There’s a lot out there detailing various approaches to rust. I knew this press had been neglected when I found it. However, the racks and rails weren’t pitted, and the gripper bar was surprisingly pristine despite its location. When I first found the press and shared pictures with a few experts and mentors, they mentioned that it looked like “dry rust” (though I didn’t know there were different species of the stuff). Believe it or not, there was a single 5×20 piece of wood furniture on the bed, along with the head-bar. I picked up both, and the bed was nearly spotless and rust-free beneath. So, as I’ve said throughout, the cost of the press–moving it–is worth the restoration effort.
After the first pass on the press, removing a bunch of gunk with some Simple Green and a Scotch Pad, I gently scraped as much scale as possible from the bed of the press, and chose to treat this condition in increments. The Simple Green and Scotch pad (plus a good bit of elbow grease) removed a bit of the rust. Next step: dousing the bed with penetrating oil to loosen the last remaining scale and lift any stubborn particulate. This had the added benefit of reducing dust.
More Scotch-Padding, following by some very fine steel wool application. I haven’t used a wire wheel, and don’t plan to. I imagine this would speed the process, but I’m not as comfortable with this as I am with the comparative “gentleness” enforced by my own human limitations. I followed with an application of a citrus shop soap. Some in the letterpress community are advocates of citrus/vinegar rust removal, and Gojo has a citrus base.
After several hours, I moved on to light application of dilute Naval Jelly (a few teaspoons diluted in about half a cup of water, applied with a sponge). I noticed immediately how powerful Naval Jelly is–and was glad for my caution–when a dollop (technical term) of the full-strength stuff landed on a patch of rust, and within a few minutes wiped clean to the silver. I’m not interested in removing stable metal, of course, so this is a slow and careful application with Scotch Pad, removed before the manufacturer-recommended time-limit, and cleaned between applications so I can gauge progress. But, progress it is–here’s a bit of clean silver peeking out:
I did two applications of Naval Jelly, and wiped clean completely with Simple Green between applications. The above is the second of those two applications. Leaving the press overnight, I reapplied a thin coat of penetrating oil so as not to rust behind myself. When the rust removal is complete, I plan to follow the suggestion of some and apply a thin coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax. Word is, this might be an annual application at most. Worth it, I think, if it keeps my elbows from tracing those circles again…