I just bought this and I’m so excited to clean it up! Now how do I do that and does anyone know what it is? I think its a Sigwalt?

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You should have fun with that press when you get it up and running. It’ll work great for business cards, letterhead, or even greeting cards of a certain design.

It looks like a Sigwalt but could also be a Baltimore (or perhaps even one of a few other very similar presses). When you get it to your house (looks like this is a seller photo that you’ve posted, right?), take some more pictures, and someone here might be able to make a surer identification and make recommendations for clean-up. Todd at Toddspresstime has quite a collection of small presses of this design and might be able to weigh in. He could almost certainly sell you the missing rollers for your press too.

As for clean-up, lots of people use a vinegar and lime/lemon juice soak to get rust off. I’ve done it before. One has to be a bit careful not to cause some rust with that method. I generally prefer WD-40 and a light scrubber (ScotchBrite pad) for only mildly rusty things like your press.

Keep us posted on your progress, and have fun with your new machine.

It looks like a Sigwalt Chicago #11 (the two roller model with the chase size at 2.5 by 4 inches). Craftsman Machinery has released the exact same machine under the “Hobby” brand in the 1980’s but judging by it’s state it must be the original from early 1900’s.

Thank you both! I will try the WD and scrubber. Yes this is the sellers pic. Anyone have any idea about the size of the chase? I do work on stationary which is why I bought it. Is it too small to print on a 5x7 card? Oh and what about this boxcar stuff? Good/bad? I will try and add more pics.

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ok, well pic 2 will not show up.

I think your chase size is approximately 2.5” x 3.5”. Your printing area would be closer to a third of that, roughly the printed area of an address label or a business card, I think. Approx. 1” x 2”

If you’re a little artful in your design, you could almost certainly do minimalist 5x7 greeting cards that machine. You’ll be leaving a fair amount of white space on the card in order to function within the abilities of your press, but one could certainly work within that constraint. You’ll also want to plan to leave the overhang from the card sticking out on the right side of the press (the side without the arm on it) so that the card that’s larger than the platen doesn’t get caught up in the action of the press. You’ll see what I mean when you have the press in front of you.

Some of these presses have screws on the back of the chase bed instead of the platen for impression adjustment. As you’re getting it ready, it’s worth keeping in mind that your adjustment will probably work according to a different design than most other presses.

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Evapo-rust works wonders for rust. You want to check out NA Graphics for rollers. They have the specs for most table tops.



Should I take it apart first or try and get the rust off and then take apart?

Thanks for all the info!

i never take old presses apart, i just clean most of the rust off and oil them up and print. Cast iron will break very easily, you can’t be to careful,

Ok, I received the press. Smaller than my minds eye thought, but no problem. Anyway, soaked it in lime and vinegar for a day. While that worked rather well for surface rust, the parts will not move. The arm will not budge. I dried it and rubbed it down with WD, so now what? One of the spring arms is bent, how do I get that off?

Thanks for any info!

Here is a post about bent roller hooks that may help you fix your press:
Try some penetrating oil, you can buy it at your local hardware store.

Not to be a wet blanket, and no offence meant to you min-min, but I don’t understand why anyone with little knowledge would buy a piece of rusted crap. If you want to print why didn’t you buy a functional press? After you do get this press unseized, the roller hook straightened, and hopefully you don’t break this antique while trying to get it ready to print…you are still going to have spent more $ for rollers and trucks. People please just bite the bullet and pay for a functioning press. Otherwise you carry the risk of ending up with hard feeling about letterpress.


good point. The learning curve is already pretty tough with a functional press. Having to restore a press is poor condition and get it printing correctly requires the skill set of someone who has typically already mastered this curve.



Thanks for your suggestions. I see it as more of a project so I don’t mind spending elbow grease and time to get it up and running. Learning as I go. My main concern was how long to leave it in the mixture before more damage is done.

I wouldn’t recommend leaving it in the acidic mixture for very long at all. Hours seems to be the general recommendation. That mixture probably won’t do more than the aforementioned penetrating oil will for you at this point anyway. You might want to hit those bolts on the back of the chase bed with a little penetrating oil too. You’ll need those operational to adjust your press.

The good news is that elbow grease will pay off in knowledge about the press’s operation. It took me a couple of months to get my first press up and running, but I knew a lot more at the end of that that I did at the beginning. Good luck!

Thanks gabriel!

I just want to give a BIG,BIG thanks to Todd of toddspresstime2. He really helped me get my Sigwalt Chicago up and running! He exceeded my expectations, he kept me in the loop of the process and reconditioned it then returned it in a weeks time. Thank you, thank you toddspresstime2!