Vandercook SP15 Letterpress Restored!

By LaurenMarie

I was able to finalize the restoration of the SP15 on Saturday! Yay! I’m finally ready to print, but I’m going to take a break for a couple of weeks to recover. If you’ve missed any of this exciting saga, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Me & the SP

The Evapo-Rust worked like a charm. Look at the cylinder! There’s no pitting on these parts!

Press Before

Press After

I had a little bit of trouble getting the gripper back together because I had taken it a part about a month ago. But like I’ve said before, these presses are great because nothing fits where it’s not supposed to (except the cylinder… silly me, I put it on backwards)! The part that was confusing was inside the adjusting screw because you can’t see it on the pictures of a gripper that is fully assembled.

With a little help from the manual I downloaded from Boxcar Press I was able to put it back together properly. In case you get stuck and can’t figure out how to reassemble the gripper bar on a Vandercook SP15, here are the quick and easy steps:

Gripper Assemblage Labeled

1. Put the adjusting screws through their holes in the gripper (tympan) bar

2. Place the small springs on the threaded post of the adjusting screws (from the inside of the bar)

3. Screw the plastic end guides onto the threaded posts

Adjusting Screw C-clip

4. Snap the small c-clips onto the end of the posts

5. Place the copper paper guides on the plastic end guides with the bent end pointing up

6. Screw down the paper guides

Gripper Bar

7. Lube the gripper posts with graphite powder (really cheap at your local hardware store, just ask for “graphite lubricant” or “dry lubricants”). I had to use my fingers to make sure it got all the way around. Wash your hands right afterwards! This stuff gets everywhere!

8. Slide the gripper posts through the holes on the top and make sure they go up and down easily

9. Put the large gripper springs on the bottom of the gripper posts

10. Snap the big c-clips onto the end (a little tough because they’re bigger and you have to make sure the springs stay in place)

11. Make sure to dust off any excess graphite powder so it doesn’t get on your paper.

Remember to go see more pictures of the SP15 Restoration on Flickr.

If you want more letterpress goodness, be sure to check out The Windmill in My Garage from Alex at Retinart. He has such a way with words and his pictures are outstanding!


Last week I announced that in celebration of Creative Curio’s one year birthday I would be giving away 6 sets of the letterpress cards I made. Here are the winners!

Happy Day! Cards

David, Samuel and Alec get the Happy Day! cards.

Cheers Cards

RaShell, Kristarella and Kristen get the Cheers cards.

Congrats guys!