Restoration Project

Well finally went and picked up the two letter presses I’ve been contemplating on getting. Kelsey 3x5 and a Kelsey 9 x 13. They need some cleaning, new rollers but I’m looking forward to getting this project underway in the next little while.

I’m trying to figure out the model numbers though but can’t seem to find it Does anyone know where I should look? I thought I saw a list somewhere on here. Anyways let the project begin any advice would be great looking forward to it.

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Well I was able to clean off the smaller press pretty well haven’t started on the big press. A few questions for those who have done complete restorations on kelsey presses

1) The old paint on the smaller press is in decent shape in some areas but in others not so much as you can see the bare metal since the paints has chipped off. Do you recommends repainting the press?

2) If repainting is the options I’m assuming I’ll need to sand down or get rid of the old paint as much as possible to only problem is does anyone know how to remove or take off the old bolts which are holding handle, gooseneck etc? I’ve read the following post but no where is there any instruction on how to take a press apart to restore it.

Any help would be appreciated

I believe if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Simply clean it best you can oil it and leave the 50 years of grime in place, it adds character, but if you must make it look new you can always talk to John Falstrom. Good Luck dick g. ps i had one of those 9x13, it takes a lot of effort to make an impression with a lot of type, but it does print nice.

Thanks dick I’m going to look around and see for the bowling wax I agree with you 100% it works in good order so it shouldn’t need to be repainted the only part is the exposed area will rust again if i don’t give it proper maintenance. Oh btw what type of oil should I be using?

Yea I imagine the 9x13 is going to take alot of effort i was able to pick up both the 3x5 and the 9x13 for a relatively good price. The most I’ll be doing is invitations and business cards, that should be a problem in terms of effort on the 9x13 would it?

For my equipment i always try to use a 30 wt. non detergent oil. My first press was a kelsey 3x5 which i still have, the 9x13 i bought when i was still in high school, one job i remember was a flier that was printed on 8-1/2 x 11 paper, the form was full of type with a border around the whole sheet, back then i didn’t weigh 100 lbs. i had to get a friend to help me jump on the handle to make an impression. If i remember the run was 2000, it took us a few days to get it done. The smaller the form the less pressure to make it print, but the press still is still an effort to make it print, but it will do a nice job on your muscles, better than a gym. Good Luck Dick G.

Dick do you know where I could purchase the Butcher’s bowling wax? Also is there a specific parts which I CANNOT wax?

— Don’t let Dick scare you with tales of his junior high school printing days. The Kelsey 9x13 is a manageable press *if* you don’t try to print 8x10 flyers with borders! :-). Dick was just trying to work up his pecs and impress the girls.Of course, if you’re short like me, you might have to stand on a box to get the right leverage,

You can get Butcher’s Wax at most hardware stores or farmer’s supply. It works well on the press. I’ve been waxing my 6x10 Kelsey for twenty years and, even though it’s in a damp basement for half the year, it isn’t showing any signs of rust. Don’t get wax on the gripper bars or you’ll smudge your stock and certainly do not wax the inking plate, especialy the inking surface. I’d leave the roller cores and roller trucks alone, too.

Good luck! Post some picks when you’re done!

Denis C.


Thanks!!!.. ahhh being in Canada not sure if we got Butcher’s wax here. I went to the local hardware store they had no idea what I was talking about. Wonder if I should call the manufacturer to see if they can ship. Have you guys used wd-40?

Yea my wife tells me that i need to loose a few pounds so I’m certain she will appreciate the effort LOL

Automobile wax will work fine.
No wax on rails, trucks, ink disk or grippers.

@ inky


Does anyone know how to remove the platen back spring on the press? There is a fair bit of rust build up I’m trying to get at but the spring is a PIA to push back or am I doing something wrong… do i seriously need ot use something to push back the spring and pull the pin?

There was a discussion on removing the spring on the list here:

However, I suggest you remove it only if it’s absolutley necessary. It is a tricky business.

Butchers Wax is a brand name sometimes used here to designate any paste wax (basically turpentine and carnauba). Don’t know if they have retailers down your way or not. I’ve used Johnson’s Paste Wax in the past with little problem.


Thanks! This helps alot yea the spring looks pretty tricky it might be a challenge to take off or put back even

Finished repainting restoring the 3x5 press. I painted the base black and the handle in red. The bigger press will keep its original color, let me know what you guys think.

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Your press looks great, if my 3x5 sees this it will want a paint job too. Good Luck Dick G.


Thanks dick

Looks sweet! That exactly how I did my Excelsior 5x8, but use a little bit of gold leaf or gold enalel on the raised lettering.

It looks great I just got a 3x5 and am in the process of restoring it and painting it this week!