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  • Writer's pictureKelli

How I installed a motor on my press

Setting up my Chandler & Price to print more efficiently

Chandler & Price letterpress

When I first got my press, Joan Holloway Harris, aka Joanie, she came with a motor that was so old it looked like it would catch on fire if I plugged it in. I printed by hand (manually turning the flywheel for every print, which was a great workout) until I could figure out how to install something different.

I bought a treadle, but it turns out my crankshaft was replaced with a straight shaft and there was nothing for it to hook on to. I went back to printing by hand, but as my orders have increased, I needed a way to print faster to keep up.

My husband made it his personal mission to get a motor up and running. After some trial and error, he was successful! Since there are so few resources, we wanted to share our process.

We started with a 3 phase motor with 1/2 horsepower. It hooks up to a VFD (variable frequency drive) TECO Westinghouse L510 on the wall. The VFD makes it possible to use the 110v wall outlet and convert to 3 phase electricity, which is then sent it back to the motor. The VFD allows me to adjust the speed of the motor. The V belt pulley on the motor uses an 86 inch type A belt, which hooks up to a pulley that was already in place on the straight shaft.

3 phase motor

pulley and belt


It's important to make sure the cables being used are rated for the proper voltage.

Feel free to ask any questions below!

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Sep 08, 2022

Hi Kelli

thank you for posting this. I’m picking up a 9x12 C&P on Saturday. It’s 6 hours away, so I haven’t seen it in person. It’s definately misding the treadle and I’m unsure if I can add one (not sure if it’s a straight shaft or not) so I may have to add a motor as well. The belt for the motor is with it, but the motor is long gone. Interestingly there is no pulley on the right side like yours. Best I can figure, the belt was used on the fly wheel. Anyway, it’s going to be an adventure! I’m really excited to get started, but it will be a slow process. It will likely ne…

Sep 09, 2022
Replying to

Hi! Congratulations on your press! I also didn't see my press in person until it was delivered, haha. Luckily it worked out! Good luck with everything and feel free to fill out the contact form if you have any questions once you receive your press!

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