Roller Restoration

I am starting to clean up a Vandercook Model 3. One of the first things I need to establish is whether the Rollers need to be replaced. These two rollers are not stiff, but they are sticky.

I am seeking advice on how to clean them.

I know about the old boiling-in-lye method, but I hope there might be some modern less toxic way to proceed.

Thanks for your advice,


image: DSC03055.jpg


Log in to reply   4 replies so far

Rollers glaze from years of use, improper cleaners and improper clean-ups. Ideally they’ll have a velvety finish, not glossy.

If they are still round and not unreasonably glazed I would try using a de-glazer and rubber rejuvenator before going for recovery. Contact a local graphic arts supplier to see what they carry and recommend.


I’ve never heard of anyone using boiling lye, but have used myself household oven cleaner to clean dried ink on rubber rollers with no ill effects, just finish by wahsing with running water — but do wear goggles and gloves. You should protect yourself as well with most of the de-glazing products you might find.

Putz Pomade is a readily found rubber rejuvenator.

Two other factors to consider:
1) Diameter for each roller should be 2.5” (+/-.015”).
This is critical because rollers are set in a rigid frame.
2) Durometer (a measure of resistance) should be 20-25 on the A scale. Anything near 30 and you will have difficulty with ink transfer. It is measured by a gauge also called a durometer. A low tech trick is to press a ballpoint pen into the rubber (near the out end). The indention should quickly disappear. You said they’re not stiff, so they may be OK, but do harden and shrink with age.

I’ve had excellent results using a roller rejuvenator/cleaner spray in a can purchased from NA Graphics.