SP-15 in need of thorough cleanup

My newly purchased SP-15 is now moved into its new home and I’ve been able to take a close look at it for the first time (I bought it based only on photos so couldn’t see all details). It looks to be in very good shape (no rust or dents) with no major parts missing. It also came with tools and roller setting gauge, which is nice. However, it has obviously not been used for some years and unfortunately was not kept covered so it is full of dust inside everywhere. I think many parts, if not all, will need to be removed for a very thorough cleaning before its operational state can be fully assessed. As a novice, this is a little daunting as I’m not particularly mechanically-minded. I do have the owner’s manual and have read everything about maintenance recommended here and elsewhere. Still, I’m hesitating before taking the plunge. I’d much appreciate any general advice about undertaking this project. Thanks!

9 thoughts on “SP-15 in need of thorough cleanup

  1. shop91107 - March 19, 2007

    Daniel, Thanks for the explanation. Went out and bought graphite powder and tried it… gripper assembly never worked more smoothly!

  2. The Arm NYC - March 17, 2007

    Graphite powder is an excellent lubricant that will not gum up or harden. The tolerances between the gripper bar holes and those gripper plungers are pretty tight so you really can’t afford to have anything gumming up in there.
    Graphite powder is very cheap and you can get it at any hardware store. They usually sell it for lubricating lock cylinders, another application where gumming could be a major problem.

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

  3. shop91107 - March 17, 2007

    Does anyone know why graphite powder is preferred over grease as the lubricant of choice for the gripper assembly?

  4. Sylvia Chevrier - March 16, 2007

    Hi Alex,
    Yes I just decided today that an air compressor would be the thing. There is so much caked on dirt (and spiderwebs!) that I can’t reach. My aim is to do as much as I can on my own, then eventually hire someone to help with anything I can’t solve. Unfortunately I kind of live out in the middle of nowhere, so having someone travel to my location will probably be expensive. I am definitely consulting Paul’s maintenance PDF, thanks!

  5. Alex Brooks - March 16, 2007

    p.s. also Paul Moxon’s v-cook maintenance pdf is a valuable resource

  6. Alex Brooks - March 16, 2007

    the carriage of a sp-15 is particularly hard to clean because the cheeks are holding everything together, so you can’t do anything except take it completely apart. my advice: compressed air. it will get all that dust and grime off, then lots of oil. you can take certain body pieces off to clean and get them back on easily, but if you start taking things apart you may find that you’ve just bought a press that won’t go back together. find someone with more experience before you do anything drastic – pay them with beer or cookies, or [gasp] actually pay them. Though it’s good to learn basic disassembly yourself, so when the drive belt breaks you can replace it easily without panicking…etc.

    good luck,
    alex [available for hire] brooks
    lexington, kentucky

  7. Sylvia Chevrier - March 16, 2007

    OK, will do as you both suggest. Thanks very much for your advice!

  8. The Arm NYC - March 16, 2007

    I agree with Ray. There are certain things you don’t want to take apart because they will screw up adjustments which will be very difficult to re-set. I would suggest that you remove the gripper bar and give it a good cleaning. Alex Brooks has some pretty good instructions on how to do it here:

    Other than that, you should give the press a good scrub down and take some photos and add them to this post so we can tell you what else might need to be done. Be careful not to use anything too abrasive on the machined metal surfaces. You don’t want to wear them down!

    Daniel Morris
    The Arm Letterpress
    Brooklyn, NY

  9. Ray Nichols - March 15, 2007

    Personally, I would be careful before you started taking things apart. I’d clean it if you can reach it without taking it apart first.

    These things are industrial pieces of equipment and are built like it. Dust is of little consequence.

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