Restoring a C&P Pilot

Hi folks,

I am restoring an old style Pilot that was in a leaky shed for years, so there’s a lot of surface rust. I have taken it apart and am wire brushing it, but wanted to know if anyone has any suggestions for -

—how to make the ink disk shiny. I see disks that are bright silver colored, mine is a dull black after I have brushed it. Is there a chemical for this? Do I need to put something on it to keep it from rusting?

—Any good solution to soak the parts in to remove the rust? I’ve heard some acid can eat into the cast iron.

—Any ideas on how to get the handle off? There was an old bolt through it, but after removing it there is some play so it’s not frozen but I cannot slide it off.

Thank you so much for any suggestions - I’m the newbie!


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Have you tried something like a hand grinder and a pad of steel wool on the ink disc? Steel wool should clean it up without damaging the surface. But unless you are showing it off on TV, as long as the ink disc is smooth and clean, the color doesn’t matter — the ink will hide the pretty silver surface anyway! ;-)

The handle may have a problem getting past the scoring on the shaft from the set screw that held it. I would suggest oiling it thoroughly and working it back and forth while pulling with a gear-puller. When it comes off you will probably need to file the high spots off the shaft again carefully so as to not reduce the diameter of the shaft.

I’m not sure about removing the rust otherwise — almost anything you use will remove some metal as well. Naval jelly may be your best bet.


Thank you very much for your suggestions, Bob. On the shaft the handle is on do you know if there is a woodruff key or anything on the shaft?


I suggest using Evapo-Rust to remove the rust, it is cheap, it won’t remove any non-oxidized metal and is non-toxic, unlike naval jelly which etches metal surfaces. You should be able to find it at good hardware stores, or just order it online.

You won’t get a bright silver ink-disc unless you get it ground down to a new finish, and few people would recommend such a procedure for good reasons, such as the fact that you are grinding down a surface meant to be left alone.


I found there to be a lot of really useful info in this post from a few weeks ago. Good luck with your restoration project!

Most of the presses I have seen do not have a key in the shaft. Woodruff keys are a relatively recent innovation. Usually there is a countersunk hole drilled in the shaft where the locking screw in the handle seats, thus preventing movement of the handle in the same way a key would. However, many times I have seen presses where the screw either was not properly seated and tightened, or was bearing on another part of the shaft, where it could slip, and the slipping scars the shaft so the handle is harder to remove. If you have a long enough screw, a lock nut on it would discourage it from working loose.


I went through the same with my C&P and Kelsey. I got the ink disk shiny by soaking it in a lemon juice and vinegar solution overnight and then scrubbing lightly with a very fine Scotch Brite pad (from the auto supply store). Worked great. I got the handle off my Kelsey by using a gear puller, rented form the local hardware store. Hope this helps. Neil

In Orstraylyer, we use a rust converter chemical; maybe remember the brand name later.


Thank you each for sharing. I’ll try the gear puller and the soaking with lemon juice and vinegar, and thank you Joanna for the great link.


Over the years C&P used any number of locking devices on the lever. Key stock use was common; both square, Woodruff and a modified Woodruff not to mention any number of fixes that may have been used to tighten up the lever to yoke interface. Penetrating oil and a two jaw puller will have if off in no time. You will likely have to position the jaws behind the platen connecting arm so be sure the screw and washer is removed from the small end of the connecting arm. Allow the arm to float away from the rocker along with the big end as the lever is drawn off of the stub shaft.

T and T Press Resoration

Thank you Tom. I appreciate your insights for the Pilot and suggestions. The handle is not frozen on the shaft; rather with the through and through bolt out it turns well slightly, but no lateral movement at all. There seems to be something like a key stock inside that is hanging it up. I have several gear pullers, and I’ve cranked them down considerably with no movement whatsoever. It’s puzzling… . .


Mark, is there evidence of key stock usage viewing the stub shaft from the end, e.g. a broach cut in the lever boss?

If there is a key in there and the handle turns even slightly it is a sign the keyway is worn either in the handle or in the shaft (or that the key is undersize). You may need to try moving the handle back and forth under tension of the a gear puller to see if you can find the open part of the key slot. But if there is a Woodruff key or any other kind there has to be a through slot in the handle for it — if not, it should not be possible for there to be a key.


Bob, I couldn’t have stated it better.