Tips for restoring and cleaning our Arab?

Hi guys :) My partner and I recently purchased an old Arab Crown Folio that had been sitting dormant for quite a few years. The condition isn’t too bad but we would like to give it a good clean up! We’re not looking for showroom conditions, just removal of surface rust and cleaning up the printing areas (ink plate, rollers etc)
I have done a little research before posting this but wanted to make sure we are doing the right thing/s so any help would be appreciated :)
so far on my list of shopping supplies to purchase:
- Lemon Juice and distilled white vinegar: I read this is good for rust, our intention is to soak the rusty areas in paper towel that has been dipped in the mixture. Do you think this will be adequate? Obviously the press is too big to dip in anything and we aren’t looking to take it apart. Is the ratio of 1 part lemon juice to 4 parts vinegar correct?

- Mineral oil for cleaning off old ink stains on the disc, or acetone?

- Vegetable oil for cleaning the rollers? Or would that only be effective as an after printing cleaning technique? Obviously our rollers need a good clean up before we can even print with them so what would be best for that? The vinegar/lemon juice mixture? As they do have some rust on the metal parts but I’m worried about the (leather?) parts if I were to use lemon/vinegar

- Scotchbrite pads for general scrubbing, I’ve read these won’t damage the metal finish but can assist with dirt/rust removal

- WD40 for oiling everything after cleaning to prevent further rust

Also we were lucky enough to get some old printers drawers and cabinets with our press and would love to give them all a good clean out/scrub without damaging the lovely old wood! Any suggestions for cleaning that? Its full of old rat droppings atm :p yuck!

So anyway, Do you guys have any tips/suggestions to add?

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Log in to reply   9 replies so far

It looks like your on the right path!

The Lemon/Vinegar is great for getting rust off. The Mineral Spirits and veg oil are good for getting the ink off.

I wouldn’t use the lemon/vinegar mix on anything that isn’t metal, it seems like it would be to acidic for rollers or leather.

WD-40 is good for oiling, you can also use 3-1 oil as well.

I’d wait form some of the ol’timers to chime in though!

Beware rat (or mouse) droppings, they can be a serious health hazard…..

Get a filter mask if you’re going to be scrubbing rust off - avoid breathing in airborne iron oxide if you can. Or any metal oxides, come to think of it. Wear the mask when you’re getting rid of rodent droppings, too, like etinink says.

WD40 is great for getting stuck parts moving again, but you’d probably be better off using a slightly heavier oil for everyday oiling of the press- something like an SAE 40.

Personal experience - don’t go mad - it is meant to look ‘used’. Try not to use abrasives at all

Find all the oiling points, clean them out with a Q-tip, fill them with oil, let it soak in
Underneath the grime you may find an attractive blue - elbow grease with an oily rag should get you there
Vinegar to remove red rust on small parts (soak, rinse then oil)
Remember the nuts and bolts will be imperial size, so irreplaceable now. If you need to remove them, keep the nut and matching bolt together, as they won’t necessarily be interchangeable (hand made!). If you can’t get the bolt to move, try tightening it first, etc etc . Like an old car really

The press looks in good shape - you seem to have a good buy!

Good advice up-thread, to which I cannot add much.

If there are nuts or bolts you need to undo, give their threads frequent applications of a penetrating oil (e.g. WD40) over the preceding days. Ensure that the wrench you use is a good close fit - the steel will be softer than modern high grade steels and it can be distressingly easy to round the flats of the nut or bolt, or if the bolt is a smaler diameter to snap it.

Preserving what’s left of the original paint is preferable to repainting the whole press. From the photo the press looks as if it still has quite a lot of its original paint left.

If the leather driving band is stiff and cracking, rub leather restorer / beeswax / neatsfoot oil /saddle soap or similar animal-derived wax or oil into it. It’ll take prepeated applications over many days or even weeks if the leather is really stiff and cracked.

For stubborn rust, fine wire wool may be useful. It comes in different grades. I’ve no idea what the US system is but in the UK it works down from no.1 or no.0 (what plumbers use) down to no.000 or no.0000. Your local hardware store may only carry generic wire wool of unspecified grade for plumbers but specific grades will readily be available if ordered online.

Thanks for all the advice guys! :) after reading everything you’ve said, I agree, we aren’t going to go crazy with restoring/cleaning it. WD40 and a good clean over with some scotchbrite pads is pretty much it for us I think.

It was an AMAZING buy tbh, the press + a full 15 drawer printers cabinet as well as a cute old lead cutter and random other pieces for only $350 AUD. The previous owner was a lovely gentleman too and we can’t wait to put his much loved but unused press back to good use :)

Don’t use ScotchBrite pads on the paint unless you wish to damage the finish. Use rags on the painted body, and the finest grit ScotchBrite pads available on exposed metal. If you have dried ink on exposed metal it can be quickly removed with Lacquer Thinner, but do not use it on paint, it will remove it.

Realising you are in Oz, in case it got lost in translation, ‘elbow grease’ = ‘hard work’, not the stuff found in a hardware store.
That is either for grease spot removal from fabrics, or for softening hard patches of skin on your elbows, depending on which continent you buy it

One word of caution about using the lemon/vinegar solution. This is a fantastic solution for cleaning rust and does create a mild acid that does the work. It is not strong enough to be of normal concern. HOWEVER, should you splash some on your clothing and allow that to dry. Later on when you wash your clothes or they get wet, you will find that the solution has eaten holes in the cloth! It stays stable while dry so you won’t notice anything wrong until it gets wet again and the holes appear.

This is easily resolved by simply rinsing off whatever cloth/clothing came in contact with it right after using it. Apparently the acidic solution works very slowly on cloth, but will do its work if left on the material.

I speak from experience on this issue. Not a pleasant surprise.