Dry rot growth (?) in stored type cases

Hi all,
I’ve just this week obtained several boxes of metal type in old Adana wood and hardboard cases. They’d been stored in an attic probably for several decades in stacks about eight high, tied tightly together with string, 4 stacks to a box. Mainly they’re fine, just a little dusty, but two stacks, when the string was snipped and the trays separated, had a strange creamy-white silky growth capping the case sections (see photo). Closest I can get to an identification is dry rot mycelium, meaning they must have got wet at some point in the past although there’s no sign of this. It does all smell mouldy / mildew-y. My first question is how to wash the type, I want to kill any spores without damaging the metal. I’ve seen a recommendation of tea tree oil (which is an anti-fungal agent) in vinegar - would vinegar be safe for the type? I presume I will need to burn the affected cases, and I’m wondering if the ‘good’ stacks of cases ought to be disposed of as well. This would be a great shame, as they’ve been preserved in such fine order for so long. All of the type is in beautiful condition. Apart from the mystery growth, I feel tremendously lucky to have all of this beautiful type and equipment. I’ve also gained an Adana 8x5 and a 5x3, so will be following the discussion forums for tips and tricks!
Many thanks in advance, any observations or suggestions very welcome!

image: Affected type case.jpeg

Affected type case.jpeg

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Yes - its dry rot, a misleadingly named fungus as its only ‘dry’ compared to wet rot and needs a certain amount of moisture to thrive (these are UK terms, possibly different terms are used in the USA). There are various proprietory dry rot killing chemicals - I would try a few pieces of type in one and if all seems well after a long immersion, then a short dunk with gentle agitation, followed by a wash in water and a through dry, will probably be fine. Also, I would expect that a wash in your regular type cleaner would be a good thing to do: assuming you are in the UK, then white spirit or turps substitute is one widely used type cleaner used by amateur printers as its readily available in DIY sheds.

Yes - dispose of the cases in the photo.

That looks like a small point size to redistribute into new cases - hope you have good eyesight!

Yes - advise treating the apparently unaffected cases with more of the proprietory dry rot killer.

You may be able to salvage the type cases. Brush or vacuum away the white stuff. Be careful that a strong vacuum does not pick up pieces of type.
Place type in bucket. Perhaps 200 pieces. Add water to cover and a cleaning agent. My preference is tri sodium phosphate granules from the hardware store. Something from under your kitchen sink will work. Dishwashing soap,
409, etc. Perhaps a splash of Clorox also. Swish the type and let it soak for a day. I then scrub each piece of type with an old toothbrush and dunk in another bucket of fresh water. Spread out to dry thoroughly. Then submerge in kerosene and dry again
If the wood is not punky or crumbly, an effort to preserve and restore is in order. It takes some time.
Hose out the cases with a strong stream. Set out in sun to dry. Get some fence and deck restorer liquid from hardware store. Spray/ hose the case to dampen. With an old toothbrush scrub each box with the restorer undiluted. Use a generous amount on brush. Before the goop is fully dry, spray out with hose. Spray with Clorox and set to dry in the sun. Water is the enemy of the plywood/veneer bottoms of the case.
After a few days to insure complete drying, oil the broader edge pieces with boiled linseed oil. You can also spray lacquer the interior parts. Low luster lacquor
Then get to printing and get some ink on your shirt.

Assuming and hoping You may be U.K. located, send a message via the B.P. lines of communication, would be happy to send, one or two perfectly usable (smaller but bigger than Adana size) 6 - 8 drawer cabinets, (with compartmental drawers) roughly 1 Ft, high, x 1 Ft. wide, x 1 Ft. Deep, just the cost of Inland Shipping, + maybe, Postal Order for £2 (sterling) payable to the World Wildlife Fund, or collect in person from Sussex.?
+ (Author) up to speed with Adana instruction, All sizes,? etc. (IF) !!

Dry rot can be killed with heat.

Just empty the cases and bung them in the oven. According to one source:

“If the wood can be removed, it can be sterilised in a kiln. The temperature throughout the wood must be maintained at just over 40°C for 15 minutes. Care is needed to prevent splitting and distortion and this method provides no protection to the wood after reinstatement.”

I am so lucky to have happened across this community! Thank you all so much for the thorough and detailed advice. I’m going to rescue the type first and get it soaking, to start the cleaning process - using your various suggestions. I shall use a different tub for each typeface, so I don’t mix them up.

Yes, The Free Presse, my varifocals are going to come in very handy!!

I’m inclined to try Keelan’s heat method for the unaffected type cases, will try with one and see what happens. Will also check out the dry rot killers and see how toxic they are - I am a Paranoid Annie…

The hardboard bottoms of these cases are marvellous, on the underneath of some of them are old Persil (soap powder) adverts, I love the re-use of materials aspect.

The affected cases feel a little wobbly / crumbly, so may not be saveable - and that growth is making me feel paranoid about having them in the house again - so I’ll wait a little to work out whether to try a restoration.

Mick the Caster - those type cases sound wonderful - I will get in touch.

Inky - I cannot wait to get ink on my shirt!

Thanks again to all for your generous time in responding to my plea!. I’ll post an update when I’m through with this. In the process of setting up my workshop (I’ve requisitioned the lounge!), so everything is all over the place at the moment!

Many thanks,