Saturday, October 15, 2011

How To: Cleaning Wrinkle Paint

You either love wrinkle paint or you put up with it hoping that a machine in shiny black comes your way. I happen to love the finish. It's very rugged, hides a myriad of metalwork sins, and can come in some very sober and serious colors. As great as I think this paint is, it is a magnet for dirt, grime, and crud. Dirt invariably make its way into the wrinkles and makes your typewriter look tired and grungy. However, the innate ruggedness of the paint makes it easy to clean. This is the process I use. Your mileage may vary. 

To start with you need some simple supplies. A couple of soft cloths, a small Tupperware container, a household laundry detergent without dyes or perfume, an old toothbrush, a utility spray bottle, and a blue Olympia SM3 (or whatever you happen to have). As with the other How-To, I recommend you dust/wet-dust your typewriter first. It takes a minute and "Water is the best solvent."



This process assumes that your typewriter is clean on the inside. There are some really good and some really bad ways to clean the inside of your typewriter. I'll share some of those other methods another day. This, however, is just an exterior clean. 

Everything begins with the cleaning solution. I like to use 1 part detergent to 4 parts water. However, I have been known to eyeball it. Whatever you think is right. I like to have just a hint of bubbles on the surface. 


Take your toothbrush, dunk it in the cleaning solution, and start scrubbing the typewriter. Use a fairly vigorous scrub. Depending on how dirty your typewriter is the suds will slowly change. They'll range from pale white to mud brown. The pictured machine was fairly clean to start with, so the suds are pretty white. The suds on one of my Royal Aristocrats looked like a mudslide. While you're cleaning, your nose will get a nice whiff of 50 year old dirt. Somehow, when you clean using this method, the smell of the past is rekindled. It's an odd smell, but you will learn to love it.




After you marvel at the dirt hidden in the wrinkles, take the spray bottle and use it to spray down the area you just scrubbed. Catch the run-off with one of the cloths. Work in sections and you will notice a significant improvement. Repeat until you are satisfied.



As a finishing touch I like to spray some Pledge on a cloth and go over the surface. Pledge adds a little shine and happens to smell nice.

If you have fingerprints from inky fingers, you might be able to get them out. At the very least, you will make it look a little better. I know there are other methods out there (Richard Polt uses PB Blaster to great effect), but this one has no harsh chemicals so your wife won't hate you for stinking up the house with kerosene.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great tutorial. The last Olympia I did was taken apart and washed in the sink. Your method will be helpful for the machines that are pretty clean on the inside. I am learning to love the deep green crinkle paint on our SM3.

    As an aside, I love your blue Olympia. I had not seen that color before.

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  2. When I was cleaning up a Silent-Super with matte paint, I heard this trick but with using plain toothpaste as the cleanser. See it before and after. Bonus: everything smelled pleasantly minty when I was done, a nice counterpoint to the nicotine odor it had pre-cleaning.

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  3. I'm gonna agree with mike. I used toothpaste on my Silent-Super as well, and it worked great.

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  4. Thanks! I find Scrubbing Bubbles work well too.

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  5. I'll give that a test on the nether regions of my Dove Grey SM3. Lovely presentation!

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  6. ...and thanks for carrying the Type-O-Matic ad! Really appreciate it.

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  7. Great method! But I've heard many times that it's best to go gentle on crinkle paint.

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  8. I've recently acquired an Olympia SM3 and Smith-Corona Silent-Super, both with crinkle paint, and will try your method on one machine, and Mike's toothpaste method on the other. It will be interesting to compare results -- perhaps I'll do that on my blog.

    All good information -- thanks much!

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