Refurbishing a C&P pilot press

I recently aquired a pilot press and I would like to refurbish it.
I have started cleaning it. What comes next?
I will post pictures as it comes along.

image: press before.JPG

press before.JPG

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Hi! I’m in the process of doing the same thing! A mix of Lemon Juice and Vinegar works really well at cleaning the rust off. And then I rubbed a layer of WD-40 over the press.

Here are some before and after shots

It does look like the two front feet are broken off. Which might end up being an issue? I have a crack in mine, which has postponed printing because I have to find someone that can weld cast iron.

Good luck and post updates!


After some steel wool, fine sand paper, and wire brushes.
oh, yeah and lots of elbow grease.
I haven’t used the lemon juice and vinegar solution yet.

image: Press after some work.JPG

Press after some work.JPG

Completely disassembled and on it’s way to being clean!

Great! Take lots of photos!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

after being disassembled.

image: 100_3114.JPG


Make sure to cover the bed and rails as well. I personally wouldn’t go for sandblasting on this is I were you. A good scrub down with Evapo-Rust and a light Scotchbrite pad would be less violent.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Sounds good. I’ll try that first.

The platen is slightly pitted.(I have NOT sand blasted the press) I think that will be ok if I use press board under the tympan, right?

Use that stuff and give all the parts a good scrub down. I think you’ll be surprised how well it comes out. I doubt you will find the pitting to be a problem. Since you have taken the press completely apart I suggest setting the platen level so it gives a kiss impression when packed with a sheet of red pressboard, two or three pieces of tympan and a top sheet.


I am soaking the small parts in Evapo Rust. (nuts, bolts, etc.)

Another possibility for removing rust is electrolytic rust removal. Essentially it is a process that transfers rust from one piece of metal to another through the use of electricity. It is really easy to do and it works miracles on old rusty metal. For a video describing the basics, check out:

I have never used Evapo Rust, but if it doesn’t work, you might want to give this seriously handy science project a try.

I am new to letter press, but work in a custom fab shop where we use Evapo Rust all the time. The stuff works wonders, but be sure you put an anti rust coating (WD-40, wax, oil etc) on the parts soon after you de-rust, or it will begin to get surface rust very quickly… oh vicious cycles. Good Luck!

Trying out the “electrolytic rust removal” tonight.
Will post more pics tomorrow.

From what I’ve read parts must be thoroughly degreased before electrolysis. It also isn’t recommended for painted parts.

A safe way of removing paint thru the sandblasting process is by using walnut hulls instead of sand. I have always chemically stripped my presses, because I don’t want to run the risk of damaging the castings.

Please do not clean the parts and then put any kind of oil on it. Cast iron is very porous. The oil will seep into the castings and prevent your primer/paint from sticking to the metal. You should prime your parts as soon as they are cleaned and dried (I used compressed air to blow the moisture out of the castings to try to keep them from rusting immediately).

Use a primer that is designed for cast iron, and wait no more than 24 hours between coats of primer and finish coats for best adhesion. I used a paint called Kem Khromik Primer made by Sherwin Williams which can be tinted to a grey color comparable to your castings. You can pretty much put any commercial enamel onto that primer, but the compatible paint from S&W is very glossy, too much so for my taste. I would not use water based industrial paints (that is where the industry is moving), in fact some of the best exterior enamels you can buy are One Shot paints sold to the sign industry.


Here are the Photos of the electrolytic rust removal.
I am extremely amazed!!!!!

image: Before.JPG


image: Straight out of the bucket.JPG

Straight out of the bucket.JPG

image: After.JPG


WOW- I have an old press that I would love to clean up—guess I know what I’ll be trying!!

Make sure to keep the red, or positive clip OUT OF THE WATER.
Or else it will disintegrate the clip.
I had to learn by first hand experience.

I watched the video and found it a bit lacking in details. What voltage and amperage is used to do this?

I used a ten amp battery charger on the 12 volt setting.
I also used a 6 amp charger and got the same results.
Hope this helps.

Yes it does. Thanks!


picaandpress -

I am in the process of doing the same thing. Can you please tell me how you took apart your Roller Arms? I can’t seem to figure it out. Was there a pin or a screw in the left Roller Arm? In mine, it looks like maybe there was a screw but the head got broken off? Please help…

image: IMG_2240.JPG


image: IMG_2239.JPG


fish lips-

Sorry, I haven’t checked my account for quite some time.
Are you still looking for some advice?

One more thing-
Would anyone like to see photos of the finished press?

Yes, please post them :)

Here they are. Sorry about the glare.

image: 101.JPG


image: 100.JPG


image: 099.JPG


image: 098.JPG


Hard to tell with the glare, but has the ink table been painted?

It is slightly pitted though. I am probably going to have it machined down flat.