Rust on C&P Pilot disc

My C&P Pilot was refurbished completely about 8 years ago. It has been sitting waiting for me to use it, and in that time the disc has gathered a light layer of rust on it. I am new to letterpress, so can someone recommend the correct way to clean this?

Thanks so much

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I always suggest dry fine steel wool — it will remove the rust without the danger of etching the surface. If you had heavy rust with pitting another treatment might be appropriate but for this case the steel wool is the best and safest in my opinion. Just be careful to not breathe the rust dust — if you have a tack cloth handy, or even just a dry old tee-shirt rag, wipe the dust off as you work to contain the dust.


Bob, I’ve seen you recommend this before, and I’ve wanted to ask about the benefits of steel wool over something like the oft-recommended vinegar and lemon juice solution. I’ve cleaned a few ink discs with that method. Afterwards, a quick rinse in water, a thorough drying, and and a quick wipe-down with some mineral spirits, I haven’t had any problems with the rust returning. I might give this steel wool thing a try next time though.

Anna, are you from Alabama? If so, what part? I live in PA now, but that’s my home state.

I just feel that steel wool is less invasive all around — the acid treatment (vinegar and lemon juice are both acids) has a chance of damage by etching the metal if you’re not careful — a simple thing like an extended phone call in the middle of the operation can wreak havoc. If you’re using steel wool and the phone rings, you pick up where you left off as if nothing had happened. It may be a little more physical labor, but I believe it’s preferable. I’ve cleaned up a lot of press surfaces that way.


Everyone wants a magic potion that is cheap, effective, green and non-toxic and smells good too. I have not seen one that qualifies all around.
I agree with Bob. Get out the steel wool and wire brush. Except for smelling good, they qualify in all catagories above. (They don’t smell bad) You also get a little exercise and can see the bright metal come as you work.
I have chased vast amounts of rust from presses and from steel galleys.

Thanks so much everyone! Yes, I am in Birmingham — what part are you from, Gabriel?

I will get going on this. No more excuses! It is the one thing holding me back from starting printing.

Anna, I grew up in St. Clair Co. just to your east. I don’t run into too many Alabamans here. Good luck with that Pilot!

OK all — so home depot only had fake steel wool. Wish I had gone somewhere else, but anyway… Any qualms with that??

Hi Anna! I am also in Birmingham and would love to learn on a Pilot. I don’t own one but would love to find out what it is all about. Do you want some help? Any chance you want to learn together? I know I am sounding forward, but I would love to learn and promise not to get in your way. I live over the mountain in MB. How about you? Love to hear from you!