Showing posts with label Underwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Underwood. Show all posts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Small, Charming. and Very Friendly

You have probably read about Richard's large find; a Coxhead DSJ. If you haven't seen it just imagine a typewriter that looks like it might actually eat you. That's the Coxhead DSJ. The typewriter that came to me in the post a few days bears no resemblance to a carnivorous typer. This little machine is the antithesis of large, ugly, and frightening.


The Underwood Standard Portable 3-bank typewriter is small, charming, and very friendly. Robert Messenger has combed over the history of this small wonder and you can glean all the historical bits you could ever imagine in these few pages:


So, what can I  add to the discussion of this typewriter? This example is in fair shape. I haven't cleaned it yet, but apart from the scratches on the front of the frame everything seems to be in order. I might not have to do any major mechanical repairs. All the renovation might just be cosmetic. I have tackled one small job; ribbon spool knobs.

They sit atop the ribbon spools and act as a shiny beacon becoming all who catch a glimpse to dash themselves against the keys. Think of the siren song from The Odyssey but less mythical. It's an over-the-top reaction that would completely natural if the knobs weren't so tarnished and rusty.

Dauntless, I took out some Mother's Magnesium and Aluminum Polish and started giving these things the Magic Margin treatment.


To the left is the remaining unpolished knob. The rust and tarnish is pretty ugly and hardly the finish you would want to see on a beautiful typewriter like this. When polished you get what you see on the right. Bright and beautiful. I like to create a pad of polishing cloth and move the piece. In this case I quickly rubbed it back and forth keeping in mind that the surface isn't flat. About 15 minutes for both the knobs got the job done.

Was it easy? The polishing was easy. These little knobs are ridiculously tiny. I had a devil of a time holding them, but that was the only hard thing about it. I think that this tiny change made a significant difference.

I have a few more steps to finish up on this machine and it will be ready for a typecast!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Angering the Typewriters

So after lofty promises and Greek-drama-sized hubris, the USB typewriter project has come to a halt. The mounting point I imagined just won't work and I am starting to question the wisdom of using my Underwood. Mostly because the rear feet are too squished and are providing almost no clearance for the sensor bar. 

While the mount point I picked was beautiful and it made some sense, I was unprepared for how much it would affect the feel of the movement. Stopping the intermediate linkage even a few millimeters made the whole machine unresponsive. I am beginning to see why the ribbon vibrator bar was a wise choice on Jack's part. The vibrator bar is a piece that interacts with every key bar, yet has movement so as to prevent any major alteration to the feel of the typewriter.

You win some and then you loose some.

I guess that the Ancient Ones of the Typosphere looked unfavorable on my enterprise. Yet, like Herbert West I shall reanimate this idea.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It Came in the Post



Soldered by yours truly. This is the first step in a larger project. This project has derailed the Underwood Universal restoration, but I think what's coming will more than make up for it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Clean as a Whistle


The Underwood Universal in my collection had some pretty sluggish type bar segments. I hadn't been able to get them as clean as they needed to be. As such, I had no idea how nice a feel this typewriter had until I was actually able to use it. 

What gummed up the segments was a mystery, but I got to talking to a gun fan about some of the products sportsmen use to keep their firearms clean. We talked back and forth about what factors would gum up a type bar segment. I argued that metal grit, old oil, and fouling from dust would be the main factors determining whether a type bar segment was sluggish.  With barely a moments hesitation he recommended:


Hoppe's No. 9 is a solvent used for cleaning gun bores. Lead, old powder, and other flotsam falls prey to the power of this kerosene-based cleaner which–to my eye–leaves very little residue. Using a skewer, I placed a few drops of this cleaner in the offending segment. I let it do its work and then came back to clean up what was leftover. I am not one for miracle products, but this stuff worked quite well. There was a black residue that worked its way to the surface of the segments. I wiped this away as it appeared and with time–and regular typing–I was able to get the segments as clean as they were off the line.


The difference between what was there and what came out is the difference between night and day. Lithe and responsive, the keyboard is a joy to use.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Typewriter Restoration: It's a Messy Business Pt. 3

The plan was to be farther along with this restoration, but I think I heard a saying about the best laid plans...

I came away from this exploratory surgery with a fairly good idea of what was causing the wayward keytops. Unfortunately, the solution wasn't the button I found deep in the bowels of the typewriter. That would have been too easy.


It was something far more interesting; a pivot point.

The keytop arms of this particular typewriter are very long. The extend all the way into the back of the frame where they pivot. I think this is something well-known to Underwoods. Each bar has a small tab of metal that engages with a comb/pivot plane. An extended "Z" bar-like piece covers these tabs and the pivot comb allowing the arms to stay in place, but also move freely. Small springs add some push to the tops and keep everything aligned. In the picture below, I have removed the retaining bar for ease of viewing.


On this typer, several of the arms had worked their way out of the pivot comb. Their conspicuous absence can be noted above. This small change rendered the typewriter unusable. Here is a better view of the absent key bars:


The metal tabs were intact on both bars. I imagine if they were actually broken I would have a whole set of other problems, but they look good. The loose retaining bar might have contributed to them working out of their locations.

To fix I just formed the metal "Z" a little so there would be a tighter fit. I have yet to reinstall it, but I was thinking that oiling this point might make more trouble than it solves. There is no sign that oil was ever applied here and adding it at this juncture might cause the pivot points work loose even easier.

I am also fairly confident that the springs that are on the underside of the bars are important to alignment because they keep the keytop bar tabs pushed up firmly against the pivot comb. I have a few extras from a very bad donor machine.

I am getting closer to some of the more fun stuff, but without a solid working mechanism all the rest would just be window dressing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Typewriter Restoration: It's a Messy Business Pt. 2

This is the second part of a multi-part post about the restoration of an Underwood Universal.

The last time I wrote about this Underwood I felt like it might just be an easy job. I could clean it and be on my way, but the typewriter gods do not look favorably on my enterprise. After looking a little closer I noticed that something was very much amiss with the 3/4 and slash key. You can see the problem below:


I don't know what happened but the entire coordinating linkage is not here. As you can see from this picture it causes the keytop to be "out of alignment" with the other keys. By "out of alignment" I mean completely akimbo. Moreover, the spring is missing on this lever. I have some spares and that will be a fun repair.


In addition to the dodgy 3/4 and slash key, the 'B' is in a similar state, but not nearly as extreme as the former. This linkage is missing a spring as well. We'll get into that repair very soon.



The rubber feet are missing. This is going to be a big problem. The rubber feet on the front had a hole through the center to allow for corresponding pegs to hold the front of the machine with friction. The rear feet seem fairly normal. I will have to find (or craft) something that would work.


This Universal features the Champion keytops that were more comfortable than the glass key variety. Some of the lettering is pretty grimy, and some of it is gone entirely. I would like to fill in the missing paint and probably replace the white lettering on all the keys.

Finally, I look at these decals and I can see how significantly they have flaked. The one on the paper table is particularly bad, but the touch control Touch Tuning is pretty crummy. I can tough them up using a gold pen, but I am on the hunt for gold foil decal paper and a special process. We'll see if there is anything I can find that might make these decals look close to original.


As for this Universal according to Ted's new Typewriter Database (http://www.typewriterdatabase.com) this machine was made between 1936 and 1937. Of course, the deco lines give it away instantly. 

The Universal was one of two new typewriters in the Typemaster line. A more enclosed case made for a safer machine and  reduced dust problems. The more enclosed machine also allowed for an increase in the sound-deadening material; a claim made in period advertising.



On a final note, the difference between a Champion and a Universal in these 1937 models? It's the paint and a tabulator. Universals are crinkle paint with no tabulator. Champions are gloss paint with a tabulator. Interesting, no?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Restoration: It's a Messy Business Pt. 1

Restoration is one of the fun things about collecting typewriters. You can take something that is a little rough and make it shine. I recently obtained an Underwood Universal and while it looks like it's in descent shape, I think it can look a little better.

In a series of posts I am going to take you step-by-step through the restoration process that I use to make this typewriter look awesome.

Let's start by looking at this particular Underwood Universal:












Part of the challenge for this restoration is the decal touch-up. I have a few new techniques I am going to try. I look forward to sharing all my tips and secrets with everyone in the Typosphere.

Next: Evaluation

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Understanding an Underwood



This is the only Underwood that I have in my home collection and I can't say that I love the touch right now. There is something gumming up the typebar. In reality I can only type about 10 words per minute, but the few bars that are free seem very responsive. The platen is shameful, but I expect that at nearly 77 years old, you wouldn't be tip-top anymore.


You're right, Typecast Ryan. This little typewriter has some classic lines.

I know that Underwood was thinking that having the touch selector move up for a lighter touch and down for a softer touch was a  stroke of genius. Sorry, boys. Up should be more tension. Down should be less tension. Be equating the switch with the sensation tends to mix up me up considering Underwood is alone in this nuttiness.




 

On a final note, wouldn't The Typebar be a cool name for a vintage-inspired watering hole? Drink names would be fun. I would suggest you try a Dry Ribbon, a Pitted Platen, or the Segmented Shift.