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.
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.
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 left…
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 o…
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.
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.
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.