Unsafe at any speed sparks reader reactions

My February column, “Unsafe at any speed,” sparked reactions from a number of readers who wanted to share their thoughts about safety in the pressroom.

Doug Shillington, director of manufacturing at the Windsor Star in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, had this to say:

“I would like to comment on your February response to the press manager who would do his setting while on the run.

Making a running adjustment on any moving roller is unsafe and will not give an accurate reading. I have come across pressmen who think this is the way to get the problem resolved when in fact you can damage the equipment by dropping a tool or setting the transfer point too tight and overheating a roller. This can only increase downtime and reduce efficiencies I encourage all managers to be proactive and establish standard operating procedures all settings – from a press to an insert hopper.”

Kevin Gossett, production manager at the Monroe (Mich.) Publishing Co., meantime, sent in this method for safely setting a sock roller while the press is running:

“Here is the best practice followed at the newspaper where I worked that had an Urbanite. The same procedures will worth with all other types of presses with sock rollers; the pull will be different though. Community type presses have smaller rollers to the pull will be lighter.”


“First, this practice worked on sock rollers within the durometer specifications and a light knit covering. The Mylar used was .055-inch and fish scale was a lightweight type, around 10 lbs.

  • Place a Mylar strip at each end of the water pan roller.
  • Install the sock roller by evenly turning the bolts until the roller makes slight, even contact to the water pan roller.
  • Place the other Mylar strips at each edge and on top of the sock roller. Next, raise the sock roller to the oscillating roller. If the mechanism has springs, make sure that the sock roller is fee from binding by using the wrench as a pry bar and gently pry the roller bracket upwards.
  • Check the pressure with the scale to the pan roller first. Adjust the pressure between the sock roller and the pan roller for a pressure of approximately 1.5 pounds. Then check the pressure between the sock roller and the oscillator roller. The pressure should be approximately 3 pounds. The reason I am giving approximate number is because the amount of pressure will change because of the differences in sock materials and the hardness of the rubber roller. You will have to determine what poundage works best for your pressroom. Note: If the sock roller is the same one that came out, the adjustment to the oscillator will be minimal, if at all.

“(Some pressrooms prefer to have replacement sock rollers ready to go on a rack. I’m not convinced that this saves time if there is shutdown due to a failed covering on a sock roller. I recommend timing how long it takes to remove the failed roller, recovering it and reinstalling that roller versus how long it takes to install a different roller that is one the rack, ready to go. Setting the spring pressure or bolt adjustment to the oscillating roller on a new roller negates the amount of time saved by not having to recover the failed roller. You might be able to restart the press faster, successfully, by recovering the original roller if the sock covering was the only failure.)”

“After the correct reading on the fish scale has been obtained, lock down the sock roller in place with the two bolts and recheck all four spots to confirm the proper setting has been retained.”

“I always cut the Mylar strips into 1-inch wide by 16-inch long stripes and fold over about 1 inch on one end and staple. I then punch a small hole for the fish weight scale.”

“As with all pressrooms, the exact amount of pull will have to be determined for various and obvious reasons. Probably no two spring-weight scales will measure the same if a different covering is used.”

“I would suggest checking a roller that is working properly for the “pull” that is working. As a rule, the sock to oscillator is twice the amount to the pan roller so that the oscillator drives the sock.”


“Why is this procedure a best practice? It removes the subjective feel from the adjustments. No two people will have the same result after adjusting by feel alone. My recommendation: Get your best operator to adjust by feel; then use the result as the spec other operators should meet.”

“More importantly, this best practice will eliminate any need to make stupid and dangerous adjustments while the press is running.”

“If there is a setting problem, it is usually a result of the brackets binding up due to over adjusting a bolt. As with all metal in close proximity to water, proper maintenance has to be followed. Weekly lubricating of all bracket surfaces will help reduce binding. It is a good time to inspect and remove corrosion on the metal surfaces. Replace springs yearly in the bracket for the oscillator adjustment, if used.” – NT