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Frank Talks to Linotype Maintenance Specialist Dave Seat

Published on August 23, 2019

Frank talks to Dave Seat, one of the few Linotype maintenance specialists. Dave travels America repairing the last group of working Linotype hot metal typesetters. He estimates that he repairs around 100 to 200 machines a year, a lot of them in museums eager to get them up and running as there has been a resurgence of interest in Linotypes in recent years.

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By Greg Patt on Aug 26, 2019

I love the smell of hot lead in the morning!

It is sad for me to think that generations in the future will just not know the craft and tools of our trade.

I am in the process of cleaning out my basement "Warehouse" and look at things like glass halftone screens, exposure calculators and even a simple gray scale and think, what will my kids think when they clean it all out after the old man is gone?


By Deb Haines on Aug 26, 2019

I worked at a Check Printing plant in the 1980's. Remember those cool personalized checks (flowers, holiday themes...) and deposit tickets with your account and Bank's routing & transit numbers? (Checks are just not the same today, if you actually use them.)

Like Frank, the miscellaneous information from the past that I remember are a handful of the R&T numbers, and sadly, for Banks that no longer exist.

The plant I worked at had 4 Linotypes. One thing I had to learn back then was to block out the noise. One machine was loud, all 4 running at once, required moving away from them to hear yourself think. My guess, a running linotype sounds pretty sweet today.

I worked in the order entry department, and did everything from batching orders, entering new orders on a Key Punch (yes with punch tape made from paper; Dave, do you have any of those around?), working in the slugging department to pull bank branch logos and inking the text to paper, to be proofread before go to the impact presses. The skill I learned and still retain today, reading upside and backwards!

Thank you Dave for keeping these machines working! Thanks Frank for the interview!


By David Seat on Aug 27, 2019


I also started my career at a check printer in 1971, I started on a printing press then a cutter, macadam’s stitcher then the Linotypes. This was in a Nashville, TN. We had AKI and Fairchild tape punches. Now I work on Linotypes that are driven straight from a computer bypassing the paper tape, but using the same basic readers, just a modified version. I still travel 48 states regularly and service these. There is still one check printer in WA state that uses a Linotype for checks, but only occasionallly. There are still Linotypes running in most states.


By Bryan Gordon on Aug 30, 2019

I love Frank's videos on printing history and this one with David Seat hit a cord with me. I started at an in-plant print shop in 1967 hand setting Guttenberg types, making bakelite matrixes and casting rubber printing plates for printing envelopes and letterheads. I graduated to a model 5 Lino with an automatic quader in 1971 at shop in Farmington, MI outside of Detroit. We made flexo plates for packaging printers and we made and mounted rubber stamps. I ran my model 5 and also a Ludlow caster for display type. I could fly with that automatic quader averaging about six slugs a minute. On certain contract jobs the shop would have me clock out and pay me piece rate by the good slug. I could triple my wage when I was on piece rate. I have an old 1892 C&P platen in my garage that I am restoring now. I have an industrial laser cutter that I plan to use to cut my relief plates on. Similar to the old photopolymer plates mounted on bases to type high. Keep up the good work Frank. Bryan, the old printing geek in Toccoa, GA


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