Saturday, July 26, 2008

Repainting the Pearl Name Plate

Just a small touch, not something you might think of as a major bit of restoration, but what would a Pearl be without her shiney brass Name Plate?

Not that it was awfully bad off, but the brass was a bit dull, the background paint a bit lacking in lustre. And with a shiny new coat of glossy paint, she needed some nice bling.

So here we go. I worked on this for three mornings, about one hour each morning. First I painted the whole thing with the same black Rustoleum I used for the Press and Table. I let it dry for about three days.

Next I used a steel dremel brush and with great care, began to brush off the paint only on the surface of the letters and border. The wire brush also polished off some of the discolour that was on the exposed brass. It was very slow going because one slip and the black background paint would be damaged.

Next I spent an hour with the eraser of a pencil and polished the newly exposed brass letters. This is an old trick I learnt restoring 1930s wireless communication equipment. An eraser is a fairly decent ersatz dry polish. The next step would be to rouge the brass up to a gloss, but I have to get some Brasso for that. Maybe today. But meanwhile it looks good enough to share, so here it is. The screws are new 6-32 brass slotted machine screws from the hardware store.

Nice thing about this Pearl: all the nuts and bolts seem to be standard sizes. I am not sure at all if this holds true across all Pearl models, but so far it's been true with the Old Style Model 3.

Oh, one more note, a bit of info I'll pass on to Pearl users for what it's worth. Yesterday on the LETPRESS List, Steve Saxe, probably the best authority on these presses that I know of, noted that before 1885, the Model 3 table sported three drawers. After 1885, all we find are two drawer tables. We make a quick and dirty poll on the list, and it seems to bear out there. If anyone reading this has a Pearl Model 3 Old Style, made after 1885 containing three drawers, let me know. Mine is a 1909, two drawers. Two LETPRESS members have 1886 models, two drawers.

Well, there ya go.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Degreasing and Painting the Pearl

I started at about 9am this morning and spent the rest of the day, up until around 8pm unsaddling the Pearl from it's table, and bringing the press and table outside for the final degreasing and cleaning. For the past few weeks I have been working on that layer of grime that literally covered every inch of the press. After doing what I could in the shop itself, I completed the degreasing task outside where I had access to water under pressure.

I used an engine degreaser, a bucket of water and Palmolive, a brush and a sponge. After giving both table and press one final going over with the degreaser, and letting it set for around five minutes, I used the garden hose to power rinse. Then I took the brush and soap water and went over every surface I could reach. Removed was the Flywheel shaft, Pawl ratchet, all screws that could be removed, ink disk, timpan clips and screws, name plate, feedboard supports, gripper bars, shaft and cam. Also the treadle shaft. After drying, and not having a compressor handy, I used a soda straw to blow the water out of the oil ports.

The grease was stubborn, largely owing to the original paint which had become somewhat porous over the years. I don't know where this press had been, there may have been a little bit of etching action on the paint, which could have come from sea air, as if in a coastal area.

As I degreased, I came to discover traces of the original pin striping. The Pearl had lots of pin striping apparently. Striping on the desk was found on the ends of the side panels, also both inside and outside the rounded bouts. Corresponding striping traces were found on the upper bouts cast into the press itself. The raised lettering cast on both press and table were painted red.

After the final wash down with soap water and then a final rinsing with the garden hose, I towel dried everything and then let things dry further in the bright sun.

I began painting the table with black gloss Rustoleum. To reach every surface, inside and out plus the treadle took about an hour and a half. The table was set up on 2x6's , the treadle supported by a piece of 4x4. Then I painted the Press, which took another hour and a half. While the paint dried, I degreased, washed, dried and painted the disassembled parts and hung them to dry from the Camphor tree.

There is a certain precision I wanted to maintain, which required the use of two brushes, one about an inch and a half wide, and one about a quarter inch wide. Thses were needed to carefully paint the inside of the platen cam gear, leaving the machined gear-edge surface on the sides clear of paint. This was also done on the sides of the rails. Part of the linkage to the platen did not need new paint, and the satin finish of those pieces contrast the high gloss knee and cotter hinges giving a nice visual effect.

By late afternoon I was applying second coats to parts of the table and press. After ten hours, I was finished, leaving the treadle rod and chase only to be wire brushed to remove rust, sanded smooth and painted.

Here are some photos of the day spent with the Pearl.

The day began by asking co-conspirator Jeff to stop by the house so I could borrow his back for about fifteen minutes. We unbolted the Pearl from it's table and trundled them out to the front walkway. The table wasn't all that heavy and was easily lifted out, treadle still attached. The press had to be dollied out, and it stayed on that dolly thoughout the whole proceedure.

I was particularly anxious to get at that treadle. It suffered the worst in that barn. Fortunately she was cast stoutly. I believe there had been a repair done on the treadle sometime in the past as she bears the mark of a flow of metal. It could be that it stress fractured some forty or fifty years ago, and the treadle was spot welded. The underside of the treadle reveals no damage whatever, so if it was a repair, it was minor.

The Pearl after final degreasing. The recesses behind the platen (which really reminds me of the platen of a Hoe. & Co. Washington) posed somewhat of a challenge simply due to the tight area in which to clean. A toothbrush and elbow grease coupled with the spray degreaser did the trick.

Right side of the Press

. . . and the left side.

This is a macrodigital shot of the date forged into the left side of the Pearl. No, the "9" at the end of '1909' is not angled, it was the camera. There was no white primer behind the peeling paint, either. That was also a camera anomoly. It was pure iron behind the peeling paint, and the paint itself was steel wooled down to the point that to remove more paint would have exposed the iron, something I did not see as a wise move. Much of the paint was, in fact, intact and still served it's purpose in protecting the iron beneath.

This is a bolt cottered knee joint between the cam shaft (or what I call the cam shaft: it's actually a 'U' shaft which controlls the opening and closing of the "clamshell" action of the Platen.) which was wholly caked with grime. The degreaser did a great job, and the soap-water rinse and dry cleaned off the grease that worked free along with the other degreaser residue.

Clean Iron and a Clean Shaft Block and Oil Port. This block receives the Fly shaft.

Remnants of the original red paint still exists on the raised letting. If you look carefully you will see remnants of the original pin striping following the contours of the panel and bout edges. Macrozoom imaging shows it to be a shade of yellow. I am not sure if I will reproduce the pinstriping, but I will restore the red lettering.

Closeup of the table after degreasing and drying. The tabletop was caked with not only the same grimy film as the rest of the press, but also oil residue from the press, as well as ink dried on it, collecting for nearly a century. Removing some of these ink 'mounds' revealed a startling spectrum of colours used for past jobs, particularly Yellow! Baby Blue! Crimson! The Pearl did, apparently, it's share of multicolour work.

These are some of the disassembled parts. Missing are the delivery board braces, which are awaiting their turn at the wire wheel.

Wanna degrease and clean your press? Here's all you need. Degreaser, Kerosine, Brush, Sponge, Bucket and some sort of dish washing liquid, such as Palmolive. Add to this list fine Steel Wool and a Tooth Brush. And Go-Jo or Gunk for your hands. These hand cleaners also make a great pre-wash treatment for the grease you'll get on your clothing.

The Flywheel side which faces the press, degreased.

Und noch einmal jetzt ist das 'Flywheel'.
(And yet again, the Flywheel)

The Press and Table after the first round of Paint Application. I used Gloss Black Rustoleum. The two brushes were 1.5" wide and 0.25". You can see the jar of Kerosine used to clean the brushes. After the Kerosine clean, they are soaked in another jar of dishwashing soap and water. Then they are rubbed down with Go-Jo, and rinsed again. A very effective cleaning for your expensive brushes.

Table and Treadle after initial painting.

Brush painting was done for the entire job, as opposed to spray. Painting the recesses of the Platen was somewhat of a challenge, but working the corners of those recesses and speading the paint out from there with the brush worked well and insured coverage all areas within those recess with paint and consequent protection.

I did not feel it necessary to remove the roller hooks and springs. I just painted around them. The springs are in great shape.

I flashed the shot so the shine from the hooks and springs can be seen.

When you do a wholesale water rinse with a garden hose and pressure head to blast out loose grease, you have to consider any bare metal, particularly the polished bare metal areas which will start to rust, literally, in minutes. This is the type bead after ten minutes. It cleans up easy enough, but just to make the point, I shot this photo. Be sure to dry everything by towel, and air blast the oil ports. If you don't have a compressor (or you're like me and have no air-jet hand valve for air blasting) a simple substitue is a soda straw and your own lung power. After you blow out the oil ports, pare down the cotton of a "Q-tip", dip it in oil and plunge the port hole.

The finished table. Finished, at least, with the black paint. After a week of drying, red will be applied to the letters.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Progress on the Pearl

Hi, it's me.

I managed to get another few hours in with the Pearl today. Mostly it was disassembly and degreasing. There was a layer of grime that settled over the press during the years it stayed in the barn, which may have been a blessing in disguise. Grease repells water, and here in swamp country, your typical cypress board and batten barn is anything but dehumidified. But it did have a high ceiling, over twenty feet, and it was built about three feet off the ground on piers, so such as it was, it could have been worse.

Now this grime was mixed with sawdust, which definately IS hygroscopic. So you have greasy grime impregnated with damp substances. The damp would ultimately congeal and settle to the lowest level, which is near the feet of the press and the table. Thus the areas having greatest rust are those points.

Then there is the exposed metal areas. Those rusted to a degree. Not bad enough to pit, but enough to warrant more than surface cleaning with steel wool. Painted areas of the press fared pretty well, save for the peeling in the low areas.

Following are some shots I took of the work covered today.

This is a three-quarter shot of the rear with flywheel/treadle axle removed. The main gear is a little clogged with dried or old grease. It is probably oil mixed with barn grime. You don't grease these gears, you oil them, usually with 30w.

This is what I call a knee. This is a cottered knee before degreasing. Only the smaller movable connections use the steel cotter pins.

This is the main gear (which I couldn't remove) during degreasing. I went over the whole press with Easy Off oven cleaner after discovering that regular degreasing didn't quite work. I had to use Kerosine, too. Easy Off after a Kerosine cleaning did the job.

This is sort of an "after" shot. This is after degreasing. I then had to take a small flat-head screwdriver and work out the hardened matter between the gears.

This is the Flywheel Axle with the treadle gear still attached. It slid out once I got the Flywheel off. I had to both sand and steel wool the shaft. It fits perfectly even after moderate sanding with an orbital sander and fine grit aluminium oxide paper.

This is a closeup of the treadle gear. This had to be degreased, too. The gear and crank will be painted while mounted on the shaft.

Ready for re-mounting: Gripper bars, Tympan Clips and brass screws for remounting. These items were very rusted, but cleaned up well despite limited pitting of the metal. All these items were cleaned using a rotary wire wheel on my bench grinder.

These are the feedboard supports. These still need to be cleaned and painted. This will be done my next set of days off. And, of course, I need to build the hardwood feed and delivery decks.

This is the cleaned undercarriage of the iron table which supports the press. You may see rust colouring on the inner slide rails for the drawers. It's not rust, that has been cleaned off already. It's just the way the photo turned out.

The top of the treadle has benefitted by some degreasing, the bottom shows signs of rust, nothing too bad. It will be painted as well. Boy, the floor is a mess. This stuff should have been done outside! But alas, we are in the summer rain pattern, plus it's air conditioned and dehumidified inside the room. I'll just have to mop up after I'm done

My NS C&P 8x12 is sort of acting as an ersatz storage table holding tools, steel wool, rags, two forms, and sand paper. After the Pearl, it will be my next project, only all I will do is clean it. It needs no extensive work. Motor needs to be hung and wiring configured. But right now, any surface is fair game!

The Ink Disk is ready for painting. I removed the Dog and lever that rotates the disk. Those too will be cleaned and painted.

Well, this is about all I can keep my eyes open for. It's 1:22 am and I have a Sunday School lesson to teach tomorrow over at Boston Gourmet Coffee.

Good Providence in all your endeavours.

G. Johanson, Settlement Printer.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Continued work on the Pearl

Not very much to report since the last installment. The Fourth of July weekend was full of distractions . . . nice distractions, like having family time, checking out the Fireworks on Lake Monroe in front of the New Tribes Mission H.Q. in Sanford, visiting friends, etc.

I had some time today, so I continued the slow and tedious process of painting the Pearl. Today I spent about an hour and a half just painting the platen sides and undercarriage, meaning the cast portion that holds the bottom of the platen, through which the platen adjustment lugs - which I had to remove - are threaded. I also began addressing the rust on the underside of the ink disk. It will be the next to take the glossy black Rustoleum (industrial density) bath.

It was my intention NOT to disassemble the press, but as I go along, I find myself just about doing the equivalent. The nice thing is that since I have no particular deadline, I can remove an item, clean it, paint it, and if possible re-attach it. If not, I tag it and attach it when appropriate. This way I won't have the situation of having a gazillion parts and a couple "oopses" as I forget just what bolt goes where. Or just what the order of re-assembly is.

Of course, if I had to do that, I would photo and document. But then there is the space issue, space I simply do not have. So things are working out just as they should for the work space I have available.

I am also giving thought to just what my first print item should be. I would like to start my Newsletter once again, "Midnight Oil" which I started back in my Heirloom Press days. But I also want something marketable, so I may start up Hornbook Production using some authentic 18th century Caslon which I managed to order a few years back from M&H.

I also thought about doing a Linocut greeting or gift card to kick of the operation. A series of St. Johns River silhouettes or something a local would instantly relate to, like the outline of Hontoon Island at sunset. Or something from my own memory, like the palmetto thatched water towers in the orange groves used by the steam tractors and other equipment to refill their boilers. As kids we would pull the rope to let out the water that collected in the cistern just to cool off after a rotten orange fight.

Or maybe a scene from old Genius Drive in Winter Park of a bygone day, when we used to sneak into Congressman Lou Fry's grove and run the Peacocks thru the brush around mid July to force molt those huge feathers, and then sell those feathers on Park Avenue for a buck a piece . . . till the police showed up one day and booked us for poaching.

Hmm . . . or maybe I ought to start out with my own business card?

Good Provicence in all your endeavours.

G. Johanson, Settlement Printer.