The Wonders of (Steel) Wool: Press Day 2

IMG_0458 crop
Press cleaning, part one! Variety of screwdrivers from my hunt for one to get the gripper screws out.

Today marks my first time working on my new press! After much researching, article reading, and press restoration video watching, I finally got started on restoring mine. I found and contacted NA Graphics to get my rollers recovered and/or replaced (they’ll decided which once they see the rollers in person). The rollers are now boxed up with as much bubble wrap as I could cram in, ready to be sent off to get cleaned up and fixed up. I also began looking for local welders to fix the broken ink disk shaft, but have met with far less success thus far. Cast iron, it seems, is not a popular metal anymore. Maybe it has something to do with its immense weight and predilection to rust…

Ink shaft collage
Before and after. Ink disk shaft is freed! Yay!

Speaking of rust, most of today was dedicated to that subject. I started with  soaking the broken end of the ink disk shaft, which was rusted into the arm of the press, with WD-40. Despite the bright orange patina of rust all over it, after only a few minutes the shaft easily popped out. Success! I scrubbed down the shaft, although only the broken end had much rust on it. The rest of it had been kept clean, stuck inside its socket as it was.

Chase bed collage
Chase bed, before and after. The black frame in the first picture is the chase, which I removed for cleaning.

Next I got the chase bed soaked and scrubbed. I started out using rags, which took the top layer of rust off but no more. Then a few pads of steel wool were located, and things began going much better. I focused mostly on the chase bed, coating it in WD-40 and scrubbing with steel wool at least three times, until I could wipe it down with a rag and have the rag stay relatively clean.

I wanted to work on the platen as well, which is in far worse shape than the chase bed, but that couldn’t happen until I got the grippers out of the way. After a good soaking I managed to get the screws out, but the grippers are still jammed fast. I’ll have to do more research, but I’m fairly certain those screws should have been the only things holding the grippers in place. We’ll see what a long soak in WD-40 does for them. Hopefully they get loosened up enough that I can slide them off and get at the platen tomorrow.

Ink disk tile
Top: Before and after first scrubbing on ink disk. Bottom: Ink disk with and without its shaft set in place.

After scrubbing down the press (or at least parts of it), I got the ink disk out and worked on it. Being one of the unpainted sections of the press, the top of the ink disk was an intense orange that should only be seen on such disks if they’ve been inked up with orange ink. I scrubbed the top of it down until the rust was reduced to dark reddish stains, and actual metal showed through! I also worked on the back of the ink disk, though not as long as the top since I’d been going at it for a while.

Platen and gripper with its screw out. Despite the removal of the screws, the grippers are stuck fast.

With the exception of the chase bed, everything will likely need a second scrubbing (at minimum), but even with more to go, the press is already looking so much better! Now all I need is a welder, and I should have everything lined up to get my press up and working!

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