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.


  1. oh she's looking purty Gary! it's so worth all the effort, don't you think? would love to meet her and you someday!


  2. Wow! This is a great tutorial. Thanks Gary!

  3. Hard to believe it's been over three years, now, since I've done this. I never did paint the raised letters red. Golly, moving on to other shop equipment to fix and get set up is a real distraction. But I am glad these articles help in some way. One day I might go through these articles and do some spell correcting, though! Currently I am facing a 10x15 C&P and a 1915 Kimble motor to re-hab. The fun never stops!