painting a C&P pilot

I have a C&P pilot that I’ve had for years, but hardly used since I got my 10 x 15. I’ve decided to give it some love. I’m not a fan of the gray color (presumably this is the original paint, but I’m not sure). I’d like to paint it black. The press is not in terrible shape; not covered in rust or anything like that, but I’d like to spruce it up and get the rollers in better shape and put it into use for small things. I’d also like to spruce up the stand its on.

Do I need to completely take the press apart to paint it? I would really rather not, but I don’t want to accidentally paint some hinge or bolt closed.

Any advice for refurbishing it? I’ve looked at the other threads on refurbishing a Pilot, but my press isn’t particularly rusty. I just need to clean it and paint it, (I think).

image: pilotpress1.jpg


image: pilotpress2.jpg


image: pilot3.jpg


image: pilotpressstand.jpg


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I think you’ll be surprised at how much better it will look if you remove the ink and oil. I would recommend giving it a good scrub using Naptha to loosen the old ink. If you want to paint it (grey was the original color), you should disassemble it. To do the best job possible you would need to strip it, and prime and paint it, which is quite a job. The paint is probably in good enough shape to paint over the existing paint, but you will have to get it totally clean for proper adhesion. The existing paint will need to be roughed up with a ScotchBrite pad before painting, and you would be much better served to use a brush on oil-based enamel designed for painting metal.


Being a restorer of equipment, my advise would be to do it correctly the first time so that it will last you a life time and look awesome as well.

Devils Tail Press is completely correct, your press looks to be in very good shape. For paint to adhere properly you will need to clean it, get all the dirt and oil off the parts. Paint doesn’t stick to dirt. You will want to tear the press down and paint all the parts disassembled so looks factory, you can get all the places you wont ever get painted if you leave it together. What I use is paint thinner to clean, then sand with an orbital sander (you can get cheap ones at harbor freight cheap) it will save you hours of time. There will be some small spots you will need to sand by hand but use 180 or 220 grip paper. It cuts through a lot with out leaving heavy marks it the metal.

You will want to spray not brush on paint, spraying gives you a better uniform coverage, look and feel. Paint in a well ventilated area where you wont get paint on other things. Rustoleum makes a high performance silver tall, i think 600 or 650ml cans you can get from Granger (they stock most of the colors). Primer first two coats, then 2-3 coats of your paint put the first coat on light. Oh and after you sand wipe the parts off with paint thinner with a clean rag again. paint both sides and read the directions on the can for temperature requirements .

Let me know if you have other questions or need any other help. And always take photos and label all your parts or do drawings so you know how it all goes back together

If you are going to take it all the way apart you need to be careful with disassembly and reassembly of the side arms- those springs can be dangerous if they get away from you.

Also expect that the disassembly of the gripper assembly might slow you down. The spring sometimes wears a burr on the gripper bar shaft which makes it hard to remove the cast iron part on the end. It can take some work, but be gentle with it. You don’t want to snap that casting.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Yeah have a helper do that part with you, makes it a lot easier!

Thank you everyone for your comments.

I am not the best with dimensional memory like some guys are. So I am really kind of reluctant to disassemble it myself.

But I want it to be pretty!

If it’s taken all apart, and then cleaned, sanded, primed, and painted, is it right for the joints where screws and springs go in to be painted as well? Like are the springs supposed to not be painted?

P.S. I have been thinking I’d like to restore my old-style C&P, too. It looks fine now, but it’s not really super-duper, and I’d like it to be. Does it need to be completely taken apart too?