When you are new to letterpress something as simple as packing the platen can be tricky, even with the manuals. So combining the instructions from the Caslon and Adana manuals with some advice from Briar Press discussion board, plus some photos of the process, here are my instructions for packing the platen on the Adana 8×5. As always, if there are any glaring errors or alternative advice please feel free to post a comment.
For the packing itself the Caslon Adana manual suggests layer of card next to the platen, followed by six sheets of newsprint (not actual newspaper but thin off-white paper known as newsprint) and a final thick white top sheet. The original Adana manual suggests six newsprint sheets, a padding card and a white paper top sheet. It all depends on what paper you are printing on and what effect you want to achieve. I have started with 10 sheets of newsprint, 2 layers of thick blotting paper and a top sheet of sketchbook paper.
The Adana 8×5 has a metal bar at the top edge of the platen (top tympan bail) and a bar at the bottom of the platen with 2 screws (bottom tympan bar) ~ see photos 1&2. Both of these hold the packing (tympan) in place.
1. Loosen the screws on the bottom tympan bar and push the top tympan bail forwards (as in picture 1). Loosen the lay gauge screws and clamp it about halfway up the platen so it doesn’t get in the way of the bottom bar.
2. The paper/card you are using for packing needs to be cut to size. It should be possible to change the packing sheets without altering the position of the lay gauge so the paper/card needs to be slightly less than the width of the platen to clear the lay gauge clamps – about 245mm wide by about 190mm (the approximate depth of the platen). However the top layer of your packing/tympan needs to be slightly longer – about 210mm instead of 190mm as it will bend round underneath the top tympan bail
3. You will need to remove a small square along the bottom edge of the packing paper/card (about 10mm x 10mm) to allow for the screws in the bottom tympan bar. Insert the paper/card under the lay gauge and mark on it the position of the screws of the bottom tympan bar, then cut out the amount required. Your paper will then look like the one in photo 3. Repeat this process for all the layers of packing you intend to use.
4. Place all the lower layers of packing paper/card onto the platen, under the lay gauge and under the bottom tympan bar. Then add your top layer. Now tighten the screws on the bottom tympan bar so it grips all the layers of packing.
5. Finally bend the top layer around the platen and push the top tympan bail back into place over it to hold everything in place.