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A Winter's Tale

Started by Mechanic, March 29, 2018, 11:23:50 PM

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Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type


Some time ago, Dave encouraged members and guests to tell stories related to their experience with hot metal. I decided that maybe some interest may be created by revising the practice and encourage others to do so.


Early one winter, I had to install a Linotype in a print shop in Gravenhurst, just north of Toronto Canada, and remove one that had been traded. When I got there the machine was already on the floor stripped to the column. I was by myself but it had been agreed that they would help where needed. All I had to do was complete the assembly. It's not that hard everything is set and where necessary doweled in the factory. A couple of days with the help and I'd be finished.

I finished the erection and then asked where the traded machine was. I was told it was upstairs. One of the comps took me up a narrow flight of stairs to what had once been the composing room. There was the old machine. I looked around the room. Any windows were way too small to be of any use. I asked if there was another stair case and was told no.

I went and saw the foreman and said there was no way I could get the machine out without stripping it to the base. Even then I would need help to get the machine's major parts down the stairs. He agreed he would give me someone to help to strip the machine and get it down the stairs and out of the building.

I spent the rest of the day, with help, stripping the machine. The next morning I came back and with help managed to get the machine down the stairs. We turned the base on its side and with ropes sort of rolled it down the stairs.

There was a large medium strip in front of the building, where I was going to reassemble the machine up to the column. The distributor frame, distributor, magazine would be put in the crates that the new Linotype had come in.

I must have been doing pretty well because some kids on their way to school stopped to watch while I put the column on the base. I got the side brackets on and I was wondering how I was going to get the main cams on. This meant picking them up off the ground, and lifting them about a meter and placing them in the bearings on the side frames. I was about to go into the print shop and ask for help when a young man obviously with downs syndrome came along and asked what I was doing.

I told him I was trying to lift the cams and put them on the machine, but I needed help. The young man walked across to cams. Picked them up and said, "Where do you want them?"

I just finished getting the machine together and it started to snow. As the snow landed on the machine it melted and tuned to ice. The children from the morning, were on their way home from school stopped to watch my progress. One of the children said, "When we were on our way to school this was black, now its grey."

I left the Linotype where it was. I didn't think anyone would steal it. The next day it was picked up and sent to Toronto.

As I was driving home I was thinking of an Australian saying "Things are crook in Tallarook." And I mused, "Things are worse in Gravenhurst."
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

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Printers' Tales - Over 30 stories from the pre-digital age. Buy now on Amazon/Apple Books

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