This article from the British Printer, 1945. I find the Lagonda interesting because of the unusual design — buried under item 4 is the idea that these machines could be sat side-by-side to print colour work: four machines one each for red, yellow, blue and black. Perhaps an idea that, while excellent, came just as full-colour letterpress printing was being taken less seriously. A most important development in automatic platen printing presses, embodying several new mechanical features, is shortly to be presented to the trade. The “Lagonda” the name of the new machine, is being manufactured by the Lagonda Company, the world-famous automobile makers at Staines, Middx. This, their very first entrance into the field of printing engineering, was prompted by the wish of the directors to maintain their greatly augmented wartime staff in full post-war employment. With this determination in view, the Lagonda Company secured the services of Mr. F. J. Clarke, the well-known printing engineer, whose first design for them resulted in the production of the new auto-platen. The “Lagonda” is undergoing very exhaustive tests and immediately following their successful completion, the machine will go into general production with a view to marketing them comparatively early next year. We give below full details of the construction, range and performance of the “Lagonda” –
- The Impression. A full-size crown folio forme, 15 in. x 10 in. can be printed without throwing any extra strain on the machine. A very strong semi-steel platen and specially reinforced ribbed main casting. Micrometer adjustment of the impression is provided. The check action of the platen is controlled by electric solenoid and push-button by the operator. There are no levers to fiddle with. The type bed and platen are ground finish.
- Inking Mechanism. Every detail of the inking mechanism from ink duct to the forme roller has received very careful and scientific design. Double reciprocation for perfect milling of the ink is introduced so that the ink on the rollers is never in a stationary state. The ink drum carrying the supply to the forme rollers is not large enough in diameter to carry surplus unused portion, therefore virgin ink is always available. Runners on the ends of the forme rollers are V‑shaped to prevent skidding over the forme, and the circumference of the forme rollers will carry sufficient ink to roll a full-size forme. Ink checking device is incorporated. All rollers on machine are covered with a dust cover which can be pushed back for cleaning.
- Feed and Delivery. This is entirely a new idea embodying a straight fine feed and delivery, both driven by one common member taking a sheet from the pile on the left side of the platen and delivering it on to the moving lays on the platen and after impression has taken place, the sheet is delivered by grippers from the forme to delivery table, at the right side of the platen. The main idea of this is to make one machine a unit of a multi-colour machine, several of which can be coupled up and operated by a master switch, four or more colours can then be printed at one loading. Many of the medium-size printers have felt the need for a two-colour machine of small size. The Lagonda auto-platen will give him the same result, and he can still use his two machines as separate units when desired. There are no cumbersome parts in front of the platen, the operator can get over his platen for make-ready.
- Main Drive. The machine is driven by electric motor and V belt, and provided with three speeds (standard equipment) or (variable speed control extra), the belts are moved by simple arrangement from larger to smaller V pulleys, all attached to the machine. Push buttons are used for operating the clutch and brake, these are conveniently placed both in front and back of machine on a control panel.
- Capacity of Work. From a visiting card to crown folio size, in thickness of stock varying from 7‑lb. bank paper to 12-sheet board. Small formes of cutting and creasing can be done and a special steel plate provided to be secured to the platen surface. Spraying the printed sheet to prevent set-off can be supplied with each machine at small extra cost.
- Equipment. A full set of spanners and screwdrivers. Two chases, one full size and one card chase. One set of clothed rollers and one set of stocks. Two sets of rubber suckers for use with thick card.
- Simple Operation. The aim has been to provide a first-class machine to run at very high speed of 5,500 prints per hour without vibration and with simplicity of operation. Any printer can operate this machine after a few minutes’ instruction. Service depots will be established in every district.
The incursion of the Lagonda Company into the field of printing engineering is not going to stop at the introduction of the auto-platen. We are informed that they have several projects in view, and from the long conversation we had with Mr. Clarke and two of his associates, much of it we regret “off the record” at this early stage — we gather that the company will be springing one or two more surprises on the printing industry before very long. The sole distributors of the “Lagonda” for this country and overseas are The Victory Kiddel: Printing Machine Co., Ltd., Clifford’s Inn, Fleet Street, London, E.C.4.