initial clean of C&P…where to start?

Hi there,

I’ve just purchased my first press (a C&P oldstyle) and am about to start cleaning it up. It has not been used for many years AND was underwater during a flood. It is surprisingly well oiled, has little rust and all parts move well but as you can imagine, it’s rather dirty. Any advice on what I should use for the initial clean up would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks! :)

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Start with cleaning products and dishwashing soap you find under your kitchen sink. And rags and an old toothbrush. Move on to mineral spirits/paint thinner and the toothbrush for more stubborn stuff.
Clean debris from oil holes. Flood all oil holes and any place where two parts move against one another with oil. The exception is the rails. Any oil is better than none. 30 weight automobile oil is just fine.

Don’t clean it with water-based products, unless you are really fond of rust. Use mineral spirits or Kerosene and a stiff plastic flexible brush. If you can do the work outside it would be better so you didn’t have fumes to contend with. I would encourage you to use an evaporating lubricant to initially free up any sticking parts, and oil as needed. C&Ps will not hold oil, and if you over-oil you will have a huge mess on your hands, and the floor. I prefer to use synthetic oil, like Castrol Syntech as it leaves a coating on the metal, and gives a little more protection.


when my youngest girl was about 6 years old (she always helps me) she was in the shop with me, i gave her a broom and she was going to sweep up, i only left her for 5 minutes, she picked up the windex and sprayed all my presses, she said proudly dad i cleaned all your machines for you. There is still a few rusty spots on one of my windmills. I would never use anything with water to clean these machines. Most of my machines still have 100 years of gunk on them, the only stuff i clean is where the paper goes and the platen and bed of the presses.

WD 40 can be purchased by the gallon at the big box stores. Put it in a squirt bottle and start at the top of the press. It is simply wonderful for all tasks related to machinery clean up. It softens the stuff you don’t want, lubricates and displaces water. It is not unpleasant to smell. Use acid brushes, tooth brushes, dental picks, wire brushes, Scotchbrite, elbow grease and lots of rags. No regrets … ever. Air out the rags - outside then dispose.

I should have made further comment. The press will indeed not hold the extra oil. That is the point. The flooding with oil is to flush out any grit and debris. Oil is cheap. Wear is bad. One should place something under the press to receive the oil as it drips out.

But then you have to clean all the oil off of it, seems like adding an unnecessary step.

Dick g
A man out of my stable it is you are!! Mine too are basically filthy , only the business end gets cleaned , feed table and delivery board , the rest is smeared in crap!
If the bearings and bushes are a bit open and you keep dripping then wipe them out and use a sticky non throwing oil ,chaisaw oil meant for the chain works to stay put !

thanks to everyone for your advice! I think I will give the WD40 a go and definitely flood with oil to flush out the debris - I agree that more is better than less, even if it does makes a mess!

Peter, some day you must stop by for tea, i’m not too far from you, i’m near Hanover.

Dick G
I am sure you are talking to someone other than i ? The impression i have is you somewhere in states where tea is a bit of a sore point with us ???
Why am i confused , because there is a district in town here called Hanover , There is also a place a couple of hundred miles over in mainland europe called hanover ?
just where are you in the world Or is it a bit creepy and you are the old god ?? Although i swear i read it right on a thread old dog !

Peter, i am in New England, next to the town of Hanover, in southeastern Massachusetts, some of us still drink a bit of tea (thanks to an English grandma) . i really enjoy your posts and if you ever get to this side of the pond you are more than welcome to stop by.

We’ve just restored my Peerless press and we flooded it with WD40 (it had been stored in a barn and was so thick with gunk you couldn’t get it moving!) We flooded the press with engine oil as well.

Also we used grease (the mechanics stuff, not the cooking stuff!) and soaked all the bolts, washers, springs, basically if it was metal and it came off, it got soaked. Also every nook and cranny you can squirt oil into, do it! I kept envisaging C3PO from Star Wars, when he took his oil bath!

For really intense rust, we used emery cloth to strip the rust off, this is a hard sandpaper type cloth. It really strips down metal, so only use sparingly and in places where elbow grease hasn’t shifted it.

Then to protect the frame we painted the press in Hammeright metal paint. (After a wipe down with wipe spirit.) Which basically makes the rust into a primer and then coats the metal in a protective coat.

Now the press moves like a dream! Overall it’s taken about a month of doing a couple of hours everyday, to really clean down the press. Mine is very clean now but that’s because it really was covered in poo and straw and as my press is in my house, I wanted a clean machine.

Hope your restoration goes well!