Mechanical Calculators
Cleaning Office Machines with "LIX"


From: Ernie Jorgenson
Subject: Cleaning Office Machines with 'LIX'
Date: Saturday, December 27, 1997 8:58 PM (Updated April 23, 1999).

Well a little more on cleaning mechanical calculators and adding machines.

We have found and purchased several gallons of 'LIX.'   LIX is the cleaner that most office machine companies used to chemically clean typewriters. adding machines, calculators, check protectors, nearly any mechanical office machines.

Here is the process:

1. Mix 1 part Lix with 7 parts petroleum solvent. Soak your machine in this solution for an hour or more depending on how dirty and gummy it is.

2. Wash machine with hot water and blow dry with compressed air. Don't blow your springs and 'stuff' off.

3. Spray the machine with a very light oil and let it dip dry for several hours.

Be sure you remove all motors, electrical wiring etc., before cleaning machine. LIX can be used over and over, when you are through cleaning machine, just store in an air tight container for the next machine.

Collectors can  purchase LIX by the gallon directly from LCS Corporation
614 W Main Street
Gardner, KS 66030
Telephone 913 856 2525
The cost in $15.95 per gallon plus shipping.


From: Nicholas Bodley
Subject: Cleaning Office Machines with 'LIX'
Date: Sunday, December 28, 1997

Priceless information! This information that Ernie supplied was something I long ago knew about, and had also forgotten the details of, long ago. For anyone who's considering restoring (or even using) an old mechanical calc, adder, or typewriter, this information is almost priceless. I watched Friden mechanical calcs being cleaned in the shop, and Friden more than likely also used LIX. It was most impressive to see a machine come out of the cleaning bath! It had a peculiar sheen, and there wasn't any grunge at all. (Wonder about ultrasonic cleaning... DO ask the manufacturer of the cleaner before using such a solution as this!}

Do remove any electrical parts; some old paints, and rubber rollers (such as Flexowriter and other power rolls, and adder and typewriter platens) might also be vulnerable.

Friden used compressed-air operated baskets and washtub-like vats for cleaning machines. The air cylinder would lift a wire basket to a convenient working height; the technician would place the partially-stripped machine onto the basket, and then operate a valve to lower the machine into the solution. The air would raise and lower the machine, swishing the solution through it.

If someone would offer a machine-cleaning service, I suspect there would be a fair bit of business. I do hope everybody knows how to pack a calc! A mechanical calc. that has been damaged in shipping is Cause For Great Sadness!

Does anyone know the chemical composition of LIX, even in a general way? Is it still being manufactured, or at least, if Ernie's stock runs out, is there more available? (I'm all for buying through Ernie!)

It's a not-really-wild guess, but I'll bet that a lot of locked-up calcs have quite-gummy lubricant, and really need this type of cleaning.

Anyone contemplating calc. work should get in touch with typewriter repair people. They are rather close cousins, who use many of the same tools.

There's my $.15 worth.

My best to all, with wishes for a bright and shiny New Year! May all your calcs give the correct answers to all-nines squared.

From: Frank Lindauer
Subject: Cleaning Office Machines with 'LIX'
Date: Monday, December 29, 1997

To the List: I have enjoyed Ernie Jorgenson's and others comments on the use of LIX almost as much as the discussion of the use of WD40 (not really!). I've used LIX in an automotive parts washer with little more success than using straight mineral spirits, but I think I now know why. The parts washer has no real pressure at the nozzle and does little more than dribble the solution on the machine. An office machine in a small parts washer is awkward to handle at best. I guess immersion in the solution in a large enough container is more effective. I had also missed the hot water final rinse. All these treatments assume a large container and very hot water which can make for a messy area (not the kitchen, for sure). I have an air compressor in my garage and can handle that part of the treatment. I would hate to ruin a good paint finish, but I don't think LIX and mineral spirits will do that.

If anyone can suggest some tips on handling the problems I've mentioned, please let me hear from you.

From: Don Bryant
Subject: Use Very Hot Water w/Lix
Date: Sunday, December 29, 1997 9:39 PM

I used to use Lix to clean office machine many years ago, (1956-1975). The very important thing to do is use Very hot water to clean off the LIX solvent. Hot enough that the machine will dry from the heat. I would be very careful about leaving key top and painted parts in the solvent over a few minutes. I use to prefer spraying the solvent with an air gun. Note that vapor is harmful...soaking is safer health wise. Rust spots and dry pockets were the disadvantage of using this product. However it is one of the best cleaner available. We did not have spray cans of oil & lubricants. We would mix 2 qts. of 10 w non det. oil in a 10 gallon vat. of mineral sprits and soak it after drying. On very close tolerance machine like the Remington 96-99, we would use Winns Friction Proofing.

I hope this extra 2 cents worth is helpful...

From: Nicholas Bodley
Subject: Discussion of 'LIX'
Date: January 1, 1998

On Mon, 29 Dec 1997, Frank & Karen Lindauer wrote:

"... awkward to handle at best. I guess immersion in the solution in a large enough container is more effective."

At the Friden NYC office in 1962 or so, I saw a washer (very likely listed in the Ames Supply catalog of the time, and conceivably still available) that immersed one calculator (minus covers and electrical items) in a vat of what must have been LIX and solvent.

It used a vertical compressed-air cylinder fed by an air-pressure-cycling system to move a welded-wire basket (perhaps just a wire shelf), holding the mechanism, rather gently up and down in the solution. I'm just about sure these washers were standard equipment in thousands of calc. and typewriter-repair shops throughout the USA.

By all means, see Ernie's message about the full procedure!

From: Mike Hancock
Subject: The way I remember it at Burroughs
Date: January 2, 1998

Regarding cleaning and oil. At Burroughs Adding Machine Company we used something called Tulles or Tullus oil. It was a light oil, very clear. I think it was purchased at that time from Union 76. As far as cleaning the machines we would soak them in a solvent tank. Again, it was the kind of solvent that you could purchase in local gas stations at the time although we ordered it in 50 gal. drums for our shop. Soaking a machine was a last resort as it was very hard on the main bearings and the machine had to be very carefully oiled afterward. The adders rarely needed this type of cleaning but the key driven calcs were a frequent visitor to the solvent tanks. All of the mechanisms rode on shafts and the oil would gum up under these parts causing more an more difficulty as time went on. The worst thing was that we would adjust the unit as it began to get sticky and when you did clean it you ran a risk of having to go back and make a bunch of re-adjustments. In any case, many time the shafts had to be completely pulled and all parts washed in solvent. Anyone who has worked on a Burroughs Key Driven calc would understand that you did not take that step lightly.

The reassembly took several hours if you had the skill. Burroughs also had a chlorinated solvent called Platen Restorer which we sold in small bottles for cleaning platens. We would use this nasty little chemical to soak parts as well although you had to be careful as it would damage some materials. I am going to look back at some old tool catalogues and see if I can get a better description of the oils and cleaners we used at the time.

Also, anyone who needs spring hooks, both push and pull, I have a bunch. The very same as the ones that were used to fix the old adders at Burroughs.

If you were removing springs you absolutely needed a set of spring hooks. I wish I could show you all how we held a push and a pull together to install a spring way down inside a machine. If anyone is interested let me know and we can figure out a price.

From: Nicholas Bodley
Subject: The way I remember it at Burroughs
Date: January 2, 1998

Michael, it was good to hear from you. Some of us on the List (not me/I, yet!) need this information. As to that oil, maybe Tellus? Industrial lubricants seem to have distinctive names, almost as prescription drugs do.

I'd like to get a couple of spring hooks. Some of the electronics-industry tool houses (who also sell solder and flux, as well as specialty chemicals) are good sources for small hand tools.

From: Skip Godfrey
Subject: Cleaning Office Machines with 'LIX'
Date: January 3, 1998

Hello all - I've been following all the discussion since Ernie mentioned the availability of LIX. When I saw mention of Wynn's (Wynn's Friction Proofing), it rang another bell. When I started tinkering with cars, bbd (back before dirt), Wynn's and Shaler's Rislone were the two most common oil additives that I knew of. I use Rislone in my car - it's available in two formulations: 1 is a 1-quart size which is part standard oil and replaces 1 quart with an oil change; the other is a 1-pint size which is added after an oil change (that's what I use since I don't change my own oil). I don't know the pros and cons of using it - ? ? ? Nicholas ? ? ?

From: Skip Godfrey
Subject: Cleaning Office Machines with 'LIX'
Date: January 19, 1998

Hello all - I've meant to join the growing discussion about oils and mention jojoba oil. Several people, including Frank Lindauer, commented about it to me. I've been aware of it for years but only in the context of its use in cosmetics, as a "hair restorative b/4 Minoxidil", etc. Frank, I believe, mentioned that a Cadillac mechanic mentioned it years ago as the best thing to use in transmissions (automatics, I'm sure). It is supposed to be a direct equivalent to whale oil but acceptable nowadays because it's pressed from seeds.

I located a source in 3.4 ounce bottles which run about $20 with shipping. If anyone is interested in experimenting with it, please let me know and I'll send you the address. I ordered some and plan to see what it is like.

From: Ernie Jorgenson
Date: January 19, 1998




For Still Cleaning: Pour one gallon of Lix #12A Concentrate into 6 gallons of Stoddard Solvent.

For Spray Type Cleaning Machines: Lix #12A may be diluted as much as 12 to 1.


Strip the machine in the usual manner (remove platen, feed rolls etc)

Submerge machine in........or spray on.... the prepared solution. Allow 3 to 15 minutes or longer if desired for cleaning. Remove from Lix and rinse in hot water or spray machine with......or submerge in.....a clear mineral solvent. Lubricate according to your established practice.


-Do Not Agitate with air. -Do not take internally.

-Do not use in a copper tank. -Wash thoroughly after handling

-Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing.

-Avoid prolonged or repeated breathing.

-Wear goggles or face shield, rubber gloves and protective clothing when handling.


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Revised: June 21, 2004.