Cleaning Heidelberg Windmill

My windmill was previously used for die cutting. And there are a lot of paper, labels etc. down inside the machine. I have pulled out what I can from the back and I also pulled out the drawer and have reached some stuff through a hole there. And also during my cleaning I have sprayed some cleaner down there also. I was assuming it all went out the bottom, but maybe not??

I also have a significant amount of oil coming out of a hole along the main body of the press by the pump cylinder. Any Ideas?


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You have a much later machine than I do, but look on both sides-in front of the pump cylinder pivot and behind the flywheel, for two 6” cleanout plates. From there you can reach in and fish more stuff out.
A Windmill has a total loss oiling system. That is, all the oil will run out—no central sump or recirculator. In your case the oil is finally coming out of the pump pivot casting. Just keep some neatly flat folded newsprint in your drain pan and change as required. If you don’t want to throw these in the landfill, then perhaps somebody can use them for fire starter. The alternative is to line the drip pan (hopefully you have one of these) with press rags—-DON’T use ‘kitty litter” as you will have one ungodly mess to clean up (I worked at a shop that did this—ugh!)

An oily press is a maintained press, and oil is the cheapest part you can buy. Don’t skimp on it.

On the bottom side of the press (opposite to the flywheel) there is a small circular door with a screw. Open that and you will have a better access to the inside that will allow some cleaning. Be ready for a messy day. Cheers!

When you fill the oil res. try using 100% sin. oil 20-50 wt.
Also almost all use windmills have been neglected at the main air pump. There is a mesh screen filter on top of the pump intake, usually these are almos clogged. Unscrew and imerse in a can of good cleaner to remove all the build up dust and such. With the filter removed the hole under is is painted yellow, this is to indicate that it needs oil. Just add a full squirt in the hole and run the machine for a minute and the oil will be sucked into the pump and the small spring plate will be cleaned of contaminants. CAUTION never insert a rag or a q-tip or anythig into the hole to clean the top of the spring plate, if you up-set the seal this plate makes you will have a very tought time running the press as your vacuum will be considerble less.
Don’t worry to much about the paper in the bottom of the press, most operating presses have a build up there.
pump the oil lever until resistance is felt before running the press before a job. It will not be necessary to oil during a set up or clean up.Also be sure to oil the holes marked with a red cap before running a job. Packing a press is easy if you learn how correctly. Try locking up a know type high .918 assortment of cuts at four corners about 10” x 12” apart. Leave the impression turning lever at about “0”.
Apply a little ink, put in paper and run to test impression. Add more packing or less as needed. When you see a slight immage at all 4 corners you packing is correct. You then turn up the pressure a little at a time to get the correct impression for you stock. If you lock up only a small amount of type in the bottom right corner you will get a false reading for the rest of the printing surface. The pressure lever is only to add squeeze, squarely over the printing surface!
James L. Reck 562-944-9184 La MIrada, CA

Hi James,
I ran Heidelbergs for 50plus years; 10x15s, 12x18 platens and 20x30 SB cylinders, and I have never had a problem with spring leaf valves on Heidels.
Regular scheduled maintenance included removing the two screws and the backing plate which hold and protect the spring leaf of these valves, dismantling and thorough cleaning of the leaf and re-assembly.
Another part which needs regular cleaning is the valve area at the base of the pump; if this is diemantled two leaf valves will be seen with the same protective backing plate.

Thank you for all of your help. On my way back into the garage for another round of cleaning! This press was so dirty you couldn’t see the colored paint on the oil holes. Any advice for metal polish?


“This press was so dirty you couldn’t see the colored paint on the oil holes. Any advice for metal polish?”

Putz Pomade is good for removing small abrasions.
It works to polish the baked on Heidelberg enamel finish, too., but keep Putz away from oil holes.

I once worked with a 12X18 that would not go off impression, due to all the off-cut card stock inside the press. An eight hour shift was spent cleaning out the oil sump, digging through the back door and that hole opposite the flywheel.

Yeah, it was messy, but I found about ten years worth of Heidelberg parts, register guides, tools, and a couple high speed quoins inside, mixed with twenty pounds of off-cut, and a gallon or two of heavy oil. The Heidelberg windmill sump can be a goldmine!

Finders Keepers. Warning! If you’re going to do this, watch out for Exacto blades.


You found way better stuff than I did. Although I did fill a small office size garbage can of goopy die cuts, envelopes, some pins, and a screw that came off from somewhere. I had best luck with the hole on the air pump side. And I answered my question about the oil coming out the back hole. I seemed to have sprayed more cleaner than I thought down in there. Now I just need to clean the trucks, rollers, the wash out area under the removable reservoir and the back under the clear plastic, Then Hopefully I will be ready to go.

Thanks everyone for your help!

Yeah! I have finished (I hope) the cleaning of my Windmill! The only problem area’s I have are some rust in the pitts of the table area and platen. I have tried, Putz, CLR, and a metal polish.  The tubing for the wash-up is as stiff as a board, can I just replace this with the hardware store tubing? I have also notices some cracking in the suction air hose on the feed side. Any one know where to get replacements?  I am also missing the washup blade. I have the tray but I can not loosen the screws,  Is this normal?And last the Bowden cable has broken by the connector. Is it ok to fix it as it would be a little shorter. Or should I buy a new one?Thanks for all of your help!Courtney