Removing very stubborn rust from a C and P

Hi there,

I just acquired a C and P that has been outside for over a year. There is built up rust and gook (I believe it is a past coat of black paint) over most of the body. I have read all discussions about rust removal and have tried the solutions with some success. However, I think that using Navel Jelly, lemon juice, vinegar, rust-be-gone, etc. would work better if I first removed the bulk of the bad material. Is there something more affective than Navel Jelly- but one step down from bead blasting or grinding? Something I can do without the help of a machine shop?

I know some will ask: I have soaked the parts in vinegar and not just wiped it on.

Any feedback would be appreciated.


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I have suggested steel wool and paint thinner to others and received reports that it worked well. Try scraping first with a 1” soft-flex putty/ink knife if the gook is especially heavy, then finish with the steel wool paint thinner treatment. Let us hear how it worked. Dick

For serious rust, I put a wire brush cup on a hand held angle grinder and go over the surface to knock off the major rust before I go to gentler measures. Works particularly well for surfaces like ink plates. I’ve never had it scratch the cast iron, just polish it. just be sure to wear gloves, and eye protection.

Try using a wire wheel or wire cup in a power drill; maybe using a little kerosene. And cover up with goggles, face mask, coveralls, cap. The crud flies.

I use WD40 and a 3M pad or foam sanding block to remove surface rust. You may need something more substantial like evapo-rust. Here is a link to a press being restored.

Yes, to all the above - all are good methods. Dick

Wonderful suggestions. Thank you all so much. I will give it a go tomorrow in the light of day and report back on what works! Again, many thanks.


You can try an electrolytic bath…depending on how big a water container you get, or how far you are willing to strip the press.

The general idea is that you put the press parts in water with a baking soda solution and a sacrificial plate. Positive current is applied to the plate, negative current to the press parts, and many hours later, the rust has been removed. I use a battery charger.

It is one of the most effective methods I’ve found. A google search will turn up more info.

I’ve used the electrolytic bath as as well for smaller parts like cleaning galleys in a rubbermaid tub. I use washing soda which is different than baking soda. Used it to clean the cylinder on a vandercook #1 that otherwise wouldn’t have been cleaned of heavy rust and it worked beautifully, cleaning parts i couldn’t have reached with a 3m pad. I’m concerned it would only work for parts though if this is a C&P floor model. The ink plate would be a good place to start.

Read up on it on Google though, if you attach the electrode directly to the item you’re working on cleaning and the electrode is underwater it will waste before the item cleans, especially if the contact is copper and you’re cleaning cast iron.

Great method though.


Looks like I have some research to do online. Thanks so much!

We have restored an OS C & P for our daughter. Get the goggles, facemask, drill motor, multiple wire wheels, 3M Scotchbrite, and a stool to sit on. You will come out looking like a raccoon from all the junk, but the above will do the trick. It took about 30 hours to get it cleaned to the point where it could be primed. Wipe it all down with a solvent before painting. Rustoleum primer and 2 coats of enamel. It’s a beauty! Hope this helps.

Have a look on my blog
I think it’s the second last post where I show the best tool ever for serious rust removal: An air powered die-grinder with 2” disk attachment and scotchbrite pads. It’s around $100, but needs a better air compressor than I have got. The specs call for 10 cfm, my little compressor puts out 3.6 cfm and I have to wait 30 seconds to do 10 seconds of polishing. I’m going to rent a better compressor for a weekend and that should do it.

ive rebuilt ab dick 360s using wd40 and a cheap wire brush either on a drill or a bench grinder. bench grinder works best due to horse power. todd