painting a press

My Vandercook 4 looks scruffy and having moved it to a part of the house where it is visible to everyone, I would like to paint it. I wonder if there are any do-s and don’t-s about this. And although I have seen these presses painted in various colors, I wonder if there is a correct factory color. Presently the paint is an industrial-looking light green. Thanks for any help. – Chip Coakley 

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Jess Snow
2 years ago

I am also repainting/touching-up a Vandercook. I had originally tried Rustoleum’s Vintage Grey, but found it to be too light. Like Ernst, I prefer the results of Smoke Grey.

I spoke with Rob Miller a ways back and he was saying that the quality of the current formula in Rustoleum does tolerate a slightly imperfect prep job. I clean off as much loose paint, rust, and old ink off as I can, but if there’s a little residual here and there, Rob convinced me that it’s okay. A friend of mine has showed me how to do a fastidious tape job to protect the signs. The only parts that I haven’t been successful with are the hinges. So they are staying a little rusty.

Ernst Schaefer
Ernst Schaefer
2 years ago

thank you paul. i tried to edit my post, but did not find out how to do.
forgot to write about more of the cleaning and prep work. i use a strong degreaser that takes away all the grime, ink and oil. i buy it at autozone its called purple power. if you leave it to long on or you soak parts in it, it even takes away the old paint like a paint remover. needs kind of flushing after the treatment with water. sometimes i just spray it on a rag to clean bigger areas like cabinet or so.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
2 years ago

It’s looking good, Ernst.

Ernst Schaefer
Ernst Schaefer
2 years ago

i am doing the same right now. using RUST-OLEUM GLOSS PROTECTIVE ENAMEL SMOKE GRAY and for some little parts to have a contrast CHARCOAL GRAY which is darker. i do not paint the cabinet which is in ok shape.
the nice thing about those oil based paints is you get them in hardware stores either in rattle cans or in 1 quart cans. it takes about 2 weeks for the paint to cure to really scratch resistant surface.
most ipmortant is the prep. make sure all the surfaces are clean and free of dust and ink.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
2 years ago

Vandercook equipment catalogs refer to machine tool gray. My dives in the Vandercook archives at NA Graphics have not uncovered a formula. Your best option is to find a painted part, such as one of the cylinder gear covers and inspect the underide for original paint. Sherwin-Williams paint store will scan the color, mix it and even put it in a spray can.

In the early years, presses were painted black, but by the 1920s they were dark green. On the eve of World War II and until the company’s demise, they were painted machine tool gray.

In 1922, the Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty forced materials previously slated for warship production to be sold as surplus including gray paint. Many machine tool manufacturers bought gray paint at a substantial discount.

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