Cast Iron and Humidity

My beloved Chandler And Price which is kept in the basement. collects a lot of condensation, especisally in the summer. I’ve tryed to increase the circulation of out side air.
And a dehumidifier only works when it runs constantly. Any other suggestions?

Log in to reply   6 replies so far

From my experience the trick would be what you said, increased/constant dehumidification or improved airflow/temperature control. Though the airflow may introduce more humidity depending on the source. More air doesn’t necessarily mean less humidity.

Is your space kept at a constant temperature? And are you talking condensation like a mirror in a bathroom, wet and drippy? Condensation forms when there are differences between the ambient air and the object. Warm wet air + cold iron press = condensation… If you can equalize them and you probably won’t see noticeable condensation anymore.

Personally I wouldn’t mess with it unless it was dripping wet, others may disagree :) Our 10x15 C&P is in an Ohio garage and is subject to temperatures between lows of single digits F and highs of 100+. We keep the rollers, ink, and paper inside when its not being used but beyond that we don’t do anything special regarding humidity.

In the summer we run with the garage door open on cool days if we can and then in winter we try to bring the press up to 60 degrees or so before we put a load on it. Humidity messes with the paper than the press in my opinion. Its less than ideal but in 6 years there have been no problems I can associate to it.

The castings are heavy, it would probably take about 1000 years for a C&P to rust out even in a humid basement. Keep the metal surfaces painted, keep the bare surfaces oiled and wipe an oily rag over them from time to time to prevent rust from forming. Then maybe keep your rollers in a more controlled environment if you are worried about them.

A simple solution might be to cover the press with plastic, reducing the fresh supply of humid air available to the press.

A plastic cover will trap the condensation. A cloth drape will allow the press to breathe, absorb moisture and allow drying as well.
An alternative is the use of silica gel under the drape. That is the material found in any number of products which might be damaged by humidity.(Noted example: those little bags marked: Do Not Eat found in electronics packaging) The RV industry uses containers into which a pound or two of the silica traps any moisture; the container must of course be emptied regularly.
However, apart from the ink disc, T27 is correct: a good paint job lessens the amount of metal exposed to oxidization and, with judicial oiling rust is largely kept at bay.

The humidity is not a problem in winter because of the coal and wood furnaces. However in the summer the humidity is just difficult to deal with because it effects everything, the paper, the rollers swell. The one thing that doesn’t cost anything is to surround the press with wood walls, almost like working in a crate kinda. Then it is not effected so much by the stone walls weeping humitity. Thanks for the ideas!!

In the south before air conditioning, people put a light bulb in their closet under the clothes, to keep the air a little farther away from the dew point, thus keeping it effectively drier. I think if you put a plastic sheet over the press and a small incandescent light bulb (maybe 25 watt) underneath it, that might work. You just have to keep the air very slightly drier than the surrounding air. As far as electricity cost goes, for the light bulb, if you pay 15 cents per kilowatt hour, that would cost you $2.70 for a month of 30 days. You would of course have to keep the light bulb far enough away from anything flammable, like flammable liquids, wood, paper or rags, so that there would be no chance of fire.

I learned of this from a woodworking magazine. Cover cast iron machinery (in this case table saw) with Terry cloth towels it wicks away the moisture. I have a Morrison saw temporarily stored in my garage and it works. (Just don’t take the fancy ones out of the bathroom)
Ted Lavin