Presshunting: A. B. Dick 320

When I was fairly little, about 8 or 10, my dad brought home an old A. B. Dick tabletop offset printing press (they’re actually called “duplicators” when they’re this small) and set up the beginnings of his print shop right there in the laundry room of the little ranch house on Dolphin avenue. This was my first exposure to the life of a printer, and my first whiff of the unique scent of printing ink and freshly guillotined paper, which has never left me. What model it was, I was too little to know, probably a 320, 325 or 329, but I remember the scent and the sound of the little rattletrap as it worked. Somehow this is closely associated with the flavor of home-made root beer brewed in 5-gallon buckets (another activity that happened in the laundry room), so it has very pleasant associations for me.

In the past year, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for one of these old tabletop A. B. Dicks, pretty much for the same reason I collect typewriters. Find me a nice old and very simple printing press, fix it up and get ‘er working well, and then play with it. Partly also nostalgia for my 1970’s childhood, and partly because I’d really like to have a press that’s small enough to set up basically anywhere. The Portable of the printing press world, if you will, even if a 32x is actually quite a bit bigger than any standard typewriter, it’s still a darn sight smaller than pretty much any other offset press ever made. The other choices tend to require a forklift to move.

So, I mentioned a week or so ago that I’d found an A. B. Dick 320 in pretty fair condition locally, and I’ve been trying to get ahold of it, but there’s logistics issues. Primarily, the machine’s sitting in a storage unit about 80 miles from where me and the seller actually are, and what I’ve offered (and what the machine’s kinda worth, really) isn’t enough to convince the seller to drive that far to unlock the door, even though he’s pretty motivated to empty out the storage unit. My only chance at the thing is if someone else buys the other machines and doesn’t want the 320 (actually a likely scenario), then the seller has said he’d bring the 320 back to town since he’d already be out there to clear the unit – then I’d have a crack at it.

So, in the meantime, and fingers crossed for this happenstance, I’ve started gathering some data on the A. B. Dick 320. And guess what? There’s not much out there on the web. Just some videos of Mexicans printing stuff on one and a completely misleading corporate history for A. B. Dick that states the 320 was introduced in 1959. But I’m good at this finding serial number lists thing.. and right here in my paper archives is the 1970 WOMDA line book, which happens to have an at least partial age list of A. B. Dick duplicators. Here it is, along with some photos of the 320 I’m chasing, in the state it’s currently in. (bonus! Tasty original operating manual included!)

abdick-320-aFrom the WOMDA trade-in values list (second section, above) we can see that the 320 was introduced some time prior to 1953, and was manufactured at least to 1964 (the revision date of the list) and possibly even to 1970 (the date of the WOMDA line book, where they presumably wouldn’t offer the 320 as new equipment if it had been discontinued by 1970). From this data, we can extrapolate an approximate serial number age list from 1952 to 1964 at least. I do know that A. B. Dick always started series at 1, so if our rough approximation drops us to 1 by 1952, it would seem to be pretty good.

A.B. Dick 320 Offset Duplicator Age list:
1    1952 (approx.)
20000    1953 (approx.)
40000    1954 (approx.)
90000    1955 (approx.)
140000    1956 (approx.)
200000    1957 (approx.)
260000    1958 (approx.)
321927    12/1959    (approx 60,000 made)
385601    12/1960    (63,674 – 12 mos.)
443469    12/1961    (57,868 – 12 mos.)
521259    12/1962 (77,790 – 12 mos.)
544644    6/1963 (23,385 – 6 mos.)
580000    12/1963 (approx. if 65000 made)

I don’t yet know what serial number is on this machine, but if I do manage to get it, I’m hoping for 1950’s for sure.  Here’s hoping! (:

Updated: June 17, 2015 — 6:53 pm


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  1. Hope you get it! Looks about the size of an ATM, maybe you can print of some banknotes on it!

    1. No thankee! I’ve dealt with T-Men before. You don’t spend much time in the industry without a visit from Treasury at some point. Usually for printing something that looked a bit too close to currency. In my case, it was printing folding business cards that looked like a $20 bill when folded. Technically legal at the time, as it was not the same size or color and contained less than 30% of the actual face of the bill, but some idiot left a couple of them at restaurants and skipped the bill, which earned me a visit from agents looking for my customer. Never did that again, I can tell ya. (:

  2. I hope that you are able to bring the 320 home – looks like dangerous fun (watch your fingers). If you do get it, make sure you photo document the fix-up and operation.

  3. That’s a beast! I think my parents would kill me if I brought that home one day :D

    1. I used to be an engineer at ab dick UK worked there for around 27 years and frequently worked on the 320 and the awful 310 which replaced it…..ahhh fond memories

  4. Many years ago I worked in an office with a A-M Multilith (for some reason I want to say it was a Model 1250). The girl who operated it did a pretty lousy job, so I ended up doing most of the work. We printed our own invoices, letterhead, employment applications, etc. For short runs, we used paper masters, for long runs we had aluminum plates made. That meant some of the typewriters had to have special ribbons. I was surprised how great the output was when you had everything running properly. I even did some two-color jobs.

    1. Oh hey, I’ve run one of those before! The Multi 1250 had that feed table that jogged the sheet right into the impression cylinder grippers, so you could get pretty good registration. The ATF Chief had a better one, but those suckers would shake themselves to bits. Always found parts on the floor after running that thing. At least the 1250 stayed together, I remember liking that press a lot.

      The best and biggest I ever ran was a couple years at the helm of a single-color Heidelberg GTO 52. That iron could nail 4 color process down to the micron in 4 passes plus one for the UV coat (back in the day when it made sense to do 4-C on a single-head press).

      Ahh yeah, miss those days.. /:

    2. I’ve checked on line, and found out it was a Model 85 I operated, not a 1250. Sorry. But it still did great work. You had to adjust it at times, to keep the impression nice and even. And you had to do a good job of clean-up at the end of the run.

      1. ahh, the little guy. Wow, that’s a friction-feeder with like maybe one form roller, right? That’s probably very similar to the 320 AB Dick, and I’ll have to commend you for getting good registration on it – that had to be tough :D

  5. A few years ago, a high school friend of mine started a little cottage business printing direct-mail cards. He leased a huge Xerox color printer that had a UV coat attachment on it. The cards had color images on both sides and were already addressed as they were printed. He just cut them apart at the end and delivered them to the post office in crates. It seemed he was making lots of money with very little investment. It’s amazing how far printing equipment has come.

    1. yep, Electrostatic Xerography and Desktop Publishing killed the industry I grew up in. Used to require craft and steel, now it’s just software and plastic. /:

  6. Hello,
    My dad had a printing shop when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. He had 4 of the AB Dick 325’s and 3 A M Multigraphic 1250’s. I occasionally try to find an old shop, just to go in a smell the air, ink, roller wash. Not many left. I wish you great luck with your press,

  7. I just turned 84yo and I have an AB Dick 320 that I bought back in the early 60s to print labels for gallon & quart cans I used in a small business I just started. At the time I worked for RR Donnely in Chicago, so I had access to paper, ink, etc free. When I retired I lost tract of the pres. Last year I came accross it in my storage area. It brought back memories from the best years of my life. I decided to bring it back to life, which I greatly enjoyed. All the parts were in tact except for the rollers. I was able to find the rollers, but I cant find the shaft for the form roller. I cant get her going without the shaft. Do you have any suggestions ??? I enjoyed your site. Ken

    1. Well, if it were me I’d call up the couple of people I still know in the press repair and supplies industry and put out the word that I was looking for a 320 roller shaft. Top ‘o that list would be Tom Jonas:
      He might not have such a part on hand, but he travels all over the southwest fixing old presses, so he might eventually dig one up. There’s also Printer’s Parts supply:

      1. MUNK, I’m still looking for a form roller shaft for my AB Dick 320. I just found the serial number (617446). Your posted WOMDA list only goes to 580000,can you tell me what year my machine is? I have decided to sell it the way it stands. Did you ever land the one you wanted?

        1. well, it is a partial list, but since AB Dick produced about 60,000+ 320’s a year back then, I would guess yours was built in 1964. (:

          1. A good place that you might find one is in storage at a church or schools. A lot of my service contracts were with churches and schools..

  8. The models I am familiar with are the 320 (blue/green color produced in the 60s) 325A and 325B ( I never laid eyes on one of these but my understanding is they had a master-insertion device and blanket washer. The models I actually ran and worked on was the 324 and 326. 324 was single form roller, 326 was 2 form roller. Those machines were beige in color and produced in the 70s and I believe, discontinued in 1984. I believe most parts on these models were interchangeable throughout the years. Very heavy units. I believe the model 310 was introduced at some point in the 70s as the 324/326 offsets began to dwindle. a lot of plastic. This unit was replaced by the 8400 duplicator . a true marvel of engineering ( NOT ) .

    I miss the AB Dick company and the amazing equipment they put out over the years.
    Very durable machines

  9. Ken Bejlovec Monk I read the blog from TIMMY in regaurds to the AB Dick 320, which I have been fixing up for a long time. Im still looking for the form roller shaft. If TIMMY reads this is there any way you could put us in contact with each other, as I have a ton of questions I’d like to ask. If you can help I would be greatfull. Thanks

    1. Ken… its been some time since i was on the site but am replying to you…

      the form roller shaft would be the same in any of the 320 series duplicators. You would have to find a parts donor machine as ABD is no longer.

      Would be happy to answer any questions I can answer

  10. Is there anybody out there that owns or Knows of someone who owns an AB Dick 320 offset press (Vintage) I need some information to get the machine up and running. PLEASE HELP!

    1. Have you got the press running yet Ken?

      1. Thanks for asking Mary, No, I’m still trying to find the form roller shaft. I would love to talk to somebody that has a 320, and even get the specks as I have a machine shop that can make me one. If anyone has one or knows of someone PLEASE let me know !!!! HELP. Ken

        1. Ken – I have a 326 with extra rollers, blankets, clean-up mats, etc – should work on the 320 – or you can simply use this press.
          It’s been in “mothballs” since 1998, so it may need lubed and cleaned, but its all there with extras.
          If you’re interested let me know – I’m in South Central PA

          1. I am looking for the ductor roller and some small parts for this machine please contact me.

          2. I know it’s 4 years later but i just aquired a 326 and need as much information and parts on this press as i can find. If anyone has any information. Please contact me.

    2. I have a AB Dick 320. It has problems feeding paper. It runs fast
      with no speed control. the rubber on the feed wheels are worn with no replacements that i know about. I use a mimeograph crank that fit. i hand feed paper and crank it through. works great! Good exercise!

  11. I should add – this press was my workhorse when I taught Graphic Arts at a Middle School in Franklin County, PA – I changed jobs and brought the press with me (I had purchased it at an auction) –

  12. Craig, I’ve had my 320 since the late seventies. Like yours, it’s been in storage since the late nineties. Awhile ago I decided to put it backin shape, which I did. It runs great, but the only thing it needed was the rollers , which I found. I was missing the form roller and roller shaft. I have the roller but can not find the shaft. If you think you can help me out, PLEASE let me know. Im 83 years old so I cant wait much longer…LOL …Ken

  13. Craig Where are you ???? I need to talk to you ! …..Ken

  14. That pic looks familiar. I started with an AB Dick tabletop duplicator in the early ’80’s. I can’t remember if it was a 320 or 326. The one feature I loved back then was the automatic blanket wash. Flip a lever and the blanket is automatically cleaned between jobs. Printed a lot of short runs in quick order.
    Can anybody tell if that feature is on the 320? Also, did Munk ever get the 320? Or is it still sitting in the storage unit?

    1. Nah, never managed to get in contact with the seller again. I have to assume someone bought out the whole storage unit. Slipped my grasp. /:

    2. The Blanket Washer attachment could be fitted to most of the models as the side frames of all of these units were identical …

      The only model im unclear of as far as blanket washer would be the model 325 A and B as these units had etching and plate inserters. Never laid eyes on one.

  15. munk You want mine???????

    1. Heh, “want”, sure – the main issue is always logistics, though. (:
      I couldn’t afford to get it unless you were in town (too big to ship) and I don’t really have the room for one right now. My platemaker’s also dead now, so that’s cooled my desire to have one. /:

  16. Sorry to hear about your problems, as I have some of my own! I’m still waiting to hear back from Craig from a while back.

  17. Hi, worked on ABDick range for 19yrs as field engineer in uk.
    320’s steady warhorses in schools, small offices etc. Main probs form rollers swelling at ends, rubber coming away from shaft.
    Plates loaded manually on 325, 326 etc, clamping at tail.
    325 straight edge plates loaded automatically when etching roller lever actuated.
    Keep impression cylinder clean and use good blanket.
    Good luck with form roller shaft.
    Good little machine.does what it says on can!

  18. Hi, I’m Sam Keller of Carver/ Plymouth Massachusetts. I was in the office equipment business many years ago and sold mimeographs and duplicator Spirit 210 duplicator that I totally restored but it needs a little . My hobby now is buying and repairing Spirit duplicators and mimeographs. I buy them on ebay and clean the mup and replace the pads and wicks and the rollers. Parts for these machines are very hard to come by. I really need a parts book for A B Dick,duplicators and mimeos. That’s mostly what I fix and sell. I have a beauty of a machine. I need a for a 210 fluid dup a hairsize spring that fits on the end around a gear of the feed roller shaft that prevents the wheels from turning the other way. I can’t get the part unless I have a number. It’s not bigger than a dime and the thickness of a hair.. It fits in a groove on the gear that turns the shaft.I’ve tried to find a replacement but they don’t work. It has a little loop on the end and and the otherend is bend down to fit in a little slot to prevent this spring from moving it’s the only thing that is broken on this. If someone knows where I can get a parts book I would appreciate it very much. or the part. I rebent what was left and marine glued it in place and for the most part it works but it still kicks the paper out the wrong way once in a while. I sell on Ebay under purplesammyk and since I rebuild and paint if necessary my name is good and I make and sell custom wicks for all Duplicators and ink pads for mimeographs. I have DEMOS on YOUTUBE listed by Sam under THE ORIGINAL HECTOGRAPH, or Spirit Fluid Duplicator Demo. I just developed a Thermal stencil that doesn’t require a Thermofax. Just $100 dollar printer that you can also use to make copies with. It make master units for dups. and stencils for mimeographs of anything in seconds. No special carbon base copy to start. Inexpensive too. I’m hoping that someone here can help me. I called all over the country and can get the part if I have the number for it. I’d love to get into a tabletop offset but for me it too much work and I have a Risograph GR1700 digital duplicator one of the first . An automatic mimeograph. A work horse that you can change the color easily. Thanks and good luck of finding what you need. The copiers (which I was trained to repair)put the equipment of the office out of use and now out of business. I mainly repaired typewriters and adding machines. All makes. I do have an address for ALL A B DICK products since the company began in 1800 with Edison til it was sold in the 80’s. The Ford/Benson Museum contains everything Dick made or printed since the beginning. They will make copies of manuals and research for you. They charge by time to look up and print the material. A little expensive but it’s worth it in the end. Drop me a line and I will give you the information. Very handy resource.

    1. This is the only parts source outside of Printer’s Parts I am aware of that may be still around..

      you may give them a shot for parts for your spirit duplicator. I know the spring you are speaking of but have long ago parted with manuals / parts for those.

      1. I just recently bought an ABDICK 326 and need any written information or photos of it is there anyone who has manuals or materials available? Billy contact at billyodamit@gmail.cominformation

  19. the Feed Wheels for all of the ABD 320 Series was 077940. It is possible that PRINTERS PARTS has access to an aftermarket rubber feed wheel that would work.

    There was a feed wheel for the Mimeograph Duplicators that was part #045268.

    Again Printer’s Parts is most likely the only source for these, now.

    Mark Andy is the current holder of availiable ABD parts and supplies and I believe still sells Offset Presses under the ABD name … The units are made by Ryobi/Hamada if they are still in production.

    Duplicator Printing presses are nearly a thing of the Past in the US with the digital high speed copying equipment now available.

    I miss the trade and have been gone from it over a decade now.

  20. for rollers the only source Im familiar with for the soft rollers is ( or was ) Syntac.

    Lith O Roll Corporation is gone im pretty sure.

    the original hard rollers, not available anymore.

    its a shame but an era long gone

  21. Thanks Timmy, Where is the other place other than printers parts. I called Marc Andy. Very nice but couldn’t help. Printer parts couldn’t help me cause I don’t have a part number/ I even went to a watchmaker to see if he could make one. But not knowing what it looked like he tried but way off. It is size 20 spring seel which I can only get from guitar spring wire if I uncoil the wrapping around it. Takes some time but you only need a couple of inches. I’ve made a few that work for a little while bt the come undone and stop working. I’m really desperate. I will contact the Ford Benson museum for a copy of the manual.

  22. It’s been a long time since I have been on this site (2017), it’s nice to hear about other guys that have the same problems as I do! Going way back, I’m still looking for the roller shaft for my AB DICK 320. I found the roller,but still need the shaft. If anyone has a 320, please contact me here so I might be able to get some info on my long lost shaft. I would be happy to even get the specks. So if anyone can help let me know and I wont wait 2 years to respond. THANKS!!!!

  23. I forgot to say that the shaft im missing is for the form roller. HELP !

  24. I worked for AB Dick Co. In Dallas for several years . I liked the feed roller system, but the 360 vacuum feed was better. I got trained and certified in Cgicago in 1980, then later worked for an individual and then My own srevise for years. Miss the printing and the people that have INK in there blood..

  25. Hi Mike, I’m hoping you can help me out. I have an AB Dick 320 which I bought back in the seventies that I used to print labels for gallon and quart cans that I used to repackage EPOXY. I have had it in storage for a long time, and decided to bring it back to life. Every thing worked great, except for the rollers which I was able to buy. My problem is the ink form roller did not come with a shaft. I would like to know if you could help me with info about the shaft. I’m looking forward to your impute. Thanks Ken

    1. Ken, are you still needing a form roller shaft? I have a parts press.


      1. Hi Dave, I just got an ABDick 326, do you have any parts, manuals or info on these small presses?

        1. Nope, I was hoping to get some, but it never materialized.

  26. Buena tarde yo tengo una abedic 320 pero no la he podido usar porque me faltan las rodelas que jalan el papel, tiene pero están desgastadas y jalan un hoja si y una hoja no , si sabe donde pedo conseguirlas le agradecere informacion o si esta interesado en la maquina la vendo como esta , estoy en Guatemala , saludos

  27. Wendy Velaquez This is Ken Bejlovec, I dont read or speak Spanish so I dont understand what you said !

  28. Mrs Velazquez needs a feed roller. Hers skip feeds, its torn up.

    Lith-O-Roll closed a year or so back. I have the luck of living down the street from them AND a few blocks from a paper and ink supplier.

    Im 34 this year. Settled on the printing trade after self-publishing in high school and wanted to be able to control my costs/vertically integrate. The high wages helped too.
    One of the last to graduate a trade program at a community college. Got my hands on a 360. Got a job at a big web house. Learned how to run 75″ webs into inline finishing, even 2 57″ webs tandem into inlines. Like the X Games of printing.

    There are a few people who might have what you are looking for but I cant post their info online. Let me check in and see what they say.

    1. Any help you can give me will be really great, thanks ken

  29. I’m looking to buy a AB Dick 326 or similar.

    In Rhode Island USA.

    Thank you!

    abdick326 AT

  30. Hola buen día, podrías compartir el manual de la abdick 320, gracias

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