I am refurbishing a SP-15, which had been sitting in parts in a basement for 20 years (and when I say parts, I mean that the bed was removed from the legs). I am having troubling loosing up a few parts. None of these parts have much apparent rust… they are just not moving.

Problem 1: The grippers will not move from the gripper bar. I have removed all the knobs, rings and spring. The bar with grippers has been soaking first in mineral spirits and then in Evapo-rust over the last three days. I have also tried liquid wrench. I have tried lightly tapping the bottom of the grippers with a rubber mallet. Any suggestions?

Problem 2: All the bearings, except one, are frozen. I have tried similar soaking procedures with these, and after 3 days they are bubbling when immersed in Evapo-rust, but are still not moving. A car mechanic suggesting I try boiling them… any other suggestions?

Thank you for any advice,

Jessica Peterson

Paper Souvenir


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12 thoughts on “frozen bearings & paper gripper, SP-15”

  1. The only wooden bearings would be the ink drum bearings. They are inaccessible for lubrication, so a durable tropical hardwood was used on some models, and I think that includes the SPs.
    If the other bearings have freed up, perhaps the grease inside just needed to be worked and loosened up.

  2. Heating up the gripper bar totally worked! I baked it at 400 for 10 minutes, let it cool, and then for another 10 minutes at 300 and those pins came right out with a little encouragement and WD 40. Thanks for all the advice.

    I don’t understand which bearings are wood, can you be more specific?

    I’m going to try using all original bearings that I have (which are all moving now), and replacing them as necessary. The working order of things will be much more apparent once I re-assemble the bed and put the cylinder on the bed.

    Thanks for all the help

    Jessica.

  3. Good point Alex. I hadn’t really thought about the bearings. I assume now we are talking about the impression bearings. If they are sealed ball bearing rollers, and they are not free-turning, they would probably need to be replaced, whether or not any treatments have penetrated the seals. They may well be standard bearings and available as stock items. There are other ball bearing rollers that can be repacked with bearing grease, but again, if they are not already free-turning, there may be corrosion and damaged surfaces also requiring replacement. Simple bearings without balls or pin-rollers just need to be cleaned and polished on the working surfaces.
    If we are talking about the cylinder eccentric bearings, they would need disassembly and cleaning and lubrication. Last year I had to take a side piece off a SP-15 cylinder carriage because of a stuck cylinder bearing, and it was just a matter of removing a residue like dried root beer (lubricate, and use the right lubricant!), polishing the surfaces with crocus cloth, and lubricating. And by the way, it turns out that even a clean cylinder eccentric will freeze if you over-tighten the setcrews on the cover plate. There needs to be clearance between the cover plate and the side-frame so the assembly can turn.
    The ink drum bearings are wood aren’t they? Crud could interfere with its movement, and moisture could dmage the bearing itself, so inspection would be a good idea if you are already taking things apart.
    Any other bearings to consider?

  4. There are chemicals that dissolve alum oxide, but the liquid can’t get to the center of the pin – so it’s not a viable solution – this happens with vintage bicycles all the time – with aluminum seatposts and stems which slowly oxidize over the years. Literally no amount of physical force can break the bond – the aluminum would break first. So they’re usually cut out – destroyed – so the frame can be saved.

    If I were you, I would put it in the oven and heat it up, take it out and let it cool, repeat a few times – then while it’s hot i would tap the pins with a brass hammer. If this won’t work I’d take it to a machinist and let them try an arbor press. But if the pins are oxidized in place, even if you do remove the pins, the gripper bar may be permanently damaged, galled, and might not ever work right afterwards.

    I find that heat is usually a better cure than miracle liquids – especially evaporust – it’s good for certain things but as soon as you remove the item it starts flash-rusting, so your bearings might already have rust inside them. bearing depend on packed grease to work properly, so I would just bite the bullet and buy some new ones – they were only supposed to last a ‘lifetime’ of ten or twenty years anyway…

  5. Eric- Here are some pictures on the gripper bar. I followed the same procedure from last time I dis-assembled a press, and don’t remember any more screws of any kind that need to be removed/loosened.

  6. Alex- Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the aluminum explanation… that makes sense. Is there any solvents or wonder product to help in this situation? It does look like the cylinder was exposed to dampness and water. The press is actually in good shape except for the gripper bar… the press was sitting in a basement for 20 years, but most of the press except the cylinder was covered in heavy grease to preserve it.

    I knew I was taking a challenge on when I acquired it, but I am really enjoying learning as I re-assemble it and this is the only way I can afford to own a Vandercook right now (even if it is a SP-15, the easy bake oven of Vandercooks, as I have heard it said).

    So, Alex, Eric, Paul and forum, will penetrating oil ruin the grease in the bearings? They unfroze almost as soon as I used the penetrating oil, and I have been frequently lubricating them with a oil called PB Blaster and turning them (I took the bearings off the press, after marking their location). Before I re-attach them to the cylinder, should I drench them in WD 40?

    Thanks Jessica

  7. Jessica-
    There’s nothing that could be holding the pins in except old grease, dirt, rust, or aluminum oxide. The pins are steel and could rust, but your penetrating oil can’t get into the center of the pin – but you should still be able, with a brass hammer, to get the pins out by using some arm muscle. But the gripper bar is aluminum and aluminum doesn’t like water. Aluminum oxide is the equivalent of rust except it can expand 300-400%. Has the gripper bar been wet or damp for a long time? If it’s oxidized inside, there’s a physical bond that is super strong. You might be able to push the pins out with an arbor press, but it might also damage the aluminum bar.

    if you think this is frustrating, hold on – the gripper bar is one of the easiest part to recondition… BTW, Eric – won’t penetrating oil or the water based evaporust ruin the grease in the bearings?

  8. The penetrating oil worked really well for the bearings… they immediately unfroze and are moving wonderfully.

    The grippers are still frozen in the gripper bar after a week of soaking in penetrating oil. Very frustrating. I haven’t tried the pin punch, but have tried almost every other form of controlled hitting and twisting along the bottom of the gripper pin.

  9. I would tap the bottom of the grippers with a pin punch (the largest that will fit) and hammer.
    No point using Evapo-Rust if rust isn’t there, but penetrating oil is needed. Slightly better than Liquid Wrench is Kroil from Kano Labs. Acetone mixed 50-50 with automatic taransmisson fluid is supposed to be the best, but one person I suggested that to could not get the two to mix properly.
    Such penetrating oils will be needed on the frozen bearings too, but disassembly will be needed in any case. All the de-rusted bearing surfaces will need to be smoothed with scrapers, synthetic steel wool, fine grit abrasive, crocus cloth, etc.

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