The first print off the press is very rarely (I don't think its ever happened to me!) perfect.
The above image is a first print. Its smudgy due to too much ink, but you can see that some lines have more smudging than others. Since my press is 100+ years old, the rails have been worn down and I have taped them up but they have been worn unevenly, so I have had to tape them unevenly too! It has taken me around 1 year to get them taped so that they are (nearly) even!
This image shows the un eveness of the inking on one of the lines. The reason for this is the un-evenly worn rails at this point. Beneath the script text, the rollers jump in closer, onto the relief of the text and distribute ink to the sides of the text not just the very top of the text as is required.
Not enough impression on the first 3 lines of this proof, more paper packing is needed behind the print to raise it up so each line is pushed in evenly.
The aim of a perfect print is to get the ink sitting at the base of the valley that has been created by the text or image pushing into the paper, and not have any ink transferred to the walls of the valley. Let me point out that back in the days when these printers were used as the industry standard of printing, anything other than the ink sitting just on top of the paper (the ink 'kissing' the paper) was deemed poor craftsmanship, but of course today, an impression is the key!
In order to obtain a perfect print and start the print run, I may need to pull 1- 5 proofs and adjust each time, sometimes a 15-45 minute process depending on 'The Admiral's' mood!