Although being a difficult and stressful time for many, reaching level 3 of lockdown presented a special opportunity for some works to be carried out in MOTAT’s Print Shop. Stephen Penney, MOTAT’s new Print Shop Operator, had been assessing previous issues that the Print Shop team had been having with its Heidelberg KSD Cylinder. Over the years the various users of the machine had noticed a clunking noise when the machine was in use and it couldn’t be operated much faster than its minimal operating speeds.
After analysing the problem and a call to a friend at Heidelberg in Germany, the issue appeared not to be with the machine itself but with the way the machine had been mounted. The machine had been mounted in an area of the print shop that traversed the veranda that was formerly there and, as such, had been mounted across some brick remains plus a rather large dip in the floor. It had been placed on chocks to account for this and although fine as a temporary solution, this isn’t ideal for the longevity of the machine or operating at maximum efficiency. The ideal solution to this would be to mount the print machine on a new concrete pad sufficiently strong and large enough to take this 4.5 tonne machine.
In non-covid times, it would have been very difficult to justify the closure of this area for the works to be undertaken but the lockdown meant that the opportunity was available. Enabling these works would mean moving a large number of items within the Print Shop just to make room enough to move this large machine. Stephen was keen, and with the help of his manager, Collection Operations Coordinator - Louis Eaton, they set about doing the work.
The first item that needed to be moved was the 1908 Linograph machine, a Linotype style print machine that had been sitting in the corner of the Print Shop for a long time. Moving this item would free up a lot of space within the Print Shop area and, as it wasn’t used by the team - the best place to keep this item would be to rehouse it at M3.
Another item that would be palletised and returned to its owners would be a large wooden common press made by a former volunteer, Frank Brough.
Next, we set about placing a number of the other non-used or lesser used type cabinets into the overflow storage we had available for Print items. A number of items were already stored in this area but these needed re-arranging to make the space easier to place more items. A lot of time was spent shuffling all of these items to and fro but eventually a home was found for everything we needed to move.
After we managed to create the space to allow us to move the Heidelberg Cylinder, we were left with a large amount of room with which to set the new concrete pad.
The old concrete floor then needed to be cut to provide a new foundation for the new concrete pad to sit on to successfully take the weight of the Heidelberg.
Next, we boxed the area off and prepared the floor for pouring the concrete. This involved installing metal mesh and anchors into the ground. For the concrete pour we drafted in the help of two of the Print Shop volunteer team, Willy Coenradi and Denis Wadsworth, as this would require considerable manpower to move and pour the 3 or so tonnes of concrete necessary for the job.
Now the hardest part of the job is done we are ready for the final phases of the work. This shall involve the following tasks:
Paint the floor and give some of the walls a paint ready to receive the machines back.
Get the room rewired with new triple-phase and single-phase outlets where required along the side of the room with the large print machines.
Re-install the Heidelberg Cylinder and move the Heidelberg Platen alongside.
Install handrail along the new concrete pad.
Rationalise the ink supply and create necessary hazardous goods storage for the inks and any chemicals in the print shop.
We hope to have all of this achieved before Christmas so we can start afresh in the new year.
-Photos and article by Louis Eaton, Collection Operations Coordinator-