Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Press Casualties: Spokane's Twin Tower Units Are Only the Latest to Be Damaged or Lost in Transit

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Press Casualties: Spokane's Twin Tower Units Are Only the Latest to Be Damaged or Lost in Transit

Article excerpt

LATE LAST MONTH, the folks at TKS were rewarded with the sight of the Wall Street Journal's first four-color ads, printed in large part by additions to their presses at nine of the paper's 19 print sites. On the same day the Journal's first four-color appeared, however, the press maker's bulletin arrived bearing bad news from another newspaper.

En route from Seattle in mid-summer, both trucks carrying third-tier units for the Spokane Spokesman-Review's two four-high offset color towers had accidents that irreparably damaged the units.

After clearing the Cascade mountain range, the first truck went over near the town of Moses Lake, according to Douglas W. Osborn, operations director in Spokane. The driver was killed and the cause of the accident was never determined, said Osborn.

The paper then asked TKS to ship the second unit, only to have the truck carrying it down the mountains fishtail and roll over -- without hurting the driver.

TKS (U.S.A.) Inc. sales vice president Jesse M. Strong said that because towers are designed with "virtually identical levels" (in some other towers, the second and fourth levels are inverted, creating the appearance of stacked H-type units), TKS was able to modify a fourth-tier unit from one tower for service on the third tier of the other.

Even so, "each unit is manufactured for its position in the tower," said Osborn, who said TKS "did a commendable job" working on site to create a C level unit from a D-level unit. Strong said the conversion was "fairly easily done."

After reporting the accidents to the insurer, representatives from TKS and the insurer visited and photographed the sites to determine if any equipment was salvageable. Upon finding both units beyond repair, "TKS immediately began manufacturing two replacement levels," said Strong.

The first tower went into operation Oct. 10.

"We can't be more pleased," said Osborn of the four-color print quality. Another third-tier unit is slated to ship this month, with the second four-high tower to be put into production in January. Spokane's TKS towers will be the first to be used in conjunction with Goss Metro Offset presses.

Earlier episodes

The twin tower units were hardly the first to be damaged in transit. TKS was particularly hard hit in 1989, when two accidents cost it three offset units bound for two big customers.

The year began with the loss of two units headed for the Columbus Dispatch, when the truck carrying them rolled over on the West Virginia Turnpike. The lost units were to be part of the first of four identical presses.

Recalling the incident, Del Varney, Dispatch assistant director of engineering and maintenance, explained that two units from the second press being readied for installation were moved to the first press. By the time the last press was ready to be erected, he said, TKS had assembled and shipped replacements for the two lost units.

"We didn't miss our scheduled start date," said Varney, who added that, through a broker, his paper later bought one or both of the damaged units. Though too badly out of alignment to print, he said the equipment was purchased for spare parts.

But in Huntsville, Ala., pressroom superintendent James Stolz said the News and Times are printed on the nine-unit press originally meant for Columbus, including at least some of the damaged equipment.

TKS, said Stolz, repaired the damage and brought the equipment back up to factory specification.

"It's running today -- no problem with it," Stolz remarked.

The press Columbus eventually installed, he added, is a newer model with split plate cylinders that allow registration of individual pages.

In the summer of the same year, Newsday was at the other end of its own installation schedule, when the last unit for its last TKS press smacked into a highway overpass en route to the Long Island, N.Y. production plant. …

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