Painting an ink disk. Bad Idea?

I have recently been sprucing up a kelsey 3x5” and wondering about the pros and cons of painting the ink disk and covering it with a clear coat. I haven’t seen this question specifically addressed so I was wondering if anyone has done this. (The inevitable “why?” I’m sure is out there and the reason is I like the look of a really shiny ink disk and was thinking a quick coat of silver and a clear coat on top would allow me to wipe the ink off and keep a bright shiny finish on the disk)

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I suggest that if you are going to actually use the machine to print, the rollers will eventually flake off the paint and you are going to have problems. The platen should be slightly dull to accept ink. Think of how poorly ink would stick to Teflon. You’d be doing something very similar.

won’t the cleaning chemicals cut into your paint and give you a big mess?
ps: from what i remember, i too would look into resurfacing then using a good preservative when not in use. frequent use should keep it in shape though. a good machine shop should be able to help. some pics here to show the condition close up would help also.

Painting the ink disk on your press will be a big mistake. Only if you plan to place this press on a showcase display and never used to print again it would be a good idea.

But, if you plan to print with this press the paint or any thing that is not just the metal of the disk will cause the ink to not cover the inking rollers correctly.

Take the inking disk to a machine shop, they might be able to sand the disk smooth and make it look new. But the ink and the ink rollers will never work correctly if the inking disk has a clear coating or paint on it.

Instead of degrading the inking capability of the press, and the washup too, why don’t you just drape a pie tin over the disk when you aren’t printing? That should be shiny enough for any magpie.

Hopefully you’ll never see the disk if you painted it a silver because you’ll have printers ink on it from all the work you’ll be printing. If you print with rubber based ink you can leave it on overnight and you’ll never see that dull disk. Maybe printing metallic silver ink would help you enjoy the ink disk periodically in all it’s shining glory.

Using a pie pan would give reason to make a pie. Every time you print you’ll have to bake a pie. I might try that as well since cherry is my favorite.


Don’t paint it. Bad idea for above reasons. Flaking etc.

Just get the disc Sandblasted with something fine or better yet, scrub it with steel wool- then keep it coated with a thin layer of grease when not in use, but make sure to wash it off with spirits or white gasoline/kerosene when you’re about to use it.

You’ll be amazed at how shiny it will stay if you make sure to grease it after you clean between uses.

once you have baked the pie, if you had a die cutting die made, with a rule height of , say, 1 7/8 inches, you could die cut all the slices at once… with a bit of platen adjustment… :0

It’s a *lot* easier to see if the press is clean with bare metal.

I would recommend the sandblast route, but if you are adamant about adding color to your ink disk you may want to consider taking it somewhere to be powder coated. I am not sure how well it would stand the test of time, but it would hold up to solvents much better than paints and clear coat.

Powder coating is also a bad idea, I just feel it would be prone to chipping the first time you hit it with an inkknife. Bare metal man, bare metal.

If you really give a cent if it looks shiny, I would get it PLATED. Why don’t you take it to a chrome plating service. It’s not a very large part, you could have that done cheaply. At least then you’d have a metal on metal surface. Or better still, silver plating if you really want to drop the ca$#.

(Above post a joke, I dont really recco. plating)

Silver would be a bad idea — too soft — but hard chrome over the polished cast iron would look pretty good and be durable enough if well done, provided you always use a plastic ink knife — no metal objects in contact with the disc.


it is difficult to “just chrome this area” as it is an electro-dipping process. keep the metal as a great woman. bare and well-used! lol

While I would certainly leave it bare metal myself, it would be pretty simple to chrome-plate just the ink disk, as it just lifts off. Of course the entire ink disk would get chromed, including underside and stem, but that shouldn’t be a problem, I wouldn’t think.

Incidentally, the large oscillator roller (roughly equivalent to an ink disk) on my c.1915 Multigraph Junior No. 40 is chromed, and it works just fine, and still looks quite nice after all these years. I assume the company chromed it (as well as some trim pieces) to help make it look like a modern piece of office equipment, as the Multigraph was typically sold into office-like situations, not shops.

Some of you may be kidding, but, I would just like to point out that in order for metal to be plated it has to be extremely clean and shiny for it to be accepted by a plating company. If you do all the work to prepare for plating, you already have what you desire. A shiny ink disk. I may be wrong, but, I believe most older presses or duplicators that have plating that looks like chrome is more likely nickel. It was commonly used and is hard to differentiate from chrome. I hope to get parts replated some time and I will use nickel. My throw off handle, bales, and some platen adjusting knobs have their plating mostly worn off. My experience would say that sandblasting would be far to abrasive to use. I have seen what “black beauty” grit can do to bare metal. It is kind of a etched finish and not appropriate for the disk. Soda blasting is a more appropriate media if you must blast, but it doesn’t make the metal shiny, just clean. If a ink disk needs some attention, a finish random sander with a fine grit waterproof paper done with frequent rinsing would do wonders with much less cost and produce the desired results. Just don’t over do it.

Just buff it out with 0000 steel wool.
I prefer to see ink on my disk. It means we’re making money.

interior latex comes in gloss, right?