Restoring a Vandercook 03 [updated]

Hello everyone!

I’ve undertaken the task of restoring my 03.
I’ve started with paint thinner to degrease the bearings system where the previous owner had it all greased up, and thus it gather a severe amount of gunk.

I disassembled the carriage and down to the impression cylinder. I’ve gotten most of the grime off.

When I put it back together should I add any kind of oil or lubrication?

Another thing. I want to restore the paint to a fire engine red. The only problem I encounter is the nameplate, it’s riveted on the side.
Is there any way to remove it so I can go at the rest with paint remover?
What would you recommend to keep it safe, and at the end restore some shine into it?

Thanks in advance for your help!


Is there any special trick to remove the impression roller bearings? One side was easy to slide out, just removed the wing nut, and came right out. I was able to remove the old dried up grease and added a drop or two of 3-in-1 oil, and now it moves really smooth.

The other side is giving a fit. I removed the wing nut, but the bearing won’t come out, I’ve already used WD-40, and even a 50/50 mix of acetone and transmission fluid, which is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread to loosen stuck stuff (even better than liquid wrench and all.. see here)
What do you recommend? It has to come out eventually for a roller recovery, doesn’t it?

Thank you.

1st photo: Already removed-cleaned and put back.

2nd photo: wing nut removed, but bearing won’t come out.

9 thoughts on “Restoring a Vandercook 03 [updated]

  1. Enrique - December 23, 2011

    I just wanted to let everyone know that I was in the end able to pull the bearer off and clean it very well.
    Thank you for your help.

  2. Enrique - November 28, 2011

    Thanks Eric.. I’m positive the only thing standing between the bearers and me is the wing nut that I already removed, but I’ll double and triple check before using a gear puller.. Now I need to go find who has a gear puller…

    Thank you!

  3. Eric Holub - November 28, 2011

    I use a three-jaw gear puller for something like this. There are also two-jaw, and harmonic gear-pullers. Yesterday at the flea market I saw a cam-puller with two half-circular opposed wedges, what I thought was an automotive tool. Any of these would work, but first make sure there are no obstructions–burrs, gouges–on the shaft that might impede.

  4. Enrique - November 27, 2011

    Thanks, Paul!
    Any clues or tips to try on the stuck bearings?

  5. Paul Moxon, Moderator - November 27, 2011

    The black and white 3-in-One bottle is fine. The two formulations are similar.

  6. Enrique - November 27, 2011

    I cannot find the blue/white version of the 3-in-one here. Is it ok to use the regular one? Or which other oil would you recommend, that I might be able to find?

  7. Paul Moxon, Moderator - November 25, 2011

    The bearings are OK as long as they turn and not slide against the under rail.
    For practical purposes the bearings are sealed. But solvent can get in. It would be difficult to re-grease them without disassembling, which I don’t suggest you do.

    Look for 3-in-One oil in the blue and white bottle. Short of that look for a non detergent 5w20.

  8. Enrique - November 23, 2011


    I thought they were sealed.. and so I freely used the thinner on everything.. thinking they couldn’t get inside the bearings.. but now I’m not sure.. because they aren’t running as smoothly on one side..
    What do I do? Lithium lube? Graphite lube? Or do the bearers need to go now?

    Where do I get SAE 20 wt (the 3-in-1 brand) or how else is it called.. in Mexico?

    Thanks, Paul!

    I’m very impulsive sometimes :(

  9. Paul Moxon, Moderator - November 23, 2011

    Be careful to not let the solvent to penetrate the interior of the any bearings. Use only to clean the surface.

    I have not seen an 03, but on the other gravity press (models 0, 01 ans 099) the cylinder bearings are sealed. When reassembling the carriage you should only need to use SAE 20 wt. to wipe the cylinder bearers, bed bearers, under rails and out casing of the carriage bearings.

    Do you mean that you wish to paint the press red or just the nameplate? Either way, I would just carefully mask off the nameplate. The plates on the gravity presses are made of thin brass and and the rivets are steel. If you try to pry the plate away it will bend before the rivet budges. If you try to cut off the rivet head with a Dremmel you will damage the plate.

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