Am I scrubbing off original paint or dried ink?

Hello All,

I’m cleaning up a very neglected Gordon Challenge 8 x 12. I started scrubbing the flywheel with penetrating oil and a coarse green scrubby, similar to Scotch Bright.

When I scrubbed the flat surface, the oil came up red/ brown as you would expect for removing rust. When I scrub the spokes and rim, the oil comes up black. I would like to preserve any original paint or intact decoration, if possible, while removing rust and filth.

Is the black stuff dried ink or paint? How do I know when to stop scrubbing?

Thanks for any suggestions.

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I think you’re getting paint — there shouldn’t be much ink or grease on the flywheel. I’d suggest wiping it down with a rag and kerosene, which will remove the grease and dust but shouldn’t affect the paint much and also won’t remove dried ink, which is basically like paint. The abrasive scrub pad will dig right into the paint, aided by the solvent in the penetrating oil. If you want to preserve the paint don’t use abrasives like the scrub pad, steel wool, sandpaper, etc.


Stupid questions, but will kerosene remove the rust? Am I better off using Evaporust following the kerosene? There is quite a bit of rust.

Thanks for the advice!

I think you’ll have to choose between removing rust and removing paint — except for unpainted rusty surfaces like the rim of the flywheel, the ink disc, platen, bed, etc. Those can be cleaned with any method you want to use, though you will want to be careful not to get solvents on the paint you want to preserve. Kerosene leaves a slight oily residue when it dries, which will help protect the surface from additional rust. I’d suggest cleaning rust off surfaces that are involved in printing and are not painted and leave the rest for now.


Evapo-Rust is pretty amazing stuff. It removes rust and even loosens dried ink, but from my experience it leaves most paint intact.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY