Buying and Running an Arab

Arab Parts in Works
Arab Parts in Works

The Arab is a mix of cast-iron frame; steel rods and brass. Machines were feted for their reliability and sturdiness. They have to be kept well-oiled and clean. When buying, look out for —

  • cracks in the frame (difficult to repair)
  • judder on opening the platen (could be a symptom of significant wear in the bearings)
  • any looseness of the platen: test by trying to pull the platen apart from the forme when closed up

The machine body was painted in ‘Royal Blue’ but debate continues about the exact shade, and whether different shades were used. The brass roller arms were the only part of the machine to be painted ‘Pillar Box Red’. While the machine alone is great, also look out for —

  • manuals or erection instructions
  • additional chases — the Arab came with full-size and ‘butterfly’ chases; or even this slanted chase
  • roller stocks and bearers (perhaps for a third roller)
  • spare parts

Dismantling an Arab

This is a reversal of the erection instructions and is based on experience. Remember to keep parts together as far as possible (eg replace nuts on bolt ends as soon as they are removed) and keep things in whole, complete elements — like the braking mechanism — remove this as one unit.

  1. Inking mechanism
  2. Feed boards
  3. Tympan – by removing the blanket rod and wire
  4. Forme Inking Equipment
    1. Inking roller bar, inking rollers and runners
    2. Roller brasses – careful of the springs
    3. Swinger bars which hold the
    4. Inking disk and bearer
    5. Ink disk pick lever
  5. Safety Guard
  6. Arab Wheel should be loosened
  7. Spring and Plunger to hold the Chase on the back platen
  8. Connecting Rods
  9. Back Platen
    1. Lower the back platen
    2. Remove the bolts from the foot of the back platen legs
  10. Flywheel – remove with nut (may have left-hand thread)
  11. Treadle and connecting rod
  12. Frisket mechanism
    1. Strap Guide Rod
    2. Blanket and Frisket shafts
    3. Frisket springs
  13. Die Plate and Bushes – this is the thing which holds the rock-horse against the platen
  14. Remove springs from the Platen Hooks
  15. Front platen – by removing the rod, and collecting the platen hooks
  16. Remove the Arab wheel all together
  17. Impression adjuster
  18. Eccentic shaft (connected originally to the impression adjuster)
  19. Rock horse
  20. Crank shaft – originally connected to the flywheel
  21. Clutch and trip link
  22. Remove the bolts on the stays
  23. Take one side from the other

Re-Erecting the Arab

You can start work on getting the machine back together by following the original instructions that came with each machine.


The original documents that came with each Arab have been converted to PDF files by Steve Fisher and Ben Weiner. The Arab Parts List should be used with the Erection Instructions