Help— problem restoring a Kelsey Star

Hi everyone,

Getting into the nitty gritty stuff with restoring my Kelsey Star.

I am attaching a picture, and then linking a video regarding the issues I’m having. I would appreciate your input. The two platens I maintain for the college studio are much larger and heavier. This Kelsey is smaller, lighter and just plain made differently.

As pictured, how freely must the small bottom wheel spin (sorry— don’t know what else to call it)? Right now, It’s pretty frozen and I’m unsure how to free it. I cleaned out the oil port (totally clogged!) with a drill bit and lubed with oil, but I may clean that out to Kroil it. I can’t get at this mechanism without totally disassembling the press, and I don’t want to do that.

Secondly, as in the video, this press is making horrendous GA-GUNK sounds when the treadle is in use. Is this related to the above problem or something else? Here’s the video… sorry for the rotation, but it’s the only way I could make the shot and have the whole press in it. It’s 22 seconds long:

Thanks for all your help! I’m frustrated that I’ve run into yet another problem with this old gal.

image: gear.jpg


Log in to reply   4 replies so far

The large eccentric disc in your photo is basically a cam, and the small “wheel” your arrow points to is a cam follower. It needs to rotate to ensure even wear. I would suggest that you try to find a pair of plastic-jaw slip-joint pliers with which you can try to rotate the follower while applying liberal amounts of PB Blaster or similar solvent-lubricant. Wiggling it even a very little bit will work the lubricant into the axle on which it is mounted and eventually the amount of movement will increase until it’s possible to turn it freely. You’ll want to flood it with solvent-lubricant when it starts to move to wash as much as possible of whatever is jamming it out of the joint. Because it’s behind your arrow I can’t tell what the axle of the follower is like — if you could remove it after you get the follower freed up a little it would be easier to clean the whole assembly. Be careful to check that pin when the follower starts to rotate loose, to be sure it’s not the pin that’s rotating.


Thanks, Bob. I used Purple Power, Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster. The cam follower now moves! I suspect it’ll keep moving easier with use.

The noise is treadle related, so now I have that to work on. Where the treadle hook meets the end cuff on the shaft, that joining cuff is moving. You can see it in the above photo. I removed both screws, and am trying to remove that cuff now to see why it’s slipping when it reaches the rotational apex and pressure from the treadle is applied.

Be sure to keep that cam follower well oiled to keep flushing the gunk out of it.

I would guess that with two set screws the treadle “cuff” is slipping because the screws worked loose and carved grooves in the shaft. Usually that kind of set screw is set into a conical divot in the shaft to prevent it slipping. You may have to clean up the shaft and drill out the divots a little, or drill new ones since I doubt the position of the cuff is critical.


I will definitely keep flushing and oiling the cam follower… the drippings from that area were (and continue to be) black… decades of built up gunk.

That’s exactly what I hope to find with that treadle connection. One of the screws is shiny and very worn on the end, which suggests it’s been slipping for quite some time. That part is proving extremely difficult to remove in the limited space I have to work with within the interior area of this little press. I hope the position isn’t critical! So far, I see no indication of holes drilled in the shaft for these screws to set into, unlike the flywheel on the opposite end of the shaft…

Also, definitely noticing the casting inconsistencies of this press as I work on it. Eek.