New Press - Cleaning and Oiling Advice (C&P Pilot)

My C&P Pilot Press was just delivered, and I am over the moon!

We are going to take it apart and clean it tomorrow. Our idea is to blow it out with compressed air to get rid of most of the dust and dirt, and then to wipe it down with cotton cloth that we have sprayed with WD40. Then we will put it back together and comprehensively oil it up.

For those of you that know - does this sound like a good approach?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Woo Hoo, my Press is Here!

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My thoughts…you asked…so here goes!
If you haven’t done it before, DON’T! Don’t let the size of it fool you, simple things like turning a side arm end for end or side for side or transposing a left for right side arm can complicate things, such as throwing the impression off. Forget about the beauty of the press, it’s only skin deep. It’s the performance and the quality of the impression that counts!
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Take some advice from an old man who has been there and done that!
Keep on printin’

I’m with Stan - you can do a very effective job of cleaning the press without taking any parts off, except the chase and rollers. With a drill bit slightly smaller than the oil holes clean those holes out and oil it thoroughly first — a fairly thick oil like 30 weight non-detergent motor oil is fine. Get a couple of old T-shirts and a small scrub brush like a fingernail brush, and using kerosine (outdoors is best) wipe it down thoroughly, scrubbing the stubborn spots. If you have compressed air handy you can blow out the crevices. Let the press sit until the kerosene has dried, then oil it again, making sure you oil every moving part, whether it has oil holes or not. Having done that the press should look good and now it’s ready to print!


I third the advice above.
In the old commercial shop the press may have been filthy everywhere except where the ink and paper went. It was also well oiled.
I was taught that if there was not some oil on the floor, you were not oiling it enough. I oil each time before I print. That may be each today, tomorrow and the next day. Each time.
Get some ink on your shirt.

Well! I haven’t yet, and so I won’t! :)

The press is pretty clean, just a lot of dust. We will clean out the oil holes, blow out the crevices, and wipe it down - then oil every moving part.

Thanks for keeping me from making a mistake right from the start!

Kerosine is the thing to use then? I wasn’t certain on that account either.

Thanks again you three. Great advice for a very beginner.

Kero, diesel, mineral spirits… all are similar, work well without being too harsh. I’d use naptha sparingly for only the most stubborn ink and never gasoline.


The press is beautifully clean and oiled. It is really a lovely press, 1956 C&P Pilot. :)

Ordering ink and some other supplies tonight, and reading reading reading through the forum. Gathering more tools tomorrow. Soon, I will indeed have ink on my shirt. Quite glad about it, in fact.

Thank you all for your advice!

In addition to the comments above, let me add that you shouldn’t use WD-40 on anything on your press (or really on much of anything at all). It is not a lubricating oil! WD-40 is a low-viscosity mixture of naphtha (basically lighter fluid) and oil and is meant to be sprayable and to penetrate the surface and then become gummy. It was created as a sprayable, lightweight protective layer for metal parts on nuclear missiles. Basically, sprayable Cosmoline.

For lubrication you want something more viscous like light gear oil or 3-in-1 oil that will stay liquid, and stay on the surface to provide a protective layer between the metal pieces.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN