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Showing posts with the label restoration

The Oliver Cometh

It's been lost in the garage for at least two years, but a kind offer from a fellow Typospherian has me ready to dive into the restoration of this old green machine. I took a few Polaroids to document the before. 

The keys look nice, but they are spattered with some sort of solvent-based paint that created little grey divots. Cleaning doesn't work. The only option is replacement. The new keys are on the way.

I have the cover in a drawer somewhere. The whole machine might need a new coat of paint and that would lead to new decals. Luckily, you can get them on Etsy from Paul Roberts.


And the nickle plate is in terrible shape. If anyone has some good links to exploded parts catalogs or some suggestions on how to disassemble this machine, please let me know because I need help.

Dip and Dunk

When a typewriter is so dirty or filled with dried pineapple juice, you sometimes have to take drastic measures. Soapy, drastic measures.


It's the 'old dip-and-dunk.


Vigorous dunking loosens all the dirt. A rinse with hot, hot water comes next. Then, it's off to the oven for a bit of drying. I think 130° F until all the water has evaporated. Oil (ribbon spool posts, carriage rails, shift linkage, other similar parts) while warm and enjoy a very clean typewriter ready for another 60 years.

The Dilemma: Should it Stay or Should it Go?

I had a college professor who like to point out that the real meaning of dilemma was a choice between two equally undesirable outcomes. Dilemma connotatively means any problem, but in this situation it is a true dilemma.

The problem centers around this typewriter.



A once proud and mighty grande dame of the office, this Super Speed is now a decaying wreck. I can only assume that it was stored in dampest, dankest, darkest basement ever dug by human hands. The corrosion is impressive.

Needless to say, to restore this typewriter to its original state would take countless hours and probably more than a few q-tips. This typewriter was a gift. It was free from a very kind person and I didn't have the heart to tell him that I would never get around to fixing it.

Other projects came and went.

Time passed.

And now what do I do with this albatross?


I like the Super Speed. It's attractive typewriter. The horizontal banding breaks up the strong vertical look of this machine. It's very …

A Japy by Any Other Name

This last week teachers were back at school getting ready for students. I spent today uncovering my classroom typewriters and diagnosing any problems that might have crept up from the heavy use last school year. It's a multi-day project and I hope to have all the machines ready for student use before the start of the school year; August 5th.
The start of a new school year is exciting and all, but a new typewriter is its own type of fun. This is the new typewriter:



The badge says AMC, but under the stolid grey facade is a French-made Japy. I saw this little machine on eBay for a pittance and thought I would snag it. It's in fair condition, but there is something odd going on with some of the key tops.

As you can see they look as if they are melting. Melting? Yes, melting. It's hot here, but not that hot. More on that later.

I'd never seen a Japy person. In the past I had vague ideas of owning a Script or one of the several other re-branded versions out there. I particu…

Removing an Olympia Badge

No, the title of this post is not a metaphor. Although I am gifted in mystical arts of the metaphoric, what I am taking about is far more literal. I wanted to give you a few tips on removing this troublesome little piece of decorative metal.


Olympia badges on the 1950s varieties (SM-2, SM-3, SG-1, etc.) are high-quality aluminum castings that are adhered to the body of the typewriter by four sprue. Each of these four legs are placed in a corresponding hole and the ends deformed. The deformation holds the badge fast and makes for a very strong connection. Come to think of it I have never seen a badge-less Olympia. Quality German engineering.


Removing the badge is not for the faint of heart. You must drill out the deformed end of the sprue just enough to ease the badge from the mounting holes. To do this you need an electric drill and a steady hand.
I used an electric hand drill fitted with a bit only slightly larger than the sprue. Starting slowly, I drilled out the end taking care to…

Oh That's Pink-lympia!

So, the painting is done and the color is striking. I like the color, but I might want to sand and do another coat on top of this one. There are a few sanding marks that made their way through the gloss and it's bothering me. Also, a small bubble has turned to a tiny chip that is causing me hours of lost sleep. 
This typewriter is destined for the classroom. The pink was a decision based on several requests from students. Obviously, original pink typewriters like models from Royal or Smith-Corona are too expensive for my budget, so I decided to turn this machine into a pink wonder. 
SM-9s are the perfect customizer's typewriter. The main body panel is one piece and you can remove it without tools. The only other piece of metal I removed was the back panel on the carriage and that came off with just a couple of screws. I left the rugged grey on the bottom because it looks good and goes with everything. In all, it looks pretty slick. The only odd thing is the ribbon color indic…

Typewriter Day 2013

I spent my typewriter day prepping and painting the shell of an SM-9 a color so outrageous that Krylon's description of "watermelon" does not do it justice.

Underwood Portable: A Few More Pics

Busy and busier. I thought you all might like a few pics of the Underwood mid-restoration.





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:
Lee S.Burridge and the Underwood 3 Portable Typewriter On This Day in Typewriter History: Honey, Lee Shrunk the Typewriter Underwood 3 Portable Typewriter: Yet Another Centenary
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 …

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 left…

Corona Sterling #2A 50886

The work on this Corona Sterling Speedline began a while ago; nearly a year as as the original post (http://www.magicmargin.net/2012/04/another-restoration.html) would have it.
This burgundy beauty has been a challenge. The segments were filled with crud and I was able to get the stuff out with carburetor cleaner. I thought everything was fine, but every time I left it overnight the segments would freeze up again. PB blaster didn't help and I got the sinking suspicion that someone previously tried to unfreeze the segments with oil. The oil worked its way deep into the segment block and just would ooze out after I thought I cleaned it out. I eventually got tired of trying and decided to put the machine away and try again at another date.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Typewriters came and went and I didn't get to this one. It wasn't until I started the restoration work–and subsequently was delayed–on the Underwood (see http://www.magicmargin.net/2013/01/…

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 o…

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 …

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