is that ink rollers would work on a number of different presses; while the box of rollers came from the Halsey Review, they may not have belonged to the press that I now have in my garage.
The final piece that almost closes the loop: When I finally moved the press into my garage, I had a chance to clean decades of ink and grease off of the spot where the serial number would be stamped. I found the serial number, and it tells me that my press was made in early 1939, the same date of the newspaper article I found.
I also ended up being contacted by Lloyd's nephew Bob, he found me after I had posted some information online about the hunt for information on the previous owners of my press. He is a third generation printer, and continues his great grandfather's profession to this day.
My initial plans for this press didn't include disassembling it, stripping it to cast iron, re-painting the pieces and re-assembling them into a press again. Then one day, I used some very powerful degreaser on the left-hand gear cover, and the paint came off at the same time as the grease. And so it began. Stripping all the paint off, I mixed up a near-match for the original colour (an adventure in itself) and began re-painting. Curious, I removed one of the arms from the press and stripped and re-painted that as well.
I've since stripped the ink fountain, ink disk, and ink disk rotation mechanism down to bare cast iron. I use electrolysis to accomplish most of the work, which in addition to removing rust also strips paint and de-greases at the same time. I'm slowly amassing a pile of cleaned parts, ready for paint:
Here's what those bits looked like before:
A view of what's to come:
After a few false starts, I've finally started to paint the press with its final colour. The hand-mixed colour seen in the earlier photos was stripped off, and replaced with something more readily available, Tremclad dark grey. Conveniently available in quart cans and rattle-cans.
In the past I've painted things using only rattle cans, but there's a lot of masking that needs to be done before any painting can begin. I switched to brushing paint on, and it's far easier. A little control goes a long way! Here's a freshly painted collection of ink fountain parts nearing the moment of assembly. I put a little bit of masking tape on one part mostly to enable some lazy painting technique, and because it's almost impossible to clean paint out of knurling.
I finally found some time to finish painting all of the parts, and put them back on the filthy press! I can't do much restoration work during the winter months, so I wanted to have the press back together before the cold weather comes.