Pump Style Oil Cans Not Working

I salvaged a set of pump style oil cans from Grandpa's workshop. The actual age is unknown, but I'd guess they are 40 - 50 years old.
Other than size and color, this picture describes them perfectly. 2 finger action, one thumb action.
http://1.imimg.com/data1/X/G/MY-4024/18-250x250.jpg
I tested each of them with Light Cutting Oil and none of them pump. I find it strange that all three of them are bad although I guess it's possible that whatever seals are used in the pumping mechanism could have dried out in all of them. Same material, same time frame, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.
Unless it's the Light Cutting Oil that they won't pump?
I'd like to get at least one of them working so I can use it for my Drill Press and get a little part of Grandpa helping me out in my shop.
Any thoughts on how to go about fixing these oil cans?
Thanks!
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Let them sit with oil for a while and see if that swells the seals. You can also try tranny fluid, it usually has seal conditioners in it. A little kerosene in the oil will also swell seals. If that fails you've got to take them apart and I suspect they were iikely not designed to be repaired so that might be a chore.
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Bicycle (tire) pumps of the same vintage were built similarly, with leather washers (that can now be copied and replaced at home.) Later pumps used plastic washers that last about 20 years but are harder or impossible to replace when worn out.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Probably have to change the leathers.
I have one from my dad's estate. That was in use on the farm back when I was a kid in the 30s and he got it from his father. No problem with it but it has had oil in since it was new AFAIK. Mine is hanging on my logsplitter to spritz the slide every time I fire it up.
Harry K
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news:d4f5a21c-adc3-4e53-8a23-
<stuff snipped>

JamesgangNC gave good advice. There are a lot of different pump mechanisms that could be inside and yours may be hard to get oil to the dried washer(s) without filling the can and inverting it over a catch container. It's possible that if the washer has dried out, only gravity will get the oil to the necessary spot to wet it.
I am resisting mightily the temptation to disassemble my also inherited "Wizard of Oz" era oil cans that are sitting on top of the steel cabinet in the basement to examine their construction - they've always just worked since I got them and must be over 50 years old.
Since they are rather tipsy, they're mounted in two salad containers which themselves are separated by powerful neo magnets between the two containers. I salvaged the magnets from speakers and one is exactly the same diameter as the base of the can. The magnetic coasters add weight and stability. They also give them the ability to sit on a fender while greasing the car which I should be doing right now instead of writing newsposts. The reason for the the two plastic containers is to create a drip catch (mysterious leaks by some sort of oil-film capillary action or "Thing" like-biological force) and a scratch-resistant base for the magnet. Those speaker magnets are incredibly strong.
Anyway, try filling the cans with ATF as JamesgangNC had suggested (because it's a swell seal sweller) and turning them upside down over a container. Work the trigger to try to get oil to flow out the tip via gravity. And then let it sit, upside down with a cap of some sort on the tip.
If that didn't work I would then get a plastic bag and my air hose and make a mess trying to force oil to a washer that may have turned to dust. (-: Only then would I take one apart. Well, maybe before the air. Compressed air as a cleaning tool has its uses. And its misuses.
-- Bobby G.
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Take the pump leathers down to any shoe repair shop and get the folks there to cut some new leathers. Cowhide is cowhide and most anything should work. Check the pump bore for corrosion/damage and hone if necessary. Some leathers were cut with angled edges (beveled)rather than 90 degrees, so make sure the replacements are the same.
Joe
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Unless you want to keep the old cans for sentimental reasons you can get "right off the boat" pump oil cans from Harbor Freight for less than $5.
Frankly, the odds are we will have very cheap imports for the next year or two. Why fight it? New beats old nearly every time.
If or when import prices start to increase you can stary worrying about how to "repair" pump type oil cans. Just throw all you old stuff into a corner of your garage.
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