How to oil a C&P 8x12 old style?

We recently entered the world of letterpress when I got my wife a Kelsey 5x8 tabletop for an anniversary gift. We then picked up a Line O Scribe and a week later an 8x12 C&P!

I have searched online for a chart showing all the oiling points, but I have only found charts for the new style. I have tried searching here, but every time I do I get an internal server error!

I know people recommend 30w non detergent for the holes, but are there also parts that take grease instead of oil, and if so, what type?

The press appears to be in good shape, but will only turn through one impression before stopping, so I know it needs oiling and I don’t want to miss anything!

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Look for bearing surfaces - hubs and such, which would logically require lubrication. There are probably oiling holes or caps at these points. The New Series oiling points are very similar to the Old Series.

I have not seen an oiling chart myself but have heard others reference them. If you are not able to locate one have someone run the press slowly, turning over by hand. Watch the mechanism and note every moving part. Many bearings and the like have oil holes, but not all do. One part that is often overlooked is to the right side of the operator’s position: the large gear has inside it a bearing that does indeed have an oiling hole. However this part is not easily seen nor accessible if the position of the press is not just so. On the outer side of this large gear there is a small access hole (about two inches in diameter) that can be used to apply oil to this hidden bearing, but on my 8 x 12 things don’t quite line up for me to use it. I end up oiling with a long nozzle, coming in through the space between the gear and the feed board. Look for it: don’t give up! If your press is as gummed up as you describe it you might flush all the moving pieces/joints with kerosene, WD 40, or the like before oiling. Each place that is oiled requires only a few drops, applied at regular intervals. The frequency depends on how often and long you are running the press. Overall, there are no unimportant parts on the press. Anything that moves takes a bit of oil. Wipe away the excess. Again, have someone turn the flywheel over by hand while you watch the mechanism do its thing. Quite a marvel of engineering, in my opinion. As a reminder of what every letterpress book says about maintenance on any letterpress: DO NOT oil, wipe, tinker on the press while it is in motion! Even at slow speed it can do harm if you happen to have your finger in the wrong place. Good luck and good printing.


Thanks so much, I’ll start off that way. What about grease on the larger gears? Is there a certain kind?

An occasional dribble of oil on the gears is all that it needed. Oil is cleaner and doesn’t trap dirt against the gear teeth.

Mike is right. No grease. The three purposes of lubrication are 1) to coat all bearing surfaces with oil so they contact each other on a film of oil and not directly on metal to metal. 2) to flush contaminants and wear products out of the bearings, and 3) and this is not so important to the relatively slow moving machine you have, to make the bearings run cooler. Regarding item 2) it is ok to use enough oil so it runs out of the bearings and has to be wiped up, because then you know the contaminants (dirt, etc.) and wear products (tiny bits of metal) are being removed and not staying in there to cause more wear.

Remember, bearing surfaces are any place where two machined surfaces contact and move against each other. They are not just places where reound shafts rotate in the frame. They can be flat or other shapes.

If it moves, oil it.

In my experience, oiling holes should be inspected to see if they are packed/blocked with black goo. A twist drill bit can be used in your FINGER TIPS to remove the obstruction, Be careful to not mark the shaft… at the bottom of the hole.
The crank shaft/ flywheel shaft…Berning on the left, make sure the oil hole is in up position and clean, right side oil hole is behind small gear. Cam follower in cam way on big gear, often neglected, try to get the oil hole cleaned out, may be necessary to take it out to clean it…. make sure it turns freely.
Roller shafts ends AND saddles, need to be clean and lightly oiled.
Good luck with your new press!!!

The oil chart for the New Series presses is good for the Old Series presses, too. The changes to the design weren’t all that significant. Mostly just redesigned bits such as straight spokes n the flywheel, beefier frame, etc.

As I recall, the oil chart misses a couple of places, like the throw-off linkage. and others have the oil chart online for the new series and others have the oil chart online for the new series

Thanks everyone for the advice! I took the gear cover off to get to the cam roller and flushed it out real well. Oiled all the spots where metal was touching metal and used the oil chart to find (hopefully all) oil holes.

Now if I give the fly wheel a good spin it will turn 15-20 revolutions, even with the rollers on. Is that what I should expect?