Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ludlow Land!

Howard looks a little worried. He wasn't the only one.
Its amazing that it all really runs off a powered camshaft. Single phased power and water cooled.
For years we have worked with hand set type and for the last few years we have been building up our font range. Now though, we have been given a Ludlow line caster which is said to be a simple way of casting lines from brass matrices. They were used throughout the trade especially where scripts were used and large letter sizes. Social printing of all sorts, advertising, and headlines were all easily taken care of by this machine. There is no keyboard like a Linotype or Monocaster, the work is set on a "stick", by hand, right reading. This is then pushed into the machine and locked, the casting cycle is commenced, ending with a line popping out on completion. 
My friend and fellow printer, Howard, drove this over in is utility and we spent a day sweating and straining to get it down some planks and into position. It weighs in at about 1400lbs old measure. I don't think I have ever moved such an obstinate beast! I'ved moved presses guillotines Linotypes, and Monocasters but nothing compared to this difficult move. Plus, I'm getting older and a bit slower! At one point we were using a winch anchored to a large guillotine in the studio only to find the guillotine was moving not the caster. Some rearranging of anchor points was organised and finally it was moving. most the weight is in the top and being cast it cant be levered safely. Normally I use rollers but someone had used a type of pallet that didn't have a smooth underside so that made life hard.
It did come with many spares and tools and lots of different sticks and fonts in two cabinets. There is also another machine for buffing the lines called a supersurfacer. Luckily for me there is also a couple of manuals and font books. I say this because I have never had any experience with Ludlow. We had them when I was in industry but compositors used them - I only watched!
Stay tuned! Casting is not far off.

These are the fonts of matrices and spares. Some beautiful retro scripts

Getting it off the pallet was a very tricky operation. It wouldn't survive being dropped.

In its final position and soon to be operational.
A doorway had to be widened to fit it