There is no reason today why fans should put up with old fashioned ugly duplicating machines, when anyone with ordinary skill and any sort of shop equipment can build an inexpensive printing press using materials that can be found in the home.

For the particular model that we have in mind and which we have found to give very satisfactory results, all that is needed is an old bicycle, 23 ft. of 12 SWG wire, soot, and the ability to devote a few evenings to the interesting construction work.


Take the bicycle (Fig, 1.) and saw off the front forks (a) just below the crown (b), remove the front wheel, and weld the forks to the rim as at Fig. 2.

Drill a 9/16ths. hole in strut (bx) at position shown in Fig. 2, and mount the bicycle in the frame by means of the front spindle. The front brakes should be attached by wire or strong string to the front of the base, so that a slight pressure on the b rake lever will draw the front of the machine down.

NOTE: The paper will travel over the base, so make sure it is free from oil and dirt and the supports (the former front forks) are wide enough to allow the paper to pass through between them.


Remove the back tyre, leaving the inner tube in position, and with a sharp knife carve your letters, figures, etc. out of the rubber. These are then attached to the inner tube in the various orders desired by means of rubber solution.

The circumference of the inner tube will be roughly 78 inches, all of which except for about 6 can be used for typesetting. As a fanzine with pages 6 ft. in width would be awkward to handle, the printer should mark out sections about 9" long (8&qu ot; in width plus 2 half-inch margins), repeat the type layout in each section, and then will be able to print 8 pages in one revolution of the wheel...a real timesaver.

To commence printing, the operator seats himself in the saddle and, pulling on the front brake, lifts the back (printing) wheel clear of the platen. He then begins to pedal slowly, inking the type, while an assistant at the head of the machine feeds a blank sheet of paper in the direction shown by the arrow in Fig. 2. The operator then gently releases the front brake, and the printing wheel is lowered onto the paper. The revolution of the wheel will then draw the paper through, and if the pressure is c orrect, will print it at the same time. The operator can alter the pressure when needed by shifting his position in the saddle. When the paper has passed through, the printing wheel is raised and the process is repeated.


A fine inking pad can be made from a cycling cape. Cut three 8' by 3" strips from the middle, glue them together into a triple-thickness strip with tyre solution, and stick on the underside of the back mudguard. A useful hint here is to drill hole s through the mudguard so that the pad can be inked from the top. The pad should be about 0.095" from the type surface, and the back brake is so adjusted that it will cause the pad to contact the type before the brakeblocks reach the rim of the wheel .

The ink can easily be made from bicycle oil and soot. If no easy source of the later is available, burn the pedal blocks, if they are made of rubber, and hold your hand in the smoke. You will soon find a deposit of soot on your palm. The right dilution must be found by experiment, but it must be thin enough to flow through your oilcan.

Coloured inks are rather harder to obtain, but if your bicycle has vari-coloured enamel, scrapings from this dissolved in one of the stronger acids...sulphuric or flouric...will suffice if used with care. Do not overink...a little goes a long way.


If the bicycle has a dynamo attachment, disconnect the lamps and sell them. With the money buy some thin gauge wire...about 23 ft. of 12 SWG should do...and arrange it in a spiral over the tray receiving the finished copy...the latter can be made from a dozen spokes soldered into a framework. Connect the wire to the dynamo points, and you will have a first-class heating element which will dry your prints immediately they fall into the tray, thus avoiding offset.


With a little ingenuity an efficient stapling machine for your completed magazine can be made from the bicycle bell. The various types and methods of construction are too numerous to be described here, but with the aid of a small arc welding outfit, a lathe, and a power grinder, the mechanically minded fan can easily convert any make of bell. Don't forget that the standard upon which the staples slide should be within the limits X plus or minus 0.0002", where X is the distance between the staple c hisel points.


Paper in the 6 ft. long lengths required can be easily obtained from your local paper-mill, and in this connection it might be cheaper to obtain it in 1/2 cwt rolls and mount it in front of the Cycloprinter. The printing operation can then be practical ly continuous.

Whatever method is used, it will be necessary to cut the printed paper into separate pages. For fans who do not happen to have a paper guillotine the following tip will be useful. Remove the inner tube from the printing wheel, and grind one edge of the wheel rim to a sharp knife edge. Take about 0.25" from the other edge, and you will then have a rotary guillotine, powered by pedaling, which will cut through .25" of paper in one operation. Exercise great care when replacing the inner tube on the wheel, and keep a small bottle of iodine and a bandage in the type-case (saddle-bag) as it is useful to know where these articles are in case of emergency. In the event of urgency, a serviceable bandage can be improvised by sewing together the fragmen ts of cloth to be found adhering to the patches in the puncture repair outfit.

THE PLATEN is made from the floorboards of the room. Just cut a square out of the carpet and the floorboards will be found underneath. Smooth down with sandpaper and dust with French chalk, both of which may be found in the puncture repair outfi t.

NOTE: The Cycloprinter will now find that he has a spare duplicator on his hands, but no means of easy transport. The authors are working to remedy this and hope in the near future to publish an article on "How To Turn Your Duplicator Into a Bicyc le."

Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

Updated November 8, 2007. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.