September 8, 2008
I didn’t set out on Saturday to spend three or four hours deeply cleaning and rehabbing a piece of Industrial-Revolution-era machinery, but so it goes.
I have a slug cutter, which is used to cut leading (spacing between lines) and slugs (thicker pieces of lead to provide support to set type forms). It’s probably a hundred years old and was coated with a century’s grease and grime and dirt. With Mr. Pencil’s guidance, I took all of the major pieces apart. One of the wonderful things about the items involved in letterpress is how self-evident they are. It’s obvious how this thing works if you look at it for a bit, and taking it apart doesn’t leave you worried that you will miswire an errant transistor. Or something.
After efforts with a wire brush, I went to the local auto parts store and bought engine degreaser and a drip pan and coated all of the pieces and let them soak. Then I gave them a scrubbing. We used stripper on the spring that provides support to the cutting arm. Finally, I reassembled the whole shebang and oiled it up.