Owning a letterpress shop means you have a desire to tinker with old machines…or have a friend/family member that does. Fortunately for me, I have both. The other thing owning a letterpress shop brings with it is a need for space. Right now, our presses are in an enclosed, but non-heated space. This causes problems on days like today when we are experiencing a thunder snowstorm that includes lightning.
Being in a cold place does not hurt the press, but the cold can cause problems with the ink when printing. Many parts of the press can be transported into the heated parts of the house temporarily until these items are put to use. But, the ink disc on a platen press is bolted on, and it is heavy. This means moving it back and forth is possible, just not plausible.
So, this is where you draw upon your extensive knowledge of physics and/or MacGyver reruns. Many old school press operators use candles mounted just behind the platen to continuously heat the disc. I, however, have reservations about using an open flame anywhere near paper and chemicals. It is a quirk of mine I guess.
If you touch the disc when the temperature is cold, it is cold – very cold – through and through. It seems to hold cold very well. Reasoning that the opposite is also true, I decided to place a hot water bottle on the disc to see if I could get a heat transfer between the disc and the water.
The ink rolls on smooth and I have a relatively low risk of burning down the shop. *happy dance*
Now, whether or not I should be printing during a thunder snowstorm with lightning on a 100+ year old press that is electrified, well, may fortune favor the foolish.