Removing Rust


I’m a new owner of a 7x11 Golding Pearl Platen and it’s currently sitting in my kitchen waiting for repair on the side gear.

While it’s been waiting for repair, I’ve been noticing some brown reside accumulation on the ink disk and the flywheel itself which I can only guess is rust. Of course, as a new owner, I am concerned / worried and want to make it shiny and happy again. Help?

Can anyone out there recommend the best way to remove and keep the rust away?


Rusty in Seattle

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In Seattle people don’t tan. They rust.
Steel does too.
You assume it is rust. If you can’t identify it as rust for certain, it may not be. Go after it with whatever cleaner you have under your kitchen sink and a green plastic scrunge pot scrubber. You may get it cleaned up.
If that doesn’t do it, you can try vinegar. Rusty steel soaked in vinegar comes surprisingly clean. It works best when the steel is actually soaking in a pool of vinegar. (Long soaks) You can try cloths soaked in vinegar. After the vinegar, work the area over with the pot scrubber again.
If vinegar doesn’t do it, get some Naval Jelly from the hardware store. Get rubber gloves and eye goggles too. This is pretty strong stuff. READ THE DIRECTIONS. While the jelly is still wet, work the area with the pot scrubber. After the jelly has dried there is a residue and you will want to rinse and scrub and remove this. Several scrubs and rinses.
Bare steel rusts in a damp atmosphere (like Seattle). It needs to be covered with a film of oil, lacquer, or paint. Thin film of oil on the ink disk to be removed before use. Flywheel rims are usually bare steel and the spokes and hub painted. I scrub the rim bright with emery paper and spray it with clear lacquer.


An SOS pad and hot water removes surface rust quickly.

wonderful! thanks for the tips.

I recently purchased the same Golding model and used a fine grit steel wool along with some “The Must for Rust” spray. ( Had the same exact rust problem and now the plates are silver-color clean. Just take apart the platen plates which is fairly simple to do and spray on the rust remover for at ten minutes. After lightly scrubbing off the rust, spray it once more and wipe off the excess. What’s left is a miniscule layer that will help inhibit future rusting. My issue now is to figure out which paint to use on the flywheel… Any suggestions?

Old thread-but here are my rust tricks:

I have found Naval Jelly to be very effective. I would recommend it for general rust removal, but not for precision machined parts. Naval Jelly is phosphoric acid suspended in a gel. It dissolves rust very quickly, but dissolves steel or iron much more slowly. If left on for 10 minutes, then scrubbed, it will remove the majority of rust.

I wouldn’t use naval jelly on anything machined and calibrated, like a platen, because it can remove minute (a thousand of an inch) amounts of the base metal. Elbow grease is probably the best option.

After removing rust, I have found that Johnson’s paste wax is very good at protecting metal without paint. It needs to be re-applied every year or so, but it works well, and penetrates effectively.

Which kind of paint would you recommend to paint over the iron parts (non-platen plates)? Thank you once again!

Fantastic, just acquired a little Chicago who needs some rust TLC, and you all answered my questions pre-emptively! :)

(also rusting in Seattle)

Updated. Edmund, as far as the kind of paint to use, I would use a good grade of solvent based outdoor paint for metal items and machinery (like tractors). Farm supply stores and larger hardware stores should have it. Some brands of this paint might recommend to put on a primer first, so read the label or other manufacturer literature to determine the proper way to use it. Some brands might also say that you can paint over rust. However, I would try to get off as much of the rust as I could, and especially all the loose rust. But, it is good to know that if you miss a little rust, the paint is designed to preserve the metal anyway. Before painting, be sure you get all the dirt, and oily and greasy residue, off. You might have to make a few passes with a good, fast drying solvent like paint thinner or gasoline to get it all off. When working with paint thinner, gasoline, or your solvent of choice, be sure that you know and use all the necessary safety precautions when working with these substances. These precautions will likely include, but may not be limited to: use gloves and goggles, work in a well ventilated area, don’t breathe the fumes, etc.

I would also recommend putting the paint on with a brush, as opposed to spraying it on. If you can paint the surfaces of the parts when they are laying flat, you will be much less likely to get drips and runs and it will look better. Just paint one flat surface, let it dry, turn the part so another surface is flat, paint that, and so on. Of course, you can’t do that with big press parts, but then you have to put on thinner layers so there isn’t enough to run.


I just cleaned my press this evening, a Kelsey Model P. Take a look at the details here:
I used the vinegar/lemon juice mixture and some WD-40. All in all, it was a cinch!

1/ If your going to use phosphoric acid or even that vinegar/lemon Juice solution, wear rubber gloves and glasses or googles. That stuff is hell on the hands and eyes. Brillo splinters make it that much worse.

2/ Consider using a fine steel wire brush wheel mounted on a recycled motor. It makes short work of surface rust and other corrosion. It will require disassembling the press further into more manageable pieces but doing the job right means going to all the places rust may hide.
Deeper, pitting rust will need a stiffer wire wheel. Or you can stablize it by using Extend from Locktite.

3/The metal I’d rather not paint (like my gravers and wood chisels) I wipe with furniture wax that contains carnuba. It holds up well here in the ever-humid Midwest but isn’t cheap unless you watch for it at estate sales. Brewax, Minwax, Lundmark. &c. can be had for a quarter a can. If it’s a little dry add mineral spirirts.

Kansas City

The advantage of the vinegar/lemon elixer is its ability to reach even the deepest of rust pits. And, unlike phosphoric acid, will not erode nor remove good metal. To illustrate, try both liquids upon a rusted metal ruler. The difference is dramatic. Plus, the household chemicals are much less expensive. Wire brushes, or indeed, any abrasive, should NEVER be used on precision pieces; unless, of course, you are attempting to affect dimensional change. As for wearing protective apparatus when working, well, that warning simply emphasizes the point that common sense is not all that common. In my opinion.

Forme reiterates the problem with phosphoric acid…Though I will stand by my use of it, as it chemically supplants any oxygen in rust that isn’t removed, or accidentally missed. I have never risked phosphoric acid on a precision part. A galley cabinet or decorative wrought-iron? Sure. A press bed? Nope.

I have yet to try lemon/vinegar. It is next on my list.

In the spring (when it is warm, and I can work outside without worrying about offgassing hydrogen indoors), I am going to try electrolytic rust removal on a bunch of rusty metal furniture. I am lazy, and anything to avoid elbow grease is good.

For a rusted precision surface, you can kiss your precision good-bye. It’s only a matter of degree as to how much true flat (or whatever) is left.
I sure wouldn’t go at it with a heavy wire wheel but with a fine wire wheel there is no scratching or metal displacement. Try it.

A rusted bed may need to go to the machine shop if you’re printing mini-books from set type. For block work it’s no big deal.
The rusted platen is not so much an issue as the bed. You have the pack to make small corrections.

Yep, phosphoric is fine for badly oxidized steel & iron. It also works well on aluminum oxide and corroded cuprous stuff. I just don’t use it if I can avoid it because it just ends up downstream. That would be the Missouri River where I am.

I’ve long heard about that Vinegar/Lemon formula.
The raves make me think I need to try it.

What ratio of lemon to vinegar are people using? I’m soaking my roller trucks today and having a tougher time, so I’m thinking my roughly 60/40 vinegar formula is off….Any suggestions?

One part lemon juice to four parts white vinegar is correct. But - don’t expect instant result. It’s not a matter of dipping and wiping off. Soak the material until a gentle rub with a finger sees rust dislodged. Plus, ensure the parts are grease/oil free. Patience, patience, patience……

I have happily been cleaning every rusty press part I can fit into my container with the vinegar and lemon juice mixture. It is fabulous!!! Thank You!

Alas, I soaked the trucks for about 2 hours and scrubbed (gently) before it finally worked even with the wrong ratio….but the trucks don’t fit the cores after all! (I already posted about this too!) Too bad those trucks were so truculent! (ha- I couldn’t help myself)

Immersion times vary of course dependant upon degree of rust, but a suggested minimum for the vinegar/lemon solution is six hours. The idea is to allow the chemicals - not hard scrubbing - to remove the rust and, as the solution is a buffered acetic acid (and 5% at that), progress will be slower than what would be achieved with a stronger acid or electrolysis action. Again, patience, patience, patience…

I found that a green scotch brite pad and standard orange(citrus) based cleaner is all I needed. I cleaned up 2 presses and a paper cutter without trouble. No need to over kill unless the rust is BAD.