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Linotype Keyboard Cam Cleaning - video

Started by Dave Hughes, October 20, 2022, 11:24:18 AM

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Dave Hughes

Kevin Martin, from a museum in Ontario, Canada, shows us how he frees up seized Linotype keyboard cams. Call me super-cautious, but I think I would have used rubber gloves when handling the chemicals mentioned!

The museum's Model 5 Linotype
Here's what Kevin has to say: In this video I clean some Linotype keyboard cams which had become seized with old lubricant. The machine had not been used for a couple years and as the lighter hydrocarbons evaporate from the oil, they leave a heavier gummy residue which is more of a glue than a lubricant.

A combination of soaking in solvent and spinning them using a drill fitted with a rubber sanding drum frees them up nicely.

Before fitting these back to the machine I'll lubricate them with some synthetic sewing machine oil. Synthetic oils, in general, are not so prone to gumming up as are petroleum-based oils.

These cams are from the Linotype at the Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum in Queenston, Ontario. The Museum is run by the Niagara Parks Commission @Niagara Parks and the printing equipment, as well as the related web site, is maintained by a group of volunteers.
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I don't know what these cams were oiled with in the past. I have never had a problem cleaning keyboard cams with shellite. Even machines that have stood rusting away for 20 years. I always use clock oil or sewing machine oil. I do use synthetic oil in some other parts of the machine.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast


Since the Model 31 was adopted, it's been by plagued with unresponsive keys, and doublettes. I recently replaced the full set of keyboard key lever fulcrum rods (H-489), and cleaned the keyboard bar frame (H-2284), both cam yoke frames (H-4432/1001), polished all the the triggers (H-15) on 2000 grit paper, and soaked and lubed all the cams (H-1000) at the end of August.

Gloves, a toothbrush and a jar of gasoline for both frames & bars, swish and scrub. Brush brush brush. Wipe it all dry and buff to the extent you can without disassembling the entire bar frame. The cam yoke frame may be the most difficult form to clean. Almost need full dips in solvent, or an ultra-sonic cleaner to get in the crevices of the trigger racks. If only the brass guide plates (H-767/768) were removable, but they're riveted (H-170) into the frames, rather than being held with screws.

Before you set about that task, fill a pan with gas to soak the cams for the hour it's going to take to clean the yoke frames. Then fish them out onto a sheet of corrugated cardboard, spread them out, and let them dry. Final wipe dry in 20 more minutes. Check the stop pins for wear. Add a drop of oil on each side of the yoke at the journal pin. Spin it and wipe the excess. Then put it all back together. There are still a couple trouble keys, like commas and normal position quads, but it's much better.


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18R Kenton Road
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130

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