You’re going to notice improvements in the paper this week.

Full color on every page.

That’s the result of a significant upgrade in our press equipment that took a bit of kismet and a lot of hard work to bring to fruition.

The Daily Astorian had some spare press units stored at a press refurbishing site in Twin Falls, Idaho. The business owner is getting ready to retire, and wanted to know whether we wanted to pick up or scrap our stored units. So press supervisor Jim Stanovich and IT director Carl Earl went to Twin Falls to take a look. The word back from our team was that our eight black units weren’t worth saving, but Web Specialties had a four-unit color tower that they would let us have for a great price, and those units would work splendidly on our press.

That would mean an extra four pages of full color could be printed in one press run.

Checking the newspaper

Clark Verd checks the newspaper after new printing equipment came online Monday.

You may not realize that we print a lot of newspapers on our press besides The Daily Astorian — the weekly Chinook Observer, biweekly Seaside Signal and Cannon Beach Gazette, and monthly Coast River Business Journal, papers all owned by our company, EO Media Group. Also Hipfish Monthly, Columbia Press, Clatskanie Chief, St. Helens Chronicle, Tillamook Headlight Herald, Lincoln City News Guard and North Coast Citizen every week for other newspaper owners. And more less-frequent publications, including the Astoria and Knappa high school newspapers.

So when you add up all of the “extra four pages” that tower could print in color in a single press run, in just one week, it’s a lot of color pages.

EO Media’s board of directors thought the investment in our product for our readers and commercial printing customers made good sense. And due to circumstances, the price was right.

What happened between then and the first press run off the new tower was pretty remarkable.

Measure up

First, the team had to figure out how we would get the old units out and the new units in, while still printing over a dozen press runs a week. That required moving the control console and renting a forklift big enough to lift the 8,000-pound units, but narrow enough to fit between the wall and the existing press.

Get the right tools for the job

Jim and Carl flew to Sacramento, where they met press installer Russ Syracuse at his warehouse and borrowed his gantry with chain and pulley set up to be ready to lift the units into place when the tower arrived. There were also lots of trips to Englund Marine, City Lumber and Fastenal for parts and tools. Columbia Steel pitched in at a moment’s notice when some custom steel plates were needed at the last minute.

Get the right people for the job

It takes a team. Jim and Carl installed the last press upgrade in 2010. With the help of production director John Bruijn and pressmen Clark Verd and Carlos Anaya and press apprentice David Deckard, they worked three weeks straight to take out the old units, prep the site with the gantry and install the new tower. Russ came to Astoria for five days to assist with the actual placement and assembly of the tower.

Sweat the small stuff

In order for the press to work correctly, the units have to be leveled and trammed to the existing line. Rollers calibrated, electrical wired and tested to the control console, and programmed to work with the existing units. All while printing a dozen plus press runs a week. Did I mention that these guys worked without a break for three weeks straight?

Great results

You’re holding the result of their work in your hands today. You’ll notice we’ve added color to pages 5 and 6, which usually have been black and white. We’ve been able to add color comics daily, and color photos throughout the section. Your Daily Astorian team is very happy to be able to offer our readers and advertisers the improvements our new press tower offers, and to our sibling publications and commercial printing customers, too.

Watch the press run

Photographer Colin Murphey has created a video that illustrates the printing process — it’s fascinating, and I never tire of watching. We’re also hosting the Northwest Press Users conference in Astoria April 5 and 6, and will give a tour of the new press operation for our Northwest newspaper colleagues.

Early morning delivery

Press units, newsprint roll stand and associated hardware arrive Jan. 19 at The Daily Astorian.

New decking and rollstand

The installation of a new full-color printing tower progresses with the addition of the decking and newsprint roll stand. Additional hookups will include electricity, lighting, water, ink and air supply lines.

New units in place

With the new full-color printing tower leveled and in place, the unit is ready for the final stages of installation.

Unit removal

Daily Astorian press crewmen Carlos Anaya, Clark Verd, Carl Earl and Jim Stanovich push out an old 2-1/2 ton black ink only press unit after removing it to make room for the new full-color 4-high tower.

Installation gantry

An installation gantry was assembled in the pressroom Jan. 13 to hoist and stack the 5-ton top half of the press tower onto the bottom half. The Daily Astorian continued to print newspapers during the three-week installation.

Kari Borgen is publisher of The Daily Astorian. Reach her at 503-325-4955 or kborgen@dailyastorian.com.

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