For Want of a Welder: Press Day 3

I hadn’t planned to work on my press today, seeing as NaNoWriMo has started and I have a novel to finish editing, but it turns out I’m more enamored with scrubbing rust off a press than editing my words. I’ve been going out once a day to soak the grippers in WD-40 in the hopes they will loosen enough for me to remove them, but sadly no progress has occurred there. However, I did take the steel wool to the exposed top and side edges of the platen, which had their share of rust to remove.

Cleaned tympan clamps and screws bracketing the chase and gripper screws. My press seems to be making its way into the house screw by screw…

After scrubbing them down, I decided to try unscrewing the tympan clamps so I could give them a more thorough cleaning. Two of the screws have odd tops, so it was a challenge to get them started, but once I got them loosened up with some stubborn twisting and liberal WD-40 application, they came out beautifully. When I took the clamps off I discovered not only insidious rust that had worked its way between clamps and platen, but also strips of old tympan paper stuck under the clamps! They’re far too grimy and stiff to resemble anything useful now, but they were amusing to find. I removed the paper and gave the clamps and the newly exposed edges of the platen their first scrubbing. It’s a small amount done, but still progress!

A larger accomplishment I pulled off today was finding a welder who will work with cast iron! Finally! I was beginning to worry I’d have to ship off my ink disk and shaft to have them mended by a professional letterpress restorer, which considering the weight and fragility of old cast iron, was not a prospect I was looking forward to. The shaft isn’t fixed yet, but I’m a huge step closer to getting that done. Once the ink disk is operational again, I’ll be sending off the rollers to get recovered; the second big project in need of doing.

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