Cleaning and restoring an old press

Ironbar

Messages
2,347
Reactions
2,578
I just picked up an old RCBS Junior press today for a good price, and would like some suggestions for cleaning and restoration, especially the cleaning part. I'd like to go over it well and get all the dirt and grease off it and prep it for repainting.

What say you??
 

P7M13

Messages
6,891
Reactions
15,333
Aluminum or plastic primer catch tray?
Wipe the entire down with xylene or mineral spirits.
The old green paint is probably more in the mint spectrum. As such, doesn't much need prep for a new coat of paint.
Test first to determine whether it's lacquer or enamel.
 

gmerkt

Messages
2,003
Reactions
4,168
It's a pretty simple mechanical device. Cleaned up with paint thinner or similar, re-painting may not be necessary. Painting won't make it work any better. Pay close attention to getting the ram clean and then oiled. Also the moving pivot parts that operate the ram. You may have to use a spray cleaner to get the primer drop slot in the ram cleaned out. Spray like Brake Kleen or similar. Getting that ram cleaned and oiled can make a lot of difference in how smoothly and easily it operates. I've seen some pretty dirty single stage presses over the years, in use, and they develop some amount of friction when dry. The user doesn't notice this occurring over the years, they just get used to it. Also, a dry ram will wear more quickly than an oiled one. But don't go overboard with the oil, just use it sparingly but often.

Similar comments apply to dies. You can't use reloading dies indefinitely without taking them apart and cleaning them out. You'd be surprised how dirty they get inside.
 
You would be amazed at how chunky an RCBS can get and then be restored to near perfect working order! I git one from a neighbor that had a pretty rusty ram and linkages, mostly surface rust, but some pitting, a good once over with auto trans fluid and steel wool was really all it took, aside from cleaning up after ward, it was pretty strait forward! The reason for using auto trans fluid is that it works like a solvent and it will creep EVERYWHERE, helping to clean out things you didn't even know were dirty!
 
Messages
1,161
Reactions
2,635
Disassemble, scrub painted surfaces with simple green, rinse with very hot water, blow dry, go after bare metal parts with WD40 and fine steel wool, wipe dry, lightly oil. grease pivot points and reassemble. Load some ammo, if you can find primers.:s0164:
Do not use solvents on paint without testing first.
 

ron

Messages
2,232
Reactions
4,590
Dillon rebuilt my 550 a couple years ago. I was helping a friend set up his new 550 and noticed
how smooth and tight it worked compared to mine. Contacted Dillon and sent my press back to them.
Completely rebuilt new bushings and painted it for free! Just like a brand new press. I bet RCBS
would do the same for your press.:rolleyes:
 
OP
Ironbar

Ironbar

Messages
2,347
Reactions
2,578
Aluminum or plastic primer catch tray?
Wipe the entire down with xylene or mineral spirits.
The old green paint is probably more in the mint spectrum. As such, doesn't much need prep for a new coat of paint.
Test first to determine whether it's lacquer or enamel.
You're correct, it's sort of mint green.

Thanks to all for the suggestions! I'm going to start taking it apart tomorrow!
 

3MTA3

Messages
7,595
Reactions
28,117
I just picked up an old RCBS Junior press today for a good price, and would like some suggestions for cleaning and restoration, especially the cleaning part. I'd like to go over it well and get all the dirt and grease off it and prep it for repainting.

What say you??
Leave it as it is. HIgh end RCBS press collectors prefer the original press patina (gunk, rust, wear marks and other abuse) and you will only cause it's value to plummet.

Ahhhh, what am I thinking? That's Lee press collectors, but they come that way new. I say take that sucker apart and give it the works. Full resto. Make Your Press Great Again!
 

Lesliet

Messages
802
Reactions
1,294
I like Kroil a lot for degunking mechanisms, because it penetrates really well and rapidly dissolves the dry, gooey mess you find in old machines. ATF would work well, too, but I don't like the smell. Then you can clean it all off with gun cleaner, or brake clean ( mind the paint, some brake clean will eat it) and re-lube.

So, where do I get my MYPGA hat, anyway?
 

P7M13

Messages
6,891
Reactions
15,333
I like Kroil a lot for degunking mechanisms, because it penetrates really well and rapidly dissolves the dry, gooey mess you find in old machines. ATF would work well, too, but I don't like the smell. Then you can clean it all off with gun cleaner, or brake clean ( mind the paint, some brake clean will eat it) and re-lube.

So, where do I get my MYPGA hat, anyway?
YaP it !

1606230629219.png
 

Certaindeaf

Messages
17,149
Reactions
36,073
I rebuilt and repainted an ancient Kitchenaide mixer and I used Rustoleum's hammered green.
It came out super nice.


Edit add.. I forget which green, I think it was the above but they also have a deep green. I got it at Home Depot.
 
Last edited:
Messages
15,881
Reactions
41,770
I bought a vintage RCBS RS press over five years ago. It was kind of dingy when I pulled it out of the box, it still had good paint so I left it as is. Knowing it would need a thorough cleaning, I took pics before getting started tearing it apart, that way I knew how it supposed to go back together. It was a fun project and find myself a bit anal about keeping all my presses “Clean” and “Lubed” so that they can reside in “The Room”...:D

looking forward to seeing the relic afterwards.;)
 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Free Firearms Safety Course Webinar (I-1639 Compliant)
Virtual Webinar (Zoom). Registration Link in the course description.
Washington, USA
Rimfire Challenge Feb 13th @ DRRC
Douglas Ridge Rifle Club
27787 OR-224, Eagle Creek, OR 97022, USA
Albany Rifle & Pistol Club (ARPC) Gun Show
Linn County Expo Center
3700 Knox Butte Rd E, Albany, OR 97322, USA
Rimfire Challenge May 8th @ DRRC
Douglas Ridge Rifle Club
27787 OR-224, Eagle Creek, OR 97022, USA

LATEST RESOURCE REVIEWS

  • Paul A Martin Historical Guns
    5.00 star(s)
    Great shop, selection and atmosphere
    One of the better firearm shop experiences I’ve had, Paul is very patient and helpful. Definitely going to be a repeat customer even though it’s...
  • Adaptive Firing Solutions
    5.00 star(s)
    Great Service! A+
    Steve is a very nice guy and very easy to work with. I've done business with him a few times and will continue to.
  • Adaptive Firing Solutions
    5.00 star(s)
    Great guy!
    Steve is a great guy to deal with!
  • HighLine Firearms
    5.00 star(s)
    Nice Home Shop
    Had what I wanted at a good price. Messaged me when in stock.
  • Adaptive Firing Solutions
    5.00 star(s)
    Excellent Service
    Steve is an excellent guy to deal with. After looking at some Form 4 items at another dealer who didnt seem interested in my money, i emailed...
Top Bottom