On day two of split fountain tests, two problems came up. First, I managed to gouge the surface of one of the plates during cleanup yesterday. I let the remnants of ink dry overnight before I attempted a repair.
The fix is pretty simple – apply a couple of coats of shellac, let it dry thoroughly, then sand the surface with my planar sandpaper setup.
[Deep, short gouge]
[Shallow, long gouge]
[Repaired plate prints fine]
At the end of the day a new problem showed up. I really don’t understand how I got any good prints before this started happening. It must have been beginner’s luck. Or maybe the fresh shellac on the jig was slightly sticky and an extra day of drying let it harden completely and become slippery.
[Plate is slipping]
If you watch the video from a few days ago, you’ll see that I have been running over the plate twice, forward and back to reset the press between impressions. In the forward direction, the plate is snugged into the registration corner and cannot slip. In order to get the plate in and out of the jig, however, there needs to be a little leeway in the recess that holds the plate. On the way back the plate has space to move so it is sliding and giving a hazy ghost print.
The solution will be pretty easy. The roller needs to go over the plate and have room to stay on the jig while letting me remove the paper and plate from the back side of the press. Then I’ll reset the press head to the top of the jig and be ready for the next pass.
I’m going to town tomorrow to do a batch of weaving laundry so I’ll just go and get a sheet of MDF while I’m there. The old press crate served me well, but I guess a short jig had its limits after all!