Sludge Trough Cleanup

My sludge trough has a thick layer of old ink caked on. It’s never been too much of an issue previously but it’s time to change my washup blade and getting the old one out was super difficult and messy.

I decided that it’s time to finally take care of all that old sludge. Any thoughts on the best way to get the sludge trough back to normal? Or would it be easier to just buy a replacement?

I’ve tried to soak it in CA Wash and scrape it with a putty knife but it’s very old and very thick so unfortunately the wash doesn’t seem to do much and it’s difficult to maneuver the putty knife in the trough. There’s got to be a better way, right?

Any help would be very appreciated. Thank you.

Log in to reply   8 replies so far

I assume that this on a windmill ? Once the blade has been removed fill the trough with paint stripper and leave for a few hours. It might take a few attemps to get it pristine. Once it is done the easiest way to keep it in good order is to empty the trough each washup, I just rest mine in a plastic pot end on until most of the spirit/ink has come out and then give it a good clean before putting it back in the machine.

Corroborating F.H. above, nowadays Paint Stripper, preferably NITRO-MORS or similar but in any case the GEL variety, I.E. basically painted on, stays put, generally does not leech or drain down, even overnight!

The *Putty Knife/Pallet Knife* generally considered BAD news, on any Steel components, >duct roller, steel riders/disser rollers, ink drum etc.< ending up with Tram lines in the steel, especially the duct blade,??

Perhaps source, heavy duty Plastic or Nylon kitchen style Spatula, as they are kind to Stainless Steel and Teflon coated kitchen Pans etc.!!

The admonition that steel knives are hard on surfaces is true. It is common practice to work the edges of ink knives on a whetstone to round off the corners and break the ground face edge (if present). One doesn’t have to do much of this, just enough that the corner of the knife does not act as a scribe.

Plastic ink knives are also made, but are somewhat harder to source. I believe NA Graphics does sell them though.

M f M, thank you for your corroboration.
Yes it is an unfortunate fact of life that on the *spur of the moment* and probably ill informed as well, that the first tool to come to hand is invariably the ink knife, (steel)!!

Of course understood that when mixing ink, or running up for colour etc, a good whippy steel knife does a terrific job and gives a good *feel* towards the end result.

It can be appreciated WHY it turns in for detoxing the ink train, rather than source more suitable item.

I for one did it, just once, and was admonished (a long time ago)

Another, relevant, blast from the past Here U.K. perhaps STILL, Stateside, obtainable as aftermarket, small Ink Duct size absorbent rolls/wads that were inserted into the wash up trough, just prior to eventual wash up to absorb a good % of the liquid without filling the trough.

Here even a comprehensive wash up, from a heavy colour would generally only need 50-60% trough capacity, per wash up, hence absorbent swabs definitely made life easier.

It was suggested that the principle was, Plagiarized from absorbent Wash Up blankets used on small Litho,s Multilith, Gestilith, Hamada, and more.. . Still maybe worth investigation especially in view of the fact that small litho,s have to be INCHED on wash up,? . . blankets A Dime a Dozen, fingers not exactly expendable.

I was taught to put a rag in the ink washup tray (both Heidelberg and Vandercook). Make certain that it is tightly rolled so there are no exposed ends or parts which could rub the ink drum and get caught up in the works.

After each wash, dispose of the rag after using it to wipe out the tray. All stays nice and clean. I’ve seen many presses with a pretty solid build-up on the washup tray — just not good housekeeping.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

J. H. thank you for your corroboration, one more little gimmick just filtered through, it was also fairly common on the Heidelberg to put 2/3 sheets of blotting paper or absorbent material in the natural cavity under the Duct assembly and behind the main ink drum, and for a few days held down with 2 lengths of Supercaster (Girder furniture) or steel space frame furniture.
Left in place for a very long time, caught a multitude of Drips from the Duct, and ditto from the Ink Drum.

Seen many times and even still today, (obviously less in the age of die-cutting and creasing, rather than colour printing.)
a build up sometimes as much as 1/4” thick, exactly as the inference above, *housekeeping* etc.
One small redemption although deplorable situation, the Collage of colours from many many, streaks produced good pictures, (courtesy of the Photographic dept. in local Polytechnic)
A blown up print was hung in the Letterpress Printing dept. behind the Heidelberg and our equivalent of the Vandercook.

At 20” x 30” in colour, there was NO CAPTION.??

Sorry for not clarifying earlier, yes this is in regards to a Windmill 10x15.

Thanks for all the help everyone. I’ll try some of these suggestions and see how they go.

Frank, Nitro-Mors isn’t readily available. Would CitriStrip be OK? Is there an appropriate residue wash up process after using the paint stripper?

John, do you normally use a cloth rag or disposable paper?