How do I keep ink from getting between sort bodies?

I’ve noticed while distributing after printing that ink is getting in between the bodies of my sorts. I have a couple of questions about this.
First, is it a problem? I assume that it is; it seems obvious to me that if this keeps happening the ink will build up and cause all sorts of problems. Also it looks sloppy.
Second, is this being caused during printing or during cleanup? I’m theorizing that it’s happening during cleanup (see below), but as a beginner I’m not very confident in my assessments yet.
Third, I’ve been cleaning by spraying California wash from a spray bottle onto the sorts and wiping with a rag. I’m wondering if this is what’s causing it, and if the solution is to spray the wash onto the rag rather than the sorts, thus avoiding driving the ink down in between the sorts.
The first time I cleaned I did it with the chase horizontal, which was a bad idea as it encouraged the wash to go down between the sorts. Now I do it with the chase vertical which has made the problem less severe but it’s still happening.
Any yeas or nays concerning these theories from people who know more about it than me would be greatly appreciated.

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If you’re spraying solvent on from the bottle, you’re definitely using too much. Here’s what I do: run a few sheets of paper through the press without inking to strip off excess ink, then I use a dry rag to wipe off as much as possible, then a very slightly solvent-dampened rag to clean the surface, then wipe with a dry rag again. You really won’t need to use much solvent, especially for small type.
It could become a problem when buildup of ink prevents the type bodies from sitting flush next to each other; not to mention it’ll probably be a sticky mess.
Good luck!

Yes, you need not spray the solvent on the type form. You can best clean a form by using a rag dampened with solvent, which cleans the surface of the type. The ink should not have much presence on the type form below that point.

Use a soft cloth with just enough solvent to do the necessary cleaning, and follow up with a quick, dry cloth to dry the surface.

Early printing manuals discuss the use of lye splashed on the forms to clean the surface, but that is a practice long distant from current use.

In my own opinion, solvent doesn’t belong in a spray bottle. By breaking the solvent into a very fine mist, you are making it more possible to aspirate the solvent itself into the air. A simple lab bottle or lidded container works best for me. For cleaning type, I put the solvent in a traditional benzene can (no longer using benzene) which has a spring return closure to prevent evaporation of the contents.

John Henry

I would not use a spray bottle. Misting a flammable solvent is a bad idea in general. I try and use linen rags when possible. A little bit of wash, wipe the form, then run a type brush over it, then a dry rag. If the dry rag comes up with ink I’ll repeat the process until my dry rag comes up clean.

I also try to wipe with motion parallel to the face. More of a patting I guess. This way I’m not pushing the bulk of the ink into the tiny portions of the face of the sorts.

In addition to the above, usually here U.K. the Forme/Chase removed from the M/c. cleaned Flat on the Stone or work surface, sat on a few sheets of newsprint, or better yet blotting paper,! - - minimum of solvent on a finer bristle (softer) scrubbing brush *** below! scrubbed slowly parallel to spacing and lines of type (as Lammy above) >slowly< to give the bristles time to flip into the drive of the type and spacing.!! . . And then *dabbed* dry if required.

Stubborn tiny recess,s treated with conventional Toothbrush,. same manner, including tooth brush gimmick, with mild stripper on filled in *o* *O* *b,p,q*, etc etc.

*** Having access to the Equestrian Brigade has been a shrewd move, i.e. redundant (ex livery yard) Fine Bristle brushes make perfect type cleaning brushes.

Sadly thing of the past from Graphic Suppliers U.K. as are Forme Planning Blocks.

But AS above, ex Livery Yard etc, small sections of *Heavy Horse* Tack-Leather, make excellent backing for Forme Planning blocks.???

Mick. Jan. 2017.!

Don’t despair! Mr Bernhard Dorn from Drücken und Lernen still sells the horsehair brushes and the Forme Planing Blocks that Mick refers to.

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The American styles of plate brush and plane are available at American Printing Equipment:
(you would want the “all-bristle” or the “small Perfection” plate brush, not the ones with brass bristles which are for photoengravings, not typemetal.)
This style of plane is fine for platens and some proof presses, but the beveled plane Mr. Gravemaker shows above is needed on some production cylinder presses.

If you want to have a minimum of solvent on a rag, pour a small puddle on the stone and then place the rag onto that, rather than pouring solvent onto the rag.