C&P oiling

Thanks for all your previous suggestions/advice for oiling/lubricating a C&P press that came my way.
A followup: I have oiled the “ports” up to the point where the oil is level with the opening (not all the ports have cap).
I operate the press for a few minutes and the oil level in the ports has dropped. I oil again and again and again and the same thing happens. Some levels drop more than others.
The press drips oil here and there, but not equal to the amount I’ve poured in….no where even close. Just a few spots on the garage floor.
This press was sitting in a corner of a print shop and not used for several years and I have no idea about its maintenance in the past. It does not squeak or screech.
I guess my question is: can you use too much oil or can you never oil enough? Thanks for all your help!
JP (bloviate)

Log in to reply   7 replies so far

Think about the relative volume of oil in the oil holes versus the amount that can be contained in the bearing you are oiling. If the bearing was dry and is at all loose (worn) the ratio is probably about 4 or 5 to 1, so filling the oil hole 5 time is sufficient to ensure that the entire bearing is oiled adequately (assuming you are running the press between oiling sessions to distribute the oil in the bearings). “Adequately” is indicated when oil drips out of the joint. At that point, depending on the viscosity of the oil (30W non detergent is usually recommended) the bearings are lubricated. Most printers oil the press every day it is used. If you use more oil than needed to “adequately” oil the bearings, you will waste oil. But be sure you oil all moving parts at their contact points — some don’t have oil holes but still require lubrication. Also, I suggest a very high viscosity heavy oil (I like chain saw bar and chain oil) for the gear teeth — it will stay on the gears longer than the 30W.


Bob summed it up nicely. I wrote a short blog with links to the oil chart and C&P Parts lists to illustrate the instructions that can be found here

I would add one comment. When I first bought my press I oiled most point with 80W Gear Oil so it would not drain out so fast. Later I oiled all with 30w to wash out as much grime and dirt as I could. The 80W oil is still on my main gear. It attracts dirt and dust that is inevitable in a print shop. It also attracts shirt sleeves, aprons or any other clothes that touch it. Recently I went over the whole gear tooth by tooth to clean some off so it isn’t so prone to ruin cloths. There is still plenty of oil left for lubrication.

Another thing that has been discussed before is a drip pan. They can be found at auto supply stores and are perfect for catching drips when you oil.

I bought an older 10x15 C&P Old Style one time that was so oil-covered you couldn’t get a grip on any part to lift it. It was not on a drip pan, and the floor for several feet all around was also so saturated with oil it was difficult to stand up! I think the printer just threw a bucket of oil onto the press whenever he was going to use it. It sure was well oiled!


Oil is cheap. Wear is bad.
I learned that if there was not some oil on the floor, you were not oiling enough. I oil each time before I use the press. Two drops of oil in each hole or oil place is adequate.
Find all the oiling points. Some are well hidden and not all have oil holes.

oil is not going to “just drain out” and fall to the floor like one would imagine water dripping. it clings to everything. it will take indirect routes to the floor, running down (even up) press parts as it goes. Use a rag to wipe down the press parts as you oil, and you will see.
Take length and width measurements of the press and parts around the perimeter where oil will drip. i use a local heating/AC contractor to make the oil drip pans.Same metal as heating/AC air ducts. you will want a 1/2”-3/4” tall, “rolled ” lip around outside. The new galvanized steel looks nice, will not rust, is easy to keep clean, and with soldered/sealed corners, will contain the oil, and the rolled lip will leave smooth edge to prevent cuts. It even has a different sound to it so when a part falls, you will know where to look.
offer to do some nice cards for them as a trade-out.
Using a synthetic oil, i oil 1) slow-speed, low pressure points, once a week. 2) medium load points twice a week. 3) long travel, high speed, high pressure points, every 4 hours.
On initial run up. you will want to oil each oil point, every 1 hour until the oil coming out is as clean as the oil you put in. once you get to that point, the above time table is fine.
A well oiled machine will not have any “sharp, sudden” snaps or bangs. Just a rythmic “clackity-clack” of a happy press, along with the choo-choo train sound of air/vacuum pump if so equipped. An auto fed press has the bell for “off impression”
i love these old presses :)


posted this coupla years ago—I use it in direct and manual offset litho presses, iron hand presses etc, it is very nice and very sticky to help it stay in plain bearings that are worn.
Otherwise I use vintage car oil such as this for faster moving non load bearing bearings eg rollers in a Vandercook style press

Thanks for all your advice. The press now has (a nod to ericm) a rhythmic “clackity-clak” sound…very pleasing to the ear. If this old C&P could just talk!