Thursday, April 18, 2013

The New Kluge Arrives!

Today was the big day.  Tom and I met Dave and Beth at around 9am at my "satelite" shop, which is really a fair sized storage unit. This unit houses my larger bindary equipment, and was where I restored Melissa's 10x15 New Series C&P.  It also housed my bindary sticher and ancient Grundig Majestic.  Now, it houses a New Open Kluge.  "New" is relative. In terms of Letterpress, it is considered so new, it's barely broken in!  It was manufactured by Kluge just before OSHA encouraged the discontinuation of platen job presses such as these.  All parts are original, and Brandtjen Kluge was kind enough to supply us with a bucket of Factory paint, just to make sure it stays looking show-room clean.  It came with a set of Nitrile Rubber rollers, a set of Composition Rollers, and a spare set of older Composition Rollers which will be sent up to Tarheel Rollers for re-covering.  This press has a sheet metal enclosure to cover the chassis, very little exposure to the inner gears, and the flywheel has a solid steel hub, no spokes.

Ok!  Enough narrative!  On with the photos!

Dave did a bang-up job wrapping the press up with bubble wrap to protect it from the elements.  When he loaded the press up in Michigan, it was snowing! Welcome to the sunny South!

Here is a closer look at the ink disk and rails.  The saddles have finger-locks, an improvement over the lever bars they used on the older machines, which required something like a small pry bar to lift, open the saddle, and slide in the roller/ truck assembly.  The press comes with like-new Morgan Expandable trucks, and solid Delrin trucks.  The expandable trucks are great for roller leveling. Great, that is, until they get old.

The back of the ink disk came rather as a surprise to me.  No pawl and ratchet grabbing saw-tooth ridges like the C&Ps.  It is a direct drive system.  Check out how shiny the unpainted steel parts are!  I've not seen a press in this state of clean-ness in a long, long time!

This is a newer design label from a company that dates back about one hundred years. Kluge is still alive and well, making die cutting equipment.  This was one of the very last presses off their production line.

This is a front shot.  You can see the braces where the front feed board goes.  The cylinder to the right is for the swivel board. The brackets toward the bottom is for a small shelf to keep the oiling cans and other maintenance devices.

The flywheel is grooved to receive the drive belt.  The single-phase motor has a variable speed control.

Of course, there is a foot brake. New brake shoe, too!

Dave performs the art of backing up a trailer square to the  receiving dock.

Slowly, she gets levered in . . . 

Dave lets some slack out on the come-along so the press can roll back onto the pipes.

Two pipes under the 2x6 boards bolted to the press.  Trailer tilts, the press is rolled onto a third pipe, and finally on into the unit.Dave regulates the slide from the tipped trailer with the come-along.

After some positioning, the pipes are pulled, and she sets nice and evenly on the ground.

Here's a shot of Beth and Dave Seat.Very pleasant visit, great folks to work with!

Tom joins the two.  Tom came to be my arms and legs because I am still recovering from surgery.  I was there, being useless and taking photos while Dave and Tom did all the dangerous work.  Tom, I owe you a nice stack of Letterpress QSL cards!  Well done, KG4BWI!

Posts like these will generally be posted from my other blog at, but since this press directly affects the operation of Paper Wren Press, I thought I would sneak in this post, even though it isn't directly product oriented.

Paper Wren Press should be able to start production and taking orders right around June.  We are also building up an assortment of greeting cards, designed by Anna Coleman, a very unique artist in her own right, whose illustrations remind me of  Ramona Falls' video "I Say Fever".  Not seen it?  Click here.

That's it for now.  Stay tuned!  And best of Providence to you all.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

My New Press is On It's Way!!

Dave Seat and Kluge, all bundled up and ready to roll!

Hi!  I just got word from the person who is delivering my press, Dave Seat, that amidst the snowfall that was happening while loading her up, my new Kluge is thoroughly bubble-wrapped against the elements, and will arrive here Thursday Morning!  I will be at the storage unit (which temporarily poses as my satellite pressroom and bindary!) with some help, to meet both Dave and the Kluge for the first time.  Since I am technically still under home care, I can disconnect from the I.V. pump for up to twelve hours.  Can't lift anything for a while, but I can be there, at very least!  This will be press number two for Paper Wren Press, our other workhorse is a 1936 New Series Chandler and Price hand-feeder.  Until I sold her to St. Brigid Press, I also had a Parlour Press, with castings designed in 1879, but cast in 1909, a Pearl Old Style No. 3,  photos of which can be found on my Educational Blog.  Click the links on "Pearl Files".

This is no ordinary Kluge.  You will find very little about this press surfing the internet.  The Kluge Letterpress was designed before WW1 by Brandtje Kluge, as a production machine that focuses on what has been seen as the finest inking system of all Platen Job presses, sporting four rollers for maximum even-ness of ink coverage.  It is built like a Mack Truck, so no real danger turning up the impression pressure - within reason, of course!   What makes this Kluge different is the fact that it was specially designed by Brandtje Kluge NOT to have an autofeeder.  Most Kluges have an automatic feed and retrieval system, which is really something to behold.  However, many cases arise when the feeder cannot handle thick stock, pulp board, &c., and must be fed by hand.  In those cases, the autofeeder is moved to the side, and you very carefully feed it by hand.  Autofed Kluges are not made to be fed by hand, they "snap".  The place you set the paper for impression does not stay open long, because it is geared for a machine feeder.  Not the human hand.  While I have hand-fed regular Kluges often, slowing the press speed down to it's lowest level, it still takes some time building up a cadence, a rhythm, to safely hand-set your paper, and then get your hands out of there before it closes up.

This Kluge was specifically designed for hand-feeding.  It has no auto-feeder (hence, I can still look my clients right in the eye and say my prints are still hand-fed, one by one, just as they were in the 19th century!) These are called "Open" Kluges, and are quite scarce, especially if they were made by the Factory, not an "aftermarket" cam fix.  The feed boards are made by Kluge.  Kluge even supplied a can of paint, to keep her show-room floor glamorous.  

In the big scheme of Letterpress ages, this Open Kluge is a baby.  It was built in 1965, very, very late in the game.  Most letterpresses saw the sun set on their production well before the 1950s.  So, she has a lot of life left.  She is belted to a brand new motor & clutch, and comes with a number of chases and tools, and both composition (traditional sugar-glue materials) rollers, and blue Nitrile rollers.

She will not make Paper Wren Press faster.  She will give us much greater variety of image size and impression depth, and as well give us the ability to cover broader areas of solid colour.  But, she is still a hand fed press, enabling each print to be hand pulled and scrutinized by the printer (me).

There is a lot of things I don't know about the Open Kluge, how the gripper bars or registry pins differ from the standard autofeeders, but we will learn as we get to know her.

Excited we are!   Stay tuned!

Monday, April 8, 2013


Hi, this is Gary, from G. Johanson, Letterpress, welcoming you to our first web presence under our Business Press Name, "Paper Wren Press", which is a collaborative effort between G. Johanson, Letterpress, and Artist & Designer Anna Coleman.   We will soon have a regular web site up as well.  Stay tuned, and if you are curious about the nature of our Letterpress work, click here to view G. Johanson, Letterpress.