Letterpress restoration

Published on
The first clean — letterpress restoration on For the Love of George

Well, here goes. First cleaning session down.

Oh boy, it is dirty. Of course I knew it was, because every time I touched it, I would have to break out the Solvol (gee it reminds me of Pa). For the first week, I had zero opportunity to get out to the garage for a cleaning session (two young kids can really fill up a calendar), but I found myself just wandering out there to look at it and touch it.

I am so darn lucky that I have a husband who a) has a compact car, so the press could fit in the garage; and b) is so supportive and understanding. It’s going to be an expensive hobby, a time-consuming hobby, and I have no idea if I’ll ever turn it into a money-making venture. And I’m not talking about rolling in the dough, hell, I’d almost settle for breaking even.

Somehow, the press didn’t look too dirty. When I start scrubbing, I began to realise just how well cast iron hides grime. Grease and oil are dust magnets, and once settled, it doesn’t come off. I armed myself with common supplies from the hardware store — low-odour turps, metal wire brushes, foam sandpaper pads, rust killer, and a tarp to protect the floor.

My first order of business was the legs. I wanted to get stuck into an area that had no moving parts — ie., no repercussions lest I stuff up. I gained confidence and moved on to dismantling and cleaning other areas. First, I removed the ink disk to gain better access…

And as I’ve cleaned, I’ve realised that acquiring a press that requires restoration is a blessing in disguise. I’m learning more and more about the press and how it works as I go. You can see in the second picture below that some repair work has been done at some time in it’s life. It’s likely the press fell on it’s side and broke the flywheel and an arm. The arm has been welded and pinned — much like doctors will reinforce a badly broken bone. Cast iron can be so brittle, and very difficult to repair. I’m lucky, because it seems to be working just fine. I’ve oiled the moving parts, and I am getting a lovely smooth movement.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Love George Letterpress first clean-21
Love George Letterpress first clean-20
Love George Letterpress first clean-19
Love George Letterpress first clean-17
Love George Letterpress first clean-15
Love George Letterpress first clean-11
Love George Letterpress first clean-10
Love George Letterpress first clean-9
Love George Letterpress first clean-7
Love George Letterpress first clean-3

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *