Metal Type: Home | Library | Forum | Free Ads | Store

The Burleson Linotype

Started by rag451, July 19, 2006, 02:00:37 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type


I posted about the Linotype in Burleson several months ago. On this very forum, I met Dan Williams, who those on this board know has donated his time, energy, and even several machines to the Museum of Printing History in Houston, Texas. He offered to show me around a working Model 31 in Houston, so far the sole working machine I have seen in action, and has generously offered to help in restoring Burleson's Model 14 Linotype.

A little background...

The Burleson News, later renamed The Burleson Dispatcher, has its origins in 1890s Burleson, Texas. In 1935, RGK Deering purchased the newspaper and moved it to the former Interurban Drugstore, which had been built in 1911 as a depot for the passing Interurban Trolleys in the area. In 1951, Mr. Deering purchased a 1923 Model 14 Linotype. Before that time, the newspaper had been one of the last in the state to utilize hand set composition of a newspaper. The Burleson Dispatcher ceased operation in 1985 after the retirement of Hazel Deering, who had continued the paper following her husband RGK's death in 1973. Among the equipment the paper operated was a Miehle 00 Book Press, which I have mentioned in another thread, two Chandler & Price presses, and a Fairchild Scan-a-Graver.

The building remained virtually abandoned until 1999. Some of the equipment was sold off, perhaps for scrap, until all that remained was the Scan-a-Graver, the Linotype, a Hammond Easy Kaster, and another lead melting pot. These were, in 1999, hauled to the City of Burleson's service center and left outdoors to, well, rust. By 2005, the Burleson Heritage Foundation, which controlled the restored Interurban Depot and operated the Heritage Visitor's Center from the building, voted to pay for preservation of a 1902 Interurban Express Car by selling off the old newspaper equipment for $200 in scrap. They asked me to go out to the service center and "kick loose" whatever I could for a museum exhibit. Here is what I found on July 14, 2005:

Trash, weeds, thistles, and thorns were growing up around the machine. The geek in me was in awe. I couldn't believe such a machine existed, and after half an hour looking at it and seeing patent dates from 1906 and other markers that blew me away, I thought I couldn't stand to see it hit the scrap pile. I called around that night and after some tedious chat managed to save the thing. Much to my horror, though, responsibility for it was placed in my hands! Knowing nothing, and I do mean nothing about Linotype, Letterpress, or the rest of the story, I set to work reading up on the industry that, in my lifetime, had almost never existed.

As with most historic organizations that are not full of rich, powerful individuals, it took some doing and many months to have the machine moved indoors for restoration. But when the day came, on January 29, 2006, it was well worth the wait. The machine stood the test of time and stood once more. A crew from the City of Burleson moved the machine and the other newspaper equipment in 45 minutes with a front-end loader.

I set to work in March, dismantling what I had learned needed to be removed and starting in on the rust. I exhausted a dozen cans of PB Blaster, WD-40, Liquid Wrench, and a few other, more secret ingredients. Over the months I have scraped and scraped, sanded, and finally in June I began painting. The keyboard is in Houston in Dan's hands, and other parts are getting their due work. Several volunteers have put in their hours on the machine, helping to clean it up and, at least, get the thing to the point where the serious restoration work can begin.

So why save this machine when others are out there for the taking? Eh ,well, it's Burleson's only Linotype. Why the heck not?

This last picture is of Hazel Deering as she oversees the final edition of The Burleson Dispatcher on September 25, 1985.

In the process of research, I have acquired a wide variety of books and collectables relating to Linotype, including The Manual of Linotype Typography, Linotype Faces (circa 1915), several books on the Cutler-Hammer Electric Pot from the 1910s and 1920s, various specimen books from the 1920s to the 1950s, Linotype Maintenance Manual (1944), The Linotype Instruction Book (1925),  Linotype Machine Principles (1940), Linotype Keyboard Operation (1935), and many others. I've even branched out into collecting The Inland Printer, of which I have about 125 issues from 1897-1945. A new practice for me is looking for other Linotypes in my home state of Texas, and so far I have visited 8 and heard of 5 more, including a Model 9 in Jefferson, Texas; a Model 8 in Ranger, Texas; a Model 15 in Buffalo Gap, Texas; a Model 5, Model 14, and Model 31 in Houston, Texas; and another Model 8 in Kilgore, Texas. In some instances when I find a museum that doesn't know what a Linotype is, I try to scrape together the cash to send them a copy of Linotype Machine Principles. I will post pictures of some of these in another thread at some point.

Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas

Dave Hughes

Very interesting post Robert, it looks like the machine is coming along nicely, especially bearing in mind what it looked like in July 2005.

I would say that most people in this forum's interest in Linotypes etc. was triggered by working in the print industry. It's nice to see that someone younger with no experience in the industry can find the old technology just as fascinating!
Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters

Dan Williams

I am glad that Robert could post a few pictures during these various early stages of the project. It has certainly come a long way, even if it only becomes a static display (the prospect of working display improving daily!)

Aaron Poscovsky

Boy, you made my day seeing the photos. I wish I had kept my printing business.  Back in the early 70's had a nice printing business here is Houston and we had a great Intertype Model C from the Houston Post. And a  ludlow.  Boy just seeing these photos I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Dan Williams

Aaron, I remember when the Post let their hot metal collection loose. That was in about 1974-75. We purchased their floor Vandercook (I currently have it in storage with its original Post property decal). Unlike the Houston Chronicle, the Post was 100% intertype and had a line of Keyboardless Monarchs that fed slugs into a conveyor system. Saw it in person. Dad knew the local Intertype representative, Harold Dohm, really well and this Dohm fellow actually kept offices in both the Chronicle and the Post. Or so I hear. There was an old fellow (I believe his name was Bedford Rudder) who took one of the Post Intertypes and their monotype equipment. He took the Post's Material Maker and we took the Chronicle's Material Maker. We visited Rudder's shop in about 1977 - it was a  prefab storage shed in his backyard in some neighborhood around the Eastex Freeway vicinity - and he had the Intertype, the monotype material maker, a monotype giant caster and an Elektron all crammed into this little storage shed  :D. We visited this fellow twice then lost track. In Pasadena, Texas, another individual procured a Post Intertype and actually started a small newspaper. Lots of those Post and Chronicle Intertypes made their way around town.


Boy, I remember Harold Dohm. I worked with him in the early 70's at a typesetting house on West Clay in Houston, Texas.
He was still a machine salesman and sold typesetting for Devore and Associates.  He help me work out a deal with the Houston Post to purchase one of the Intertypes. I set up a small typesetting shop that turned into AAA Business Cards. We would totally letterpress for many years. My brother talked me into going offset and the shop went down hill fast.
I also worked at the Post and watched the slugs go down the tracks to the galleries.

Dan Williams

Outstanding recollections, Aaron.
Harold Dohm was an interesting figure who stands out in my mind.
He was the local Harris Corp. representative here in Houston, and when Intertypes were phased outin newspapers, Harold became a salesman for TexasType, a local ATF branch. In the late seventies there were still lots of small letterpress shops and Harold continued serving the letterpress industry. He sold bottled lubricant for mold wipers that I still have...Silicone 10 he called it. Harolds devotion to letterpress targeted him for comments from the other print-equip sales people (who were ensconching themselves in photo-offset).
That shop on West Clay that Harold had a business interest in...LeRoy Devores shop... that business changed hands after LeRoy died, but is still operating today on a very limited basis serving a few letterpress and diploma clients. I gather that it may be sold out, soon.
Dad was good friends with both LeRoy and Harold, and I miss those fellows. When my father took me to visit Harold at his house in about 1976, Harold tried to sell me a Linotype Elektron...I think he was pulling my leg cause I was only 17. Where would I put it? For $50?
Sometime in the early eighties when I was in college, I recall that Harold needed some help. He purchased two linotypes in the old Deaf School in Huntsville,TX (?) for resale....but it turned out that they were in an inaccessible basement. My father went to help him out; they had to dissassemble one of the old model 32 because it was simply too big for the access. I remember the old station wagon dragging when it got home...loaded with quadder, electric pot, distributor parts.
Harold retired for good in the early eighties and moved to Oregon with his wife. Lost track.
Hey, we ought to meet up for coffee.

Dan Williams

I visited Burleson this weekend and met Robert, his mom and the infamous model 14. It looks alot better than that first photo, but it has got a long way to go, yet. I helped him remove the last magazine (NO we did not dump mats on removal  :P ) removed all the escapments for cleaning and we freed up the transfer and first elevator. Then we tried to remove the first elevator lever, but that got complicated. I knurled the end of the shaft at about 1/2 inch short of the first elevator lever. Too much hammer and not enough lube. I am suggesting that Robert cut the F-E-L casting and file the shaft. The first elevator lever was broken anyway and needs help.
Other than that it was fun, and Burleson, Texas is a great place to visit. I would attach some pictures if I had the patience.


Dan came up on the 11th, spent the night, and worked on the machine most of Saturday the 12th before heading back to Houston. Having made two trips down to Houston, it's not the best ride - but then again it's not the worst. I'll reserve that for a trip across the Nevadan deserts. Dan removed the middle magazine and the escapements, thus teaching me that patience is not a virtue where ignorance is involved. ;)

The first elevator is a real challenge. Dan knocked on the shaft with a sledge, and for a little while it went quite well. After six or seven inches of budge, the machine decided to give us the shaft. Dan spent another few hours knocking on it, finding creative ways to twist and pull and push, but nothing had the result we wanted and the entire machine ended up moving five inches on the concrete. With the shaft hanging out about, what, fifteen inches I think, we gave up. I think the first elevator is worth saving if we can only get it off. I've sprayed it down with WD-40 and will go back down to the warehouse soon to see what I can do to it next. I'd like to avoid cutting if at all possible, but we'll see what happens.

Burleson, Texas is a great place to visit! Anyone who comes to Texas should take the Linotype tour.

Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas
Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas

Jim Sales

Read the article on restoring the model 14.  It's nice to see someone is still interested in restoring one of the greatest inventions in the printing industry. I was a machinist for many years rebuilding and doing service calls working on linotype, intertype and ludlow machines. I worked for Eastern Printing Machinery Company. A sub. of Rich & McLean of Kenilworth, NJ. I have some publications on the linotype and intertype I'm thinking of giving up if anyone is interested. Are there any machines still being used commercially? Just curios.


Hey Jim,

Quote from: Jim SalesI have some publications on the linotype and intertype I'm thinking of giving up if anyone is interested.

If you'd take a few minutes and list the titles, I'm sure the books find some interested new-owners!

Quote from: Jim SalesAre there any machines still being used commercially? Just curios.

With ours it's about 50/50.
We've got a Model 16 in our museum, and it's used for demonstration, but also we produce some small booklet from time to time with it, which is then sold in our shop. No big use, though, like weeklys or other regulars.

Regards, Andy


The weather has been less than advantageous to work on restoring a flowerbed, much less a Linotype. As a full-time college student and a work-as-much-as-I-can employee, time to work on the Burleson Linotype has dwindled. As fall approaches - it's never on time in Texas - I will hop back on it. One hurdle has been overcome, the problem of finding spare parts. I bought a Model 14 off a fella in North Texas, and he delivered it on Fri. of this past week. From the pictures above, it is apparent Burleson's machine has its issues, especially in the distributor, first elevator, and the missing auxiliary magazine frame. Otherwise the machine is intact and, as I indicated before, worth saving. The machine I recently acquired is in better shape, as can be seen in the picture below, but I am not restoring "somebody else's machine;" I'm restoring Burleson's. Once I have salvaged all I can from the second Model 14, I will sell, barter, scrap, and otherwise keep the rest. If so happens someone wants a gas pot, contact me and we'll talk; I am looking for an electric pot or someone willing to take on restoring the electric pot I have.

Robert Griffith
Burleson Heritage Foundation
Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas


uh, great!
I'm sure this is going to be an interesting winter for you :-)

Dan Williams

My guess is that this project will extend beyond Winter.
On a sober note, I have come of the opinion that many of these Linotype projects will require partial dismantle and assembly. The reason for this is simple: its been thirty to forty years since the newest of these machines were built. Sixty and seventy years is typical. With the ingrained dust, grease and corrosion of all those years, the only reasonable way of ensuring operation is - taking it apart and putting it back together.
This is especially true for keyboards...and many printing/letterpress people are used to just exchanging keyboards from another machine. The days of replacing keyboards will be over in about five years, and folks will have to start doing it the honest way...again, by taking it apart, cleaning and putting it back together.


IMHO, Dan is very right. Putting aside the fact this particular machine was out in the weather for some time, my hands have removed pounds of grease, grime, and lead from all over. Even in the machine I just acquired is a bit of rust, and certainly a fair amount of lead and grime buildup around the pot. It's natural, not unexpected, and hardly unavoidable without the kind of devoted maintenance as suggested in Thompson's books and others to keep a machine as clean as it was when first manufactured. No machine can be perfect all the time, but if I can get this one to the point where it is as clean as it can be, lubricated, greased, etc. then I have high hopes I can keep from messing with it for three or six months since I won't have it in continual operation.

And yes, it will be an interesting winter. ;) But I prefer the cold over the heat any day in Texas, so bring it on! ;D

Robert Griffith
Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas

Quick Reply

Please leave this box empty:
Type the letters shown in the picture
Listen to the letters / Request another image

Type the letters shown in the picture:

Shortcuts: ALT+S post or ALT+P preview

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

☛ Don't miss our illustrated newsletters. Click here to see examples and subscribe. ☚