Intertypes and linotypes need regular cleaning in order to run properly.

The Spacebands: twice a day

The spacebands need to be cleaned at least once for every eight hours of operation (Abel & Straw, 1956). On the American model 31, there even is a message that they should be cleaned twice a day. This is one of the most important cleaning operations to be done, because ill-working spacebands could result in low quality lines of type.

To clean the spacebar, first sprinkle some graphite on a smooth board. Graphite serves as a dry lubricant, but not as a way to polish the spacebands. Then, rub the four sides of the spacebar against the board. Check with your finger nails if there is any lead remaining on the spaceband.

Do not rub the spacebands in a rotating movement, becuase that will result in a bevel on the side of the spacebands. Bevel could result in lead fixating on the spaceband, which will result in hairlines when a line of type is cast.

The spaceband is working well if the sleeve is easily moving up and down on the wedge. This can be tested by holding the wedge between fingers, then pressing the wedge up with the other hand, and then releasing it. If the wedge is coming down completely, the spaceband is working well.

When working correctly, shake off the excess of graphite and put the spaceband back into the spaceband box. The sleeve always needs to be on the right side of the wedge.

Remove dust from the machine: daily

Whipe dust from the machine; especially from the moving parts. Start from the top of the machine and move downwards.

Clean the plunger: always when used

The plunger needs cleaning everytime it is used. It can be done before inserting the plunger into the melting pot, but it is easier after use when taken out of the melting pot because then it is still warm and dirt will come off easier.

Use a stiff wire brush to wipe all remaining lead from the plunger.

Clean the back of the mold disk


Clean the mouthpiece

Skim off the dross

When you see dross in the metal pot, take it out. There are special sifts for this purpose.


  1. ABEL, O.R., & STRAW, W.A. (1956). Mechanism of the Linotype and Intertype. Brookings Lebawarts Press: South Dakota.
  2. RENCKENS., M. (2022). Het Linotype techniekers-archief [The Linotype Technician Archive]. [Online]

c 2022 Maarten Renckens. All rights reserved.