Monday, July 12, 2010

How Rubber Rollers Are Made...

Happy Monday! I just wanted to share a video I shot last Thursday. It's a short video, but I was utterly fascinated when I visited Adrian and Jane at Ramco at the grinding down of my very own rollers and had to get some video of this grinder in action -- here's a short clip of it --

The rollers that Adrian made for my Golding Pearl Improved were perfect and were made to Golding's original specifications (I checked with the Golding experts out there to be sure). But my press is 101 years old, and over the course of 101 years, the rails wear down. You can either tape up the rails, tape the roller trucks, use roller bearers, or any combination thereof. OR you can get your rollers ground down to exactly the right size. So for years, I've been using bearers without incident.

Then a little over a year ago, I decided to try out photopolymer plates on the Pearl. That was a miserable business -- the masking tape was on the rails, the trucks, everywhere while the bearers were moved closer to the base. They are NOT kidding when they say that your rollers need to be set exactly right. Photopolymer is not as forgiving of flaws as the other types of plates. Photopolymer is a harsh taskmaster, wanting everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) set perfectly before it will pull anywhere near the same kind of print on the platen press. Given, I was probably setting myself up for failure since I didn't have the deep relief base, but photopolymer was calling me out things that metal plates let slide. The Vandercook, being a precision press, had no problems with the photopolymer. But the Pearl. Krikey. I swore that there was no way I was going to do photopolymer on the Pearl again (the Vandercook is another story entirely).

But the whole experience made me think that instead of doing this whole big song and dance that I should actually just take the rollers back to Adrian and have him grind it down a little bit more no matter what and have the rollers be just right for my press. The metal plates would still print with smaller rollers. Then maybe, just maybe, I would try the photopolymer on the Pearl again.

I finally carved out some time to go over to San Dimas to visit with Adrian at Ramco to get this done (mostly because I had a bunch of business to attend to in nearby Claremont, the home of my college alma mater). Adrian was his usual helpful self, grinding down the rollers while I waited. I found myself fascinated with the vintage machine he was using. So now my rollers' radii are 1/8" smaller than before. Hot stuff! I'll tell you how it goes when I ink up again! AND I need to share the new studio swag I scored from a retired printer. I also have to go back to Claremont to grab some pics to share with you the gorgeous town I went to college in.

1 comment:

Krissy said...

what a great post! i'll be interested in seeing how that works for you. I'm still playing with impression on my new pearl and PP plates. Maybe I'll try a magnesium plate... ever used those?

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