How do I keep ink from getting between sort bodies?

I’ve noticed while distributing after printing that ink is getting in between the bodies of my sorts. I have a couple of questions about this.
First, is it a problem? I assume that it is; it seems obvious to me that if this keeps happening the ink will build up and cause all sorts of problems. Also it looks sloppy.
Second, is this being caused during printing or during cleanup? I’m theorizing that it’s happening during cleanup (see below), but as a beginner I’m not very confident in my assessments yet.
Third, I’ve been cleaning by spraying California wash from a spray bottle onto the sorts and wiping with a rag. I’m wondering if this is what’s causing it, and if the solution is to spray the wash onto the rag rather than the sorts, thus avoiding driving the ink down in between the sorts.
The first time I cleaned I did it with the chase horizontal, which was a bad idea as it encouraged the wash to go down between the sorts. Now I do it with the chase vertical which has made the problem less severe but it’s still happening.
Any yeas or nays concerning these theories from people who know more about it than me would be greatly appreciated.

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If you’re spraying solvent on from the bottle, you’re definitely using too much. Here’s what I do: run a few sheets of paper through the press without inking to strip off excess ink, then I use a dry rag to wipe off as much as possible, then a very slightly solvent-dampened rag to clean the surface, then wipe with a dry rag again. You really won’t need to use much solvent, especially for small type.
It could become a problem when buildup of ink prevents the type bodies from sitting flush next to each other; not to mention it’ll probably be a sticky mess.
Good luck!

Yes, you need not spray the solvent on the type form. You can best clean a form by using a rag dampened with solvent, which cleans the surface of the type. The ink should not have much presence on the type form below that point.

Use a soft cloth with just enough solvent to do the necessary cleaning, and follow up with a quick, dry cloth to dry the surface.

Early printing manuals discuss the use of lye splashed on the forms to clean the surface, but that is a practice long distant from current use.

In my own opinion, solvent doesn’t belong in a spray bottle. By breaking the solvent into a very fine mist, you are making it more possible to aspirate the solvent itself into the air. A simple lab bottle or lidded container works best for me. For cleaning type, I put the solvent in a traditional benzene can (no longer using benzene) which has a spring return closure to prevent evaporation of the contents.

John Henry

I would not use a spray bottle. Misting a flammable solvent is a bad idea in general. I try and use linen rags when possible. A little bit of wash, wipe the form, then run a type brush over it, then a dry rag. If the dry rag comes up with ink I’ll repeat the process until my dry rag comes up clean.

I also try to wipe with motion parallel to the face. More of a patting I guess. This way I’m not pushing the bulk of the ink into the tiny portions of the face of the sorts.

In addition to the above, usually here U.K. the Forme/Chase removed from the M/c. cleaned Flat on the Stone or work surface, sat on a few sheets of newsprint, or better yet blotting paper,! - - minimum of solvent on a finer bristle (softer) scrubbing brush *** below! scrubbed slowly parallel to spacing and lines of type (as Lammy above) >slowly< to give the bristles time to flip into the drive of the type and spacing.!! . . And then *dabbed* dry if required.

Stubborn tiny recess,s treated with conventional Toothbrush,. same manner, including tooth brush gimmick, with mild stripper on filled in *o* *O* *b,p,q*, etc etc.

*** Having access to the Equestrian Brigade has been a shrewd move, i.e. redundant (ex livery yard) Fine Bristle brushes make perfect type cleaning brushes.

Sadly thing of the past from Graphic Suppliers U.K. as are Forme Planning Blocks.

But AS above, ex Livery Yard etc, small sections of *Heavy Horse* Tack-Leather, make excellent backing for Forme Planning blocks.???

Mick. Jan. 2017.!

Don’t despair! Mr Bernhard Dorn from Drücken und Lernen still sells the horsehair brushes and the Forme Planing Blocks that Mick refers to.

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The American styles of plate brush and plane are available at American Printing Equipment:
(you would want the “all-bristle” or the “small Perfection” plate brush, not the ones with brass bristles which are for photoengravings, not typemetal.)
This style of plane is fine for platens and some proof presses, but the beveled plane Mr. Gravemaker shows above is needed on some production cylinder presses.

If you want to have a minimum of solvent on a rag, pour a small puddle on the stone and then place the rag onto that, rather than pouring solvent onto the rag.

What please is ‘California wash made of? In the UK in the little shops, way back then, they used a dreadful mixture of paraffin and water. or sometimes just paraffin alone. Both had a strong tendency to dissolve the ink vehicle (varnish) and leave the black pigment around. Despite using a type brush and rags the result was a black deposit on the shoulders of the sorts. One found it especially on display sizes, maybe previously poorly justified. I have actually handled severe cases (!) where after a dozen characters or so into the stick the last one added had a pronounced lean!. Fine emery paper sorted that out, and it was usually from those cases very rarely used, - the bottom of the random . .

“… the bottom of the random.”, its been decades since I’ve heard that term. Thankyou Harrildplaten. My memory is telling me it can mean a cabinet of assorted type faces in trays not attached to any particular family group. Can it be another word for that type tray that carried all those odd sorts, the symbols, the little numbering machines and spares, the typeface rubbers, the small logos, a few pins and needles, the overflow of a font from another tray, Lino or Ludlow mats?

The old printing manuals term the cabinet that holds the cases of type, sorts, etc. a frame (the were originally open-sided and thus a genuine frame rather than a close sided cabinet), and term the sloping top the random - either double (for a pair of cases) or single (for one case). Thus they wrote of a double random frame or a single random frame.

Terminology wanders over a couple of centuries however and, in common with harrildplaten, I’ve heard a frame termed a random.

In my frames the case that contains the miscellaneous tools, sorts and similar stuff, usually lives high in the frame so I can get to it easily. Its the cases containing the most infrequently used fonts that gradually migrate to the bottom of the frame with me.

Just you say, the FreePresse, and it was quite an experience clearing out deserted disused comp rooms, The top drawer was usually a simple tray, with the comp’s own personal stuff in, commonly in the 1950s with a snuff box or two (no smoking in print shops of course) bent tweezers, maybe a pack of cards (!) old betting slips an incomplete set of setting rules and a union mag or two. The arrangements for making tea would appal you!

Only use spirit on a rag then clean the forme wiping the type with the rag. Do as Thomas Gravemaker suggests buy a horse hair brush to clean the half dried ink off of the forme and out of the counters, serifs and beards. You are going to get watered down ink between the sorts whichever way you do it thats just part of the game, unless you cast new type for every job.