A pressing engagement: Heidelberg unit hauled out through wall

By Tony Dobrowolski, The Berkshire Eagle PITTSFIELD Times change and so do printing presses. Due to the advances in printing technology, machines that were considered cutting edge 30 years ago have become obsolete.

“The world’s turned into a four color print shop now and we’re a one color shop,” said Chuck Danforth, the production manager at New England Newspapers Inc., which publishes The Berkshire Eagle. Danforth is referring to an old Heidelberg printing press whose functions no longer meet NENI’s needs. The company decided to get rid of the machine, which left Danforth with two options: Find a buyer for the 15,900-ton behemoth, which was originally installed by Eagle Printing & Binding in 1986, or scrap it.

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He didn’t want to turn the press into junk — “it has a lot of life left in it,” Danforth said.

But he knew that finding a buyer would be difficult.

“There’s no market for it,” he said. “The equipment is antiquated. This type of equipment usually gets sold and bought by people overseas.” Well, the old Heidelberg is staying in the USA, at least for now.

After scouring the internet, Danforth found a broker in Pennsylvania who was willing to take the press off of NENI’s hands. The price for the three large pieces of equipment? £14,500. “Who the buyer is, I don’t know,” he said.

Getting the press out of NENI’s headquarters at the Clock Tower Business Complex on South Church Street was almost as difficult as finding a buyer. Due to its size, the press couldn’t really be moved to ground level. So the machine was taken out of its resting place on the building’s third floor on Tuesday by a large crane, which placed it in a shipping container on a flatbed truck which will transport the old press to Pennsylvania.

Part of the third floor’s outer wall had to be removed so the logistics of this maneuver could take place. The new owner is getting a machine that has a fine heritage. Heidelberg presses are manufactured by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, a German company whose origins date back to the mid-19th century.

The original Heidelberg Platen Press was built in 1914, and manufactured between 1923 and the mid 1985. According to Danforth, NENI’s Heidelberg press was originally installed at Eagle Printing & Binding’s location on Pearl Street in Pittsfield 34 years ago, before it moved with the company to the Clock Tower complex in 1990. “The machines are well built,” Danforth said.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-281-2755.

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