Model C Nebitype Restoration

Nebitype Model C
Rob Clarkson standing beside the Nebitype

The Press Gang team that work as volunteers in the print shop in The Settler Building at Taranaki Pioneer Museum in Stratford NZ had a great win over Queen’s Birthday week-end 2019 with the first composed line being cast on their recently-acquired Model C Nebitype line casting machine (Serial No. 78).

It was donated to us by The Printing Museum, Wellington, NZ in 2018. From the beginning of restoration of the machine Rob Clarkson has been at the forefront although there’s been a handful of other people that have helped along the way, notably John Nicholson, with grateful assistance from Doug Holland.

Alan Penfold and me helped on occasions by scratching our heads and passing spanners to Rob whilst doing our best impressions of Mad Scientists. One of the biggest hurdles in the machine’s restoration has been finding manuals for it. Bill Nairn from The Printing Museum in Wellington has helped with a series of loan and copy diagrams and brochures. These were of some use but they mostly refer to the later model Ultra-E machine (of which we have one – also to be restored).

From the titbits of anecdotal stories on printing circles web pages around the world I doubt very much if there is another working model of this Nebitype machine anywhere. Pioneer should well be proud they have this, as well as the recently-restored Schelter & Giesecke platen printing press ex Eltham Argus, found in a dump by Rob and restored primarily by him, again with help from John Nicholson making geared cogs for it.

Rob says there is still a little “tweaking” to be done, and we have a small “mouthpiece” heating issue to deal with but we feel the Nebitype is now well on the way to being another working asset for the Settler Building. It will enable us to cast larger sizes of type than the Linotype machine can. I’m sure as the months progress our team will learn more of the abilities of this amazing machine built in Italy we believe some time in the 1950’s.

A repeat cast line

We used standard Ludlow mats with the Nebitype Ludlow stick and changed the casting head to the correct head for Ludlow mats. We can see how confusing it would have been for folk to get the right casting head-stick-matrice combination, and why how so easily one could get a “splash” as we did once or twice.

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