cleaning my press

i’m a digital art director who has recently gotten the letterpress bug, and after much hunting i have aquired an adana 8x5. it isn’t in the best condition, and needs a lot of tlc

how can i get it looking factory new like the ones that i have seen refurbished on ebay? i can clean the rust of the body and the screws, but they still look dull and a muddy colour after cleaning

what type of paint is the best to spray the body with?

any help would be appreciated, i am very much a beginner at this!


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There are few threads and blogs which already address this, but the approximate steps are:

1) Use a comprehensive program to remove all grime and rust, such as electrolysis, walnut-blasting, or old fashioned elbow grease with several cleaners.

2) Asses the complexity of your machine and either disassemble or work around the intact machine to apply a paint stripper.

3) Immediately repaint the surfaces to prevent new rust from forming. Preservationist seem to prefer a heavy, oil-based paint with a specific primer step made for machinery/metal.

4) Do historical research to determine if any striping or special coloring is desired on your press.

Restoring a press is much more of a task than a simple cleaning; many parts will require several cleanings to remove years of caked on grime. Interestingly enough though, this grime is sometimes beneficial to the press in that it provides some surface protection and is preferable to running an unlubricated press.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

thanks for the advice Vrooooom, that’s a big help

i’ve done ok so far with cleaning the rust and grime from the machine, and i’ve oiled the roller bearer springs so they function again. can you recommend any makes of paint?

i realise it’s a big job, but unfortunately it needed more than a wipe down and clean to be functional (the perils of ebay!)

Check out this flickr set. Electrolysis might be the best route:

And don’t forget to do your research on briarpress!

James Beard
Vrooooom Press