My Newly Restored C&P

Hi all,

I just bought a newly restored C&P Pilot 6.5x10 from Lou in RI. I haven’t had too much time to really use it yet, but I was wondering if anyone had any words of advice on cleaning, oiling, prepping or any sort of general knowledge for a beginner like myself! I’m in the Boston area and will be looking into some classes, so if anyone has any favorites, please let me know!

The press has red rollers on it and I was told to clean it with lacquer thinner, but that seems too strong to use in my home office. I plan on going to Letterpress Things’ next open house to get all the essentials like furniture and quoins, etc. I am an eager student and would love to hear from the community!


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Who told you to clean the rollers with lacquer thinner? That person should be smacked with a stack of blotters!

Lacquer thinner is way, way too harsh for use as a roller cleaner. A far better alternative is mineral spirits. It’s more or less the accepted traditional cleaner and its not nearly as nasty.

By the way…. congrats on your new press. A Pilot is a great machine. I’ve got three of them.

You should definitely go to Letterpress Things, John Barrett is a fantastic help to someone new to letterpress. I agree, low-odor mineral spirits or california wash is the way to go. Here’s a link to the manual for a Pilot from boxcar press
it should have an oiling diagram for you.
Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio does some great workshops at Letterpress Things but I believe they’re on hiatus for the summer (it can get a bit warm there on summer days!)
Congratulations on the new press, have fun with it and don’t hesitate to look for help here!

Paper Stone Printing
Steve Nartowicz
P.O. Box 137
Chesterfield MA 01012

I am about 1 hour south of Boston, if you want to learn i would be happy to help you out. We could set up a play date and you could bring your press. Lou does some beautiful work on these presses. If your on the north shore, the printing museum in North Andover has classes. There will be a slight charge from me, a coffee and muffin will do. Dick G.

Solvents available at your hardware store:

Works fine if you don’t have to print again immediately. Probably the cheapest of the three.

Low odor Mineral Spirits:
Works ok, but because they have removed the smell it is easy to misjudge how much you are inhaling. It dries a bit quicker, but is still somewhat slow.

The same thing that is in California Wash for less than a third of the price. Quick evaporating, great as type wash, can dry rollers if used too much. Also sold as White Gas or Coleman stove fuel.

Lacquer Thinner:
I use it to remove paint and very stubborn dried ink. I would never use it on rollers of any kind, as it would cause them to dry and crack. Very fast evaporating and rather dangerous to inhale.

Thank you so much everyone for all of the great advice!! Keep it coming!

I thought lacquer thinner seemed too strong. Lou actually told me that, so I’m glad I asked. I definitely don’t want to ruin the rollers before they’ve been used! I cannot wait to go to Letterpress Things. I was so sad when John moved it from this weekend to next weekend; I am so excited to try my press out!

I’m sure I’ll have a million questions once I get to printing, so you’ll be seeing more of me. Thanks!

Aninkling, John Barrett is a great guy, i’ve never been to his store but heard is is a great place to pick up supplies, he is more than willing to share information with you. He also runs the letterpress store at the printing museum in North Andover. Your 6x10 pilot is a nice size press, you can do a lot with it, i still have the 3x5 and 5x8 kelseys that i started with in 1961. Good Luck Dick G.

Agreed re: John. When you go, introduce yourself and tell him you’re getting started with a Pilot. He’ll get to you first come first served and when he does, he’ll walk you around his supplies tables and recommend various things you may need. He sells starter sets of everything and you’ll leave ready to go.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an oiling diagram in the manual, but most of the oil holes are pretty obvious. Of course, mine has been squeaking somewhere mysteriously the last times I used it and for the life of me can’t figure out where!