Turn Over! Lubrication.

After a fair bit of reading and searching I have found the right lubricant for the press. When you look for machine oil to day (the way it was available in the days when the press was new), you find that it is all detergent based today. Today’s engine oil is way too thin for the cast iron journals with their rather generous clearances. The oil would just drip away. The oil I found is made locally, for metal working machinery where the oils has to stay in place, even on vertical sliding surfaces, and has to maintain lubricating film properties even under high loading and slow movement. It is called “way-oil” and has just the right properties. Likely a better oil than was available at the time the press was in production. I am hoping use of this oil will extend the usefull life of the press far beyond my own. Only problem, you have to buy a 5 gallon pail of the oil! But if it works out as I’m thinking now, I will package the rest of the oil in half liter bottles and make it available for anyone who would like to try it. But I have to try the extended run time motor driven test run first.
When I first laid eyes on the press I was looking for evidence of oil remaining at the journals and linkages. There was a lot of oxidized oil heavily caked with dust and dirt in those places, a good sign. When I removed the retaining bolts for one of the connecting rods, sliding the rod off a bit, the journal area was still shiny with good oil. Then I cleaned out all the oil holes with metal drill-bits, twirling them by hand – finishing with a q-tip to get all the gunk out. I filled every one of the oil holes and proceeded to move the flywheel back and forth just a few inches. Hearing no noise, and feeling no resistance, I increased the rocking motion until I finally made a whole turn. Seeing the oil in the oil holes sink down a bit gave me the assurance I was looking for: The oil was flooding the journals. The press moves with absolutely no noise, smooth as silk! The only thing you hear is the little clack of the ink disk advancing ratchet action.

I was surprised about how the platen mechanism stays open for quite a long time. One press cycle on my press takes seven turns of the flywheel. For three of those turns the platen is wide open. The drive wheel is 24″ in diameter. Next I want to work out what speed motor I should get. The original motor is a 1926 half horsepower motor that looks like the size of a new three to four HP motor today. I will not be using it since I will want to go with variable speed drive and that requires the use of an inverter duty motor. Those have a lot better insulation than a standard motor and vastly better than what was available even just twenty years ago – never mind eighty years ago.

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Filed under C&P, Letterpress

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