Cleaning the Press itself

I recently purchased a C&P Old Style press. It was functioning when the workshop closed, but it is very, very dirty. I am wondering how much I should try to clean it? Will it hurt it? Any help would be appreciated.

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I use a mix of about half kerosene/acetone, old brushes and compressed air. Steel wool or scotchbrite, and/or finer emery on the machined surfaces. Works but is messy

sorry, two posts

If the press has not been used for some time you might begin by using compressed air (can or hose) and blow out any oil ports. If this press has open oil ports, as many of the older ones do, after blowing them out insert some removable wads of cloth or similar to keep any new dust and goo from entering these ports while you blow off dirt from all the nooks and crannies and corners. As Scott mentioned this is going to be a messy process! Put down some cardboard sheets or drop cloths around the press when you begin. Wear some kind of gloves to keep the chemicals off your hands as this will take a while. Some old oil and grease will just wipe right off but other areas may not be so easy. I have not used the kerosene/acetone formula that Scott mentioned in his post but I am going to give it a try. I have always used mineral spirits, which works okay. Whatever you use think about breaking the cleaning chore into a few sessions rather than an all-day affair. Oh, cotton cloth works way better than paper towels for the heavy cleaning. Also, cleaning will be a good time to look for cracks, welds, loose parts, worn areas, etc. While scrubbing you can imagine all the great prints soon to come!


Thank you for the info, Jim and Scott. I need to use your instructions to clean my Sigwalt press.

@CottonandCursive, if it’s not a huge secret: was it expensive to buy the press?

Thank you, Scott and Jim. Is this amount of cleaning necessary or recommended? I don’t need the press to look new. I was concerned that if I scrubbed too much, I would expose the metals to the possibility of rusting since they’ve been protected by years of life.

I did blow off/vacuum a LOT of dust and dirt off yesterday and it looks remarkably better already. Let me know your thoughts.

@irinafrancis — The total came to about $720. I bought it from an auction for 625 with a 15% buyers premium fee added on. As an added thought if you’re looking to buy one, be aware that you have to have a way to get it, which may add significant cost. My dad lives close to the shop where I bought mine and was able to get it with a forklift, store it in his warehouse, and then we rented a trailer to transport it to my house in another state. It’s a production getting one. Good luck.

What amount? You described the press as very, very dirty. Without any photos to go by all that can be suggested is basic clean up procedures.


with an old greasy, dirty Kluge, i left it on the trailer. Sprayed it completely down with mineral spirits. Removed any electrical parts first, (This would include wood parts if you have them), then used “Dawn” dish soap (mixed with water), in a spray bottle over the whole machine. Then off to the local self serve car wash with high pressure spray wand. Next step was to blow it of with air. An air gun with a long nozzle helped get into areas of the press. finally, unload the machine and OIL EV THING. i oiled it to where it was dripping out of all movable parts. Wipe the whole machine down with oily rag.
I understand that this is still quite a process, but, it keeps the messiest part at the car wash instead of in my shop.

It depends on how filthy it is. Once the rollers, motor, belt and any electrical bits are removed, it’s hard to damage the press with a reasonable level of cleaning—that is if you’re not worried about the original paint job.

My press was so horribly caked in ink that I had to use paint stripper on some parts to remove decades of dried ink. This of course also removed the paint, which meant my press got a fresh coat of paint in the process.

@CottonandCursive, thank you so much! :)