Lubricating the gear teeth on the Vandercook No. 4 impression cylinder

Gear teeth on impression cylinder, before and after cleaningHello. I am a newbie in the process of restoring a Vandercook No. 4, SN 18794. My husband, who was in aerospace mechanical engineering for many years, is providing advice and much moral support. He was surprised when I told him that the procedure for lubricating the impression cylinder gear teeth was to apply a light machine oil to the racks with each use. He thought this sounded wimpy for such a massive unit, and actually when we purchased the press these teeth were gummed up with some sort of heavy, and very dirty, grease. From my classroom experience and in the documentation I’ve consulted, the light oil, applied frequently, seems to be the way to go, though as you can see the gear teeth in the “after” photo do look dangerously clean. What is the rationale for this?



(The complete project is being documented, for the benefit of other newbies, at )

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Fritz Klinke
16 years ago

Barbara–You pretty much answered your own question, plus grease laden cylinder gears and bed racks are easily touched with either hands or paper in the process of using the press, and could really make a mess of your efforts. These presses are doing just fine without grease or subtantial amounts of oil on these particular parts.

Fritz Klinke
16 years ago

The main gears on the cylinder and the corresponding gear racks don’t really need either oil or grease, and a very light coat of a machine oil will help keep things from rusting. Light oil on clean bearers where the main cylinder bearings go, but that’s it. No where in the Vandercook literature or on the blueprints is there mention of lubricating this gear and its rack.

Ray Nichols
16 years ago

First off, great effort. This should be fun to print on.

Second, very nice doing the photos. That should help give others the incentive to clean things up a bit.

Thanks for sharing your effort.

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