Ink – No not the tattoo kind. The kind a printer would tell you he bleeds when cut. When I first started in the newspaper industry I had the opportunity to work in the pressroom for a while. My main department was engraving but the press crew was either short or behind most of the time so it looked like an interesting toy to learn. And what a toy it was. An old 9-unit Goss Suburban web offset press. 4 units on one end and 5 on the other, folder in the middle.
Presses back in the 60s and 70s were machines that you crawled up on and in between most of the time. Not like the modern console controls of current technology. Days when the press was stopped to change rolls of paper. Days when you had plate changes. When manual ink adjustments were made while it was running and you were kneeling or hanging on a side rail and step making adjustments. Brake controls were by hand. Roll changes were by brute force.
But before you got to any of the fun stuff you had to “fly papers.” In addition to the dirty work, cleanup, and washdown, you had to learn to fly papers and be good at it. This involved two people, one standing on each side of the conveyor leaning over and scooping up papers as they came off the press in increments of 25 or 50 depending on the size of the paper. You would then turn quickly to a small table behind you to “jog” papers. Getting them perfectly aligned, turn pick up the next batch, jog and then stack on top of the previous stack and put that on a skid before you have to grab the next batch.
If I remember correctly when they were in a hurry which seemed to be all the time the press top speed was around 18,000 copies per hour. That’s about 300 a minute. So between 2 people you were picking up 6 bundles a minute, jogging and stacking. Sometimes you just had one person on the conveyor. And when I say conveyer it was about knee high and only about 8 feet long so it was constantly bending over to pick up papers and presses didn’t stop because you had a kink in your back or any other reason than a web break, roll change or end of the run.
Those were some fun days. That plant in Ellicott City on Main Street is where offices of the Times papers and presses were. They ended a long time ago and now I’m wondering which year I’ll see most newspaper printing cease completely.
Random Thoughts of the Day
- Thinking about priorities a few times a day helps the day along in a better way.
- How well do we really even know those closest to us?
- Isn’t it ironic that medical bills will kill you?
- If you’re always working harder to know those closest to you, that is a special thing because we all change over time.
- I hate acknowledging that there are just a lot more bad people in the world than I thought.