machine oil on rubber rollers?

I’ve been cleaning my rubber rollers with California wash after print. Do I need to cover with a thin coating of machine oil after that? If so what kind of machine oil should I use?
I’m planning to buy ‘30’ machine oil for my press and I have no idea where to find it.

I’d appriciate your help.

Log in to reply   7 replies so far

I’ve not used California wash, so I’m not really aware of its content, but rubber rollers need no coating of oil after cleaning. When using gelatin composition rollers, I have left oil on them when standing idle as it restricts how much humidity they can absorb or lose (depending on the season).

Unless you hear otherwise from someone familiar with the cleaner you are using, I would see no need to oil the rollers after cleaning. I would regularly oil the bearing surfaces at the ends of the rollers, but those need only be done with the remainder of the press on a daily (or as used) basis.

Yeah, I thought the idea to be a bit odd too….. but having never used California Wash before, I wondered if there might be something different about it that mandated oiling one’s rollers.

I use good old fashioned mineral spirits which doesn’t require anything special in the way of roller-oilage on silicone, poly, or gummy-bear composition rollers inside my shop

For comp rollers used with oil-based ink in a location that varies in humidity and temperature, some old printers used mineral oil to prevent absorption of moisture, but that’s not much of an issue nowadays.

I think that oil would ruin rubber rollers. As for “30” oil, you probably mean straight 30-weight oil, which is available wherever motor oil is sold. It works fine on printing presses.

A couple decades & a half ago the late Wilbur Doctor gave me a set of rollers for my rescued-from-a-field 10x15 C&P NS.

I thought they were compo and thus doused ‘em good with a thin layer of oil after every clean up.

Then they melted. Stripped themselves clean on the ink disk, something I’d heard had happened to others. Now it was my turn.

Since then, I have religiously abstained from letting anything closer to petroleum than kerosene get near the rubber rollers that I got a decade or so back, which is a pretty tricky for an atheist.

I’d advise strongly against oiling rubber rollers. Look what kero does to the tires on Morgan trucks.


Wow, I was about to make big mistake. I found the information of using oil after cleaning in the book ’ General Printing’. I guess I misunderstood or something.
Thanks for your advice and letting me know where I can find 30 weight machine oil for my press.(not for rollers ^^)

The paragraph in ‘General Printing’ about roller cleaning refers to composition rollers, since it specifically mentions glue and glycerine. Modern rubber rollers are a different matter, and two major damaging factors there are UV light and ozone. An oil coating might help with the ozone, and I know an occasional printer who does this with no ill effect on his rollers. Making a roller cabinet and storing the rollers in it would help with both factors and reduce the amount of cleaning required. After all, roller damage can also caused by negligent cleaning (residues, abrasions, etc.).

You all know how I hate to stir up controversy (ha!), but I DID find another pro-oil arguement for rollers….. also about composition rollers… sort of.

Gummy Bears list corn oil as an ingredient. This is applied to the surfaces of the little critters to prevent their absorbing moisture and sticking together. Since we all know that a composition roller is the same material, it stands to reason that corn oil would prevent absorption of moisture.

So… oiling might not be a bad thing, if you are using gummy bear rollers.