Restore or Not to Restore

Hello All!

I own an 8x12 C&P that is in marvelous working order and she is beautiful in everyway (in its natural cast irony old state). But i just recently acquired a twin for my C&P and This press needs some work. I met a gentleman a few neighborhoods over from me and he told me that he had a press that he was taking to the scrap yard. My heart sank. I could not possibly let this old soldier be melted down into cast iron skillets so i went to take a look. Upon arrival I found that the press had been neglected for many years but the positive side is that nothing on the press was seized and with a good oiling the press turns just fine :)

I have long been a fan of leaving a press alone but recently i have been seeing pictures online of people who have done full teardown/build up restorations of their presses and built them to museum quality. What do you guys think…. should i strip the old rust and take him apart giving him a new finish and paint job or leave the press in its cleaned up state with no new paint. I plan on possibly reselling this press or donating it to the college that i teach at… would restoring the press hurt its value? Does it make the press less desirable to die hard letterpress enthusiasts…. I like both looks. I am so torn.

Cast a vote to help me make a decision. If it is sacrilegious to restore a press… let me know that too :)

Thank you all for your input!

Log in to reply   13 replies so far

If you have the time, restore it. It’s such a gratifying thing to do.
It will take time to make it beautiful again, though. It took me about a year and a half to restore this one, but it didn’t put all my time into it, but a lot. It takes, money, patience, and a lot, A LOT of elbow grease.

image: restorationno4v.jpg


enriquevw, that is a pretty convincing defense for restoration. You did an awesome job on that press!

that is top notch!!!

Restoration can’t hurt, removing rust and putting on new paint can only extend a press’ life. If I had never tore a press down and rebuilt it, I would be hesitant to tackle a larger press, but hey, the bigger the challenge the better it’ll feel to finish.


The nice thing is that I have an exact copy of the press I will be restoring sitting right next to it. Will be nice to have a reference to look at then putting it back together :)

Taking a press apart and restoring it (cleaning, painting, and reassembling) requires handling a lot of very heavy pieces of fragile cast iron that you may not have done in moving your first press. If you decide to restore, I would suggest investing in at least a couple of materials-handling things: a lifting device (I’m partial to the hydraulic rolling floor cranes used in automotive shops — a couple of hundred dollars at Northern Tools or such) and a lifting sling or two (also from Northern) will make tearing down, moving, and reassembling much easier on your back as well as your hands and mind.


I found that an old truck or small tractor tire is very useful for laying down heavy parts and avoiding floor contact. I used an engine hoist, but often found that it didn’t really go high enough. To do it again I would make a rolling gantry high enough for a block and tackle or chain hoist. One can do remarkable damage to presses and backs relying on brute force.


Heres the easiest way to decide if you need to paint it , what state are your hands in at the end of the make ready !
If you can run a job and at the end its not got orange or brown fingermarks on it then carry on running as is ,if the job is grubby then you have clean it up.

I’m with Peter, just scrape the rust off and throw some oil on it and print, i never charge for orange or brown fingerprints.

I also agree, it depends a lot on the state of the press, my C&P Craftsman 10x15 I did not restore, although it looked grungy it didn’t need any cleaning or painting as it didn’t get my jobs dirty. On the other hand, that No. 4, well, it wouldn’t even roll.

Thanks a lot emthree, I’m very happy with it!

Ok so I have decided to restore the press. There is just too much rust for me to live with and this is going to be sitting inside my office so I’d rather have it look nice. I have been working on the disassembly process and seem to be stuck. I am trying to remove the impression bracket on the front of the press and I’m not sure how the post holding it in comes out… It should slide right out correct?

Dang it. Stupid key pin holding in the flywheel and treadle shaft. Tried removing the key on the Gear side… Whoever owned this thing before me tighten this joker down suppppper tight. Any suggestions?