Cleaning up an old 219AB …HELP!

I have recently obtained a Vandercook 219AB. My question, as silly as it may seem, is this. Bear in mind, I have no experience in restoring an old press.

At this point, the press is rather grimy (hasn’t been used for 15+/- years). Would it be bad to pressure wash? I am thinking two things: the (electrical) motor driven inking system, and pressure washing possibly contributing to MORE rusting. If not, any ideas? If so, any further ideas? Thank you all for your help in advance.



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Updated. Congratulations on obtaining your press. But pressure washing is a very bad idea. Yes, you will introduce moisture into crevices that will not dry out and create rust. For cleaning, I recommend using Simple Green for painted surfaces and mineral spirits for bare metal. If you do not have good ventilation or are sensitive to the odor then use California Wash (more expensive, but your brain will thank you!). Also Nevr-Dull is a nontoxic cleaner that will easily brighten the brass and can give a mirror-like shine to steel and aluminum.

Once its is cleaning than you will want to keep it the bearers and bearings oiled. And oil attracts dirty, so it is a maintenance routine.

More Vandercook advice is yours for the asking on my website and blog:

On the bibliography page of the website you will find an article “Caring for your Vandercook” by Bryan R. Johnson (Small Press Magazine. January/February 1985) that specifically warns against pressure washing.

Good luck.

Funny, when I was in art school, Simple Green was my best friend. Thanks for the advice Paul!

Updated. Hi Adam:

A terrific inexpensive and non-toxic degreasing product labeled as Industo Clean is available through any Amway dealer. Hands down this product is vastly superior to Simple Green and other like non toxic solutions available to the consumer. It will not remove embedded rust or cigarette burns from printers who simultaneously smoked and pulled proofs in years past. As former Director and Founder of Archetype Press at Art Center College of Design for 15 years one of my tasks was to clean 8-10 Vandercooks each week. I tried every imagineable product until my barber (and Amway rep) suggested I try his formula. Bingo! My cleanup time was cut in half freeing me up to sort type until closing.

Vance Studley / Fine Press