Sticky oily residue on rubber rollers

I teach at a school that has a C&P Oldstyle that has a recurring problem - the rollers develop a sticky, oily residue between semesters and especially over the summer when it’s not in use for a long period of time. It’s kept inside in a classroom where there is heat and air, but humidity can fluctuate quite a bit in this area. The residue appears whether or not the press is covered when not in use.

I’ve heard of something like this happening to old polyurethane rollers, but these are rubber. I clean them off with mineral spirits, and they work fine for class, but once the press sits for a while, the oily sticky stuff reappears, like it’s oozing from the rollers themselves. This has been happening for about three years, and all of my troubleshooting has turned up nothing (random students printing and not cleaning? something dripping from the ceiling? etc.).

I’d like to avoid the cost of buying new rollers if possible, and especially if new rollers are going to just do the same. Anyone have the same experience or have suggestions? I’ll attach images.


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I have never seen this happen with rubber rollers, and I have seen many rubber rollers in my days. Are you absolutely certain they are rubber? If so, and you know where they were purchased, I would send photos to the manufacturer and ask them what’s going on.

Once you wash this residue off, do the roller surfaces seem “normal?”

Are you using anything unusual to clean with that might be getting into the rubber pores and seeping out with extra heat during summer months or something? If you are using standard solvents, I could not see them doing anything like this.

John Henry

those sure don’t look like rubber to me, I’ve seen this before, the rollers will do this for a while then will melt into a pile of goo, i’m certain these are not rubber.

The principle has been posted before,! (Generally) whatever compound, whatever atmospheric conditions, for semi long term safe storage or not in use etc, rollers mounted horizontally, but staggered NOT immediately one above the other preferably, which drips where, if at all?.
Coated with Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) and fairly relevant, turned 90 degrees occasionally, as you would with *fertile* Eggs in an artificial incubator, it *Aint Rocket Science*.

Hi Jessica, I have had a look at the rollers and believe that they are composition rollers and are likely made with some rubber, molasses and glue. I too have had this problem and they will melt into a pile of goo.. Best to use them and after cleaning and really dry, wrap them in newsprint. This will slow any further melting. Regards Bob Mann

Jessica, I have been around rollers for forty years. I have seen this happen many times but only with PVC coverings (poly vinyl chloride). Jomac and others have used this material for letterpress and offset printing rollers. The plasticers in the compound are breaking down and leaching to the surface. I do not know of a solution other than recovering in rubber. Let me know where you purchased them and I may be able to determine what the covering actually is.