Taking an Arab Apart

This is an account of dis­mant­ling a Crown Folio Arab Platen. The machine is early (Seri­al Num­ber 1086 c. 1892) but has had a num­ber of safety fea­tures fit­ted. The guide below shows the major steps and will be added to. There’s a spe­cial sec­tion at the foot of this page about the brak­ing sys­tem.

The main body of the Machine

The start­ing point: a com­plete Arab

Arab: complete machine with spare "Arab Wheel" shown
Arab: com­plete machine with spare “Arab Wheel” shown

Ink­ing Disk Removed (remem­ber to replace the bolt under­neath).

Arab: Inking Disc Removed
Arab: Ink­ing Disc Removed

Feed board removed

Arab: feed boards removed
Arab: feed boards removed

One of the ink­ing arms removed. Remem­ber that they are under the pres­sure of a spring so you have to keep hold of the arm as you release. In pre­par­a­tion for this you should have removed the rollers and stocks; and also removed the met­al bar which links left and right roller arms: keep this safe!

Arab: inking arms removed
Arab: ink­ing arms removed

Over-arch­ing guard removed by unbolt­ing one site of the guard bars (not pic­tured)

There are two strong springs which force the front platen towards to back platen. These need to be un-hooked while the front platen is almost ver­tic­al. The two col­lars and hooks on the platen site need to be loosened so that the bar can be slid out later on.

Arab: Platen Springs Removed (looking from front to back under the machine)
Arab: Platen Springs Removed (look­ing from front to back under the machine)

The two bolts on the left of the front platen must be removed so that the front platen is held only on the sup­port­ing bar. Remove the sup­port­ing bar and lift the front platen out. This is fairly del­ic­ate as it will still con­tain the frisket motion.

Arab: front platen removed
Arab: front platen removed

The Arab wheel can now be slid from left to right and removed from the machine

Arab wheel removed
Arab wheel removed

The ‘rock horse’ is now removed. This is the U-shaped met­al cast­ing which forces the front platen upwards. This rests in two slots is the frame covered by two semi-cir­cu­lar cast­ings bolted down.

Arab: rock horse removed
Arab: rock horse removed

The back platen is now removed as a single large unit: includ­ing the platen and the sup­port­ing cast­ing. This is very heavy but will save trouble because the back platen will not have to be re-adjus­ted. The eccent­ric is also removed: this is the rod which holds the impres­sion lever.

Arab: back platen removed
Arab: back platen removed

The braking system

Side view of the brak­ing sys­tem

Arab: braking system from side
Arab: brak­ing sys­tem from side

Top view of the brak­ing sys­tem

Arab: top of braking system
Arab: top of brak­ing sys­tem


11 thoughts on “Taking an Arab Apart”

  1. I have a couple of ques­tions for you:
    1. what tools do you need to dis­mantle the press?
    2. how long would you estim­ate it takes to dis­mantle?


    1. Hi Matt

      I’d estim­ate a day to dis­mantle and a day to re-erect. In terms of tools, you’ll need span­ners (ideally Whit­worth or imper­i­al sizes), pen­et­rat­ing oil, wooden mal­let, and you’ll need to make sure the machine is very clean before you start. Best of luck!

  2. Hi there, we have an Arab but the treadle was stolen from it before we got it, any chance you would have the meas­ure­ments on the treadle and the parts to go with it? We are try­ing to find a spare but they are very hard to get, (we are based in Aus­tralia) we will try mak­ing a treadle for it 🙂

    Thank you kindly,

    1. Hi Randi: I’m really sorry, but my Arab has been stolen, so I can’t meas­ure it! Dav­id Bolton has put togeth­er a Aus­trali­an part­ner to his excel­lent UK site: http://www.australianletterpress.info/ I’d recom­mend con­tact­ing a loc­al Arab user since they might also have a spare. Happy hunt­ing!

    2. Hi Randi

      I’m mid­way through restor­ing an Arab. The treadle on mine has lost one of its ‘legs’ that con­nects to the rear No. 4 stay. My fath­er-in-law has spoken to an engin­eer­ing shop here in Wel­ling­ton, New Zea­l­and, about cast­ing a new treadle in (strengthened) alu­mini­um.

      The plan is to build up the miss­ing leg in wood and shape it to match the oth­er side (where it con­nects to the rear stay might have to be slightly dif­fer­ent).

      I’m still a few months away from doing this how­ever and I don’t have a price yet. That said, would you be inter­ested in con­trib­ut­ing to the cost of the cast­ing?


  3. Hello Matt, great idea to get the cast made for it. I would be inter­ested to find out the cost and of course there is the cost of ship­ping it to Aus­tralia. I would be inter­ested in con­trib­ut­ing, depend­ing on how much as I don’t have a big budget.
    Let me know how you go 🙂


  4. Hi, we have an oppor­tun­ity to pur­chase an Arab in reas­on­able con­di­tion. Just plan­ning for its relo­ca­tion, I need to have an idea of its all up weight (so I can choose the right vehicle) — a piece of inform­a­tion that has eluded me so far. Do you have a rough idea?

  5. hello , hop­ing someone can assist us in our rebuild with some inform­a­tion and maybe even pho­tos . We have an older style arab ( based on fly­wheel spokes ) , that meas­ures 17 inches between the bear­ers , so I’m not sure exactly what size the machine is clas­si­fied at . I would like to know as much as people will share regard­ing the ink foun­tain and related parts and pieces as we have noth­ing , per­haps someone out there has one for sale or trade ? thank you , sean

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