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Model 31 Linotype

December 2011

For years, I've been looking for a Linotype, but they don't show up that often. One showed up on Craigslist in Spokane (I'm in Kelowna), but I couldn't get a hold of the seller, and the ad soon expired. I posted a wanted ad on the spokane Craigslist, and after a few weeks, someone contacted me to let me know that they had bought some stuff from a person who also had a Linotype for sale. I contacted the person, and he was the same person that was selling the Linotype that I wanted.

The machine is a Model 31 with a Hydraquadder, so as far as Linotypes go, it's quite reasonably equipped, and not a total nightmare to move. It spent its last days producing MICR lines for cheques, which is funny because the only Linotype mats that I currently own are MICR E-13B mats.

In December of 2011, my brother and I made a day-trip to Spokane with a trailer in tow. There, in the corner of a shuttered printing shop, I finally laid eyes on the first Linotype I'd ever actually seen in person. I was fascinated with the beauty of the machine. My brother was shocked at the size of it.

The door in the photo is farther away than it appears, especially when you don't have a pallet jack:

After taking this picture, my brother and I went on an hour long adventure to find the perfect local eatery. We ended up at a little pub called Charlie P's, where I had the most amazing burger I've ever had at a restaurant. While there, we strategized out next steps. We also loaded up on enough food to last us the rest of the day.

With the help of hydraulic jacks and a pinch bar, We blocked the machine up with 2x4s and 3/4" plywood squares until we could bolt some 4x6 skids underneath. I overestimated the length of bolts needed, so we had to jack the machine up a little higher that necessary. We rolled it to the door on some chunks of shafting, and then called a roll-back tow truck to scoop it up, back up to our trailer, and unload it. This service costs over twice what I would pay to have a car towed across town, and the truck didn't leave the parking lot.

Were were busy trying to get out of Spokane before dark, so I didn't have a chance to take many photos. We were short on time and daylight, and I wanted to focus on doing the job at hand safely rather than quickly. It didn't help that I called the two-truck too early, and we had to move as fast as we could to get everything ready before he arrived.

Shortly after being loaded on the tow truck, the sun started to set:

The transfer to the trailer:

The trip home was relatively uneventful. The linotype stayed where it was supposed to, and nothing flew off. We didn't hit any snow, which was a bonus because I forgot to pack a tarp.

Back in BC, late at night:

Once back in BC, the Linotype spent a couple nights wrapped in a tarp on the trailer until I could get it into storage. The Linotype was between the fenders of the trailer, making it hard to get forklift forks under it. We found a couple 8 foot fork extensions, and a few nervous moments later we had it safely on the ground. Fortunately, the fella operating the fork lift had a gentle touch.

The Linotype in transit:

Safely parked in its short term resting place:

Lessons learned so far: a Linotype is heavy. They can be found for relatively little money, but they cost a lot to move. Just the chains and straps rated for a machine the size of a Linotype are quite expensive. Accounting for the tow truck, fuel, food, trailer rental, straps, jacks, load binders and chains, I probably spent 4 times more than I paid for the machine just to move it!

Part 1: The Quest | Part 2: Unloading | Part 3: Work Begins

July 2012

The photos I took of the Linotype being loaded back on to the trailer are mysteriously absent from my library. Loading was easy, and took all of 10 minutes. I brought a pallet jack this time, which solved a lot of the problems I had before with fenders being in the way.

Here the Linotype is parked in my neighbours driveway, while I waited for my brother to come to help with backing it up my driveway. While it was sitting there, I also discovered that one of the tires on the far side of the trailer was flat. While waiting for my brother, I did a height check, and realized that I hadn't factored in the height of the skids when measuring my garage door opening. I had to take the garage door completely off, to be able to just clear the entrance.

Once the trailer was backed up to my garage and chocked, my brother and I stood around and stared at the Linotype and trailer combination for over an hour, when it started to pour rain. Instead of working in the rain, we tarped the Linotype up, ordered pizza, and devised a plan for the next day.

The trailer came with a pair of sturdy ramps, and the plan that we came up with was to drag the Linotype down the ramps using a come-a-long attached to bolts in my garage floor. I hunted down a concrete drill and some random hardware, ending up with what you'll see in the next photo. You'll also see a distorted S hook that I tried to use with the come-a-long, with obvious results. Princess Auto (the only retail place in town that carries anything rated for any amount of load) was closed when I went to get the hardware for this. Out of desperation, I thought I'd give the S-hooks a try. When that plan failed, I took apart the come-along and attached it directly to my floor mounted brackets. Because the trailer was parked at an odd angle to the garage, I had to drill the two holes at an odd angle as well. It'll be a lasting reminder of this adventure.

The ramps that came with the trailer were constructed ladder-style, so I screwed some plywood to the trailer to give a smooth path down the ramps. I also put a 2x4 between the ramps at the front of the trailer, and used a ratchet strap to secure the ends of the ramps from spreading apart, or moving closer together. The next photo was taken during a pause in work as the Linotype reached the tipping point at the top of the ramps. My brother was securing the Linotype from falling forward violently with a strap tied to the top, and secured to the trailer windlass style. As I ratcheted the Linotype forward, he payed out more strap. We used the pallet jack to ease the friction between the Linotype and the trailer, without lifting the skids clear of the deck. In the photo, you can also see some hydraulic jacks holding up the end of the trailer. Because parking brakes only act on the rear wheels of the truck, this is a critical step.

In the next photo, the Linotype has been winched all the way down the trailer. I threw some crayons under the skids to ease the wood-on-wood friction, and it left a rainbow of colour on the plywood ramps. Sadly, I didn't get a photo of that. You can see my garage door tossed to the wayside in the background.

We used the pallet jack to lift the Linotype up on to the apron of my garage. If I had planned things better, and positioned the ramps and trailer better, this step wouldn't have been necessary. By the time I realized my mistake, it was less work to do this than it was to move the trailer.

Here it is in my garage! I needed to take down a wall and move a bunch of stuff around before the Linotype would be in its final spot, so for the time being it is parked at an awkward angle that is a combination of the headroom needed to allow the garage door open, and the point at which I couldn't drag the machine any further by myself.

Lessons learned: A pallet jack is worth its weight in gold.

November 2012

It's been some time since my last update. I tore out a small room in the back of my garage that was inconveniently located where I planned on putting the Linotype. I borrowed the pallet jack from work again, and relocated the Linotype from it's awkward stance near the front of my garage, to the space created for it at the back. While wandering through some bushes, I came across a big, rusty pinch bar half buried in the dirt. This tool came in handy when rolling my linotype around the back of my garage.

I've started work on building a phase converter to power the Linotype, and I've rounded up a 1 hp 3 phase motor for that purpose. I took apart the motor to clean out the petrified grease, and while I had it apart I pulled the bearings in preparation for their replacement. It would seem that the bearings that Emerson used in the motor are a little difficult to locate these days, but with the amazing help of Lynn from Accurate Bearings, I think replacements have been located and ordered.

Speaking of replacements; after a few false starts a replacement for my broken cam has been found in Texas, with the help of one surely amazing Dave Seat. I also discovered that my pot pump lever is missing a piece that means that I can never lock the pot pump out from operating, Dave has located that piece for my machine as well. The pieces are currently in transit to the north-west. I have also located a slew of mold liners for my machine, so I'll be able to cast all different sizes of slugs without having to saw them up afterwards.

November 2014

My how time flies. With the Linotype Rescue, moving in my printing press, starting work on my workshop reconfiguration, and many very large home projects, very little has happened with this Linotype in the last 2 years.

When I was in Seattle to rescue the Model 8, I was able to meet up with Andy Keck, who was holding on to the parts from Dave Seat for me. Andy loaded me up with a 'new' cam, pot pump lever and a terminal block. These are all now patiently waiting for me to install them on the machine. I have relocated the Model 31 to the other side of my workshop to make everything fit in some limited space, and once the workshop renovations are done and the printing press is back together, I'll be putting the Model 31 back into service.

This is how the machines sit in my shop right now. The Model 31 is on the left.