Help with polyurethane rollers - can these be saved?

I have a 3x5 Kelsey with what I believe are polyurethane rollers (see photo). They haven’t been used in awhile and have become so sticky that they stick to each other and anything they touch. You can see from the photo that the surface has collected debris and is slightly marred, but are trying to retain their form. I’m afraid to use them on the press. Can they be cleaned and rescued or are they a lost cause? What should I clean them with?
If I need to buy new ones, can anyone recommend sources? I have followed so many links to shops that are now defunct.

image: 3x5rollers.jpg


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when polyurethane starts to do that, the end of the world is near. they will further liquify, I’m afraid.

perhaps “end of the world” was a bit over dramatic- but I do remember, when I got my Miehle Vertical, which had 5 largish poly rollers on it, which had melted, spending a long long time scraping off all the goo.

cheap rollers are not your friend

image: EA497801-85D6-4C67-B787-EFF0FF385F1B.jpeg


I discovered the folly of urethane rollers many years ago. They may be great when new but with age, all bets are off. I specify only Buna-N rubber for rollers to offer a commercial grade of material. Rollers for offset use too high a Durometer (or hardness) for letterpress, so what we offer is a softer roller. Several people on letpress do offer the right stuff, so consult with them. Our rollers are at


Throw them in the garbage. Order new ones from Fritz @ NA Graphics, Todd’s Press Time or Ramco Roller Products. You’ll be much happier.

Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (Kentucky)