Storing a Windmill outdoors

hi everyone,

I just did something a bit crazy today. I bought a Windmill black ball. Problem is I don’t have the space for a second press at the moment .

So, I wanted to see what people think about storing a press at an under covered area outdoors with a car cover over it.

I imagen moisture will be the problem. But how bad will it be for the press?

If I go ahead with storing it there it would be good to hear any suggestions about strategies to minimize damage.

Thank you in advace,


PS. I tried to identify the year of manufacture but can’t find a record of presses with serial 32238e. Anyone know what year would such serial be from?

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Hi there,

I stored my windmill in my unheated garage for two years. It was subject to changes in humidity and temperature over that time (exterior door opening/closing, seasonal changes, etc.). At the end of the two years, when I finally had time/space to work on it, it had a bit of surface rust on some parts, but nothing that couldn’t be removed with WD-40 and some Scotch Brite pads over a few evenings.

To prepare it, I did the following (with advice from others on this forum):

1.) sprayed exposed surface with a light film of WD-40;

2.) covered the press with a large tarp, relatively tight at the bottom;

3.) within the tarp, on the press, I had a large can of desiccant. I bought mine (the 750g version) from Lee Valley:,43456,53828

4.) I checked/changed the desiccant regularly. This might be harder if your press is outside, but checking it once in a while will save you time later.

While I’m far from an expert (my sample size is one!) my press seems to have fared quite well in a garage which — while not exposed directly to the elements — would often drop below zero Centigrade and experience non-trivial humidity changes.

Good luck and congratulations!

25 years ago my father sent to bring an imprinting job to a friend of his who had a windmill. The press was in the backyard. He had it on pallets inside an aluminum screened in porch -one of the assemble it yourself kind. He had power to the machine and he kept it covered with a large oil cloth. He locked up the form in the basement and then we walked out back to pull some press sheets. The press wobbled so badly I almost went through the screen to get away from it. He assured me it was OK. He ultimately did the long run of imprinting small catalogs on the press for us. I do remember most of the press looked to be covered in grease. I’m not sure how long he kept running the machine but he was an old letterpressman and assured me the press was fine outside. He was in Northern NJ to give you an idea of the climate.

Instead of spraying the press down with WD-40, which tends to not leave much of an oil layer), I would recommend spraying with a 50/50 mix of kerosene and heavier motor oil. Yeah, it’ll be a mess to clean up, but you’ll have less rust problems. You pretty much just need to get the bare metal surfaces (platen, bed, ink drum and rollers. Tarp well.

Before I could claim my Windmill (from a scrapyard) it had 2 inches of rain fall on it. The worst rust was under the tympan (remove that BTW).

Might also want to pull the parts drawer and accesory rack so those parts don’t wander off/fall into the mud etc).

Congrats on getting yourself a press.

Michael Seitz
Missoula MT

thanks guys,

Seems quite promising. I am going to go ahead with storing it outside following your advice. Its so exciting but also disappointing not being able to use it just yet.

still can’t figure out the year of manufacture from the serial number. Can anyone help with that please?


I think you’d have to be a bit of a moron to store such a delicate and valuable machine outside. Can’t you rent a temporary storage unit for a few months?

Water from the ground is going to condense inside the tarp and drip all over your machine when the sun hits it every morning.

I went to Heidelberg’s website and emailed them the serial # of my press asking the date of manufacture. I took a little while but they finally emailed back the year of manufacture. Looks like yours was made before 1950.