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In each bi-monthly episode of DiResta (every other Wednesday at 2pm PT), artist and master builder Jimmy DiResta (Dirty Money, Hammered, Against the Grain, Trash for Cash) lets us into his workshop, to look over his shoulder while he builds whatever strikes his fancy. On this episode of DiResta, Jimmy begins his rescue and restoration of a classic Chandler and Price letterpress that has been rusting away outside of an upstate NY antique shop. – Gareth Branwyn

Materials, Tools, and Supplies:

  • Truck
  • Backing board (made by me)
  • Ratchet straps
  • “Come Along”
  • Pipes (for rolling)
  • Help (from a passerby)

Jimmy’s Notes:

When I first got my place in the Catskills, I saw this machine sitting out in the weather in front of an antique shop in Cairo, NY. I thought it was a shame that this piece of history would be melting away. Eight years went by and my interest was peaked by a friend. He asked if I ever see any old letter presses in my travels. I remembered the one on Main Street in Cairo. By now, the place was closed, but all of the contents of the shop were still there. I called the number, left a message. I finally got a call from the owner’s son. He was handling his late father’s affairs. We made a deal over the phone… and now I had to move it! It’s a Chandler and Price 8×12 “Old Style,” which you can tell by the “S” shaped spokes on the flywheel. Patented in 1898, this one was made in 1911 (you determine this by the serial number on the plate).

Jimmy DiResta

Jimmy DiResta

I make stuff.

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  • andytanguay

    Neat. I restore the table top models, and it’s easy to underestimate how heavy that cast iron is. A small one can weight 160lbs.

    This should be interesting. If it’s not complete, our hero Diresta is going to have his hands full finding replacement parts. (It looks pretty completely though.)

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  • Joel Turner

    Glad to hear someone other than me cares about historical things.

  • asciimation

    I don’t know what the difference was back then but old steel and iron seems to last longer than modern stuff. I have found this working on old cars. Steel parts from the 20s and 30s are in remarkably good condition despite being left out in the elements for long periods of time. Perhaps it wasn’t as strong which is why everything from then is heavier?

    Any missing bits, well I am sure Jimmy is more than capable of machining/casting his own replacements. Am looking forward to seeing the next part of this story.

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  • Alan Runfeldt

    I rescue and restore small presses myself – anything from a 3×5 Kelsey to a 10×15 C&P.
    I make parts and cast my own rollers as well. Nice to see this project. Google “Letterpress Rescue” to see my page on this subject

  • Alan Runfeldt

    BTW – Looks like your press is missing the curved plate that actuates the impression release (aka “throw-off”). The lever is there, but the curved piece that attaches to the large shaft so that it can rotate is not there. Contact me for details about this part. I can supply you with photos and specs… and maybe even help you find a used one…