Coming Home: The Saga of the Peerless Press Delivery


This Spring we had the pleasure of adding a motor and controller to a 1873 version Peerless Letterpress. The press which was in the shop temporarily after the owner, Bruce McDonald a long time Atlanta printer who got his start as a youth on the Peerless asked us to store his favorite press, while closing his commercial printing business. He also asked us to do some work on the press to power it. As a letterpress printer, Bruce does business as Thumbs Up Press in his basement shop since the 1950’s. We soon learned that adding the motor and controller an a few more enhancements was the easy part. Delivery was the challenge. This is the story of how we moved this solid floor model 19th Century machine into Bruce’s basement shop.

It started on a weekday afternoon, after several days of sunshine. We rented a small Penske truck with a powered liftgate and proceeded to the house. Traffic was moderate and we got there with plenty of daylight. All we had to do was drive the truck down the hill and back it up the hill on the lawn. After determining that too many trees would have to be sacrificed going down the more moderate hill, we opted to drive down the steeper hill.

I put it into gear and rolled down the hill, only to become stuck in a bog sinking the truck tires down to the hubcaps unable to go up or down. After much effort and the help of a late night tow from a monster truck dispatched by Penske, we unloaded the press in the driveway and decided to wait until the next dry cycle.

It became evident that we would have to make the descent down the lawn and into the backyard to the bottom of the hill with a light weight truck and trailer. At the bottom we would have to turn the truck and trailer towards the house, but backing up the trailer was not going to work on the wet grass. We would have to pull the 800 lb press on it’s pallet up to the back door by hand. The pallet would be heavy and the distance to move it was going to be substantial. During the week we worked on a plan to manage the move smarter. Instead of a big truck, we rented a small 4 x 8 yard trailer and bought several sheets of plywood. We also made a plywood ramp to pull the press up into the trailer and lower the press when we had to unload it. The solution was to put the plywood down and draw the pallet up the hill using an ATV power winch and deep cycle battery mounted on the pallet. A 5 ft steel pole was pounded in the ground at the top of the hill as an anchor and using a remote control pad, the winch was our salvation. The winch had 50 ft of cable and a 2500 lb pulling force, much more power than any of us! I also had the assistance of a very good natured neighbor, David Bird who also enjoyed the adventure. Between the three of us and the winch, delivery was successful!