Letterpress List No. 27: Dulcinea

There Shop Boy goes, opening his big blog mouth again.

He should know better by now: Anyone could be reading this. (OK, someone could be reading this. Work with me, people.)

Bruce Baggan of North American Millwright Services was. Rigging’s his game. If it’s really heavy and sitting in our printshop, chances are he or his guys put it there. Bruce has sort of become the patron saint of Typecast Press.

So, fine. I write a little teeny blog entry about taking down a closet to make room for a Heidelberg Windmill, he sees the posting and all of a sudden he’s all like, “We’ll be delivering it on Friday.”

Excuse me? Whatever happened to Shop Boy grieving his loss. Didn’t Bruce know what that closet meant to me? You could hide crazy stuff in there — like the homemade virkotype machine that Mary ordered Shop Boy to rescue from a basement letterpress shop and that she insists we’re going to use someday. Yeah, right, we’re going to print things and then, while the ink is still wet, we’re going to sprinkle the cards or whatever with this powder and send them down a sailcloth conveyor belt and through two toaster ovens while a rubber band spins a leather propeller that blows the extra dust all over the room — just so we can get an “embossed” look.

Man, Shop Boy had buried that thing in the closet. Now …

Better give me a minute.

OK. Where were we? Oh, right.

We had just spent a weekend tearing down a closet, piling its entire contents floor to ceiling and end to end in our suitemate Chris Hartlove’s space (nice), patching the walls, putting up temporary shelves and then, of course, moving all the stuff back, carrying the last box over at a little after 12 on Sunday night.

Now we had to do it all over again, with the added pleasure of disassembling and relocating a 10-foot stack of loaded flat files that blocked the double doors from opening fully, which we’d need to happen in order to get the press into the studio.

Shop Boy doesn’t want to seem like he’s whining — oh, hush — but this progress thing is really setting back my beauty sleep. Hush!

Anyway, the Heidelberg Windmill is a pretty nifty contraption. The press gets its name from the motion its arms use to move paper from the unprinted pile to the platen (where the impression is made) and then to the finished pile. A large silver shield at eye level stops the operator from leaning too close and ending up finished as well.

All of the adjustments that we do on the older presses with tape, wrenches, packing and endless tweaking are done on the Heidelberg with a few knob twists. And for registering multicolor jobs, the press is said to be a whiz. (Or, as Bruce Baggan says, “Woo-hoo! Typecast Press has just come roaring into the ’50s.” He’s a kidder.)

The Windmill is also incredibly tippy when moved. Think of a bowling ball balanced on the head of 10 pin. Or a 3,000-pound printing press, whose top half is about twice as wide as its base, balanced on a pallet jack — with only a little more than 1 inch sitting on each fork. Ooh.

Now picture this: Three guys coaxing this thing off a loading dock, over a threshold and down a long hallway, then turning it through a door and into position, all while constantly kicking a wooden block under the press from behind in case the whole mess collapses. Mary made me watch … she couldn’t. Believe me, Shop Boy just stood in awe, cell phone in hand (a 9 and a 1 already dialed), as these dudes pushed and pulled this off.

Finally, Shop Boy hollered to Mary to come OK the position, then the guys started lowering the press to the floor. At the risk of boring you — hush! — with procedure, it is mind-blowing to witness the process of lowering a printing press from 6 inches off the ground to the floor. It won’t go straight from the pallet jack (no clearance). Instead, you put it up on blocks, in this case stacks of 4×4 and 2×4 boards. Next, you take a long steel bar, put a board under it for height, then use it as a lever to lift the edge of the press ever so slightly. A taller board is replaced with a shorter one, the steel bar is slowly released, and the press is a bit closer to the floor. Repeat this on the other side and keep working your way down, alternating stacks. Wow.

So there it sat. Until Mary noticed that it maybe should be a little farther from the wall, as some adjustments and cleaning must be performed while standing behind the Heidelberg. No problem, the guys said, as two stood and grabbed the sides while the crew’s leader, John, one resourceful and determined dude, sat with his back against the wall and began pushing with his legs.

Crack!

Uh-oh …

The Sheetrock that Tom Beal, Mary’s brother-in-law, had so tirelessly and masterfully patched loudly let go. Shop Boy groaned. When John apologized, I told him not to worry about it. Tom is a large man but would probably make the death painless.

John looked back at the hole, the outline of his body traced in gypsum if not chalk, and reassured Shop Boy: “I can run faster scared than he can run mad.”

Good to know.

***

Letterpress List No. 27

On that note, how about a little music to run — or, heck, patch Sheetrock — by. Here are about an hour’s worth of tunes, most of which should be available at the usual places. Goofy or great videos are from YouTube.

Extraordinary MachineFiona Apple (Liking Fiona Apple doesn’t make Shop Boy less of a man. Just FYI.)
Movin’ Out Billy Joel (Watching presses move could give you a heart attack-ack-ack-ack.)
Don’t Dream It’s OverCrowded House (Mary swears this is the last letterpress she’ll ever need. Right.)
The Weightthe Band (Put the load right on me.)
Rust Never SleepsNeil Young (Did I mention the Heidelberg needs a little, um, cleaning? Get in line, pal.)
Push ItSalt-N-Pepa (Ooh.)
High VoltageElectric Six (Danger, danger!)
Feel Good Inc.Gorillaz (Windmill, windmill for the land … steady, watch me navigate, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Shop Boy does love this song.)
SlamOnyx (Beavis and Butt-head approved.)
Shake MeCinderella (Kicking the walls … and OD-ing on the hair products!)
Original Pranksterthe Offspring (Knock down the place.)
Somebody Pick Up My PiecesWillie Nelson (What I thought was heaven is just falling debris.)
Roll With It Steve Winwood (Oh, well.)
Pump It Up Elvis Costello (Looks like Elvis has had a press or two dropped on his feet.)
Heavy Metal Sammy Hagar (A one-way ticket to midnight. Believe it.)
The Impossible DreamMan of La Mancha (Tilting at windmills … hee-hee. Get it? Geez …)

***

Psst. Did you hear Shop Boy’s got a new commuter blog? Check it out.

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